Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Call of The Wrens by Jenni L. Walsh

Two women, two wars…one an orphan, one a privileged woman.

What do they have in common? 

They both wanted to join the WRENS - Women’s Royal Navy Service.

We meet Marion in 1914 as she enters an orphanage, and finally feels at home because she made a friend - Eddie. 

We meet Evelyn in 1940 who has been sheltered all her life because of a health issue.

We learn of the lives of both women as they struggle through their youth, and make the decision that they want to serve their country.

I really enjoyed Marion and Eddie’s friendship and the strength of both Marion and Evelyn.

THE CALL OF THE WRENS is an emotional, thoughtful, educational read that pulls you in with Ms. Walsh’s wonderful writing style and story line.

The book flows nicely from one time period to the next.

Historical fiction fans as well as women’s fiction fans will thoroughly enjoy this marvelous book about loyalty and friendships. 

Add it to your will love it too.  5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via a win from a TLC Book Tour Giveaway for an honest review.

Friday, December 30, 2022

SpotLight of One Visit by George Veck


A crime drama that deals with subjects like drug dealing in rural areas, county lines, familial abuse and drug addiction.

 Published on November 6, 2022




Thought-provoking, shocking, and engaging, author George Veck’s “One Visit” is a must-read crime drama. The horrors that the protagonist and his brother endure as the narrative descends further and further into chaos hone in on the growing problem of drug abuse and violence as a whole around the world, and will speak to readers on a very distinct level. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! --Anthony Avina



In sleepy, rural North Wales, Frankie Gibbs, a recently laid off, aimless twenty-year-old on Universal Credit, wants nothing more than to keep his younger brother out of the care system. 

He single-handedly takes this upon himself while their alcoholic, cocaine-addict, single-parent father, Guy Gibbs, heaps misery on their lives through systematic abuse and his never-ending wild parties. 

After Guy is sent to prison, Frankie is coerced into opening his home to Justin, an acquaintance from his school days now turned drug dealer, while his own addiction and self-worth spiral beyond recognition.



George Veck grew up in rural North West Wales, where the hardships and lack of opportunities spurred his passion for tackling tough subjects, such as poverty, addiction and mental health. 
Currently studying a masters degree in screenwriting at the University of South Wales, he's written and directed three short films. 
One Visit was the first feature-length screenplay he ever wrote, and through the exposure of this novel, he hopes to garner interest and funding to turn it into a film one day. 
For news regarding his future novels and films, follow @vecks_gems_productions on Instagram.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin




Two cases - one a cold case with a dead girl - one a rape case.

Both cases caused uproars in the small town of Neapolis.

The cold case caught the interest of Podcaster Rachel Krall once the victim’s sister, Hannah Still, sent her letters asking her to investigate the cold case since it was classified as an accident, but her sister knew Jenni was murdered.

Jenni Still was labeled as a nobody and the case was thrown under the rug and put out of everyone’s mind.

Some people remembered, though, as Rachel found out.

The rape case involved a prominent family.

NIGHT SWIM is intense, disturbing at times, difficult to put down, and will have you biting your nails as you hope Rachel uncovers the real truth of the cold case and the rape case gets justice.

Amazing read with secrets kept for years!! Loved it!!  5/5

My book club's choice for January 2023!!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Spotlight of The Lipstick Bureau by Michelle Gable

This December, San Diego’s New York Times bestselling author Michelle Gable (author of A Paris Apartment and The Bookseller’s Secret), brings to life an endlessly intriguing, feminist, historical fiction loosely inspired by Barbara Lauwers; a WWII novel set at OSS’s Morale Office in Rome, for fans of Kate Quinn and Erika Robuck. 
THE LIPSTICK BUREAU is about a woman challenging convention and boundaries to help win a war, no matter the cost. 
There are many similarities and biological details between Barbara Lauwers and Gable’s protagonist Niki Novotná, including various biological details and their work on projects like The League of Lonely War Women campaign, but their stories also diverge at some points as historical fiction does. 
“My goal was to bring attention to the work of Barbara Lauwers and capture the spirit of a time and a place—specifically, Rome, at the end of the war” writes Gable in her author’s note.

December 27, 2022

Graydon House Books



 “A gripping, fascinating read.” —Kelly Rimmer, New York Times bestselling author of The Warsaw Orphan



Inspired by one of the OSS’s few female operatives, Barbara Lauwers, a WWII novel set at OSS’s Morale Office in Rome, which was responsible for creating black propaganda and distributing it behind enemy lines. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller's Secret.

