Author: tamaramorning

What I Read in January (2023)

I didn’t hit my goal of 250 books the last two years…so I’m scaling back a bit to 225. I’m also cutting back on reviews a bit, and leaving room for straight fun reading.

Books Read in January: 17
Books Read for the Year:  17/200


Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Silmarillion, by J. R.R. Tolkien (TBR). This was…a hard read.

The Letter Keeper, by Charles Martin (TBR). Man. I had trouble putting this down…

The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis (Re-read). This isn’t my favorite of the series, but I love them all as a whole.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (Re-read). Love it.

Poison Princess, by Kresley Cole (Re-read). Dang it. I forgot how good this series is! Almost impossible to put down.

Endless Knight, by Kresley Cole (Re-read). This was another one I had trouble putting down.

Resilient, by John Eldredge (spiritual). I listened to the audio book, and I didn’t really care for this. A bit too…I’m not sure. Passive and crunchy granola for me.

For Review:

Sam, by Allegra Goodman. I didn’t really care for this. It seemed to be largely missing a plot, and Sam just let life happen to her without doing anything about it.

The Stranded, by Sarah Daniels.   This was an interesting dystopian read. Fascinating setting (an old cruise ship), and I’d enjoy reading more.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, by Heather Fawcett. I found this a charming read! I liked Emily and her awkwardness–and her friendship with her annoying coworker.   

A Guide to Being Just Friends, by Sophie Sullivan. I didn’t realize I DNFed the previous book in this series because the characters were annoying until about halfway through. I liked Hailey’s character, but found Wes moderately annoying.

One Duke Down, by Anna Bennett. I liked this romance read, the second in a series of linked standalones. The characters were a lot of fun.

Against the Currant, by Olivia Matthews. This is the first in a new series of what I would call cozy mysteries. I really enjoyed the culture in this book–and liked the fact that there wasn’t a romance.

Son of the Poison Rose, by Jonathan Mayberry. Really enjoyed this snarky second book. Great epic fantasy.

Just Because:

The World of the End, by David Jeremiah (TBR). I enjoyed this.

Sprout: 21 Days for the Fruit of the Spirit to Bloom in Your Life, by Gateway Devotions. My church’s January devotional.

The Fallen Stones, by Diana Marcum (audio book). I don’t know if it was the author’s voice, or the narrator’s voice that was so snarky and sarcastic, but I didn’t care for this at all. I regret even bothering to finish it.

Left Unfinished:

Queen Among the Dead, by Lesley Livingston. What I read wasn’t bad–it just didn’t hold my attention. I didn’t really make a connection with the characters, so I wasn’t interested.

Book Review: Son of the Poison Rose, by Jonathan Maberry   

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Son of the Poison Rose     
Author:   Jonathan Maberry
Genre: Fantasy    
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The Silver Empire is in ruins. War is in the wind. Kagen and his allies are on the run from the Witch-king. Wild magic is running rampant everywhere. Spies and secret cabals plot from the shadows of golden thrones.

Kagen Vale is the most wanted man in the world, with a death sentence on his head and a reward for him—dead or alive—that would tempt a saint.

The Witch-king has new allies who bring a terrible weapon—a cursed disease that drives people into a murderous rage. If the disease is allowed to spread, the whole of the West will tear itself apart.

In order to build an army of resistance fighters and unearth magical weapons of his own, Kagen and his friends have to survive attacks and storms at sea, brave the haunted wastelands of the snowy north, fight their way across the deadly Cathedral Mountains, and rediscover a lost city filled with cannibal warriors, old ghosts, and monsters from other worlds. Along with his reckless adventurer brothers, Kagen races against time to save more than the old empire… if he fails the world will be drenched in a tsunami of bloodshed and horror.

I enjoyed this read a lot! It took a while to read, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The first book, it took me a bit to get into. This one did not. Kagen’s banter with his friends is the best part to me, but I loved all the action and trying to guess what would happen next. This is a very solid epic fantasy—and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Jonathan Maberry is a bestselling author. Son of the Poison Rose is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays Are for Writing #210

This week, I wrote two book reviews: One Duke Down, by Anna Bennett and Against the Currant, by Olivia Matthews. I’m fine with that–and hoping to improve in the future. My schedule is changing again this next week, from five days a week to four, so I’m hoping I get more rest…AND time/energy to write.

Happy writing!

Book Review: Against the Currant, by Olivia Matthews   

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: Against the Currant     
Author:  Olivia Matthews   
Genre: Mystery    
Rating:  4 out of 5

Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York: Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family, and it’s everything she’s ever wanted. The West Indian bakery is her way to give back to the community she loves, stay connected to her Grenadian roots, and work side-by-side with her family. The only thing getting a rise out of Lyndsay is Claudio Fabrizi, a disgruntled fellow bakery owner who does not want any competition.

On opening day, he comes into the bakery threatening to shut them down. Fed up, Lyndsay takes him to task in front of what seems to be the whole neighborhood. So when Claudio turns up dead a day later—murdered—Lyndsay is unfortunately the prime suspect. To get the scent of suspicion off her and her bakery, Lyndsay has to prove she’s innocent—under the watchful eyes of her overprotective brother, anxious parents, and meddlesome extended family—what could go wrong?

