Books in 2022

Reading in 2022 went rather well. On January 10, I began reading my third book for the year. At this great start, I tripled my TBR pile for the year! By the end of December, I had read 37 books, reviewing 36 of them, and posting below reviews, ratings, book quotes, and links (as was possible) to author websites and to purchase.

This page was updated as I finished each book and published its review. I hope you enjoy and possibly find a book which you’ll love reading as much as I have.

Please note: Full reviews are available online where the books are available for view (usually Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM!, and Goodreads).



J.F. Aguilar

Great; recommended.

Genre: Fiction; young adult.

My Review: A coming of age story with a twist…. “For You, For Me, For Us” is the first Youth/Young Adult genre I have read in years. From beginning to end, it is mind- and heart-capturing. Not many stories make me cry, but this one got me. It is a book not only of young love and hopes and dreams but of discipline and determination and integrity. Jason is an oldest, off to college, and on his own for the first time in his young life. He has a dream and sets his sights on accomplishing not only membership in a favorite fraternity, but also in winning the hand and honor of the girl of his dreams – the girl with the pretty eyes. Will he achieve his goals? Will their new love last? Or will a bad feeling on both their parts spell the end? You will want to read this short, but power-packed, story to learn the quirky way these two met, how they support one another, and if they get to share their love into the future.


Melissa Gould

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; grief.

My Review: Every person who has lost a partner should read this memoir…. Widowish was a fast-paced, gripping and compelling story of loss, love, and life after. I was amazed at how Melissa was able to come through the storm of her loss to a place of renewal and self-discovery. And being that I lost my daddy when he was 50 and I was 17 1/2, I could relate just a little bit to her daughter, Sophie. I kept waiting for her cool façade to crack, just as mine had about a year after my daddy’s passing. I was happy to read how they both, as wife and daughter, came to that place of realization that Joel would always be with them – in mind, heart, and spirit. It was an honor and privilege to share in reading and pseudo-experiencing Melissa’s story. It was good to finish out her memoir knowing that she was able to find a new love who felt comfortable with letting her continue to hold her first love close to her core – always.


Andromeda Romano-Lax

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; historical.

My Review: A gripping and thought-provoking read….I was intrigued from the start of this book, even though I’m not much of a historical fiction fan. I have always enjoyed books written from the different characters’ viewpoints, and this one did not disappoint. I was also fascinated by the back and forth between the past with Annie and the present with Ruth. Not understanding the connection at first, but then grasping how the lives of these two were intertwined. A reminder of how events of the past affect the on-going future; and how we in the present, studying not just the past of other times but our own past, can affect not just our future but that of others by the choices we make every day – whether we act on our cues (or senses) or even in the turning of a blind eye. Reading this book, with all its complexity, will stay with me – as I’m sure it will with you should you decide to read it. Kudos to the author for achieving a book worth reading.

WHOLE: A Leg Up on Life

Kendra Herber

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; physical impairments.

My Review: Written with positivity and humor….Kendra’s story was a joy to read. Determined is the word that comes to mind when I think of Kendra and her desire to be accepted as an amputee and as a whole person. She brought so much down-to-earth feeling to her book, with her honesty and openness of what it’s like not to be like everyone else. I admired how she was always striving to be treated as an equal, going above and beyond not just in her competitiveness in sports but also in her upbeat attitude in general. I believe her book will go a long way in helping other amputees not feel so alone in their own journey, as well as helping those without the struggles of a missing limb to be more compassionate and empathetic.


GET PUBLISHED IN LITERARY MAGAZINES: The Indispensable Guide to Preparing, Submitting, and Writing Better

Allison K. Williams

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; writing.

My Review: Wonderful tips for any writer looking to improve their skills….This was such an easy book to read. Allison has a fun writing style which made turning each page and reading each chapter fly by. Interestingly, I have this same title as an eBook. Since I’m not familiar with highlighting and bookmarking pages in Kindle, I got myself a paperback so I could highlight, dog-ear, and make notations, as I went along. My plan is to work my way back through this book and apply as many of Allison’s amazing and shared writing experiences, ideas, and suggestions toward my further writing success. If you’re new to writing, or are having difficulty knowing how to get published, I highly recommend this book. Allison has a successful writing career, and even though we haven’t officially met, I consider her a mentor worth following – not just on social media but especially in writing skill.


Maan Gabriel

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; city life.

My Review: A story of life after “perfect”…. I adored this book and didn’t want this story to end. The author did a wonderful job of capturing her characters’ vulnerabilities. Filled with hope, second chances, and possibilities, her story pulled me in and kept me turning its pages. My takeaway: When love finds you, as it did with Gabby and Colt, there is always a way back to each other, even in the worst of misunderstandings.


Kim Fairley

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; marriage.

