Category: characters

Book Review:  Aria’s Travelling Book Shop, by Rebecca Raisin

Image belongs to Harper 360.

Title: Aria’s Travelling Book Shop  
Author Rebecca Raisin
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

This summer will change everything! 

Aria Summers knows what she wants. 

A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.

 But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years. 

Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.

 And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

This was such a fun read! I enjoyed Rosie’s story before this, and Aria’s story was just as enjoyable. Tea and books:  my favorites. I relished all the literary references, and Aria has such a knack for landing herself in scrapes that it made me laugh. A quick read that’s just pure pleasure.

Rebecca Raisin loves books. Aria’s Travelling Book Shop is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harper 360 in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Rot, by Siri Pettersen

Image belongs to Arctis Books.
  • Genre:   Fantasy
  • Rating:  5 out of 5

To protect her homeland of Ym, Hirka left it behind. She traveled through the raven rings, a stone circle that can be used as a portal, to an unfamiliar world. A world without the Might, a world where none of the people have tails, a world that seems rotten at its very core. That world is modern-day Europe.

Hirka was supposed to fit in with humans here. And her departure was supposed to be save Ym from the invasion of the blind. Yet none of that has happened. Instead, Hirka finds herself just as much of an outsider among the humans as she was among ymlings—even more so when she discovers that she has blood of the blind running through her veins. Meanwhile back in Ym, Rime—now the Ravenbearer—is fighting an ongoing battle against the blind, not to mention against his fellow Councilors, as well as with his own despair over losing Hirka.

Separated by worlds, unsure who to trust, and hunted for reasons they cannot understand, both Hirka and Rime must find a way to stop a thousand-year-old evil from destroying not only Ym, but every world in existence.

I love this series! Phenomenally well-written, engrossing, and just plain fascinating, I wanted to binge-read the entire thing (except for you know, responsibilities). I liked how Hirka and Rime are forced to grow while being separated by worlds, yet their bond remains strong and sure. I cannot recommend this highly enough!

Siri Pettersen is from Norway and is an award-winning author. The Rot is her newest novel, the second book in The Raven Rings series.

(Galley courtesy of Arctis Books in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in September (2021)

In September, I only read 15 books. I enjoyed three of those books very much.

The Guide, by Peter Heller. This should have felt slow and leisurely, but it ended up being full of building suspense mixed with some phenomenal nature writing. I don’t know a thing about fly fishing, yet I was fascinated by the scenes describing it.

Forestborn, by Elayne Audrey Becker. I really enjoyed this fantasy read about a shifter who works for the king and a magical illness sweeping across the land.

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop, by Rebecca Raisin. This was such a sweet, fun read! It continues the story of the traveling merchants with their tiny shops. Just so much fun!

Book Review: Requiem of Silence, by L. Penelope

Image belongs to St.Martin’s Press.

TitleRequiem of Silence

Author L. Penelope

Genre:  Fantasy

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Civil unrest plagues the nation of Elsira as refugees from their old enemy Lagrimar seek new lives in their land. Queen Jasminda is determined to push the unification forward, against growing opposition and economic strife. But the True Father is not finished with Elsira and he may not be acting alone. He has built a powerful army. An army that cannot be killed. An army that can only be stopped by Nethersong and the help of friends and foes of Elsira alike.

Former assassin Kyara will discover that she is not the only Nethersinger. She will need to join the others to harness a power that can save or end Elsira. But time is of the essence and they may not be ready by the time the True Father strikes.

Sisterhood novitiate Zeli will go to the reaches of the Living World to unlock a secret that could save the kingdoms. When armies meet in the battlefield, a new world will be forged. Whether by the hands of gods or men, remains to be seen

I’ve really enjoyed the Earthsea Chronicles series, and I’m sad to see it end. I love how all the cultures are blended together and explore their differences as well as their commonalities. The characters and settings are vibrant and detailed, and the storyline has been wonderfully explored in-depth, making this a series I highly recommend.