I really liked the cultural aspects in this book! They absolutely fascinated me. I found myself looking up soca music and some of the foods—which sounded amazing—just to settle myself a little more deeply into the characters’ culture. I think Lyndsay is a great character:  she’s grown a lot from childhood, but she’s still fighting not to go back to old habits. And this isn’t a romance—unusual for a cozy mystery—although the potential is there for the future. The vibrant characters kept me engaged, and there was never a dull moment while reading this.

Olivia Matthews is a bestselling author. Against the Currant is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:   One Duke Down, by Anna Bennett

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: One Duke Down       
Author:   Anna Bennett  
Genre:  Romance   
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

A FISHERMAN’S DAUGHTER
Miss Poppy Summers is determined to keep her family’s fishing business afloat. Her poor widowed father has fallen ill, and her foolhardy brother has moved to London, leaving her precious little time to read or pursue her own dreams. But she’ll do anything for her family, so she cheerfully spends mornings in her rowboat, casting her nets. The very last thing Poppy expects or wants to find tangled in them is a dangerously attractive man. Especially one with a head wound—who’s convinced he’s a duke.

AND A DUKE OUT OF WATER
Andrew Keane is the Duke of Hawking, but he’s having the devil of a time convincing his fiery-haired rescuer of that fact. The truth is he came to the seaside resort of Bellehaven Bay to escape his life in London. Unfortunately, someone in Bellehaven wants to kill him—and he intends to find out who. He implores Poppy to tend to his injuries and hide him on her beach, reasoning it will be easier to find his attacker if that man assumes Keane is already dead. She wants no part of the scheme but can’t refuse the generous sum he offers in exchange for food and shelter while he recovers. It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement…nothing more.

ARE ABOUT TO MAKE WAVES
Under Poppy’s care, Keane regains his strength—and a sense of purpose. As they work together to solve the puzzle of his would-be murderer, he’s dazzled by her rapier wit and adventurous spirit; she’s intrigued by his mysterious air and protective streak. Though Poppy’s past gives her every reason to mistrust someone like Keane, the seawalls around her heart crumble in the storm of their passion. But when clues hint at the prime suspect in Keane’s attempted murder, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie. Torn between the world she’s always known and the one she’s always dreamed of, she’ll need true love for a shot at her fairytale ending.

I really enjoyed this read!  I like that it’s a linked standalone in the Rogues to Lovers series, because I really liked the first read in the series, too. I thought Poppy was a great character, and I loved how she took no nonsense from anyone—including her family! Keane was also a great character, and I loved the interplay between he and Poppy. This is a perfect binge read!

Anna Bennett lives in Maryland. One Duke Down is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays Are for Writing #209

This week, I only got one book review written, A Guide to Being Just Friends, by Sophie Sullivan. I’m actually fine with that, as I worked almost 50 hours…and there was a LOT of stress at work. I’m also mentally playing with an idea for a writing project, so that’s exciting.

Happy writing!

Book Review: A Guide to Being Just Friends, by Sophie Sullivan

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: A Guide to Being Just Friends       
Author:  Sophie Sullivan   
Genre: Romance    
Rating:  4 out of 5

Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?

First, a confession:  when the previous book in this series came out, I tried it, and could absolutely not stand the main characters. They were both jerks. I didn’t actually realize this until halfway through reading this one.

Hailey’s salad shop totally intrigued me, and I enjoyed her personality and growth a lot. Wes was…a lot. I’m pretty sure I’d have smacked him a time or two. How can any one person be so oblivious to the feelings of other people? (Hang on. Maybe go ask my ex that question.) This ended up being a quick, enjoyable read…but I still wouldn’t recommend that previous book.

Sophie Sullivan is from Canada. A Guide to Being Just Friends is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, by Heather Fawcett    

Image belongs to Ballantine/Del Rey.

Title: Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries    
Author:  Heather Fawcett   
Genre:  Fantasy   
Rating:  4 out of 5

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.

I really enjoyed this read! It felt like a bit of a fairy tale to me, which is always enjoyable. I could really relate to Em and her social awkwardness. I wasn’t too sure what to make of Bambleby at first, but he grew on me. I loved the little community of Hrafnsvik and its inhabitants, and I loved how Emily gradually came to fit herself into their midst and feel at home for the first time in her life.

Heather Fawcett lives in British Columbia. Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Fairies is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Ballantine/Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Stranded, by Sarah Daniels  

Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title: The Stranded     
Author:  Sarah Daniels  
Genre:   Fantasy, YA  
Rating:  4 out of 5

Welcome to the Arcadia.

Once a luxurious cruise ship, it became a refugee camp after being driven from Europe by an apocalyptic war. Now it floats near the coastline of the Federated States – a leftover piece of a fractured USA.

For forty years, residents of the Arcadia have been prohibited from making landfall. It is a world of extreme haves and have nots, gangs and make-shift shelters.

Esther is a loyal citizen, working flat-out to have the rare chance to live a normal life as a medic on dry land. Nik is a rebel, planning something big to liberate the Arcadia once and for all.

When events throw them both together, their lives, and the lives of everyone on the ship, will change forever . . .

I enjoyed this dystopian read—not sure I’ve read anything with a setting quite like this. Esther is more than a bit naïve—sometimes willfully so—so focused on her pie-in-the-sky dreams of the future that she closes her eyes against reality. The setting and the tangle of rules and micro-cultures on the ship were the most fascinating parts of this story for me, but I liked the main characters, too. Lots of action here, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Sarah Daniels is from the UK. The Stranded is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)