My Review: A memoir that reads like fictions…. I was fascinated with the title of this book long before putting it on my TBR list and finally reading it. Not long into the book, I would double- and triple-check to see if it was really a memoir and not fiction. Kim wrote in a way that put me right there in the story with her, feeling her angst and rooting for her. I was so mesmerized by her head thoughts, as she talked about her life, being married to Vern, and the time that Stan came to live with them. I understood her need, as an oldest, to control certain situations. And I liked seeing her mature, as she began to let her husband handle their home life. I also loved that she included an epilogue on how she tried to understand Stan better, and then realized she no longer had a need to know.

KILLER CONTENT: A Brooklyn Murder Mystery

Olivia Blacke

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; mystery.

My Review: A mystery that kept me guessing to the end…. Shortly after finishing Killer Content, I realized I was smiling. It was great to read a book, just for fun, that wrapped up nicely without a whole lot of drama or any loose ends. The mystery genre has been a long-time favorite of mine dating back to Scooby-Doo, Agatha Christie, and Alfred Hitchcock. I loved how Odessa just wouldn’t give up on finding who did it. And I was pleased that the author did such a great job of keeping it a secret. I’m pretty good at solving mysteries. So, I was definitely surprised to find out who the culprit was and impressed to be so stumped by the author. And, yes, I’m still smiling.


LIVING IN HEAVEN’S EARTH: A Poet’s Ascent Through Sacred Spaces of the Soul

Mary Olivia Patiño

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; poetry.

My Review: Living on Heaven’s Earth!….Living In Heaven’s Earth is a wonderful collection of stirring poems, ideal for morning or evening reflection. If you are looking to be inspired, this book is it. The writer inspires you with beautiful descriptions of her love for God and Christ. Through her encouraging style, she guides you to a deeper sense of your own love and faith, as you live out life in God’s graces. Living In Heaven’s Earth will bring you to those sacred spaces in your soul that you may not even be aware of – yet.

GROUP: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

Christie Tate

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; mental health.

My Review: A memoir with vulnerability in every word….I commend Christie Tate for telling her story with such rawness and vulnerability and in such an engaging way. I admire anyone who has the courage to join group therapy; in Christie’s case, I could only think about how brave and how desperate she was to open herself up to a group of strangers like she did. And my heart ached for her to find her happy place. If you’re struggling with finding your way to yourself and your dreams, read this book. It does cover the author’s sexual encounters which show the extent of her low self-esteem and deep desire to be loved. But when you read her journey in its entirety, you’ll feel you can relate in your own search for true love, the love of a partner – and of yourself.

PRIDE AND PREMEDITATION: A Jane Austen Murder Mystery

Tirzah Price

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; historical mystery.

My Review: A “Murder She Wrote” at its finest….Tirzah Price did a wonderful job of keeping the plot of her book flowing and interesting. With this, she has won me over as a fan of period pieces, never before a favorite genre. Being a huge mystery buff since grade school though and fancying myself on being able to figure out the who, what, and why before being revealed, I was quite impressed with the author’s ability to make her story moderately difficult to figure out. The interaction between the main character, Lizzie, and the book’s supporting characters, including her parents, Jane, Charlotte and Collins, Wickham, and Darcy were a pleasure to follow along with. This book has me looking forward to the next two books in her series.”

BRAT: an 80s story

Andrew McCarthy

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; actor biography.

My Review: A look into the world of an 80s heartthrob….This book was enlightening. I found the actor’s journey similar to my own in that he didn’t really know what he wanted to be when he grew up, not being academic-minded or into sports. It was curious how he was drawn to acting and so determined to be good at it, more interested in the art of it rather than the income. The behind-the-scenes snippets he shared of the movies he starred in were amusing, encouraging me to watch those I hadn’t seen yet. Now that I’ve read his 80s story, I appreciate Andrew McCarthy much better as an actor, a director, and a person. I admire how he chose to pave his own path in the acting world, despite setbacks, struggles with alcohol and loneliness, and the search for true friendship. Whether you’re an 80s kid or not, you’ll enjoy this moving coming-of-age narrative written with honesty and compassion for his younger self trying to find his place in this world.”

Book Quote: “I can’t say that I prayed, but I’ve never forgotten standing in solidarity with a group of strangers that afforded me both the relief of anonymity and the intimacy of connection.” ~Andrew McCarthy, brat: an ’80s story (page 51)

Note: Book link is for signed copies at Books-A-Million (BAM!).


Freya Sampson

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; contemporary women.

My Review: A book worth cozying up with….The author does a great job of showing us how libraries – and the possible lack thereof – impact our communities. Other than a little difficulty with a few English phrases, this book was absolutely cute and, at the same time, educating. Not only does it show its readers how libraries positively affect our lives, but it also gives us insight into how libraries help the homeless, those grieving, and those seeking higher education. This book shares with us how otherwise ordinary people are brought together for a common good. Through a desire to save the Chalcot Library, its patrons – and others from nearby communities – learn to communicate with each other and to support one another as they unite to save the fate of their beloved last chance library. Well done, Freya Sampson.”

