Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Tour and Book Review for “Saving Ruby King” by Catherine Adel West

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Thank you @bookclubbish & @parkrowbooks (#promotion) for including MomLovesReading in the Bookstagram Tour for & my gifted copy of ‘Saving Ruby King‘ by Catherine Adel King!

Set in the South Side of Chicago, an epic, enthralling story of a young woman determined to protect her best friend while a long-buried secret threatens to unravel both their families.

Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.

(from the publisher)

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye?

In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla comes to discover the murky loyalties & dark secrets tying their families together for three generations. A crucial pilgrimage through the racially divided landscape of Chicago, ‘Saving Ruby King’ traces the way trauma is passed down through generations & the ways in which communities can come together to create sanctuary.

(from the publisher)

Saving Ruby King‘ is an emotional & revelatory story of race, family secrets, faith & redemption. This is an unforgettable debut novel from an exciting new voice in fiction and a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present, and that the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.

This book is absolutely incredible & it should be on every bookclub’s radar because there are just so many areas of discussion. It is a very timely, relevant, powerful, well-written debut novel that brought out so many emotions while reading it. The book is told from several POV’s to convey the varying viewpoints of the fiction community. There are some very heavy themes covered in this book, too. (I have also heard rumors that West is writing a prequel to this book that focuses on Sara King, so I look fwd to that!)

Saving Ruby King” is complex, nuanced, poignant & thought-provoking, & you will long to discuss it with other readers. This book was released on 6/16. I highly recommend this 5-star read! Look for it today at an independent bookstore by using BookStoreLink to find one near you.

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads TBR list.
Click HERE to get it on audiobook from Libro.fm & use my code MOMLOVESREADING for a BOGO. (The audio is amazing & has 7 narrators!)
Click HERE to use BookStoreLink & find it at an independent book store near you or online.
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What others are saying about “Saving Ruby King”:

“In the midst of widespread protests and calls to end racial injustice, the conversations and understanding tackled in Saving Ruby King are all significant reflections of this country’s reality today.” – Parade Magazine

“Family, friendship, secrets…this rich, suspenseful page-turner has it all.” – Woman’s World

 “Incorporating compelling perspectives, this is a powerful story of family, faith and friendship.” – MS. Magazine

“Saving Ruby King is a stunning force of a novel that has everything anyone could want in a family saga—honey-dipped prose, strikingly human characters, and a satisfying, soul-stirring conclusion that will stay with me for a long, long time.”
– Zakiya Harris, author of THE OTHER BLACK GIRL

“Told with teeth and tenderness, SAVING RUBY KING is a surprising, pedal-down debut that explores what happens when the fabrics of family, faith, and friendship snag on violent machinations of the heart. Redemption and survival share a pew with reckoning and hope here, all tangled up with the ties that bind. Catherine Adel West gifts us Chicago, the black church, and a choir of flawed, wonderfully complicated characters who flash fresh with every turn of the page, who stand against the wind, who won’t go down without a fight.”
– Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Whiskey & Ribbons and So We Can Glow

“What an astonishing book. Catherine Adel West breathes life into violence and mayhem like a poet on a new day. These are the stories we need to hear: voices of hope in a wilderness of pain.”
– Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl

“West is a bold, exciting new voice in fiction. With honesty and compassion, she brings readers beyond the headlines into the real south side of Chicago where love, church, and family abide. She makes us think not only about saving Ruby King, but about finding our own redemption as we save ourselves individually and collectively. In this assured debut, West deftly breathes life into this community with characters you’ll cry with and root for long after the last page.”
 – Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie

“[An] Ambitious, keenly observant debut… West’s tale of grace, redemption, and hope would translate handily to the screen. This should enjoy wide popularity with book groups.” 
– Publishers Weekly

“West uses a fresh approach to covering not only several decades of family history, but also complex themes including the ways in which close communities can nourish and harm their members; how friendships and family ties can hold intimacy and distance; the way misunderstandings and trauma can pass down the generations; and the difference between a relationship with God and a church. The characters, language, and plot come together for a story full of hard truths, insight, and warmth…a daring, dynamic story.
A multilayered love letter to South Side Chicago’s African American faith-based community.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“West delivers her debut with an honesty that jumps off the pages and into the laps of her readers. Telling Ruby’s story from multiple points of view, West writes with a precision that makes the story sing, with clear language and poetic imagery.”
– Booklist

“A story of intrigue and heartbreaking family secrets… A fresh look into the church community of Chicago’s South Side with a bold female perspective.”
– Library Journal


Catherine Adel West graduated with both her BA and MA in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her work has been published in Gay MagazineBlack Fox Literary MagazineFive2OneBetter Than Starbucks, and others. Catherine was born and raised in Chicago. Saving Ruby King is her debut novel.

Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: “The Big Finish” by Brooke Fossey

Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted copy of “The Big Finish” by Brooke Fossey! (pub date 4/14)

One of Goodreads Top 25 Feel-Good and Escapist Books to Read in Quarantine as seen in USA Today

“[A] funny, winning debut.”—People

“Delightfully quirky and endearing…an absolute pleasure to read!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin

Meet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy.

In a funny, insightful, and life-affirming debut, Brooke Fossey delivers an unflinching look at growing old, living large, and loving big, as told by a wise-cracking man who didn’t see any of it coming.


My review: What a wonderful, uplifting debut novel! The cover alone brings a smile to my face! This is a perfect summer read that is light-hearted, feel good, & helps you escape all of the 2020 chaos & isolation.

The Big Finish” is a moving, heartfelt, uplifting novel about unlikely friendship, second chances, self-discovery, & being adventurous at any age. A super cute book that also gave me some “A Man Called Ove” vibes (one of my all-time faves!). This book gave me so many feels & overall, just warmed my heart!


More praise for “The Big Finish

“Warm, funny, and tender, The Big Finish is a journey of discovery and second chances you won’t want to end.”–J. Ryan StradalNew York Times bestselling author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Big Finish is a blast; at turns madcap, hilarious and touching. With the unlikely coupling of Duffy and Josie, Fossey has created an unforgettable duo that will win your heart and keep you laughing from start to finish.”–Jonathan EvisonNew York Times bestselling author of Lawn Boy

The Big Finish is a big-hearted, hugely entertaining novel about the most unlikely people being hijacked by second chances. I love novels about makeshift families, and this one’s a doozy.”–Monica Wood, Author of The One-In-A-Million Boy

The Big Finish is a beautiful book full of humor, wisdom, and heartbreak. This story of friendship and kinship is a heartwarming reminder that we’re never too young for a fresh start or too old for a big finish.”–Melissa DeCarlo, Author of The Art of Crash Landing

“Funny and tender, a wonderful novel about redemption, friendship, and showing up for the people you love. Heart-warming and a real hoot!”–Annie Hartnett, Author of Rabbit Cake

“Big-hearted, life-affirming, and page-turning, The Big Finish is everything a novel should be and more. Brooke Fossey is a delightful new voice in fiction.”–Jamie Brenner, National bestselling author of The Forever Summer

The Big Finish is a piercing, witty, and wholly original read.”–Kimmery Martin, author of The Antidote for Everything

“Filled with humor, heart and hilarious antics, this uplifting tale…is a series of joyful high jinks, family life lessons and second chances.”Woman’s World

“Fossey’s debut is a warm and deeply funny look at the lives of two seniors who learn it is never too late to grow old with style. Filled with rich, pitch-perfect dialogue, this is a sweet story of people finding meaning and creating family in the places they least expected.”–Booklist

“Fossey manages to depict the struggles of the elderly, whose concerns aren’t often examined in fiction, in a way that’s both respectful and entertaining. A moving, funny, and ultimately hopeful look at what makes life meaningful.”–Kirkus“[A] delightful debut…. A completely logical yet somehow unexpected ending will leave readers smiling—and looking forward to Fossey’s next effort.”–Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Fossey delivers a funny, adventurous novel about second chances, redemption and how, just when it might seem as though life is winding down, it’s actually just getting started.”–Shelf Awareness

“Most of all, they bring the foolishness and the wisdom of their humanity, the decades-long experience that makes them exactly who they always have been. Only now, in the autumnal twilight of their years, they are just a little more so, as Fossey shows us in a way that both warms and breaks our hearts.”Dallas Morning News

