Indies Invade Philly

On Saturday November 13, I attended my 3rd Indies Invade Philly signing and it was fantastic as always! This signing is so well run and amazing. I was able to secure a VIP Blogger ticket which allowed early entry, one hour before other attendees. Because I had the blogger ticket, I was able to see all the authors that were ticketed and chat as well. It was an amazing signing!

I was also able to see book friends and catch up as well as meet many online friends for the first time. Another awesome moment was when members of a reader group I started in 2020 met for a big group photo, it was a pretty warm hearted moment for me to see how my group has grown and how much it means to everyone.

I also met up with Kelly who has an amazing podcast; Boobies and Noobies (I highly recommend this podcast!) and she’s a ray if sunshine!

Aside from meeting all my fabulous book friends, the authors were amazing and some of them, well, it was like a dream to meet them for the first time!

Here’s who I had the honor of meeting:

  • Pippa Grant (she’s magical)
  • Lucy Score (She’s a darling)
  • Claire Kingsley
  • Kym Grosso
  • Susan Stoker (I almost passed out)
  • Jess Bryant (this was a dream!)
  • A.M.Johnson (Another dream!)
  • Melanie Moreland (They are so funny!)
  • Avery Maxwell (She’s super sweet!)
  • Stephanie Rose (she’s a doll!)
  • Sarina Bowen (😱)
  • Kathryn Nolan (Freaking burst of sunshine)
  • Melanie Harlow

There were many more authors there and many, many narrators as well, but, if I’m being honest, I was started feeling extremely overwhelmed because there were a lot of people in the room and not a lot of room to move around. I don’t remember the two I previously attended being quite so crushed. After the blogger hour, I hung out a little bit in the break area and chatted with people, then I dropped off my stuff at the car and went back to the signing.

I’m looking forward to next year and hopefully, I won’t feel so overwhelmed.

Second-In-Command by Melanie Moreland

This book is second in The Men of Hidden Justice Series by the talented Melanie Moreland, this book follows The Boss, book 1 and while The Boss fell a little flat for me, Second-in-Command deserves a standing ovation. Marcus and Missy are everything…just everything. Marcus has taken over command of a small unit after Matteo and Evie change their lifestyle. He missed Mateo but is doing a good job heading up his small unit. Marcus finds Missy when he and the other unit members bust a human trafficking hold and when getting ready to implode the structure, they realize that they left someone behind. Marcus finds Missy in a horrific situation and there’s something about her Marcus is attracted to. As Missy recovers from her ordeal, it becomes clear Missy has some training. I love that Missy is determined and she will not give up her space to Marcus, she’s very strong with some amazing skills.

This book recieves a trillion stars from me, the pacing is great and I couldn’t put it down. I read it all day into the night snd finished it the next morning, so I highly recommend Second in Command if you love romantic suspense!

Second-in-Command

ARC was provided by Grey’s Promotion.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Well, this is a book I’ve seen so much love for around the book world and the audiobook finally became available from my hold shelf at the library. I went in blind and I was really surprised by this story, but surprised in a good way.

This is a story told from Poppy Wright’s perspective and it chronicles a friendship with Alex Nilson, a man she met when she went to college. They figure out they are from neighboring high schools and they don’t see each other for the semester then fate intervenes and a mutual friend makes arrangements for Alex and Poppy to carpool home together for school break. They bond over that drive home. They form a close friendship that’s fun and wacky and they are so close to each other and develop a fun, but deep relationship. The friendship they form is one we all crave; to have someone like that in your life is a real gift, but as their friendship evolves, they are both faced with the trauma of their pasts lives in the sense that it’s a bit crippling and it really does throw a wrench in their lives in the sense that they are both in the wrong places from these traumas and the inner searching they do and the therapy they enter helps them. They both make mistakes along the way but at the base of their relationship is a love that can’t really be ignored and a sense that they need to be with one another.

My take on this novel is that I loved it, I’m definitely not a millennial reader so I didn’t read this in that frame of mind but as a human who has a similar story to Poppy’s and I can empathize with her as a character.

