Thursday, October 6, 2022

Blackmail and Bibingka: A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery by Mia P. Manansala

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book: (summary from Goodreads)

When her long lost cousin comes back to town just in time for the holidays, Lila Macapagal knows that big trouble can't be far behind in this new mystery by Mia P. Manansala, author of Arsenic and Adobo.

It's Christmastime in Shady Palms, but things are far from jolly for Lila Macapagal. Sure, her new business, The Brew-ha Cafe, is looking to turn a profit in its first year. And yes, she's taken the first step in a new romance with her good friend, Jae Park. But her cousin Ronnie is back in town after ghosting the family fifteen years ago, claiming that his recent purchase of a local winery shows that he's back on his feet and ready to give back to the Shady Palms community. Tita Rosie is thrilled with the return of her prodigal son, but Lila knows that wherever Ronnie goes, trouble follows.

She's soon proven right when Ronnie is accused of murder, and secrets and rumors surrounding her shady cousin and those involved with the winery start piling up. Now Lila has to put away years of resentment and distrust to prove her cousin's innocence. He may be a jerk, but he's still family. And there's no way her flesh and blood could actually be a murderer...right?

my thoughts:

Cozy mysteries are where it's at! Packed full of suspense, mystery, thrills, Christmas, family, and yummy food - Blackmail and Bibingka by Mia P. Manansala is the perfect holiday cozy mystery! The third book in Manansala's popular Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery series, this story takes place during Christmas time and it makes for the perfect setting. Not only does the holiday season provide the perfect atmosphere to get lost in, but it also highlights all of the delectable Filipino treats Lila and her family enjoy baking and cooking at Christmas time. Plus, I just love Christmas, so any book set during my favorite holiday is usually a win for me. Luckily, Blackmail and Bibingka also has a gripping story that will hook you right from the start. And the characters are the kind you want to root for and befriend. All in all, this is one book you do not want to miss out on. In fact, it will make you want to reach for the first two books in the series - after all, how can you not want to read more about Lila and her unforgettable family. Plus, I love the name of the town the book is set in - Shady Palms. How non-cozy does that sound? It makes me think that mysteries will be need to be solved all the time, which I just love. 

Okay, so what is this book about? Well, it's about Lila's cousin Ronnie coming back home just in time for Christmas. He's bought a winery and is ready to give back to his hometown. Except, Lila is not buying it and worries that his return will ruin the holiday season. And she may just be right when Ronnie is accused of murder. Say what? Yep, someone is killed and Ronnie is the prime suspect. Plus, rumor after rumor is spreading around town about him, along with some killer secrets. Yikes! Will Lila be able to prove her cousin's innocence, or will she find out that her cousin is capable of murder? Yowza! Talk about a dysfunctional family! And, that is all I will write about this fun and entertaining story - you need to check it out for yourself! 

I would definitely recommend you check out Blackmail and Bibingka by Mia P. Manansala - it's a great read you will fall in love with. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Home Sweet Christmas: Wishing Tree #2 by Susan Mallery

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery's second book set in the small town of Wishing Tree, Washington is the witty and heartfelt story of two friends who expectedly find the person--and the place in which--they belong this Christmas, for fans of Elin Hildebrand, Robyn Carr, and Susan Wiggs.

This small-town life wasn’t supposed to be for Camryn Neff. But after her mother died, Camryn moved home to Wishing Tree, Washington to care for her teenaged twin sisters and run the family wrapping paper business, Wrap Around the Clock. She loves her sisters and would do anything for them but, when they head off to college, she’s excited to move back to Chicago and restart her real life, completely attachment-free. So when a prospective client schedules a meeting and announces Project: Jake’s Bride, a plot to find a wife for her son, Camryn is completely disinterested. And when this client announces that Camryn is a candidate, she’s horrified. Being tied down is the last thing Camryn needs right now. She has no choice but to tell Jake what his mom is planning. But Camryn never expected to genuinely like him so much…

River Best knows all about the danger of keeping secrets. After all, she’s had her heart broken and her world rocked by secrets a few times now and she won’t ever let it happen again. New to Wishing Tree and a little shy, River is looking to get involved in the community so she lets her friends talk her into running for Snow Queen, one of the town's honorary hosts of all Christmas events. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Tucker, her Snow King. As the season progresses, River starts to trust him more and more and wonders if he's the one. But little does River know that Dylan is keeping a secret from her, one that threatens everything between them.

my thoughts:

Cozy holiday novels are my jam! I just loved Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery! First off: Christmas.  Second: Wishing Tree - small town living! Third: falling in love during the holidays sounds like a Hallmark movie to me! So, how could I resist this sweet and heartwarming story, right? I couldn't! I had to read the book. Grabbing a cuppa, I settled down with this story and wound up spending the day with it - loving every minute of it, I might add. What a great book! Oh, and did I mention that this is the second book in Mallory's Wishing Tree series - well, it is and don't worry, it makes for a great standalone read. I know I enjoyed the book and I've never read the first book in the series - of course, now that I've read Home Sweet Christmas that is about to change. 

