Friday, May 28, 2021

Review - - Legacy

by Nora Roberts
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Reviewed by Nancy

Adrian Rizzo was seven when she met her father for the first time. That was the day he nearly killed her—before her mother, Lina, stepped in.

Soon after, Adrian was dropped off at her grandparents’ house in Maryland, where she spent a long summer drinking lemonade, playing with dogs, making a new best friend—and developing the stirrings of a crush on her friend’s ten-year-old brother. Lina, meanwhile, traveled the country promoting her fitness brand and turning it into a billion-dollar business. There was no point in dwelling on the past.

A decade later, Adrian has created her own line of yoga and workout videos, following in Lina’s footsteps but intent on maintaining creative control. And she’s just as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial—as long as neither crosses the other.

But while Lina dismisses the death threats that Adrian starts getting as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling. Year after year, they keep arriving—the postmarks changing, but the menacing tone the same. They continue after she returns to Maryland and becomes reacquainted with Raylan, her childhood crush, all grown up and as gorgeously green-eyed as ever. Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins…

Nancy says:

I enjoyed Nora Roberts’s latest release, Legacy, immensely, so let’s get that out of the way first. However, readers who expect something like Whiskey Beach or Come Sundown, which are based around suspense plots but focus heavily on romantic development, won’t find that here. Legacy continues the pattern Roberts began with Shelter in Place in 2018. Her most recent standalone novels aren’t structured as romances or romantic suspense stories. Instead, they follow the characters through long periods of their lives as they learn who they are and forge their paths. Shelter in Place, Under Currents, Hideaway, and now Legacy are more in the vein of women’s fiction with suspense and romantic elements built in. 

We meet the heroine, Adrian Rizzo, when she’s seven. Her father, who had an affair with her mother, Lina Rizzo, when she was in college, has had no part in Lina’s or Adrian’s life since Lina told him she was pregnant. Now, however, the news of their affair and Adrian’s birth has come out. He’s enraged and comes to Lina’s home in Georgetown for revenge. Because I don’t want to spoil it, I’ll just say this doesn’t go well for him. 

Roberts introduces the supporting cast slowly and gives us the chance to get to know them. This starts after the clash with Adrian’s father. To protect Adrian from the resulting publicity, Lina takes her daughter to her parents in Maryland. There Adrian meets Maya and Raylan Wells, who’ll be part of her life going forward. Raylan is a comic book geek and an artist with a good bit of skill despite being in grade school, and that seeds his character’s future. This interval also establishes the importance of Adrian’s grandparents in her life and her love for their big, old house. 

We next meet Adrian when she’s sixteen. Lina has a successful video fitness company and travels a lot for promotion. She’s about to leave on another trip, but Adrian, who’s tired of being hauled from pillar to post and just started a new school, refuses to go. She talks her mother into letting her stay home. What she doesn’t tell Lina is that she has plans to start building a life of her own while she has this time to herself. 

When she goes to school the next day, she recruits the crew she hopes will help her build that life, the table of nerds in the cafeteria. They play supporting roles through the book, particularly Teesha, who remembers all sorts of obscure facts and has a head for math. Her son Phineas, who arrives much later in the book, is one of my favorite-ever Roberts characters. 

From this point, with a little help from her mom’s team, Adrian launches a successful business of her own. Success is great, but sometimes it draws attention you don’t want. Shortly after the release of her first video, Adrian receives the first of a series of threatening poems. She turns them over to her mom’s publicity manager and the FBI and goes on with her life, but the poems arrive at regular intervals through the book. 

Roberts shows us Adrian and her friends at different points in their adult lives. Raylan and Maya both marry and have families. Raylan works in comics and eventually launches his own graphic novel company. Teesha and the rest of Adrian’s high school crew build their life paths. Aside from the threatening letters, things are going well until losses bring both Adrian and Raylan back to Maryland. 

The two pick up their friendship easily. I like the way Roberts handles that. Adrian was friendly with Raylan’s late wife, so she understands and sympathizes with his loss. His grief and his children’s are not given short shrift. His and Adrian’s transition from friends to much more occurs slowly and believably. They don’t become involved until a couple of years after they both return to Maryland. 