This was a five star read for me and I’m glad I waited out receiving it from the library.

Bringing down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

This book series was a recommendation from a friend and after waiting for it for months from the library, it finally became available.

Annabelle Archer is a little bit older and a suffragette and activist in 1978 England. A “country girl,” Annabelle is destitute and working as a housekeeper to her cousins household; her cousin inherited Annabelle’s family home after Annabelle’s father passed away. Annabelle gained admission to Oxford college in their first round of admitting women to the college. As part of her agreement, she works for the suffragette movement and hands out pamphlets to men whom are in Parliament. Incidentally she meets Sebastian Devereux, Duke of Montgomery and there’s an attraction there.

A whole series of events happen in this book that are directly related to the characters social position and is eye opening in a sense that so many things were out of women’s control, and, as with all books like this, I had to spend some time researching the political climate of the time period this book took place. It’s always a good thing for a book to motivate me to do some historical research because things we take for granted have been hard fought for by those before us.

But, back to the story of Annabelle and Montgomery! I loved their story, Montgomery is inside his box of thinking and, although he professes love for Annabelle, he can not/will not see a relationship with her that fits into his life that consists of ton society and maintaining his dukedom. He offers her what society expects a Duke to offer a woman in Annabelle’s situation. All sorts of things happen to Annabelle’s life as a result and it’s pretty awful but in 1878 London, it’s what you would expect. Annabelle bears the brunt of her “inappropriate” ties with Montgomery, while mourning the loss of him because she won’t stoop to the level expected of her, because there can be not any other sanctioned relationship between them, but can there be?

I highly recommend this book, not just for the romance but for the historical perspective. 5 stars!

Roasted Crispy Chickpeas!

This is a recipe I use for Crispy Roasted Chickpeas. These are great for a snack or to toss with a salad.

Ingredients:

  • Canned Chickpeas
  • Olive oil to coat
  • Sea salt
  • Your choice of spices
  • A clean kitchen towel for drying the chickpeas
  1. Preheat the over to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and spread them out on the kitchen towel and gently Pat them until dry, remove any loose skins. Completely drying the chickpeas is important; if they are too wet they won’t crisp up in the oven.
  3. put the chickpeas on the parchment lined baking sheet
  4. Drizzle with oil and seasoning with sea salt
  5. Roast until crispy. Check them at the 20 minute mark and continue roasting until crisp.
  6. After removing from the oven, and while they are still warm, season the chickpeas with your favorite seasonings. I usually use these within a week. After cooling they can be stored in an airtight container.

Saving His Heart by Avery Maxwell

Saving His Heart is Book 3 of The Westbrooks Broken Hearts series.

After a small break to read ARCs, I’m back on the Avery Maxwell train and I couldn’t be happier to be there. I finished Saving His Heart yesterday after starting it last weekend but putting it aside because I spent most of last week sick. Yesterday I had a lot to do, but I ended up sitting and reading this book. I even went to my son’s band competition at 6:30 but continued reading just to lift my head to see his band’s performance! 🙈

Preston was rough in book one and two and appeared to be a man whore, but, that’s not his story at all.

Spoiler alert ahead.

Sadly, Preston’s story may break you down. I have to be really honest and say that there were a few reasons I took 1/2 a star from Saving His Heart and one of these reasons is that Preston is dying and has been dying for TEN YEARS. Yes, 10 long years, Preston has known he will die of an inherited cardiomyopathy. Preston has kept his 10 long years of dying from his family. Preston is living his life like a dead man walking. For 10 years, he’s kept diaries to his loved ones, set up charities in their names and basically fixed everything he could for those he loves.

Enter Emory. Emory is a young cardiac surgeon who is just starting her career, but she has had her license suspended and she has a bad family story concerning her Dad. Em has 3 sisters that she raised from when she, herself, was 6 years old. Preston’s cardiologist has recommended Emory to give him his treatments, as he’s coming to the end of his life. After one year of Emory giving Preston treatments, Preston has to cover up why she is there with his family and a fake relationship starts between them. The fake relationship becomes real and Emory finds a family in Preston’s.