Book Quote: “….Libraries aren’t just about books. They’re places where an eight-year-old boy can have his eyes opened up to the wonders of the world, and where a lonely eighty-year-old woman can come for some vital human contact. Where a teenager can find precious space to do her homework and a recently arrived immigrant can find a new community. Libraries are places where everyone, rich or poor, wherever they come from in the world, can feel safe. Where they can access information that will empower them.” ~Freya Sampson, (June), The Last Chance Library (page 270-271)


ALWAYS LOOKING UP: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist

Michael J. Fox

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir.

My Review: A book as upbeat as its author….Everyone loves Michael J. Fox, or so I thought before reading this book. With honesty and brevity, Michael talks about how life for him changed with Parkinson’s Disease. Leaving his life as part of Spin City, not knowing what his future would hold. Then, finding himself in the world of politics as he fought for research and optimistically worked toward that goal, not just for himself but for every other person with Parkinson’s, and having to deal with insensitive people who don’t understand diseases and how they work to limit a life, often with excruciating and unexplainable pain or side effects of the medications used to treat the symptoms of the disease. You will enjoy this heart-warming memoir of a young man full of life, faith, love for his family, and an incurable optimism – even in the direst of situations.

Book Quote: “I’ve always dreamt big.” ~Michael J. Fox, Always Looking Up (page 276)


Jennifer Niven

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; young adult; mental health.

My Review: A book of loss, survival, and learning to cope….This book, as sad as it is in parts, is a feel-good and yet riveting story about finding oneself even in the face of deep loss and was engrossing from the start. Being a teenager once and experiencing the angst of trying to “find” myself, it was fascinating to read the viewpoints of Violet and Finch, both struggling with depression. The author did an outstanding job of depicting what it feels like to go through the grief of losing someone close and that of dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness. Jennifer was sensitive and real in her telling of Violet’s and Finch’s stories, similar and yet different, as they struggled with trying to fit in, find a place in their world, and overcome their gripping feelings of insecurities and doubt, not knowing who to turn to for help in understanding these voluminous feelings without being treated with kid gloves. A story so powerful! I highly recommend taking time to read it.

Book Quote: “Your hope lies in accepting your life as it now lies before you, forever changed. If you can do that, the peace you seek will follow.” ~Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places; now a Netflix movie (page 248-249)

DEPRESSION HATES A MOVING TARGET: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink

Nita Sweeney

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; running; mood disorders.

My Review: A book about running, depression, and achieving your goals….I’m in total agreement with Nita Sweeney on how depression hates a moving target. And I’m in total awe of her fortitude to keep running, despite a “wonky ankle” and a head thoughts which don’t always cooperate with our goals. As Nita mentions several times in her memoir, our minds can play tricks on us making us believe things which aren’t true and keeping us from succeeding at something we love doing. Just the fact that Nita keeps getting up and keeps putting one foot in front of the other, proves that fitness is good for our mental state and overall wellbeing. And every day that Nita runs is a day closer to reaching her short-term and her long-term running goals. Today, Nita encourages others to run, through continued running and her down-to-earth writing, and to kick depression to the curb. If you are on the edge about jogging, running, or any other form of fitness, this book will inspire you to “just do it.

Book Quote: “If I, an overweight fifty-year-old with chronic depression, manic episodes, anxiety, hypochondria, and a wonky ankle could do it, anyone [can].” ~Nita Sweeney, Depression Hates a Moving Target (page 244)


Adam Silvera


Genre: Fiction; young adult; death and dying; men’s relationships.

My Review: Futuristic, yet thought-provoking….I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. And once I was a fourth, a third, or halfway through, I wasn’t sure I’d finish reading it. The idea that a company could know our last day alive seemed too outlandish to me. I “get” the author’s philosophy about how nice it would be to have twenty-four hours to say I love you, seek reconciliation, and say goodbye. However, the odds that a person, instead of doing that or spending their time doing the one thing on their bucket list they always wanted to do, would more than likely fritter away their time wondering how they would die and not use their last few hours wisely. Once I was about two-thirds, three-fourths of the way in, I found the roles of the supporting characters intriguing and compelling. My final thought is how interesting that the one place Mateo felt the safest is the one place he should never have returned to. So, in the end, would it really matter to know when our last day is or not – if the one place we should be safest is the one place we end up dying.

Book Quote: “We all die at the end. Every single one of us. But…how we die, or the fact that we die isn’t the point at all. I can’t spoil the answer for this next question, but I hope it’s one we keep on our minds daily: How did we live?” ~Adam Silvera, They Both Die at the End (page 379)

IF YOU ASK ME (And of Course You Won’t)

Betty White

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; actor biography.

