ARC Review – Food for Thought, by Ariana Ferrante

Food For Thought by Ariana Ferrante

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A spectacular rendition of a classic tale we only thought we knew. Ferrante’s Food for Thought weaves a riveting narrative of love and loyalty, grief and hunger, and adds new dimension to the goddesses and gods of Ancient Greece. This is a retelling you won’t want to put down!

This little novelette is an excellent dose of Greek mythology, infused with a touch of horror, romance, and a delicious taste of righteous spite. Food for thought is a courageous and thought-provoking narrative showcasing the power women have when they combine their forces rather than tear each other down.

I highly recommend this story for lovers of Greek mythology, especially if you are looking for a quick read to satisfy an itch. I don’t often see horror and romance fused together but Ferrante pulls it off masterfully. This is a genre that, now that I have a taste, I would LOVE to read more of.

Food for Thought is available for purchase at every major retailer.

View all my reviews

ARC Review – Salt and Broom, by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Salt & Broom by Sharon Lynn Fisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sharon Lynn Fisher has created an absolute page turner recency romance with a witchy twist, high stakes mystery, and all the magic of the autumn season one needs for a cozy weekend.

Huge thanks to Sharon Lynn Fisher for sharing an ARC with me in exchange for an honest review. I first became acquainted with her writing in 2020 when I read an ARC of The Warrior Poet, which I also immensely enjoyed.

Fisher’s writing draws you in, creates a world with the details you need without being overly purple or wordy, but still with a sophisticated flare that I can’t stop reading.

It’s been awhile since I started a book I just didn’t want to put down and this one was definitely hard to pause. It starts us right off in the adventure and doesn’t slow down for a second.

I love Jane’s inner monologue, it just added such a spunky layer of complexity to her character that connected me to her, like we were best friends sharing intimate thoughts about the sticky situation of the scene.

I thought the romance and tension between Jane and Mr. Rochester was lovely and well-developed. It wasn’t eye-rolley or cringy. Not too in your face for the story, and it was very much in line with the classics like Pride and Prejudice and the OG Jane Eyre. I was pleasantly satisfied by how well the romance arc complimented the overarching story. Neither was too overpowering for the other in the slightest.

I adored the witchy spellwork and herbology woven in. It reminded me just a little of Once and Future Witches, and I would say if you enjoyed that book then this one is definitely a must read. Like OaFW, the magic was ingrained in the storyline and the character and it was not inserted as an afterthought. Fisher handled this brilliantly.

I particularly loved reading this in October, since the story takes place in October as well, and it just made the scenes that much more sensory to me as I read, which I also loved. It also has some creepy/haunting themes which makes it a lovely cross-over for spooky reads/Halloween season.

I enjoyed all the characters. They each had unique voices and all were well written into the story. There were quite a few of them, but every one had a unique role that revealed clues to the mystery surrounding Thornfield. Several times I was caught by surprise. Though I will say, some of the revelations weren’t completely shocking (and I was fine with this), but a couple of them were, and I was so delighted how neatly Fisher had set everything up.

This wasn’t a long book, 266 pages, and that was the perfect length, and the perfect pace for this story. A very fun, quick read, perfect for Jane Austen/Charlotte Bronte lovers who love rejency slow burn romances and also enjoy stories with well threaded magical twists.

This would be the perfect read for a rainy weekend curled up with a pumpkin spice cappuccino.

Salt and Broom officially publishes on 1 December and is currently available for pre-order in multiple formats and everywhere you buy books! Click here for the listing on and support your favorite indie bookstore with your pre-order 🙂

View all my reviews

ARC Review | Tales of Thread, by Hegeleen Kissel

Tales of Thread is a visceral collection of inspired tales whose gravity and emotional depth would meet the approval of the most renowned ancient playwrights.

Tales of Thread is a visceral collection of inspired tales whose gravity and emotional depth would meet the approval of the most renowned ancient playwrights.

Hegeleen Kissel has created a collection of short stories and poems that are a mix of mythology retellings and brand-new stories pulled from the rich history of ancient Greece. This collection could very well be inspired by the Muses themselves. Her master of prose captures the raw human emotion in every character in these stories, and her knowledge of the ancient Greek world and culture resonates in every scene.

Her style of writing, in particular, drew me in. Most of the stories are written in first person, and the way she has chosen to combine monologue, dialogue, and exposition made me feel like everything was actually happening to me, like I was really the character. Which made the horrific choices some of them make all the more gut-wrenching and visceral.

