#BlogTour: The Irish House by Ann O’Loughlin

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid tale of family taking care of each other. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Irish House by Ann O’Loughlin.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

A Grandmother’s Love. This is, ultimately, a tale of a grandmother’s loves – for her daughters, her granddaughters, and her home. O’Loughlin does an excellent job of making the grandmother feel like an active character, even though she is already dead in the very first scene, and indeed the grandmother winds up driving the narrative as much as anything else. Outside of the grandmother, this is a tale of one woman’s decisions as her life is thrown into chaos in more ways than one, and now she is tasked with repairing a house and her cousins… while also repairing what she can of her own life. It is a tale of learning and loving and the mistakes we make big and small and the love and understanding that gets us through them all. Written very conservatively without being preachy, this is one that the “sweet”/ “clean” crowd will like, and those that expect more cursing and/ or bedroom action in their women’s fiction/ romance blends may find a bit lacking. Overall a solid tale for what it was, this is absolutely one worthy of a few hours of your time. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BookReview: Big Trouble On Sullivan’s Island by Susan M. Boyer

If Jimmy Buffett’s Secrets Had Secrets. Seriously, if you take the classic line from The Avengers where Tony Stark says about Nick Fury, “his secrets have secrets”, and add an equal part Jimmy Buffett coastal/ tropical “WTF” kind of vibe… this book is a pretty solid idea of what you would get there. Set primarily in and around the general Charleston, SC area, we also get a jaunt into the Upcountry around Greenville as well for a scene or two (while completely ignoring the Midlands area of South Carolina, around Columbia and Aiken, where I once lived for a few years).

But the mysteries (yes, there are actually several – the “secrets have secrets” I was referring to above) are compelling, and our heroine is both remarkable and remarkably flawed, making for a greatly relatable story even as the more fantastical elements of it play out.

Overall the book truly works well, particularly as a series starter. We get a complete tale with no obvious lingering threads, but in a way that the reader *wants* to come back to this world and see what happens next. Very much recommended.

This review of Big Trouble On Sullivan’s Island by Susan M. Boyer was originally written on April 11, 2023.

#BookReview: Borrowed Time by Kay Bratt

Crystal Palaces Still Hide Much. Growing up, it seemed that one aunt in particular always had the perfect… well, everything, other than not having kids herself and having married a couple of times. She was the one that my brothers and I always dreaded coming over, because we knew we would have to clean the house to her (damn near white glove) level, and we *hated* that. (Meh, we were young Southern boys. ie, not exactly the cleanest neat freaks around. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Get to a point about the freaking book, Sexton…

I’ve noted in reviews of other books in this series that Bratt manages to detail small town rural northern Georgia (outside of the Atlanta Metro area) remarkably well, and here Bratt shows even more of both the features and the bugs of the region. Including the all-too-real scenario of the aunt who has it all… but doesn’t, as I’ve learned later in life. In real life as in this book, there are a lot of trials and travails that for various reasons the person chooses to hide, particularly from their siblings’ kids and even from their siblings themselves. Even the exact scenarios here… are all too common. (To be clear, even now I have no idea about the exact circumstances in my real-life aunt’s case.)

Fortunately (so far as I know), it never got quite as intense as the one scene from the trigger warning in the book. And while I’m no fan of trigger warnings… yes, even that nearly successful attempted suicide scene – it is stopped in the last seconds by an intervening action – deserves a mention in reviews at minimum, as it *is* something that could cause others issues. Seriously, that thing was *that* intense, some of the most tense moments Bratt has ever weaved into any of the dozen or two of her books that I’ve now read.

But that is still just one scene in an otherwise compelling book that continues the story of Deputy Taylor Gray’s family and community, this one with yet another heinous and yet all too real crime, though I do not remember seeing an author’s note to see if this one (like others in the series) was based on specific cases from the general region.

Start with book one, but go ahead and order the entire series if you haven’t yet. You’re going to want them all anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Very much recommended.

