#BlogTour: Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a strong summer/ beach tale that is marred by pervasive references to COVID. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Summer On The Island by Brenda Novak.

Strong Summer Beach Romance / Women’s Fiction Tale Marred By Referencing COVID. If one takes away the pervasive references to COVID, this is a strong summer island getaway beach romance/ women’s fiction tale of three women escaping to the far coast from where they currently live in order to get a break and maybe even heal or find themselves in the process. At it absolutely works in those elements, particularly as our central character unpacks her history and uncovers an astonishing family secret. Truly the only reason for the star deduction is because I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. PERIOD. And thus I’m waging a one man Crusade against any book that mentions it via an automatic star deduction. So if you feel as I do, know that this book does reference COVID quite a bit, but at least in this case it is more backstory/ explanatory than something the characters are actively living through within the text of this tale. Truly a strong, fun summer/ beach type read, great for those who have been stuck inside for two years and are just now beginning to venture out again. Though one final note: For those that want their books “clean” or “sweet”… this isn’t that. Hell, there are some XXX scenes here – as is typical in many romances. Closed door, this ain’t. So know that going in too. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: The Lying Club by Annie Ward

This week we’re looking at a book that has a slow start and a LOT of moving parts that ultimately all ties together into a satisfyingly suspenseful tale. This week we’re looking at The Lying Club by Annie Ward.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slow Start Yet Overall Satisfying. This is one of those books that starts a bit slow and has a LOT of moving parts and thus can be a touch difficult to keep track of at times, even for those of us who like this type of setup. One where there is little action and it seems a touch pointless at times… until the back parts of the book where the action truly finally picks up steam and gets fairly suspenseful. And yet, by the end all is tied up neatly – perhaps a bit too neatly, and the epilogue is perhaps unneeded as well. Ultimately a strong book that arguably tries to do a bit too much – but still largely succeeds in telling its tale its way. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social and buy links.
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#BookReview: The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Conventional Story Of Unconventional Therapist. If you enjoy slow burn-ish domestic thrillers where the front half builds the intrigue and the back half (and particularly the last 15% or so) ramp up the thriller/ action side… you’re going to love this book that is 100% within that mold. If that’s not your thing… this is still a solid story, but not everyone likes everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

The unconventional – and unlicensed because of it – therapist really stole the show for me. Mostly because of just how realistic (yet extreme) she is portrayed. Yes, she is invasive bordering on criminal, contract or not. But dadnabbit, she gets results as much as any Detective out there and for similar reasons. Which actually arguably gets to why I liked this so much – one can almost read this tale as a police procedural, with a profiler taking center stage in the tale. The side story with Big Pharma is all too realistic, and the web of lies turns out to be far larger than anything anyone – be it our therapist or the reader themselves- could have guessed.

But maybe I’m a bit of a sucker for unconventional yet conventional. You should read this for yourself and make up your own dang mind. *After* you *finish* the book. Very much recommended.

This review of The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen was originally written on March 11, 2022.

#BookReview: The Thimble Shoppe by Elizabeth Bromke

Generations Of Finding Oneself. In this semi-dual timeline book, we get a pair (well, more two and a half) of stories about finding yourself and refusing to settle. Through diary entries that mysteriously get texted to our female lead, we see how her grandmother struggled as a newly married wife and then later sporadically throughout her years. Meanwhile, said female lead is coming to some realizations herself… while our male lead is having a reckoning with his father and finding himself at the same time he finds himself reconnecting with our female lead. Truly a great interwoven family tale, one where the leads from Book 1 in the series – The Country Cottage – play fairly significant roles. So read that one first, but even then – both of these books are short enough that by the time you’ve read the two combined, you’ve read what is still a shortish more “normal” length novel. Thus, both are great for those times when you just need a quick escape or something that you can easily read say at a soccer game or waiting on a layover or some such. Very much recommended.

This review of The Thimble Shoppe by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on March 5, 2022.

#BlogTour: The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring

For this blog tour we’re looking at a moving portrait of a loving daughter trying to understand her tortured artist father… and a protective sister trying to prevent her artist brother from becoming too haunted by the war they are living through. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Girl With The Scarlet Ribbon by Suzanne Goldring.

Moving Portrait Of Tortured Artist And Loving Daughter. This is an interesting dual timeline historical, one in which a man is at the center of both timelines… and yet his own perspective is never once actually included in the narrative. And yet despite this, the book does *not* come across as misandristic at all, as the two perspectives we *do* get – the man’s older sister in WWII Florence and his daughter in 2019 – are both seeking to understand him in their own ways. Thus, this book actually becomes an interesting look at how the experience of war ultimately shapes lives in so many divergent ways. While little of the horrors are shown “on screen”, some are, including a few murders, torture with a cigarette, general abuse, and a rape attempt (that may or may not be successful). Also discussed is how the Jews of the area are rounded up, gang rapes (alluded to but not directly shown), and how a citizenry can live with themselves not stopping either. So truly a lot of horrific stuff – and even after the Allies “liberate” the city, at least a few pages are devoted to the continued deprivations. Truly a well rounded look at a difficult and trying period – and the modern story of a daughter trying to understand the messages her tortured father left behind are solid as well, without having quite the horrific impact of the WWII scenes. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details”, including book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BookReview: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Lots Of Moving Parts That All Work Well. This book is a 400 page version of the first time we see a Transformer transform in the first live action movie all those years ago – so *very* many moving parts, so many that it can get quite dizzying and hard to keep up with at times, but if you put in the effort… you get a pretty solid story out of it. Though yes, it does in fact get a bit preachy at times (never enough to truly ding it a star, but enough to roll the eyes at times) and yes, with a bit of editing this story could have been much stronger overall. Still, all the various issues Wilkerson brings to the table – various race based issues, LGBT, rape, workplace discrimination (of varying forms), the ease of adopting a new identity pre-mass surveillance, etc etc etc – ultimately work to create a rich, vibrant tapestry rather than crowd each other out too much. And for a journalist turned debut novelist… this is a pretty solid indication that maybe she has something here. Admittedly, I’ll be a bit leery that Wilkerson could indeed get too preachy in subsequent works… but I’m going to read the next one based on the strength of this one and find out then. Very much recommended.

