Extensive Focus On COVID Mars Otherwise Intriguing Story. The break about 1/3 into this book to focus on mostly new characters for another 1/4 to 1/3 or so (before coming back to at least some of the original characters) is a bit jarring and could potentially be off-putting to some readers, but to me it actually felt like an interesting way to tell this particular story, as well as the larger story of the Detective this series seems to be based around. No, the biggest problem for me – and the reason for the star deduction – is the extensive use of and discussion of COVID in its various forms. Quite simply, even in July 2023, I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. In ANY form. AT ALL. I’m beginning to become at least slightly more tolerant of passing references to it, but this particular tale used it quite heavily both as a plot device and in showing various actions related to it.
And yet, again, to be crystal clear: Ignoring the narrative break and COVID, this is actually a fairly inventive book about a serial killer and the detective that is trying to stop them. Indeed, this particular killer could well have been made into almost a new Moriarty, for a new Sherlock Holmes in this particular detective. But alas, this tale does hold forth to crime/ police procedural genre conventions, and this is instead more a “freak of the week” tale that is so common in the genre. Still, quite promising indeed, and with a Detective that actually stands out a bit from the crowd in her own way. Very much recommended.
This review of The Cove by Gregg Dunnett was originally written on July 25, 2023.
Strong Continuity And Also Strong Growth. This book is Luke Young’s first in several years – I believe his last new release before this one was 2017’s Seriously Messed Up, which *still* holds up as one of the funniest, most truly laugh out loud books I’ve ever read. This book actually opens with a scene that will readily bring to mind that book for any who have read it, and the overall tale actually has a lot of similarities to Young’s formerly long running Friends With … Benefits series, including a fair amount of quite explicit, damn near erotica level sex that brings to mind the “Ian Dalton” “sexier” versions of Friends With… Benefits series.
And yet, Young also shows quite a bit of growth in writing almost a women’s fiction level romantic tale of self discovery, as well as in creating some genuinely heartbreaking moments not usually seen in his prior works. Clearly, the time away from new releases has allowed Young to grow and develop as a storyteller – and while that is never a bad thing, this in particular is also a case of a great comedic storyteller learning to show true depth, while staying true to his comedic roots, which overall makes him an even *stronger* storyteller.
So read this book. I can almost guarantee you’ll never find anything quite like it, as despite my extensive and wide ranging reading (particularly since Young released his last book), even *I* have never encountered one quite like this one – and yet it is perfectly in line with the romance/ women’s fiction spaces, and thus familiar *enough* to not be alienating in any real way (barring personal hangups about any number of topics).
Very much recommended.
This review of Blame It On Emerald Isle by Luke Young was originally written on July 15, 2023.
To Mothers And Daughters And Best Friends Forever! Yes, the title is a line from near the end of the book. But I thought it summed up the book quite well – this is ultimately a story of girl power, of friends and family and the family you choose. It is a lighter-side Hallmarkie type tale where there is some amount of drama, but most of the tale is women finding their paths at various ages and stages of life. Yes, there is some romance here (though with no sex scenes, for the clean/ sweet crowd), but really the focus really is squarely on the various women at hand. While the men are never *quite* caricatures, there is certainly a fair amount lacking in their characterizations and indeed even ultimate importance to the story, but that is perhaps to be expected with the type of tale crafted here. Foodies – and those aware that Kelley has written at least two fiction tales specifically about a restaurant – will love the descriptions of the meals and drinks here. This is clearly designed, from its storytelling to its cover to even its early June release date, to be designated a “beach read”, and it absolutely feels comfortable in that type of space. Very much recommended.
This review of The Bookshop By The Bay by Pamela Kelly was originally written on January 1, 2023.
This week we’re looking at a remarkable book about healing and finding your way, even at your very lowest point. This week we’re looking at Beach Heart by Grace Greene.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
The Chair Comes Too! Yes, the title of this review is a reference to a minor yet great element of this particular tale, one that I can relate to a great deal. In this case, the chair in question is where our lead was sitting when she found out some momentous news, at a point where she was at her lowest. In my own case, my grandmother had a bench on her front porch for years that she or I would sit on while we talked as she smoked her cigarettes – and that very bench now sits in my house. For both of us, these furniture pieces come to serve as a reminder of both devastation and healing, of fond memories and the moments they were ripped away – but ultimately, of a strength neither of us knew at the time that we possessed. And yes, this book also serves as a great introduction to Greene’s style for those who have never read her books before as well as a familiar voice telling a new story with some wrinkles we don’t always see even from Greene herself. Truly an outstanding book, one great to read on a beach somewhere if you get a chance – or anywhere else if you don’t. Very much recommened.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book that is a solid introduction to this author’s ability to showcase her chosen settings so beautifully. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan.
Interestingly, NOT A Beach Read. For my own tastes, “beach reads” are light and breezy that don’t really have much (if any) drama. Maybe action, yes, but no dusty room kind of stuff. Which actually makes this tale *not* a beach read, as there is quite a bit of drama and a few dusty rooms to be had in this tale.
But don’t get me wrong, it really is a strong tale and beautifully set in a small beach town in California, and the story itself is excellently told. If you haven’t read this author before, this is actually a great tale to introduce yourself to her with, as it shows her ability to both pull heartstrings and capture the beauty and charm of wherever she chooses to place her tale. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Beach House Summer by Sarah Morgan”
Solid Tomboy Romance. And because it *is* a romance… yes, a wedding is mentioned late in the book, and because this is set in Australia it is a “spring” wedding… in October. Which feels weird to this reader who has never been South of the Equator – nor even within 1,000 miles of it. 😀 Otherwise a fun take on the tomboy / enemies to lovers idea where he is a corporate tycoon out to build mansions on the property that meant so much to her as a kid but which her mother recently sold off. This is something I personally identified with a bit, having grown up with a small 3 acre lake outside of Atlanta being owned by my grandfather’s family before my mother’s cousins sold it off in my early 20s after both my grandfather and his twin brother died. So seeing Gemma be able to fight to save any piece of “her spot” was pretty awesome for me. Overall a fun book and on the quick/ short side at right around 200 pages, this one is a solid introduction to Marsh’s romance books for those who are new to her while also being a satisfying one for long time fans. Very much recommended.
This review of Not The Romantic Kind by Nicola Marsh was originally written on January 14, 2022.
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! 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen”
Entertaining. This is a book that is somewhat deep in a series – Book 5 – and never once shies away from that fact. It has a wide range of established characters and storylines, but Keim does a remarkable job of making sure the reader understands the relevant histories, no matter if they’ve been a long time fan or if this is your entry point to this series or even this author – as it was both for me. Indeed, it is arguable that perhaps Keim does *too much* rehashing of prior stories- more in repeating a few sentences (with variation, not copy/ paste, at least not obviously) about whatever relevant fact such as how characters met or why another character is so problematic, etc.
And yet, despite and perhaps because of all of this, this book absolutely works as a continuation of its world and as a showcase for the author’s style and tone. Those that enjoy ensemble casts with a lot of characters and a lot going on will thoroughly enjoy this book, those who prefer fewer characters… probably won’t like it as much. But the storylines all interweave remarkably well, particularly with the narration being solely driven by one character’s perspective and the primary focus being that character and her business partner and friend – who enjoy catching up in stolen moments via the titular event.
Ultimately a strong book about friendship and defending the hurting, this tale is very much recommended.
This review of Margaritas At The Beach House Hotel by Judith Keim was originally written on June 8, 2021.
It’s Gotta Be You. I’ve read a lot of Dallen’s other work, but this was my first time with the characters of the Briarwood High series. Even as an entry point, it didn’t feel disconnected from the rest of the series yet it also didn’t feel weighed down by the series either – in other words, a solid entry point. Which is a good thing since it is also part of a summer collection from several authors teaming together to cross-market with each other – a newish tactic I’ve only really seen crop up this year, but which seems to be a good way to get introduced to a wide range of similar authors.
This particular book does have all the elements one comes to expect from Dallen’s YA/ high school based books, even at novella length. Great book, very much recommended.
This review of Beach Town Bad Boy by Maggie Dallen was originally published on May 22, 2019.