My Review: Filled with Betty’s spirit and humor….Betty wrote like she speaks, and I love that she wrote this book by hand. Her book was such an easy read which I finished in less than two days but could have done so in a few short hours. Her humor and no-nonsense approach to life is wonderful and refreshing. I would highly recommend reading it, simply for its thought-provoking overall feel that life really is simpler than we make it.

Book Quote: “If you’ve ever lost a loved one, or witnessed it, you can’t help but see that the body is an envelope for the letter.” ~Betty White, If You Ask Me…But of Course You Won’t (page 258)

Please note: Betty White passed away on December 31, 2021. She was a wonderful entertainer; full of energy, humor, and insight. I encourage you to visit her IG account (still being maintained and updated in her memory). Wonderful photos!


Ann Snuggs

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; mystery; suspense.

My Review: A book that keeps you guessing to the end….A book that is wonderfully written with a character-driven plot, so lots of dialogue – which I love, and that keeps you guessing almost until the end. When one stalk begins, almost as a joke, it leads to the revealing of another, making a person wonder if things in real life actually do happen for a reason. If you love mysteries with suspense and some romance mixed in, you’ll love this quick read. I finished this book in three days but could easily have read it in less than one day. Best of all, it kept me interested from page one to the end.

Book Quote: “Writing is a solitary pursuit yet few, if any, writers live in total isolation.” ~Ann Snuggs, Double Stalk (Opening line, Acknowledgements)

REFLECTIONS ON MY JOURNEY OF FAITH: Moving Closer to My Destination

Belza Elia Ramos

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; Christian living.

My Review: “A memoir filled with life stories, poetry, and reflective questions….I found the writing of Belza Ramos to be descriptive, yet clear, open, and engaging. As she talks about life growing up, I could see how textbook smart she was. It was interesting to read how Belza excelled in her academics, and I was quite impressed with her desire to succeed at every job she applied for and held – including nursing positions and running a company with her husband. She became strong in all that she did work-wise, and she raised two wonderful smart children in the process. I especially enjoyed reading about her life growing up and the family values she learned. I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, young and old alike. It was a joy to read.”

Book Quote: “Carry your own weight and a bit of somebody else’s.” ~Belza Elia Ramos, Reflections on My Journey of Faith (page 118-119)

LIVE LONG AND…What I Learned Along the Way

William Shatner with David Fisher

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; actor biography.

My Review: “A thought-provoking memoir of life’s lessons….I was quite pleased with this book. Although David Fisher is credited with helping Bill write it, I only “heard” William Shatner’s voice in my head as I read it. I was most impressed with Mr. Shatner’s work ethic, the idea that to be successful meant working every day at whatever type of job he could get. It was refreshing to get to know him as a down-to-earth person who believed in hard work for a day’s pay. It was also interesting to learn about many of the jobs he held, as an actor and non-actor. Given the time, I would read this book again. But maybe after I’ve read all of his other books. I encourage anyone, who is curious about William Shatner’s TV and movie star life, to read this memoir. It’s a fast-paced, easy-to-read, and even inspirationally entertaining biography of the lessons he has learned along his way. My favorite one being, always say yes.”

Book Quote: “…happiness comes from helping other people. There was a time in America when neighbors helped their neighbors, but the reality is that now too often we don’t even know our neighbors beyond a nodding recognition. Nobody has a barn-raising anymore. In a time when social media makes us readily available to almost anyone on earth, many of us are isolated.” ~William Shatner, Live Long and…What I Learned Along the Way (page 190)



Matt Haig

Great; recommended.

Genre: Fiction; time travel; literary; women’s.

My Review: “An interesting take on how life leads us home….This book was a slow start for me, and I almost decided not to finish it. But how could I not find out what all the hype about this book is, right? Well, it turned out wonderfully. And not because I love libraries either. The perspective I was able to glean from the idea that we can go back in our life, pick up at any regret, and see if we’d be any happier with a different path was mind-boggling. In the end, my takeaway was similar to the one I have learned after sixty years of living: every choice leads us to where we are meant to be. I loved best how this book inspired me to no longer wonder, occasionally, if I would’ve been happier had I made a different choice way back when. And now, more than ever, I can appreciate my current life just a little bit better than I did yesterday.”

Book Quotes: “You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.” ~Matt Haig, (Nora Seed), The Midnight Library (page 283)

BETWEEN TWO KINGDOMS: A Memoir of Life Interrupted

Suleika Jaouad

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Memoir; cancer; coming of age.

My Review: “An outpouring of a life interrupted by cancer and its ravaging effects….This book drew me to it. After reading Suleika’s journey, I understood so much I didn’t when my daddy succumbed to black melanoma cancer between my junior and senior year of high school. When she spoke of the clinical trials, I heard the hopes in her loved ones hearts just as I had in ours. When she spoke of depression which grasped hold of her, even as she was healing, I saw my momma consumed by it as well. Suleika’s journey through cancer and her road trip was heartfelt and raw with all the emotion she tried to suppress but soon came to learn must be traveled through to live a full life. As Suleika headed for home, I could see she also came to understand that to fully love and to reclaim that vital core part of herself, she must let go of those parts of herself that no longer fit.”

