#BookReview: My Husband’s Lover by Jess Ryder

Solid Mystery/ Suspense. This is an interesting tale told mostly from the perspective of a wife whose husband had informed her (before the events of this book) that he had had an affair – and now she’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life. The other perspective we (sporadically) get is mysterious… until it outs itself in a rather shocking twist. Ryder here manages to convey the isolation of her environment well – isolation that this American didn’t realize was possible at all on that particular island across the pond. And she uses this isolation well to both increase the sense of danger and to convey the emotions swirling around her central characters. Truly a solid read within its genre, and very much recommended.

This review of My Husband’s Lover by Jess Ryder was originally written on October 13, 2022.

#BookReview: Wherever The Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms

Discover Yourself And Push Yourself Further Than You Ever Dared. This title of this review is pretty well exactly what happens in this tale of a forty something mother finally having enough and breaking away from the only life she has known as an adult. Along the way, we get the beautiful and sometimes charming waters and towns along the US Eastern Seaboard – and a *lot* of sailing terminology. The techno-babble didn’t bother me too much as a *long* time reader of military technothrillers (where Clancy infamously spent seemingly dozens of pages on the first *nanoseconds* of a nuclear detonation in The Sum Of All Fears, among numerous other examples), but perhaps it could be more of a problem for someone whose experience is more exclusively within the women’s fiction/ romance genres (where this book squarely resides). An excellent tale that almost begs for a sequel to more fully explore the new setting the characters find themselves in at the end. Very much recommended.

This review of Wherever The Wind Takes Us by Kelly Harms was originally written on October 1, 2022.

#BookReview: A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi

All Too Real Story Of Sisters And Family. Finishing this book early on my own brother’s birthday, when between the three brothers we actually have at least some similar events happening in our own lives as what the sisters go through here has been… interesting. Even for those without such a direct personal connection though, this is a strong tale of sisters, family, suppositions, realities, and learning to love and forgive even after years apart and deep misunderstandings. Yet again Nolfi does a tremendous job with the topics she chooses to write about, and while somewhat rare in some cases, everything she includes here is all too real for at least some people. This is a fictional story of real heartbreak and of real ways of finding oneself even at times when others think that you either have it all or have nothing at all, and Nolfi manages to explore these ideas with her usual skill. Yet again a great book for any readers who may be new to her, even if the ultimate topic is yet another publisher-directed fad. 🙂 (Seriously, without giving the topic at hand away, let’s just say that there have been at least a handful of books also from Amazon Publishing covering it in their own ways over the last couple of years in particular. :D) Still, read *this* one. Nolfi puts her own spin on it and really emphasizes the full family with all of its benefits and detriments, and she really pulls everything off quite well. And hey, guys… there’s even some minimal baseball in here. (Though Phillies, *really*, Christine? #GoBraves #ChopOn!) Very much recommended.

This review of A Brighter Flame by Christine Nolfi was originally written on September 20, 2022.

#BlogTour: Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan

For this blog tour we’re looking at Sarah Morgan’s seeming annual Christmas story, this time a Hallmarkie type tale set primarily in Scotland. For this blog tour we’re looking at Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan.

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

Hallmark Scottish Christmas. Let’s be real here, this book is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie set in Scotland. How you feel about the entire tale will likely be pretty close to how you feel about the sentence prior to this one in this review. There are three different romance tales at play here, between each of three siblings – Ross being the sacrificial lamb with a made up girlfriend to distract his parents from his sisters’ issues but who becomes all too real, Alice with an all too real fiancee, and Clemmie with plans of her own… who then has her own story from there. Along the way we also get to see the conflict between Ross and his dad, both of them successful businessmen who love to talk about anything *other* than business with each other. Ultimately, Morgan weaves her magic and makes all of this work quite well – if pretty much exactly within the Hallmarkie mold. Still, this is yet another solid hit for Morgan, and exactly how good of a hit really depends on exactly what the reader themselves feel about this type of story – Morgan’s bread and butter. I happened to think it worked quite well, and it is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan”

#BookReview: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck

They Say To ‘Write What You Know’… In this tale, Beck does an excellent job showing a middle aged mother struggling with empty nest syndrome (though this term is never really used in the book) and a new neighbor who is secretly a very feminist-forward progressive who also happens to be a struggling author in hiding. Beck is, herself, a middle aged mother whose children have left the nest and an established author who changed genres just a few years ago from romance to women’s fiction. As someone who has previously reviewed her books before and after that shift, she has proven herself to be an equally strong storyteller in either space. Here she manages to wrap different aspects of her own (publicly discussed) life into a compelling tale that also shows some other clear real-world correlations, with other recent books from Amazon Publishing – including at least The Magic Of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson and Other People’s Things by Kerry Anne King – also spinning their own tales around the common theme of ‘humanizing’ kleptomania. Beck weaves her own tale here and shows both common aspects (shame, fear of being misunderstood, etc) across the other books as well as her own distinct aspects (how it can impact a long term marriage, young adult children, etc) and again, shows her own skill as a storyteller in the process. As a long time reader of both Beck and Amazon Publishing in general, this was thus quite intriguing in many ways – though even someone who doesn’t have that experience will find a well written, compelling tale here. Truly an excellent work, and an solid representation of Beck’s style for any readers who may be new to her work. Very much recommended.

*Note: To be clear, I am not claiming that *every* aspect of these characters is inspired by the author’s real life. Only that the broadest outlines – middle aged mother whose kids have left home and an author who has direct insight into the “real world” of publishing – echo what Beck has herself publicly discussed being.