This review of Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson was originally written on February 15, 2022.

#BlogTour: A Lullaby For Witches by Hester Fox

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a book I haven’t had a chance to read yet (see below), but which sounds very promising. For this blog tour, we’re looking at A Lullaby For Witches by Hester Fox.

Gothic. Witchy. Near Perfect Blend Of Historical And Modern. This is one of those witch tales that blends the modern and the historical particularly well – in this case, via a ghost witch. We see her travails in her own mortal time in the middle of the 19th century… and we also get a remarkable view of the life of a museum worker in 21st century New England as well. How these two blend – and why – is what makes this book so remarkable. Fans of Nick Winters’ Hollywood Scent will particularly love this, as both books share a particularly creepy finale mechanism (and indeed have similar *general* arcs blending historical and current). Overall a great creepy witch tale, perfect for cold gray days by a campfire. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: No More Words by Kerry Lonsdale

This week we’re looking at a remarkably strong series opener from a great storyteller who is breaking out of her shell. This week we’re looking at No More Words by Kerry Lonsdale.

As always, the Goodreads review:

Excellent Series Opener. This is one of those books that sucks you in so completely you don’t even remember it is a series opener… until certain plot threads are left dangling at the end. And yet those very threads are clearly worthy of at least one more book, and possibly a book each… which is clearly exactly the point. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lonsdale has always been a remarkably strong storyteller, and here she really begins to break away from everything that could have previously been seen as getting awfully close to “typecasting” – while still maintaining a strong and rare/ possibly unique voice of her own. A great story that hooks you in from chapter one and leaves you desperately begging for Book 2 at the end, this is one book you certainly won’t want to miss. Very much recommended.

#BlogTour: The Moon Over Kilmore Quay by Carmel Harrington

For this blog tour we’re looking at an intriguing emotional rollercoaster of utterly devastating secrets within a family. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Moon Over Kilmore Quay by Carmel Harrington.

Devastating Secrets. This is one book where two timelines intertwine to devastating effect. In one timeline, we get an epic romance between an Irish immigrant and a 2nd generation Irish American. In the other timeline, we get a woman who is both the daughter of a 2nd generation Irish American and an Irish immigrant who seems to have a mystical “13 Going On 30” / “Frequency” scenario going on where a childhood project is speaking to her and directing her to make amends for mistakes she has made in the intervening years. Both timelines work well independently, but when they come together… well, refer back to the title of this review. And then it gets even more devastating. Indeed, the ending and epilogue will likely have you in tears, even moreso than when the timelines converged. Overall a truly solid book and very much recommended.

After the jump, the publisher information – including book description, a bit about the author, how you can connect with the author, and where to buy the book.:)

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Featured New Release Of The Week: You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham

This week we’re looking at a remarkable and rare blending of the historical fiction and women’s fiction genres. This week we’re looking at You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham.

If you’ve read very many of my reviews on WWII historical fiction books at all, you know it is a subject that has long fascinated me due to my own personal family history there – both grandfathers were at the Battle of the Bulge, one got a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his actions there, the other was in the area (at minimum) when the Americans liberated the first concentration camps on their front of the war. And the dichotomy of what I knew of those two men decades later – one (concentration camp) whose lifespan my own intersected with by 5 weeks, the other who I knew for the last 20 years of his life – has become a long running, simmering thread in my own tale.

And without further ado… the Goodreads review. ๐Ÿ™‚

Long Buried Family Secrets Find Closure. Here, we get an interesting spin on this oft-travelled subject and technique. So many books of this genre want to take place primarily in the past with only the occasional jump to the future (ala Titanic), but here Graham sticks remarkably close to alternating every single chapter past and present. The past storyline is, perhaps, a touch more urgent, as it involves hiding a brother and trying to smuggle him out of France in 1941. But the present storyline has more of the “women’s fiction” elements of a woman trying to find herself after the tragic loss of her grandmother soon after the loss of her significant other and business partner… and stumbling across things about her grandmother that had never been known in the family, which leads to her quest and ultimately the resolution of both timelines. Both timelines worked quite well, and it is indeed rare to see a single book blend elements of the two distinct genres together so effectively – which speaks to just how good Graham is. Very much recommended.