Welcome…back

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.

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Stay With Me Forever

Stay With Me

by Farrah Rochon

The sixth book in the Bayou Dreams series gives us its latest look at the proud residents of Gauthier, Louisiana. The town has grown and prospered since discovering its significant historical importance, but being in an area prone to hurricanes makes it vulnerable to flooding.

Paxton Jones and Sawyer Robertson grew up in Gauthier but on different sides of the tracks. Paxton was dirt poor living with her single mom and her high school crush Sawyer, the football star,  was the son of one of the town’s most successful businessman. Now adults living elsewhere, both have returned to work on an engineering project that will hopefully alleviate the town’s flooding issues. Working together brings up longheld feelings they have for each other as well as the perceived class separation between the two.

This book fit in well with the other ones in the series and had the perfect amount of conflict and romance. I wish the ending was a little more fleshed out with events that happened once the flood project was finished, but maybe that will come up in the next book.

4stars

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

Dark Paradise

Dark Paradiseby Angie Sandro

I had no idea that this was a “new-adult” mystery when I started it, but I’m glad that I picked it up. Mala Lacroix comes from a long line of women who are rumored to be “witches” in Paradise, Louisiana. The rumor is true, but Mala wants no part of it. When she comes across the body of a girl in the bayou near her home, she is drawn into the mystery surrounding the death and must confront (and use) the powers she has.

Despite how the rest of the town feels about the Lacroix women, Landry Prince has always harbored a crush on Mala. When the dead girl is revealed to be his sister, Landry becomes more drawn to Mala and together they work to find out the truth behind the murder.

I love a good mystery that includes elements of hoodoo/voodoo and this debut novel by Ms. Sandro gave me everything I needed.

4stars

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

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore

Debbie doesn'tby Walter Mosley

If you read Walter Mosley for his gritty noir mysteries, don’t expect this book to be the same. While you get glimpses of that style of writing in some of the character’s development, Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore is one of Mosley’s departures from the genre is most known for.

Debbie is a porn start who experiences a revelatory moment on set at the exact same time as her husband dies in their home. Finding out about his betrayal and the debt he has now left her with makes her come to the conclusion that she isn’t going to do “it” anymore – she’s done with porn.

This is far from a quiet novel. Debbie has to deal with the police, her dead husband’s dangerous creditors, and her own past. But Debbie herself is written in a wonderfully subdued way, contrary to what you would expect a famous pornstar to be.

4stars

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

Cherry Lane: A Cavanaugh Island Novel

Cherry Laneby Rochelle Alers

We met Devon Gilmore in the last Cavanaugh Island book, Magnolia Drive, and I knew that she would get her own book one day. After visiting her friend Keaton on the island, Devon starts toying with the idea of moving there from the fast pace of New York City. Finding out that she’s pregnant by someone she sees no future with helps to solidify her decision to relocate. An instant romantic connection with aloof lawyer, David Sullivan, makes a hectic time in her life more complicated.

I love the Cavanaugh Island books because of the characters, the sweet communities and the rich Gullah history they include. While I enjoyed revisiting the area and its people, this isn’t one of my favorites so far in the series as it seemed the plot moved at a breakneck speed throughout to get to the happy ending.

3stars

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

For Your Love: A Blessings Novel

For your loveby Beverly Jenkins

This latest book in the Blessings series by Beverly Jenkins is the one I didn’t know I needed and the one that I maybe enjoyed the most. So much of these books focus on the newer residents of Henry Adams, Kansas and all the changes that are happening there, that I forget that there are still rich backstories to be told about some of the characters.

Trent July is a descendant of one of the founding families of Henry Adams and he and his high school sweetheart are finally married and raising the two boys that they’ve adopted. Raised by his grandmother Tamar, the town’s matriarch, Trent has always wondered about the birth mother that he never knew, but being surrounded by the love of such a close-knit community helped him not to dwell on it. Now new information about his mother comes forth and shakes up Trent as well as the town.

As always with this series, the town itself is a character itself. Welcoming newcomers and dealing with the envy of surrounding communities continue to test the strength and resilience of Henry Adams and its inhabitants. This is one of those series that you hope will go on forever and ever, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

4stars

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

Pleasantville

Pleasantvilleby Attica Locke

Lawyer Jay Porter is back after his introduction in Locke’s first book, Black Water Rising, where he tackled a murder case that found him embroiled in environmental politics and changed his life. Pleasantville picks up a few years later and Jay has become somewhat of a go-to lawyer for citizens in their fight against the dumping of chemicals in their neighborhoods.

Pleasantville, a predominately African-American neighborhood in Houston, Texas (in real life and in the book), is currently being represented in a lawsuit against a company that caused a chemical fire near their homes. On the eve of a mayoral election, a campaign volunteer goes missing Jay finds himself reluctantly involved in finding out what happened to her.

Attica Locke writes super-layered novels, so it’s almost impossible to cover everything in this review. Grief, greed, politics, environmental racism…it’s all here. What I love best about Pleasantville, and her other books, is that I never have a clue about who’s behind the mystery until she reveals it to me. The last pages of the book move at a lightning speed that will have your heart racing and tuning out everything else around you.

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