Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, January 23, 2023

What Meets The Eye by Alex Kenna (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for What Meets The Eye by author Alex Kenna!

Book Review

What Meets The Eye by Alex Kenna
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: December 6, 2022
Format: Hardcover - 277 pages
               Audiobook - 11 Hours
               Kindle - 1927 KB
               Nook - 1 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-1639101849
ASIN (Audiobook): B0BBPHT776
ASIN (Kindle): B09TZP1DCF
BNID: 978-1639101856
Genre: Mystery

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Tours.

Book Description:

From debut author Alex Kenna comes a pulse-pounding tapestry of secrets, retribution, and greed for fans of Jeffrey Archer.

Kate Myles was a promising Los Angeles police detective, until an accident and opioid addiction blew up her family and destroyed her career. Struggling to rebuild her life, Kate decides to try her hand at private detective work—but she gets much more than she bargained for when she takes on the case of a celebrated painter found dead in a downtown loft.

When Margot Starling’s body was found, the cause of death was assumed to be suicide. Despite her beauty, talent, and fame, she struggled with a host of demons. But as Kate digs deeper, she learns that Margot had a growing list of powerful enemies—among them a shady art dealer who had been selling forged works by Margot. Kate soon uncovers a dirty trail that leads straight into the heart of the city’s deadly underworld.

Margot died for her art—and if Kate doesn’t tread lightly, she could be the next to get brushed out.

Praise For What Meets The Eye:

“[An] impressive debut . . . Sara Paretsky fans will be pleased.”  - Publishers Weekly

“Alex Kenna is the real deal, a true talent. Her prose is stunningly eloquent and characterization masterful.”  - Crime Fiction Critic

“A righteous, painful debut. More, please.”  - Kirkus Reviews

“Dragging the world of high art down into the muck of Los Angeles’ criminal underbelly, Alex Kenna has created an engaging mystery buoyed by the heart of its heroine, Kate Myles. Trying to win against stacked decks in her professional and personal lives, Myles’ resilience and hustle makes her an easy hero to stand up and cheer for.”  - James Queally, author of the Russel Avery novels and Los Angeles Times crime reporter

“With the sure hand of an old master, Alex Kenna’s debut blurs the line between catharsis and crime in this gritty and nimble noir mystery. When a routine investigation into the apparent suicide of art superstar Margot Starling becomes anything but, down-on-her-luck PI Kate Myles must square herself up for the fight of her life or lose it all. Entertaining and provocative, What Meets the Eye reminds us that truth often comes with a price tag much higher—and deadlier—than anything Sotheby’s could ever hope to fetch at auction.”  - Katie Lattari, author of Dark Things I Adore

“Kenna gives us the LA crime story we want—a fronded, sun-beaten carousel of depravity and murder, all laced up with tight plotting, sharply hewn characters, and a gripping, original story.”  - Joseph Schneider, author of the Tully Jarsdel Mysteries

“A suspicious death dismissed as suicide leads PI Kate Myles deep into a web of blackmail and deceit, set against an intriguing backdrop of shady dealings in the art world. An all too human character, Kate is determined to piece together the wreckage of her life and career, and salvage her fractured relationship with her daughter. With clever twists & turns, and a host of convincing suspects along the way, the plot delivers a satisfying ending, but leaves us with tantalizing hints of more to come from Kate…”  - Julie Cameron, author of Nameless Acts of Cruelty

Book Excerpt:


Six Months Ago – Margot

All week long, I’d felt a fire in my belly. The spirit passed through me like lightning, brushes flying from wet canvas to wet canvas. Cooking was a waste of time, so I ordered takeout and drank whiskey. Sleep was out of the question. I cranked up the music and worked to the beat. Sometimes I sang along, dripping globs of color onto the floor. The paint went on smooth, like buttery icing. After a while, my brushes stayed in their jar and my fingers danced across the canvas. No bristles between skin and cloth.

Soon the images came alive. I’d been studying the Spanish greats: Velasquez, Goya, Zurbaran, Ribera. For them, it was all about bottomless darks with hints of warm, mellow light. I took a break from bold colors, indulging in white and yellow ochre on burnt sienna. The effect was sinister but mesmerizing. One after another, my hands pulled ghostly figures out of a dark void.

I finally passed out around dawn on Thursday, just as the birds were starting to chatter. When I woke, it was midafternoon, and the magic was gone. My mouth tasted of bile and I felt like someone had scooped out my eyeballs and punched me in the sockets.

I wandered into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. One of Goya’s haggard witches stared back at me. My skin was the color of rice pudding. There were purple half-moons under my eyes and a cadmium streak in my hair. I picked at my nail beds, filled with Prussian blue. The thought of cleaning them was exhausting so I didn’t bother.

My stomach let out a growl and I stumbled over to the fridge. Nothing inside was fresh enough to tempt me. I turned to a soggy takeout container on the kitchen table. The waxed cardboard had partially melted, and a puddle of sauce oozed onto the table. A dead fruit fly was trapped inside the congealed orange liquid like a mosquito in amber. I pulled a half-eaten egg roll off last night’s dinner plate and popped it in my mouth. At least it was still crispy.

After lunch-breakfast-dinner, I had an edible and downed a pot of coffee. I tried to get back to work, but the electricity was gone. The images that were so alive last night now looked dull and mannered. A self-portrait smirked at me. I’d given myself a pouty red mouth like an Instagram twat and artificial jolly-rancher-green eyes. It was pathetic. The last desperate cry of a lonely train wreck nearing forty. I felt worthless. I should go jump off a bridge or wander onto the freeway.

I lay on the couch for what must have been hours, binge watching some show about British aristocrats and their servants. Thank God I wasn’t born in nineteenth century England. You can’t be a British lady if you’re a mouthy alcoholic who screws half the landed gentry. I would’ve done worse as a servant. I can barely fry an egg and half the time I’m too paralyzed by my own shit to get out of bed. I’d end up as a consumptive whore blowing sailors for my supper in a London tenement.

The curtains were drawn, and eventually light stopped leaking in from the window edges. I usually do better when the sun goes down. But nightfall didn’t bring me a second wind. It made me feel worse. I poured myself another drink and lit a cigarette.

My cell kept blowing up with a number I didn’t recognize. I’d had this phone for six months and never transferred my contacts over from the last one. Now my caller ID served as a kind of litmus test. If someone hadn’t reached out in half a year, they weren’t worth my time. I let it go to voicemail and turned back to the aristocrats. The only decent one was dead now. This show was making me tired.

There was a knock on the door. Probably the neighbor coming to tell me her baby couldn’t sleep because I make use of my electronics. I ignored it, took a swig of whiskey, and lit another cigarette.

Then whoever it was started pounding. “Margot, open up,” said a loud baritone. The voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. His tone had an edge of desperation. Could it be that cop from last week? A wave of dread flowed through me. My hands started shaking and a clump of ash fell on the couch. If I kept very still, maybe he’d think I wasn’t home and go away. No, the TV was too loud. He knew I was in here.

I tiptoed over to the keyhole and gasped. My drink flew from my hand and shattered, coating the floor in alcohol and shards of glass.


Excerpt from What Meets the Eye by Alex Kenna. Copyright 2022 by Alex Kenna. Reproduced with permission from Alex Kenna. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, What Meets The Eye, author Alex Kenna transports the reader to Los Angeles, California, for an intriguing mystery tale that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

The story centers around Kate Myles, a former LAPD Detective turned private investigator, who is trying to put her life back together, and she agrees to look into the death of renowned artist Margot Starling. The police have declared her death a suicide, but Margot's father believes that she was murdered. Kate is determined to find out the truth behind her Margot's death,especially when her investigation leads her to believe that not everything is what meets the eye.

Author Alex Kenna weaves a slow building and suspenseful mystery tale written in the alternating first person narratives of several characters that follows Kate's investigation into Margot's death, and her determination to find out if Margot committed suicide or had been murdered.

The reader is easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. It is filled with enough secrets, motives, possible suspects, action, and intriguing twists and turns that definitely keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.

This was a really intriguing story to read! The author does a wonderful job of providing enough clues to engage the reader, and I found myself so caught up on trying to figure out how Margot really died. I loved how Kate used her former position as an LAPD detective to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to get to the truth, and how Margot's troubled life had taken her down some very dark and dangerous areas beyond the art world. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much Kate's personal life story also had me rooting for her as she tried to put her life back together.  

What Meets The Eye will definitely take mystery readers on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Alex Kenna is a lawyer, writer, and amateur painter based in Los Angeles. Before law school, Alex studied painting and art history. She also worked as a freelance culture writer and sold art in a gallery. Originally from Washington DC, Alex lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer, Zelda. When she’s not writing Alex can be found exploring Southern California, toddler-wrangling, and playing string instruments badly.

Contest Giveaway

Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Alex Kenna. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited. The giveaway is for: 1 - $50 Gift Card

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Participants:

01/09 Review @ Guatemala Paula Loves to Read

01/10 Interview @ Hott Books

01/11 Showcase @ Mythical Books

01/12 Review @ read_betweenthecovers

01/13 Showcase @ Nesies Place

01/14 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads

01/16 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

01/16 Showcase @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks

01/17 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews


01/18 Showcase @ The Authors Harbor

01/19 Showcase @ BOOK REVIEWS by LINDA MOORE

01/19 Showcase @ Im Into Books

01/20 Interview @ The Mystery of Writing

01/23 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

01/24 Review @ Paws. Read. Repeat

01/24 Showcase @ The Mystery Section

01/25 Review @ Novels Alive

01/26 Review @ Sharon Beyond The Books

01/27 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews

01/31 Review @ Review Thick And Thin

02/01 Review @ mokwip8991

02/02 Review @ Eat. pray. decorate

02/03 Review @ Melissa As Blog

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 1/15-21/2023


This Week's Book Mail

Harlequin Essential Romance & Suspense Collection

Harlequin Love Inspired Romance and Suspense Collection

Luv Books - Winter 2023 Sumber Party Book Box

Bubbles & Books - Romance & Mystery Book Box

The Book Drop

The Romance Reveal Book Box

Monday, January 16, 2023

Spare by Prince Harry (Book Review)


Spare by Prince Harry
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 10, 2023
Format: Hardcover - 416 pages
               Paperback - 672 pages
               Audiobook - 15 Hours 39 Minutes
               Kindle - 4766 KB
               Nook - 4 MB
ISBN (HC): 978-0593593806
ISBN (PB):  978-0593677865
ASIN (Audiobook): B0BJ4JGQGS
ASIN (Kindle): B0BCP3JP6F
BNID: 978-0593593813
Genre: Memoir

Buy The Book:

Book Description:

It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother's coffin as the world watched in sorrow - and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling - and how their lives would play out from that point on.

For Harry, this is that story at last.

With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

Prince Harry wishes to support British charities with donations from his proceeds from Spare. The Duke of Sussex has donated $1,500,000 to Sentebale, an organisation he founded with Prince Seeiso in their mothers' legacies, which supports vulnerable children and young people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by HIV/AIDS. Prince Harry will also donate to the non-profit organisation WellChild in the amount of £300,000. WellChild, which he has been Royal patron of for fifteen years, makes it possible for children and young people with complex health needs to be cared for at home instead of hospital, wherever possible. 

My Book Review:

Spare is the story of Prince Harry's telling his truth of life in Britain's Royal family that spans from Princess Diana's death on August 30, 1997 to Queen Elizabeth II's death on September 8, 2022. 

The memoir is broken into three parts: life after Princess Diana's death, his military career, and his romantic relationship / marriage to Meghan Markle. 

I read the memoir with an open mind, but I did take his account with a grain of salt, because every family has dysfunction, and like the old adage states that there is always three sides to every story: his, theirs (the Royal family), and the truth (which no one but Harry, the Royal family, and Royal insiders really know). That being said, I was still curious enough to read what Prince Harry had to say in his memoir, and I came away with the feeling that his life journey has been an emotional roller coaster ride that encompasses the full gamut of emotions. 

Spare starts out with the princes finding out from Prince Charles that Princess Diana has been killed in an automobile accident in Paris on August 30, 1997. Prince Harry was tweleve years of age when his mother died, and the reader can't help but understand how her death completely changed his life. Throughout the book, Harry's grief over the death of his mother is palpable, he did not believe she died until 2007 when he visited Paris and drove through the tunnel that he got a painful reality and closure. 

The second part of the book focuses on life after Princess Diana and his life in the Royal family. Prince Harry acknowledges that he did not enjoy living in the regimented life within the Royal fish bowl, and not having a normal life. He was not a good student, prone to panic attacks and low self-esteem, and had to deal with the Heir vs. Spare sibling rivalry and competitveness with Prince William. He also yearned for a close father-son relationship with Prince Charles, but his father was reserved and not one to express affection. 

The main theme throughout the memoir is devoted to Prince Harry's dislike and contempt for the paparazzi and their headlines and stories that often put him in a terrible light with the public (his naughty Harry partying days), and how the paparazzi was always ruthlessly stalking the Royal family, from his school days to his military career to his marriage to Meghan. He can't understand the Royal family's motto of never complain, never explain, and their complicity toward the media. It is this complicity and the fear for his family's safety that eventually leads Prince Harry and Meghan to leave the Royal family for the US. But underneath the surface is also his strained relationship with Prince Charles and Prince William that led him to write this memoir. I think that Prince Harry's recollections and shade towards his family will only lead to a permanent rift, there really was no need to air the family's personal business to the public. 

Writing Spare may have been cathartic for Prince Harry to release his personal demons, but I don't think it will fare well in the long run, what a shame. What he could have done is just put the Royal life behind him, and live the normal life that he and Meghan wanted without the public snark and money schemes that this memoir, the Netflix documentary, and subsequent media publicity has created, especially since he spouted his comtempt for the paparazzi and publicity throughout the book. I enjoyed his memory of Princess Diana, but the rest of his story is just a sad account of a man that had a hard time finding himself within his family. 

Rating: 4 Stars 

About The Author

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, is a husband, father, humanitarian, military veteran, mental wellness advocate, and environmentalist. He resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his family and three dogs.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Weekly Book Mail: 1/8-14/2023


This Week's Book Mail

Authentic Books

Books & Treasures

Once Upon A Book Club - Adult Book Box

Just The Right Book!

Harlequin Love Inspired Romance and Suspense Collection