Solid Tale Of Parent/ Child Issues Later In Life. This is one of those tales I’m starting to see more of, and we admittedly probably need more of in general – that of older people (in this case, the mom is near 80 and the daughter near 50) and their own struggles and issues. Here, Bromke plays it with both humor and heart, and in the end pulls out a tale most anyone of any age can relate to at some level. Yes, there is some romance here and it does in fact technically meet every RWA rule I am aware of, but this one is more about both of these women finding themselves again and finding each other again in the process, after decades of things left unsaid. The Alaskan Cruise elements are great, including a couple of scenes that will get the blood pumping in different ways. Overall a truly solid tale that works quite well. Very much recommended.
This review of The Last Port Of Call by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on March 19, 2023.
When Art Imitates Life. This deep in this particular series, you really need to read the first two books in the series – which are both excellent, btw – in order to fully understand all that is going on here… and to avoid major spoilers from each of those two books. Once you’ve read those books, you’re going to want this one on hand anyway, as it picks up shortly after the events of Book 2. Once again, the crime being investigated is one Bratt had heard a similar tale of in her real life, and once again (as is so often in Bratt’s writing), those who have paid attention to her for in some cases not long at all will notice other details of her life making their way onto the page. In a glancing reference here, we get a reference to a child currently living on Maui, as Bratt’s own youngest daughter currently does. But much more interestingly, there is a minor plot point here – that helps build into something that could become much larger – that those familiar with Bratt’s postings on social media from just a few months ago will be all too familiar with. To be clear, while the character here pursues the more criminal method that Bratt was *tempted* to do in real life, in real life Bratt did in fact pursue numerous *legal* methods of achieving the same result. Her socials are worth perusing for that story alone, for those that also come to enjoy her fictional work. 🙂 Overall another solid tale that expands the world while also keeping the “freak of the week” episodic nature of the series intact. Very much recommended.
This review of In My Life by Kay Bratt was originally written on March 13, 2023.
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 Women’s Fiction, Too Reliant On COVID, Unnecessary Element In Epilogue. This is the penultimate entry in the Sail Away “series” where several authors have come together to craft their own unique stories all centered around cruising, with each taking a different bent to it. The cruise Sands uses here is more of a luxury yacht / WindStar type ship sailing the Mediterranean, and the cruising elements here are absolutely breathtaking – particularly for anyone who is even remotely familiar (even from other pop culture sources/ YouTube) with the waters and coasts of the region, from Spain to France to Italy.
Something like a solid 70% of this tale is more women’s fiction based, with a woman trying to rediscover her passion after years of COVID burnout, and through this section, it absolutely works as a women’s fiction tale. The star deduction is because it *is* so heavily focused on COVID and related topics, and any such talk for me is an automatic star deduction because I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID. (This noted, it *is* in the description that this will be discussed to some extent or another, but in my defense here… I pre-ordered this entire series months before publication, just on the strength of the authors and my love of cruising generally.)
The romance here, such as it is, feels a bit tacked on and rushed, even in a shorter sub-200 page novel/ longer novella. It works within the story being told to that point, just don’t expect the entire tale here to be the romance. 🙂 Note that no other element of this tale feels so rushed as this particular element.
And the epilogue. It works. It is what one would expect from a women’s fiction/ romance. But why oh why does seemingly every romance author out there (not *all* of them, but *many*) feel the need to tack in a baby/ pregnancy in these epilogues? Completely unnecessary, and leaves a bitter aftertaste to the tale for those who are childfree (such as myself) or childless (others I know). Yes, there is a difference between the two – childfree largely are happy not having children, childless want them and don’t have them. (A touch of a simplification, but one that works for purposes of *brief* explanation.) Something to look at for authors who may not be aware that these particular groups exist – and thus the inclusion of the pregnancy here in the epilogue wasn’t star-deduction worthy so much as discussion-within-the-review worthy.
Still, overall this book really was quite good, and a solid entry into a fun series. Very much recommended.
This review of Lost At Sea by Patricia Sands was originally written on February 24, 2023.
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.
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. 😀 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”
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.
Another Strong Family Tale From Bratt. This is yet another tale where Bratt uses elements of her own life and where she is in life to craft a fiction tale that explores deep issues in a serious yet also light-ish manner. Here yet again she shows great love for her youngest daughter’s adopted home of Hawaii and shows that having family thousands of miles away can still result in close bonds – if efforts are made. But the main story is of a woman facing the all-too-real scenario faced by so many women nearing or above Senior Citizen Discount age: what happens when you lose your partner of decades? This is the main thrust of the story, and Bratt does a tremendous job of exploring this scenario, particularly as it also relates to having adult children with their own lives, through the course of this sub-150 page novella. Packing quite a bit here, it is often forgettable just how short this story is – while it reads quick due to its actual length, Bratt manages to have *so much happen* that it “feels” like it could have had an extra 50-100 pages. In other words, don’t let the short actual page count fool you – this is a complete tale, just one without the filler and perhaps extra drama of an actually longer tale. And for those familiar with Bratt’s real-life work rescuing dogs and particularly Yorkies… yes, a Yorkie also appears here. 😀 Ultimately a strong tale filled with great topical exploration… and more drama than ever happens on any of *my* cruises. 😀 Very much recommended.
This review of Caroline, Adrift by Kay Bratt was originally written on January 2, 2023.
To Mothers And Daughters And Best Friends Forever! Yes, the title is a line from near the end of the book. But I thought it summed up the book quite well – this is ultimately a story of girl power, of friends and family and the family you choose. It is a lighter-side Hallmarkie type tale where there is some amount of drama, but most of the tale is women finding their paths at various ages and stages of life. Yes, there is some romance here (though with no sex scenes, for the clean/ sweet crowd), but really the focus really is squarely on the various women at hand. While the men are never *quite* caricatures, there is certainly a fair amount lacking in their characterizations and indeed even ultimate importance to the story, but that is perhaps to be expected with the type of tale crafted here. Foodies – and those aware that Kelley has written at least two fiction tales specifically about a restaurant – will love the descriptions of the meals and drinks here. This is clearly designed, from its storytelling to its cover to even its early June release date, to be designated a “beach read”, and it absolutely feels comfortable in that type of space. Very much recommended.
This review of The Bookshop By The Bay by Pamela Kelly was originally written on January 1, 2023.
Perfect Example Of A ‘Maddie Dawson Book’. This book really is a perfect exemplar of Maddie Dawson’s tales and style of storytelling. You’ve got a perfectly imperfect character, this time pushing Senior Discount age. You’ve got the dose of magic. You’ve got the hilarious and zany “wtf” moments. You’ve got the various family and friend and business dynamics that are all wholesome yet with their own dramas. In a real world so full of so much death and strife and destruction and turmoil, Dawson’s books are always a great escape and a solid respite from all of that, and this one is no exception to this rule. That it is timed to release at the New Year is perfect with its particular themes and actions. Overall truly an excellent departure from so much of both reality and even many books, and very much recommended.
This review of Snap Out Of It by Maddie Dawson was originally written on December 17, 2022.