Book Quote: “Grief is a ghost that visits without warning. It comes in the night and rips you from your sleep. It fills your chest with shards of glass. It interrupts you mid-laugh when you’re at a party, chastising you that, just for a moment, you’ve forgotten. It haunts you until it becomes a part of you, shadowing you breath for breath.” ~Suleika Jaouad, Between Two Kingdoms (page 190)


The Next Chapter Writing Group

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; Carribbean & Latin American Literature.

My Review: “A delightful book filled with thought-provoking writings from the heart….Filled with essays and poetry of memories. Memories of family, friendship, and growing up. Memories from eight outstanding women authors. Part of the The Next Chapter Writing Group, these authors fill their book, Women’s Stories, with reminiscing, laughter, tears, and food for thought. If you like short reads, whether it’s poetry, essays, or even a short story, you’ll love this book. The essays of one author are translated from Spanish to English, and in my opinion, are especially powerful – giving me to wonder about if it is the writer or is it the translation. Each author is a strong writer in their own right and so having their stories all in one book is a real delight.”

Book Quote: “You have to rehearse the memory…you have to tell about the experience and in the telling, you remember it.” ~Sister Maria Eva Flores, Ph.D. (book’s epitaph)



Maria Semple

Great; recommended.

Genre: Fiction; humorous.

My Review: “The story of a daughter’s love for and determination to find her mother….This story, a search for the disappearance of Bernadette through the trail of emails, school memos, and invoices, brings her daughter, Bee, to understand her mother – and her father – in a way she never had before. Bee’s determination to find her mother has you turning the pages of this comedic story faster with each chapter. If you enjoy coming of age, school settings, improbable plots that mimic real life, you’ll love this book. Every character is engaging in the most unexpected way.”

Book Quote: “Getting into fights with people makes my heart race. Not getting into fights with people makes my heart race.” Maria Semple (Bernadette Fox), Where’d You Go, Bernadette (page 132)

THE LONGEST WAY HOME: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down

Andrew McCarthy

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; travel essays.

My Review: “A writer’s journey around the world and within himself….I read Andrew’s second book, Brat: an 80s story back in March, and I just had to read this one. I was not disappointed. This author has a way with words. He can describe where he’s at and what he’s feeling without making you feel like you’re getting weighted down with a lot of description or unnecessary wording. It was a joy to read his journey of finding himself as he traveled the world – running from himself and yet – in the end – toward himself. If you are searching to understand the journey toward your own self better, this book is worth taking along on your journey. You will come away feeling like you’ve discovered a friend in the process.”

Book Quote: “In this instant, I am all of myself – that shy kid playing in the woods near my home, the guy who snuck into college, and then made those movies, and then found his way around the world. I’m a father and a son. And a husband. In this instant, I am all of it, and I’m happier, and freer, than I ever recall being.” Andrew McCarthy, The Longest Way Home (page 163)



Ron Howard & Clint Howard

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; biography.

My Review: “How a famous child actor/director was shaped by his parents….I had my eye on this book from the moment I heard about it. I love memoirs, and I knew this one would be worth reading. I was not to be disappointed. Every page kept me interested and looking forward to the next chapter. I loved how Ron and Clint volleyed back and forth in recounting life as a child actor, how they were shaped by their parents love, work ethic, and common-sense thinking. I would recommend this book to any young person looking for direction in their life, whether it is to be an actor, director, or something else entirely. We all need to see how other people, even movie stars, deal with their fears, setbacks, and successes.”

Book Quote: “In many ways, this entire book is an acknowledgement of our love and appreciation for our parents, so it might seem superfluous to thank them again here. But it would be a sin of omission to leave them out of this section. The choices and decision they made throughout the years – small, medium, and large – are what shaped the story we have to tell.” Ron Howard, The Boys (Acknowledgement, Opening Paragraph)



John Grisham

Great; recommended.

Genre: Fiction; legal thriller.

My Review: “What we think is one thing really is another….I have not liked every book I’ve read by John Grisham, not because of the writing but because of the theme. Like many other people, I like to feel safe. Some stories are just too hard bare. The Confession is a book that tackles a topic of justice that is always in the hot seat. The death penalty. The idea of an eye for an eye was supposed to die with the Old Testament. The idea that it has not is always asks us to wonder if we have convicted the right person. Would we want to be on death row? The Confession puts us in the Points of View of the accused – the innocent and the guilty, as well as others involved, such as the mothers of the victim and the wrongly accused and his attorney, and the pastor who jumps in to help the guilty man prove he did it. Definitely a page-turner.”

