Book Reviews · LibroFm

Book Review: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

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Thank you @stmartinspress @librofm & @macmillan.audio for my gifted physical & audio copies of “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner! (pub date 5/26)

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable..One hundred & fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives & their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home & her legacy.

These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, & a movie star, among others—could not be more different & yet they are united in their love for the works & words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss & trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful & moving novel that explores the tragedies & triumphs of life, both large & small, & the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s “The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

Initially I started reading the physical copy of this book, & although it is well-written & quite interesting, historical fiction isn’t quite in my wheelhouse. But I am trying to branch out. (Baby steps!) Plus, I am super busy and on the go, so I need a book that can be on the go with me. Thankfully I am a fan of audiobooks, & I found that I was more able to connect with the characters & the storyline by listening to it. The narrator did a fantastic job of bringing all of the very charming characters to life. It did take me a a bit to keep track of everyone, but once I got hold of who was who, the story really took off for me.

The Jane Austen Society” is a tip of the literary hat to Miss Austen & her iconic novels & Jenner has sprinkled quotes from those novels throughout this book. This book got me wanting to re-read some of Austen’s novels I read way back when. This was such a lovely, heartfelt, nuanced, uplifting story that many people have said gives them “Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” vibes. This story touches on family, love, loss, second chances, friendship, the importance of literature & so much more. A very impressive debut novel! Highly recommend!

To buy it on audiobook, I encourage you to use Libro.fm. They support independent bookstores with their audiobook sales, unlike other audiobook apps. Independent bookstores need our sales now more than ever, whether it be with physical books or audiobook sales. Click HERE or use use my referral code MOMLOVESREADING to get a 3-for-1 audiobook deal when you start a Libro.fm account & subscription. You can cancel anytime, so there is no long term commitment.

Those of you that entered my big thriller giveaway on Instagram (the post is HERE), stay tuned for the winner announcement in the next 24 hrs or so. I have to go through all the entries still & everyone’s bonus entries & of course make sure all the entry criteria was met. Another giveaway will be coming soon! Hope everyone has had a wonderful week so far! They seem to be going by so quickly for me these days…

Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Moment of Tenderness” by Madeleine L’Engle

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Thank you @grandcentralpub for my gifted copy of “The Moment of Tenderness” by Madeleine L’Engle! (pub date 4/21)

From the beloved author of “A Wrinkle in Time” comes a deeply personal, genre-bending short story collection that transcends generational divides & reminds readers that hope, above all, can transform suffering into the promise of joy.

This powerful collection of short stories traces an emotional arc inspired by Madeleine L’Engle’s early life & career, from her lonely childhood in NY to her life as a mother in small-town Connecticut. In a selection of eighteen stories discovered by one of L’Engle’s granddaughters, we see how L’Engle’s personal experiences & abiding faith informed the creation of her many cherished works.

A child learns, for the first time, that there are more important things in life than the immediate fulfillment of her desires. A young woman grapples with societal expectations regarding motherhood & self-determination. A young man returns to his childhood home, aggrieved to find his parents’ health deteriorating before his eyes. A mother & daughter confront their changing relationship when a suitor comes calling. A cryptologist searches for habitable planets after nuclear devastation on Earth. In L’Engle’s beautifully distilled world, characters young & old navigate the highs & lows of life, experiencing the agonizing beauty of the everyday.

Some of these stories have never been published; others were refashioned into scenes for her novels & memoirs. Almost all were written in the 1940s & ’50s, from Madeleine’s college years until just before the publication of “A Wrinkle in Time”. From realism to science-fiction to fantasy, there is something for everyone in this magical collection.

First off, that cover! So gorgeous! Madeleine was born in 1918 & died in 2007, having lived through the 20th century & into the 21st. She wrote over 60 books before her passing. The tone of this book is mostly bittersweet, fraught w/sadness, loneliness, & emotional suffering. This won’t be for everyone, but it’s the kind of book where you can read a chapter here & there since they are short stories.