There’s no deep romantic angst between Raylan and Adrian. Its absence works well for me since there’s plenty of other angst to go around in the book. 

Meanwhile, Adrian’s friend and business manager, Teesha, has moved to Maryland with her family, including adorable geek child Phineas. All the children in this book are great. Raylan’s son, Bradley, is a Batman fiend. His daughter, Mariah, is a fashionista at six. Roberts knows how far to go with cuteness before it stops being endearing and becomes tiresome. 

There’s also a sweet relationship between Adrian’s dog, Sadie, and the Wells family’s dog, Jasper. When it turns out to have more than entertainment value, the turn it takes has been nicely seeded. 

One of the pleasures of the story was seeing Adrian build a relationship with her friends’ children, including Raylan’s. When the time comes for Raylan to talk to Bradley about his changing relationship with Adrian, Roberts handles that with sensitivity and grace. 

As Raylan and Adrian’s relationship deepens, however, the sender of the threatening poems is escalating. Matters come to a head in a terrific sequence with Adrian taking on the one who wants to kill her. Raylan and Teesha’s husband, Monroe, rush to her aid. But will they be in time? 

Though the plot spans a long period the moments it showcases are important to the progression of the story and the development of the characters, who were the real pleasure of Legacy for me. A superb plot helps drive any book, but engaging characters we can root for, as we do for these, are the heart of it. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Tour Review & Giveaway - - Undercover Duke

Undercover Duke
by Sabrina Jeffries
Duke Dynasty - Book 4
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

Along with his stepsiblings, Sheridan Wolfe, Duke of Armitage, is determined to finally solve the mysteries behind the suspicious deaths of their mother’s three husbands. Tasked with investigating a possible suspect, Sheridan finds himself in dangerous proximity to her captivating daughter, Vanessa Pryde. But still haunted by a tragically lost love, the duke is resolved to resist the attraction—and avoid any “scheming” husband-hunters. Besides, lovely Miss Pryde seems utterly smitten with a roguish London playwright . . .

Vanessa thinks a little scheming may be in order—for it’s Sheridan she truly has her sights, and her heart, set on. Her theatrical flirtation is intended only to break through his business-like demeanor and guarded emotions. And as Sheridan’s jealousy becomes aroused, the two soon find themselves propelled into a scheme of an altogether different kind, involving a pretend engagement, a secret inquiry—and a perhaps not-so-secret leap into true love . . . 

PJ's Thoughts:

Creating families is one of the things Sabrina Jeffries does exceptionally well and that skill is on full display in this book. While quiet, serious Sheridan takes the lead in this final book of the Duke Dynasty series, his siblings - and their spouses - are all nearby to add their own brand of sibling rivalry, teasing, unsolicited advice, and assistance as the one they call "Saint Sheridan" navigates his own not-so-smooth journey to love.

Usually, by the end of a series, I have formed an impression of all the main characters but not so with Sheridan. It was enlightening to watch him emerge from his quiet, all-business demeanor and show us the roiling emotions lurking beneath the surface. There's so much more to him that I had anticipated. And it's especially delicious to watch Vanessa set it all into motion by ruffling his feathers so delightfully. As much as I've enjoyed the heroes in this series, I've enjoyed the heroines more. Each of them is strong, determined, resourceful, and someone I'd love to call my friend and Vanessa is no exception. I adored her, supported her, and wanted to toss her horrible mother off a cliff. She and Sheridan have undeniable chemistry, even if it's reluctant chemistry on one side. But watching that reluctance crumble and then slowly build into something deeper, stronger, and everlasting is the fun of a well-written romance, no?

Another facet of many of Jeffries' series is a well-crafted mystery that runs through all of the books. In this series, the siblings have been working to uncover the truth behind the deaths of their mother's three husbands, men they've come to believe were murdered. Jeffries is a master of twists and turns, keeping me guessing as to the identity of the killer throughout much of the series. I finally landed on the right suspect during Undercover Duke but I had no clue as to the person's motive until it was revealed by the author in an intense, life-or-death scene. I love when an author can accomplish that.

