Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Review - The Swans of Harlem

Title:  The Swans of Harlem
Author Karen Valby
Publisher:  Pantheon
Genre:   Memoir
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   304
Date of Publication:   April 30, 2024
My Rating:   

The forgotten story of a pioneering group of five Black ballerinas and their fifty-year sisterhood, a legacy erased from history—until now.

At the height of the Civil Rights movement, Lydia Abarca was a Black prima ballerina with a major international dance company—the Dance Theatre of Harlem, a troupe of women and men who became each other’s chosen family. She was the first Black ballerina on the cover of Dance magazine, an Essence cover star; she was cast in The Wiz and in a Bob Fosse production on Broadway. She performed in some of ballet’s most iconic works with other trailblazing ballerinas, including the young women who became her closest friends—founding Dance Theatre of Harlem members Gayle McKinney-Griffith and Sheila Rohan, as well as first-generation dancers Karlya Shelton and Marcia Sells.

These Swans of Harlem performed for the Queen of England, Mick Jagger, and Stevie Wonder, on the same bill as Josephine Baker, at the White House, and beyond. But decades later there was almost no record of their groundbreaking history to be found. Out of a sisterhood that had grown even deeper with the years, these Swans joined forces again—to share their story with the world.

Captivating, rich in vivid detail and character, and steeped in the glamour and grit of professional ballet, The Swans of Harlem is a riveting account of five extraordinarily accomplished women, a celebration of both their historic careers and the sustaining, grounding power of female friendship, and a window into the robust history of Black ballet, hidden for too long.


“Starting a Black ballet company at the end of the civil rights era.” This was no easy task for Arthur Mitchell, who, with sheer determination proved a harsh, and effective, taskmaster as he worked with and trained 
Black classical dancers. These would-be ballerinas mostly unheard of in the world of classical ballet.

It was 1969, and the Dance Theater or Harlem (DTH) was founded by Mitchell, and featured Black ballet dancers. This involved breaking the color line Fighting racism. Even fighting colorism. Where did Black dancers belong? Mitchell wanted to pull them from modern dance and turn them into ballerinas.

The DTH began with five ballerinas, among men also being trained by Mitchell. We have Lydia Abarca, who achieved more than a bit of success. This success included being the first Black ballerina on the cover of the now defunct Dance magazine, popular with Essence, and even cast in the Wiz. Then she was cast by Bob Fosse and was on broadway. This in no way was a life of ease for Lydia. Pain came in a close second, often even first when it came to fame. Lydia was only one of the five ballerinas Mitchell worked hard to gain recognition. However, without research resources, their names are largely hidden in history.  

Karen Valper and Pantheon do a fabulous job of celebrating these five women, even correcting popular history when it needs correcting. Mitchell became a ballet dancer of some fame himself - breaking the stereotype often expected of Black dancers during that era. As this led to him creating the DTH, he broke that stereotype. These Black dancers were pioneers and they really belonged in classical dancing

Arther Mitchell was hard on his female ballet dancers. Strict beyond belief, he wanted these young ballerinas to get the notoriety they deserved. In most cases at the beginning, at least, these young Black ballerinas went mostly unnoticed. A lonely world to be sure. But these young people had artistry and, although time ran out for most of them, the AIDS crisis really hitting the dance world hard, it was a true epidemic that ended many careers. 

Lydia Arbaca was only one of the five ballerinas featured in this book. There were also Gayle McKinney-Griffith, Sheila Rohan, Karlya Shelton and Marcia Sells. These women belonged on the classical stage. Of that there was no doubt. Their lives and careers hit a lot of stumbling blocks, but with great research having gone into this book, it was easy to connect to each dancer. This was made possible by some of the dancers’ own words at times. These women deserve to be celebrated, honored and are due our respect.

Many thanks to Pantheon and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Monday, April 29, 2024

BLOG TOUR - The Baby


There’s a baby in your house. It isn’t yours…

The day I was told I’d never be able to have a child, my world came crashing down. My husband says he still loves me but I lie awake at night, wishing we could have a family.
One morning, my husband’s side of the bed is cold and empty. I hear a noise and head downstairs.

In the middle of the rug in my living room is a wooden drawer. Swaddled inside, with perfect rosy cheeks and beautiful round blue eyes, a baby gazes up at me.
I shiver. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, but this baby is not mine…

An absolutely addictive page-turner with heart-pounding twists from beginning to end. Fans of The Woman in the Window, Freida McFadden and Lisa Jewell won’t be able to put this jaw-dropping psychological thriller down!


