#BookReview: Emerald Heart by Grace Greene

Sometimes Life Just Breaks You. If you find yourself in this place, this is the kind of book you *need* to read. It will hurt. You will cry. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a modicum of catharsis here too.

If you haven’t found yourself in this place – yet – read this too. Maybe get a better understanding of the “bitter old woman recluse” in your life. Because let’s face it – we *all* either have one of these or had one of these or very likely will have one of these in our lives at some point. And to be clear, it isn’t just women, as men could very easily be shown to be dealing with identical things as are shown in this book. But this particular tale happens to be a women’s fiction tale focused on a woman and her relationships, and thus the description above.

Told with Greene’s usual great care to characterization and description, you’re both going to feel like you’re there on Emerald Isle with these characters *and* you’re going to feel their issues as though there were your own. Because, again, Greene shows us that no matter where we are in life, at some point nearly all of us will see ourselves in at least one of these characters and what they are going through in theirs.

And there, there is where Greene truly shows Grace ( 😉 ) and hope.

Very much recommended.

This review of Emerald Heart by Grace Greene was originally written on December 4, 2023.

#BookReview: Friends Don’t Fall In Love by Erin Hahn

Country Music Romance For The Anti-Second Amendment Crowd. So let’s get it out of the way as quickly as Hahn does in the book: Seemingly literally on page 1 of this tale, Hahn brings in an anti-Second Amendment screed. Which could have been excused… except that then became a recurring and even somewhat central theme of the overall book. And not even in a way that felt particularly organic, if anything it actually felt quite derivative of the real-life Dixie Chicks anti-Iraq War controversy of a generation ago. So there’s the star deduction, right there. And from a tactical side of “As an author, I want to sell as many books as possible”… tacking into the *anti* Second Amendment side of *Country Music*? As a lifelong fan of Country in all its forms… eh, there may in fact be a sizeable enough niche there to sell a few books. I wouldn’t recommend trying to build a career as a romance author specifically within that niche. (Though it is certainly wider within the overall romance novel reader set, and perhaps *there*, it could in fact be more sustainable in today’s hyper-divisive world.)

As to the actual friends-to-lovers romance here… it works, and it certainly has enough spice and XXX elements that the clean/ sweet crowd probably won’t like this one as much. And enough F-bombs that those who abhor those won’t like it either. But overall, for the characters as portrayed and the situations they are placed into, it actually works rather well. Maybe not as good as the first book in this series – but that could be the lingering aftertaste of the hyper politicization and preachy politics still tinging my thinking of this book.

Ultimately, if you like spice and you like being in the room for sex scenes in your romance novels, you’re going to like this book – likely even if you don’t actually care much for Country Music itself and particularly if you find yourself to be more of a Dixie Chicks / Taylor Swift fan. If you happen to actually agree with its preachy politics, you’ll probably like it even more. For more Country Music traditionalists… eh, maybe less, maybe you want to build your trust in Hahn a bit by reading the first book in this series first before you come into this one.

And as more of a note to Hahn, herself a teacher who openly notes that she wrote the politics of this book this way due to her beliefs about the classroom… I myself am *also* a former teacher. One who actually had a high school senior lean across my desk and directly say “If you do [the thing I had just told him I was about to do, which was to write him up for blatantly sexually harassing a Junior in my classroom not 10 feet from where we were then standing], I *will* kill you.” Yes, I then wrote him up for the threat, and yes, he then spent a few days out of school. So yes, I’ve seen at least some of the same things you have. And I still disagree.


This review of Friends Don’t Fall In Love by Erin Hahn was originally written on October 19, 2023.

#BlogTour: The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Antony

For this blog tour we’re looking at a novel that has some truly novel storytelling mechanisms that work well to elevate the (good in its own right) overall story. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Anthony.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Novel Approach To Novel Writing. I *really* like what Anthony did here with the interludes throughout the book, including opening and closing. It becomes very clear (because one of the early ones is “signed’) quite early exactly who this person is, but the way Anthony writes them and where she chooses to place them are indeed quite novel in my experience, and thus this book is recommendable for this feature alone. Then there are the (Minnesota-specific) actual book recommendations spiced throughout the tale, in the form of newsletters the bookstore/ book club sent out periodically. And again: *Actual. Books.*. As in, you can search for them on your preferred site and buy them yourself! Which, again, is novel and recommendable for this feature alone.

Actual story-wise, we spend the first half of the book with many of our characters in shock and trying to prevent what they see as a travesty… and then a bombshell is dropped when the answers they’ve been begging for are finally provided. This bombshell twists the entire book to pivot in a new direction… and gives them all much more depth. Throughout both halves there is quite a bit of humor and heart, and there are a lot of different threads and themes going on here. (So those readers that prefer a more contained/ linear / singular focused tale… I still say give this one a try, but know going in it may not be your thing.) Ultimately the story itself is strong enough here, and the novel aspects of the writing truly take this book over the top in the best ways. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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