Camryn has been living in Wishing Tree taking care of her sisters and running the family business. She moved there when her mother passed away. However, her younger sisters are heading off to college and now it's time for Camryn to go back to her old life in Chicago - her real life. Except, a new client seems to believe that Camryn could be the potential 'bride' for her son. Say what? Yep, Jake's mom wants him married and she has a list of potential wives and Camryn is on that list. How crazy, right? The only thing is that when Camryn meets Jake, she finds herself liking him...a lot. Hmm...perhaps Chicago isn't in the cards for Camryn anymore and Wishing Tree is truly where she belongs? Oh, and did I mention River. Yep, she's another gal who wants a fresh start and she's chosen Wishing Tree to start over. She's got secrets to keep and a broken heart to mend, so she's all about her friendships at the moment.  And her friends are all about getting River to run for Snow Queen. So, she goes for it and winds up falling for the Snow King, Dylan. Say what? Yep, a royal romance may just be afoot in Wishing Tree. 

Talk about a delightful and fun story! I just loved getting to know the citizens of Wishing Tree and reading all about their holiday traditions during the Christmas season - what a treat! I just loved this book to bits! I would happily recommend Home Sweet Christmas to fans of Mallery and to anyone looking for their next holiday read - you will LOVE this book!! Check it out!!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Super Sad Black Girl by Diamond Sharp

(Thank you to Haymarket Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

Diamond Sharp’s Super Sad Black Girl is a love letter to her hometown of Chicago, where the speaker finds solace and community with her literary idols in hopes of answering the question: What does it look like when Black women are free? 

Lorraine Hansberry and Gwendolyn Brooks appear throughout these poems, counseling the speaker as she navigates her own depression and exploratory questions about the “Other Side,” as do Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, and other Black women who have been murdered by police. 

Sharp’s poetry is self-assured, playful, and imaginative, reminiscent of Langston Hughes with its precision and brevity. The book explores purgatorial, in-between spaces that the speaker occupies as she struggles to find a place and time where she can live safely and freely. With her skillful use of repetition, particularly in her series of concrete poems, lines and voices echo across the book so the reader, too, feels suspended within Sharp’s lyric moments. Super Sad Black Girl is a compassionate and ethereal depiction of mental illness from a promising and powerful poet.

my thoughts:

Wow! Super Sad Black Girl by Diamond Sharp is poetry at its very best. I fell in deep with this book of poems that explores depression, bipolar disorder, mental health, and living in an unknown state of mind and within the world. Talk about smart, emotional, and thought-provoking poems. Love, love, love!

Sharp's words ache with such force,  you can't help but feel pierced by them.  It is raw, personal, and very real. Her poems were lyrical and used repetition to their advantage. Reading them made you feel them and that experience was just eye-opening. It felt like you were peeking inside of her brain and it was enthralling. What a book!

I would definitely recommend Super Sad Black Girl to anyone and everyone looking for their next book of poetry - you will not want to miss out on this one! Make sure to check it out!!

Thank you to Haymarket Books for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, October 3, 2022

Miss Del Río: A Novel of Dolores del Río the first major Latina star in Hollywood by Bárbara Mujica

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

In the tradition of Marie Benedict's The Only Woman in the Room and Adriana Trigiani's All The Stars in the Heavens, a stunning biographical historical novel set over five decades about Mexican actress Dolores del Río—the first major Latina star in Hollywood, member of Tinseltown's glamorous inner circle with notables such as Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich, and proud Mexican woman who helped pioneer Mexican cinema's Golden Age.

She was known as the most beautiful woman in the world, but Dolores del Río was more than a pretty face.

1910, Mexico: As the country’s revolution spreads, Dolores, the daughter of a wealthy banker, must flee her comfortable life in Durango or risk death. Her family settles in Mexico City, where, at 16, she marries the worldly Jaime del Río. But in a twist of fate, at a party she meets an influential American director who recognizes in her a natural performer. He invites her to Hollywood, and practically overnight, the famous Miss del Río is born.