Engaging, provocative, touching & emotional, “The Moment of Tenderness” is a deep look into the complexity of human relationships of all kinds.

******Also, don’t forget to enter my current giveaway to win (5) thrillers (2 winners, 5 books each) on my Instagram. Click HERE to go to that post now. Giveaway ends tomorrow night, 5/27/20. Hope everyone is having a good week so far! We have had some super hot, sunny days here in N Ohio. Not complaining, especially since we have A/C. I sure don’t need hot, sweaty, stinky teenage boys running around my house all cranky from the heat. 😉

Book Reviews

Book Review: “This is How I Lied” by Heather Gudenkauf

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Thank you @parkrowbooks for my gifted copy of “This is How I Lied” by the always amazing Heather Gudenkauf! (pub date 5/12–my BDAY!)

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, & her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death & that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, & seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces & the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates & reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, & they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Gudenkauf has been on my “automatic buy” list of authors since I read her first book years ago. I would seriously buy her grocery list if she published it! I have loved all of her previous books, but I think this one if my new fave of hers! (Plus, “This is How I Lied” was released on my Bday, so there’s that…)

This suspenseful tale is told from 2 POV’s & in dual timelines. It’s well-written, perfectly paced, shocking & twisty, & a gasp outloud ending. I love unsolved murders in fiction novels so I can try to figure out the whodunnit & why along the way & the best books (like this one) are the one’s where you are truly surprised in the end. “This is How I Lied” is a true page turner that captivates the readers attention from the get go & doesn’t let up.

I am will always be a fan of Heather’s (& LoLo…her gorgeous dog!) & she has never disappointed me with her novels! I encourage you to get this book & check out her previous novels as well. Be sure to shop your local independent bookstores first. They need our sales now more than ever! This pandemic is knocking over businesses left & right & I would hate to lose any of our bookstores.

More editorial reviews:

“Once again Heather Gudenkauf proves herself the master of the smart, suspenseful small-town thriller that gets right under your skin…. The question of who can be trusted, and how far, will have you racing to the end. I was utterly absorbed.” —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew and The Nanny

“A twisty, evocative tale of the danger of secrets and the power the past has to lead us down deliciously dangerous paths. Immersive and richly atmospheric, This Is How I Lied intertwines page-turning suspense with characters that creep into your very bones…. An exhilarating thriller that shows Heather Gudenkauf is at the top of her game.” —Christina McDonald, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell

“Suspenseful… Through alternating viewpoints Gudenkauf keeps the tension high. Fans of dogged, resourceful female detectives will cheer Maggie every step of the way.” Publishers Weekly

“Be prepared for all kinds of surprises because nothing is as it seems in Heather Gudenkauf’s latest compulsive thriller, This Is How I Lied. Full of dark twists and turns, and questionable characters, this one will keep you wondering who did what, who will do what next, and if they’ll get away with it. Gudenkauf is a master at writing small-town creepy, and this novel deserves a top spot on your reading pile.” —Hannah Mary McKinnon, bestselling author of Her Secret Son, and The Neighbors

“Utterly chilling, This Is How I Lied is a deep, twisting mystery from a writer hitting her stride. You won’t see it coming, and you won’t be able to turn away.” —JT Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me

To add Heather’s books to your Goodreads, click on the links below:

This is How I Lied” (pub 5/20)

Before She Was Found” (pub 4/19)

Not A Sound” (pub 5/17)

Little Mercies” (pub 6/14)

One Breath Away” (pub 6/12)

These Things Hidden” (pub 1/11)

The Weight of Silence” (pub 7/09)

And be sure to use BookStoreLink to look for “This is How I Lied” & any other books at an independent bookstore. BookStoreLink can help you find the book along with bookstores websites, who has online sales, & all the other information you may need to get the books you want without going straight to the “billionaire’s website” (you know who I mean…).

Book Reviews · Romance · RomCom

Book Review: “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” by Bethany Turner

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Thank you @revellbooks for my gifted copy of “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” by Bethany Turner! (pub date 5/5)

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, & most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm & for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV & in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona & reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along, but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . & maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor & romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, & second chances.

