Five Reasonable Goals For 2022

**Disclaimer**– If you purchase an item from any of my links, I might get a small commission from it.

I am not really one for making resolutions, but I have set a few goals for myself this year. I put quite a bit of thought into it, too, which was a complete surprise for this notable pantser.

Number 1– I plan on buying books by authors I know or are acquaintances of instead of buying books written by authors who already have larger audiences. I first thought maybe I should buy from friends and acquaintances exclusively, but I think maybe that would be a little bit unfair (to myself) because I really want to read books I know are coming this year from authors I’ve been reading for years, some even decades. That being said, there are so many fantastic authors out there who are writing without the benefit of a big publicist and a well-known name. Independent authors and publishers are many, but quality is certainly there.

Amazfit, available from Amazon $39.99 right now.

Number 2– I guess…if I have to…I’m going to walk more. I used to walk a lot and I live in an area that is very nice for hikes and walks so I really don’t have any excuses, other than weather. Right now, there is a lot of low temps, snow, and other obstacles, but it’s almost February. February in West Virginia has a weather range that goes from blizzard to spring sunshine within the same week. My health is important to me, so I’ve already bought a new pair of walking shoes. I feel like I should note also that walking is not only good for your physical health, but also mental health. There are numerous studies and articles available with a quick google search and you can have a lot of fun with it. You can even get fancy and buy a fitness watch, like the Amazfit from Amazon, which has some really promising reviews. If you have one, I’d like your opinion!

Number 3– I’m going to drink more water. I already drink a good amount, but I could definitely replace a few non-water drinks with water. Again, my health is important to me and I have some weight to lose, I have dry skin, and I think drinking water would help with both of those things. I’ve already bought a goal marked water bottle to help with this. Sometimes all I need to motivate me is for my water to be readily available because I’m a creature of both habit and convenience. I’ll grab the easiest thing in order to quench my thirst and keep my day moving. I know for some folks motivation means different things, though, so I’d love to hear how other people motivate themselves to get that water down.

Number 4– I’m going to work on my budget. I know. BORING, right? Nobody wants to hear me ramble about money and numbers, but financial health is also important to me because I’m thirty-eight and I have an adult child and two teens at home and sometimes I need extra cash for things. Teenagers are well known for needing extra cash. They grow out of their clothes at a rate that could rival the toddler years (particularly boys) and they always have something or other happening at school that may require extra funds. Also, the idea that my husband and I have a handful of years before we are empty nesters has motivated me with a bit of a panic. So, I’ve taken steps to save a few extra dollars here and there and develop a healthier relationship with my shopping habits (lol). We shall see how this goes!

Number 5– I plan on going to the beach at some point this year, which may contradict Number 4. Vacations cost money, but there are ways to save and still have a great time. Besides that, in twenty years of marriage, my husband and I have yet to have a really good week long vacation together. We’re more weekend getaway people…Until now.

So, in case you see posts regarding any of these five things and wonder why I’m posting things that aren’t book reviews this coming year, it’s because this is my guide for 2022. I’ll be writing about all five of these things, as well as my reviews. Obviously I’ll be heavier on the book related content, as usual, but there will be other things coming too. I may even review some finance related books. Who knows! I’m still working on a schedule for the next few months because the holidays (between the end of November and now) really wore me down.

As usual, if you have any book suggestions for me or even product suggestions related to my five goals, I’d love to hear it in comments or emails! 😀

The Assassin and the Libertine by Lily Riley

***Disclaimer*** I may receive a small commission from any purchases you make using my links to Amazon as an affiliate. This does not sway my reviews in any way.***

***ALSO, I should add that I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for a review. That will NEVER sway my thoughts on a story. I’ll always tell my readers what I think and if a book is worth picking up or not.***

This is not a classic vampire story and certainly not a classic romance. There are moments when I wanted it to be such, but many more moments when I was glad that it wasn’t.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Let me explain.

18th century France is one of my favorite times and places to read about, watch films about, and daydream about. Versailles is one of my favorite pieces of architecture in the history of…well, basically everything. And Madame de Pompadour has always been a subject of mystery, intrigue, and romance that, for me, can never be forgotten or moved past. She must have really been something! Certainly King Louis XV thought so.

In The Assassin and the Libertine, it is the death of Madame de Pompadour that sets off the story. The story’s hero, Étienne, is accused of Madame de Pompadour’s murder and as the heroine of the story was the best friend of the king’s favorite mistress and in charge of bringing her killer to his justice, a very common enemies to lovers story begins to unfold.

