This Chicks Audio Review: Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck

After seeing Small Town, Big Magic on Amazon’s Best of 2022 list I thought I’d give the audiobook a try and you know what? I liked it!

Emerson Wilde is the youngest President of the Chamber of Commerce her small town of St. Cyprian’s has ever known. What she lacks in age she makes up for in big personality and her can-do attitude, helping local business owners and checking items off lists. When she is attacked one evening by creatures that shouldn’t be real, she discovers she has magic abilities and that memories of her previous magical life have been wiped away. With the help of her also magical group of friends and long-time love Jacob, they make a plan to fight the evil in their small town. Will they succeed? Well, you’re going to have to read this book to find out!

Small Town, Big Magic is one of several witchy novels I’ve read over the past year, some good, some bad. This definitely falls on the right side of that line. The narrator is Natalie Duke, whose voice I’ve enjoyed previously. She voices Emerson well giving her that plucky-determined heroine vibe that matches the way Hazel Beck has written this character. I also enjoyed her male voice-work for Jacob and Emerson’s cousin, Xavier. There’s nothing worse than a narrator that can’t make a realistic voice for a man. Drives me crazy! Thank goodness she has that talent, so the narration was seamless.

I always enjoy a good vs evil plot. Small Town, Big Magic has a clear winner for bad guy, and gives us an edgy side character in Nicholas, who will be our hero in a follow up novel, out later in 2023. If I had any constructive criticism to give I would say that Hazel Beck leaned a little hard on the plucky heroine persona for Emerson. She was strong, but had some narcissistic qualities that often overshadowed others opinions. It got a little annoying at times, but Jacob, her love interest, smoothed her out a bit he was so even-keeled.

I enjoyed this story much more than I thought I would. Although the story ran along traditional lines, it was fun, had some great characters, and was easy to read. The perfect long weekend read!


Click this link to purchase!* Small Town, Big Magic

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link, I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick’s Audio Review: Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Writer Chani Horowitz is tired of writing puff pieces when her friends are getting book deals. She is offered the chance to interview the hot, high profile action star Gabe Parker, who just got cast as the first American James Bond. Hoping she can get info from this very private actor that will help catapult her career, she arrives at his home and is struck dumb. By his good looks, but also because he sticks to the answers about his life that everyone already knows. She is ready for failure when he invites her to accompany him to a movie opening that night that then stretches to spending the weekend together.

Ten years later, she is offered the chance to interview Gabe Parker again. This time she is a well known writer and has something different to prove, but also, does he ever think of that weekend they spent together?

I saw this novel on a “best of 2022” romance novel list and had added it to my audiobook TBR. Narrated by the very talented Kristen Sieh whom I have enjoyed listening to before, I was quickly dropped into Chani’s story, liking her character right from the start. Her inner narrative on meeting a very attractive movie star funny and very real. I mean, who wouldn’t stumble their sentences? Gabe, too, was really easy to relate to and his secretive moments made me more curious about what he was hiding. As the story moves forward and you can see their personalities click you want to jump to those moments in the future and find out why they ended up married and divorced to other people. Elissa Sussman did a great job of casting that lure because I was caught and was looking for more info on my new favorite characters.

I don’t want to give away any of this plot because it was written so well, dropping moments on the reader that all added up to a wonderful conclusion, but I will say that the story is told with flashbacks to what happened in the past and when they meet up again in the future. I usually hate flashback stories but there was something about this narrative that really captured my interest. More than likely it was the fantasy that all women have about meeting their favorite movie star and catching their eye. This story goes a step further and gives us amazing dialog that is both funny and heartbreaking, and a cast of characters who support our main protagonists with humor and love.

The problem with listening to a great book is that you never want to take out those earbuds and get back to your real life (hello job!). This novel was so good that I found myself plugging myself back into it at every free moment, waiting for that slow burn romance to reach its conclusion so that these two characters I’ve grown to love finally (finally!) have their satisfying happily ever after. Guys, if you haven’t read/listened to this book yet, you need to give it a go. It is wonderful!


Click this link to purchase this book!* Funny You Should Ask

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chicks Audio Review: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Mika Moon meets with other witches only once every few months because of the rule that when too many witches gather together there can be a magical backlash that might out their society to regular folks, and as history has shown, people are not kind to witches. As witches are always orphans, her life has been very lonely. She keeps herself from getting attached to people by moving locations every few months. When she is contacted to tutor three young witches at Nowhere House she is extremely surprised. Three young witches are not supposed to be living together, so she goes to the home to check them out. What she finds is a group of people who have formed a family, one that they will allow her entry into if she will help them keep their secret.

Narrated by Samara MacLaren in a lovely accent, this novel immediately swept me into the story of this young lonely witch who dreams of belonging to a family. When she arrives at the isolated Scottish estate, she meets the motley crew who are watching over the young ladies, including the handsome and surly librarian, Jamie. Mika signs on to help the young girls for a few months and see’s how wonderful they have it, safe behind some magical wards, being raised by a group of people who care for them, something she and other witches have not had. Wanting to preserve their upbringing she does everything she can to teach them about their magic and hold reality at bay.

This was such a wonderful story. I loved Mika and how finding these people, and Jamie, made her dream of a life where she could be safe and have the family that she’s always wanted. She does, of course, have some obstructions in her way, one of which is her love interest, Jamie. His over-protective nature gives way a little to a gentleness with Mika that created all of the romantic vibes. The other adults at Nowhere House were lively, fun, and if not completely believable, at least they added to the family atmosphere this author was trying to create. I would call them quirky and eccentric for sure. Everything wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine as Mika soon discovers and she has to choose whether to support their decisions or go on with her life as it was before landing at Nowhere House and meeting Jamie.

This novel was on the best of 2022 lists on both Goodreads and Amazon and after listening to this story, I would have to agree that it was certainly enjoyable! If you have the time to listen to it, the Scottish accents were dreamy and totally understandable. LOL.


Click this link to purchase this book!* The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My Top 5 Most Anticipated Book Release- June’23

This is a special Memorial Day edition of my Top 5. Thursday is June 01 and I haven’t even looked at the book release lists until now aaahhhhh! Ok, OK, I got this! Accepting the challenge of culling through all of the many books because of course, June is a HUGE summer book release month, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5. Here goes!


A Jill Shalvis romance is like mac and cheese, fried chicken, or ice cream. The ultimate comfort book reading I reach for her novels knowing that I will love the friendships and ship the romance. This novel is in a series I’ve come to love and I can’t wait to fall in love with these characters!


What makes life sweet?

  • Freshly baked bread
  • A cool lake on a hot summer day
  • The comfort of a cozy bookstore
  • Second chances and new beginnings

When Harper Shaw’s life falls apart, she knows it’s time for a change. She removes everything that doesn’t spark joy—from her soul-sucking job to eating kale to making lists—and sets off for the last place she was happy, Lake Tahoe (who wouldn’t feel good there, right?) to fulfill her dream of opening her own bakery.

With her Sugar Pine Bakery in between a tavern, owned by sexy, grumpy Bodie Campbell, and a bookstore, run by her new BFF, she feels a peace she’s never experienced since…well, forever.. Then she meets Ivy, a teenage runaway, who barrels into her heart. She sees a lot of herself in Ivy and takes her under her wing, but the teenager has secrets…

When those secrets explode, it changes Harper’s new world, and she’ll learn, it’s never too late to start over, it’s never too late to figure out your life, and best of all, it’s never too late to let yourself believe in love.

Click this link to purchase!* The Sweetheart List


If you know me at all you know that any book by Ilona Andrews falls in my top 5. This one is out on June 13th and I can’t wait to carry on with my favorite fantasy characters.


Kate and Curran have just settled into their new home and their ‘low profile,’ when a local businessman approaches them with an offer they can’t refuse. A mysterious evil has spawned in the nearby forest and is holding a defenseless town hostage. The ‘due date’ is rapidly approaching.

It’s exactly the kind of fight the Lennarts can’t resist, not for the prize the town offers, but for the people who will surely die if they ignore it. If they succeed, they’ll be rescuing an entire community and can build a strong new base for their family and the Wilmington Pack. If they fail…well, fail is a four-letter word.

Nothing comes without a price. Now Kate must decide if she has what it takes to pay it.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Magic Claims


I loved Uzma Jalaluddin’s debut novel Ayesha at Last and know that Much Ado About Nada is going to give me a love story unlike any other, culturally rich with a multi-faceted story and great characterizations. This author is a go-to read.

Synopsis: A sparkling second-chance romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion…
Nada Syed is stuck. On the cusp of thirty, she’s still living at home with her brothers and parents in the Golden Crescent neighbourhood of Toronto, resolutely ignoring her mother’s unsubtle pleas to get married already. While Nada has a good job as an engineer, it’s a far cry from realizing her start-up dreams for her tech baby, Ask Apa, the app that launched with a whimper instead of a bang because of a double-crossing business partner. Nothing in her life has turned out the way it was supposed to, and Nada feels like a failure. Something needs to change, but the past is holding on too tightly to let her move forward.

Nada’s best friend Haleema is determined to pry her from her shell…and what better place than at the giant annual Muslim conference held downtown, where Nada can finally meet Haleema’s fiancé, Zayn. And did Haleema mention Zayn’s brother Baz will be there?
What Haleema doesn’t know is that Nada and Baz have a past—some of it good, some of it bad and all of it secret.  At the conference, that past all comes hurtling at Nada, bringing new complications and a moment of reckoning. Can Nada truly say goodbye to once was or should she hold tight to her dreams and find their new beginnings?

Click this link to purchase!* Much Ado About Nada

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase a book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.


I love STEM romances. I like the smart dialog and interesting characters and in this case (I’ve read this one already) I love the flawed but totally likable characters! A fun enemies to lovers romance this is a sure fit for your own TBR.


There is magic in every one of Ashley Poston’s adult romance novels. I loved The Dead Romantics and am saving the ARC I received for my vacation this week. I can’t wait to dive into this book!

What books are sitting in your own top 5? Can’t wait to hear about them.

Happy Reading!


This Chick Read: Mrs. Nash’s Ashes by Sarah Adler

Milli promised her elderly best friend on her deathbed that she’d reunite her ashes with the woman she fell in love with many years ago. When flights are cancelled across the country she accepts a ride to Florida with a friend of her ex’s. Novelist, Hollis Hollenbeck is on his way to Florida for a hookup that will help him shake his writer’s block. What he gets is a comedy of errors in Milli Watts-Cohen, a beautiful woman who intrigues him with her naiveté, and annoys him with her can-do attitude. This road trip novel proves that opposites attract and that the story of your own life might be worth more than the story you put down on paper.

This novel was an unexpected pleasure. The synopsis drew me in with the elderly woman having had an affair with a woman back in WWII (well told in flashbacks throughout the novel), and that Milli and Hollis would be taking a roadtrip, but I didn’t know what else I was going to get. The story was unique, charming, and although I didn’t get Milli at all, nor have ever really meet anyone like her, she was really likable and well, I loved Hollis and his gruff exterior. They were an imperfectly perfect fit.

Milli is an ex child actor who is approached by people for autographs, personal stories, etc. alot, like a LOT alot. She had gone through a bad breakup with Hollis’s friend who is more of an acquaintance, but she thinks they’re friends- so she doesn’t really want much to do with him. Milli is a bit of a mess, but she also has a kind heart. Hollis interprets that kind heartedness as being an easy target for others to take advantage of her. Begrudgingly he offers her the ride to Florida and over those next few days she talks at him and he takes it all in. There is of course, great conversations, dialog, bonding, etc, but the kind of people they are, she talks and he listens. BUT, every single tweak of his lip that indicates a smile is meaningful and the subtle shading of their conversations shapes their advancing relationship. I loved how I started out the book thinking one way about these characters but had done a 180 by the time I finished. Subtle yes, but really, really good.

If you like quirky small town romances, you will love Mrs. Nash’s Ashes. It had moments that were so tender and sweet, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters and their story.


I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase this book!* Mrs. Nash’s Ashes

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate – if you choose to purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Identity by Nora Roberts

Morgan Albright is finally putting down roots. She’s working two jobs, has purchased her own small house, and lives with her friend Nina. She’s right on track to start that new business she’s been hoping to start up. When she meets IT Specialist, Luke, at the bar where she’s working on a rare night off she cooks him dinner at her home with her roommate and her boyfriend. Soon after, her house is broken into, Nina is murdered, and her carefully planned life is gone. All her money and identity stolen. Devastated and broke, Morgan returns home to live with her mother and grandmother in Vermont and slowly starts picking up the pieces of her life. Until the con-man who took away her comfortable life decides to fixate on the woman who got away and her new life is threatened.

Nora Roberts writes a great romantic thriller. I was immediately wrapped up in the safe world of Morgan Albright and was devastated right along with her when her life was stolen and her friend murdered. Rooting for her world to get better, when Morgan meets Miles, while working in his families resort the author gives the reader something solid to hold onto while diverting our attention with brief chapters from the murderers perspective. The back and forth from happiness to uncertainty keeps the reader on the edge of their seat waiting for Morgan’s life to get ripped out from underneath her again. That’s Nora Roberts at her best.

Another thing I love about her novels is that she writes great friendships and families. Morgan’s mom and grandmother are both strong, vibrant women, and models of strength for Morgan to tie herself to. I loved reading their scenes and getting to know these characters that were so loving and loved. Miles too had a great family and their dinners showed Miles off as warmer than his taciturn nature in public represented. Thank goodness. Otherwise I’d have wondered about Morgan’s attraction. He wasn’t surly or anything, he was just a quiet, strong hero. A little harder to like than Morgan, but as a duo they were a good fit.

If you’re like me and you look forward to Nora Roberts romantic suspense novels, I think you’ll enjoy this one. It definitely hits the right notes- danger, heartbreak, and love. You can’t ask for much more than that! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Identity

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Comeback Summer by Ali Brady

Sisters Hannah and Libby inherit the PR agency their beloved grandmother built and are struggling to keep the doors open. Fired by clients, they can barely pay the bills when they are approached by self- help aficionado and author of the “Crush Your Comfort Zone” program who dangles her business in front of them with one caveat. They must complete her program in the next twelve weeks. Determined to win this client Hannah must go on twelve dates in twelve weeks and Libby must compete with her sister in a team obstacle course race. Determined to help each other succeed these two sisters spend the summer learning a lot about each other and their own selves.

More fiction than romance, The Comeback Summer is the story about overcoming insecurities, learning how to get outside your comfort zone, and fight for what you want in life. Libby is the older sister who has always suffered from body self-esteem issues, so going from couch potato to obstacle race runner is a big step but her sister helps her step by step. On the flip side, Hannah had the same boyfriend for eight years and has trouble putting herself out into the dating world. She still has trauma from being in a secure relationship to not understanding why she was dumped. Knowing this will be hard for her sister Libby steps in to help with the matchmaking apps, finding and setting up her sister on some safe dates. At the beginning of the book you really see how these sisters are there for each other, but it’s when the conflict enters their lives in the form of Hannah’s old boyfriend coming back to town, and Libby falling for one of the men on the app she is monitoring for her sister that we see that their relationship may need some work.

The romances in this book were secondary to the relationship between Hannah and Libby. A big romance fan, I thought I’d struggle with this but I actually liked how the sisters were what drove the story. Not to say there wasn’t any romance because both sisters found some and those scenes were sizzling, but there was purpose behind the timing of those scenes that moved Hannah and Libby’s characters forward towards crushing their comfort zone’s.

If you’re looking for a strong sister story, look no further than The Comeback Summer. I liked these two ladies and was happy to read about their journey of self discovery over this one summer. Yes, they also found love but the stronger plot was the familial story between Hannah and Libby. ❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* The Comeback Summer

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Pretend You’re Mine (Benevolence #1) by Lucy Score

Rushing from her home with only her keys in her hand after finding her boyfriend cheating on her, Harper runs away and ends up in a bar in the small town of Benevolence, where she sees a man about to hit a woman in the parking lot. Racing straight towards danger, Harper leaps to the rescue and ends up with a bruised eye to go along with her bruised ego. She comes to looking into the eyes of Luke Garrison who rides to her rescue, allowing her to sleep at his home for the night. When his sister comes up with a crazy idea for Harper to pretend to be Luke’s new girlfriend for the month he’s on leave before shipping off to the National Guard, a plan that’s supposed to get his mother off his back, Harper hesitantly agrees. Luke’s strong protective instincts and the friendly town of Benevolence feels like the home she’s been looking for, but she’s cautious to believe in her feelings after being burned more than once before.

Pretend You’re Mine is written by the bestselling author Lucy Score and was written in 2018. Having read her more recent novels, this one does seem a little less structured and has a LOT more heat between the sheets. Harper was a pretty easy character to like. She’s had a tough life, her parents having died when she was young so she grew up in the foster care system. She wants to belong somewhere, but things never seem to work out for her. She agrees to this crazy scheme of pretending to be Luke’s girlfriend because he makes her feel safe and she is super attracted to him. Luke is just about to go back to the National Guard for a six month tour of duty. He let’s his sister talk him into this but he doesn’t really want someone in his life. He has a secret in his past that holds him back from allowing him to feel something for Harper. Of course, he does despite his best interests but he has an internal battle on his hands before they get their hea.

Lucy Score always writes great secondary characters into her novels and this one was no different. I can easily see how Benevolence will have a series of books because there are some great characters that need their stories told! I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this series. ❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase this book!* Pretend You’re Mine

Copyright 2023- The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Meet Me At the Lake by Carley Fortune

Fern’s life is not what or where she thought it would be, back where she grew up, running her mother’s lakefront resort. Her dreams of opening up her own coffee shop left behind in Toronto, along with her memories of a 24 hours she spent with Will Baxter. A 24 hours that had changed her life. Both of them young, and the timing wrong, they spend a day exploring Toronto together and agree to meet one year later at her mother’s resort. A meeting that does not end up happening until 9 years later. Will shows up at her door offering her the help she desperately needs, to fix this failing resort that her mother had loved so much.

After having read her debut novel, Every Summer After, I knew that if Carley Fortune kept writing I would keep reading her books. Her style of writing is deep, emotional, yet also has a lightness that reflects the settings that she keeps choosing- the lake. In this novel, Fern’s life has imploded with her mother’s death and her being left the resort to run. A resort that is failing and needs a new life, one that Fern isn’t sure she has to give. Until Will shows up. This 9 years older Will is much different than the artist that she fell in love with long ago. He now wears suits and runs a company, and seems to have given up his own dreams. Despite these differences their feelings for each other still lie beneath the surface waiting to be explored.

Meet Me At the Lake is one of those sneaky novels that has layers of emotions that are revealed slowly one chapter at a time. Sometimes I feel impatient when reading a slow moving novel but Carley Fortune sets a smooth pace that feels exactly right, each emotion and particular about a character revealed when it should for the utmost impact. Fern and Will’s reconnection built slowly towards that moment when they gave in to these feelings, but giving in didn’t solve all of their problems and the story didn’t end. I loved that! There were more reveals awaiting the reader and more emotions to be explored.

I’m reading this book in March but it definitely has that vacation beach vibe feel. It is the perfect novel to read when you can occasionally glance up to check the view of the ocean (or lake!) in front of you and then delve back into these fantastic characters who were meant to be together. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I was given a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase this book!* Meet Me At the Lake

Copyright 2023 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (5/1/23)

Have you ever read a book by an author you love but that reading it is emotional torture? One of the books below was that book for me. Oh my goodness, I chose the audiobook, which can be torture in itself because you are held to the speed the narrator reads it. There is no skipping ahead without missing some of the content which I couldn’t do because I was so invested! I’ll tell you more below.


TORTURE! OK, it was tortuously good, but it was also tortuously emotional. I balled, I mean seriously cried for four hours while listening to this book. This was a box of tissues kind of book for me. Great characters, I loved the friendships, and Wyn and Harriet? OMG.


I really like Kelly Bowen’s historical fiction novels and the synopsis for this one really drew me in. The story is told using flashback sequences between WWII and French/Dutch resistance fighters and the current story of two sisters who purchase a chateau and are fixing it up. They discover documents that reference the resistance fighters which tie the two time frames together. I’m really enjoying it so far!

Have a great Monday and happy reading!