This review of Take It From Me by Jamie Beck was originally written on September 18, 2022.

#BlogTour: A Secret In The Family by Leah Mercer

For this blog tour we’re looking at a great bit of escapist fiction that starts quite slow but becomes quite explosive in the end. For this blog tour we’re looking at A Secret In The Family by Leah Mercer.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Slow Burn That Becomes Explosive. This is one of those books that starts out quite slow – we don’t even really get a hint of the overall mystery until around the 25 – 33% mark – but then builds out to become quite explosive indeed. And when you think you have it all figured out… well, you might have most of the general idea… but there are still some shocking particulars to come. Overall a decent book of this author’s style, it could potentially be argued that others of her books are stronger, but this one was still completely enjoyable and a great distracting read. A perfect escape for when it seems like political ads or debate are all you see or hear across the media spectrum. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: A Secret In The Family by Leah Mercer”

#BookReview: Our Stolen Child by Melissa Wiesner

Heartfelt And Intriguing Tale That You Still Want To Throw Out The Nearest Window. This is truly a heartfelt and intriguing tale that explores the ethics, legalities, and emotions of both sides of an issue that is close enough to being all-too-real as to be scary. In this era of IVF, frozen eggs/ embryos, surrogate parents, and similar and related concepts, the central premise here of a lab screw up resulting in one couples’ embryo being implanted into nd successfully borne by a complete stranger… is truly scarily plausible, at minimum. Wiesner does a truly phenomenal job throughout this tale of showing the very real questions and emotions of such an issue from nearly every (female) angle – emotional, legal, ethical, relational, etc. The male characters… are a bit more one dimensional and lacking. They work well enough for the purposes of this story, but they’re never given the thought or care that the female characters are.

And yet, that isn’t what actually makes you want to throw this book out the nearest window. *That* comes from just how desperate both of these women are to have kids, that they’ll put themselves and everyone around them through such trauma and drama. I understand the perils of the childless, to a point. But as someone who is happily child *free* (yes, there is a difference – the “less” are those such as the women here that can never let go of the desire to have children, the “free” are those who have chosen to not have kids or who have embraced and celebrate that they will never have kids)… I admit that I’ll never understand the childless crowd. There is so *much* to be said about being childfree and how satisfying and fulfilling the childfree life can be, and Wiesner’s tale here shows just how fraught and horrifying the childless life can be.

But that last paragraph was a bit of a digression. Seriously, Wiesner does a phenomenal job here with the tale she has chosen to tell, to the level that it is abundantly clear that she herself is somewhere in the less/ free space or is *close* to someone who is. Very much recommended.

This review of Our Stolen Child by Melissa Wiesner was originally written on September 9, 2022.

#BookReview: Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie

The More You Think You See, The Easier It Will Be To Fool You. For the first time since I began reading McKenzie’s books (with 2018’s The Good Liar) at minimum, here McKenzie uses her former profession as a lawyer to craft a women’s fiction tale that almost rivals the legends of legal fiction such as John Grisham. The prologue pulls you in, the alternating timelines build the mystery, and while the pacing gets slow between the prologue and say the 3/4 mark or so, it is always with a tinge of menace right around the corner. And then that final 10-15% or so, where the title of this review *really* kicks in. Almost until the last word, McKenzie begins flipping everything you think you know around so much it begins to look like a Rubik’s cube master’s speed run. Quite an interesting tale, and very much recommended.

This review of Please Join Us by Catherine McKenzie was originally written on August 22, 2022.

#BookReview: She’s Up To No Good by Sara Goodman Confino

You’re Gonna Miss This. When I think about this book and everything that happens in it, the thing that keeps coming to my mind is the old Trace Adkins song “You’re Gonna Miss This”. You’ve got all kinds of things going on here – a 3os-ish woman who has just been dumped by her husband for a younger woman and then spends the next six months isolated in her parents’ home, the feisty octogenarian grandmother with lifelong secrets of her own, and a charming small beach town where everyone knows everything and all will be revealed. While the song is all about children growing up too quickly, it is equally applicable to grandparents passing too quickly, and both themes are used superbly here. A very fun book with a lot of heart and a few gut punches, this book has pretty much everything anyone could want in a women’s fiction novel bordering on the romance. Very much recommended.

This review of She’s Up To No Good by Sara Goodman Confino was originally written on August 18, 2022.

#BlogTour: Home To Brambleberry Creek by Elizabeth Bromke

For this blog tour we’re looking at a book that is a more serious approach than its author’s normal tales and is also a series starter – though this isn’t always obvious in the tale. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Home To Brambleberry Creek by Elizabeth Bromke.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Serious (And Not Always Obvious) Series Starter. In this first book with a new publisher, Bromke does something she’d rarely done in my experience reading her books over the past year or so – approached 300 pages. Most of her other books I’d read hit between 150 and 200 or so pages, and here the extra length works to allow fair amount of extra drama and detail that Bromke normally manages to tell a strong tale while excluding. Yet she adds it in such a way that it is never obvious, and that is evidence of solid storytelling abilities. While the witty comedy that she normally brings is noticeably absent here, there are still some fun times to be had – but the overall tone of this particular tale is truly much more serious than previous efforts I’ve read from her. Still, in the end it does in fact become clear that there are at least two more tales to tell in this world, and this reader for one is looking forward to coming back to this world and seeing where Bromke takes us. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Home To Brambleberry Creek by Elizabeth Bromke”