#BookReview: A Time Travel Christmas by Karen McQuestion

Heart And Magic In A Short, Quick Read. This is a perfect Christmas story for anyone who has ever wanted to spend just “one more day” (as Diamond Rio once sang) with a lost loved one at Christmas. Through some scifi/ magical time travel, our lead here gets to do just that – going back to one pivotal night when her grandmother was just a young girl that would change her grandmother – and her entire family – for generations to come. As someone who has been very vocal about wondering about just such tragedies in his own grandparents’ lives, this was particularly moving. But even more generally, this is a great tale that somehow manages to mashup both The Family Man (one of my all time favorite Christmas movies) and Balto (a movie my youngest brother was *obsessed* with as a kid). While lighthearted overall, there is a very real, very visceral threat of imminent danger – and even death – hanging throughout the middle 80% ish of the tale, and this really drives how quick of a read this is – you won’t want to put it down for fear that on the next page someone might die. And yet, the Christmas magic – complete with family and snow (meaning Yankee Christmas, as it rarely snows at that time in the South ;)) and plenty of warmth and surprise – is also present throughout the tale. Very much recommended.

This review of A Time Travel Christmas by Karen McQuestion was originally written on December 2, 2022.

#BookReview: The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth

Interesting Tale Told In Unconventional Manner. I mean, come on, how often do you get a dual timeline tale with two women – both alive in the past, but one now dead and yet still telling her tale – where both women feature in both timelines? I’ve read a LOT of books over the past few years alone, and I can probably count on one hand – *maybe* both of them – the number of times I’ve come across a remotely similar dynamic. So read the book for that alone, as Hepworth makes it work quite well.

The rest of the tale, about both of these women’s love for their husbands and the lengths they will go through to save and protect both their husbands and their marriages, is interesting enough to be readable, but for some reason it just didn’t hit me as hard as Hepworth’s prior works. There was never a real sense of “I *must* know what happens next!”, though the ending was quite beautiful in and of itself, and yes, even if you’re struggling with the book, you need to read it to get the full beauty of what happens there. Overall, as noted, an interesting tale unconventionally told. Recommended.

This review of The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth was originally written on November 2, 2022.

#BookReview: Improbably Yours by Kerry Anne King

Get Lost In The Wonder. This is another Kerry Anne King book where she manages to take a delightfully flawed protagonist and spin a tale of wonder (and wander) around her. Set in the apparently lovely (if all the house buying shows I’ve watched on Discovery+ are to be believed, I’ve never been within 1,000 miles of the location) San Juan Islands of Washington State, this book shows off a small island town bound to its tourism cycle remarkably well. Along the way we get a touch of a pair of romances, some mysterious-yet-light happenings, a pair of tragedies, and a treasure hunt to end all treasure hunts. Truly a great tale of adventure and finding yourself in unexpected places. Very much recommended.

This review of Improbably Yours by Kerry Anne King was originally written on October 15, 2022.

#BlogTour: Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour, we’re looking at the second book in a series of Hallmark Christmas Romance-type tales that feels like it was only tangentially related to its first book, The Christmas Wedding Guest. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery.

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

Hallmarkie Christmas Tale. This was a solid Christmas tale with a pair of romances in small town Washington State that features a *lot* of meddling by a mother/ “adoptive” mother who wants grandkids. You’ve got the expected small town charm, the native-who-left-and-came-back part of the couple (for one of the two romances), the out-of-towner (for the other), the successful businessman, the “normal” guy with a major (yet amazing) secret… basically, everything any Hallmark Christmas Romance movie enthusiast expects to see in their stories. And Mallery, as usual, does a solid job of using her 400 ish pages to fully flesh out this story without ever feeling overly long in the process. Truly a solid story well told, and a worthy addition to this series and Mallery’s overall catalog. 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.
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#BookReview: Wherever The Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms

Discover Yourself And Push Yourself Further Than You Ever Dared. This title of this review is pretty well exactly what happens in this tale of a forty something mother finally having enough and breaking away from the only life she has known as an adult. Along the way, we get the beautiful and sometimes charming waters and towns along the US Eastern Seaboard – and a *lot* of sailing terminology. The techno-babble didn’t bother me too much as a *long* time reader of military technothrillers (where Clancy infamously spent seemingly dozens of pages on the first *nanoseconds* of a nuclear detonation in The Sum Of All Fears, among numerous other examples), but perhaps it could be more of a problem for someone whose experience is more exclusively within the women’s fiction/ romance genres (where this book squarely resides). An excellent tale that almost begs for a sequel to more fully explore the new setting the characters find themselves in at the end. Very much recommended.

This review of Wherever The Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms was originally written on October 1, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts

For this blog tour we’re looking at a somewhat innovative “shotgun road trip” approach to a somewhat standard-type Hallmark Christmas tale. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts.

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

Hallmarkie If Hallmark Did Road Trips. This is one of those almost 80s-cartoon feeling… “interesting”… blends of road trip tale and Hallmark Christmas tale. There are three separate road trips going on here – grandparents, parents, and siblings – all going their own routes and having their own adventures along the way to joining up with youngest sister and her husband and newborn for Christmas. There’s some hilarity, some heart strings being pulled, some solid road trip fun, some solid Christmas fun, a lot of small town charm – in multiple small towns, also in departure from pure Hallmark format – and a healthy dose of moralizing/ preaching about the joys of family and the sacrifices we sometimes make for them. (Which is where the “almost 80s-cartoon feeling” comes in.) Ultimately a solid blend of a few different popular formats, and the “shotgun” approach also works quite well and is fairly innovative. Ultimately this is a solid tale well told, and is 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: The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts”

#BlogTour: Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke

For this blog tour we’re looking at one of the better trilogy-ending books I’ve ever come across, as everything in this tale is geared at telling its own tale *within the context* of wrapping up the entire trilogy. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke.

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

All Will Be Revealed. In this conclusion to the Brambleberry Creek story, series-running questions are answered, series-running plans are executed, and everyone gets some form of their happy ending. Thus making this a perfect trilogy-ending book. Yet again on the shorter side at 273 pages, Bromke manages to pack quite a few laughs, a few tears, and even a touch of steam into a generally shorter tale – and, again, manages to wrap everything up while doing so. Truly an excellent series and an excellent endpoint to that series, with a solid send-off to boot. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Secrets At The House By The Creek by Elizabeth Bromke”

#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane

For this blog tour we’re looking at a tale where the author can *finally* combine “both halves” of who she is as a storyteller. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slight Departure From Lane’s Typical Approach, Same Great Storytelling. I think this may be the first dual timeline book I’ve encountered from Lane, who normally writes historical fiction – mostly WWII – under this name. Here, we get a WWII story… but it serves to fill in the holes of the current day mystery, which is the other timeline. This is potentially an excellent starter that does well to both set up a series *and* combine “both” sides of Lane’s storytelling – she also writes actual romance stories as her name without the “M” middle initial, and the romance/ women’s fiction element here is particularly strong in *both* timelines. Which arguably makes this Lane’s strongest book to date, as she is finally able to combine her components into one full “self”. Truly an outstanding work, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Italian Daughter by Soraya M Lane”

#BookReview: A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi

All Too Real Story Of Sisters And Family. Finishing this book early on my own brother’s birthday, when between the three brothers we actually have at least some similar events happening in our own lives as what the sisters go through here has been… interesting. Even for those without such a direct personal connection though, this is a strong tale of sisters, family, suppositions, realities, and learning to love and forgive even after years apart and deep misunderstandings. Yet again Nolfi does a tremendous job with the topics she chooses to write about, and while somewhat rare in some cases, everything she includes here is all too real for at least some people. This is a fictional story of real heartbreak and of real ways of finding oneself even at times when others think that you either have it all or have nothing at all, and Nolfi manages to explore these ideas with her usual skill. Yet again a great book for any readers who may be new to her, even if the ultimate topic is yet another publisher-directed fad. 🙂 (Seriously, without giving the topic at hand away, let’s just say that there have been at least a handful of books also from Amazon Publishing covering it in their own ways over the last couple of years in particular. :D) Still, read *this* one. Nolfi puts her own spin on it and really emphasizes the full family with all of its benefits and detriments, and she really pulls everything off quite well. And hey, guys… there’s even some minimal baseball in here. (Though Phillies, *really*, Christine? #GoBraves #ChopOn!) Very much recommended.

This review of A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi was originally written on September 20, 2022.

#BookReview: A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre

Almost Two Semi-Tightly Coupled Novellas. This book is a strange one in that it is almost two separate novellas that are somewhat tightly coupled (with the second one using the same characters and playing off the events in the first one), but which are otherwise fairly distinct in both style and tone. In the first half of this book, it is more of a domestic suspense where we get a countdown every so often of how long is left until someone dies. Then, suddenly, a random perspective we’ve yet encountered… and this person discovers a body. This is effectively the prologue of the second novella, and from here we get more of a crime thriller where the reader is trying to figure out who the killer actually is even as various people reveal themselves to be on one side of the law or another and the two sides eventually converge with interesting and explosive results. Overall, the complete tale works, almost in a Without Remorse (the original Clancy, not the bastardized movie form) manner where you need the first half to make any real sense of the second half. An interesting tale and told using some rare mechanics. Very much recommended.

This review of A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre was originally written on September 19, 2022.