A Dress the Color of the Moon by JENNIFER IRWIN

A Dress the Color of the Moon (Dress #2)

The follow-up to A Dress the Color of the Sky is finally here. And yes, it was worth the wait.

Prudence Aldrich is a sex addict fresh out of 5 weeks of rehab. She learned a lot at Serenity Hills. She faced quite a few demons and struggled to maintain her control over that addiction.

Five weeks isn’t going to magically cure her. She knows this in her head. But a lifetime of building walls, and being out of control, acting impulsively, and expecting to be hurt will not be easy to overcome.

When Prudence comes home to a new house that Lily has obtained for her and Christian, Prue is annoyed and grateful. Lily plays a big part in this book and her story goes a long way in explaining her own need for control and the firm friendship she has with Prue.

While Prudence settles in with Christian and goes back to work at the design firm, every day is a test. Every day she must decide to make good decisions, to go to meetings, and to stay away from men. That one is hard since a lot of how she sees herself is caught up in sex.

You don’t just wake up one day and become an addict. Of anything. That behavior comes much earlier in life. Whatever trauma you go through as a child, you carry with you forever. You find tools that help you cope and they are not usually the healthy kind. Prudence falls and lets herself down a lot. But she gets back up and keeps trying. When you grow up feeling less than, you grow up thinking everyone has their life together except you.

Everything is more complicated when Alistair shows up. Yes, he is a hottie with a British accent that makes Prue drop her pants around him. But he has way more problems than either of them understand yet. And while her emotional growth really comes through with this guy, she is still vulnerable.

In the meantime, Mike is having his own troubles after the death of Gloria. He is questioning his path as well. Can all of these beautiful but flawed people ever be free of the past?

Abuse comes in many forms. But it’s all abuse. And as a child that shapes our view of ourselves and the men and women in our world. You can put on a facade of perfection but inside you still feel unworthy and broken. We judge ourselves so harshly.

This book is raw, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and it resonated with me so much so that I read it three times and made copious notes! I sobbed over this sentence. “All of this stemmed from feeling less than as a child”. That was an arrow to my heart.

I have been in therapy for years. All of my sisters have. And it did nothing. I shared the first book with my sister and it changed our lives. We don’t have to be perfect for someone to love us. We can mess up as many times as it takes and someone will still love us unconditionally. We can break the chain with our own families. We are enough. That and so much more touched me deeply.

I am hoping we hear more about Prudence and the imperfect and yet perfect cast of characters in her world.

Jennifer Irwin bleeds her story onto the pages for all of us to see and know that we are not alone and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Glass Spider Publishing October 30, 2021.

FAN CLUB by ERIN MAYER

Fan Club

In this raucous psychological thriller, a millennial office worker finds relief from her crippling ennui in the embrace of a cliquey fan club, until she discovers the group of women is bound together by something darker than devotion.

The first thing I want to say is this isn’t a psychological thriller. But if you are into super fans and celebrity worship, this may be for you.

Our narrator is yet another gloomy millennial looking for something other than the life she has. She has a job at an online website for women. Basically data entry. She is bored. Until one night at a bar,she hears something in the latest child actor turned pop star. And all of a sudden she is obsessed. Almost stalkerish. When a like- minded colleague finds out, she is invited to be part of a group of supposed adults who worship her music. And so begins her tenuous hold on reality.

These women are Mean Girls. Of course, they do horrible things and the ending left me with more questions than answers.

NetGalley/ October 26th, 2021 by Mira



It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder by Maria DiRico

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder (Catering Hall Mystery, #3)

Number 3 in the Catering Hall Mystery Series

Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder…

Can we all just stop and appreciate the clever title on this third installment of the Catering Hall Mysteries?

As we all know Christmas can be stressful. Mia is busy with the business. And the jobs she has lined up are not your typical parties. Sweet sixteen drama queen? Check. First- time parents looking to recreate the nativity scene? Check. Enough said. They are swamped. And to make it even more fun…her mother shows up! Oh my goodness I didn’t foresee that.

When Jamie finds out some news that rocks his world, Mia is there for him. While Jamie sulks and ignores his own family for this guy who is so obviously not his brother, Mia can only be patient and dig for more information.

When a body turns up by the neighbor’s Santa Workshop, Mia and friends go all out to find out who the killer is. Which could end up getting her killed.

This is one of my favorite series. I love every single character. Each one is unique and funny in some way. I hope we will see a new one soon!

NetGalley/October 26th, 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Oh William!

The Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author traces the enduring bond between a divorced couple in a poignant novel about love, loss, and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any point in life.

The amazing Ms. Strout has brought us back to Lucy. Reading a book by this author is like having someone talking to you about their life. There aren’t a bunch of descriptions to clutter the simple, and beautiful conversation.

Lucy tells us about her first husband, William, in this story. Their relationship is what it is. They take each other as they are. Friends, parents and secret keepers. We see the story of how they met and how and why they divorced. There is no drama in the telling of infidelity. Again, it is what it is. And that empathy towards each other is what is so beautiful. There is no judgment. Just support given and received.

Secrets long kept come to light and I loved how these two handled them. Lucy learns quite a bit about herself as well. And how others view her. And she accepts this and adjusts. Again, no drama, no extra stuffing, just a crystal clear voice of calm.

I connected at once with her almost stream- of- consciousness style of writing. It was so easy to slip into her world. A story of life, love and ,a lot of empathy.

NetGalley/ October 19th, 2021 by Random House





MISS ELIZA’S ENGLISH KITCHEN by ANNABEL ABBS

Miss Eliza's English Kitchen: A Novel of Eliza Acton, Pioneering Victorian Food Writer

The story of two real-life women who together create a cookbook at a time when women were not expected to even venture into the kitchens. Eliza Acton and Ann Kirby become unlikely friends and brought forth the first cookery book for private homes. They were the first to list ingredients as well as cooking times. Later their work would be ‘borrowed’ for Mrs. Beeton’s cookbook.

The year is 1837 and Eliza Acton has no desire to be anyone’s wife. She is a poet. A very determined poet. But when her book of poems is rebuffed by her publisher, she is crushed. Especially when he suggests she write a cookery book. Eliza is furious. But then things go awry in her family with her father losing everything and fleeing the country. Leaving his wife to depend on Eliza alone to restore the family’s wealth.

As her mother leases a boarding house, Eliza needs to learn to cook. As she collects recipes she finds that she loves cooking. The flavors blending like poetry itself. But she needs help.

17 -year- old Ann Kirby has lived in poverty and uncertainty her entire life. Her mother is supposedly mad and is put in an insane asylum without her knowledge. Her father is a drunk as well as crippled. It’s a dark life and a hungry one.

When Eliza hires her to help her she knows nothing about cooking. However, she can read and write and her palate is spot on and her descriptions of the flavors are poetry itself. They take ten years to perfect their book. In that time they become more than employer/employee. They become friends. They make each other bolder, stronger, and better.

I enjoyed the back and forth viewpoints. No time hopping, just their own perspectives and thoughts. The descriptions of everything they create are much like poetry and I could smell the herbs and taste the tart lemon on my tongue.

After reading this I googled Eliza and Ann and their book. They introduced spaghetti! And Brussel Sprouts.

Very well written!

NetGalley/October 26th, 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks




CARE FREE BLACK GIRLS by ZEBA BLAY

Carefree Black Girls

This book is a look and a celebration of black women’s identity and impact on pop culture by HuffPost critic, Zeba Blay.

Blay was the first person to give us the #carefreeblackgirls, in 2013 on Twitter.

This is a series of essays that took me longer than normal to read. This isn’t my story and I wanted to really absorb what she was saying.

Blay takes us on a journey to meet black women who were significant throughout history. Each in a different way. Starting with Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama and Cardi B and Lizzo!

She shares her own story and experiences as well as those women she writes about.

I think what I was left with in the end was a celebration of women who defy stereotypes. Women who stand up and stand out. Black women get things done. They are strong because they have had no other choice.

What a beautiful look at the women who changed history really.

NetGalley/ October 19th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Griffin

THE MOTHER NEXT DOOR by TARA LASKOWSKI

The Mother Next Door

Big Little Lies has nothing on The Ivy Five. These women are pros. The only thing is they are now one short of five. What happened to the other member? Stay tuned.