Book Quote: “Some overly observant readers may stumble across a fact or two that might appear to be in error. They may consider writing me letters to point out my shortcomings. They should conserve paper. There are mistakes in this book, as always, and as long as I continue to loathe research while at the same time remaining perfectly content to occasionally dress up the facts, I’m afraid the mistakes will continue. My hope is that the errors are insignificant in nature.” John Grisham, The Confession (Author’s Note, closing paragraph)

THE OTHER SIDE OF YET: Finding Light in the Midst of Darkness

Michelle D. Hord

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir; love & loss; death & grief.

My Review:How a mother goes on after the tragic loss of her only child….I admire the author for finding faith in the face of deep tragedy, for being an example of a shining light to others in the deepest of darkest places, and for rising above the devastation of such a giant loss to a place of hope. I cannot imagine losing my only child, much less in the way Michelle did; I’m not sure I could go on. And I appreciate her sharing her story with the world, as a way of helping others suffering such deep grief and as a way to show how God continues to work in our lives despite the evil that lurks in the least expected of places or persons. If you have not read this book, and are suffering from any type of loss, I highly recommend it. Its pages are filled with faith, hope, and gentle words. Words to help you cope with the sorrow you still carry way down deep within your soul.”

Book Quote: “The most important thing you’ll ever do is hold on to your S.P.I.R.I.T. and keep going….Where you are going will become less and less important than how you are moving, breathing, and persevering.” Michelle D. Hord, The Other Side of Yet (page 208)



Marie Benedict

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; mystery fiction; historical fiction.

My Review: “Easy to read and quick paced, Mrs. Christie surprises with her tenacity ….Surprisingly, a quite interesting depiction of what could have happened during Agatha Christie’s missing eleven days. The author did a great job of introducing characters and dialogue almost immediately and keeping the reader’s interest with the back and forth between the before and the present, slowing building the anticipation of when Mrs. Christie would arrive back on the scene. Never fond of what I consider period pieces, due to the always seemingly change in writing tone or flow, and even though this story is more contemporary being in the 20th century, I did quite enjoy the predicament Mr. Christie found himself in during his wife’s disappearance. Waiting to see if he tripped himself up or when Mrs. Christie would reappear was refreshing. The author definitely has a fan in me, and I look forward to reading more of her books in future.”

Book Quote: “I felt the clock ticking constantly, and more and more, I took walks around the Silent Pool to calm my nerves….it was the one place where I could indulge in my sobs without a witness.” Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie (page 220).

WAITING FOR THE LIGHT BULB: the ramblings of a crazy, gritty mom

Dr. Lisa Peña

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; parenting books on children with disabilities.

My Review: “When a mom becomes her daughter’s advocate, warrior, and best ally….The more I read of this book the more I couldn’t set it down. It was so interesting to read how this young mom learned to fight for a daughter who didn’t know she needed to be fought for. It is more than a book of ramblings as she fought the system in determining a truer diagnosis for her autistic daughter. It is a book of love. Written with grit and spirit, it is filled with ten years of searching for an answer, waiting on the light bulb to turn on, and for that miracle of miracles. In the end, it’s not her daughter’s light bulb that turns on but her own. The light bulb of dawning, realization, and clarification of what is truly their reality – her daughter’s, hers, and her family’s. The best word I would use to describe this gritty mom is tenacious. If you love true stories, memoirs, moms who fight for their children in need, then you’ll want to read this book and join in the fight as well.”

Book Quote: “I have never liked the phrase, “I have a passion for teaching.” You see, as a parent of both a special education child and a regular education child, I have realized that I don’t want my kids to have teachers with a passion for teaching. I want teachers who have compassion for people. I want teachers who feel a strong conviction to help someone learn, regardless of how inconvenient it is. I want teachers who will go out of their comfort zones, throw their pride aside, and deviate from the curriculum that has worked for a hundred kids before if it doesn’t work for mine.” Dr. Lisa Peña, waiting for the light bulb (page 322)


MEGHAN: A Hollywood Princess

Andrew Morton


Genre: Nonfiction; Women’s Biographies; Royalty Biographies.

My Review:An interesting and compelling telling of a young woman destined for greatness….I love learning about others’ lives and have found Meghan’s life particularly fascinating. At the time, she was dating Prince Harry, I was busy living my own life and oblivious to much of the fuss over her impending nuptials to the prince. Since watching her acting recently in a Hallmark movie, I have taken an interest in how Meghan went from daddy’s little girl to fighting for gender equality to fashion sense and to a real-life princess. The book ended not with her marriage to Prince Harry but with her fans looking forward to the next chapter of her life. I am, too. I enjoyed her acting. And I enjoyed learning about not just her acting career but also her world travels, humanitarianism, and her blogging days. And I look forward to what this young lady, now Duchess of Sussex, will do next.”

Book Quote: “The word vulnerable does not immediately spring to mind when assessing Meghan’s many splendid qualities. Empathetic, certainly but also self-possessed, sophisticated, and poised equally at home on a podium making a speech or on a photo shoot. She is a flag bearer for a new generation of confident, assertive women, determined to kick through the glass ceiling.” Andrew Morton, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess (page 233-234)


What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw

Leah Stewart

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Literature; Suspense Thriller.

