#BlogTour: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid Halloween themed, Urban Legend backed mystery/ drama. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Halloween-Themed Mystery/Drama With An Urban Legend – And A Punisher Scene. In the early 2000s, pre-MCU version of The Punisher – the one with Thomas Jane as Frank Castle/ The Punisher and also featuring John Travolta and Will Patton – I’ve always LOVED the scene in the finale where Castle tells Travolta’s character “I made you kill your wife. I made you kill your best friend. And now I’ve killed you.”. This book actually has elements that played out there within it as well, and this book actually works the drama and even action in those sequences much better than even that movie pulled off. (Though in its defense, in that movie the scene in question is just a plot point in service of the actual story, and here the story ultimately revolves around this scene.) To my mind, all of the above is obscure enough that I haven’t actually gone into spoiler territory here, so let’s move on.

This is a tale where several characters are at play, but we only ever really hear from three of them – the newbie, the Queen Bee of the resident Mean Girls (in this particular case, the mothers who effectively run the school’s PTA board), and a mysterious “other”… who seems intent on killing someone on Halloween night. It mostly takes place in the leadup to that night, where we see that not all is as it seems on Ivy Lane, and that, in the words of Tony Stark (when referencing Nick Fury in The Avengers), her “secrets have secrets”. Which goes for most every “her” here, particularly the three we actually hear from.

Arguably the one knock here is that male characters are almost non-existent and pretty damn one dimensional, but eh, this is fairly common across the genre, particularly when written by females. Finding an author that actually does opposite-sex characters well in this genre is a bit difficult at times, so it is more easily excused – for better or worse- as simply the way things (currently) are when this occurs.

Beyond this quibble though, this is a strong enough book, and spooky/ creepy enough that it absolutely fits right in with the Halloween vibe and its release is thus perfectly timed in mid-October. Definetly not a classic “monster tale”, but if you prefer your monsters of the more human variety… this may be up your alley. (Though to be fair, there is nothing *overly* horrific here. Though there are absolutely some very bad people here.) Very much recommended.

Below the jump, an excerpt (that if I remember correctly is the entire prologue) followed by the “publisher details” – including basic publishing data, book description, author bio, author web/ social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski”

#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert

For this blog tour we’re looking at the first entry in a new series of gay military romances. For this blog tour we’re looking at Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Solid Military Romance. This is a fairly standard romance / Annabeth Albert romance with one guy in uniform and the other not… and eventually, neither is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s done the virgin thing at least once or twice (I fully cop to not reading her full back catalog, and I seem to remember her covering this even in the books I *have* read from her), and here it works just as well as it did the last time. For those looking for “clean” / “sweet” romance… Albert uses the virgin trope to explore as many successive sex acts as she can squeeze into a book. So this won’t be something that fits those definitions, but will work well within the more general romance/ gay romance reader crowd. The family dynamics are fun, some of the situations border on silly yet work, and the military scenes are accurate enough for someone who is only vaguely aware of US Navy operations. Looking forward to seeing where this new series will go. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt and the details about the book from the publisher, including the book description, author bio and social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert”

#BlogTour: The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross

For this blog tour we’re looking at a strong book filled with strongly developed characters. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross.

Solid Women’s Fiction With Historical Elements. This is one of those books where the description perfectly sets up what you’re actually getting here – a tale of siblings finding each other after their father passes away and sets in motion a plan for the three of them to meet. Along the way, they discover their still-living grandmother and get to hear the stories of her activities in WWII – including meeting and falling in love with their grandfather. On these elements, this is a solidly written women’s fiction tale with historical fiction *elements* – but I personally would not market this as a “historical fiction” title. So if you’re a reader that *only* reads historical fiction… I’d still say this one is worthy of your time, just know that you aren’t getting a true tale of that genre here. Indeed, along the story of one of the sisters in particular (and to a lesser extent another of them), this *could* be marketed as a romance – though the women’s fiction side is still the dominant side of the tale. The titular Inheritance? Well, that’s actually the best part of the tale… when you realize what Ross intends it as. Overall a strong book filled with strongly developed characters among is main and primary supporting cast, and a very well told story. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the usual publisher details – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross”

#BlogTour: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that further shows how an often stigmatized neurodivergence can actually be used for good rather than its stereotypical evil. For this blog tour we’re looking at Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian.