Here’s where I would normally start rolling my eyes and looking for something else to read. It’s a common plot. Only, in this one, the accused murderer is also a vampire. It does complicate things, but the fact is that there are so many stories set up this way, an author really needs to do the work involved in separating their work from the works of others. The bounty hunter/assassin (in this case) vs. evil hunky vampire accused of obscenities and atrocities is done to death. Yet, in this book, the author manages to yank her story out of the void of cliches and plop it directly into a reader’s wildest bloody fantasies.

The book has a decent heat level and the writing is great. I love the story having the depth of the eighteenth century because honestly, it does add more appeal for me. I’ll certainly look for this author again and I’ll most definitely be sure to recommend this book to my friends.

Daphne de Duras is a proper French duchess by day and fledgling assassin by night. Her latest mission is to dispatch justice and protect the French aristocracy by executing Étienne de Noailles, disgraced former noble, legendary rake, and vampire emissary to the court of King Louis XV.

As far as I can tell, both kindle and paperback copies are available at Amazon if you’d like to find out for yourself. Not convinced? Here’s what the blurb says:

But Étienne’s alleged crime—the gruesome murder of Madame de Pompadour, the King’s mistress and Daphne’s friend—doesn’t quite fit the dashing vampire’s nature. With his immortal days suddenly numbered, Étienne needs to convince his would-be executioner not only of his innocence, but that they should hunt the real killer together—a challenge almost as difficult as convincing himself that he isn’t falling for her.

Daphne reluctantly agrees to a temporary partnership when Étienne persuades her that something more sinister is afoot. He can, after all, help her find answers in places she’s unable to go alone. And despite her deep loathing for any and all vampires, she can’t help but start thinking of a few other places she’d like to go with him.

Coming Soon! I’m going to choose a recipe to make and share an early look at The Unofficial Bridgerton Cookbook, only at!

Gimme Your Best Suggestions!

If you know of any new releases, even if they haven’t been officially released yet, please shoot me a comment, email, or message on Facebook. I’m working on filling at least three open slots for books in November. Please remember that November is a busy month for most people and I’m a mom with an adult child who will be (hopefully) coming home for a full turkey dinner, so I have to cook for a whole week and prepare notes for my typical Thanksgiving speech about the **REAL** story of American colonization, so I will be pretty busy.

I’d love some non-fiction or biographies, but romance and hard case crime novels are always appreciated. You don’t have to be an author or publisher to get me to read something! If you enjoy an author and know they have a new release or a recent release, or even a release you loved that you’d like me to love, too, just give me a title and author’s name and I’ll track it down myself!

I’m considering a blog series for cookbooks and recipe collections one day in the near future. If you’d be interested in something like that, let me know. I’m particularly interested in cookbooks with a nod toward pop culture. There are so many celebrities with their own cookbooks, television series with cookbooks based on them, etc. It’s certainly a fun niche.

Here’s a picture of my best friend, Salem…for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Five Decembers by James Kestrel

***Disclaimer*** Hey, if you click my links and make any purchases, I may receive a small commission from Amazon. That never will sway my reviews, though, and I’ll always be honest with my readers.

December 1941. America teeters on the brink of war, and in Honolulu, Hawaii, police detective Joe McGrady is assigned to investigate a homicide that will change his life forever. Because the trail of murder he uncovers will lead him across the Pacific, far from home and the woman he loves; and though the U.S. doesn’t know it yet, a Japanese fleet is already steaming toward Pearl Harbor. 
This extraordinary novel is so much more than just a gripping crime story—it’s a story of survival against all odds, of love and loss and the human cost of war. Spanning the entirety of World War II, FIVE DECEMBERS is a beautiful, masterful, powerful novel that will live in your memory forever.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve been sitting on this book for a few months now. I received an advance reader copy from the publisher. I read it through the summer and did a second read through this week in anticipation of the release date. I flipped through the pages so often I somehow managed to misplace the press release, which I’d folded in half and used as a bookmark. While working through my loss, I made some discoveries.

The first discovery is more of an a-ha. There is a difference, I promise.

It appears as though the author, James Kestrel, has actually been to Hawaii. He has framed his story with the beauty of the islands and the sticky, heavy dread hanging in the air of a pre-war Honolulu. The characters (main and supporting) are very well synched with their time and it shows in the writing and the plot that the author has given many aspects of his character’s lives a lot of thought in that regard.