I loved this story, but it brought up some painful memories for me, and the way that Preston verbalized his pain that he knows he won’t be there in the future is a real tear jerker. This is an extremely emotional book.

The things that didn’t work for me were the medical parts of this story. I’m a nurse and it was a bit difficult to read some of the medical scenes in this book since they aren’t based in any fact. Also: the tidbit that Preston was not sharing his diagnosis with his family and his care team was aware of this fact, should have had him in therapy. Just from a mental health point of view, that would have been nice to see, and for Preston nothing should have been holding him back from counseling. After Preston is saved from, literally, death’s door (he was removed from life support and actively dying when the Hail Mary happened), he would have been really suffering with mental health issues due to all of that stress after 10 years of actively planning on dying, so again, it would have been good to see some therapy.

All in all, I loved the story and enjoyed it so much. I’m looking forward to book 4!

The Boss by Melanie Moreland

The Boss is releasing wide and will eventually be available in KU.

I love Melanie Moreland’s books and this is the first of three in The Men of Hidden Justice series. This Boss is Mateo and Evie’s story. Evie is sort of a lost soul. She is running scared when she happens upon Mateo and his crew doing their job. It’s a scary situation for Evie and being that Mateo is an alpha protector, but admittedly, kind of scary, he offers Evie a chance at a new life.

I honestly had no idea where this story was going to go, but ultimately, Mateo has a very scarred heart of gold and is the consummate protector. Evie clicks all of Mateo’s protective tendencies. I loved the character of Mateo and there was something very old world about him in how he speakers and how he navigates his relationship with Evie.

I spent the first half of the book scratching my head over Evie. She appears to be an easily manipulated character in the first 1/2 of the story and I just wondered why she would go along with everything; she was practically a non participant in the decisions that were going to impact her life. When she started to push back a bit, then I was behind her.

Both of these characters suffered a lot of mental assault and additionally, Evie suffered a lot of physical assault prior to finding Mateo.

Overall I loved the story and I’m looking forward to the next book!

Amazon: http://mybook.to/thebossmm

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3sbx8Y9

Nook: https://bit.ly/37CviX8

Kobo: https://bit.ly/37EQ08s

UNIVERSAL: https://books2read.com/The-Boss-Hidden-Justice

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fsOf2K

The Certainty of Chance by Jacqueline Middleton

Great story about chance encounters!

This is my first book by Jacqueline Middleton and I enjoyed reading this story of Chance and what ifs.

The most striking and beautiful description in this book is London at Christmas time. The details in this book about sites to visit, little know facts about London and the special Christmas events give you a very vivid picture of London and is better than any guidebook.

Madeleine Joy is on a flight to Paris to spend Christmas with her sister, but her flight in unexpectedly diverted to London. She is getting ready to hop in a cab when another traveler bumps the line an hops in the cab meant for Madeleine. So, she ends up in Julian’s cab and he offers her his services as a tour guide. This whole story has several moving parts and there are bittersweet and joyful parts to this book as we journey with Julian and Madeleine through London.

Madeleine is going through an emotional time and Julian is a great guy. I really enjoyed the attention to detail in this story and Madeleine’s somewhat unusual storyline. These two are meant to be.

Beautiful story!

Pre-order your copy today! 

Amazon: http://mybook.to/certaintyoc

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3ycQM7N

Nook: https://bit.ly/386FHKJ

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2Wl1TxZ

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3jSyZPn

On The Ropes by Kathryn Nolan

I’m just going to say it: On The Ropes is my favorite for 2021. It’s just what I needed at just the right time. Being a lover of romance, this is shiny and beautiful in all the ways you want to be. It made my heart really happy and at the end you sigh and hold this book close to you.

This book takes place in South Philadelphia, which is a traditionally Italian neighborhood, but, in 2021, it’s a beautiful mixing pot of lots of different nationalities. Being from the Philadelphia suburbs and having worked in the city, it’s really hard to describe Philly in a way that people who don’t live in and around the city understand. This author has done a phenomenal job getting the Philadelphia feeling just right. Philadelphia is, essentially, a side character in On the Ropes.

