#BookReview: Caroline, Adrift by Kay Bratt

Another Strong Family Tale From Bratt. This is yet another tale where Bratt uses elements of her own life and where she is in life to craft a fiction tale that explores deep issues in a serious yet also light-ish manner. Here yet again she shows great love for her youngest daughter’s adopted home of Hawaii and shows that having family thousands of miles away can still result in close bonds – if efforts are made. But the main story is of a woman facing the all-too-real scenario faced by so many women nearing or above Senior Citizen Discount age: what happens when you lose your partner of decades? This is the main thrust of the story, and Bratt does a tremendous job of exploring this scenario, particularly as it also relates to having adult children with their own lives, through the course of this sub-150 page novella. Packing quite a bit here, it is often forgettable just how short this story is – while it reads quick due to its actual length, Bratt manages to have *so much happen* that it “feels” like it could have had an extra 50-100 pages. In other words, don’t let the short actual page count fool you – this is a complete tale, just one without the filler and perhaps extra drama of an actually longer tale. And for those familiar with Bratt’s real-life work rescuing dogs and particularly Yorkies… yes, a Yorkie also appears here. ๐Ÿ˜€ Ultimately a strong tale filled with great topical exploration… and more drama than ever happens on any of *my* cruises. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of Caroline, Adrift by Kay Bratt was originally written on January 2, 2023.

#BookReview: Retribution by Robert McCaw

Propulsive And Explosive. This is one of those books where every challenge only leads to a more difficult challenge – and the challenges don’t start easy for our hardened and capable yet flawed hero. As the stakes rise ever higher, attacking everyone Koa Kane loves, can he save… anyone? Even himself? Well, this is an action book seemingly in the middle of an already successful series. So he’s going to save people, that’s what heroes do in these types of books. But McCaw grounds these books in a fair amount of realism as well, and therefore… well, some may die. Or may not. You’ll have to read the tale to see what happens. ๐Ÿ˜€ But that ending, setting up an explosive confrontation with a foe Kane thought conclusively dealt with… yeeah… I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing where McCaw takes this series next. Very much recommended.

This review of Retribution by Robert McCaw was originally written on January 1, 2023.

#BookReview: Eden Quest by David Wood

Tropical Adventure Turns Mystical / Fantasy. This is one of the rare books from Wood (in this series, he does have a pen name that is more pure fantasy) that has any level of actual fantasy in it, and even here it is more of a mystical bent that *could* be read as more scifi – though it is certainly on that boundary, in a similar place as roughly half of Ted Dekker’s Circle Quadrilogy.

What starts out as a tropical vacation quickly turns into a race to find and obtain priceless artifacts which leads to the mystical/ fantasy payoff – meaning that prior to the fantasy section, this is a pretty standard Maddock Adventures book, with the usual elements – various people showing up from prior adventures, Bones showing up where he isn’t “supposed” to be, Bones wise cracking and cracking bones, Maddock outsmarting most everyone and being all chivalrous while doing so, etc. The things that long time fans know and love, but done in a way such that newer readers won’t be lost – but will be enticed to go back and read about these prior adventures with the various connections.

Overall a fun and quick – just under 200 page – read, and thus a good actual beach read. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of Eden Quest by David Wood was originally written on May 16, 2022.

#BookReview: Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw

Santa Blows The Case Open. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking (accurately) that Santa is never once mentioned in this police procedural/ mystery set in Hawaii and showing off many elements of its land and people not often seen by non-Islanders. But I swear the connection is there, at least for me – you see, there is one particular clue that blows at least part of this case wide open. It tells Koa, our hero, that all is not as it seems – and an *eerily* similar situation, wherein x happens (though not the exact particulars and certainly not in a murder investigation), is how I learned that Santa wasn’t real nearly 30 years ago. So that was cool for me personally, and shows that just that thing *can* actually lead to life changing real-world events. Overall truly an excellent book of its type, one that shows a great layering of plot and characterizations in order to show just how complex we all are – even when we look like we’re not. Very much recommended.

This review of Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw was originally written on January 7, 2022.

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.