Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson

the book woman
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author:  Kim Michele Richardson
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

In 1936 Kentucky, Cussy Mary Carter is the last living woman of the Blue People. With her blue skin, she’s taunted and ridiculed and treated as inferior, but Cussy Mary is a proud member of the Kentucky Pack Horse library service. This job is her way out, an escape from needing to marry in order to survive.

For Cussy Mary, delivering books to the backwoods people on her route is more than a job. For people who rarely see a newspaper—and who are unlikely to be able to read one if they did see it—the Book Woman is a Godsend, a deliverer of outside news, and a glimmer of hope in the darkness of the woods amidst prejudice and poverty so devastating it destroys entire families. Cussy Mary is determined to continue delivering hope to those around her—along with books.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is an incredible read! Yes, the blue-skinned people in Kentucky were real—they had methemoglobinemia, which caused a decrease in oxygenation of their skin. The prejudice and abuse Cussy Mary experiences in this book is heartbreaking, but so is the poverty that surrounds her. This book is vivid and lovely, with every page engraved with the strength of Cussy Mary—and her courage.

Kim Michele Richardson lives and writes in Kentucky. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Romanov, by Nadine Brandes

Romanov
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Romanov
Author:  Nadine Brandes
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

With Russia in revolution, the Romanov family are held as hostages by the Bolsheviks. For Nastya—Princess Anastasia—this new world is bewildering and frustrating. Her loving family is intact and together, but they are constantly guarded by soldiers. They are barely allowed to go outside. They are constantly under watch. She doesn’t understand why the world is so bloody and dangerous, she just knows it is.

There is an element of truth in what the people say about the Romanovs, but Nastya is not a spellcaster. If she was, she could heal her brother’s hemophilia and her mother’s illness. She could stop herself from falling in love and mend her sister’s broken heart. And she could keep her family from being executed.

But this isn’t the lies spoken about her family by the Bolsheviks. This is her life. And the truth is far stranger than the history books say.

I’ve probably seen the Disney movie Anastasia at some point, but I don’t remember it, and I’ve certainly read bits and pieces about the Romanovs, none of which I remembered before picking this book up. I had no problems understanding what was going on or starting the story after the Romanovs are taken hostage. The love in this family is remarkable and portrayed so well. All the characters are well-done, but Nastya herself is both struggling and strong, and her determination to help her family is something to behold. I enjoyed this read immensely.

Nadine Brandes is the author of the Out of Time series. Romanov is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #18

I had another good writing week! Three days, two 10-minute sessions each day, for a little over 2,250 words.

I know that’s chump change to my old daily word counts, but I’m happy with the consistency.

I also outlined five scenes and completed two writing lessons, so I hit all my writing goals for the week!

Book Review: Only Ever Her, by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

only ever her
Image belongs to Lake Union Publishing.

Title:  Only Ever Her
Author:  Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  3 out of 5

When Annie was a little girl, she was found wandering in the woods, not far from her mother’s murdered body. Now grown up, she’s the town’s darling, and her imminent wedding is all anyone talks about. Annie’s ready for her life to change, but can she leave behind this small town—and her support system—to start her new life?

Just days before her wedding, Annie disappears. There’s no sign of her. No sign she might have run. No sign she spoke to anyone before she disappeared. With her mother’s accused murderer freshly released from prison, the town fears the worst, and those who love Annie will have to deal with their own issues as they search for her.

I did not connect with this book at all. The small-town vibe was accurate, but I found Annie herself unlikable, as was her secret friend. I didn’t find this very suspenseful, and everyone had secrets, of course, but the only character I liked was Clary. Just not a good fit for me.

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen lives and writes in North Carolina. Only Ever Her is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in April (2019)

I read 18 books in April, and DNF two more, but a handful of books I really enjoyed. One is historical fiction/fantasy, the other are mainstream/women’s fiction with a little romance.

rosie's traveling tea shop

Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop, by Rebecca Raisin. This was probably my favorite read, and I binge-read all of it last Sunday. Straight through. (Yes, that was exactly as wonderful as it sounds.) The idea of traveling all the time—but with a book shop, not a cooking shop (except the tea idea is tempting)—is strangely alluring for me, and I wish I could work out a way to make that happen.  #thevanlife

Romanov

Romanov, by Nadine Brandes. This is a fantasy version of historical fiction. Well, there are spells and spellmasters in it, so I assume it’s fantasy. But, it’s the story of the Romanov family and their time in exile, and what happens to their daughter, Anastasia. (It’s definitely not the Disney version.)

one summer in paris

One Summer in Paris, by Sarah Morgan. Apparently in April I had a thing for books about women reinventing themselves and starting new lives in foreign places…One Summer in Paris is about two women spending the summer in Paris alone—one because her husband of 25 years decides he wants a divorce, so she goes on the trip without him, and one who’s keeping secrets about her mother as she tries to figure out life on her own—who meet and become friends.

