Beverly Jenkins


I’m pretty sure at this point in my reading career, it’s assured that I’m going to love anything that comes out of Beverly Jenkins brain. Seriously, I love her. I don’t make a habit of rereading books, but I’ve read each of hers several times because they serve as comfort food to me.

Breathless is the second book in the Old West series, but really, since all of her characters are connected in some way, Jenkins’ entire catalog catalog is one long series. Picking up about 15 years later from the ending of Forbidden and it’s aftermath. The Carmichael family have resettled in Arizona and are running a hotel with neice Portia at the helm as the manager. She’s smart and independent which are not really prized attributes in 1885, especially for Black women. Portia is focused on her family’s business leaving matters of the heart to her starry eyed little sister, until a man from their past rides into town and works to change her mind.

There wasn’t as much conflict in this book as in previous ones, but I enjoyed reading about Portia and Kent getting to know each other as adults as well as what the Carmichael family has been up to.


I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from Edelweiss and Avon in exchange for my honest review.

The Inheritance

Rochelle Alers


Rochelle Alers has always been high up on my favorite romance authors list. I believe I’ve read everything she’s ever published, including single titles and appearances in compilations. That said, The Inheritance was a disappointment.

Hannah DuPont-Lowell is a lawyer with a prestigious investment bank in New York City who is suddenly laid-off along with half of the staff as a result of a merger. On her way out of the building she comes across three other women who were let go and invites them to her nearby apartment to drink their sorrows away. The four women, diverse in race, age, and income spend the morning talking about their lives and what to do going forward. Hannah, the most financially stable of them all, invites them to come visit her at her family’s New Orleans home, where she plans to spend the summer and maybe fulfill her dream of turning it into a hotel. This will allow everyone to relax and decide their next move.

This book promised to be a sweet story of second chances in life and love and it mostly succeeded at that. I felt, though, that it was very repetitive, especially in the telling and re-telling of the history of Hannah’s family and their place in New Orleans. A good 100 pages could have been shaved down from that alone. Also, the dialogue felt way too formal for casual conversations and kept me from connecting fully to the characters. I assume that since this is the start of a series, that the subsequent books will focus on each woman and her path to putting her life back together after the lay-off. I haven’t decided yet if I am going forward with the series, but I don’t like to abandon a favorite author.


I was given a complimentary copy of this e-book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Taming Her Tycoon

Yahrah St. John


I have cut back on reading Kimani romances as much as I used to because the formula started to get on my nerves. Most romances follow a formula, I know, but the editing was really starting to get in the way of plot development in a lot of cases. I can’t resist a series, though, and I like Yahrah St. John, so I gave this one a try.

St. John admits that the Knights of Los Angeles series was influenced by her watching Empire and it’s depiction of the brother’s relationships (and the name Lucius). Naomi Brooks and her best friend have built their organic beauty products company from the ground up and are quite successful. So successful, in fact, that they are being eyed for takeover by Lucius Knight, a millionaire businessman looking for companies to add to his “empire”. Lucius is also on a mission to discover who his father is, much to his mother’s dismay.

Yes, the tried and true romance formula is here, but Naomi’s fight for her company’s independence and Lucius’ discovery of his roots and a brother he didn’t know about were interesting enough to have me waiting for the next in the series.


I received a complimentary copy of the e-book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead


It’s a known fact that I have inhaled and loved all of Colson Whitehead’s novels. Whenever a new book of his is announced, I immediately put it on my “to-read” list with no questions asked.

The fascinating premise of the book that portrays the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad underground has been widely shared by this point and deserves all the praise it has received. Cora, an enslaved African on a plantation in Georgia, is seen as an outcast among her own people. When given the opportunity to escape, she doesn’t immediately jump at the chance, but the increasing cruelty that surrounds her soon forces her hand.

Writing in linear form with a flashback chapter every now and then, Whitehead gives us the truth and ugliness of slavery with a little fantasy mixed in. Arriving in South Carolina, Cora finds a freedom unexpected in a state so close to the horrors of Georgia. But the veneer soon starts to peel away, a slave catcher by the name of Ridgeway appears and the journey starts again.

Following Cora on her adventures was at times distressing and celebratory. The 4 1/2 pages of the next to the last chapter broke my heart. I think I read it twice before I could move on.


Aim True

Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance!

Kathryn Budig


With 2016 rapidly coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about the new year ahead, new beginnings, and maybe resolutions (if that’s your thing).  Aim True is the perfect book to ease you into new healthy habits.

Kathryn Budig’s style is not to guilt you into cleaner eating or meditating everyday. Rather she convinces you of the need to do these things for yourself out of love. The theme of “self-care” runs throughout as she guides you to detox, eat better, do yoga, meditate, and pamper yourself. This beautifully illustrated and photographed book has lots of recipes that look easy to prepare. There are few ingredients that seemed a little exotic for everyday cooking and may not be budget friendly for some (like me), but could easy be substituted with other things.

I’ve read quite a few books similar to this one and I was struck by how loving and non-judgmental it is. I’m happy to include it on my healthy living bookshelf.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

In Her Kitchen


What a beautiful book. I’m always interested in how people live in other parts of the world, especially the everyday lives of women. One of the easiest ways to learn about other cultures is through their relationship with food. In Her Kitchen is a wonderful display of the comfort foods of the world. I learned so much and look forward to trying out many of the recipes.



I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


My name is Toni and I read.

That’s the reasoning behind the new name of my blog, Toni Reads.
When I first started blogging I was inspired by the renewed interest in sewing and all of the great blogs that popped up because of it. At the same time I was reading a boatload of self-help books to help me navigate a rough patch in my life. Hence the previous name: Sew Transformed. Oh, the garments I planned to sew! Oh, the life changing anecdotes from my reading I planned to share!

But what had happened was…

The rough patch resulted in weight gain and a new body I didn’t know how to sew for. The self help books started to seem repetitive and started to get on my nerves. I kept reading other genres of books , though, and sharing my thoughts about them (sporadically).

Recently, I was listening to someone speak about “branding” and it hit me that the blog name had nothing to do with what I was currently offering. Now, I don’t think about branding much because I don’t really think of what I do as a business or anything close to it. I read because I love to and I’m occasionally compensated for it with free books from authors and publishers. But part of the joy of reading is sharing and if someone is looking for a blog of book reviews, Sew Transformed doesn’t convey that. Toni Reads does.

I’m hoping that the name change will also keep my blogging mojo going. I’m so behind on my tbr (to-be-read) list and I have so many reviews of books I’ve read recently to share. I love to read. Writing? Not so much. Maybe I should find a self help book on that…

My name is Toni and I read.