The sweet, funny epilogue wraps everything up with a lovely, sentimental bow that had me laughing, crying, and happy for the time spent with this family. The only character left standing outside this happy circle of romantic bliss is celebrated (fake) playwright, Konrad Juncker. His story will be told in the novella, "When We Finally Kiss Goodnight," as part of the holiday anthology, A Yuletide Kiss, due out this fall. I'm hopeful it will also include a certain lady's companion from Undercover Duke

While Undercover Duke can certainly be enjoyed on its own, for the full family (and mystery) experience, I recommend reading the books of this series in order: Project Duchess, The Bachelor, Who Wants to Marry a Duke, and Undercover Duke


Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty novels and works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Her writing has been published in more than twenty-one languages and there are over nine million copies of her books in print. A four-time RITA® Award-finalist, Jeffries has won the Holt Medallion Award, the Maggie, and the Booksellers’ Best Award. After earning her Ph.D. in English Literature from Tulane University, she chose writing over academics, and now her sexy and humorous historical romances routinely land on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Sabrina lives in North Carolina with her husband and adult son, who has inspired her to actively champion the cause of autistic children.

Visit her online at You can also find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.


Have you been reading the Duke Dynasty series?

Did you guess the identity of the villain?

Which do you prefer: solving the mystery or being outsmarted by the author?

Enter below to win a paperback copy of Undercover Duke by Sabrina Jeffries! Two paperbacks are up for grabs.

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on June 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Undercover Duke

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Review - - Dial A for Aunties

Dial A for Aunties
by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 27, 2021
Reviewed by Santa

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It's the biggest job yet for the family wedding business
—"Don't leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!"—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie's perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy's great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Santa Says:


Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto takes you on a five star ride of your life from the get go. You will laugh, cry, sigh and blurt things like ‘Oh, no she didn’t!’ with abandonment. The book is like ‘Weekend at Bernies’ meets ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ meets every great rom-com movie you have ever seen. We meet Meddelin or Maddie Chan and her four aunties including her mother, Ma, for Sunday Dim Sum at a restaurant in San Gabriel, California. Her aunties each took great pains to come to America from Indonesia and China. They married and had families but as each husband left them they banded together to start their wedding business for their Asian neighbors. They all live a block or so away from one another and all in each other’s business. All her cousins, all male, went to the other side of the country to college. Maddie, ever the obedient one, went locally to UC Berkley where she met and later lost the love of her life Nathan Chan - but more on that later.  

She graduated, moved back in with her mother and joined the family business as the wedding photographer. Big Aunt was the cake designer, Second Aunt was the hairdresser and Fourth Aunt was the wedding singer. Third Aunt, or Ma, was the floral designer. This particular Sunday is intense as they go over the intricate particulars of what promises to be the biggest wedding they have ever done. Having this be a success means a great deal of other families will want to book with them. This event of the year will take place at a brand new, exclusive resort on nearby Saint Lucia island.  

And if there that wasn’t enough, Meddie’s mom has taken it upon herself to set her up on a blind date. Well, not really a blind date since her mom set Meddie up on an on-line dating service putting up her photo, setting up a profile AND started messaging one Ah Guan. How else was Ma going to see any grandbabies in her future? Meddie reluctantly agrees to go but the date doesn’t end very well for Ah Guan when she accidentally tasers him to death. In her panic, her only recourse was to call on the Aunties. They’ll know what to do - right? So they stow him on ice in one of their bakery coolers. And would deal with him after the wedding. No problem, right? 

Big problems - as someone takes that cooler over to the wedding venue where stowing a dead body is not the only oddball thing going on at this wedding. Wedding gifts are stolen. Hired groomsmen are out of control, the maid of honor is unscrupulous and, amid all this, her Nathan appears out of nowhere. It’s his resort after all. Could anything else go haywire? Yes, yes, it could!  