In California, Dolores’s star quickly rises, and her days become a whirlwind of movie-making and glamorous events. Swept up in Tinseltown’s glitzy inner circle, she takes her place among film royalty such as Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles. But as her career soars to new heights, her personal life becomes increasingly complicated, with family tragedy, painful divorce, and real heartache. And when she’s labeled box office poison amid growing prejudice before WWII, Dolores must decide what price she’s willing to pay to achieve her dreams, and if her heart and future instead lie where it all began... in Mexico.

Spanning half a century and narrated by Dolores’s fictional hairdresser and longtime friend, Miss del Río traces the life of a trailblazing woman whose legacy in Hollywood and in Mexico still shines bright today.

my thoughts:

Wow! What a fantastic book! Miss del Río by Barbara Mujica is the epitome of great historical fiction - it is chock full of fascinating historical details, unforgettable characters, and an unputdownable story. I just loved this book to bits! It made for such a terrific reading experience - I found myself learning about a Mexican movie star, Hollywood during the Mexican Revolution, and so much more. I just couldn't stop reading - this was one of those books that I had to finish the same day I started it - that's how damn good it was. Loved it!!

Dolores' family settles in Mexico City and at sixteen she marries, Jaime del Río. However, by chance she meets an American director who invites her to Hollywood. She goes and the rest becomes history - her fame seems to happen overnight. She's beautiful, talented, and in-demand. Her life now consists of acting and befriending Tinsel Town's elite. And yet, the bigger her star grows, the bigger her problems become. Yep, her personal life is a mess and it is weighing her down. Plus, the impending war, manages to stir up racial/ethnic prejudices that make her a target. Soon, Dolores is wondering where she truly belongs - Hollywood or Mexico? 

Mujica has written a terrific biographical novel that I really enjoyed getting lost in. I loved every minute I spent with this book. Such a great story! I would happily recommend Miss Del Río to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you are going to fall in deep with this one! Make sure to check it out ASAP!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, September 30, 2022

A Man Of The World: My Life At National Geographic by Gilbert M. Grosvenor

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a  copy of this book!)

about book: (summary from Goodreads)

The captivating inside story of the man who helmed National Geographic for six decades is a front-row seat to audacious feats of exploration, from the successful hunt for the Titanic to Jane Goodall's field studies. Offering a rare portrait of one of the world's most iconic media empires, this revealing autobiography makes an impassioned argument to know—and care for—our planet.

Though his career path had been paved by four generations of his family before him, Gilbert M. Grosvenor left his own mark on the National Geographic Society, founded in 1888 and recognized the world over by its ubiquitous yellow border. In an unflinchingly honest memoir as big as the world and all that is in it, Grosvenor shows us what it was like to "grow up Geographic" in a family home where explorers like Robert Peary, Louis Leakey, and Jane Goodall regularly crossed the threshold. As staff photographer, editor in chief and then president of the organization, Grosvenor oversaw the diversification into television, film, books, as well as its flagship magazine, which under his tenure reached a peak circulation of nearly 11 million. He also narrates the shift from a nonprofit, family-focused enterprise to the more corporate, bottom-line focused world of publishing today. 

For Grosvenor, running National Geographic wasn’t just a job. It was a legacy, motivated by a passion not just to leave the world a better place, but to motivate others to do so, too. Filled with world travel, charismatic explorers, and the complexities of running a publishing empire, A MAN OF THE WORLD is the story of one man, a singular family business, and the changing face of American media.

my thoughts:

Wow! Love, love, love! I really enjoyed reading all about Gilbert M. Grosvenor and his legacy...National Geographic. What a cool, adventurous environmentalist to read about! Talk about world traveler!

Growing up within the National Geographic family formed Grosvenor's destiny of traveling the world and running National Geographic - which he did! And, so well, too. Yep, Grosvenor met iconic explorers at his family's home and soon found himself diving in Antarctica. Exploring the world was in his bones and he most definitely threw himself into that role, along with growing his family's business. He shares about it all and along the way also discusses the importance of conserving culture and the environment. It's thought-provoking, eye-opening, and fascinating to read about this popular organization that showcases our world and the man behind the scenes of it all. What a fantastic memoir! What a life!

I would happily recommend A Man Of The World to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you are going to enjoy this one so much! Make sure to check it out!

Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!