Leslye Penelope lives in Maryland. Requiem of Silence is her newest novel.

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

Best Books I Read in March (2021)

In March, I read 21 books toward my goal of reading 250 books this year. Normally, I re-cap the best three books I read each month, but this time there are more than three.

I Don’t Wait Anymore, by Grace Thornton. This book spoke to me on so many levels! Very uplifting, motivating, and full of hope.

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, by Pamela Terry. I love well-done Southern fiction, and this one was top-notch. The voice was just incredible, and the settings were so vibrant I felt like I was there.

Namesake, by Adrienne Young. I loved the first book in this duology, and I enjoyed this one just as much. What’s not to like about adventure on the high seas?

Odin’s Child, by Siri Pettersen. This is a bestseller finally translated into English, and it’s a phenomenal read! The mythology and culture are wonderfully realized, and I loved the characters so much.

Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley. I’m not really a sports fan, but even the bits of this book about hockey were engrossing. The cultural details and struggles this book is about were very well-done, and the main character—and the women surrounding her—were strong and determined.

Best Books I Read in September (2020)

In September, I read 28 books, bringing my total for the year to 244 books.

Of those, there were a handful of “meh” books, mostly solid/good books, and a few that were excellent reads!

Like:

A Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers. I’m almost positive I read this trilogy years ago, but I’ve basically forgotten it, so it was like a new-to-me read. I love well-done historical, and this was an excellent fiction read set in Rome in the first century.

Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman. I might as well just confess that Backman is now one of my favorite authors. His voice is just so amazing, and I love his characters. This was not what I expected from a bank robbery gone bad, but it was wonderful!

The Silvered Serpents, by Roshani Chokshi. I haven’t actually read the first book in this series, but I had no problems with that. Loved this dark fantasy, full of quirky and well-drawn characters (even the ones that we re jerks).

Book Review: No Woods So Dark as These, by Randall Silvis

no woods so dark as these
Image belongs to Poisoned Pen Press.

Title: No Woods So Dark as These
Author: Randall Silvis
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 4 out of 5 

Former Sergeant Ryan DeMarco’s life has been spent in defiance–he’s defied death, loneliness, and betrayal all while fighting the worst parts of humanity. He’s earned a break, and following the devastation of their last case, DeMarco and his girlfriend Jayme want nothing more than to live quietly in each other’s company. To forget the horrors they’ve experienced and work on making each other whole again.

But dreams of a peaceful life together are shattered when two bodies are discovered in a smoldering car in the woods, and another is found brutally mutilated nearby. Much as he’d like to leave the case to his former colleagues, dark forces are at play and DeMarco cannot escape the vortex of lies, betrayal, and desperation. He and Jayme are dragged back into the fray, where they must confront the shady dealings of a close-knit rural community.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series, and I enjoyed this one as well, although there was quite a bit more introspection from the characters than in the previous novels—which seems a bit odd for a thriller. Facing mortality after the events of the previous novel, maybe?

Silvis’s writing is sharp and solid as always, but this book seemed to be more about DeMarco’s mental struggles than the actual case. Jayme is also struggling, but Ryan is the focus here, which I enjoyed.

Randall Silvis is an award-winning author. No Woods So Dark as These is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Poisoned Penn Press in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in June (2020)

Books Read in June: 28

Books Read for the Year: 160/200

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Without Rival by Lisa Revere (spiritual). Apparently I’d already read this…but it was really good, again.

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (classic re-read). this wasn’t as good as P & P (of course), but I enjoyed the re-read.

The Paradise War, by Stephen R. Lawhead (TBR). I really enjoyed this time-travel/ancient Celtic adventure and I intend to read more.

The Edge of Over There, by Shawn Smucker (TBR). This probably would have made more sense if I’d read the previous book, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Miriam, by Mesu Andrews (TBR). Loved this! the tale of the Biblical plagues of England from the POV of Moses’ sister.