All three of these are excellent reads.

What I Read in April (2019)

Books Read in April:  18

Books Read for the Year: 67/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis (classic). While I enjoyed the first two books in The Space Trilogy, this was a bit too much talking-heads to me. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention.

I Declare War: Four Keys to Winning the Battle with Yourself, by Levi Lusko (spiritual). After hearing him speak last month, I was excited to read this book about beating the bad habits you don’t want to do anymore.

The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff (cultural). This is about female spies during WWII, and what happened to them.

Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis (nonfiction). I love Hollis’ voice!

Two Princes of Summer, by Nissa Leder (from the TBR pile). Please see the “Left Unfinished” section.

For Review:

the girl he used to know

The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves. Ten years ago, Annika Rose and Jonathan had a relationship. But Annika isn’t like other people. She doesn’t like people, and she doesn’t know how to talk to them or how to interpret what they mean. Now that she’s run into Jonathan again, can she show him she’s different than she used to be? This is a solid read from the viewpoint of a character that looks at the world so differently…and knows it.

the devouring gray

The Devouring Grey, by Christine Lynn Herman. I thoroughly enjoyed this dark—very dark—modern YA fantasy. Everybody in this book has issues. Serious issues. And mysteries and secrets abound.

little lovely things

Little Lovely Things, by Maureen Joyce Connolly. Not for the faint of heart or anyone who is disturbed by violence involving children. Claire is driving her two children to daycare when she is overcome by sickness and has to pull into a gas station. She wakes up later on the floor of the bathroom…with her car and her daughters gone. The police have no clues, but Claire is convinced her daughters are alive…but the tragedy may destroy everything in her life. Emotional read.

15 wonders

The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green, by Erica Boyce. When a dying farmer pays a secret group to make a crop circle and bring attention to a dying farm town, the artist finds himself drawn into the family’s lives. This was an interesting, rather magical read.

the mother-in-law

The Mother-in-law, by Sally Hepworth. Why does the mother-in-law always have to be the villain? Well…Lucy and Diana never got along, but now Diana is dead, and Lucy—and the rest of the family—is a suspect.

redwoods and whales

Redwoods and Whales, by Phil Joel. Loved this read about stepping into the identity God has for you, and looking at life for yourself, not the way everyone else does.

brief chronicles

Brief Chronicles of Another Stupid Heartbreak, by Adi Alsaid. When Lu’s boyfriend breaks up with her, writer’s block sets in for the relationship journalist, and she’s on the verge of losing her scholarship. Then she meets Cal and Iris, who plan to end their relationship at the end of summer, and is fascinated, and determined to write about them, slowly finding herself drawn into their dynamics.

a pack of blood and lies

A Pack of Blood and Lies, by Olivia Wildenstein. This is a solid read about an all-male pack of werewolves, and the girl who dares to challenge the status quo.

one summer in paris

One Summer in Paris, by Sarah Morgan. Grace intends to surprise her husband with a trip to Paris for their 25th anniversary. Instead, he wants a divorce, so she goes to Paris alone, lost in memories of the past. She meets Audrey, on her own for the first time, and keeping secrets about her family as she refuses to let anyone close. The friendship between Grace and Audrey teaches them both important lessons. I’ve never had any desire to visit Paris, but this book made me reconsider. A wonderful read!

Getting Hot with the Scot

Getting Hot with the Scot, by Melonie Johnson.  On the trip of a lifetime, Cassie meets a hot Scottish Highlander in a kilt and soon finds herself in more than a one-night-stand.

belly up

Belly Up,  by Eva Darrows. An unexpected pregnancy at 16 changes Serendipity’s whole life and brings people into her life she can’t imagine being without. Love the friendships in this book.

only ever her

Only Ever Her, by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (review forthcoming). The small-town feel of this is spot-on, but I found most of the characters disagreeable at best, and didn’t really care why Annie had gone missing.

Romanov

Romanov, by Nadine Brandes (review forthcoming). This fictionalized tale of Anastasia Romanov and her family was completely engrossing, and I highly recommend it.

Just Because:

rosie's traveling tea shop

Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop, by Rebecca Raisin. Can we talk about how much I love this book? SO. MUCH.

