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.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Cats

I decided to do sort of a weekly digest instead of a post for every book I read as a way to keep blogging fresh and interesting for me. I’m still tweaking it, but here goes:

Just Finished:
DirtyThe Dirty Version: On Stage, in the studio, and in the streets with Ol’ Dirty Bastard  by Buddha Monk, Mickey Hess
Although I was never a big Wu-Tang Clan fan, you really don’t need to be in order to find member Ol’ Dirty Bastard and his antics fascinating. It’s been 10 years since he died at the young age of 35 and besides the many media stories about his brushes with the law and drugs, there’s very little known about Russell Jones, the man. The Dirty Version is written by his best friend Buddha Monk who is also a rapper and producer. On the one hand it’s great to get a first hand account from someone who was with Dirty sometimes 24/7. On the other hand, that makes this more of a story about their friendship rather than a straight biography. Buddha can come off as a little self-serving at times when talking about all of the work he did for Dirty and was never paid for or anecdotes about his own rap career. If you a hip-hop fan, this will be an interesting read, but will ultimately leave you wanting more.

hungers mateHunger’s Mate  by A.C. Arthur
Book #5 in the Shadow Shifters series continues the saga as the Shifters advance their mission in America. As half humans and half cats, they work hard to shield themselves from the general public and keep them safe from a rogue delegation of Shifters who want to use their powers to dominate and take over the world. I am a huge fan of this series as each one tells a hot love story while also advancing the overall story of the Shifters. Ezra Preston and Jewel Jenner have both been mentioned in earlier books: Ezra as a bodyguard to the head of the Shifters and Jewel as a secretary to one of regional leaders. When Ezra goes on an undercover assignment to New Mexico to get more information about the Rogues plans, he also discovers that Jewel has secrets, too, that may impact the Shifters and their future as well. As always, Arthur keeps putting out interesting tales in this series and I can’t wait for the story of Eli, Ezra’s twin.

Currently Reading:
Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy
The Man From Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women by Edward Lewis with Audrey Edwards
It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller

From the Vault:(Reviews from the vault are of books that I’ve read a while ago and never got around to blogging about)another woman
Another Woman’s Man by Shelly Ellis
I’ve read a couple of the books in the Gibbons Sisters series and I really like them. The sisters have been trained by their mother to be golddiggers in a sense. They must never love a man who doesn’t have enough money to support them in having the finer things in life and they must never get their heart involved. Of course, in every book, each sister manages to fall in love with someone who their mother disapproves us and despite this, find happiness. In this one, when her father reappears and wants to reconnect with Dawn Gibbons, she falls for the fiance of her half-sister.

New Arrivals: (Books I’ve received this week)
In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes From Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Galimberti
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Stitched: (Happenings from my sewing room)
Nothing happened in here this week. I did buy a few patterns and one piece of fabric because I just couldn’t help myself.

 

I received copies of The Dirty Version, Hunger’s Mate, and Another Woman’s Man from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Super Stitches Sewing

Super Stitches

A Complete Guide To Machine-Sewing And Hand-Stitching Techniques

Nicole Vasbinder

Not a lot of sewing going on in my world right now. In fact, I had not one, but TWO wadders yesterday as I try to convince my sewing mojo to return. In the meantime I’m doing a lot of reading, of course, including some sewing related material. My new favorite title to add to my crafty book collection is Super Stitches Sewing which is devoted entirely to the very things holding our clothing (and other things) together.

Usually this subject matter is relegated to a chapter in a sewing book or a few pages in the manuals that come with our machines. Super Stitches Sewing is divided into three sections: Machine Stitches, Hand Stitches, and Tools and Equipment. Each entry includes a key to the difficulty of the stitch, common uses, what needles to use and other great information. My favorite thing is that the book is entirely in color. I find craft books with black and white photos really frustrating for some reason. The illustrations on how to sew each stitch are really helpful and sometimes revelatory, especially in the hand-stitching section.

Super Stitches Sewing is a perfect addition to my sewing library, but I doubt it will make it onto the actual shelf. I plan to keep it as close to my machines as possible.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

2015 Physical Book Challenge

Really?!? I haven’t blogged since September? That’s a crime and I must do better.