“A charming, voice-driven, poignant novel narrated by a spry old codger named Duffy Sinclair…There are hijinks, mystery and adventure, but the book has just enough angst and trouble…to give it a little edge.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

Click HERE to add this book to your Goodreads list.
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Brooke Fossey was once an aerospace engineer with a secret clearance before she traded it all in for motherhood and writing. She’s a past president and an honorary lifetime member of DFW Writers’ Workshop. Her work can be found in numerous publications, including Ruminate Magazine and SmokeLong Quarterly. Her debut novel, THE BIG FINISH, is forthcoming in 2020 from Penguin/Berkley (US), and Piper/Pendo (DE). When she’s not writing, you can find her in Dallas, Texas with her husband, four kids, and their dog Rufus. She still occasionally does math.

Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: “Pale” by Edward A Farmer (pub 5/19)

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Thank you @blackstonepublishing (partner) for my gifted copy of “Pale“, the impressive debut novel by Edward A Farmer! (pub date 5/19).

Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”

The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family & she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.

The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest & the appearance of Jesse & Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed & destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.

Bernice walks the fine line between emissary & accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, & no one will come out unscathed.

With a dazzling voice & rich emotional tension, “Pale” explores the ties that bind & how quickly humanity can fade & return us to primal ways.

Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. “Pale” slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way.

Pale” is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut! “Pale” is available now, so add it to your TBR list & get it from your local indie bookseller today! Use BookStoreLink to find this book & others at a local or online independent bookstore. Click HERE to get started. You can also click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list.

What others are saying about “Pale“:

”More than once I had to remind myself to take a deep breathe while reading Pale. It’s a slow walk through a poetic dream, or rather an inescapable nightmare. Edward Farmer deftly portrays characters that are trapped by choices other people made long ago. A beautiful exploration of the tension between choices and circumstances. The evil of intergenerational racism is revealed by the preference to live in a quicksand of hatred, to choose slow vengeance over breaking free.” —Laila Ibrahim, bestselling author of Yellow Crocus

”Edward A. Farmer’s novel, Pale, takes readers on a twisting, turning journey of unexpected passions, forbidden love, and practiced cruelty. His sumptuous prose creates an operatic vision of life on a cotton plantation in 1960s Mississippi, a world on the cusp of great change that many of its characters resist with all their power. Farmer’s debut marks the emergence of an exciting new voice in American fiction.” —May-lee Chai, author of Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories and Dragon Chica

”Edward Farmer’s powerful debut, Pale, lures you in with its atmospheric prose, grabbing hold gently and then slowly tightening its emotional grip with each page. His main character, Bernice, must navigate Mississippi plantation life circa 1966 with its deeply embedded racism and well-established patriarchy, as well as the complex tensions between both Mr. and Mrs. Kerns and their servants. It’s a beautifully wrought novel, with each character sensitively drawn, exposing the lasting effects of trauma. Farmer is a writer to watch!” —John Copenhaver, author of the Macavity Award-winning Dodging and Burning

”Edward A. Farmer’s Pale is a novel that surges full force into the power of language. The music of the words builds and builds, rendering tension as thick as the humid Mississippi air. The characters overflow with this music, driven by intense passions, often to the point of madness. They try to make melody of circumstance and loss, but instead find only dissonance. Farmer orchestrates this story with the genius of a maestro, only releasing the reader through a deft and lovely resolution in the novel’s final pages. A striking debut by an author to watch.” —Zach Powers, author of First Cosmic Velocity and Gravity Changes

”Farmer’s debut captures the delicate and dangerous lose-lose reality of a person in Bernice’s position … Farmer opens with cotton imagery and returns to it throughout, disallowing any visions of beautiful, puffy whiteness … The story’s rewards and Bernice’s experience are important.” —Booklist

Edward A. Farmer is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, where he journaled and cultivated stories his entire childhood. He is a graduate of Amherst College with a degree in English and psychology, and recipient of the MacArthur-Leithauser Travel Award for creative writing. He currently lives and writes in Pasadena, California. Pale is his first novel.

Book Reviews · Fiction

Book review: “Always Last to Know” by Kristan Higgins

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Thank you @berkleypub for my gifted copy of “Always Last to Know” by Kristan Higgins! (pub date 6/9).

Sometimes you have to break a family to fix it. From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins, a new novel examining a family at the breaking point in all its messy, difficult, wonderful complexity.

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb & John, married almost fifty years, are testy & bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; & John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down. Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher & struggling artist in New York on hold to come back & care for her beloved dad–& face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, & who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, & her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks. And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s been going on in their marriage all along.

From the author of “Good Luck with That” & “Life & Other Inconveniences” comes a new novel of heartbreaking truths & hilarious honesty about what family really means.

I received this book back in January, so hopefully I can articulate how I felt about this book when I read it in February. It is told from 4 POV’s (Sadie, John, Barb & Juliet) & it sort of felt like 4 books combined because each person’s POV was so well voiced. I had to grab tissues a couple times! “Always Last to Know” is a very poignant, heartfelt, emotional & riveting tale of family dynamics, betrayal, resentment, loss, romance & forgiveness.
This would make a fantastic limited series on Hulu or Netflix. I really loved it just like I did with the other Kristan Higgins books I have read. This is a fantastic story that will truly captivate it’s readers. Look for this book this Tues, 6/9, at your local bookstores. Click HERE to find it using BookStoreLink.

This is what the ARC cover actually looked like, but I photoshopped the actual cover for the other photo. And my son wanted to say Hi to everyone in this pic! My little photo-bomber!

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal & Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages & sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards & accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal , People & Booklist. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases & get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at www.kristanhiggins.com.
Her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year. Kristan is also a cohost of the Crappy Friends podcast, which discusses the often complex dynamics of female friendships, with her friend & fellow writer, Joss Dey.
The proud descendant of a butcher & a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband. They own several badly behaved pets & are often visited by their entertaining & long-lashed children.

BeachReads · RomCom

Book review: “The Happy Camper” by Melody Carlson

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Thank you @revellbooks for my gifted copy of “The Happy Camper” by Melody Carlson! (pub 3/3)

Home is the place to heal, right? At least, that’s what Dillon Michaels is hoping as she leaves her disappointing career & nonstarter love life behind to help her grieving & aging grandfather on his small Oregon farm. The only problem? Her eccentric mother beat her there & has taken over Dillon’s old room. After a few nights sleeping on a sagging sofa, Dillon is ready to give up, until she receives an unlikely gift–her grandfather’s run-down vintage camp trailer, which she quickly resolves to restore with the help of Jordan Atwood, the handsome owner of the local hardware store.

But just when things are finally beginning to run smoothly, Dillon’s noncommittal ex-boyfriend shows up with roses… and a ring. Full of quirky characters, family drama, & sweet romance, “The Happy Camper” will have you scouring Craigslist for your own diamond-in-the-rough camper to restore & hunting your local hardware store for a handy guy to help your dreams come true.

I love the cover of this book so much, & I actually hate camping. Personally, I consider staying in a hotel a form of “glamping”. I just prefer all the amenities of home. I really loved reading about Dillon’s restoration of the vintage camper because it reminded me of a neighbor of mine (who has since passed away) that had one of these cute, little campers to travel with when she visited her kids. I think one of these vintage campers would make an amazing playhouse in our backyard.

The Happy Camper” is a very engaging, light, charmingly delightful beach read for everyone, & it’s completely PG. That’s one of the things I love about Baker Publishing & Revell Books. Enjoyable reading without all the raunchy sex or language. This is an uplifting & heartwarming novel that would make a fun screen adaptation. I would love to see a follow-up book where Dillon is a bit more matured. (That’s the mom in me coming out, I guess.)

I look forward to reading more from Carlson in the future, as she has written over 200 books! Look for “The Happy Camper” at your local bookstore & check out some of her other novels as well!

You can use BookStoreLink to find this book & any others. Simply type in the book title or an authors name, then type in a bookstore, city or state, & all the independent stores will be listed. Some have e-commerce sales & will ship & some have curbside pickup or home delivery right now.

The indie bookstores need our sales more than that “other online giant”. Click HERE for “The Happy Camper“.

Hope you are all having a fantastic week & are staying safe out there. And Happy Camping this summer to all you camper’s out there!

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women & children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita & the Gold Medallion) & some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons & makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband & yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/