REVIEW – The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The First to Lie is a twisty thrill-ride of a book! We’re introduced to two primary characters, Nora and Ellie. One is a glamorous pharmacy rep with a hidden past, and the other is a reporter for a new news station in Boston who seems to be alone in the world. They both have their secrets and things quickly unfold through each chapter. Throw in a pushy, nosy neighbor turned coworker, quick and impactful flashback chapters and a corporate coverup that has an unending ripple effect, and you have a recipe for a thriller that’s sure to delight readers and keep them guessing.

There are twists here that I called early on, and some that I never saw coming. Ryan’s writing is easy and smooth, and her short, punchy chapters kept me turning the pages way past my bedtime!

Content warning: infertility/fertility treatments, forced miscarriage/abortion

Thank you Forge Reads and Get Red PR for sending me an advanced copy of The First to Lie!

REVIEW – Black Fatigue by Mary-Frances Winters

{Available September 15, 2020} Black Fatigue is anti-racism 101 in the absolute best way. It’s the perfect guide for those who are just starting to pick up anti-racism resources, and a great refresher for those who have already done some reading. Mary-Frances Winters outlines the physiological and psychological effects that racism has on Black people, and the struggles that come with dealing with racist attitudes and policies every day.

One thing I really appreciated about this book is how Winters explains how different intersectional identities have varying impacts on the fatigue people face. For instance, a straight Black woman has different privileges than an LGBTQ+ Black woman.

Winters also focuses on her own personal experiences and how things throughout her life have contributed to her Black fatigue. Her first experience with racism/Black fatigue was in Kindergarten (something that rings true for many).

I loved that Winters offered up other books to read and resources to check out throughout the book – she provides a lot of solutions and action items for readers. She also defines a lot of key terms that are relevant to anti-racism education. Black Fatigue would be a great book to reference over and over throughout the span of one’s anti-racism journey.

Thank you Get Red PR for providing me with a digital copy of Black Fatigue.

REVIEW – Cartier`s Hope by M.J. Rose

{Available January 28, 2020}

“Hope, darling Vera, is the fire that keeps propelling us forward.”

How refreshing to read historical fiction that’s not set during WWII! Rose sets a great scene and transports the reader to 1910 New York.

The story isn’t so much about the Hope diamond as it is about our main character, Vera, and her desire to avenge her father’s death. Even so, the diamond is an intriguing “character.” The real life lore surrounding it makes the story that much more interesting.

“I didn’t want to sit by the sidelines and do what was expected.”

Vera lives somewhat of a double life – as Vera Garland, she’s a member of high society. She attends opulent parties and doesn’t have to lift a finger. But as Vee Swann, she lives among the masses – she goes undercover in factories and tenements, all for the sake of a good story that might improve living conditions for some of the city’s poor and underprivileged. The chapters about the struggles of female reporters were some of my favorites – they were well done, and brutal, and honest. Unfortunately, the hardships they faced are mirrored in our society even today.

WARNING: Vera deals with some sexual abuse in this book (it’s not “violent” or graphic, but it’s a very disturbing concept).

“To live a full life, you need a full heart.”

The romance of the book was a bit underdeveloped in my opinion, but keep in mind I’m not really a romance reader to begin with.

I think a lot of readers will enjoy this one – it’s light historical fiction. It tackles some important issues and topics without diving too deep. It’s serious without being heavy.

Thank you Get Red PR and Atria for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – Little Sister: A Memoir by Patricia Walsh Chadwick

“Happiness is finding peace, joy and inspiration in the array of things one does in life. It is also moving on from what cannot be undone.”

Little Sister is vivid, heartbreaking and, ultimately, joyful.

Patricia Walsh Chadwick does an incredible job of illustrating how intelligent, kind people can get sucked into a cult (especially a cult tied to religion). It seemed like a noble idea at first – but then, bit by bit, freedoms were taken away. Identity was stripped from adults and children alike. Families were separated. The brothers and sisters in the community suffered physical and psychological abuse. The leaders of the community were manipulative hypocrites; it was frustrating and sickening to read about the ways they abused the members of the community (especially the children) in the name of God. (It has some Handmaids Tale vibes for sure.)

And yet, Chadwick’s story is one of resilience and triumph. Of the strength of a family’s love for one another. And ultimately the love of a community despite (or maybe because of) their shared trauma.

If you love memoirs, you have to get your hands on this book.

Thank you to Get Red PR for providing me with a free copy of this book.