Title:  The Baby
Author A. J. McDine 
Publisher:  Bookouture 
Genre:   Psychological Thriller 
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   312
Date of Publication:   April 23, 2024
My Rating:   4 Stars

With alcohol-induced amnesia often ending up with confusing memories for Lucy, her most recent experience rocks her at her core. When she awakes after being passed out after another night of drinking and discovers a baby in her living room, she tries to reach the furthest part of her brain to try and remember whose baby it is and how the baby go there. With her husband Miles away while working on an oil rig, Lucy panics when she thinks of him coming back home to discover the presence of a baby. 

Here’s the thing. Miles always said that he did not want them to have children. But, with no news alerts popping up about a missing baby, Lucy fantasizes about keeping it. As this is a psychological thriller, the tension in this book kept me riveted to my Kindle screen. The twist was a jaw-dropper that really surprised me. One thing I will say, Miles reaction was a surprise, both to Lucy and to me as well. I love how this book was written and how compelling it was to read. Kudos to Ms. Mcdine. I will be back for more. 
Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


 A J McDine was a journalist and police press officer until she realised writing fiction was much more fun.

She lives in Kent in the UK with her husband, fellow thriller writer A J Wills, their two sons and a pair of very demanding cats.
The author of dark, domestic thrillers, she loves to keep her readers guessing till the very last page.

When she’s not writing, playing tennis or attempting to run a 5k, she can generally be found gazing blankly out of the window as she dreams up conflict and tension for her poor characters.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Review - The Therapist

Title:  The Therapist
Author S. A. Falk
Publisher:  Storm Publishing
Genre:   Psychological Thriller 
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   348
Date of Publication:   April 25, 2024
My Rating:   4 Stars

It’s my first day back at work, and the grief I’m carrying is still with me, but I file it away and put on my professional face to greet my new patient.

As a successful psychiatrist and criminologist, I’m used to working with damaged minds. But I’m not prepared for Trent Davis. Sitting across the table from me, his warm brown eyes shine. He laughs easily and part of me can’t help but like him, despite what his file says he’s capable of.

Then a package arrives for Trent, with my home as the return address.

And everything falls apart…

A shocking and unputdownable thriller with a ‘didn’t see that coming’ twist. The perfect read for fans of The Silent Patient, Mike Omer and Freida McFadden.


Stephanie Fletcher, is a psychiatrist who is grieving the loss of her long-time therapist. Stephanie was a victim of horrid childhood abuse and depended on therapy to help her to process it. Back at work at her job at the Pantano State Hospital, a facility for the criminally insane, Stephanie relies on her job as a correctional psychiatrist to help patients, even those with extensive life sentences. One patient in a particular, new to the facility, has been given six life sentences for his brutal and vile crimes to six victims. Stephanie tries to help him, but realizes that the trauma of her past affects the way she views and treats her patients.

Stephanie’s newest patient, Trent, has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, with years of self-medicating, as well as how he was affected from the horrible treatment of his mother when he was a child. Her sessions with Trent were vey telling, if not cringeworthy, yet she strives to find common ground with him. 

The Therapist was full of tense scenes and packed a wallop when it came to a shocking twist and conclusion, making me tap my Kindle faster ad faster as the book ended with a crescendo.

Many thanks to Storm Publishing and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

BLOG TOUR - His Last Wife


“Do not go in there, Anna. Never go in there.” The words ring in my head as I pick the lock to the only room in the house that the man I love tells me I’m not allowed to enter. Trembling as I step inside, I’m about to finally find out what happened to his last wife…

Everyone thinks my life is bliss. The love of my life, 
Cary, and I live in our dream home and we have a beautiful little girl, Harper. I may not have given birth to her, but I’m her mommy now. But there’s one thing we never talk about…

Cary’s wife before me, 
Presley, was perfect in every way. But she went missing a long time ago. Cary was distraught when he told me how she was abducted from her car, leaving behind a pool of blood. No one saw a thing.

The neighbors are always gossiping about Presley. I try to ignore them, but one day I hear something that makes my stomach flip. Presley was abducted from her home. The home I now live in. Cary lied to me about the car. But why?

As I search our beautiful home for answers, I stumble across Presley’s diary. My heart thunders in my chest as I discover the truth: 
Cary had something to do with his wife’s disappearance. And I’m terrified I might be next.

But Cary doesn’t know that I have a secret too. He doesn’t know how far I’ve gone to get this perfect life, and how much further I’ll go to keep it…

An unbelievably gripping psychological thriller, His Last Wife will have you flipping the pages until you reach the final, breathtaking twist. Fans of Don’t Let Her Stay, The Housemaid and The Perfect Marriage won’t be able to put this jaw-dropping read down!




Title:  His Last Wife
Author Ruhi Choudhary
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC  
No. of Pages:   355
Date of Publication:   April 25, 2024
My Rating:   5 Stars
Meeting Cary soon finds Anna thinking she might just be about to live an idyllic life. Things start off from friendship, but they soon marry. Everything is indeed perfect, and this includes Anna becoming the stepmother of Cary’s daughter, Presley. 

However, that perfect life that Anna is now living? Well, there are missing pieces to this puzzle, pieces that slowly become apparent. For one thing, after Cary confesses that his first wife Presley disappeared. Then there is one room in the house that Anna is not allowed to enter. Despite her beginning to feel a bit uncertain, Anna finds that she falls more in love with Harper every day so she tries to ignore her shaky feelings. As the days progress, Anna realizes that she really needs answers, even if whatever secrets there are destroy the strong love she has formed for Cary and even for Harper. 

What a wild ride! This book by Ruhi Choudhary kept me on my toes! It was a sharp, crisp read full of tension and with excellent pacing. While Anna is the primary protagonist, the chapters in this thrilling read are peppered with chapters narrated by an unknown “watchter”. These chapters, as well as Anna’s growing ordeal, made His Last Wife an excellent read from start to finish.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


 Ruhi Choudhary discovered her passion for writing when she was seven years old and wrote her first Star Trek episode. Being a fan of the dark and twisted, she found her calling in crime thrillers.

She likes to write stories that make you a little uncomfortable and characters that you struggle to make up your mind about but stay with you. 

She lives in Toronto and spends her days training to be a scientist and wishing it rained more often!

Social Media Links:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RuhiSChoudhary

Bookouture Email Sign Up: https://www.bookouture.com/ruhi-choudhary

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Review - Four-Alarm Homicide

Title:   Four-Alarm Homicide

Author: Diane Kelly
Series: House Flipper Mystery #6
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 304
Date of Publication: April 23, 2024
My Rating: 4 Stars


Some properties are too hot to handle...

Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are hot for a historical property that has just come on the market—a fire station in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood that was built nearly a century ago.

The cousins have just begun the interior demolition work at the fire station when Joanna Hartzell, who lives in a townhouse around the corner, comes by with a plea for help. Joanna owns the right half of her building, which she proudly maintains in perfect condition, while the left side falls into disrepair: the seven adult children who inherited it years ago refuse to lift a finger on repairs. Never one to turn down a challenge, Whitney and Buck manage to acquire the rundown townhouse—though it turns out Joanna is only one of the many neighbors interested in buying the property once they’ve worked their magic.

Then Joanna shows up at the fire station confused and rambling, then collapses, never to recover. Alarm bells go off for Whitney: she suspects something—and someone—evil could be the real cause. Can she and Collin put the clues together and smoke out a killer?


Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are really hoping that they will win the bid for a historical property, a fire station that they want to turn into a nice family home. After making the purchase and beginning the renovation, Joanna, the owner of a townhouse just around the corner inform encourage them to buy the left side of the townhome, which has fallen into disrepair. The owner has long since passed away, and none of their seven adult children have done anything to maintain the property.

So, Whitney and Buck just might have two properties that they could be working on at the same time - if they can convince each adult child to sign a quit-claim deed for a set amount of money for each of them. Now with the two projects going on at once, their next challenge is the fact that more than one person is interested in purchasing the townhouse, and the pressure is on.

Shockingly, after coming to the firehouse one day, Joanna suddenly drops dead. As she was one of the eager would-be purchaser of the townhouse, and it doesn’t take Whitney long at all to know that this must be a case of foul play. With more than one suspect that could be responsible, work on their two projects is easily slowed down as Whitney strives to discover the killer. As this is the sixth book in a enjoyable cozy mystery series, it was very nice to revisit Whitney. She never missed a beat, all while the renovations were in progress, as well as planning her impending marriage. I sure hope that this series continues as Whitney is a delightful character. 

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Paperbacks and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals more than once. Lest she end up in an orange jumpsuit, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her “Death and Taxes” romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly, also writes the hilarious Paw Enforcement K-9 series, the Busted Female Motorcycle Cop series, the House Flipper series, the Southern Homebrew Moonshine series and the Mountain Lodge Mysteries series.


Title:   Darling Girls
Author:  Sally Hepworth
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press; Macmillan Audio
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Format:  Audiobook and Kindle ARC
Narrators:  Jessica Clarke
Audiobook Length:  9 hr 6 min
No. of Pages:   368
Date of Publication:   April 23, 2024
My Rating:   4 Stars


SISTERS, SECRETS, LOVE, AND MURDER... Sally Hepworth’s new novel has it all.

For as long as they can remember, Jessica, Norah, and Alicia have been told how lucky they are. As young girls they were rescued from family tragedies and raised by a loving foster mother, Miss Fairchild, on an idyllic farming estate and given an elusive second chance at a happy family life.