For Review:

the library of legends

The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang. I enjoyed this so much! Historical fiction with some fantasy sprinkled in, making this a perfect read for me when the real world was crumbling.

NoOneSawCover

No One Saw, by Beverley Long (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this thriller in the A.L. McKittridge series, about two detectives trying to solve the disappearance of a toddler that might be linked to a similar disappearance over a decade earlier.

a sweet mess

A Sweet Mess, by Jayci Lee (review forthcoming). This was a funny romantic read that will probably make you hungry.

the black swan of paris

The Black Swan of Paris, by Karen Robards (review forthcoming). Loved this! Set during the Nazi occupation of Paris, it’s about Genevieve Dumont, famed for her singing, who is involved with the resistance and secrets of her own.

mayhem

Mayhem, by Estelle Laure (review forthcoming). This had so much potential, but ended up feeling like such a copy of The Lost Boys that it was really unsettling.

the woman before wallis

The Woman Before Wallis, by Bryn Turnbull (review forthcoming). Another wonderful historical read! I’m not sure if I forgot the events around Prince Edward’s abdication of the throne—or if I just didn’t know—but this is the tale of American divorcée Thelma Morgan, who captured the prince’s heart before he met Wallis.

guarded by the soldier

Guarded by the Soldier, by Laura Scott (review forthcoming). This is a solid romance about a pregnant single mother who becomes the target of a private security/black ops group and is rescued by an ex-soldier.

in the neighborhood of true

In the Neighborhood of True, by Susan Kaplan Carlton (review forthcoming). This explores racism in the South in the ’50s and is an excellent read.

the kids are gonna ask

The Kids Are Gonna Ask, by Anthony Gretchen (review forthcoming). I wasn’t a fan of the twins, who came across as selfish and self-absorbed, with a grandmother who was lenient/willfully blind.

the bright lands

The Bright Lands, by John Fram (review forthcoming). This was…an intriguing read. I had to stop mid-read and make sure this wasn’t written by Stephen King’s son. Very creepy and a bit horrifying, it was an excellent read.

the lost city

The Lost City, by Amanda Hocking (review forthcoming). This is the first of Hocking’s books I’ve ever managed to finish (and, to be fair, I think I’ve only attempted one or two others). Interesting, but I probably won’t read more of the series.

one to watch

One to Watch, by Kate Stayman-London (review forthcoming). I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and the body positivity was great!

girl, serpent, thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn, by Melissa Bashardoust (review forthcoming). A princess who has never had human contact because her skin is poisonous makes a terrible mistake, endangering her family and her kingdom and putting them at the mercy of evil…but a sort of charming evil. This was a unique and interesting read.

entangled secrets

Entangled Secrets, by Pat Esden (review forthcoming). This was just a “meh” parnormal romance for me.

what you wish for

What You Wish For, by Katherine Center (review forthcoming). This book made me think something I never thought possible:  I want to be a teacher. Yeah. If you only knew how many times I’d been asked “So you want to be a teacher?” when people found out I was getting an English degree…but I never wanted to be a teacher. The school in this book was pretty awesome though, so I was tempted (briefly), and I loved the Galveston setting. This was just a feel-good book that made me happy.

cut to the bone

Cut to the Bone, by Ellison Cooper (review forthcoming). I got sucked right into this book and these characters. A missing bus full of high schoolers, a clever serial killer with a penchant for Egyptology,  a dastardly boss, and a terrifyingly well-connected psychopath all combine to challenge a stubborn and intuitive FBI agent who finds out things are definitely not what they seem.

the safe place

The Safe Place, by Anna Downes (review forthcoming). I did not like any of these characters, and Emily was the sort of clueless/stupid person I just can’t deal with. This wasn’t a good fit for me.

a walk along the beach

A Walk Along the Beach, by Debbie Macomber (review forthcoming). This made me cry, but it was so good! I love everything Macomber writes.

