Solid Setup But With Slight Torture Of English Language. This is a tale that manages to tell its own complete tale… and yet also manages to setup a new trilogy for the Saunders twins that is perhaps at least as compelling as their debut trilogy had been. Once again, these twins writing together focus on twin primary characters, and once again having that real world dynamic really helps with the in-world dynamic. Reading the author note about their extreme aversion to twin studies as teens and seeing what they put the twins through here was particularly relevatory, but the social commentary on homeless camps here was also thought provoking and compelling, without coming across as overly preachy in real-world terms. The *one* irritating thing about this read was the presence of the trans character and the torture of using the singular “they” repeatedly – showing in novel form why a completely different and new pronoun really is needed there (perhaps “ze” instead, as some promote?). Note that the trans character itself wasn’t the problem, the singular “they” was, particularly as often as was used here – to the level of almost reading more as a sudden dose of dialect rather than the usual tone of the writing. Overall another great book from the Saunders Twins, and I for one am looking forward to the next entry in the trilogy. Very much recommended.
This review of Exiles by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders was originally written on August 28, 2022.
When Dreams Turn To Nightmares, Create Your Own Reality. This was another solid entry into the Wild River series, one that can be read as standalone if you don’t mind knowing that other couples from previous romance books wound up together. While the focus is on our primary couple here and their struggles both personally and as a couple, most of the rest of couples from previous books make appearances, with some of them playing key support roles. Overall an excellent depiction of this side of Snow’s writing, this one is great for the Hallmarkie type crowd that needs at least some elements of drama without going *too* deep, but which also likes several laughs along the way. Another fun book that manages to showcase Alaska – but also Seattle and Los Angeles. Very much recommended.
This review of Alaska Dreams by Jennifer Snow was originally written on January 27, 2022.
This week we’re looking at a great novel of finding oneself even later in life that takes us from gut-busting laughter to massive tears, and everywhere in between. This week we’re looking at The Secret Of Snow by Viola Shipman.
The Ghosts Of Christmases Past. This is a story of how running away from your pain can be just as painful – even when buried – as staying and working through it. Here, we actually get to see a bit of both, along with a fair degree of real-world, perfectly-within-story-yet-real, commentary. Unlike the last book from Shipman I reviewed, where one character was seemingly designed as little more than a strawman pin cushion for the author to lob everything she (he) hated about that type of person into the book, the characters here all felt much more authentic and true to the situations they found themselves in. Even Sonny’s precipitous meltdown near the front of the book is wild, yet “realistic” – many of us would at minimum *consider* doing exactly what she did, and if we found ourselves in the exact situation she was at that moment… yeah, totally realistic. 😀 But just as realistic is the pain and the ghosts that Sonny has been running from for 30 years, and when she is forced to go home and ultimately confront the pain… also, so very realistic. Spoken as someone just slightly younger than Sonny (nearly 40) who very nearly lived her scenario. (In my own case, there was an accident where I was driving and both of my brothers were in the car, yards from my house – our mom heard the impact. Fortunately we all survived with little lasting damage, but because of that I could that much more easily empathize with Sonny – I could well see my life turning out very differently had that particular day become much, much darker.) While this is more drama than comedy, with a dash of romance thrown in (YMMV on that one, but I thought it was subtle enough that it added more than it detracted), there is certainly enough comedy here to keep the drama from being overwhelming, while allowing the parts that *need* to hit harder to do so. Truly an excellent book, and very much recommended.
Sometimes You Find Yourself By Accident. Let’s be perfectly upfront: I don’t have one qualm whatsoever in telling you right here, right now that by the end of this book, the couple is together and everything is awesome. *THIS IS A ROMANCE BOOK*, and therefore this is a given. 😀
With that out of the way, this was actually a fun and fast one, reading seemingly much faster than its near 300 page length would generally suggest. It is fairly low angst, as much as that can be said of a romance featuring someone running from their life and another person trying to recover from his. It is utterly steeped in small town Southern charm, even if rooted in Texas (where they somehow think they are different from other Southern towns – you’re not, and football is as much a god anywhere in the rural South as it is in Texas 😉 ). And it has all of the requisite fish-out-of-water / good ol’ boy hijinx. The one thing it doesn’t have, which some romance fans will hate and others love, is that there is little more than kissing in this book, even as the couple is shown in bed overnight together. So for those “sweet” / “clean” romance types, this one is for you. If you *have* to have sex in your romance books… just know up front this one isn’t that. It was a great read regardless of that point, and a solid way to pass a couple of hours on a long summer day. Very much recommended.
This review of Second Chance Summer by Poppy St James was originally written on June 22, 2021.