You need to get your hands on this book. I loved the craziness of family. My Italian family was very similar except for the extreme tasering, etc.. We do know how to manage each other’s lives! I loved how Meddie finally found her own voice and her own way and how she and Nathan got their own happily ever after, too - much to the delight of the Aunties and Ma.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Review - - Beth & Amy

Beth & Amy
by Virginia Kantra
The March Sisters - Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

Amy March is more like her older sister Jo than she’d like to admit. An up-and-coming designer in New York’s competitive fashion industry, ambitious Amy is determined to get out of her sisters’ shadows and keep her distance from their North Carolina hometown. But when Jo’s wedding forces Amy home, she must face what she really wants…and confront the One Big Mistake that could upend her life and forever change her relationship with Jo.

Gentle, unassuming Beth grew up as the good girl of the family. A talented singer-songwriter, she’s overcome her painful anxiety to tour with country superstar Colt Henderson. But life on the road has taken its toll on her health and their relationship. Maybe a break to attend her sister’s wedding will get her out of her funk. But Beth realizes that what she’s looking for and what she needs are two very different things.…

With the March women reunited, this time with growing careers and families, they must once again learn to lean on one another as they juggle the changes coming their way.

PJ's Thoughts:

I've been eagerly anticipating this second book in Virginia Kantra's The March Sisters duet since reading book one, Meg & Jo in late 2019. I mean, how could I not be excited about a book with this first line: "It's always a mistake to sleep with a man who's in love with your sister." I'm happy to say the wait was well worth it.  

Virginia Kantra is such a gifted storyteller. Immersing myself into this story and into the lives of the March sisters felt very much like being wrapped in a warm blanket while a beloved grandmother or favorite aunt told me the story of her life. As I followed Beth and Amy from a small farm in North Carolina to Paris, New York City, Nashville, and, finally, back home, these women - their sisters, parents, and the men in their lives - all became more than characters in a book. They became my friends. They earned my affection. I became invested in their lives, their success, their happiness. They became so real to me that I could almost convince myself that they're actually happily living out their lives only a couple hours away. 

One of the things that added to the overall richness of this book was how complex and fully formed the characters were, not only the four sisters but the peripheral characters as well. I enjoyed how all four sisters continued to evolve under Kantra's guiding hand, even though the primary focus in this second book is on Beth and Amy. I have to admit that no one was more surprise than I by the fact that Amy, my least favorite character in book one, turned out to be the one whose story arc I most enjoyed in book two and who ended up being my favorite March sister. That's the power of Virginia Kantra's writing.

The chapters that presented the viewpoint of Abby, the girls' mother were a nice bonus. I felt her perspective gave an added depth to the story and I enjoyed her personal journey as well as the evolution of her relationship with her husband. Dan, the veteran who works with the goats on the March farm, was an unexpected surprise with unexpected depths and an unexpected connection with one member of the March family. He ended up being one of my favorite characters. And then there's Trey and his complicated relationship with two of the March sisters. I didn't like him much in Meg & Jo but by the end of Beth & Amy he had become one of my favorites. There was so much more to him than I expected. Kantra did a wonderful job of unraveling the layers that had formed the man he had become. By the end of the book I was fully invested in him, his happiness, and the relationship that was always meant to be. 

Fans of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Kantra's inspiration for her modern-day March sisters, may be wary of this new book, knowing the tragic outcome for Beth in the original story. Fear not, while Kantra's Beth deals with a life-threatening disorder, her emotional story arc leads her to an uplifting, hopeful, and very much alive conclusion. You can move forward and enjoy this new book without that cloud hanging over your head.

If you haven't read Meg & Jo yet, check out my 5-star review here


Have you read Meg & Jo? If so, which sister was your favorite?

I love characters - like Amy - who surprise me. Tell me about a fictional character who recently surprised you. 

I'm always on the lookout for books to add to my summer reading list. What book(s) are you most anticipating this summer? 

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM (Eastern), May 26 will receive a signed, print copy of Meg & Jo. 

*Must be 18
*U.S. only
*Void where prohibited


Monday, May 24, 2021

Review - - Not You Again

Not You Again
by Terri Osburn
The NOT Series - Book 1
Publisher: Macie Rae Publishing
Release Date: May 24, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

Four blind dates in five days. I can’t believe I agreed to this.