Complex Story With Interesting (But Unnecessary) Commentary In Finale. This is a particular idea that I didn’t really know I was drawn to until reading Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe books, about a slightly more mature psychopath than these college students here. So when I saw the premise here, I pretty well *had* to check it out. The overall story works well and will keep you guessing – and you’re most likely not going to guess right until the final reveal. The various aspects of psychopathy shown work well, and work well to show that *everyone* can lead a fairly normal life – thus helping (a bit) to destigmatize the condition. Including the romance that at least a few other reviewers panned – I enjoyed it for showing that even true psychopaths are capable of it, though admittedly this isn’t a romance book and thus that element is never a core focus of the tale. The switching from character to character was usually abrupt and could have used a bit better editing, perhaps naming the character at the top of the chapter and even breaking into a new chapter (with character name) when a perspective jumps mid chapter. But that is perhaps something that could be seen at the beta/ ARC level (and this book is still almost two months from publication as I write this review) and *perhaps* corrected. So if you’re reading this review years after publication, know that this particular issue may or may not exist any longer.

The commentary in the finale, about the doc and his perspectives, wasn’t really necessary but did provide an interesting, rarely seen wrinkle. One I happened to know about outside of this book and largely agree with, so it was refreshing to see it both discussed and discussed in such a positive light here. But again, it was ultimately unnecessary for the tale and thus a bit of a momentum killer in the final stretch. (Though fortunately it *is* fairly brief, so there is that at least.)

Overall a truly enjoyable read with a fairly rare and possibly unique premise. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the usual publisher details – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian”

#BlogTour: The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid road trip romance that really does work for fans of Kerry Lonsdale and Diane Chamberlain, as the publisher notes – both of whom are authors I’ve read and reviewed on this very site. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner.

Strong Road Trip Romance. This is a really solid road trip romance full of misunderstandings, some hijinx, tragic backstories for our main characters, and an element or two of danger – all while traveling the backroads of America as two strangers who happen to get thrown together due to, well, a major misunderstanding. ๐Ÿ˜€ You’ll laugh some, you’ll cry some, you’ll imagine yourself getting a bit wet – from rain, get your mind out of the damn gutter -, and yeah, you’ll probably fall in love with these two yourself. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the “publisher details” including the book description, author bio, and social media/ buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Girl In The Picture by Melissa Wiesner”

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh

This week we’re doing another blog tour for a the Featured spot, and this time I’m actually making a fairly novel recommendation that you simply take my word that you *need* to read this book. For reasons I’ll get into below. This week we’re looking at The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh.

Excellent “Who Is It?”. This is one of those books I’m going to recommend you approach the same way I did – I knew title and author, that was it. Didn’t even look at the description at all until I was over halfway into the book. I’ve read several books from this author over the past year in particular, and no matter if she is writing romantic comedy (July 2021’s The Man Ban) or suspense/ drama (this book), she never fails to give a great story within the bounds of the genre of the particular book.

And y’all, if you approach this book in this particular manner… you’re not going to have any dang clue who the titular “Liar” is. If you read the description before the book, you’ll know immediately as the description is specifically from the perspective of one of 3 main perspectives (among 7 primary players), though one of the perspectives does get a now/ then timeline split emphasizing that particular storyline more. (This is the perspective from the description.) But *all seven* main characters, and in particular all three main perspectives, are lying about something to someone, and unravelling all the various lies and how they stack up is one wild ride. Even when certain things begin to be resolved, Marsh manages to have the book end on yet another final bang within the last few sentences. (So a word of caution to those who generally read the last page of a book before reading the rest of the book: DO NOT DO THAT HERE.)

Yet again, with such a dichotomy of books releasing just a month apart, Marsh shows just how talented a storyteller she really is. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the “publisher details”, including the book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh”

#BlogTour: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid book about two sisters painfully separated years ago who have a chance to rebuild their relationship over the course of one epic summer. For this blog tour we’re looking at When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Epic Summer Revisited. This was a strong look at sisters separated by forces beyond their control and the hurts and insecurities that this brought about. Long time fans of Ellingsen’s will see her particular style of drama and storytelling play out well here, and it is also a great introduction to this author and her stylings. Told with a single perspective, this is also a book that will work well for those readers that don’t like multiple POVs in a book. Ultimately a satisfying read that could prove cathartic for siblings separated by distance or other issues. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the publisher details – including the book description, author bio, and social and purchase links! ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen”

#BlogTour: The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun romance with a very atypical… well, twang. For this romance we’re looking at The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Romance With An Atypical Twang. Let’s face it. When you think of rodeo, you don’t exactly think of non-white dudes competing. Much less a non-white chick. Nor do you really think of “reality competition show”, despite that particular type of show being *so* overdone these days. And yet, in this particular romance, we get all of the above. We get the obligatory overt Garth reference or two, a more subtle Merle reference or two, and two non-white rodeo champions putting it all on the line in a rodeo-based reality competition show in order to save the things they love. And since this is a romance tale, yeah, that builds along the way too. For the clean/ sweet crowd… y’all aint gonna like this one. It only has two outright sex scenes, but one of them is about as far from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it as you can get without dragging the story or veering into erotica. Overall a well-done tale that sets up what looks to be a medium-coupled series – not so loose that the characters never appear in each other’s books, but also not so tightly coupled that future readers would be completely lost if coming into the series in later books. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Bell goes from here and exactly how she executes stylistically on joining the series together. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an except and the publisher details ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell”

#BlogTour: The Crying House by BR Spangler

For this blog tour, we’re looking at one hell of a creepy murder mystery that is semi-deep in a series and contains near immediate spoilers for the previous book. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Crying House by BR Spangler.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

You’ll Never Look At Ye Olden Ways The Same Again. This was my first book from Spangler, and is the 4th book in this particular series. It picks up seemingly some period of time after the events of Book 3, and immediately spoils some of the ending there. So if you have particular cares about such… start at Book 1 here and work your way here. As a police procedural / murder mystery of the book type series, this one actually works quite well and features a technique (used in a variety of ways) that will both creep you out and cause you to think twice about certain olden ways of doing certain things. What were y’all *really* up to, humanity of old???? Several different deaths drive the action here, and there is indeed quite a bit of action along with the mystery, including a pulse pounding race to… well, not quite the finale, but the effective end (+ some exposition) of that particular thread. And then another bit of action to resolve the other main thread before ending on a series explosion big enough that you’re going to want the next book in your hands immediately. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the various publisher details of the book, including a description, author bio, and links to social media and to buy the book. ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Crying House by BR Spangler”

#BlogTour: Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman

For this blog tour we’re looking at a beautiful tale of life on Hawaii between December 7, 1941 (the day we open the book) through the Battle of Midway months later. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman.

Here’s what I had to say on GoodReads:

Beautiful Story Of Life On Hawaii Between Pearl Harbor and Midway. This is one of those books where you almost audibly hear Faith Hill singing through parts, particularly the obligatory romance subplot – and particularly its later stages. Fortunately the romance subplot is well done yet mostly muted in favor of showing the women’s bonds and work, which was an area of WWII I’d never heard of. Specifically, while college football player men were being rounded up to bolster island security forces, these ladies – both natives and those there because their husbands were already military – were being recruited (almost drafted, really) to man the very radar stations that had failed to realize what the Japanese were on that fateful morning in December 1941. It is actually on that morning that our story opens, with main character Daisy “borrowing” a horse and going skin diving for subsistence… when she witnesses an air battle directly above her. The story then spends most of its time in the next few months, culminating in the Battle of Midway from the perspective of these “Radar Girls”. (And following with the obligatory post-war epilogue.) Beautifully written and full of heart, this is one that fans of historical fiction / WWII fiction will definitely love, and readers of all types should read even if it isn’t normally your thing. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from Chapter 2 of the book followed by the publisher details, including buy links!
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman”