Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano

Publication Date: February 5th, 2019

Rating: 4 ¼ Stars

Maybe it is the recent home renovation I just did, or my addiction to Top Chef, but this read was exactly what I needed to get me through the snowy days. Set in Colorado, on a blizzardy night, Justin becomes stranded in his “project car,” a recently restored Mustang GT. Melody hesitantly rescues him by allowing him a warm place to wait out his tow. But, as they begin chatting about each other’s careers, Melody’s late hours as a baker, and Justin’s hectic flying schedule, they start to see something more in this chance encounter. Over the ensuing few weeks they begin to find excuses to see each other, but will their bubbling careers pull them in opposite directions, or is faith in God and love enough to make it work?

This deliciously heartwarming and “bittersweet” read is perfect for cozying up by the fire. Author, Carla Laureano, shows off her talent in this, book two of the Supper Club Series. From Melody’s delicious pastry concoctions to the banter amongst friends, Bruch at Bittersweet Café sweeps you into a sugary delight. And, while this certainly reads as a perfect standalone novel, the friendships between Rachel, Melody and Ana will draw you in to adding the entire series to your TBR pile.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Publication Date: May 28th, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

The Escape Room offers a look inside the powerful world of New York’s investment banking. This book could be described as similar to The Wolf of Wall Street, however the author artfully weaves in a story of loss between the contrasting present day escape room and the events that led up to that very elevator.

I could not put down this electrocharged and exciting read in a powerful story of greed and how far those will go for money. Sara Hall is the epitome of very MBA graduate, a load of student loan debt and no job prospects on the horizon. Until she meets Vincent on the elevator at Stanhope. Stanhope & Sons offers the ideal backdrop into the lucrative NY Investment scene – ludicrous amounts of money, insanely high standards and best of all reputation.

Megan Goldin’s sophomore novel, proves she’s an author to follow. The Escape Room blew my expectations out of the water…or should I say elevator.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Cover Reveal: The Path Keeper by N.J. Simmonds

Title:                                      The Path Keeper

Series:                                   The Indigo Chronicles, Book 1

Author:                                 N.J. Simmonds

Genre:                                  Young Adult/Urban Fantasy

Publication date:              May 28, 2019

Publisher:                            BHC Press

Formats:                              Hardcover, 978-1-947727-80-9, $26.95, 416 pages

Trade Softcover, 978-1-947727-81-6, $15.95, 392 pages

Ebook, 978-1-947727-82-3, $7.99

LCCN:                                    2018948480

What if all our lives were mapped out before birth? Does anyone have the power to change our destiny?
Ella hates London. She misses her old life in Spain and is struggling to get over her past—until she meets Zac. He’s always loved her but isn’t meant to be part of her story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense. A world full of danger, lies and magic.
The Path Keeper is a passionate tale of first loves, second chances and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?


This special edition hardcover includes the exclusive short story “One Day I’ll Fly Away”


The trade softcover and ebook cover


Writing The Path Keeper, and the other subsequent books in the series, has been a tumultuous journey. I first had the idea in 2012 and seven years later I’m incredibly moved that Ella and Zac’s story is going to be read worldwide. The themes of fate, past lives, love in all its guises and being a teenager in London and Spain are all very close to my heart. I can’t wait to hear what others think.


Natali Drake, who writes under the pen name of N.J. Simmonds, is an accredited member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. When she’s not busy working on her YA fantasy romance series she is also a freelance writer and brand consultant. She has written articles for various UK newspapers and online publications with two of her essays appearing in The Mother Book published by Selfish Mother. In 2015 she co-founded the online magazine The Glass House Girls and is a regular contributor.

Originally from north London, Natali studied Feature Writing at City University and began her career in corporate publishing and marketing before moving to Spain to write, and to raise her family. She now divides her time between her two homes in the Netherlands and Spain with her husband and two daughters.


Book reviewers and bloggers interested in reviewing the book may request a digital ARC of The Path Keeper. ARCs are available through NetGalley and at the publisher’s website.


Look for exclusive digital content, including free downloadable posters and exclusive content, as we lead up to release day of The Path Keeper.

Visit the book’s page to learn more.

Indivisible by Travis Thrasher

Publication Date: October 23rd, 2018

Rating: 3 ¼ Stars

Often war movies are focused around a “famous” battle or event, such is the case with Dunkirk and Hacksaw Ridge, or full of blood and gore. However, refreshingly, that is not the case with Indivisible. Rarely are readers, or viewers, exposed to the battles soldiers are facing within.

Darren Turner is a Chaplain in the U.S. Army. Shortly after 9/11 he is deployed to Iraq for a 15-month tour. During his tour, he spreads the word of God and offers support, advice and guidance to his fellow comrades. But, while Chaplains are tasked with being there for others, who is there to help the Chaplains?

Meanwhile, Darren’s wife, Heather, is on the home front caring for their three children as they anxiously await their fathers return. But, when Darren finally returns home, like many soldiers, he isn’t the same man. Their marriage nearly falls apart, and the same man that helped put others’ marriages together struggles to maintain his own.

Written with the actual CaringBridge entries of Heather and Darren Turner and via a first-person point of view, the reader is offered exclusive access to the mind of a solider and his family. Indivisible is sectioned into three parts: the pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment. Each part offers enough detail to familiarize the reader with the process each solider must face. Through this layout, those unfamiliar with the armed forces begin to understand the hardships both soldiers and their families face. I especially loved that the deployment section is laid out month by month, each beginning and ending with Darren’s actual CaringBridge entries. By laying out the book in such fashion, I found myself counting down the months until Darren’s return home, making one feel extremely connected to the characters both near and far.

This extraordinary story developed for the big screen captures what is often not visible, the internal battles we endure to show strength and support on the exterior while hiding our own anger, fear and pain. This captivating novel reminds us to live and let God.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the book, and then watch the story unfold in the comfort of your own living room as the DVD releases January 29th, 2018.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Coming Soon: Candlewick Press – Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner & Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew

As we welcome the new year, be sure to start your 2019 reading list off with some Candlewick Press releases coming soon!

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner

Publication Date: April 16th, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

High school is a hard time, but having a mother with cancer and a disabled brother, or struggling to understand your sexuality while navigating your mother’s OCD makes high school even harder. So, when Zoe, a popular girl, and Sam, an art savant struggling to stay invisible, develop an unlikely friendship something extraordinary is bound to ensure.

Hold on to your heart as Starworld takes you to another galaxy, in this enchanting tale of friendship, love and finding one’s self. I don’t know that you will encounter a more enriching, engaging and heart wrenching book. I feel like a better friend and person for having read Sam and Zoe’s story.

Many authors set their books in a high school setting, but often fail to capture the essence of the struggle, or fail to create characters that are relatable. Coulthurst and Garner eloquently transmit the anxiety, stressors and high school friendships in their first pairing and after the beauty of this book, I certainly hope to see more from these two!

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press. All opinions are my own.

Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew

Publication Date: August 13th, 2019

Rating: 2 Stars

When youngest sibling, Nika, is killed in a terrorist attack on the first day of school, Dasha is lost. She has lost her purpose after years of caring for her youngest sister. Trying to find comfort and love again this is a coming of age novel in the hardest sense.

Mother Tongue is a foreign story of sadness, loss and rising again. However, as a born and raised middle-class American I felt lost in the Russian references, settings and familiarity. Often books set in foreign lands, such as Exit West, A Place for Us or The Pearl That Broke Its Shell provide a balance between detail and landscape that allows “outsiders” to connect to the story without feeling lost or severed from the storyline. Unfortunately this book lacked that “connectedness,” as the balance in the descriptions and experiences was lacking for the general reader.

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press. All opinions are my own.

Code of Valor (Blue Justice #3) by Lynette Eason

Release Date: January 1st, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Never a dull moment in this heart pounding romantic suspense. Every page of this read will have you holding your breath, gripping your seat.