Actually, I can. That’s what I do. I agree to things I don’t want to do to make other people happy. In this case, my four best friends. They’re worried about me and if going on a few dates will make them happy, then I’ll do it. How bad could they be?

I probably shouldn’t have asked that.

I’m starting to seriously wonder if my friends know me at all. Each pick is worse than the last, and none of them compare to my former fiancé. But then I guess maybe that’s the point. Someone new to help me forget the old.

To help me move on.

Except I don’t need a man to prove that I’ve moved on. Why can’t my friends understand that? And why does the same beautiful stranger keep saving me from these awful encounters? The universe seems to be throwing him into my path, and the more time I spend with him the more I wish that he was one of the dates.

There’s one more date left and I can’t help but wonder if he’ll pop up again. How many chance encounters can two people have? Pittsburgh is a big city so the chances are slim.

But what if…?

PJ's Thoughts:

Terri Osburn is an auto-buy author for me. I enjoy her humor, snappy dialogue, and heart-tugging romance which are all on display in Not You Again. The first half of the book is brimming with that humor as Becca, an overworked event planner who clearly has no interest in dating, finally caves to her friends' well-meaning nudges and agrees to go on four blind dates, each engineered by one of her girlfriends. The first three are hilariously cringeworthy - obviously any second dates are out of the question - but each one has something in common: a handsome stranger who always seems to be in the right place at the right time to assist Becca in her escapes from the doomed dates. She's intrigued, quite possibly interested, but something holds her back. Eventually, we discover what that something is and it's at that point that the book takes a deep emotional dive. 

I wasn't expecting the turn in the tenor of this story but, upon reflection, it's exactly what was needed and Osburn handled the tragic situation that necessitated that turn with sensitivity and care. As events from her past were revealed, including her reasons for not wanting to date, Becca's character became more textured, more relatable, and more emotionally layered. It was clear that there were emotions she needed to confront, process, and accept before she would be able to put the past behind her and move forward, before she could even consider the possibility of once again opening her heart to love. Again, the author used care in giving her characters the time and space necessary for the needed growth and healing to occur. By the time Becca reached the end of her journey, I was fully confident in her readiness to take that next step forward into a relationship and tickled pink with the man taking that step with her. 

Not You Again is hard for me to categorize. It's a sweet blend of romance, romantic comedy, and women's fiction with a satisfying HEA. It had me laughing out loud in parts, sobbing through multiple tissues in others, and sighing happily at the end. It's a story that touched me deeply. I've read everything Osburn has published and, for me, this ranks as one of her best. 

Not You Again launches a new series that has me eager for more trips to Pittsburgh (so vividly described, especially the neighborhoods, that the city is almost a character in itself) with stories starring Becca's friends and, hopefully, future peeks into Becca's new relationship as well. I've already marked my book calendar for Not Playing Fair, Megan's story, due to be released August 30, 2021. 


Friday, May 21, 2021

Review - - Dear Roomie

Dear Roomie
by Kate Meader
Rookie Rebels - Book 5
Publisher: Kate Meader LLC
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

Reid Durand isn't here to make friends

Coming from a legacy of hockey greatness, he has games to win and things to prove. With his focus during his first season as a Chicago Rebel purely on his drive to succeed, every vice is off the table. No booze, no sugar, and definitely no women.

Kennedy Clark is the master of the side hustle.

She'll walk your dog, brew your espresso, and pick up your dry-cleaning, all while rocking it in Warrior pose. Standing still is impossible for her, because the moment she starts to slow down, it'll come rushing back in a torrent. The memories. The pain. The heartbreak.

Their meet-cute is more of a freeze-cute. Besides, they already know each other. He's the rude, entitled customer at her coffee shop, or what used to be her coffee shop since she just got fired--because of Mr. Extra Shot Americano himself.

Reid didn't intend to get Kennedy fired.
He didn't intend to rescue a dog after the poor thing ended up in the lake.
And he definitely didn't intend to acquire a new roommate.

A curvy, chatty, tempting roommate.
Now this perfect storm of events are about to wreak havoc on his neatly-ordered life.

Reid Durand isn't here to make friends, and he's certainly not here to lose his heart to a puppy, a team, or a chaos agent like Kennedy. But then we don't always get what we want...