The second discovery is that this is not just a murder mystery. It’s not your typical whodunit. This novel is also a war story, sort of. I can’t imagine putting myself in Joe McGrady’s shoes. Perhaps because World War II was a war that shaped my family in so many ways, I am a little bit enamored with stories set throughout that time, in places relevant to survivors of war because I grew up hearing plenty of firsthand tales.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve given Five Decembers four stars. I only take away a star because I feel like there were a few weaknesses in the story, but they weren’t so glaring that I felt readers couldn’t get past them (if they notice at all because I really had to think about it). I will certainly remember James Kestrel’s name and look for further works by him.

The writing is strong and the story is a gut punch. And, I absolutely mean that in a positive way.

As with all of my reviews, I will not give away too many spoilers. I don’t want to go through a play by play of the entire book because the blurb pretty much already does just that and I want you to read and enjoy the story and characters for yourself. I really do. And then I want you to come here and tell me about your reading experience, too.

Email me with your thoughts at

The Food From the True Blood, the Exclusive True Blood Cookbook by Rene Reed- Cookbook Review

**DISCLAIMER**As an Amazon Associate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases, but my reviews and opinions are absolutely mine and accurate.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My husband and I are True Blood fans and have been for years. While searching out Amazon for True Blood merch, we came across a cookbook and couldn’t turn it down, so we bought it immediately and it arrived within a week.

There are things you should know about this book before you buy it.

First, it’s not the only True Blood cookbook available. There is another one and I want it. I haven’t bough tit yet because I have only just discovered it. It’s called True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps.

I”m definitely not a fan of the black and white pages…


And, this is a big one for me.

The book has rough, coloring book style pages. And, it’s all in black and white.

This may be great for some folks, but I saw a missed opportunity here. This book is supposed to be representative of the foods, smells, and tastes one might associate with vampires and blood. I wanted to see the deep red in the red velvet cake and beetroots. But, nope. None of that.

I was disappointed.

The recipes within the book, however, are pretty nice.

The ingredients involved in the recipes are relatively easy for most people to find in local stores. One recipe does call for venison, so I would imagine some folks might find that one difficult to fulfill, but venison is easily enough swapped out for beef in most recipes. The author failed to mention this, though, and I sort of feel like it should have been included information, but I suppose not all cookbooks are the same and in that vein, not all cookbook authors are, either.

“I”m gonna rip open your heart, and fry it up with some grits and collard greens.” -Tara Thornton

There are other issues, also. In the beginning of the book, there are instances where a recipe’s photo is the right side, full page, and when you turn the page, the ingredients are listed on a left side page. But, the page next to it (a right side page) is the photo for another recipe, so recipes and photos aren’t matching up. I know this was a stylistic choice and maybe the publisher and author didn’t want to waste page space, but this could have been handled and designed better.

I really can’t say I’ll be using this cookbook much. It would be nice for someone who loves beetroot, because there is multiple recipes involving beetroots included. Maybe even nice for someone who doesn’t know a lot of recipes and honestly it’s a nice little piece to keep as a fan of True Blood, but it’s not a book I would recommend someone buy to keep as a regularly used cookbook because it’s just not that at all.

For all of these reasons, I’m afraid this books has gained two stars and no more.

Available at Amazon. I want it sooo bad…

Sealed by Naomi Booth

SealedI didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. I thought since the main character was a mother, I might enjoy it more, but this is unfortunately a book I only made it a few chapters into. So, with that being revealed, I don’t feel like I can give it a full review. I will tell you what I can about it, though.

It’s available for purchase through most retailers, Amazon being one of them. I believe both kindle and paperback are available right now.

I genuinely dislike having been given a book I can’t write  a fair review for, but sometimes it does happen. Not all books are always going to interest me, but in the spirit of fairness, I will read and review a book I’m not interested in if I feel like one of my readers may also enjoy it–that way I can give an objective point of view in my reviews and others will know exactly what they’re getting if they buy the book. I can’t even do that with this particular book and I feel a bit odd about it.

BUT, moving right along, I’ll explain why I couldn’t get into it. First, I could NOT connect with the characters. AT. ALL. Second, I couldn’t connect the story to the characters. I could remove the author’s characters and plop any other woman in there and the story would be the same. I guess you could say the characters had no character.

In the event you all think I’m wrong and that I’m just being mean (I assure you, that is not the case), here is the blurb. If you’ve read and enjoyed anything else by this author, I’d love to hear your feedback and maybe you’ll enjoy this book, too.

In the meantime, hang in there. More romance novels, mystery novels, science fiction novels, and some horror novels are on their way to my little blog and we will dissect them all!

