Category: book reviews

America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott Re…

Title: America Was Hard to Find

Author: Kathleen Alcott

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I received a copy of this book in a First Reads contest giveaway—my thanks to Goodreads and Ecco Publishers!

               I won this book as a prize in a First Reads giveaway, and I’ve been winning so many books recently that I’m trying to coordinate them by the month so as to line them up close to their actual publication dates. America Was Hard to Find was the first book in that stack that I could find that was published in May, so I decided to read it before I went back to my library stack. I just finished this book this morning, and I don’t know how I feel about it, honestly. Sad, thought-provoking, strange and visceral, this reimagining of The Cold War era was a strange story that I will never forget. It revolves around Fay Fern, a bartender turned radical, Vincent Kahn, an astronaut that is about to take America’s first steps on the moon, and the son that results from their forbidden union, Wright. Spanning decades and generations, this book was odd, brutal, strangely tender and thought-provoking. It’s hard to get my feelings on paper, because they’re all tangled up. This book was heartbreaking, tender, sad and blatantly political.

               Fay Fern is the daughter of affluent, wealthy parents, and both she and her sister, Charlie, have spurned their family’s wealth and constrained way of living. The girls’ only friend is a mean, drunk horse named Lloyd. Faye spends her days bartending and reading books. But the monotony of her life is broken by the arrival of a married astronaut, Vincent Kahn. They two begin a secret, forbidden affair, and nine months later, Fay’s son, Wright, is born. This book documents how Fay and Vincent attract one another, and Wright’s coming of age in the wake of his mother becoming a radical domestic terrorist. As I said, I’m not really sure how this book made me feel. It was vivid and well-written, but there were a lot of words that I wasn’t familiar with, and the pacing was kind of all over the place. But the characters were well-drawn and sympathetic: I liked how Fay and Charlie turned their backs on their controlling, constraining family boundaries, and I also enjoyed Wright as he grew up with his strange, radicalized mother. I liked the ending, and the other characters, but I really didn’t like Vincent. He just seemed thin and emotionless, and the book was bittersweet. Searing, eye-opening, and more than a little strange, America Was Hard to Find was a good book, even though it wasn’t normally one I would pick up. The bottom line: Political, bittersweet, tender and strange, I really enjoyed America Was Hard to Find. Next on deck: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd!


Can a woman and man whose families hate each other become friends. When the triplets he has and the little boy the girl has become friends can they have a relationship


When Delilah finds a body in the ocean on her walk with her dog she soon discovers the feathers that were on the body belonged to one of her clients. Can she find the bird before time runs out?


This is the last book in the Cedar Cove series. In this book is takes place around Christmas. All the characters from all the books have their conclusions and happy endings.


This is the 3rd to last book in the series. When Aidan comes to town to become the new high school football coach he might find out the an O’Brien might be his dad and will be find love from a match making dog?

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake Review

Title: The Guest Book

Author: Sarah Blake

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

               I received an advanced readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, Flatiron Books. Thank you so much!

               I received The Guest book in the mail a few months ago, and since I’ve been alternating between library books and ARCs, I recently made the decision to sort them by month so I could make my reviews line up as the books were officially published. As soon as I was finished with a comic book I’d borrowed from the library, I started The Guest Book. At first, I wasn’t sure about it; I’d never read any of Sarah Blake’s work before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I did, I was spellbound. The Guest Book is one of the most anticipated books of 2019, and I can see why it has so much hype. A family saga reminiscent of Downton Abbey, only American. I absolutely adored The Guest Book, and it has become one of my favorite novels of the year. I feel so lucky to have received an early copy. Rich, dynamic, and thoughtful, The Guest Book takes a harsh, unflinching look at American culture, its oppression of marginalized peoples, but especially Jews and black people. This book should be required reading for all.

               The Guest Book goes back and forth in time, between different members of the affluent Milton family. But the main focus is on one of the granddaughters of Kitty and Ogden Milton, Evelyn. A historian with a passion for piecing together the past, she is brought to an emotional crossroads when an offer for the island her grandparents bought comes to light. Haunted by the secrets lurking just beneath the shiny veneer of her family’s past, she is determined to uncover the truth. Even if shatters what remains of her family…

               This book was a surprising gem! It really snuck up on me and gripped me by the throat, long after I’d closed it. It took me a little bit to get into it, mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little worried I wouldn’t enjoy it. But once I got into it, I was spellbound. The prose was both spare and gorgeous, and I loved the way that the point of view jumped between each member of the family, as well as Len Levy and Reg Pauling, a Jew and a black man invited to Crockett Island for the summer. I also really enjoyed the way the book went back and forth between the past and the present; it provided a much deeper scope on the characters and events that were happening. But my favorite thing about The Guest Book was its timeliness: it took a good, hard and unflinching look at the American cultural system, and how white people, especially the rich, have contributed to the oppression of other people, especially black people and the Jews. Len and Reg made a compelling, painful foil to the Miltons, who are so blinded by their own privilege that Kitty, its matriarch, issues a refusal that haunts her until her dying day. Evelyn has always loved Crockett Island, and treasures the memories of her summers she spent there as a girl. When her family begins to look into selling it, she bucks against it at first, not wanting to lose such a valuable piece of her family’s legacy. But she starts to dig deep into the secrets her family has long kept hidden, and finds that her family’s wealth comes from an association with an awful organization. (I won’t say what, because I don’t want to spoil the book for people who haven’t yet read it.) I loved that Evie was a historian, and how she dug deep into what her family’s secrets were, even as it upended everything, she thought she knew. I loved the way it ended; it was bittersweet and very real to life. I will never forget the Milton family, Reg, Len, or Evie; these characters will forever have a place in my heart. Sarah Blake has penned a masterful sophomore novel, full of heart and social commentary in equal measure, and I will never forget it! The bottom line: Beautiful, rich, hard-hitting and thought-provoking, I loved The Guest Book! It was one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait for more from Sarah Blake! Next on deck: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino!

Ok. Deep breaths. I am a crazy Reapers MC/Joan…

Ok. Deep breaths. I am a crazy Reapers MC/Joanna Wylde fan. So hearing there was a new novella coming out had me breaking out the grabby hands. But then I read it. 

Eli’s Triumph by Joanna Wylde

I live and die for the Reapers MC. I re-read the entire series, as a whole, at least once a year. I re-read my favorite books in the series two or three times a year. Unfortunately, Eli’s Triumph is definitely not going into the favorites pile.

Peaches and Eli have been enemies ever since childhood. They have a history of mean pranks, arguments, and misunderstandings. Eli gets out of prison and is all set to takeover his uncle Gus’ bar, which Gus actually promised to Peaches five years ago when Eli first got locked up. Major betrayal! And then there is the problem of Eli being so freakin’ hot– even as Peaches is sticking needles in his voodoo doll, she can’t help but reminisce over their drunken hookup back in the day. Can Eli make it right between them? Or will Peaches burn down the bar and everyone in it?

The problem with this book is that it is kind of small. It’s a small story– and motorcycle club romance isn’t really meant for small stories. There isn’t a lot of action happening. It’s mainly emotional drama. Peaches and Eli need to work out a lifetime of misunderstandings. Peaches and Gus need to come to terms over his broken promises. And Eli and Gus need to make peace with their past. 

What the story lacks is the motorcycle club-ness of MC romance. The danger, the suspense, the vroom vroom roar of men and women riding out on motorcycles to face their destinies! Yeah, Eli and Gus are Reapers, but they could just have easily been ranchers, in the mafia, Navy SEALs or any other archetypal hero and the same story would have played out. So, even though it is a good enemies-to-lovers story, I was disappointed. 

All that said, it really is a good enemies-to-lovers story. Peaches and Eli have so much broken history between them, and Gus’ betrayal cuts Peaches so deep, it seems almost impossible that things will work out. It’s a lot of fun watching Eli and Peaches fight and come together. 3 stars. 

Who loves a hulking hero who intimidates eve…

Who loves a hulking hero who intimidates everyone with his massive size and strength but is secretly just a lonely, misunderstood hunk of a man with a heart of gold? Me! Me! I do!

Halfway Girl by Tessa Bailey

I really loved this short novella. It has a lot of heat, but also a lot of heart.

Locked into the basement together, Birdie quickly realizes Jerimiah is more than just an extremely attractive, huge football player. Jerimiah realizes Birdie is someone quite special who needs him to come out of his shell. So they fall in love! Surprise ending!

Is the insta-love extremely instant? Yes. I don’t particularly mind that so much when the hero and heroine are portrayed as being swept up in an overwhelming attraction for each other, obliterating doubt and putting common sense on the back burner. It’s ridiculous, but it’s such a romantic kind of ridiculous, you know? And Birdie and Jerimiah really compliment each other, each realizing they need to overcome their issues in order to be the best partner and friend the other could ever want. It’s really hits you in the feels, for such a short read. 4 stars. 

Slayer by Kiersten White Review

Title: Slayer

Author: Kiersten White

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Series: Slayer, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

               I won a signed copy of this book in a contest from Fierce Reads. Thank you so much!

               Shows like Buffy and Angel were things that I was obsessed with as a teenager because they contained all of my favorite things: monsters, magic, darkness, high stakes, and forbidden love. I haven’t seen either of them in years. But I ordered this book from my local library and before I could finish it, I had to take it back. Which was just as well, because a few days later, I received a copy of Slayer from Fierce Reads, and it was signed! I was so excited. It’s been sitting on my ever-growing book stack for a few months now, and once I was finished with The Everlasting Rose, I started Slayer. Taking place in the same universe as Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but after the events of the comics. Dark, hilarious, heartfelt and scary, I loved this take on the Buffyverse by one of my favorite authors! One of my favorite books of 2019!

               Nina Jamison-Smythe knows her place in the world. She and her twin sister, Artemis, are both in training to become Watchers, the organization of individuals that help guide Slayers.  She is the healer, the medic, the gentler of the two. She lives in her sister’s shadow, something she both takes refuge in and resents. But when Buffy literally breaks magic, The Watchers are rendered obsolete. Consumed by rage and hatred toward Buffy and Slayers in general, whom she blames for her father’s death, Nina is determined to make a difference in the world. But everything changes when she becomes a Slayer. And not just a Slayer, but the very last Slayer in existence. Forced to bear the burden of powers she never wanted; people begin to die around the castle. Enmeshed in the mystery, Nina must use her newfound powers to save the people she loves. But is she meant to save the world? Or to destroy it?

               Kiersten White is one of my favorite authors, and so when I found out that she was writing a novel set in the Buffyverse, I was so excited! And I was lucky enough to receive a free, signed copy! I loved this book; it felt like I was returning to a place that I had dearly missed, without even knowing! Right out of the gate, I loved it so much. It had all of the darkness, humor, and mystery of Buffy. It’s not a requirement to be a Buffy fan to read this book; it can be read without knowing anything about the comics or show. But I loved the little Easter eggs I kept finding. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved the characters, but especially Nina; I really related to her. I loved her character development, her growth from a timid, resentful child to a fiercely powerful and kind young woman who uses her Slayer powers for the good of her loved ones. Artemis, Leo, Honora, and the girls’ mother were also distinctive characters who provoked a strong reaction with me. Dark, terrifying, and full of humor and heart, this book felt like coming home. I very much enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read Chosen! At times, Nina butting heads with everyone got on my nerves; it kind of took away from the book, but overall, this series starter was strong, and I can’t wait for the next book! Next on deck: The Guest Book by Sarah Blake!

Reviewers Wanted – Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Reviewers Wanted – Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:

SBTB is looking for new reviewers! Apply by May 11, 2019.