Inspired by a real-life female spy, a WWII-set novel about a woman challenging convention and boundaries to help win a war, no matter the cost.

1944, Rome. Newlywed Niki Novotná is recruited by a new American spy agency to establish a secret branch in Italy's capital. One of the OSS's few female operatives abroad and multilingual, she's tasked with crafting fake stories and distributing propaganda to lower the morale of enemy soldiers.

Despite limited resources, Niki and a scrappy team of artists, forgers and others—now nicknamed The Lipstick Bureau—find success, forming a bond amid the cobblestoned streets and storied villas of the newly liberated city. But her work is also a way to escape devastating truths about the family she left behind in Czechoslovakia and a future with her controlling American husband.

As the war drags on and the pressure intensifies, Niki begins to question the rules she's been instructed to follow, and a colleague unexpectedly captures her heart. But one step out of line, one mistake, could mean life or death…




May 1989

Washington, DC

Niki’s stomach flip-flops, and there’s a wild fluttering in her chest. You’re fine, she tells herself. In this buzzing, glittering room of some three hundred, she’s unlikely to encounter anyone she knows. Not that she’d recognize them if she did. It’s been almost forty-five years. 

“Jeez, what a turnout,” her daughter, Andrea, says as Niki takes several short inhales, trying to wrangle her breath. “Did you know this many people would show up?” 

“I had no idea what to expect,” Niki answers, and this much is true. When the invitation arrived three months ago, she’d almost pitched it straight into the trash.

You are invited

to a Black-Tie Dinner


The Ladies of the O.S.S.

The ladies of the OSS. A deceptively quaint title, like a neighborhood bridge club, or a collection of wives whose given names are not important.

“You should go,” Niki’s husband had said when she showed him the thick, ecru cardstock with its ornate engraving. “Relive your war days.”

“Manfred,” Niki had replied sternly. “Nobody wants to relive those.”

Though he’d convinced Niki to accept the invitation, it hadn’t been the hardest sell. Manfred was ill—dying, in fact, of latestage lung cancer—and Niki figured the tick mark beside “yes” was merely a way to delay a no.

The week before the event, Manfred was weaker than ever, and Niki saw her chance to back out. “I’ll just skip it,” she’d said. “This is for the best. You’d be bored out of your skull, and no one I worked with will even be there!”

Zuska,” Manfred said, using her old pet name. As always, he’d known what his wife was up to. “I want you to go. Take Andrea. She could use a night out. It’d be like a holiday for her.”

“I don’t know…” Niki demurred. Their daughter did hate to cook, and no doubt longed for a break from her two extremely pert teenagers.

“You can’t refuse,” Manfred said. “What if this ends up qualifying as my dying wish?” It was a joke, but what could Niki possibly say to that?

Now she regrets having shown Manfred the invitation and is discomfited by the scene. Niki feels naked, exposed, as though she’s wearing a transparent blouse instead of a black sparkly top with double shoulder pads.

“Do you think you’ll spot anyone you know?” Andrea asks as they wend their way through the tables, scanning for number eighteen. Every Czech native considers eighteen an auspicious number, so maybe this is a positive sign.

“It’s unlikely,” Niki says. “The dinner is honoring women, and I mostly worked with men.” Most of whom are now dead, she does not add.

Soon enough, mother and daughter find their table, and exchange greetings with the two women already seated. Niki squints at their badges and notes they worked in different theaters of operation. Onstage is a podium, behind it a screen emblazoned with O.S.S. Beneath the letters is a gold spade encircled in black.

“What a beautiful outfit!” says one of their tablemates in a tight Texas twang.

“Thank you.” Niki blushes lightly, smoothing her billowy, bright green chiffon skirt.

“You’re the prettiest one in the place,” Andrea whispers as they sit.

“What a load of shit,” Niki spits back. In this room, it’s sequins and diamonds and fur for miles. She pats Andrea’s hand. “But thank you for the compliment.” And thank God for Manfred, who’d raised their girl to treat her mother so well.

Manfred. Niki feels a quake somewhere deep. She is losing him. She’s been losing him for a long time, and maybe this is the reason she came tonight. Those three letters on-screen call up—rather, exhume—a swarm of emotions, not all of them good. But they also offer a strange kind of hope, a reminder that Niki’s survived loss before, and this old body of hers has lived more than one life. 


Excerpted from The Lipstick Bureau by Michelle Gable Bilski. 

Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Gable Bilski.

Published by Graydon House Books.



PHOTO CREDIT: Joanna DeGeneres 

MICHELLE GABLE is the New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, I'll See You in Paris, The Book of Summer, and The Summer I Met Jack. 


She attended the College of William & Mary and spent twenty years working in finance before becoming a full-time writer. 


She grew up in San Diego and lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California. 


Find her on Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, @mgablewriter.



Author website:







Barnes & Noble






Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Favorite Genres?


What are YOUR favorite genres?

Mine are historical fiction, mystery, and women's fiction.


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Secret Society of Salzburg by Renee Ryan


Why are there Nazis at our wedding? 

Why would her husband invite them during this perilous time?
Elsa and Wilhelm were connected by the opera...she is a famous singer and he is a famous, powerful orchestra director.

He made her famous, married her, and somehow started to scare her.

We then meet Hattie and Vera who were secretaries at the Board of Education in England, but Hattie was also an artist and Vera an author. 

Elsa met Hattie and Vera when they were on their way to one of her operas, and all three women with their talents became entangled in what was going on in Germany.

Art and opera were highly regarded, got the women safely together, and made a perfect cover for their friendship and what they were doing.

Elsa became fast and devoted friends with both Hattie and Vera once Elsa saw Hattie’s emotional drawings of herself and after the sisters met Elsa's Aunt Malvina.

A problem...Malvina was Jewish and in danger - could Elsa be in danger too since they shared the same blood?

You will find the answer to everything when you read this gripping, heartbreaking tale of women trying to save as many Jewish citizens as possible while endangering themselves and their dream careers.

Another marvelous, marvelous, unable-to-put-down read by Renee Ryan based on the lives of Ida and Louise not miss this book.  5/5

This book was given to me by the author for an honest review.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Featuring: The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb


We all know of Ellis Island, but do we really know what it was like and what went on?

THE NEXT SHIP HOME is an excellent inside look at Ellis Island, and with these wonderful characters makes it a read historical fiction fans won't want to miss.

Thumbs up to Ms. Webb for this marvelous book.



Friday, December 23, 2022

Spotlight of Someone Had To Do It by Amber and Danielle Brown



December 27, 2022



A December LibraryReads Pick

Readers Digest Online, 27 Best Mystery Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

"will have you turning pages as fast as you can....With biting social commentary and critiques of capitalism and privilege, this juicy, intelligent novel is utterly compelling." -Readers Digest Online, 27 Best Mystery Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

"Inspired by their time in the New York fashion scene, influencers Amber and Danielle Brown have crafted a taut and sexy debut thriller about a young Black woman struggling to make it in that cutthroat industry....Fresh dialogue, extravagant parties, and an inside view of the glamorous lives of the filthy rich grab the reader’s attention from start to finish.” -BOOKLIST

“Sister team Amber and Danielle Brown bring their own experiences of the fashion industry into this fast-paced and intriguing thriller.… Brandi is a well-developed protagonist who will be admired for her resolve and ambition….Fans of Alyssa Cole and Zakiya Dalila Harris, whose characters navigate the issues women of color face in the workplace, and of psychological thrillers like Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train will enjoy this one.” –LIBRARY JOURNAL

"A disturbing peek into the world of privilege. Someone Had to Do It is a tense page-turner that had me yelling out loud at the characters."

-Lucinda Berry, bestselling author of The Best of Friends and The Perfect Child

"Someone Had to Do It has everything. A dark and riveting page turner that has the allure of pulling off the perfect crime with an intelligent twist."--Nadine Matheson, author of THE JIGSAW MAN and THE BINDING ROOM

"Amber and Danielle Brown’s debut is a juicy, brilliant treat of a thriller that combines sexy fashion-world glamour with salient points about privilege, racism, and the corrosive effects of extreme wealth. Somehow, Someone Had to Do It manages to be both a scathing critique of our late-stage capitalist hellscape, and the perfect mental escape from it. I couldn’t put it down!"-Layne Fargo, author of They Never Learn



Brandi Maxwell is living the dream as an intern at prestigious New York fashion house Simon Van Doren. Except “living the dream” looks more like scrubbing puke from couture dresses worn by hard-partying models and putting up with microaggressions from her white colleagues. Still, she can’t help but fangirl over Simon’s it-girl daughter, Taylor. Until one night, at a glamorous Van Doren party, when Brandi overhears something she shouldn’t have, and her fate becomes dangerously intertwined Taylor’s.


Model and influencer Taylor Van Doren has everything…and is this close to losing it all. Her fashion mogul father will donate her inheritance to charity if she fails her next drug test, and he’s about to marry someone nearly as young as Taylor, further threatening her stake in the family fortune. But Taylor deserves the money that’s rightfully hers. And she’ll go to any lengths to get it, even if that means sacrificing her famous father in the process.