Every year the Ivy Five have their annual block party on Halloween. Ivy Woods Drive is the place to be. The perfect cul-de-sac for the perfect families who live there. The envy of the town. But not for one person. This person knows their secrets and is about to spill them all.

When Theresa moves into the exclusive street, she is eager to fit in. To be accepted by these perfect women and their perfect lives. She finds herself volunteering or everything and soon she is one of them.

Then the threats begin. Secrets run deep in this town and especially in this group. They’ve done some pretty awful things and now someone is threatening to out them all. But who is it? Could it be the new girl?

While they all rush to cover their own backsides, Theresa has secrets of her own. Secrets that will intersect with the Ivy Five and may blow up all of their lives.

These were just despicable women. Which is a compliment. They were so horrible that you had to keep going to see who did what to whom and why!

This is a really good domestic suspense tale and I’m glad I read it!

NetGalley/October 12th, 2021 by Graydon House

MUHAMMAD, THE WORLD-CHANGER by MOHAMAD JEBARA

Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait

I was very eager to read this book. It is so well-researched and easy to read. The topic is one I have long been interested in and yet everything I read was contradictory. Not this.

I am quite certain Muslim academics knew and understood the subject of Muhammad, the rest of us were a bit confused. Who exactly was he and what shaped his view of the world?

This was nothing like any other book I have read. It was researched and what came out of that was a man I could understand. Surrounded by women, some Jewish and Christian, He was inspired by the experiences he had and the people he met. I understood why there are no images of him. He truly was an inspirational man who believed in a world view and had a vision of what the world should look like.

Did he change the way the world moved forward? I would say he did. From his birth to his death he was a most remarkable man. With all the translations having different meanings, it is difficult to sort fact from fiction. This was an eye-opening work for me.

NetGalley/ October 12th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Essentials

THE LAST GUEST by TESS LITTLE

The Last Guest

I think my favorite character was Persephone. As she didn’t drone on back and forth.

I expected a locked room mystery but the dialogue was just too much. Actress Elspeth has been invited to her ex-husbands birthday party. She has made it clear she will only attend if their daughter is with her. When her daughter is a no-show, things get weird.

There were a whole bunch of odd people invited. Including her ex-husband’s current lover. They were having dinner and then drinks and then, lights out.

Elspeth wakes up to a dead ex and a room of sleeping guests. The police are suspicious of all of them. The story doesn’t make sense. And it really does not.

I honestly only liked the octopus. The rest of them were just self-involved.

If you are a fan of weird things, this is for you.

NetGalley/October 5th, 2021 by Ballantine Books

THREE SISTERS by HEATHER MORRIS

Three Sisters (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #3)

From the author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey, comes the latest from Heather Morris. Three Sisters.

The story of three sisters. Cibi, Magda and, Livia, who in 1929 Slovakia, make a promise to their father that they will always stay together no matter what comes.

It is years later when the youngest, Livia, is told to be at Temple the next Friday night to go work for the Germans. While Magda is in the hospital ill. Cibi is working with a group to get to Palestine and is shocked when she visits home and finds that her little sister is being sent to the German Camps. Remembering their promise to their father, Cibi volunteers to go with Livia. With Magda safe in the hospital, maybe she will be safe.

Loaded like cattle into box cars and stripped of all they own, the girls are only teenagers and have no idea that they are headed to Auschwitz to work for the Nazis. As they struggle to survive and stay strong, Magda is taken as well. The horrors they endure will make you weep. But when they find Magda, they make each other a promise. To live. No matter what they have to do and make it back home.

These girls fought everything the Nazis threw at them and they came out alive. Traumatized, but alive. Now their home is under Communist control and they decide to travel to Israel. To a new home.

This series of Historical Fiction with some facts, is one of the most heartbreaking you will read. But if they could live it, I could read it. I wept, I was so angry on their behalf. The courage of these girls and the unbreakable bonds they shared was inspiring.

With two of the sisters still in Israel with their families, they shared their story with Morris. While a lot of these people were real, and the unspeakable things that were done to them were real, this is Historical Fiction.

It is a wonderful thing when a book is so well done you feel as if you are there. You can smell the awful smells in the camps. You can feel the fear of the people treated so cruelly. While this book is full of heartache it is also full of love, courage, and determination.

Well Done!

NetGalley/ October 5th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press