Emily Chastain would be dead if it weren’t for Brady St. John’s love of the water and need for a vacation. But, as soon as Brady saves Emily once he discovers she’s a magnet for trouble, and that those hunting her will stop at nothing to kill her and tie up their loose ends. Loose ends she didn’t even know she was tied up in. But Brady has fallen for her, and isn’t going to allow his law enforcement connections to let Emily down.

Each chapter ends with you wanting more, and before you know it your entire night has been spent chasing Emily, trying to figure out what she’s gotten involved in. This is certainly strong enough to be a standalone novel, but Brady’s references to Krystal leave you wondering what has crushed him so helplessly in the past.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Publication Date: March 5th, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

When Hen and Lloyd make friends with their new next door neighbors the last thing on their mind is that one of them may be a serial killer, but when Hen spots something suspicious during a dinner party, all friendliness is out the door. Is Hen’s suspicions her mental health acting up, or could the high school teacher next door really be what she thinks he is?

Before She Knew Him is a deeply twisted and disturbing tale of upbringing, mental health, friendships and the secrets we protect. This is sure to be a highly talked about suspense arriving early 2019. A perfect blend of The Wife Between Us and The Couple Next Door, this upcoming novel shows readers just how important paying attention may be.

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Daughter of Moloka’I by Alan Brennert

Publication Date: February 19th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Fourteen years ago, we were introduced to Rachel Kalama in the book, Moloka’i. Rachel, diagnosed with leprosy was quarantined on Moloka’I island in Hawaii, where she birthed a beautiful baby girl, Ruth. Daughter of Moloka’I is Ruth’s story. This second book in the series, released over a decade later, is the life that Ruth leads after leaving Moloka’I, free of leprosy. This read is a sad reminder of the United States’ past, from Japanese internment camps during WWII to the harsh treatment of those that don’t “look like us.”

Moloka’I will always remain a favorite of mine, but this was a worthy follow up, even ending gracefully as the story is finally complete. While this read provides enough background to read as a standalone, I highly recommend picking up book one prior to reading this.

*A review copy of this book was provided by NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

New Every Day: Navigating Alzheimer’s with Grace and Compassion by Dave Meurer

Publication Date: November 20th, 2018

Rating: 3 ¾ Stars

I do not currently have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, however given the number of people diagnosed with this disease every year I felt compelled to learn more about the stages, symptoms, family strain and resources available for those that do. Author, Dave Meurer, accomplishes this and much more through his injection of humor and stories of his mother-in-law, currently in moderate stage Alzheimer’s.

New Every Day provides readers light resources on how to navigate the treatment and support of loved ones with Alzheimer’s. From Medicare, Medicaid, assisted living facilities and personal respite care, Meurer covers all the bases. His stories are relatable to those who have encountered this disease and the knowledge he provides is critical for family members new to caring for individuals affected. While the internet and your own research can often provide in depth guidance, this book gives the necessary encouragement and humor for those immersed in the disease.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures (The Victorian Ladies #1) by Sandra Byrd

Publication Date: October 9th, 2018

Rating: 3 Stars

A Victorian love story of Eleanor and Harry as they learn to trust and love each other again.

Eleanor is tasked with undertaking a thousand-piece inventory of Lord Lydney. In doing so she faces the hardest decisions of her life. Facing financial peril and the struggle of being a single woman in Victorian times, the reader is left praying for Eleanor to succeed in making the right decision.

Byrd pens a powerful story of women helping women in an era of men – the mid-1800’s. Eleanor Sheffield hopes to break the glass ceilings with the help of fellow females, as every female can relate to her struggles of determining who to trust. The timeless profession of appraising art and jewelry takes on a new challenge in a time of female possession by men. Will Eleanor prove worthy of making a name for herself as a female? Will Eleanor trust the right people? Lady of a Thousand Treasures takes the reader back in time to answer these very questions and more. Unfortunately, despite the more than 100 years that separates Eleanor from today, the struggles she faces remain ever relevant.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.