*****Could I picture this as a Hallmark Channel movie of the week? Absolutely! It’s an utterly delightful book that foodies & fans of rom-com’s, romance & cooking shows will absolutely swoon for! Turner will make you laugh out while also charming the sin right out of you! Hadley is such a well-written character that you will just adore: smart, caring, a dash of sass, a little bit sugar & spice, while Maxwell is the salty & bitter one…but of course, that is subject to change in rom-com’s.

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” is a satisfyingly, scrumptious treat you will surely love! I definitely plan to read more of Bethany Turner’s books in the near future!

Click HERE to add to Goodreads

Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of “Wooing Cadie McCaffrey” & “The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck,” which was a finalist for The Christy Award. When she’s not writing (and even when she is), she serves as the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight. For more, visit www.seebethanywrite.com.

Click HERE to add to Goodreads

“The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck” (pub 10/17): Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a “scandalous” book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life. 

Click HERE to add to Goodreads

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey” (pub 5/19): After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing. But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

Bethany Turner is back with more of the heart and humor readers love. Anyone who enjoys a good romance or binges romantic comedies on Netflix will devour this delightful story.

BeachReads · Book Reviews · BOTMs,

Book Review: “Happy and You Know It” by Laura Hankin

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Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted copy of “Happy & You Know It” by Laura Hankin! (pub date 5/19)

A dark, witty page-turner set around a group of wealthy mothers & the young musician who takes a job singing to their babies & finds herself pulled into their glamorous lives & dangerous secrets…

After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for overprivileged infants on NY’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.

There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom & just needs to find a way to keep her perfect life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the cool mom’s who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets & betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.

Filled with humor & shocking twists, “Happy & You Know It” is a brilliant take on motherhood—exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women—while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, & the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.

Click HERE to add this to your Goodreads TBR

I love well-written snarky, sarcastic, flawed characters such as Claire & Amara, but really all the women in this book are flawed in some way. This book has the wry humor, but it also has depth & complexity, & addresses some important issues. “Happy & You Know It” hooks you right from the get go & is a sharp, twisty, completely addictive quick read. It was also a May BOTM! Use my referral link HERE to join Book-of-the-Month & get this book at a discount.

Book of the Month is an online book subscription club that announces 5 selections each month & you can choose (1) as your monthly pick for only $14.99 & then up to (2) more at the even lower cost of $9.99 each (plus tax, but shipping is always FREE!). These are hardback editions, too, & for less than half of what you would pay elsewhere! Most of the monthly selections are early release editions, meaning you can get a copy before everyone else (generally a month in advance) & be one of the cool kids on the block! Not only that, after you have received (12) BOTM boxes, you become a BFF & even MORE exciting things happen!

As a BOTM BFF you get a FREE BOTM tote bag, a FREE add-on book during your birthday month, & every winter when they announce the (5) BOTM Book-of-the-Year finalists, you can choose one of them for FREE, too! Every year! Amazing, huh? I have been a BOTM member for about 3 years now & I love it! My BOTM’s are generally some of my favorite books, too, since they are well curated by varying monthly BOTM judges. You can skip any months you choose to, cancel at anytime, & the BOTM customer service folks are the BEST & they will help you with any issues you may have.

Click HERE to use BookStoreLink & find this book & any others at a local independent bookstore. They need our sales now more than ever! I would hate to see these wonderful stores shuttering there doors permanently due to lack of sales. (Amazon does NOT need our sales & even with Prime, they consider books UNessential & they are often taking weeks to send a book that should have arrived in 2 days or so. I get that mail has delays right now, but don’t tell me books aren’t essential. They absolutely ARE!

Here are some editorial reviews of “Happy & You Know It”:

“For readers who want the fun of reality TV but the heart of a good drama.”—BookPage (starred review)

Absorbing.”—OK! Magazine

“A dramatic and immensely entertaining page-turner about secrets, lies, and mom culture.”—Kirkus

“With deeply drawn and relatable characters, this is an excellent read.”—Library Journal

“An engrossing and compelling story of the lengths women will go to convince the world–and themselves–that they’re as happy and successful as society expects them to be. It’s what would happen if the women from The Nanny Diaries met the women from Sex and the City in the social-media age. I devoured it in less than 48 hours.”—Jill Santopolo, New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost and More Than Words

“Combines wry humor and sharp social commentary with an utterly addictive plot. It’s nonstop fun, and I couldn’t put it down.”—Katharine McGee, New York Times bestselling author of American Royals

“The perfect mix of frothy fun, twisty mystery and social satireHappy and Your Know It is a guilty pleasure of a book that is impossible to put down. Laura Hankin creates complex characters with lives that, like their Instagram feeds, are never as they seem. This is the summer read for book clubs, beachgoers and playgroup moms everywhere.”—Kristy Woodson Harvey, bestselling author of Slightly South of Simple

A juicy look at how the other half livesHappy and You Know It is a page-turning treat in the tradition of The Nanny Diaries and Momzillas. This story of social-climbing and dark secrets heralds a delightful new voice in women’s fiction.”—Jamie Brenner, bestselling author of The Forever Summer

“Laura Hankin balances a sharp eye for the mad dynamics of a high-stakes playgroup with warm understanding of the occasional desperation of new motherhood. This book is bracing, fresh, and hilarious, like sticking your head in a freezer on a hot day.”—Judy Blundell, bestselling author of The High Season

“Hankin has concocted a delicious, rollicking story that features a captivating ensemble of cosmopolitan moms and a down-on-her-luck musician who’s paid to entertain their kids. Packed with laughs and unexpected twists, think Liane Moriarty meets Sex and the City–simply irresistible.”—Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls
“A skillful unraveling of desperate secrets and self-deceptions. Witty, unsettling, and all-too-believable. I raced through to the end.”—Emma Rous, USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair

Imagine if your hilarious best friend told you a really juicy story about a gaggle of rich new mothers While also delivering a sharp commentary about the expectations put on women. That is this book. Bonus for the excellent twist you won’t be expecting. Put it on your list, kids.”—Stephanie Wrobel, USA Today bestselling author of Darling Rose Gold

BeachReads · Book Reviews · Giveaway

Book Review: “A Week at the Shore” and GIVEAWAY(s) reminder!

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Thank you @stmartinspress for my beautiful, gifted copy of “A Week at the Shore“! (pub date 5/19)

In her new book, New York Times bestselling author, Barbara Delinsky explores how lives & relationships are forever changed when three sisters reunite at their family Rhode Island beach house.

One phone call is all it takes to lure real estate photographer Mallory Aldiss back to her family Rhode Island beach home. It’s been 20 yrs since she’s been gone—running from the scandal that destroyed her parents’ marriage, drove her & her two sisters apart, & crushed her relationship with her first love. But going home is fraught with emotional baggage—memories, mysteries & secrets abound.

Mal’s 13-yr-old daughter, Joy, has never been to the place where Mal’s life was shaped & is desperate to go. Fatherless, she craves family & especially wants to spend time with the grandfather she barely knows.

In just seven watershed days on the Rhode Island coast three women will test the bonds of sisterhood, friendship & family, & discover the role that love & memory plays in defining their lives.

Click HERE to add to your Goodreads list

I am always drawn to books that take place in beachy, shoreline towns since I live in one myself. Gives me more of a sense of being there, even if my shoreline is Lake Erie & this books is the ocean. This book is not a light, fluffy beach read, as it is heavier on family dysfunction, fractured sibling relationships, drama, secrets, & confronting the past. It’s around 400 pgs & a bit of a slow-burn, but it’s also engaging, well-written & captivating.

Amazing writing, atmospherically breath-taking & emotionally gripping, this is a fantastic book that is full of heart & soul! Look for this book next week everywhere books are sold, & since many indie bookstores are starting to open back up, start there first. Use BookStoreLink to find “A Week at the Shore” & any other books at a local independent bookstore. They need our sales now more than ever to stay afloat & get back on their feet.

Click HERE to go to the Instagram post

Speaking of “beach reads”, be sure to enter my HUGE 3-winner giveaway on Instagram (Click HERE) AND the 3-book thriller giveaway (Click HERE)! And keep an eye out for ANOTHER one coming soon! I’m feeling very generous this week as I clean my office out & pull more & more books from my overwhelmed home library shelves. I am in full Marie Kondo mode!

Click HERE to go to the Instagram post

Here in Ohio many businesses are starting to reopen (even though Covid #’s continue to rise.) Personally I will continue to limit my socializing & where my family & I go for the rest of the summer (probably year). No summer day camp for my autistic sons either & they LOVED going. We do have an in-ground pool, so luckily we have that to keep them occupies & happy once Mother Nature gets her act together & realizes what month it is. High 70’s one day, low 40’s to high 30’s the next…that is life in Ohio for ya!

I am having such a hard time with wearing a mask everywhere I go. I will continue to & I definitely NEED to due a compromised immune system, but man…they get so freaking hot & I am claustrophobic so I tend to start getting into anxious, panic mode after about 15 minutes in one. I really feel bad for the healthcare workers & others out there that have to wear masks (& more!) for hours at a time. I truly can’t even imagine how awful that must be for them.

Me visiting my mom recently after not seeing her for 5 mos!

As always, stay safe out there. Stay home if you can. Reach out to others online or on the phone if you are getting out of sorts, stressed, exhausted, depressed, or just need a virtual hug. Think of others with all of your actions & reactions. Just stay safe… Now go wash your hands.

Blog Tour · Book Reviews

Book Tour, featuring: “(Im)Perfectly Happy” by Sharina Harris

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Thank you @kensingtonbooks @sharinawrites & @tlcbooktours for my gifted copy of “(Im)Perfectly Happy” by Sharina Harris!

When four college friends formed the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group, they had very different goals—but matched each other in ambition. Yet ten years later they can’t help wondering what happened to the hopeful, confident, driven women they used to be—& how to getthem back…

Radio personality Raina, known as “the black Delilah,” hates the wholesome persona that’s made her a success. Doling out syrupy versions of her grandma’s wisdom feels worlds away from the sarcastic, tell-it-like-it-is woman Raina really is.

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list

Kara Jones was sure she’d be a master sommelier by thirty. Life & loss interfered with that plan. Now she has one more chance—but it’s taking a toll on her self-esteem & her marriage.

Nikki Grayson hardly recognizes the stay-at-home mom she’s become. When her band signed a record deal, she swapped the limelight for a minivan & a sensible ’do. Now she’s wishing she had followed her heart. Instead, she’s drowning her regret in alcohol.

Public defender Sienna Njeri willingly put her city council aspirations aside to support her fiancé’s bid for office—& now she’s wondering if her loyalty is misplaced.

Longing for the support, advice, & tough love they once shared, all four resolve to start meeting up again. After all, their dreams may still be within reach. But are they worth the price they’ll pay to achieve them?

A wonderful book with well-developed, relatable narratives, “(Im)Perfectly Happy” has just the female cast of characters you will want in your life. It embraces female friendships, women supporting women, it’s endearing, inspiring, & fueled with the full spectrum of human emotion. It is told from all four women’s POV & is just the kind of book you’ll want to share with all your female friends.

(Im)Perfectly Happy” was released on 4/28. Look for it at your local bookstore today by using BookStoreLink. Click HERE to find it now (and any other books you may be looking for!)

Sharina Harris earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia State University. After college, she pursued a career in digital marketing and public relations. Although her profession required writing, she decided to pursue a career in writing in 2012. Sharina’s contemporary romance series under the pen name, Rina Gray, was named Book Riot’s 100 Must‑Read Romantic Comedies. When Sharina’s not writing, she can be found with her head stuck in a book, yelling for her favorite NBA teams, and spending time with friends and family. Sharina resides in Atlanta with her husband and son. Visit her at SharinaHarris.com.