PJ's Thoughts:

Leave it to Kate Meader to take my least favorite Rookie Rebel, Reid "I don't want to be your friend" Durand, and transform him into my favorite hero of the series. I should have known there was much more to this guy than the rigid lifestyle and snarly, in-your-face demeanor that he's perfected with teammates and opponents alike. All it took to begin chipping away at that hard shell was a half-drowned, one-eyed, skin and bones pup and a "dog nanny" with bubbling, upbeat, positive energy and radiating more sunshine in her personality than...well...the sun. Reid's by-the-book life just got complicated. I adored these two together. Well, I adored them eventually. With Kennedy, my affection happened quickly and continued to deepen as her actions showed her character and loyalty. It took a bit longer to warm up to Reid but once his layers began to unravel (Bucky, the rescued dog started the process - Kennedy finished it), he slowly began to win my heart. And by the time he won over Kennedy - and her grandmother - I was a puddle at his feet.

Kate Meader is one of those authors who never lets me down. Whether her characters hang out at the fire station, in the kitchen, at the hockey rink, or somewhere else, I know going into any book she's written that I'll need a fan (she is a master of sexual tension),  tissues (emotional depth that wrings my heart), and I should never take a drink while reading (some of those zingers are hilarious). In Dear Roomie, she gave me all of the above...and then some. There are a lot of Rom-Com elements to this story but there's also deep emotional baggage that both main characters are hiding beneath the surface. Meader explores some painful topics, such as the lasting effects of verbal and emotional abuse and how traumatic loss at an early age can manifest itself in the way we choose to live and interact with others. Both topics are handled deftly, imparting the gravity and importance of them while keeping the story on a hopeful, upward trajectory. 

Side characters add an incredible amount of richness to this book. Grandma Edie is a hoot; I want to be just like her when I reach Assisted Living age. Reid's teammates, along with retired Rebels, and the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) are all along for the ride. I love the camaraderie among this group and the way the men handle their "issues." One particular scene (among the men), conducted in a kitchen with an assortment of cookies, tequila, and copious amounts of unsolicited advice had me laughing and crying in equal measure. I adore these guys. And, please, may we have more of Reid's brother, Bastian? I know he's not a Rebel but he's such a good guy and so deserves a happily ever after of his own. 

I enthusiastically recommend adding Dear Roomie to your summer reading list. It's the fifth book in Kate Meader's Rookie Rebels series but can absolutely be enjoyed as a standalone, however, once you meet Reid's teammates don't be surprised if you immediately start searching out their stories too. They really are impossible to resist. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Tour Review - - The Woman With The Blue Star

The Woman With The Blue Star
by Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Park Row
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by incredible true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an unforgettable testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

PJ's Thoughts:

Pam Jenoff writes with compassion, meticulously-researched historical detail, and heart-wrenching candor. I have yet to read a book written by her that is less than a 5-star read.  

In The Woman With The Blue Star, Jenoff turns her pen to the plight of Polish Jews in the city of Kraków during WWII. While her story is fictional, the characters in the book, and their journeys, are inspired by actual Jews who took refuge in the sewers of a Polish city to escape transport to Nazi death camps. 

This is a book that pulled me in from the beginning and kept me glued to the pages. It's filled with danger, suspense, anguish, hope, an unlikely friendship between two young women who live very different lives, and enough twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. Jenoff's words paint an all-too-vivid picture of what life was like for both Sadie and Ella. She brings the streets of a Nazi-occupied city, and a dark, dank, rat-infested sewer, to life; making it all too easy to imagine the fear, desperation, and rage that filled peoples' souls.

Perhaps what affected me the most was the fact that although Sadie and Ella - all the characters, really - were fictional characters, I never stopped remembering that they, especially Sadie and her family, were inspired by actual people who lived, and died, in the horrors of the Holocaust. Jenoff created such fully-developed, relatable young women that it was easy to forget that were not actual people which amped the emotional connection I felt with them even higher. My heart ached for what they endured but also found hope in the fact that because someone found the courage to do the right thing, others were saved and two young women who could easily have become enemies instead found friendship, purpose, an enduring bond, and the will to go on when all seemed lost. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Review - - The Summer Seekers

The Summer Seekers
by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Reviewed by PJ

Kathleen is eighty years old. After she has a run-in with an intruder, her daughter wants her to move in to a residential home. But she’s not having any of it. What she craves—what she needs—is adventure.

Liza is drowning under the daily stress of family life. The last thing she needs is her mother jetting off on a wild holiday, making Liza long for a solo summer of her own.

Martha is having a quarter-life crisis. Unemployed, unloved and uninspired, she just can’t get her life together. But she knows something has to change.

When Martha sees Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver and companion to share an epic road trip across America with, she decides this job might be the answer to her prayers. She’s not the world’s best driver, but anything has to be better than living with her parents. And traveling with a stranger? No problem. Anyway, how much trouble can one eighty-year-old woman be?

As these women embark on the journey of a lifetime, they all discover it’s never too late to start over.

PJ's Thoughts:

I should know by now that a book by Sarah Morgan will always bring me to the best possible way. Today’s are brought to you courtesy of The Summer Seekers, Morgan's newest women's fiction novel that immersed me into the lives of three very different women, each unique in her own right, all tied together by unexpected circumstances. I was intrigued by all three, curious about the circumstances that brought them to this point in their lives, and eager to discover where one summer of change would take them.

Three woman, three generations, each at a crossroads in her life. One who escapes her unappreciative family for a summer of exploration and self-discovery in her English seaside childhood home and the hope of finding the person she used to be. For the other two unlikely companions, a flight to the United States, followed by a highly entertaining, cross-country, road trip filled with adventure, laugh-out-loud humor, poignant moments, new love, and a long-overdue reconciliation. For all three, a summer of forgiveness, understanding, self-reflection, emotional healing, and a reminder that we’re never too old - or too young - for new beginnings. 

Once I began reading this book, I became so fully immersed in these characters and their stories that I could not put it down until I finished. The Summer Seekers is another heart-tugging, uplifting, soul-satisfying story by Sarah Morgan that has my enthusiastic recommendation. Take it to the beach, take it to the pool, or just take it to the couch. This heartwarming tale should be on everyone’s summer reading list.


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Tour Review - - Under the Italian Sun

Under the Italian Sun
by Sue Moorcroft
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: May 13, 2021 (e-book)
Release Date: July 13, 2021 (Paperback)
Reviewed by PJ

A sun-baked terrace. The rustle of vines. And the clink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When revelations close to home turn Zia’s world upside down,she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

But as she looks for answers, she can’t help but notice Piero, the vineyard owner next door – a distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

PJ's Thoughts: 

If you're missing travel as much as I am, this book will transport you to the Italian countryside, filling your senses and your heart. 

Under the Italian Sun was my first book by Sue Moorcroft. I can guarantee it will not be my last. This talented story teller not only brought her complex characters to life but also the lovely Umbria region of Italy in this emotional feast for the senses that is a heart-tugging blend of women's fiction and romance.

I felt an emotional attachment to Zia from the first, my heart going out to her as she discovered that everything she had known about her birth and life was based on lies. Her journey to discover her roots was an immersive experience that elicited laughter, tears, unexpected truths, difficult decisions, and new connections. It also brought romance, deeper insight into who she is as a person and what she wants for her future. Zia, and her supporting cast, are well-developed characters who elicited strong emotions, both among one another and within me, the reader. I felt as if I knew each of them, understood them, cared about them (well, the good ones - there are a few not so good) and would recognize them instantly should I encounter them in their bucolic corner of Italy. Much like Zia, I fell in love with the people, their beautiful little corner of paradise, the wine, the food, and the handsome vineyard owner next door. 

I enthusiastically recommend adding Under the Italian Sun by Sue Moorcroft to your summer reading list, accompanied by a glass of wine, a sunny terrace, and your favorite Italian cuisine. Sexy Italian vineyard owner, optional. 


Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached the #1 spot on Kindle UK. Shes won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers' Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Published by HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world.

Social Media Links  


Facebook profile  

Facebook author page