Here is the blurb:
Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Alice is haunted by rumors of a skin-sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. She hopes their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger. With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.

Timely and suspenseful, Sealed is a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them.

A Bloody Business by Dylan Struzan

Fun Fact: Dylan Struzan’s husband, Drew Struzan illustrated the cover art for this book. Drew Struzan is also the creator of art for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back To the Future, Harry Potter, and many other film posters. ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF PROHIBITION, LEARN WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

**Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher for the intent of an honest review. Sending me a novel will, under no circumstances, win the author a glowing review. It WILL win an honest one IF I like the novel enough to finish it, which sometimes doesn’t happen. **

In 1919, the National Prohibition Act was passed, making it illegal across America to produce, distribute, or sell liquor. With this act, the U.S. Congress also created organized crime as we know it. Italian, Jewish, and Irish mobs sprang up to supply the suddenly illegal commodity to the millions of people still eager to drink it. Men like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone in Chicago and Nucky Johnson in Atlantic City, waged a brutal war for power in the streets and on the waterfronts. But if you think you already know this story…think again, since you’ve never seen it through the eyes of one of the mobsters who lived it.

Called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” by the U.S. District Attorney, Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo was just 15 years old when Prohibition became law. Over the next decade, Alo would work side by side with Lansky and Luciano as they navigated the brutal underworld of bootlegging, thievery and murder. Alo’s later career included prison time and the ultimate Mob tribute: being immortalized as “Johnny Ola” in The Godfather, Part II.

Introduced to the 91-year-old Alo living in retirement in Florida, Dylan Struzan based this book on more than 50 hours of recorded testimony–stories Alo had never shared, and that he forbid her to publish until “after I’m gone.” Alo died, peacefully, two months short of his 97th birthday. And now his stories–bracing and violent, full of intrigue and betrayal, hunger and hubris–can finally be told.

As far as I’m concerned, the years directly before and after prohibition and the events leading up to and following prohibition are the most interesting in American history. There’s no mystery why there are so many books and movies written to take place in that time period. Obviously, those were hard times. But, no matter how much I learn about those years and the people who lived them, I am always more than willing to learn more and experience more–even through the mediums of fiction and art.

I can only imagine the things Struzan learned while researching for A Bloody Business. And, what a telling title, too! Being released 100 years after the National Prohibition Act  was passed was a happy coincidence, right? But, getting down to the grit of this review, I feel like I should warn you–the book is not what you might expect. It is less story, more historical account, but it isn’t as seamless as most would like it to be.

First, as most readers of historical novels would expect, there is language used within the text in both speech and expression that is unique to that era. There are lines like “Old Bill Rockafeller was a flimflammer,” tucked in here and there, which really made me think my granddad may have been telling me the story. I don’t mean that to be a negative, either, but it does take some getting used to at first if you don’t read a lot of stories from this time period.

I’m not sure if I should even mention characterization since Dylan Struzan actually met with a man who was called “one of the most significant organized crime figures in the United States” and listened to more than 50 hours of recorded testimony (see blurb above). I think she knocked it right out of the park. I think Dylan Struzan knew, probably within a week or two of research, exactly how her characters operated, what drove them to be the way they were, and got everything perfect, from mannerisms to thoughts, within the first few pages of a rough draft. I could be wrong, but I suspect I’m not.

There were bits of story here and there I feel could have been cut out during her first few rounds of edits and revisions, but those pieces are iffy, meaning they could have stayed or gone and nobody would have been the wiser. Usually in that case, a writer would cut those bits, but sometimes they get left and it doesn’t really change anything. It just takes a reader longer to read the story. Obviously, that can sometimes lead a reader to get bored and walk away and, because of this, I would urge the author to think about this next time she sits down to revise a novel. It’s not a deal breaker–but, it’s a slippery slope leading toward boredom.

I feel it worth noting, however, that the plot itself is little more than prohibition and organized crime itself. As a historical account, I feel like the story was delivered in an informal way (obviously), but an effective delivery was certainly given. After a few pages, you can imagine how Dylan Struzan may have felt whilst giving her interview of Alo. Maybe he said something like, “Well, ya see, what happened was…” and she began her notes. Probably not, but it’s very easy to imagine the story having formed that way. It certainly isn’t what I might call a campfire tale, but it bridges the gap between today’s more technologically advanced generations and the generation that our great grandparents grew up in. There are themes expressed that we can all relate to.