Left Unfinished:

two princes of summer

Two Princes of Summer, by Nissa Leder. Beautiful cover that definitely made me want to read this. But…I quit at the 20% mark. Scarlett’s mother committed suicide, and now she’s grieving. Believable. Mentioning how everyone—including her—thought her mother was crazy for seeing things over and over and over…makes the impact completely disappear. Scarlett, while drunk, goes into another realm with Cade, whom she basically doesn’t know…and doesn’t even question this decision. And Cade is a little rape-y for my taste, thank you very much. Raith was moderately interesting, but not enough to make me continue reading. Thanks, but no thanks.

Tinfoil Crowns, by Erin Jones. The MC was just entirely to self-obsessed for me. I read about 10%, but I couldn’t put up with her narcissism anymore.

 

Book Review: Belly Up, by Eva Darrows

 

belly up
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Belly Up
Author:  Eva Darrows
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

It’s bad enough Sara’s boyfriend cheated on her and she found out when she saw sexting pics on his phone. But now he and the other girl are flaunting it around town, when all Sara wants is to get through the summer and spend senior year with her best friend, Devi, and get into an Ivy League school. Surely a drunken hook-up at a party will at least take Sara’s mind off her problems.

Or not.

She forgot to get the guy’s number, and when she finds out she’s pregnant, well, things change. She and her mom move in with her grandmother, and instead of starting senior year with Devi, Sara is the new girl at a new school. She meets some new friends and Leaf, a Romani boy who really gets her, and whose flirting makes her happy. Except she’s also the pregnant new girl. She should probably tell Leaf about that, but she wants to hold on to her happiness for just a little longer.

Belly Up wasn’t quite what I expected. Sara is an amazing character, and her voice is so much fun. This is an incredibly diverse book, and friendship is a main theme, as is love (and not romantic love, either). This was a fun read about serious subjects, and I recommend it.

Eva Darrows/Hillary Monahan is a New York Times-bestselling author. Belly Up is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #17

I had a good writing week. I got all my words, but I changed my sessions just a bit to accommodate my schedule:  three sessions on Tuesday, one after work on Wednesday, and two on Saturday.

I also outlined five scenes and did two writing lessons this week, so I hit all my writing goals!

Book Review: Getting Hot with the Scot, by Melonie Johnson

Getting Hot with the Scot
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Getting Hot with the Scot
Author:  Melonie Johnson
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Cassie Crow is a pop culture reporter for a talk show, but she wants to be a “serious” reporter. Even though she’s on the vacation of a lifetime with her friends, her upcoming big interview is all she can think about. Until a mix-up in a Scottish castle leads to a chance encounter with a handsome man in a kilt.

Logan’s career is doing pranks before a camera and making it big is all he can think about. Until he meets Cassie and needs her to agree before he can use the footage that may capture the hearts of his target audience.

What was supposed to be a one-night-stand might become more, but only if Cassie and Logan conquer the fears from their pasts.

Getting Hot with the Scot was a quick, fun read. Running into a sexy Highlander in a kilt—in a castle, no less—is probably the dream of a lot of women, so I found the way the novel took that idea and ran with it to be quite entertaining. The best part of this book, besides Logan’s accent, was the friendship between Cassie and her group of friends.

Melonie Johnson is a writer, a wife, a mother, and many other things, depending on her current interests. Getting Hot with the Scot is the first book in the Sometimes in Love series.

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

Book Review: A Pack of Blood and Lies, by Olivia Wildenstein

 

a pack of blood and lies
Image belongs to Twig Publishing.

Title:  A Pack of Blood and Lies
Author:  Olivia Wildenstein
Genre:  YA/New Adult, paranormal
Rating:  4 out of 5

Ness is almost 18 when she’s forced to return to Boulder. She intended to forget about what happened there, forget about what happened to her mom, and forget all the domineering men in the werewolf pack that had no room for a female. She was happy to think she’d escaped with only her memories.

But now she’s back in boulder and those memories are standing before her. One of them is a friend, but one of them is Liam Kolane, son of Heath, the cruelest man she’d ever imagined. Now Heath is dead, and no one dares challenge Liam for the right to rule the pack.

Except Ness, who isn’t going to let him win without a fight. A fight to the death—if she can convince her heart that’s an acceptable cost.

I found this pretty predictable in most ways, but I enjoyed the read. Lots of chauvinistic alpha males swaggering around, but there are some glimmers of redeeming qualities among them. Coming from a patriarchal society, it’s understandable, even if mildly infuriating.

Bestselling author Olivia Wildenstein lives in Switzerland. A Pack of Blood and Lies is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Twig Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)