Featured New Release Of the Week: When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal

This week we are looking at the new book from the author whose 2018 book became only the second Featured New Release of the Week on this blog one year ago this week. This week, we’re looking at When We Believed In Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal.

This book examines trauma and what exactly two sisters will do to cope with what has happened to them, and it opens with one of the better opening lines of any book I’ve ever read. One sister uses the shared traumas to push herself into medical school and a successful career as an ER doc. The other… doesn’t cope so well and eventually takes some pretty extreme measures to escape.

Along with a current timeline story of where the sisters currently are decades after the earliest flashbacks in the story happen (and even 15 years after the one sister’s desperate escape) we get constant flashbacks to different scenes of childhood traumas, and it is these scenes that the waterworks really begin. We see traumas of many forms and brokenness of even more, and O’Neal does a stellar job of putting us in the minds of the girls as they experience them. But she does an equally adroit job of putting us in their heads years later in the current timeline events, when things are going much differently for both sisters.

An excellent book that hit closer to home than some due to me living just hours away from my own brothers and admittedly missing them more than I let on. No, we didn’t have the traumatic childhood these two girls faced – *far* from it – but the sheer distance of physical separation is there, and that alone made this tale particularly relatable.

Truly an outstanding work, though of a much different and much more intense direction than last year’s work – and thus showing signs of just how good of a storyteller O’Neal herself is.

As always, the Goodreds/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: Revenant by David Wood

Solid NYC Action / Mystery. This was truly an excellent action/ mystery book centered in NYC and surrounding areas. Full of rich and disturbing (and apparently real) history, this book does an excellent job of continuing the evolving mythos Wood has created with these characters while still being a mostly self-contained (and thus easy for newbies to enter) story itself. Very much recommended.

This review of Revenant by David Wood was originally published on July 16, 2019.

#BookReview: The Island by John Sneeden

Fast Action! This was my first time actually reading Sneeden’s work even though I’ve owned most of them almost since he started publishing his tales a few years ago. And man, I have been missing out! This was a very fast action/ adventure book that probably took the same amount of time as usual to actually read a novel of its length (roughly 300 pages, iirc) – but felt like half that or less. There are a couple of points where Sneeden goes somewhat in depth on previous events presumably shown in previous novels, so for those who are sensitive to spoilers this may not be the best book to start with. But for anyone else, while going back to Book 1 (The Signal) may be ideal, starting here isn’t bad either. Great book, very much recommended.

This review of The Island by John Sneeden was originally published on July 15, 2019.

Featured New Release of the Week: Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

This week we look at a book that is explosive until almost literally the very last word. This week, we look at Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale.

With this book, as she did in her Everything series, Lonsdale yet again explores a memory-related condition while telling a compelling tale of love and, in this case, manipulation. If you haven’t yet read the Everything series, this is an excellent introduction to Lonsdale’s style and ability.

This is yet another recent book that explores a particular concept that is finally becoming more recognized in the mainstream, even though yet again this book doesn’t use the preferred term for the situation, and there seems to be a growing consensus among fiction writers who broach it – carrying on a relationship while disagreeing on this situation pretty well dooms the relationship moreso than any other factor. To reveal the particular situation would be to toe the line of spoilers if not cross it, and that isn’t something I want to do in these posts. So go read the book to discover the situation I am referring to here. 😉

As always, the Amazon/ Goodreads review:
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#BookReview: Razia by Abda Khan

I’m Still Unsettled About This Book. As I write this review, I finished reading this book just a few minutes ago before eating supper with my wife while watching How I Met Your Mother, as is our norm. And while the book is definetly worthy of the 5 stars I decided to give it, my mind hasn’t really set on a way to review it, hence this more stream-of-consciousness review. On the one hand, the ending was at least somewhat predictable in type if not in particulars, particularly after an event about 2/3 into the book, and the time jumps without any level of overt date reference were a bit jarring, but detectable within the context of the events described. But at the end of the day, this was a very detailed look at modern Pakistani life in particular, which is something I had never seen before – and that alone to me warranted the 5 stars, for the education it gave me while telling a solid story. I guess I’m torn more because of how the overall tale turned out, which I really can’t get into too much without going into spoiler territory. For so long the book was going in one direction and was a solid effort in that direction, and then the book abruptly shifts into a completely different direction and yet there too is reasonably solid, and the two different direction do indeed come together in the end. But read the book for yourself and decide for yourself. It is a truly worthy read.

This review of Razia by Abda Khan was originally published on July 8, 2019.

#BookReview: Ghost House by Pandora Pine

Another Excellent Entry! In this latest installment of the Copeland Forbes/ Jude Byrne centric Ghost Detective spinoff series from Pandora Pine’s long running (and continuing) Cold Case Psychic series, Cope and Jude have returned from their trip to Key West (from book 3) and are suddenly thrust into a mystery involving one of Salem’s iconic witch locations – The Witch House. Continuing the slow burn style of this particular series, Cope and Jude’s relationship continues to progress, though still not at the rate many romance readers might prefer but which works well in the context of these characters and stories. Once again, characters from the general world the spinoff series exists in continue to make appearances and while these appearances could be considered spoilers for their books, said appearances serve the story here and don’t cause undue confusion – a particularly strong skill of Pine’s. As usual, very much recommended and I’m very much looking forward to the next entry in this series.

This review of Ghost Story by Pandora Pine was originally written on July 4, 2019.

#BookReview: There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Kid by Thaddeus Bullard

Gator great Thaddeus Bullard writes a compelling memoir.

Of his time in WWE, he says little but brings up his two most “defining” moments.

Despite his conception, his tale is of a poor inner city kid becoming comfortable

And giving to as many as possible the leg up that was given to him.

While Thaddeus didn’t have an easy childhood, he shows the power of

Good, caring, hard working men stepping in and showing him a better path.

Since these mentors meant to much to him, he has made it is mission to pay it forward.

And thus ends my creative attempt at a review. Truly an amazing tale of some of the worst hardship possible being overcome with the power of a caring adult mentor. WWE fans looking for a “WWE lockerroom” book won’t find that here. Gator fans looking for a book about his time at Florida will find a bit more of that here, but even then, it isn’t the actual focus of the book. But Bullard’s message is one that needs to get out, and he has done a remarkable job using the fame he has to get it out. Truly a commendable man and a very much recommended book.

This review of There Is No Such Thing As A Bad Kid by Thaddeus Bullard (aka Titus O’Neil) was originally published on July 3, 2019.

#BookReview: Contest by David Wood

Another Awesome Adventure. Once again, Wood manages to make a hilarious adventure that touches on some very dark subjects – including the Black Dahlia murder. Long time fans will love this new chapter, and even people new to Wood and/ or Maddock and Bones shouldn’t have any issues picking up the story as presented… so long as you don’t mind references to previous adventures and story lines (none of which are critical to the flow here). Very much recommended, particularly for those looking for some good, solid, Indiana Jones type escapism.

This review of Contest by David Wood was originally published on July 2, 2019.

Featured New Release of The Week: The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold

This week, we’re looking at a tale of the entire life cycle of a marriage which is told in a rare and possibly unique manner. This week, we’re looking at The Ingredients of Us from debut author Jennifer Gold.

Overall, the book is an interesting if slightly depressing look at the entire life cycle of a marriage, told via a present day storyline and multiple flash backs to various events. Stylistically, this book uses dates rather than chapter numbers, always with a reference to a particular event as the anchor. And while it works to an extent, it also leaves the reader a bit confused as the dates jump all over the place with no discernible order and little contextual clues as to what may be coming.

But my one real quibble with the book is that the author doesn’t seem to know of the existence of childfree people or the nascent movement to get such people more recognition and equal rights. Instead, the central conflict comes down to one partner wanting kids and having left a former spouse over the issue vs the other partner being childfree and yet not knowing or recognizing it, and instead agonizing over what they could do differently despite the fact that they really don’t want kids. In this manner, while the book at least addresses an issue not commonly seen in fiction these days, it does so in a bit of blundering and arguably even bigoted fashion where it could have been transcendental had it been handled a bit better.

Truly a very much recommended book, even with the childfree issue. Very much looking forward to more from this author… maybe even a follow on tale with this very couple… 😉

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: Home At Chestnut Creek by Laura Drake

Home At Last. Excellent romance novel, so that alone tells you most of what you need to know up front. That said, this is also Book 2 of a series – which I didn’t know when requesting the ARC. But don’t let that deter you – yes, there are references to Book 1, so if you’re a spoiler purist you will want to read it first. That said, this story stands on its own two feet perfectly fine, for those new to the series who don’t care about spoilers. (And again, romance series – is it *really* a spoiler at that point if the lead couple from the first book is seen in Book 2?) On a bit more technical note, this ARC – and it appears the initial production run of the book – contain a full length novel by Carolyn Brown tagged onto the back, at least in the eBook format. So if it looks like it is taking you forever to read this book, don’t fret – this particular book ends at about the 46% mark of the total file. Overall an excellent book, and my first from Drake. Very much recommended, and won’t be my last from Ms. Drake.

This review of Home At Chestnut Creek by Laura Drake was originally published on June 29, 2018.