My Review: “A peak into the workings of an actor’s mind, not just one but several….I bought this book for its interesting title, cool cover, and two-dollar price tag. I was blown away by the story on its pages. It was more than I expected; but, of course, what I expected, I’m not sure. What I was hoping for was at least a little action. What I got from the start was more than interesting. I love to see inside the minds of characters and this book does a great job of letting the reader see why he or she is acting the way they are. It was intrigue. It was drama. It was dialogue. It was the kind of book that keeps you guessing until the end. And in this case, I’m still guessing about one thing. Well done, Leah Stewart.”

Book Quote: Terror and grief, he thinks. Terror and grief. He remembers himself attempting Shakespeare back in college, failing to summon Richard II by failing to summon what Richard felt. His kingdom was gone, he’d lost, he’d likely die. Charlie would like to go back and try the scene again. Of comfort no man speak. He knows how he’d say that line now….” Leah Stewart (Charlie Outlaw), What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw (page 299)


Marilyn: The Last Take

Peter Harry Brown & Patte B. Barharm

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; Actor Biography.

My Review: “A fascinating read about Marilyn Monroe and a life cut short way too soon….I have never seen a movie of Marilyn Monroe. But just knowing she died the same year I was born; I have always been curious about her life and what really happened to her all those years ago. This book did an outstanding job of giving its’ readers an eye view of the last few months of her life. It is bone-chilling to think that her life was cut short by a web of deceit with a cover-up in corporate Hollywood, the political realm, and even the local law enforcement. This book’s pages kept me on the edge of my seat knowing what would eventually happen, as we all know Marilyn’s fate, and still hoping that her life was not in vain. If you love mystery and intrigue, you will appreciate reading this book about Marilyn and the last take, the one that took her life.”

Book Quote: “Marilyn Monroe was…a mercurial actress who loved to play dramatic roles, both on and off the screen. She loved mystery; she loved intrigue. Ironically, the controversy surrounding her death helped to make her a legend – which was what she wanted to be. Her last months, as portrayed in this book, can be viewed as a microcosm of her whole life: an enduring riddle which may never be solved. Unless those who knew her best finally tell what they know…, we may never be able to understand the three-dimensional person called Marilyn Monroe. For now, she remains the most enduring enigma in Hollywood history.” Peter Harry Brown & Patte B. Barham, Marilyn: The Last Take (page 233-234)


Home is a Made-Up Place (ARC)

Ronit Plank

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; short story.

My Review: “Short stories with powerful impact….I love short stories. And this compilation of short stories does not disappoint. Ronit Plank does an excellent job of telling each story within a few short pages. After reading each gripping story, each one with its own surprising plot twist, I was left with a new perspective of family, love, and loss. If you enjoy short stories, I highly recommend Home is a Made-Up Place. Each story is stand-alone, and yet each one encourages you to read the next one and then the next one after that. Once you get started reading, you won’t want to stop.”

Book Quote: “Traci?” “Yeah?” He gives my hand a squeeze. “Take care of yourself.” I nod and back away from his car. I’m so tired of taking care of myself. I walk toward my building. From our third-floor apartment, blue television light flickers in the window like always when my father is home. My eyes sting. I can’t swallow past the lump in my throat. I wipe tears off my face. Somebody is always missing.” From “What February Feels Like,” Ronit Plank, Home Is A Made-Up Place

Special Note: My copy of Home is a Made-Up Place was provided by the Publisher as an ARC (advanced reader copy), which I am so grateful and honored for the opportunity.

Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir

Amy Tan

Excellent; highly recommended.

Genre: Nonfiction; memoir.

My Review:A memoir that reads like a how-to write book….This book was so interesting. From beginning to end, Amy Tan does a remarkable job of building momentum and keeping the reader’s attention. I loved learning about her, how she grew up, what her parents were like, how language – and read and writing – played such a big part of her success. And I especially enjoyed the moment where she realized that even though her parents wanted something else for her, a better life than they had had, she ended up doing what she was meant to do all along – write. If you love memoirs and books about writing, you will be doubly pleased with this book. Reading “Where the Past Begins” not only reinforced what I have already learned about the past being a vital part of who I am, but it also provided the satisfaction of honing my writing skills while learning about a favorite writer. You will not be disappointed.”

Book Quote: “I misread “intentions” as “intestines” and now think the image is an apt one. Your intentions come in part from what was fed to you so long ago you’ve forgotten what it was, let alone whether it was good for you….” Amy Tan, Where the Past Begins (page 321)

Please note: As of April 28, I no longer post book reviews on my social media feeds for every book I read. However, I do continue to post every book review here on my website. I will also continue to post book reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else I can post reviews to help my fellow writers/authors, and their readers, in their writing and reading journeys.