the vacation

The Vacation, by T.M. Logan (review forthcoming). See…if I don’t care for the characters, it’s a struggle to keep reading. This was the case here. I knew there was more going on that what seemed obvious, but I didn’t really care, because I disliked all the main characters.

how lulu lost her mind

How Lulu Lost her Mind, by Rachel Gibson (review forthcoming).  Oh, man. I enjoyed this a lot, but as someone with a family history of Alzheimer’s, it was also difficult to read. Love the Louisiana setting and culture, though.

tell me your names

Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify: Essays, by Carolyn Holbrook (review forthcoming). This was an interesting read and a look through the eyes of someone with a wildly different life than mine (although I grew up poor, too). I’m a big believer in personal responsibility, and that wasn’t present in all of this, though, so that bothered me.

life on mission @ work

Life on Mission @ Work, by Tyler Edwards (review forthcoming). This excellent read spoke to something that’s been on my mind lately.

this is my america

This is My America, by Kim Johnson (review forthcoming). This was an interesting and powerful read—and sad.

Stopped Reading: 

Her Perfect Life, by Rebecca Taylor. Excellent, descriptive writing, but I realized at 30% that I just didn’t care about any of the characters (as well as actively disliking some). Just not a good fit.

Those Who Hunger:  An Amish Vampire Thriller, by Owen Banner. The premise of this held a lot of potential. I mean, how unique are Amish vampires? I read a bit of it, probably around 15-20%, but I just wasn’t buying in.

Hurry Home, by Roz Nay. There was nothing wrong with this book. Seriously. Solid writing, intriguing concept…I just didn’t like any of the characters. Just a case of “it’s me, not the book.”

Book Review and Blog Tour: What Unbreakable Looks Like, by Kate McLaughlin

unbreakable blog tour

what unbreakable looks like
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   What Unbreakable Looks Like
Author: Kate McLaughlin  
Genre:   YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

Lex was taken – trafficked – and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again. 

After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things.

 But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.

 This book was an incredible read! There isn’t much that’s actually set while Lex is trafficked, as it opens with the cops showing up—but there are many flashbacks to that time. McLaughlin paints a clear, evocative picture, but she doesn’t attempt to wring a response from the reader with the horror of Lex’s situation. The horror just comes naturally, as you see how Lex has been scarred by her past.

The kids at the high school where Lex ends up are awful. AWFUL. But, sadly, completely believable. Zack and Elsa were wonderful secondary characters, and I loved them and Lex’s aunt and uncle. But those other kids…This novel was so well-done, I can’t think of anything bad to say…except its subject matter is horrific and so unbearably sad.

Kate McLaughlin is from Novia Scotia but now lives in Connecticut. What Unbreakable Looks Like is her newest novel.

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

The Best Books I Read in May (2020)

In May, I read 33 books, bringing my total for the year up to 132 books. Some of those books were good, some were okay, some were just “meh.” But three of them were really exceptional!

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Yes, this a re-read. I’m actually not sure how many times I’ve read it, but this time was was just as wonderful. I wish I could re-read this again for the first time! So many laughs at Lizzie’s wit, and so much sympathy for poor Mr. Darcy.

what unbreakable looks like
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

What Unbreakable Looks Like, by Kate McLaughlin. (My review will be up on the 16th as part of the blog tour.) I don’t even know what to say about this book! It opens with the cops rescuing Lex from human trafficking, and tells the story of her life in the aftermath. This book doesn’t pull any punches with what she deals with and how she handles it, and it made me so sad that women and girls experience things like this—and also inspired me with her strength.

juniper jones
Image belongs to Wattpad Books.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones, by Daven McQueen. (My review is up on the 11th.) Set in small-town Alabama in 1955, this is the story of Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, who goes to stay with his aunt and uncle for the summer. There he meets prejudice, persecution, and Juniper Jones. Parts of this were awful to read because I know there is truth in this tale. But the friendship between Ethan and Juniper is wonderful and full of hope. (And I love this cover!)