But their childhood wasn’t the fairy tale everyone thinks it was. Miss Fairchild had rules. Miss Fairchild could be unpredictable. And Miss Fairchild was never, ever to be crossed. In a moment of desperation, the three broke away from Miss Fairchild and thought they were free. Even though they never saw her again, she was always somewhere in the shadows of their minds. When a body is discovered under the home they grew up in, the foster sisters find themselves thrust into the spotlight as key witnesses. Or are they prime suspects?

A thrilling page-turner of sisterhood, secrets, love, and murder by New York Times bestselling author Sally Hepworth.


Sisters Jessica, Norah and Alicia. Not sisters by blood, but sisters in every way that matters. As someone with four sisters, I can attest to the fact that there is an unbreakable bond. These three girls have that bond, a bond that was forged after being fostered in a home by a woman known as Miss Fairchild. They were only three of dozens of other fostered children, but as adults, some of the issues that led them to foster care, as well as living in a less than ideal foster home, has brought them even closer together. 

New construction is taking place - in a very old place. It was Wild Meadows, the foster home run by Miss Fairchild. When a body is discovered, the girls are faced with a past none of them want to relive, but they are witnesses to whatever it was that happened that eventually led to that body being discovered. The question is: are they witnesses or or are they suspects in a death that was no doubt a murder?

Darling Girls is the fifth book I have read by Sally Hepworth, and as before, I was really pulled into the drama in this story. Secrets, lies and murders are the fiber of this story, but equally so are love and sisterhood. There is trauma. There is drama. And with four points of view the story moves at a fast pace, especially as it was excellently narrated by Jessica Clarke. I definitely loved her performance. 

Many thanks to Macmillan Audio, St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) and The Mother's Promise (2017), and The Family Next Door (Feb 2018). Sally's books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally's novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

Friday, April 19, 2024

BLOG TOUR - The Home Front Girls


The war is raging in Europe. These girls will do everything they can on the home front – but is a happy ever after possible in such dark and uncertain times?

Manchester, 1940: 
The minute war was declared, best friends Sally and Deborah volunteered for the home guard, willing to do anything to help their boys fighting overseas. An Auxiliary Fire Service girl by night, Sally ends up stationed at the salvage depot by day. Working amidst the scrap metal and waste paper, helping to make do and mend, isn’t quite the glamorous life in uniform she’d imagined! But she’s determined to do her best, and turn saucepans into Spitfires.

When Sally meets 
Andrew, a quiet carpenter with a heart-breaking smile who understands how important her work is, she finally feels as though her efforts to keep calm and carry on are making a difference. As love blossoms, Sally feels herself opening up to Andrew in a way she’d never imagined possible.

But then, just as Sally feels as hopeful as she can be in these times of war, a devastating air raid threatens everything she holds dear. As bombs rain down all over Manchester, deadly fires begin to destroy homes, and lives. With Andrew out rescuing families from the rubble, Sally rushes towards the plumes of smoke that fill the night sky. And is horrified to realise the very worst hit area has the salvage yard right at its heart.

Desperate to help in any way she can, Sally, with her fellow salvage girls by her side, sets to work. But what will they find when the smoke clears? Will Sally and Andrew get the happy ending they so deserve? Or will her one chance at true love be lost forever as the morning dawns…?

A completely gripping and heart-breaking romantic saga. Perfect for fans of Rosie Clarke, Nancy Revell and Lizzie Lane.




Title:  The Home Front Girls
Author Susanna Bavin
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Series:  The Home Front Girls #1
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   329
Date of Publication:   April 16, 2024
My Rating:   4 Stars 
When Sally and Deborah volunteered for the home guard while WWII was raging, they both thought that the jobs they would be doing would be more than what they  actually got assigned. Primarily, they will be doing salvage work, and it doesn’t take them long to realize that this job is indeed as important as other jobs for those who serve. 

As their characters were drawn out in this first book in the historical saga series by Susanna Bavin, this book also highlighted jobs often not mentioned during the war effort. Their work was indeed vital, and both Sally and Deborah saw firsthand the devastation that the war was bringing. For example, food rations. So difficult to read and to imagine, but it was just one of the tragedies that the victims of the war experienced. 

While this book shows how Sally and Deborah’s friendship blossomed, there was also a romance blooming, and this added another layer to this well-written book. As this is the first book in a new series, I am eager to see how both the setting and the characters continue to be affected by the war. 

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


 Susanna Bavin has written 4 standalone sagas and her new WW2 trilogy, The Home Front Girls, will be published by Bookouture in 2024. She also writes as Polly Heron (The Surplus Girls 1920s saga series) and Maisie Thomas (The Railway Girls WW2 saga series)

Susanna lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her husband and their two rescue cats. She is originally from Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester, where her family has lived for several generations and which provides the setting for her family sagas.

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Website: www.susannabavin.co.uk


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