Category Archives: Book Books Books

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

A simple DNA test taken just for fun rips bestselling author Dani Shapiro’s life apart, leaving her wondering who she is after discovering that her dad is not her biological father. She shares her journey to find her origins, understand her parents’ decisions, and come to terms with it all, delving deeply into the implications of the discovery for her faith, marriage, and son. It seems that almost every family has a secret. Learning that secret hits like a hammer, damaging relationships and rending familial bonds, especially when the parents who held that secret have passed and cannot explain why. Dear Reader follows Dani through heart-wrenching emotions, feeling unmoored by the inability to ask her parents why, while remaining hopeful in finding answers through her biological father. As riveting as the writing is, it’s hard to watch her struggle with the sense of betrayal and crisis of identity as she searches for a path to healing. Read this memoir if you’re a Dani Shapiro fan, are working through a family secret of your own, or just love learning how the process of life works. It’s worth your time. I was fortunate to receive a copy from the publisher for an honest review.

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

An unforgivable betrayal halts the wedding of Colleen Donohue, who immediately runs away to NYC, estranging herself from family. A decade later, a family crisis pulls her home, requiring collaboration with her betrayer, making forgiveness the only option left to her. In the midst of the crisis, a secret is revealed that changes her entire understanding of herself and family. Henry pulls Dear Reader into this beautiful story of complicated emotions and familial dynamics with down-to-earth descriptions and perfectly placed hints. Fans of Diane Chamberlain and Liane Moriarty will appreciate Henry’s style. I’m grateful to have received this wonderful story from through NetGalley.

Alexis vs. the Afterlife by Marcus Alexander Hart

Alexis goes on the biggest adventure of her life, and finds her true calling, right after she dies. She finds love, monsters, and opportunistic ghosts in her quest to save the world. This is a super silly story, but it’s Hart’s signature silly style reminding us to be ourselves no matter how different we might feel. The main character Alexis finds her tribe and fulfills her dream, albeit in an unorthodox way. Although explained by details in the story, the dialogue, with its repetitive references to bodily functions, reads more middle grade than YA, except for those swear words. The romance is credible, sweet, and written really well by an author who can never have that exact experience. Kudos, Marcus! And thanks for an early copy to review.

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Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

Despite expectations, Professor Chandra is passed over for the Nobel Prize in Economics. Again. He brushes off condolences, determining that it had been his last chance to hope, for the world was moving on without him. As he drifts into auto pilot with a side of grumpiness, he wanders in front of a bicyclist, causing him serious injuries and a silent heart attack. At the hospital, the doctor tells him to cut back on everything and follow his bliss, which he decides to do in California as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at UC Bella Vista. He ends up going to a spiritual retreat offered by his wife’s second husband. Balasubramanyam brilliantly portrays a self-important man disconnected from others through self-sabotage stemming from his background and rigid personality. Dear Reader gets to see all that Dr. Chandra does not communicate, and how much more complicated he makes relationships that matter the most to him, building tension and engaging sympathy for a challenging character. Though reminiscent of Barbara Claypole White’s father in The Perfect Son in his inability to see others and clinging to his ideas that are not serving him, Dr. Chandra wouldn’t dare consider that he might have OCPD, as White’s character determines and enters therapy. He prefers to muddle through on his own, pleading for understanding. It’s intriguing and leads to revelatory confrontation. Fans of anti-heroes will appreciate Dr. Chandra and his struggles. I was fortunate to receive this complex and enlightening story of facing one’s mortality through life-altering paradigm-shifts from Dial Press / Random House by NetGalley.

Is’nana, the Werespider volumes 1&2 by Greg Anderson Elysee

Anansi’s son Is’nana rescues humans from Osebo the Leopard in volume 1, and in volume 2, dear readers learn how Is’nana accidentally opened the portal in the Mother Kingdom, unleashing horrors upon the human world, clevely setting up the storyline for future volumes. Blending African folklore into his storytelling, Elysee continues the tradition of passing down tales, through a thoroughly modern venue with gorgeously detailed graphics.

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All Those Things Revealed by Maureen O’Callaghan

In 19th century Ireland, Mrs. Moloney interrogates her daughter’s fiance Micheal to determine his ability to properly support them, debating fate of divine purpose versus consequences of actions, secrets of God and those revealed to man. She then relays stories passed down to her by her parents of how the fates of certain families were sealed, admonishing Michael to decide whether it was providential destiny or mere consequences of their actions. It is her story—the incident that changed her life’s trajectory and estranged her from her parents—her refusal to be a product of her time. O’Callaghan blends Irish folklore and Christian mythology with fiction, about the origins of Christianity in Ireland, specifically the Ceile De, or Companions of God, and their Cailin an Tsagairt, or Priest Women, who were threatened by Roman Papacy and Norman invaders. Though the daughter’s inexplicable ignorance (contrasted by her fiance’s knowledge) and sudden symbolism at the end are confusing, this is a beautiful story rich with legends, family, and mercy. I was fortunate to receive this wonderful novel through a Goodreads giveaway.