Anywho…

I must have been busy reading because, according to my Goodreads stats, I read 138 books last year. My goal was 150 but I’m good with my number. I’m not competing against anyone (I don’t think). I realized, though, that maybe less than 10 of that 138 were actual physical books instead of e-books. Not working in a bookstore has drastically decreased the amount of books that I actually get to hold in my hands. I still get quite a few advanced copies from publishers (maybe more so than I did when I was a bookseller), but the bulk of those come in electronic form. So, even though I don’t do well with participating in challenges, I’ve decided to set one up for myself. The aptly named 2015 Physical Book Challenge. I’m not going to assign a number to it, I just want to increase the number and put a dent in my to-be-read pile.

to-be-read pile #1

to-be-read pile #1

These are the books that I’ve acquired in the past year or so. Haven’t touched one of them. I want this pile gone soon.

to-be-read pile #2

to-be-read pile #2

Now, this is the to-be-read motherlode pile. Those books have piled up for awhile and I haven’t read anything off this shelf in years. Don’t judge me.

I am almost finished with the first book in the challenge, The Dirty Version, about Ol’ Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan.

20141118_111656Review to come soon…hopefully. Let me know what kind of books do you read. Are you strictly old school and need to flip pages? Are you an electronic convert and like being able to click on a word and immediately get a definition? Or, are you a hybrid of the two like me?

 

The 3-1-2-1 Diet

3-1-2-1 diet

 

by Dolvett Quince

I’m one of those people who watches weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser while holding a pint of ice cream or a plate of cookies. I also read a lot of diet and healthy eating books and while I don’t adhere to all of the information, a lot of it seeps into my brain somehow. Nowadays there are so many books on the market that the advice can seem to be repetitive. The 3-1-2-1 Diet sets itself apart by emphasizing the word “cheat” as a way of letting you know that the focus is making it as accessible in a real life setting.

The main premise is to “eat clean” for 3 days, cheat for 1 day, clean eating for 2 days, and then cheat for 1 day. Eating clean is basically choosing foods in their natural, unprocessed state: fruits, vegetables, proteins. Nothing out of a box or from a fast food outlet. Easy, peasy. It takes some planning, but really this is good common sense to follow. Quince includes shopping lists, money-saving tips, and options for vegetarians and vegans (which is all but ignored in most diet books). Meal plans and recipes are included along with instructions on how to eat on your cheat days. There is even a maintenance plan to follow after you’ve reached your goal.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Biggest Loser trainer’s book without a section on exercise. Although he’s beautiful to look at, I would have preferred seeing someone other than Quince demonstrating the moves, just for some variety. I read this book last fall and while revisiting it to write this review, I’ve decided that I like it better than I originally thought. It’s one of the most comprehensive diet books that I’ve seen and would be really helpful to anyone who wants to lose pounds or just adopt a healthier way of living.

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

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas

2 am Cat's Pajamas

a novel

by Marie-Helene Bertino

Madeline Santiago smokes cigarettes, has the mouth of a sailor, and is very serious about being a jazz singer. She’s only 9 years old, though, so each of those things can be a problem. Her mother passed away a year ago leaving her father in a depression so deep that he rarely leaves his room, so Madeline is basically on her own with help from a few people in her Philadelphia neighborhood. 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas covers just the span of one day, Christmas Eve Eve, in the life of Madeline, her teacher, Sarina Greene, and Lorca, the owner of the jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas.

Madeline’s story was the most interesting to me and the reason that I chose to read this book. Her desire to sing the music that her parents loved so much keeps her motivated despite all of the obstacles thrown in her way. Her determination is inspiring. Moving back to her hometown after a recent divorce, Sarina is reconnecting with old friends and navigating getting back into the patterns of those relationships. Lorca is faced with losing the jazz club that has become the most important thing in his life at the expense of his son and girlfriend.

I loved the interconnected of the stories of these three along with other people in the neighborhood as everyone moves through what turns out to be a very special day. Bertine manages to tell this tale and provide enough back story without the reader getting lost. There was a section about 3/4’s in and also during the ending of the book that left me scratching my head. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream sequence or not and it really distracted me from the story and left the ending a little off to me. Aside from that, I did enjoy the book and was mostly satisfied with how events played out.

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