Let me be clear, this is not a collection for the faint of heart. There are very adult themes and graphic descriptions in some of these stories that are brutal in their beautiful execution. I’m just amazed, honestly.

It’s rare that I read a short story collection where I love every single story, but I will enthusiastically add Tales of Thread to that small list. There are three stories in particular that invoked such strong emotional reactions from me: “The Boy”, “Tales of Thread”, and “XXIV”. I am a mother, and oh. These stories hit me hard. All in unique ways.

A fourth story I want to mention is “The World Beneath”, which I found to be extremely unique and interesting; a refreshing twist on the myth of the Minotaur that depicted a progression of insanity so natural that it had me overanalyzing every thought I had for the next 24 hours.

The book is also visually appealing. Each chapter has a beautiful graphic on its chapter title page. It is clear that Kissel has put an enormous amount of effort into this collection and presentation, and it is gorgeous. My only hope is that she will offer this as a physical book because I will buy it so quickly to display proudly on my shelves and re-read on those days when I need my heart ripped out of my chest and fed back to me to remind me I’m still alive.

When I say I read this in one sit down, I mean I couldn’t read this fast enough. I’m no stranger to the mythical tales and plays of ancient Greece. They’re tragic, they’re heartbreaking, they make you want to scream, they make you want to cry, sometimes laugh, and Tales of Thread captures all of that and transports you to the scene of the crime. If you love ancient Greek mythology, you must read this book and add it your collection.

Tales of Thread will be available to purchase on 14 August, so mark your calendars!

Happy Writing!


ARC Review | El Flamingo, by Nick Davies

El Flamingo by Nick Davies

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Sometimes, even in Mexico, an extra sombrero is too much to ask…”

That one line should tell you just about everything you need to know to decide that this book is a must read.

El Flamingo follows the story of a failed Hollywood actor named Lou Galloway to a beach bar in Mexico to drown his sorrows. There, he strikes up a conversation with another sad man, as one does, and is thrust into the Oscar-winning acting performance of a lifetime. Lou Galloway is unknowingly mistaken for an assassin, and being the actor he is, he rises to the challenge, and shenanigans ensue.

This Desperado meets James Bond meets The Big Lebowski is a funny, clever, action packed, romantic thrill ride that sucks you in from the very first line until the very last.

This book is brimming with witty monologue, dialogue, tension-filled action scenes, and rich Hispanic culture that honestly made me want to try salsa lessons again. It’s fast-paced, never dull, with a slight whodunit vibe, and one of my favorite parts is that the main character and the main supporting character, Maria-Carla, are both middle-aged adults. As a middle-aged adult myself, it’s so wonderful to read a book about older people that dares to do something fun and exciting with them, and El Flamingo delivers.

Lou Galloway is very relatable; a dreamer with high aspirations and no chances to shine. Like many of us, the ‘one role’ to make his career has poofed away, and he’s left with no idea what to do next. In the same vein, Maria-Carla is also a very relatable character for many; a strong woman stuck in a marriage she despises and biding her time until the right moment she can break free for good.

There are so many layers to these characters, and a short review cannot even begin to scratch the surface. I could not put this book down, and the only reason I did was because it was way past my bedtime. I finished this book in three sit downs. Every page had a laugh, every scene carried impeccable tension and intrigue, and I absolutely LOVED the Spanish dialogue woven in.

Nick Davies is an amazing writer; his style connects you immediately to the characters and immerses you into the setting with very little exposition; I was never bored. I will be adding Nick Davies to my Authors-to-Watch list for sure. I can’t wait to see what he publishes next.

El Flamingo publishes March 15 by YBK publishers, and you’re going to want to read this one!

I was given a free ARC for an honest review.


View all my reviews

ARC Review | The Enigma Affair – by Charlie Lovett

Ex-military Patton Harcourt lives a quiet life as a librarian in small town North Carolina. When a sniper upsets her morning pastry making, she’s forced to team up with professional assassin Nemo to foil an elaborate neo-Nazi plot to discover Heinrich Himmler’s lost recipe for Alchemy. If Patton and Nemo do not get to it first, the Third Reich have all it needs to return to power and perpetuate their horror on the world once again.

I’m a bit of WWII History nerd, so this one piqued my interest immediately, especially when the title says Enigma and Bletchley Park was mentioned on the back cover. I went on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day tour with EF Tours in 2019 and visited many of the places these characters go in Enigma Affair. Bletchley Park was one of them and was absolutely incredible.

While on that tour, we also visited several Holocaust memorials and learned in depth history and details about some of atrocities that took place, which are also deeply threaded into this book. I was engrossed in Lovett’s characters and in tune to their purpose throughout the book.

Lovett did a phenomenal job with his research in regard to Bletchley Park and its contribution to the Allied victory, WWII artifacts and timelines, Nazis, the Holocaust, and neo-Nazis too. His blend of factual Nazi propaganda strategies and modern-day outreach methods enhanced by technological advances was brilliant and thorough. I can totally see people (literally and figuratively) with sinister motives preying on the good graces of everyday people to further their evil intentions without a second thought.

Charlie Lovett’s character voices were distinct, and their personalities intriguingly flawed, which I enjoyed. Each main character had something from their past that haunted them and directly influenced their interactions and beliefs about the world and wove nicely into the plot of the story. Even the villain was well developed, and her plans to return Nazism to global prominence were closer to possible than I was comfortable with, so the stakes were extremely high for me.

That said, I felt the beginning was a bit slow. When Patton and Nemo teamed up, I didn’t get a good sense of the anxiety of the situation that I feel two strangers being shot at would have, but after a few chapters this smoothed out really nicely.

There were also a couple things that I felt were edging on Deus ex Machina. It seemed like the one person in the world with the expertise they needed to solve a clue either showed up at the right time or they knew them personally. Despite feeling a bit convenient at times, I still enjoyed the story immensely.

The Enigma Affair is filled with suspense, betrayal, intrigue, and haunting facts from humanity’s darkest years that, if forgotten, have the potential to be repeated again. The Enigma Affair is not only a thrilling work of fiction, but it’s a reminder that the evils of yesteryear could easily creep into our future if we are not vigilant.

The Enigma Affair is being published by Blackstone Publishing on 6 September and is currently available for pre-order.

Happy Writing!

ARC Review | From Heartbreak to Hopeful – by Shelby Catalano

A journey of healing and its grief, frustration, anger, sadness, and acceptance, and all of the emotions and trauma in between. From Heartbreak to Hopeful is a powerful collection of poems that reaches into the soul of humanity’s most difficult challenge: overcoming heartbreak.

I was given a copy of this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From Heartbreak to Hopeful‘s 51 poems explore Shelby’s climb out of the depths of heartbreak, delving into the lingering trauma of her experiences and the painful process of healing.

As someone who has experienced heartbreak and trauma from a manipulative relationship like Shelby’s, I connected with her story, identified with her self-doubt, her anger, at times desperation, oppressive hopelessness, and loss of confidence in herself and life in general.

Shelby’s journey continues through to hope: recovery, acceptance, closure, and the freedom that comes from learning to love oneself again.

For anyone who is going through heartbreak now, this is a beautiful collection to inspire hope for the future and share the collective energy of healing and self-love between survivors. For those of us who have gone through it before, it’s a gentle reminder of what we overcame and how we are better and stronger for our experiences.

What is so unique about From Heartbreak to Hopeful is that the poems are arranged in such a way that they can be read in order from back to front as well, showcasing just how feelings of love can spiral into heartbreak. Reading it this way was surprisingly insightful in pinpointing the behaviors and warning signs of a relationship turning sour; a vivid reminder of how subtle toxicity can be in a relationship and how it can worm its way into the seemingly happiest of places. It was creative and eye-opening, and I give major props to Shelby for arranging her poems so carefully to be read both ways.

In addition to the poems and arrangement, she has also included several of her own illustrations throughout which are absolutely beautiful and enhance the emotional connection to the poems.

This is an awesome and powerful poetry collection to add to your library; a beautiful reminder that while heartbreak reaches deep, it isn’t permanent.

You can purchase From Heartbreak to Hopeful on Amazon through this link.

Happy Writing!

Petey says hello!

ARC Review | Blood – by Tyler Pennock

Pain, anger, confusion, survival–elements all of humanity shares–come into conflict with society’s demands for purity, joy, and conformity in this moving compilation of poems written by Tyler Pennock, an Indigenous LGBTQIA+ individual.

There’s something about poetry that comes from the soul, from a place of vulnerability, from a place of honesty, and self.

Blood has a heartbeat.

In reading Blood, I came to know Tyler, their hurt, their hopes, their dreams, I saw him reach, and fall, and reach again, struggling under the weight of cultural suppression, identity oppression, and heartache. And through it all, I learned something more about myself too.

As a white woman reading this, it made me reconsider my beliefs–my misconceptions–of what Indigenous individuals experience in a colonialist world; the injustices, expectations, limitations, the suffering, how even hundreds of years has not eased the crushing impact of our past, and our present is even more suffocating in many ways for many surviving in a system designed to advantage the few.

I was moved by Blood. It’s eloquent, at times harsh, and the realities of the poet are deeply expressed in every line. It’s raw, powerful, and I was drawn into its rhythm, connecting with its themes and messages, learning to feel the emotional notes. Learning to understand and acknowledge Tyler’s pain. Coming to appreciate and admire Indigenous culture in a way that’s never been presented to me before.

I’m not an expert on poetry. Sometimes I understand what I’m reading, and sometimes I don’t. Some poems just seem to rhyme without any meaning or feeling underneath, but Blood has a heartbeat of its own. Blood is one person’s experience, but it can be a platform for many. There is a message for everyone, both similar and dissimilar, and that is what made these poems so amazing.

If you enjoy poetry or aren’t sure if you do and just want to read something that makes you think, makes you feel, makes you want to be a better human, then I highly recommend Blood. It’s simply beautiful. It’s courageous.

Blood is being published by Brick Books and hits bookshelves 1 September. It is currently available for pre-order.

ARC Review | Musings of the Muses – Edited by Heather and S.D. Vassallo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ancient Greek tales are dominated by males: male heroes, male motives, male accomplishments and desires. In 2021, the founders of Brigids Gate Press set out to change things up and opened a submission call for new perspectives on these beloved tales: the untold perspectives, the hidden truths of the myths, the silenced voices of time immemorial. The other side of the story.

Musings of the Muses is an anthology of Ancient Greek mythology stories retold from her perspective: The women who were always present but never allowed to speak to history, never allowed to defend their name against the male hero; sentenced to be judged for eternity through the eyes of the patriarchy. Brigids Gate set out to give them their voice.

They succeeded.

Disclaimer: I have a vested interest in this anthology, as my short story “Before Gods” is included in its publication. However, I know a great story (or collection of stories) when I read it and I’m confident that you will find my honest ARC review of Musings of the Muses to be trustworthy and accurate.

There are 65 stories included in Musings. Some are more in the classical style, and some have been reimagined in a modern setting with modern concepts and technology. There is a healthy dose of poetry as well, and a wide range of Greek cast members, from Medusa, to Titans, to Olympians, to Monsters. Charybdis and Scylla even featured in the story “Lover’s Quarrel,” by Georgia Cook, which I found fascinating. I was also delighted to read a clever Hera story in “Respectfully Yours, Bridezilla,” by T.L. Beeding. I’ve always felt Hera’s reasons for hunting down Zeus’ illegitimate children were presented a bit poorly, so I found her story in Musings to be exceptionally creative and satisfying. Another one of my favorites was “Thinking Outside the Box,” by Dominick Cancilla, a parody of the horrors inside Pandora’s box that was delightful and crafty.

As with all anthologies, there were some stories that didn’t connect with me as well as others, but every story delivers compelling characters, well-developed arcs, and a fresh female perspective that is sometimes warm, and sometimes chilling. Heather and Steve at Brigids Gate Press have an eye for great stories, and there are so many assembled here. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this purchase.

My one critique is that it isn’t long enough. Which is odd considering there are 65 stories and 422 pages, but there are some personal favorite heroines in Greek mythology which did not have a retelling in this anthology, and that was a bit disappointing. My hope for the future is that Brigids Gate will open a submissions call for a Vol. 2 sometime in the future.

Musings of the Muses is available for Kindle and Paperback on Amazon.

Happy Reading!


View all my reviews

Petey says hello!

ARC Review | Edgewater Road – By Shelley Shepard Gray

Edgewater Road by Shelley Shepard Gray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Jennifer Smiley, a work-from-home introvert, moves into her late grandmother’s home, she’s unsure what to expect. Going through all the boxes, she discovers there’s more to her family’s past than she thought. Her ex-con neighbor, John Lincoln Bennett, seems to know a lot about it, which she soon learns has more implications for her heart than she ever could have imagined.

I received this book as an ARC, courtesy of Edelweiss. Light romance books hold a special place in my heart, as they were about the only thing available to keep a homeschooled adolescent growing up in a conservative Christian house during puberty sane. It’s been a while since I read one, so I was excited to be approved for this one.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s very well-written and both Jennifer and Lincoln’s character voices are very strong and engaging. I can identify with Jennifer’s character a lot, as I find myself exhibiting introverted tendencies and both dreading and craving the opportunity to go out and meet people. Jennifer is cooped up alone during the snowy season (reason enough not to want to venture out), but her neighbor, Lincoln, makes it his duty to make sure her driveway is shoveled, and no one bothers her or threatens her, and of course friendship, and then a romance, blooms from there.

There are some very endearing moments and some fun humor as well throughout the book. Shelley delivers a powerful message in that even ex-cons deserve second chances, and there is good to be found in people who have made mistakes. There’s also a nice dose of the opposite too, that there can be a lot of bad in people who have never gotten caught for theirs.

There’s even a cat named Clyde who I firmly believe is evil, but the author captured a strong character voice for Clyde too that managed to exert itself in the best of places, just like a cat would, with no apologies.

While I definitely see the good neighbor aspect of Lincoln’s actions, I felt on multiple occasions in the book that Lincoln was a bit pushy and condescending for my comfort, invading her personal space uninvited multiple times and just making her life his business without her consent. He even thinks a couple times that her naivete is attractive to him, which just screams misogynist. While we see from his perspective that he is very caring and has all the best intentions, he came off a bit controlling for my tastes.

There were a few threads in here too that didn’t seem fully fleshed out. Jennifer’s family is definitely a bit dodgy, there are a few things Jennifer finds as she is cleaning out the house and barn, and there are a few people who come into the story that are very brow-raising. These things seem to foreshadow some major reveals later on, but then they just kind of fizzle out and don’t go anywhere, which I found a little disappointing.

All in all, though, this book was very engaging, the characters are both strong, and it’s an immersive read. If you enjoy light romance with the protector/damsel trope, I think you will enjoy this one.

Edgewater Road is being published by Blackstone Publishing and is available for purchase tomorrow, 1 March!

View all my reviews

Happy Writing!

~MJ & Petey

Petey says hello!

ARC Review | The Mozart Code – Rachel McMillan

The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book follows two former Bletchley intelligence operatives, Simon and Sophia, as they navigate their way around the spy-ring in cold war era Vienna and Prague. Both from aristocratic upbringing and sharing a complicated past, their secrets, and the dangers that pursue them will be the ultimate test for their bond of friendship, loyalty, and love.

I received this as an ARC, courtesy of Edelweiss, and was very excited to read it. I really enjoy reading historical novels, especially WW2 and spy novels.

Rachel McMillan has done a brilliant job painting the historical setting, weaving in lots of authentic imagery, culture, and political tension for these locations and times, and she has given us two main characters with backstories that fit really well inside this arena.

The story is well written and engaging, but I found myself a bit lost trying to keep up with all of the secondary and tertiary characters; at least five of which contributed very little to the story or plot in my opinion and could have been eliminated entirely to recover some word count to flesh out the two main characters a bit more. There were so many names and small “side quests” that it was hard to pin down what was important and what wasn’t, so by the end when everything started to get serious, I wasn’t as connected with these characters and invested in their safety and well-being as I wanted to be for this lengthy of a book. Especially Sophia, who is renowned for finding rare objects, but then we never get to see how she does that, she’s just asked to find an item and then she magically has it within the next few pages. I didn’t feel really grounded in what was happening, who was making moves, or what the stakes were.

The relationship between Simon and Sophia was interesting and complex, and I really enjoyed the flashbacks into their past and the little clues revealed there that played into the present tension and what they were doing there together. I thought that was done well and gave us a really nice picture of how lives can be completely upended by war.

There was a lot of exciting suspense and buildup to the main romantic entanglement that got me really turning the pages to see what happened next, but the culmination of that tension was a bit underwhelming. I can respect that an author wants to write a clean romance, but this one could have gone a little further and still remained well within those boundaries. Their relationship for the rest of the book followed that vein. These two went through one challenging ordeal after the other in the last 40 pages but Simon and Sophia’s response in each case was a bit underdeveloped for me and hard to connect with.

Rachel McMillan is clearly a very talented author who knows how to weave a very complex narrative with lots of players and create a beautiful, authentic setting to immerse the reader in, but this one wasn’t as engaging for me personally, but for readers looking for a well-researched historical narrative and light romance, this is a good read.

The Mozart Code is being published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing and hits shelves 15 March 2022.

View all my reviews

Happy Writing!

~MJ & Petey

Petey says hello!

%d bloggers like this: