Solid Blend Of Several Elements. This book, despite its 230 ish page length, has quite a bit going on. You’ve got a women’s fiction type tale of a woman losing everything and having to discover anew just who she is and what she wants out of life. You’ve got the good looking adventurous dude with a shady history. You’ve got a fake relationship between the two… set up by the sister of the woman/ gay best friend of the guy. And you’ve got all of this set in bustling NYC, sandy Cocoa Beach, FL, and the wonders of the Caribbean on a beautiful cruise ship. And yes, the titular moonlight on Lido deck… can truly be life-changing (noted from near-personal experience – it is almost always magical, at minimum). Overall truly a solid tale that combines all of these elements and makes them enhance each other into a fun, and short-ish, story. Very much recommended.
This review of Moonlight On The Lido Deck by Violet Howe was originally written on March 12, 2023.
Solid Romance – On A Cruise. For those unfamiliar with Keim’s various romance series, this is a great – and short, at roughly 150 pages – introduction to her style of beach/ coastal romance. A solid entry in this genre, you have some mild drama both with the titular contest/ winning tickets and later with one character in particular, but the focus really is on the friends (both old and new) and the pair of romances (one primary, one secondary in that it gets slightly less attention). As with every book in this series I’ve read so far, Keim manages to pack quite a bit into the short length here, including a full cruise and a decent amount of story before and after the cruise. Overall truly a solid tale, and one that makes me glad I’ll be able to see the forts at Old San Juan myself in just a few days (as I am getting on my own cruise tomorrow as I write this!). Very much recommended.
This review of The Winning Tickets by Judith Keim was originally written on January 14, 2023.
Grief And Madness. One of the things I like about this particular book, and the way it parallels my own family’s life, is in showing how events during WWII can have generational impacts via creating madness – the older term for insanity, yet which feels like it applies more appropriately here – in some of the survivors of that war. Here, we see it even in two people who were far from soldiers, far from the front lines. They were simply mothers who had daughters at nearly the same time in the same city who happened to become friends… and then had that friendship tested in pretty horrific ways. But the varying types of madness we see here do a great job in showing how the war impacted different people differently, even people as connected as these two mothers were. Without giving too much away, we even see the horrors of the Holocaust a bit – and there again, we see survivors trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
All told this was one of those books where the gut punches land heavy – but early. The “big reveal” is, in fact, rather obvious *much* earlier than the explicit reveal, and yet the way this is done works within the story being told of the varying madnesses and how these survivors are trying to cope in any way they can. So while I can’t personally fault Harmel for this, I can see where other more stringent reviewers might. Even the near 400 page length works well here, never feeling bloated or too slow and instead simply packing in a *ton* of rich detail and events, many – even among the seemingly more insignificant in this tale – based on real world events and seemingly quite accurate. (The author’s note in the end reveals how one particular incident within the last few pages of the book is actually the author inserting her characters into that particular moment, but otherwise being pretty close to an actual nonfiction report on the incident in question.)
Overall a truly well done, beautifully layered tale of two beautifully broken women and the impacts their choices have across decades. Very much recommended.
This review of The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel was originally written on December 19, 2022.
Haunting Yet Preachy. This is a book in the vein of if i stay, though here we know up front that our narrator is dead – and she knows it. Still, when searching through my memories trying to find a comparison point, that is what comes up and I think the comparison works. This tale has a similar haunting effect, not from the haunting itself (though the narrator is, if anything, a benevolent ghost just trying to be helpful), but more from the style of the story being told. There is a lot of trauma here in terms of child molestation/ exploitation (though within the last few months pre-18th birthday, at least on screen). adultery, abuse, and safety generally. It is on this last point – safety generally – that this book veers too far into the “preachy” side, hammering the reader over the head several times with its own metaphorical version of the murder weapon used here, and this is the reason for the star deduction. Still, overall the tale is solid if a touch slow, but interesting enough to want to find out what is going on and to keep reading through the end. Very much recommended.
This review of Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz was originally written on October 24, 2022.
For this blog tour we’re looking at a comedic look at romance during the Jewish High Holy Days that presents some interesting ideas. For this blog tour we’re looking at Mr Perfect On Paper by Jean Meltzer.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Interesting Story Built Primarily Around Jewish Holidays With Epic Final Meeting. This was a genuinely interesting – if long (seriously, the same story could have been told with roughly half the length and worked just as well, maybe better) – story built around a Jewish tech magnate and a desperate ploy to use the Jewish High Holy Days (+ Hanukah) as a way for a daytime TV show to save its ratings and thus the jobs of its staff. The comedy hits well, particularly in the initial appearance of the tech magnate on the TV show and on the first few dates (that all end in some form of disaster). The romance plods along a bit (this is where the shorter length proposed above could dramatically help), but the slow build works to get to a truly epic final meeting between the lead couple. Overall a solid story and well told, and gets some different ideas out to boot without being overly preachy about them. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Mr Perfect On Paper by Jean Meltzer”
Sometimes People Are More Than What They Seem. This is another excellent entry in the O’Sullivan Sisters Saga, and now we’re at the halfway point in our overall world. I loved how both of our leads were fleshed out more than we had seen in previous books (as they had to be, since they had to carry this book), and I loved that they were shown to be much more than we originally were led to believe about them. If you’ve come this far with the sisters, you’re going to want to read this tale. If you haven’t been introduced to them yet, go back to book 1 and be glad you now have four books to read already. 🙂 Very much recommended.
This review of Snowed In With The Mountain Man by Sophia Quinn was originally written on July 1, 2022.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun and witty romantic comedy with heart – where the author seemingly read my review of her last book and corrected the issue in this one. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Here For The Drama by Kate Bromley.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
The One Where The Author Seemingly Read My Review Of Her Last Book. I’ve now had the pleasure of working both of Bromley’s books as blog tours, and this book shows her progression as a writer and storyteller – she is able to make a book that is just as fun and witty as her debut, but add in some serious angst and drama to boot, and in turn morph this romantic comedy into a blend of romantic comedy and women’s fiction. But the most interesting facet of this book, for this reader looking back at his review of her last one, is my commentary on an unnecessary feature in that first book’s epilogue… which gets mirrored (to a degree) in this book’s epilogue. It seems that at minimum, Bromley was aware that this issue existed, and actively chose to go a different (and refreshing) route in the epilogue here. Oh, and this is one of those romantic comedies where the dog dang near steals every scene he is in, if not the entire dang show. Truly a fun and witty tale with heart, and very much recommended.
Below the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Here For The Drama by Kate Bromley”
Nothing Technically Wrong, Yet SLOW. This is one of those books where there is nothing technically blatantly *wrong* about the storytelling… and yet the reader is left with the sense that this story could have been so much more engaging had it been told differently. To the level that while this book is around the 350 page mark, it almost reads as though it is a dense academic tome of twice its length – even though it very clearly is *not*. As other reviewers have noted, there are a LOT of characters to keep up with early, but that does in fact get easier probably by even the 25 – 33% mark, once we’ve visited each a couple of times and get a sense of where their individual arcs are. In the end, this is a solid slice of life family drama that touches on very real and very messy issues, but could have been better told in this format with several dozen fewer pages (to speed the pacing) or with this number of pages in a different format. Still, as noted, there is nothing technically wrong here and other readers may have a better time with this book. Recommended.
This review of It All Comes Down To This by Therese Anne Fowler was originally written on June 20, 2022.
Strong Cat And Mouse Tale Actually Harmed By Final Reveals. There is no escaping writing about my feelings about this book without up front stating that while the first of two final reveals was a decent twist – not great, given the story to that point, but serviceable enough – the second one in particular was just lackluster, lazy, and didn’t fit with the rest of the book at all. And for it to be the epilogue of the book only leaves the reader disappointed.
Which is sad, because the book before that point, and even during the course of the first reveal, is a nail biting cat and mouse game that had me invested from the very beginning. A man comes back to his hotel room in NYC from getting his family pizza… only to find barely a shred of evidence that they were ever there to begin with. From here we get a dual-timeline-ish tale where we see both husband and wife and the one’s efforts to find the other while the other tries desperately to hide from the one seeking them, and this part of the tale is deftly told showing Palmer’s usual skill at maintaining a solid level of tension throughout the tale. With a better ending, this tale could actually have been one of Palmer’s stronger ones. As it is, it is simply middling. Which is still a great tale from a great storyteller, simply not this particular storyteller at the top of his game. Still very much recommended.
This review of My Wife Is Missing by DJ Palmer was originally written on May 4, 2022.
For this blog tour we’re looking at the second book in a series that has an interesting take on the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse as cover for murder. For this blog tour we’re looking at Crimson Summer by Heather Graham.
Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:
Strong Police Procedural With Overarching Mythology. Read Book 1 First. Upfront, I’m disagreeing with most other reviews currently on Goodreads for this book. Yes, technically it *can* be read as a standalone, as there are more than enough spoilers from Book 1 to give you what you need to follow along here. But with this being an overarching mythology involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and who each horseman is and who is controlling them… this is absolutely a series that is best started with Book 1. And then, of course, you’ll want the next book and the next and the next, until you’ve finished the series – no matter how long Graham keeps it going. (Presumably no more than 6 or 7 books or so, with a potential Book 5 revealing the mastermind, Book 6 unveiling the mastermind’s true plot, and a final showdown in Book 7. Though all three of those last things could be done in a single epic tale.) Great for those who love at minimum nation-trotting creepy action tales that span the US. This reader in particular is a sucker for such tales, and is looking forward to seeing where this series goes from here. Very much recommended.
After the jump, the prologue of the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Crimson Summer by Heather Graham”