#BookReview: The Manger House by Elizabeth Bromke

Short Tale Packs A Lot In Its Pages. This is a long novella / short novel (seriously, it is right at that 160 page point that some consider the cutoff between the two) featuring three sisters and their efforts to reclaim their lives and make their marks on their hometown. As the middle book of a trilogy, arguably Book 1 (The Boardwalk House) should be read first, but honestly this book reads perfectly fine if you want to start here and go back as well. Great atypical Christmas story featuring three vastly different sisters in three vastly different situations, yet who all show what Christmas is all about. Another great read for those family get togethers where maybe you just need a break from your actual family. Very much recommended.

This review of The Manger House by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on November 18, 2021.

#BlogTour: Her Silent Husband by Sam Vickery

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid tale of a not-often-told side of one well-known issue. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Her Silent Husband by Sam Vickery.

Visceral Look At The Underbelly Of Trying To Keep Up. This is one of those books that is largely depressing and frustrating – 75% or so of the book is all about a couple’s fights, the wife/ mother’s struggles with her kids, or the aunt’s own demons. But even through here, while depressing, it is also very *real* – and that fact alone should be celebrated at times. Yes, many of us read to escape reality. But sometimes you need to see “reality” in fiction to get a degree of catharsis about your own situation, and this is one of those books that could actually help there. The flip in the last quarter or so is a bit abrupt, particularly given the characterizations to that point, and the almost Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King style check-in-with-every-major-character multiple epilogues was a bit hit or miss, but otherwise this was a solid story, one that discusses a lot of important concepts like male depression, a man’s drive to provide for his family, a wife/ mother’s drive to do the best by her kids, suicide, drug addiction (heroin specifically is particularly well done here), and a teenage boy’s struggles to do the right thing even when “the right thing” isn’t so crystal clear. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the “publisher details”, including the book description, author bio, and a link directly to Amazon to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Her Silent Husband by Sam Vickery”

#BookReview: Fake Dating My Rockstar Roommate by Maggie Dallen

When You’re Dating A Celebrity – And Don’t Know You Are. This was one of the more entertaining “fake dating” type romances that spun the general idea on its head and runs with the idea of “what if a PR team claimed their client was dating someone – who had no idea the photo they are spinning had even been taken?”. From there, we get a realistic-ish look into the world of celebrity in the modern era, where *everyone* has a phone and even minor things most people wouldn’t even think twice about can go viral just because someone “famous” is doing it. Another fun entry into this series that works as a standalone, but one where the characters from previous books do show up. Very much recommended.

This review of Fake Dating My Rockstar Roommate by Maggie Dallen was originally written on November 17, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten

This week we’re looking at the newest entry in a police procedural saga that ultimately deals with some issues that have been in the real-world headlines. This week we’re looking at Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten.

Brutal Killings Ripped From (Somewhat Dated-ish) Headlines. Without going into spoiler-y territory, there are themes here that have been in the headlines and have been massive scandals over the last few decades – and which I believe even bigger scandals lay ahead, particularly in the direction this book ultimately goes.

The murders here are again particularly brutal, though perhaps not quite as straight up creepy as from Book 4, and this time no team member is imperiled – and yet Holten still manages to ramp up the tension almost as if they are.

This is labeled as Book 5, so that alone tells you that it *is* part of a series, and somewhat deep into it at that, but as a police procedural (even a British based one), it is still episodic enough that you can jump into the series with any particular episode, then backfill to see how the relationships amongst the team got to the point you first encountered them. And on that particular front, there are a couple of great reveals in this particular book, one from Jamieson herself and the other from another teammate in the closing paragraphs.

Yet another thrill a minute read that will keep you invested through all of its 400 pages. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: The Women Of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby

Poetic Prose But Intensely SLOW Story. This is one of those tales where the actual words and descriptions are so incredibly beautiful – and yet the plot moves along about as fast as a snail in cryostasis. Basically somewhat similar to The Great Gatsby, but with a more poetic front end and where Gatsby has an action packed back end, this one manages to finally hint at some mysteries around the middle of the book that will compel you to finish it. Then, it even manages to pack a *bit* of action into the final 15% or so of the text, as one final calamity strikes – the first calamity of the book to happen within the “current” time period. For those who dislike dual perspectives/ dual timelines, know up front that this book has those – and that I would argue that you should read it anyway, because here they completely work together to show the mysteries more fully. Ultimately a satisfying read with an ending that some will love and others will hate, the only reason this book got dinged a star was because the front half in particular was *so* slow. Very much recommended.

This review of The Women Of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby was originally written on November 14, 2021.