If you feel like this novel is for you, you can find it in most formats at

If you’d like to learn more about Dylan Struzan at Titan Books, find out about previous releases, or just nose around, you should do that, too. 





After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott

**Disclaimer– I was sent a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is my honest review.**

after eclipseSixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

Available Now.

If you’re searching for books to read over the summer, buy this one. It’s available in most formats and I can honestly say that I will likely recommend it to everyone I know who comes to me in search of a good mystery. And, it’s apparently the author’s debut novel. Way to go, Fran Dorricott.

I don’t like to give out a lot of spoilers in my reviews, so I won’t because there is a lot I could tell you that would ruin the entire thing.

Fran Dorricott wrote her characters to be lifelike, enjoyable to get to know, and hard to forget once the book is over and done with. That is a quality I, personally, look for in an author I intend to keep reading. The elements of mystery and danger were ever present, whilst managing to tap dance all over the fine line between emotions.

I feel I should warn readers that the story goes from past to present quite a bit and sometimes that can feel a bit daunting to a reader. If that’s something you’re not into, maybe read something else, but why? The author handles this jumping quite well. There is no difficulty discerning which time frame you’re reading in (as some novels present).

Four stars, highly recommended.

You can buy this novel from Amazon in most formats. Links above.



Tomorrow’s Review is…


Brothers Keepers by Donald E. Westlake



Brothers Keepers
What will a group of monks do when their two-century-old monastery in New York City is threatened with demolition to make room for a new high-rise? Anything they have to. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is only the first of the Commandments to be broken as the saintly face off against the unscrupulous over that most sacred of relics, a Park Avenue address.
Returning to bookstores for the first time in three decades, BROTHERS KEEPERS offers not only a master class in comedy from one of the most beloved mystery writers of all time but also a surprisingly heartfelt meditation on loss, temptation, and how we treat our fellow man.

Release date: February 5, 2019 
**Note– This book was first published in 1975 and is a re-release!**

If you keep up with my blog and my reading lists, you will note that I’ve read one of Donald E. Westlake’s books and reviewed it here before.  If you’re interested in hard case crime novels, as I sometimes am, you should check him out.

But, being that this novel was written quite some time ago, a reader must understand that the language and the story itself is very much a product of its time. For example, in the second chapter of Brothers Keepers, there is a small section where a monk is writing a letter to Miss Ada Louise Huxtable of The New York Times. There are many starts and stops to the letter, but the letter itself is set up in a style in which not many younger people today might recognize with a name and address in the left corner, date in the right, and a formal letter following. I was taught how to write a business letter in high school, but a lot of schools aren’t teaching this skill today and it’s becoming lost in translation with email writing as a preferred method of conveyance and text messaging coming in a close second. Obviously, it takes on a second to figure out what’s going on, but the difference in the times might come as somewhat of an amusement to some and makes this story even more fun to read.

A world without cell phones and internet in every device? How novel.

Mostly,  Brothers Keepers is a timeless story. The monks themselves are all very well written and their attitudes toward their home being scheduled for destruction in order to make way for modern growth within their city are well portrayed. Westlake’s writing–and the humor within–is absolutely delightful as usual. Whatever feelings and anxieties over a dire situation the monastery went through in the story can easily be translated into the issues and goings on of today. The story and characters will resonate well with a newer generation and likely generations to come.

Brothers Keepers is available from in Kindle ($6.15) or Paperback ($ 8.14) form. 


A Demon In Silver by R.S. Ford

20180619_192455.jpgReleased June 12, 2018
Titan Books

In a world where magic has vanished, rival nations vie for power in a continent devastated by war. When a young farm girl, Livia, demonstrates magical powers for the first time in a century there are many across the land that will kill to obtain her power. The Duke of Gothelm’s tallymen, the blood-soaked Qeltine Brotherhood, and cynical mercenary Josten Cade; all are searching for Livia and the power she wields.

But, Livia finds that guardians can come from the most unlikely places… and that the old gods are returning to a world they abandoned.

I thought this book was incredible. It lacked very little and the premise is captivating. This is the first in a series, if I’ve understood correctly. I certainly hope I manage to get the next book on pre-order so that I don’t have to wait for it. I dislike waiting and this is one story I would like to hang with until the very end.

I don’t want to go into too many details of my thoughts, though. I feel like in doing so I will be giving my blog readers too many spoilers. I can divulge that there are a few surprises that remain surprising, twists that remain twisty, and turns that lead places incredibly fun to imagine.

Four stars.



Review to post 6.21.18

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Review to post 6.20.18