For this blog tour, we’re looking at another Hallmarkie type Christmas tale done exactly as fans of such tales expect. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan.
Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Goodreads, Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype):
Solid Sarah Morgan Christmas Tale. For long time fans of Morgan or those who have never heard of her, know that this particular tale is *exactly* the type of tale she always tells for Christmas, at least in my few years’ experience reading her books. In this particular case, it is long time friends – each with their own secrets they’ve been hiding from the others – reuniting for Christmas at a small town bed and breakfast… that happens to have some needs of its own that these three friends just so happen to be particularly well suited to help with. You’ve got the Hallmarkie charm and at least one romance thread, you’ve got the female friends bonding even more, you’ve got the small Northeastern town at Christmas, complete with all the decorations and snow. You’ve got the slight flair for the dramatic, just to spice things up a bit. And overall you’ve got the great “cozy-read-by-the-fireplace-in-the-evening” feel that Morgan so often brings to the table so well. Again, nothing truly earth shattering here… but sometimes “not earth shattering” is exactly the kind of book you’re looking for. 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 Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan”
Hunter and Hunted – But Who Is Who? This is one of those books that seems like it wants to take on Big Ideas, but in its brevity… eh, those Big Ideas are more sacrificed to telling a more compelling and less potentially divisive story, while still hitting some of the high points of the Big Ideas. Ultimately, this is a book whose main characters are very finely drawn and nuanced… and whose lesser players are almost cardboard caricatures. Still, Heard here uses the main characters, their varying histories, and the island setting (through at least half the book) quite well indeed to craft a suspenseful tale that will keep you on the edge of your beach or pool lounger just enough to keep your feet in the water… without giving you a heart attack before you can finish the book and dive in. A couple of bits in particular are more mind-bending than others, though those are quickly moved on from and the more cat and mouse nature of the book again reasserts itself. Overall a solid, mildly pulse pounding book that will be quite enjoyable as a vacation read and one that should be able to be devoured almost no matter how little reading time one may have on a summer break or vacation. Very much recommended.
This review of You Can Trust Me by Wendy Heard was originally written on May 26, 2023.
More Mystery Than Romance. This is apparently Novak’s 75 book, and while I’ve only read a handful of those prior books – mostly a few of her most recent ones – this seems to be a bit of a departure from her usual style. At least in my own experience with her, she tends to write more women’s fiction/ romance blends… and this is pretty far from that. This is more of a Catherine McKenzie / Kimberly Belle / Leah Mercer style mystery that also includes a romance than the more usual Novak style, though still set in an idyllic small town island. It is specifically because the title and cover don’t really match the overall tone and substance of the tale told here that it lost a star for me, and admittedly this is something that can easily be corrected in the nearly five months between when I write this review and the book’s actual publication date.
For what it actually is, this story is pretty solid and well told – if you like your mysteries to also include a romance, you’re going to love this book. If you enjoy a tale that meets all known RWA criteria for being a “romance book” but the story is more about the mystery than the romance, you’re going to enjoy this book. But if you’re looking for more of a “classic Novak” women’s fiction/ drama on an island… eh, read this book and see what you think. I personally think it is a bit darker than her usual and thus is a fairly significant departure, but again, I’ve only read her last few books. For all I know this is where she built her fan base and is *returning* to this rather than this being an entirely new thing for her. Again, what she does do here, she does in fact do quite well indeed, so there is that at least.
Overall this was an excellent tale that was told well – it just doesn’t match its title (which has only the most tangential of connections to the tale) or cover imagery. Very much recommended.
This review of The Seaside Library by Brenda Novak was originally written on December 18, 2022.
For this blog tour we’re looking at an excellent thriller that takes its early cues from the best disaster movies. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Ex Between Us by Nicola Marsh.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Disaster Movie That Spins On Its Head To Leave You Breathless. This tale starts like a disaster movie – people living their normal, complicated lives. Slowly the tension builds, with small weird or disturbing events that seem off but not particularly dangerous. Marsh eventually elevates the danger, and this is when the more suspense/ thriller part kicks in. In the end, the reader is left breathless and yet still questioning of certain things… which this particular reader always enjoys. An excellent tale excellently crafted and told. Very much recommended.
After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Ex Between Us by Nicola Marsh”
Epic Angst Filled Romance. This is one of those more divisive romances where you’re either going to see it as truly epic and one of the best ever for just everything that the couple has to overcome… or you’re going to hate it because most of the issues could have been resolved in about two seconds if one or both halves of the couple had simply let go of their pride for a few minutes and had an open and vulnerable conversation with their partner. Obviously, I learn more towards the former than the latter. I also really appreciated the flashbacks to “then”, when the couple first began dating through when they first got engaged. This is where the real romance of the story was, particularly as they were both being so stubborn and angsty in the current timeline, and it worked quite well with most chapters ending in this time period before coming back to the current timeline to start the next chapter. Even the ending grand gesture was excellent and called back to a part of both then and current, with a dose of solving a major issue between the couple thrown in. Overall an excellent book and very much recommended.
This review of A Lot Like Forever by Jennifer Snow was originally written on August 6, 2022.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun, quick thriller that shows the range of the author without going into her horror alter-ego territory. For this blog tour, we’re looking at 214 Palmer Street by Karen McQuestion.