Also, at the end of March, I started featuring a favorite book quote after each review. I’ll eventually add book quotes to the books I rated/reviewed earlier in the year.

My 2022 TBR Pile Recap

TBR Pile – January 2022

Thank you for following along with me on this reading journey.

After I got going, I started to read by alternating between memoir and fiction. In early Spring, I realized I needed to invest in a few more memoir books. Once I received them, I interspersed them starting after Jennifer Niven’s “All the Bright Places” to the end of my original TBR pile which ended with Matt Haig’s, “The Midnight Library,” (see photo to right).

Since returning to full-time office work, my reading has slowed from the number of books I was reading in April. So, I’ll only need to add about two more books to my 2022 TBR pile if I continue at my current rate of two books per month.

In the first part of July, I DNF’d (did not finish) two books, “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and “The Waters of Ulan” by my local writer friend, Kenneth Zeigler, which I added after “Crawdads” and before “The Boys.” “Where the Crawdads Sing” is loved by so many and seems like it will be an amazing movie; however, I just couldn’t focus on the first few pages and halfway through the first chapter had to give it up for now. “The Waters of Ulan” was an interesting but strange read (Sci-Fi nor Fantasy is not one of my favorite genres to begin with), and so I also DNF’d it, this time halfway through the book, but I do hope to finish it at a later date.

TBR Pile – Updated April 2022

On July 12, I finally started a third book which I finished on July 30, “The Boys,” by Ron and Clint Howard and which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoir and the lives of movie actors, entertainers, and directors.

TBR Pile – Updated July 2022

In August, I read, “The Confession” by John Grisham, and “The Other Side of Yet” by Michelle D. Hord. Both books were excellent and I enjoyed each one equally well. It’s difficult for me to not like mystery/suspense or memoir. So, I couldn’t possibly tell you which genre is my favorite of the two.

I want to share that in August I read a short middle school mystery which was rather good and took me only two days to read rather than the usual 10-14 days. “Once Upon A Dark November” by Carol Beach York was short, quick and to the point, and kept me on the edge of my seat. If I had read it in middle school, I would most likely have been quite frightened. It was well written and I quite enjoyed it. Once I have time to update this page more fully, I will add it to the regular section; but for now, it is only an FYI.

In September, I started off with “The Mystery of Mrs. Christie” by Marie Benedict. I classify this book as a period piece which I find difficult to stick with. However, the author did quite a good job of getting straight into her story with introducing the characters and the “event,” and so I have to admit I quite enjoyed it in the end.

My second book for September is “Waiting for the Light Bulb,” a young mother’s biography of her first daughter’s fight with an unknown disability often classified as autism, ADHD, and PDD. The is excellent so far, and I’m looking forward to how it ends and what lies ahead for mother, daughter, and family.

Fast-forward to the last half of November and I’m starting my second book for the month, “Marilyn: The Last Take.” I’ve never been intrigues about her story until I took an interest in memoirs. Now, it seems I can’t get enough of learning about other people’s lives and what happened to them. With the exception of mysteries, memoir and biographies are my favorite genres. Stay tuned for more and do take a read at my last two reviews (above), “Meghan: A Hollywood Princess” and “What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw.” Both books were interesting and you might find yourself enjoying them, too.

At the end of December, I only thought I was starting my last book for 2022. In the midst of what I first thought was a novel and then realized it was a memoir, as I often choose books for the author, title, or book cover, or a combination of two or all three, I was reading Amy Tan’s “When the Past Begins” (I had read “The Joy Luck Club” at the askance of my son when he was in junior high and found I quite enjoyed it.), thinking I would enjoy reading another of her books, and grabbing it up thinking it was a novel, loving the flashy, red cover, and not being able to pass up the seven dollar “steal, I was asked by my writer friend, Ronit Plank, to be on her reading team (see the book/review above, “Home is a Made-up Place.”) and was able to squeeze in her delightful collection of short stories. I was pleasantly surprised by both books, as I love memoirs and short stories. It was like getting an end-of-year Christmas bonus: Amy Tan’s memoir -which I originally mistook for a novel – was in fact about her writing life, so I got a lesson in writing from Amy Tan, while learning more about her, and I got to enjoy my friend’s short stories, all of which were quite thought-provoking. Win-win!

Well, as you can surmise, I didn’t need to add anymore books to my 2022 TBR pile. And I’m happy I made it to the bottom of it. The last few books have been a challenge to finish being that I had eight straight weekends of commitments from mid-September through mid-November. Plus, I ended up ill for about a week after my birthday, had a Thanksgiving trip two weeks later, and three more trips out of the area between and leading into another family trip at Christmas.

I’m looking forward to what 2023 has in store for me as a reader of memoir, mystery, and fun books.

Stay tuned for more books and reviews as time in my life allows….

Love & hugs, Virg

Imagine the possibilities!