This review of Borrowed Time by Kay Bratt was originally written on April 11, 2023.

#BlogTour: The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a second book in a very loosley connected series that proves to be even more powerful than the first. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Cuban Daughter by Soraya Lane.

Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Second Verse More Powerful Than The First. This was the second book in this new trilogy where Lane combines both sides of her writing to phenomenal success. As Soraya M Lane, Lane generally writes compelling and seemingly realistic historical fiction. As Soraya Lane, Lane generally writes more contemporary romance, with all that said genre entails. With this series, Lane manages to execute on Digimon Frontier’s Susanoomon ultimate combined evolution and combine both sides of herself into one truly powerful writer. Both sides of this work just as well as any fan of either side of her writing would expect, and combine to breathtaking and heartbreaking result. Cuba comes alive in this tale in ways few American media really allow it to do, both in the historical side and in the contemporary side – which may be helped by the fact that Lane lives in New Zealand and this particular series is published by a British imprint? ๐Ÿ™‚ Truly an excellent book, and one loosely coupled enough from its predecessor (who is only briefly alluded to near the beginning of this tale) that anyone can pick up either book in either order and not really miss anything or be spoiled of any details from the other book. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media, and buy links.
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#BookReview: Lucy In The Sky by Kay Bratt

Diamonds Aren’t Always What They Seem. Once again, Bratt – in a bit of a departure from her “normal” books, at least the later ones before this series I am most familiar with – manages to craft a compelling tale of a broken family in small town rural Georgia (among other places) and make it seem all too real. In this particular case, we get two different yet linked stories here, as the titular Lucy deals with the fallout of her actions from her introduction in Book 1 of this series while big sis Taylor, the lead in Book 1, continues to unravel the deep family secret she uncovered in the first book. Yet again. Bratt is perhaps too comfortable with modern police tactics for some… but yet again, Bratt *does* manage to *also* highlight at least some of the problems with modern US policing and even brings in the real-world Innocence Project here and cites some of their real-world figures regarding the number of convictions they’ve helped overturn in the last 30+ years. In both plotlines, “reality” as each sister knows it begins unravelling more and more the deeper the sister looks, and each sister has to find out just how far down the particular rabbit hole they find themselves in they’re willing to go. And with the conclusion of this particular tale… you’re going to want Book 3 (In My Life, currently slated for release one month from now on March 14, 2023) pretty well immediately. Very much recommended.

This review of Lucy In The Sky by Kay Bratt was originally written on February 14, 2023.

#BookReview: The Revenge List by Hannah Mary McKinnon

If We Don’t Get A Sequel, We Riot! Or we at least start jokingly pestering McKinnon until she finally caves and gives us the sequel this story demands. And I in particular have a history with more than one author of eventually getting my way in these matters – through nothing more than constant begging. ๐Ÿ˜€ Read this book, and join my campaign!

Seriously though y’all, this book starts out a touch slow ish – Frankie is in anger management and meets a guy. But as things start to pick up, they *really* start to pick up. Then, it appears that McKinnon has shot her shot a touch early and we get into almost a Return of The King situation (where the ending begins to feel long and drawn out for no obvious reason)… except those last few pages. That is where you’re going to join my campaign to demand a sequel from McKinnon, and we will eventually win this battle and get our sequel.

One of McKinnon’s better books – which is saying quite a bit in and of itself, as McKinnon really is a masterful storyteller across all the books I’ve read from her – and I do believe the first I’ve ever demanded a sequel from. Yes, the story and particular its ending are that compelling. Very much recommended.

This review of The Revenge List by Hannah Mary McKinnon was originally written on January 13, 2023.

#BookReview: The Retreat by Nicola Marsh

More Dual-Timeline Suspense Than Hotel California. For whatever reason, I went into this book thinking it would be some level of Hotel California type story. Maybe the whole “bed and breakfast where people seem to wind up dead” thing? Just to clarify for anyone who may be getting that vibe as well… this is not that, not really. Instead it is more of a dual timeline suspense with secrets and connections both obvious and not. A lot of people are tossing around the word “gothic”, but I’m not quite sure I personally picked up on that. But maybe I’m just not as certain of what a “gothic” story is supposed to be? Regardless, this was truly a well written and well told story, one that is both compelling and creepy enough to keep the reader engaged without being so over the top as to compel the reader to throw the book out the nearest window (which is even rougher on Kindles than it is on paper books, just sayin’). As I’ve noted with at least a couple of other authors who normally do romance books (as Marsh is more known for) but who open themselves up to more suspense/ thriller/ etc… Marsh does a truly excellent job in both spaces, and seeing her expand her stories into these new (to her) spaces is quite interesting and a mark of a strong storyteller regardless of chosen genre. Very much recommended.

This review of The Retreat by Nicola Marsh was originally written on January 13, 2023.

#BlogTour: His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner

For this blog tour, we’re looking at one of the most realistic domestic mystery/ thrillers I’ve ever encountered. For this blog tour, we’re looking at His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

What Would You Do? Wiesner does a tremendous job here of making a realistic, grounded mystery from a tragic yet all too real setup. Everything else flows fairly naturally here, and all of the character motivations are again all too real. (Particularly as someone who has experienced some version of some of the things that would be a spoiler to reveal, even these sections are, sadly, all too common.) And yes, the ending, while not something everyone will *want* to happen… is again, very, very realistic given the story to that point. Ultimately this really is one of the most realistic domestic mystery/ suspense books I’ve ever encountered – and I don’t know if that is an indictment on the genre or a praise of Wiesner. ๐Ÿ˜€ Truly a great read, and very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and sales links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner”

#BookReview: No More Secrets by Kerry Lonsdale

Satisfying Conclusion. Let’s be clear up front: This is absolutely one of those trilogies where you need to read the books in order to both avoid spoilers and to understand all that is going on. So go read No More Words and No More Lies before you read this book – and then be glad you bought all three of them at once, because unlike certain apparently masochistic advance reader copy readers, you had the wisdom to wait until the entire trilogy was available to read this book. Because this entire trilogy is one where you’re going to want the next book *now*, and at least with this concluding chapter, all is revealed – finally – and everything comes to a satisfying conclusion for all characters. Not that I’m going to reveal what those conclusions were for anyone in this review, but Lonsdale does do a solid job of wrapping up the trilogy.

In this particular tale, we finally find out what has been motivating Lucas all along, where he ran off to and why, and yet again we also get a satisfying “solo adventure” before the siblings from the first two books intersect with the tale once again. Truly a compelling series, and truly a compelling “solo” tale here. Very well executed, with near perfect pacing throughout. With this latest trilogy complete, and with it a bit of a break from the types of tales Lonsdale was telling quite a bit before this, it will be interesting to see where Lonsdale goes from here – she has proven quite conclusively that she doesn’t need the “crutch” her previous stories were almost beginning to seem like they were leaning on, and now that she has the sky is truly the limit. This book, this trilogy, and this author are all very much recommended.

This review of No More Secrets by Kerry Lonsdale was originally written on January 3, 2023.

#BookReview: The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding

Innovative Use Of Multi-Perspective. This is one of those tales that repeats itself a decent amount – something like 50-60% or so of the text is the same events through two different perspectives, each providing their own wrinkles. It is within the back third that the overall tale really begins to take off, and is quite explosive in its own right. Quite a few twists and turns – some even bigger than the ones we’ve already experienced to this point – occur through this section, and indeed at times it feels like we may be going a much darker direction (of a couple of different variants) than we ultimately do. Indeed, the ending itself is quite reminiscent of a particular 90s era movie, but revealing which movie would likely be a significant spoiler, so I’ll just point the reader of the review in that direction and allow them to figure it out for themselves. Ultimately a fun book that raises some challenging points without ever being preachy about them. Very much recommended.

This review of The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding was originally written on December 23, 2022.