#BookReview: The Anomaly by John Sneeden

Fun Read That Veers Close To Christian Fiction. This is another quick and fun adventure/ scifi read that long time fans of this series will enjoy, and yet still works on an “episode” basis for even new readers to come into the series. (Fairly minimal connective tissue here to prior books. This is mostly a Zane tale with a couple of appearances from Carmen.) The action mostly revolves around a possible mole in the mission, with a bit of creature feature thrown in to pay off the build up to that very event – and the ending seems to set the next book in the series directly in motion. A couple of characters in particular have conversations almost never seen outside of a church, weekly church attendee gatherings, or Christian Fiction books, but those are generally no more than a page or two, and likely barely 5 pages – of the 308 here – contain these discussions. So if you’re someone who is hyper-opposed to such talk for whatever reason, know up front that it is here… but also know up front that it is nowhere near a main focus of the story, and can be fairly easily glossed over the few times it does come up. Overall a great new episode in a truly excellent series. Very much recommended.

This review of The Anomaly by John Sneeden was originally written on November 11, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Library by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen

This week we’re looking at a seemingly comprehensive and dense yet readable history of the idea of the library and its various incarnations throughout human history. This week, we’re looking at The Library by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen.

Comprehensive History. This is a fairly dense (yet readable) comprehensive history of humanity’s efforts to store its written words. We begin all the way back in ancient Mesopotamia with some discussion of even their clay tablets, and we come all the way through the digital and eReader era (which the authors are a bit more pessimistic about than this reader, who is admittedly a technologist). While other areas such as China, Africa, India, (modern) Australia, and Columbian era Middle America are mentioned at times, the vast majority of the focus of the discussion here is Euro-centric, with detailed discussions of American library systems once the discussion advances to the relevant time periods. Indeed, as it turns out, the “modern public library” as Americans know it today? Did not exist prior to WWII in any real form at all, though through the efforts of business titans such as Andrew Carnegie (discussed in much depth here in the text), the earlier forms of it were beginning by the late 19th century. Truly a fascinating book, but also truly a very long one. Anyone remotely interested in books and reading should probably at least consider reading this, as it really is a remarkable history of the book, its uses, and its storage. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: The Memory Bones by B.R. Spangler

A Finale. Without going *too* deep into spoiler territory, by the end of this book the long-running mythos surrounding Detective White achieves a resolution – and not only that, but several other character arcs seem to be wrapped up as well. So much so that this book ends feeling like a series finale – until you hit the author note at the back, confirming that the author *is* working on the next book in this series. Which means that this book isn’t so much *series* finale as “season” finale, and I for one can’t wait to see what else the author cooks up from here.

As to this particular tale, yet again Spangler manages to craft a fairly inventive way to murder, and yet again the mystery here is quite wide ranging and explosive – and based on at least one real world situation that I am aware of, that went on at least as long before it was detected. (Though to be clear, I am not aware of any murders happening in the real world variant to preserve the secret… though it is at least theoretically possible.)

But the real stars of this series are White and her team, and here they yet again step up and provide much of what makes this series so great. Yes, Spangler is solid on the mysteries and murders, but it is in this part, in developing the entire cast of characters and their relationships, that Spangler truly excels and indeed (possibly arguably) overcomes the limitations and perceptions of this genre. Very much recommended.

This review of The Memory Bones by B.R. Spangler was originally written on November 7, 2021.

#BookReview: An Unexpected Distraction by Catherine Bybee

Organic Romance – In A Romance Book???? Let’s face it, so many times in a romance book, the romance feels at least somewhat contrived. “Oh, you’re *really* going to go completely against your established character for this person you just randomly met?” kind of stuff. This isn’t the case here. Instead, Bybee crafts one of the more genuinely organic romances I’ve ever seen in a romance book… while still having her lead female kick ass and take names later. Fans of the Richter books largely know what you’re getting into here, and while this *does* work as a standalone, there *are* a lot of established external characters and backstories that you’re going to want to know up front. Thus, while you don’t have to go *all* the way back to its actual origins a couple of series ago, I absolutely recommend at minimum starting with Richter #1 and working your way to this book. But if you do… you’re going to want to get here anyway. 🙂 Very much recommended.

This review of An Unexpected Distraction by Catherine Bybee was originally written on November 7, 2021.

#BookReview: A Little Bird by Wendy James

S L O W Mystery. This is one of those books that takes F O R E V E R to really build out its mystery – but once it finally gets there, it is quite explosive indeed. Instead, this is almost more of a small town character study of a woman coming back to her smalltown hometown with her tail between her legs and having to rebuild her life… who then accidentally stumbles onto new evidence that perhaps her past isn’t what everyone thought it was. So the first half ish of the book is much more character study driven, with the back half being more of a slow-normal paced mystery. The setting was interesting too, but could have been set in a wide variety of regions with little other change, so it didn’t quite work as well as it arguably could have. Still, a worthy and recommended read.

This review of A Little Bird by Wendy James was originally written on November 5, 2021.