#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a more-realistic-than-Hallmark Christmas Romance. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Would It Be Christmas Without Family Drama? This book has a LOT going on, and yes, it does in fact more blend the women’s fiction and romance genres than play strictly by either one. (Though it *does* meet all of the “qualifications” for either even according to the strictest interpretations of the “rules” I am aware of, for those that care about such trivialities.) Your *basic* plot threads are these: married couple with problems working to reconcile, forced proximity romance, best friend issues between the two women in the aforementioned couples, long lost family/ traumatic secrets. Which in 350 ish pages is a LOT to work through, but Morgan does it well and never drags too much at any given point. The Lapland scenery is described beautifully (at least as I’ve seen the region on such shows as The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals on Netflix, this American has never been further North than New Hampshire), and the cold and isolation provide some amazing (and “traditionally” – for northerners) “Christmassy” vibes. This story is a bit more serious and complex than a usual Hallmark Christmas movie, and doesn’t rely as heavily on “Christmas Magic”, but instead serves as a more realistic take on a Christmas Romance – which is needed in the overly saturated market. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media links, and buy links.
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#BookReview: An Unexpected Distraction by Catherine Bybee

Organic Romance – In A Romance Book???? Let’s face it, so many times in a romance book, the romance feels at least somewhat contrived. “Oh, you’re *really* going to go completely against your established character for this person you just randomly met?” kind of stuff. This isn’t the case here. Instead, Bybee crafts one of the more genuinely organic romances I’ve ever seen in a romance book… while still having her lead female kick ass and take names later. Fans of the Richter books largely know what you’re getting into here, and while this *does* work as a standalone, there *are* a lot of established external characters and backstories that you’re going to want to know up front. Thus, while you don’t have to go *all* the way back to its actual origins a couple of series ago, I absolutely recommend at minimum starting with Richter #1 and working your way to this book. But if you do… you’re going to want to get here anyway. 🙂 Very much recommended.

This review of An Unexpected Distraction by Catherine Bybee was originally written on November 7, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

This week we’re looking at a book that is far more twisted than even the river it is set on. This week we’re looking at The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

More Twisted Than The London River It Takes Place On. This is one of those hyper-twisted books where for much of the tale, you think you’re getting one thing… only for it to flip, then flip again, then again and again and again. Told mostly in two eras, the days immediately after a particular person goes missing and the year prior to that event, this is a tale of intrigue and, let’s be quite honest, quite deplorable characters. Seriously, if you are the type that has to “like” the characters or at least one of them… well, there really isn’t much of that to go around here. These characters are all horrible in some way or another, though hey, perhaps that is life. Overall a compelling story with an ending you won’t believe. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: The Street Party by Claire Seeber

Balanced Yet Contrived. This is a story where you almost feel like it is more of a 4*, but there is nothing *really* there from a more objective standpoint that I try to rate on to justify the reduction. Yes, it could use better separation of its various narrators’ voices, rather than just the one word at the top of the chapter with their name. Yes, at times it feels that so many situations are thrown in just because the author was hoping some bookstagrammer would hashtag that situation and help market the book based on it. Yes, talking to cops without an attorney present is so GLARINGLY stupid and cringeworthy. *PARTICULARLY* for minorities. And yet, even with all of this, the story ultimately works. Not as a “thriller”, mind you, but more as a women’s fiction/ suspense character study. As a thriller… well, the book spends the first half setting up the titular Party, about 10-15% on the actual Party, and then the back part of the book dealing with the aftermath. It has the requisite secrets, lies, backstabbing, and comeuppance, and ultimately it really does tell a fairly balanced tale from a few different perspectives, but it just never quite feels as satisfying/ mind bending as many readers in this space typically look for. And yet, again, nothing truly “this is objectively wrong/ bad” here to really hang a star reduction on. Thus, 5* and recommended.

This review of The Street Party by Claire Seeber was originally written on April 29, 2021.

#BookReview: Razia by Abda Khan

I’m Still Unsettled About This Book. As I write this review, I finished reading this book just a few minutes ago before eating supper with my wife while watching How I Met Your Mother, as is our norm. And while the book is definetly worthy of the 5 stars I decided to give it, my mind hasn’t really set on a way to review it, hence this more stream-of-consciousness review. On the one hand, the ending was at least somewhat predictable in type if not in particulars, particularly after an event about 2/3 into the book, and the time jumps without any level of overt date reference were a bit jarring, but detectable within the context of the events described. But at the end of the day, this was a very detailed look at modern Pakistani life in particular, which is something I had never seen before – and that alone to me warranted the 5 stars, for the education it gave me while telling a solid story. I guess I’m torn more because of how the overall tale turned out, which I really can’t get into too much without going into spoiler territory. For so long the book was going in one direction and was a solid effort in that direction, and then the book abruptly shifts into a completely different direction and yet there too is reasonably solid, and the two different direction do indeed come together in the end. But read the book for yourself and decide for yourself. It is a truly worthy read.

This review of Razia by Abda Khan was originally published on July 8, 2019.

#BookReview: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

Excellently Executed. This is a romance tale where the entire premise is that our central couple keeps *just* missing each other, and it *really* works. The cuts between perspectives in different scenes are amazing, showing the couple at various points literally in the same place at the same time… and completely missing each other. It *is* a romance though and *does* have a happily ever after, but Williams does an amazing job of holding that off until almost literally the last second. Funny where it needs to be, serious where it needs to be, and overall a fun romantic comedy. Very much recommended.

This review of Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams was originally published on June 12, 2019.