Friday, June 9, 2023


The Only Game in Town
 by Lacie Waldon
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on March 21. 2023
Age/Genres: Contemporary, Fiction

One small town, one big prize, one handsome stranger...

Nothing ever changes in Redford, Georgia. That's what freelance editor Jess Reid loves about her hometown--and part of what keeps her from leaving. Content taking care of her father, a car mechanic who singlehandedly raised her after her mom skipped out, Jess is resigned to a safe, unremarkable existence...until Jasper Wilhelm, the town's eccentric benefactor, dies suddenly and leaves behind the opportunity of a lifetime.

Financial advisor Carter Barclay has been too busy to visit his grandfather in Redford, but he's heard countless stories about the town and its zany residents from Jasper. A small, insular town in Georgia is the last place Carter expects to be spending his summer--but it seems his grandfather had one final trick up his sleeve.

At the funeral, it's revealed that Jasper has devised a massive, high-stakes game for the people of Redford, with the winning duo taking home his entire fortune. The catch? He's already taken the liberty of pairing them up. As tensions of all kinds rise between Jess and Carter, and the life-changing prize looms closer, the two must decide what they're willing to risk to change their lives. A love story full of spirit and hijinks, The Only Game in Town is a funny, quirky homage to the people we get to call home.

I would like to thank the fine residents of Redford for a rollicking good time. I loved this premise – locals competing for Jasper Wilhelm’s millions. From the very beginning, it was easy to see that Jasper had an agenda. His first order of business was to reunite those who had fallen out with each other by pairing them together in the competition. I love when someone can work that sort of magic from beyond the grave.

Jess was paired with former high school queen bee, Nikki, who had been known to make Jess’ life miserable. I enjoyed this part of the story more than I originally anticipated. Nikki was very domineering, but she also had layers which were slowly revealed. Under all that bluster was someone who had been let down and hurt by those who should have shown her unconditional love. It was her armor, and I was happy that Jess was able to put a few dents in it to uncover who Nikki really was. The dynamic between them was one that had me laughing often, but also had me experiencing some aww-shucks moments.

The romance was one I was fully onboard with. I thought the match of Jess and Carter was a good one. Though they were opposites in most ways, both were dealing with abandonment issues and could therefore understand each other’s pain. Carter also seemed to genuinely adore all Jess’ quirks, of which she had many. But her quirks were part of her charm for me too. I found her delightful, and she really brought out a different side of Carter.

The star of this story was the competition. It was so much fun! It started off pretty normal, but the challenges became more elaborate, and one quite outlandish and memorable race had me rolling on the floor. The bonding and hijinks were a highlight and never failed to make me smile.

I am so glad I had an opportunity to visit this lovely little town. I had a great time reading about all the crazy challenges while also getting to see this great cast of characters fall in love, experience personal growth, mend friendships, and form some found families. All this fun was topped off with a precious ending that brought on the happy tears and left me feeling warm and happy.


In the Shadow Garden
 by Liz Parker
Published by Forever on September 13, 2022
Age/Genres: Paranormal

Three generations of witches must discover where their magic went wrong as secrets resurface that could solve a twenty-year-old mystery in this riveting debut, perfect for fans of Practical Magic and Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe.

There's something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes with hints of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear.

But twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory for the year; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any idea why.

As secrets from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But the only clue Irene Haywood has is in her tea leaves: a stranger’s arrival will bring either love or betrayal…

I randomly picked this book from the library, but once I started, I found myself frustrated each time I had to stop reading. I was simply enchanted by this tale of family, feuds, love, loss, and magic and could not wait to get all the answers I was seeking.

It was magical!

This was a tale about three generations of witches. They have long served their community by using their family magic to ease the pain of others. This pain was then returned to the earth producing the Shadow Garden, and many of these enhanced garden items were used to help the community in other ways I enjoyed the magical elements and the myriad of ways they were woven into the story. Parker did a wonderful job making the Shadow Garden its own character as well.

It was about family

Family was the heart of this story. The Heywood women and their kin were tight as could be. They were bonded through blood and their magic, but also via their losses. Their love and support was a thing of beauty and something I truly adore.

It was about mystery

The deeper I got into the story, the more questions arose. Why was Addison’s magic wild? Why didn’t people remember Kaden? What happened THAT summer? What’s the truth behind Quinn’s nightmares? Their search uncovered many memories as well as a multitude of family secrets. It was messy, but I found the unravelling and resolution quite satisfying.

Overall, the magic, the family, the romance, and the mystery all combine to create a story that was wholly engrossing for me. Beautifully told, I adored every second of this story.

Which you would you choose
Ease the pain or lose the memory of it?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. Hijinks, small town, romance - what more could you want?!

  2. I loved your thoughts on The Only Game in Town. It made me even more curious about it.

    1. It was fun. Waldon has been a solid author for me

  3. I do know people who have lost certain memories but sort of know it or it's in pieces so I would want a clean swipe if it happened lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. Even if you had to forget EVERYTHING? Like, it would be as if you never knew certain people. I would want to lose the bad parts, but I am not sure if I would want anyone to be a stranger to me who had been part of my life

  4. I think I might like In The Shadow Garden.

  5. Replies
    1. It was a very interesting and engrossing story for me, but it also gave me something to ponder

  6. Adding In the Shadow Garden to my TBR Sam!

    1. I really liked this one and don't remember seeing many people talking about it