All she needs is the perfect person to take the fall…




I had a ton of illusions, vivid fantasies of what it would be like to score a coveted internship at Van Doren. Deluded old me thought I would be strutting around the stunning tri-story headquarters in single-soled heels, flitting from design concept meetings to on-location photo shoots, living my best fashion-girl life. Instead, I’m in the back corner of the two-thousand-square-foot ready-to-wear samples closet scrubbing fresh vomit from a slinky gown worth double my rent during my lunch hour.

Italian Vogue’s current cover girl borrowed the hand-sewn dress for a red-carpet event last night, and apparently getting it back on a rack without ruining it was too much for one of the other interns to handle. She was so hungover when she came to the office this morning that she vomited all over the dress before making it out of the elevator. But of course this dress needs to be ready for another model to wear to some big extravaganza tonight, and since I’m the designated fuckover intern, I have to clean it by hand because the satin-blend fabric is too delicate to be dry-cleaned.

This is what it takes.

I chant this to remind myself why I’m here as the lactic acid builds up in my biceps. Working for Van Doren has been on my proverbial vision board ever since I reluctantly gave up the idea, in middle school, that I could be Beyoncé. It’s a storm of hauling hundreds of pounds of runway samples around the city and sitting in on meetings with the sketch artists. A glorious, next-to-holy experience when I’m on duty at photo shoots and one of the stylists sends me to fetch another blazer, not a specific blazer, which means I get to use my own vestiary inclinations to make the selection. Which has only happened once, but still.

Just as I get the stain faded by at least seventy percent, I hear the sharp staccato of someone in stilettos approaching. I turn around and see Lexi. Lexi with her bimonthly touched-up white-blond hair and generous lip filler that she’ll never admit to having injected. When she steps closer in her head-to-toe Reformation, I am grateful that I remembered to put on a few sprays of my Gypsy Water perfume. The one that smells like rich people. But the way she’s staring at me right now, it’s clear that no matter how much I try, I am still not on her level. I do not fit in here. She does not see me as her equal, despite the fact that we are both unpaid, unknown, disposable interns. It’s become glaringly obvious that at Van Doren, it’s not actually about what you contribute, but more about how blue your blood is. Lexi doesn’t even know my name, though I’ve been here a solid nine weeks and I’m pretty sure I’ve told her at least a dozen times.

I’m already on edge because of my assignment, so I jump in before she can ask in her monotone voice. “Brandi.”

“Right,” she says, like she does every time yet still forgets. “Chloé wants the Instagram analytics report for last week. She said she asked you to put it together an hour ago.”

Which is true, but completely unfair since Jenna from marketing also asked me to run to Starbucks to buy thirty-one-ounce cups of liquid crack for her and her entire department for a 9:00 a.m. meeting, an effort that took three trips total, and technically I’m still working on the data sheets I promised Eric from product development. Not to mention the obvious: getting rid of the puke from the dress.

“I’m still working on it,” I tell her.

Lexi stares at me, her overly filled brows lifted, as if she’s waiting for the rest of my excuse. I understand her, but also I’m wondering how she still hasn’t realized this is not a case of Resting Bitch Face I have going on, that I am actually intolerant of her nagging.

Normally, I am not this terse. But nothing about today has been normal. Since this week is my period week, I’m retaining water in the most unflattering of places and the pencil dress I’m wearing has been cutting off the circulation in my thighs for the past couple of hours, and being that I’ve spent most of my break destroying the evidence of someone else’s bad decisions, it is not my fault that I’m not handling this particularly well.

“I’ll send it over as soon as I’m done,” I say to Lexi so she can leave. But she doesn’t.

“HR wants to see you,” she says with what looks like a smirk.

My mouth opens. I have no idea what HR could want, and although I’m still new to this employee thing, I know this can’t be good.

“Like, now,” Lexi barks and pivots away in her strappy, open-toe stilts.

I hang the sample next to the door, and before I leave the room I pause to briefly take in the rest of the dresses stuffed on the racks, each one in that chic, elevated aesthetic that is the cornerstone of Van Doren. This is my favorite part of the day, the chaotic nature of this room a little overwhelming but also inspiring, and I can’t wait for the day that this is my world, not just one I’m peeking my head into. A world in which I command respect.

I cross through the merchandising department, where everyone has their own private office with aerial views of Hell’s Kitchen, Soho and the Garment District, and then move through the maze of the sprawling suite in a mild sort of panic until I remind myself that I have done nothing wrong. Ever since spring semester ended, I’ve been putting in more hours than the sun. I slip in at six-thirty when the building is dark and vaguely ominous, my eyes still puffy with sleep, and when I finally drag myself into the elevator at the end of the day, it’s just as black and quiet outside. I religiously show up in current-season heels despite the blisters, albeit mass-produced renditions of the Fendi, Balenciaga and Bottega Venetas the other summer interns casually strut around in, and mostly stick to myself. I am careful about raising my voice, even if I vehemently disagree with my neurotic supervisor. I keep my tongue as puritanical as a nun’s, even when fucking incel or coddled narcissistic bitch are on the tip of it. I’m not rude or combative. I stay away from gossip. I complete all my tasks with time to spare, which is usually when I check Twitter and help out some of the other interns, even though I’d rather FaceTime Nate in the upstairs bathroom with the magical lighting. I even entertain the gang of sartorially inclined Amy Coopers in the making who insist on obnoxiously complaining to me about all of their first-world, one-percenter problems. I’ve done nothing but consistently given them reasons to think I am a capable, qualified, talented intern who would make an exceptional employee.

I have nothing to worry about.

When I knock on the door to Lauren’s office, she looks up from her desk and waves me in through the glass. I have a feeling this will not go my way when I see that my supervisor, Chloé, one of the more amiable assistants, is also here, fiddling with her six-carat engagement ring in the corner and avoiding eye contact.

“Have a seat, Brandi,” Lauren says, and I tell myself to ignore that her bright pink lipstick extends above her lip on one side.

There is no small talk. No hello or how’s it going? Under alternate circumstances, I would feel slighted, but because I’m growing more anxious by the second, I’m grateful for her smugness.

As I sit down, Chloé shifts in her chair, and I speak before she can. “I’m sorry. The Instagram report is at the top of my task list. I’ll definitely have it to you before I leave today. I just—”

“That’s not why you’re here, Brandi,” Lauren interjects.

“Oh.” I pause, and as she glances down at her notes, I try to make meaningful eye contact with my supervisor, but she is still actively dodging my eyes.

Lauren begins by throwing out a few compliments. My work ethic is admirable and I have great attention to detail, she says, and the whole time my heart is pounding so loud, I can barely make out most of her words. Chloé jumps in to effusively agree, then Lauren finally stops beating around the bush and looks me directly in the eyes.

“We just don’t feel like you’re fitting into the culture here at Van Doren.”

Every word feels like a backhanded slap across the face, the kind that twists your neck and makes the world go still and white for a few disconcerting moments, like an orgasm but not like an orgasm. It’s obvious what they mean, yet can’t quite bring themselves to say.

They just don’t like that I’m black.

They don’t like the way I wear my braids—long and unapologetic, grazing my hips like a Nubian mermaid.

They don’t like that I’m not the smile-and-nod type, willing to assimilate to their idea of what I should be, how I should act.


That’s their code for we-can’t-handle-your-individuality-but-since-we-don’t-want-to-seem-racist-we’ll-invent-this-little-loophole.

Black plus exceptional equals threat.

“If we don’t see any improvement in the coming weeks, we’re going to have to let you go,” Lauren says with no irony, her mouth easing into a synthetic smile.

I blink. I cannot believe this is happening right now. It wasn’t supposed to go like this, my internship at Van Doren, the one fashion company whose ethics align with mine. I wasn’t just blowing smoke up Lauren’s ass when I interviewed for this job, though I was looking at her sideways, wondering why she had not a stitch of Van Doren on. I’d splurged on a single-shouldered jumpsuit from this year’s spring collection that I couldn’t really afford just to impress her, while she hadn’t even felt the need to represent the brand at all as she shot out all those futile questions interviewers love propelling at candidates, I’m convinced, just to see them squirm. Even minuscule amounts of power can be dangerous.

This is bullshit, being put on probation, and I’d give anything to have the balls to call them on it. As I sit here paralyzed, Lauren’s words reverberate in my head and I rebuke them, want to suffocate and bury them.



Photo Credit: Deidhra Fahey Photograph

Amber and Danielle Brown both graduated from Rider University where they studied Communications/Journalism and sat on the editorial staff for the On Fire!! literary journal. 


They then pursued a career in fashion and spent five years in NYC working their way up, eventually managing their own popular fashion and lifestyle blog. 


Amber is also a screenwriter, so they live in LA, which works out perfectly so Danielle can spoil her plant babies with copious amount of sunshine.