Our hero, Dean “The Machine” Knox-Morelli, is in his mid 20s and has had a lauded boxing career and he’s now retired. Unfortunately, Philly is Philly and Dean is labeled a quitter by the boxing fans of Philly because he retired right before a boxing championship. You know what they say about Philly sports fans: They Are the WORST. So, Dean is kind of still finding his way a few years after officially retiring from boxing, the reasons he retired are completely valid, plus, pretty relevant for today. Dean and our heroine, Tabitha go way back to high school and, well, they are so damn cute. Tabitha was a couple of years ahead of Dean in high school and when she graduated he relocated to LA for college, they do, however, know of each other and actually walked to school together a few days a week. It’s been a long time since they have seen each other.

Tabitha is absolutely one of my most favorite heroines. She’s an extremely kind person, but she’s living the nomad life of a contract filmmaker. She has rules around relationships and when she meets someone new in a new city she comes with a lot of caveats such as not wanting to entangle herself into a committed relationship. Recently single again after breaking up with her girlfriend, Tabitha arrives to Philly for a two week visit with her family. Tabitha’s family clearly loves her but there are complexities within her relationships.

Tabitha and Dean have a re-meet cute that is the cutest thing EVER.

So, the basics of the story is, a vacant lot in South Philadelphia, two adorable people who are dancing around each other, the art museum, the neighborhood, the neighbors who live there, two great families and a whole lot of love and light.

This book, THIS book gets 5 stars from me. It’s a wonderful story and I’ll never stop telling people to grab a copy on KU and treating yourself to an afternoon or evening visiting Philly. Come on! Philly’s waiting for you!

Click the button below to grab On the Ropes by Kathryn Nolan on Amazon, it’s available in Kindle Unlimited.

The Westbrooks Broken Hearts Series by Avery Maxwell

Avery Maxwell brings the emotion and steamy love with Cross My Heart and Beat of my Heart, books 1&2 of a 4 book interconnected series. Click on the photo for Amazon link. These are available in Kindle Unlimited.

I’ve had several of my book friends recommend The Broken Hearts series to me over the last few months but I’ve just not been able to get to them. I started Cross My Heart but had to put it aside because of ARC I needed to read with a quick turn around. So, needless to say, I had to fit in reading these when I could, which happened to be in the last couple of weeks.

First off I want to say these books are a found family trope with friends, siblings, parents and a Grandmom mixed in. It’s a wonderful ensemble of characters that add so much richness, love and history to both of these novels. Let me just say, found family is a favorite trope of mine and this found family came right into my heart and had a seat on my big red couch. 😍

First up is Book 1, Beat of My Heart. This is, in trope talk, a single dad, nanny romance that takes place in North Carolina, but it doesn’t feel right to put a tag on Dexter and Lanie’s story. Lanie has a traumatic past, but she’s still healing after 18 months, Dexter has his own healing to do while juggling 3 kids. Dexter is a great Dad, but between heading up his company and managing small children he needs a reliable nanny, which brings him Lanie, a small town Vermont girl looking for a fresh start. These two will light up your kindle and Lanie’s support of Dexter and his children is amazing. There is suspense involved in this story. Absolutely 5 stars, and I couldn’t wait to get to Book 2.

Book 2, Beat of My Heart brings us Julia and Trevor’s story. It starts with a flash back and that is something else. These two absolutely explode together and you just want them together forever, but, sadly, they are apart for a while. Trevor has, what seem to be, dangerous issues with his family and Lokie, another found family member, is helping him with those issues but it’s very cloak and dagger. The friend group isn’t afraid to confront each other and that happens a few times in this book. Poor Trevor sometimes does need a kick to get sorted out! Julia is adorable and genius level intelligent. She’s a mighty woman and I really love her character. Trevor is also a super smart guy and is pretty similar to Julia, they may both be a little neuro diverse but that wasn’t a huge part of the book, all I know is I loved them both. Another 5 star read putting Avery Maxwell firmly on my “one click-I don’t need to read the blurb-must read” author list.

Seriously, read them. You can thank me later.😂