Featured New Release Of The Week: Into The Blue by Kay Bratt

This week we’re looking at the (seeming?) conclusion of an amazing series of books set in Hawaii. This week we’re looking at Into The Blue by Kay Bratt.

Satisfying (Seeming?) Conclusion. After Bratt rushed things a bit with Book 2 of this series (No Place Too Far), combining elements that I felt – and mentioned both to the author and in the review – could better be done in multiple books, here she takes the same approach. Yet here, the story is more condensed generally, taking place over just a week or so and having two concurrent storylines that work quite a bit better as a pairing. In one, Jules, the true matriarch of this series, has a medical issue that sidelines her yet gives her a compelling storyline. In the other, and happening concurrently, her youngest daughter has gone missing – and Jonah, the PTSD-suffering Iraq veteran who decades earlier already lost one sister (see Book 1 – True To Me) has to find her.

As with much of this series, it is loosely based on Bratt’s own daughter’s adventures living in Hawaii – the author’s note at the end actually notes a much more perilous event that made the news there in the last few years as the inspiration for the missing daughter piece.

And as with Bratt’s immediately prior book to this series, Dancing With The Sun, this book is essentially a love song to one of her own daughters, and another cry of just how strong her love for that daughter is.

Bratt’s writing, at least in the time I’ve known it, has always been about putting her real world heart on her sleeve and then pouring it into “paper”, while creating worlds that allows her to explore and convey the emotions she is feeling at any moment. It makes her personally vulnerable – but also makes for some of the most compelling reading of the last few years. This story is ultimately no different here. Read it because it is truly an excellent book, one where she took the (light) criticism from its predecessor and largely corrected. Knowing a bit of the backstory – and I haven’t noted anything here beyond that which she has said (IIRC, in much more detail) publicly – only makes it that much richer.

Very much recommended.

Featured New Release Of The Week: No Place Too Far by Kay Bratt

This week we’re returning to a world I said just last year that the author could spend the rest of her career in and I would not be disappointed. This week we’re looking at No Place Too Far by Kay Bratt.

On the less-good front, my writer’s block for these posts is continuing. On the not-so-bad front, at least I was (hopefully) able to convey how I truly feel about this book in the Goodreads level review. Basically, I truly love this world and want much more of it.

Amazing Follow-up. I wrote last year of the first book in this series that Bratt could spend the rest of her career in this world, and that I would not be disappointed. Here, she comes back to the world ostensibly to give best friend Maggie her story… that Quinn plays an even larger part in than Maggie played in Quinn’s own story (where Maggie was present enough to be the obvious target of a direct sequel, but otherwise truly a secondary character). Bratt does a solid job of juggling both ladies, it just seems at times here that too much is being condensed into one book. To me, the tale here could have been told over three, maybe four, books rather than one and been more on par with the overall pacing and impact of True To Me. Going into specifics might get a bit too much into spoiler territory, so I’ll simply say that to me, the division is this: Quinn gets a dedicated sequel. Maggie’s story here gets its own dedicated book where Quinn becomes more of a secondary character rather than the co-lead she is here, and Maggie’s own story is then broken up into effectively the first and second halves of the story here.

I know, I know. I’ve complained in other reviews about books being cut in half in almost blatantly obvious cash grabs, but I don’t think Bratt would have done that in the above scenario. I think more time in each of these situations would have brought out much more of the depth of emotion that True To Me had, vs the constant “swinging for the fences” here.

But do not get me wrong: This is still truly an excellent book, one I am very proud to have read, and again, I want to come back to this world many, many more times. This is just me expressing my quibbles over pacing of a truly excellent book that to my mind *just* missed the “I can’t stop crying and my mind is blown” level of amazement that True To Me brought. Truly a great book, and very much recommended.

#BookReview: Holiday Fling by Crystal Lacy

Fling or Flung? This was a fun Christmas romance on Hawaii with two visitors who happen to live not far from each other back home. Solid awakening type romance, with pretty well everything expected within that trope – and all executed well. As with any vacation romance, “will they or won’t they” looms large in the back third, and even here Lacy spins a solid tale. Very much recommended.

This review of Holiday Fling by Crystal Lacy was originally written on December 12, 2019.

#BookReview: Hawaiian Punch by Douglas Corleone

Fun Hawaiian PI. Even if PI/ detective books aren’t really your thing, this book is awesome. Fun mystery on Hawaii that keeps you on your toes – I didn’t see the endgame coming until it played out, though I was at least partially correct in my early presumptions. Really hoping to see more of this character in future books.

This review of Hawaiian Punch by Douglas Corleone and Rick Chesler was originally published on May 13, 2018.