Fun, Quick Thriller That Could Have Used Better Editing. This was a book that starts slow – nowhere near as slow as The Great Gatsby, but definitely on that end of the speed spectrum. But like Gatsby, the writing and pacing eventually get much stronger and towards the back of this already shortish (280 ish page) book, the pace very much picks up into a quick sprint to the finish, followed by perhaps too much epilogue after the climax – but any runner will tell you that cool down is important, and such an extended epilogue does that well and likely reduces any book hangover here. Indeed, the only real complaint I have here is that particularly early, the transitions between character perspectives could use a LOT more clarity – one of the things that helps the back parts of the book is that these become more clear by that point, and it is much easier to see who we are following along with at any given moment in these later sections. Still, not enough of a problem for me to drop a star, though I could see others doing so and it is at minimum worthy of mentioning. Overall still a good book that provides a nice brief escape from reality, perfect for those times when you need something to occupy 3-4 hours or so. Such as maybe when a kid or spouse is at some sports practice or some such? Very much recommended.
Below the jump, the media pack including book description, author bio, and a buy link 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: 214 Palmer Street by Karen McQuestion”
This week we’re looking at a sequel of sorts that takes its original’s much more imminent question of actual physical survival and turns it around to ask questions of survival after less life threatening, but similarly life shattering, trauma. This week we’re looking at Moment In Time by Suzanne Redfearn.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
Interesting Sequel Of Sorts. This book takes as two of its primary characters some of the characters from her 2020 hit In An Instant – and pretty majorly spoils that book almost from the get-go. For those who don’t mind such spoilers (particularly such major ones), this one *can* be read first. But based on reading other GR reviews where the reader hadn’t read In An Instant first… I’d say go back and read that one first. There are also two other key characters introduced later in the story from Redfearn’s 2021 book Hadley and Grace, though their characters are developed enough here and without any truly overt ties (that I remember, hundreds of books later) to that one that it isn’t *as* essential to read it first to understand them. Overall I do think In An Instant hits harder, but I think this one shows a more “everyday” survival that far more people face than the truly life threatening scenario in In An Instant. Both books do great jobs of showing how even seemingly minor choices can have major impacts on how major events play out, and indeed this one seemed all too realistic. Furthermore, Redfearn does a tremendous job of showing the aftereffects of rape on both the victim and those around her – *without* showing the rape itself on screen (which, let’s face it, is difficult at best to read even for those who *haven’t* been through that trauma). Overall a solid and compelling book, and very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a book that is a solid cross between Mark Twain and the 2014 comedy The Other Woman that also does a great job of showing a wide swath of Southern US culture. This week we’re looking at Deconstructed by Liz Talley.
More Amusing Than Timing A Centipede Across The Kitchen. Yes, the title here is actually a play on a line from the book. So sit down, grab some popcorn (Michael Jackson meme style), and get ready for a funny yet poignant cross between Mark Twain (as another Goodreads reviewer noted, which I found appropriate) and the 2014 movie The Other Woman (the one with Cameron Diaz, Leslie Bibb, and Kate Upton’s boobs). This book has a solid look at “well, maybe the grass *aint* so greener on the other side” as we see two women from different sides of the tracks – one an ex-con, the other a respected banker’s wife who owns her own antique shop – realize that they actually have quite a bit in common and quite a lot to offer each other as they develop a solid friendship. And this is a world that feels like this particular book does a good job setting up… and which could be fun to come back to in a loosely coupled series that maybe looks at some of the other characters introduced here while having many of the primary characters “drop by” in those future stories. Who knows, I’ve suggested similar in reviews before and the author later ran with it, so maybe Talley will too. 😀 Overall truly a fun book, and a solidly relatable dose of humor set in the Southern US, but relatable to most anyone. Very much recommended.
Awesome Yet Also Problematic. This story is Beck’s usual excellence as far as storytelling itself goes. Beck sucks you in with the aftermath of almost a Hangover (movie) type night (though to be clear, not *that* wild) where three women – two sisters and their friend – have made life-changing decisions… and now have to handle the repercussions. We open the story the morning after, and only ever get the high level details of what happened that night – the story is about life *after*. And for two of the three women, Beck does *amazing* work showing that even in screw-ups, good things can happen. The other lady’s story is the more problematic one, and it comes from Beck’s own unfamiliarity with the growing subculture of the childfree. Seeming without meaning to, Beck confronts this particular issue as much of society at large does… and unwittingly causes many eyes to roll. Having been a part of this community for several years (I’m a 38yo DINK – Dual Income No Kids and happily childfree), know that if you’re a part of this community and in particular a woman in it, this storyline is going to make you want to throw this book off the nearest dam or into the nearest bonfire. But don’t, because the other two subplots are truly excellent, and even this one is dealt with *some* degree of realism. Overall an excellent book, and let’s face it – even with its growing popularity, the life of the childfree isn’t exactly dominant yet. Meaning most readers will enjoy all three subplots very much. Very much recommended.
This review of The Happy Accidents by Jamie Beck was originally written on August 16, 2021.
Fun Middle Ground, This Time With Interesting Meta-Commentary. When I wrote my review for the first book in this series last October, I mentioned that it was a “light-ish, women’s fiction level mystery”, and that holds true here as well. Maybe a touch more suspensful/ action oriented than a typical women’s fiction book, though nowhere near enough to come into the actual suspense/ thriller genres. And funny (and at times outright hilarious), yet ultimately too serious to be a true comedy. Which ultimately makes this series a *great* “middle ground” of sorts between Snow’s bubblegum/ Hallmarkie romances and her dark-as-3AM JM Winchester persona. All of which speaks to just how talented a storyteller she is. And yet here we get enough meta-commentary about the publishing world and authors’ lives that one begins to question things. 😀 Truly a great tale here, again excellently told, and I for one can’t wait to see what these housewives manage to get wrapped up in next. Very much recommended.
This review of Housewife Chronicles 2 by Jennifer Snow was originally written on July 27, 2021.