Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

There was something captivating about Lydia Perez in American Dirt. She and her young son Luca suffer the horrific killing of their family in their own backyard during a birthday party, and in spite of the trauma and the stunning aftermath, she finds a way forward. Carefully, since she doesn’t know who might present new and ever-present dangers to her and her son, so she must be cautious. Not trusting anyone.

Along the way, Lydia and Luca meet other immigrants headed for “el norte,” forming a kind of family unit, while keeping a wary eye out for the dangers along the way.

Learning to travel on the tops of freight trains; connecting to a “coyote” who might help them cross over; but never forgetting for one moment that each day could bring new dangers…the intense journey kept me engaged throughout, even though I always knew that there would never be a “happy ending.”

The story does end on a hopeful note, but realistically, I realized that their hardships were just beginning. I did like that a feeling of hope helped them move forward, but also felt a sadness for what they would still encounter in their new lives. This book had a plodding quality to it, but, like the journey itself, the pace seemed appropriate. 4.5 stars.



Today’s excerpt is from Chapter One of Web of Tyranny, my fifth published novel which chronicles the tale of an abused child whose primary goal in life is to escape the tyranny of her childhood home and find freedom and fulfillment.

In this excerpt, our MC Margaret (Meg) tries to identify and label the strange new feelings overwhelming her…and put them in some sort of context.


Later in her life, Margaret would remember the summer of 1956 as that time when she’d still had illusions about what life could be.

Even with the backbreaking, seemingly endless chores, there was still that camaraderie amongst the workers. Even Lucy helped keep things light, chattering away about her plans for the evening. Margaret listened and pretended she had Lucy’s life with Lucy’s parents. Uncle Joe and Aunt Noreen laughed a lot. They even had a television set and when Margaret had the good fortune to visit at their house, hanging out with Lucy’s younger sister Nanette, the whole family sat around on the couch eating their dinner on TV trays and laughing along with the I Love Lucy show. Sometimes Margaret thought that Aunt Noreen, who was Father’s sister, must have grown up in a different family. They were total opposites. Father was all stern and uptight, while Aunt Noreen laughed and joked and seemed to enjoy being with her kids. Just like Father’s other sister Molly, who had all those stories to tell. Even Uncle Victor and Aunt Janice seemed so different from Father.

Margaret couldn’t figure any of it out back then. Later she would come to believe that it all had something to do with Father being the eldest child in his family. The one who had to drop out of school to work the farm. The one who had to give up his own fun and lightheartedness to help bring in the crops.

But in her tenth year of life, Margaret Elaine Graham only knew that the father who had once loved her had turned on her. And her life had somehow shaped itself into Before and After. First there had been love and acceptance. Then there was coldness and disapproval. And fleeting moments of secret fun and freedom meted out in small portions, to be grasped and cherished. As rare and unexpected as a stash of jewels. And just as precious.





Can Amy’s rocky start in Paris turn into a happy ever after? Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.

Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.

As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.

My Thoughts: In our first look at Amy Brodie in Paris Ever After, she is still reeling from the death of her best friend Kat. The death that sent her flying off to Paris on a trip that she and Kat had planned, but was derailed by her death. But then, after just a few weeks, Amy returned to Phoenix…to a bitter fight with William that catapulted her back to Paris. On her second day, she meets an older woman named Margaret, who offers a room, and in a short time she begins to feel at home.

Her life is now full of beautiful café lunches; soirees at Margaret’s, with her two friends Herve and Nanu; and a new pregnancy with baby daughter Catherine. Just before she left Phoenix that last time, William gave her a parting gift. He does not know, however, and now she faces a dilemma.

Can she share her news with him and see if there is anything left of the marriage? What will her future hold: Paris or Phoenix?

A lovely book full of scenes that I loved, some characters that were wonderful, and others that were not. Secrets come out and an unexpected reunion between Margaret and someone she thought she had lost would upend Amy’s plans. Where will she belong now? As the story drew to an end, I was hoping for a sequel so that I could spend more time with these characters. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.





Our story begins as Tanya Pitts Dubois contemplates the death of her husband Frank, as he lies at the bottom of the stairs. In her first person voice, we learn more about Frank than we care to know, and the humor underlying her narration, as well as my curiosity about her story, kept me reading.

Who is Tanya, and why is she running, taking on a series of identities, and moving from one place after another, always finding new ways to avoid whatever past events have propelled her onto this path?

Meeting a woman who calls herself Blue takes our protagonist on an entirely different trajectory, and her various incarnations become more interesting at this point. Will these two become cohorts on the journey? Or does Blue have a different agenda, one that will bring her onto Tanya/Amelia’s path again at some point?

As our narrator’s journey becomes more challenging, and as she encounters adversarial people and events, we also see a thread of narrative in the form of e-mails between “Ryan and Jo,” and come to conclude that these two represent moments from the past.

The Passenger was a story about mistakes, bad choices, wrongful accusations, and how one can never really correct those missteps. But sometimes one can overcome unthinkable obstacles with a little help. A shocking series of events draw the story to a close, with a final reveal that I did not see coming. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.




Welcome to my Sunday Thoughts…a contemplative journey.  As I plan for the day ahead—brunch at my daughter’s home—I reflect on my world of books and blogging, and how I seemingly disconnect from the “real world” at times.  Some of us call that “living in our heads.”

Then I remind myself that doing what I love is not such a bad thing.  Or is it?  Do I choose this interior world to avoid the exterior one?  Or am I simply enjoying myself?






If I am truly honest, the choice might be a reaction to the hectic exterior world that I lived in for so many years.  Thirty years as a social worker, mixing it up in all kinds of drama—not to mention the high caseloads—might have led to this kind of retreat. 






Don’t I deserve the retreat, though?  Who am I hurting if I become a bit of a hermit?  LOL ..Is the online world dangerous, and am I at risk of truly cutting myself off from the world “out there”?

Most of the time, I don’t believe that.  I feel truly engaged when I connect with other bloggers—people who love books as much as I do.  I feel energized and ready to reconnect with the exterior world after spending time connecting with like-minded individuals.  I don’t find as many of those like-minded people “out there.”  I am willing to engage with them…but I want to limit those connections.

My current WIP is about a retired English teacher who decides to write novels….and becomes addicted to the blogosphere.  What happens to her is a bit drastic, but I think I wrote it as a cautionary tale to myself…


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Defining Moments

What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future?  When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning.  But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about.  How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?

What are your thoughts on this Sunday?  Is our online world a way of avoiding what is out there?  Or is it simply something we do because we love it?  I am sure the answer is different for each of us.

Happy Sunday!