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Caster’s Blog: A Geek Love Story (15th Anniversary Edition) by Marcus Alexander Hart

Ray Caster follows friendship and romance advice from the followers of his blog. His loyalty to his friend Turbo Dan waxes and wanes, but his love for Shadoe remains true to the end. Hart’s social experiment turned into a blog, turned into a book, turned into a movie, and turned again into a book. He’s getting exceptional mileage from a character he created many moons ago to deflect criticism as an online neophyte. Hart is a unique creative and this shows in his work. I highly recommend anything he writes, no matter how old, how different, how silly, or if it’s not your favorite genre. He transcends genre. He shared his book with me because I’m awesome too. If you love to laugh, you’ll love this!

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The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe


Following a rough week of traveling for work, Jemma’s handbag with all her important possessions including her passport, credit cards, laptop, and house keys is stolen at the airport. Even more disturbing, when she goes to report the incident, she realizes she can’t recall her own name. Home and her past no longer exist in her mind, but the only thing in her pocket is a train ticket “home.” Jemma is a source of mystery when she arrives at the sleepy Wiltshire village where she thought she lived and quickly becomes a cause of fear and curiosity amongst the locals when no one recognizes her. Is she a victim or a killer? Where did she come from? All at the same time as she is thinking: Who are these people? Who am I?


A young woman takes a train home to an English village and finds her house inhabited by the current owners. She cannot remember who she is, relying on their kindness to help her determine what happened, her only memory of the mysterious Fleur. A murderer lived in the house over a decade ago; timing of the murderer’s release and the young woman’s resemblance cast suspicion on her, dividing the owners. The wife leaves town and the husband obsesses over the unknown woman, possibly a murderer. Deception and revenge collide with coincidence and subterfuge, moving toward tragedy, and taking the story to Berlin and a horrific crime. Monroe builds an intriguing world of characters with hidden agendas and convincing personas. Dear reader may not know with whom to empathize as the secrets spill. Layers of the story build with new insights through flashbacks and revelations. This is an excellent look into the psychology of a criminal act and the resulting vigilante justice. I received this provocative novel from Park Row Books through NetGalley.


J.S. Monroe studied English at Cambridge University, worked as a freelance journalist in London and was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4. He was also a foreign correspondent in Delhi for the Daily Telegraph and was on its staff in London as Weekend editor. He is the author of six other novels and lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their three children.

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

About the Book:

Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives. 

Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them.  As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.

Lael’s Review:

In Emmeline’s childhood, mermaids brought supplies to their island cabin, and scents of faraway places lived in beautiful bottles covering the back wall. Made with a mysterious machine, these scents inspire her father’s tales of Queen Emmeline and Jack, the Scent Hunter. Tragedy thrusts her into the mainstream world, where secrets are revealed and Emmeline must redefine family. Bauermeister portrays a magical land of enchantment from a child’s perspective, and the demise of innocence so well that dear reader’s heart breaks for Emmeline. I was fortunate to receive this beautiful story of never giving up on your dream, and unintended consequences, from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

About the Author:

Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble


Indie Bound


Vermin by William A. Graham

The prologue introduces low-level, low-brow politician Henry Lewis, who’s interrupted in his back alley business when his intended victim Davie is rescued. Allan Linton fell into the PI business after a newspaper takeover, and he pulled strong, silent street avenger Niddrie in as his “and Associates.” A mysterious man calling himself Carter hires them to find a woman in a photograph whose name is likely an alias. Then dear reader goes through a flashback on the rise and fall of Allan’s marriage to the daughter of a top dollar barrister, then back to the present where his daughter asks his help with the entitled son of her grandfather’s partner and he explains his love for the Hollies. He seeks help on the case from his best friend Michael, who just happens to be the main drug dealer in town, and dear reader goes through another flashback chapter on the origin of their friendship. There are aliases and backstories galore in this novel, with each flashback its own fascinating short story. If you like backstory woven into the fabric of a novel, this format might confound you. The unusual names and behaviors of the characters make this whodunwhat feel a bit out of time and place, like a cheeky noir film. I received a digital copy of this fantastic story from Black & White Publishing Ltd through NetGalley.