Category: reading

Book Review and Blog Tour: Just Get Home, by Bridget Foley

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA .

TitleJust Get Home
AuthorBridget Foley
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Dessa, a single mom, is enjoying a rare night out when a devastating earthquake strikes. Roads and overpasses crumble, cell towers are out everywhere, and now she must cross the ruined city to get back to her three-year-old daughter, not even knowing whether she’s dead or alive. Danger in the streets escalates, as looting and lawlessness erupts. When she witnesses a moment of violence but isn’t able to intervene, it nearly puts Dessa over the edge.

Fate throws Dessa a curveball when the victim of the crime—a smart-talking 15-year-old foster kid named Beegie—shows up again in the role of savior, linking the pair together. Beegie is a troubled teen with a relentless sense of humor and resilient spirit that enables them both to survive. Both women learn to rely on each other in ways they never imagined possible, to permit vulnerability and embrace the truth of their own lives.

I like Beegie quite a bit, but Dessa…not so much. She is far too passive for me, letting life—and the people in it—treat her however it will without standing up for herself. Like, passive to a pathetic degree. Solid writing and description—I’ve never experienced an earthquake and I’d like to keep it that way—enough to place me firmly in the scenes, but my dislike of Dessa was a big problem for me in reading this.

Bridget Foley lives in Idaho. Just Get Home is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Blessed Monsters, by Emily A. Duncan

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleBlessed Monsters
AuthorEmily A. Duncan
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

The girl, the monster, the prince, the queen.

They broke the world.

And some things can never be undone.

I’ll admit, the blurb for this novel is a big sparse, but the novel itself is not. Like the rest of this trilogy, this is a very dark and fantastical story. Dark. Very dark. The cultures, the history, the people, are all brimming with life and magic and so vibrant they leap off the page.

But this is not a fluffy bunny story (and if there were any fluffy bunnies, they’d probably die a gruesome and tragic death immediately). Instead, it’s full of chilling sensory details (seriously, maybe read this on a hot summer day) and definitely read the other two books first. This is a compelling and engrossing novel, just don’t expect sweetness and light.

Emily A. Duncan is a bestselling author. Blessed Monsters is her newest novel, the final installment in the Something Dark and Holy series.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Path to Sunshine Cove, by RaeAnne Thayne

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

TitleThe Path to Sunshine Cove
AuthorRaeAnne Thayne
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

With a past like hers, Jessica Clayton feels safer in a life spent on the road. She’s made a career out of helping others downsize—because she’s learned the hard way that the less “stuff,” the better, a policy she applies equally to her relationships. But a new client is taking Jess back to Cape Sanctuary, a town she once called home…and that her little sister, Rachel, still does. The years apart haven’t made a dent in the guilt Jess still carries after a handgun took the lives of both their parents and changed everything between them.

While Jess couldn’t wait to put the miles between her and Cape Sanctuary, Rachel put down roots, content for the world—and her sister—to think she has a picture-perfect life. But with the demands of her youngest child’s disability, Rachel’s marriage has begun to fray at the seams. She needs her sister now more than ever, yet she’s learned from painful experience that Jessica doesn’t do family, and she shouldn’t count on her now.

Against her judgment, Jess finds herself becoming attached—to her sister and her family, even to her client’s interfering son, Nate—and it’s time to put everything on the line. Does she continue running from her painful past, or stay put and make room for the love and joy that come along with it?

This was a solid read. I’d really love to live in a house right by the ocean like this! I actually enjoyed reading about Rachel and her struggles more than Jess, although I can’t totally relate to her struggle to control everything. A solid read, but not a standout. Perfect for an easy weekend read.

RaeAnne Thayne is a bestselling and award-winning author. The Path to Sunshine Cove is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN 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.

What I Read in March (2021)

Books Read in March: 21

Books Read for the Year:  55/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

I Don’t Wait Anymore, by Grace Thornton (TBR). This books. Man. All the feels.

The Secret Keeper, by Beverly Lewis (TBR). I genuinely love Amish fiction—and I have no idea why. This is an excellent read!

The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson (spiritual). This book is wonderful.

The Love That Split the World, by Emily Henry (TBR). I loved this. The characters are fantastic.

A Million Junes, by Emily Henry (TBR). Okay, I am just now this very second realizing that Emily Henry wrote both these books—and I adored both of them! Looks like she’s now an auto-read.

For Review:

The Jigsaw Man, by Nadine Matheson. I feel like this took me a looong time to read, but it was a busy week. I enjoyed this, although the crime scene descriptions were pretty revolting.

The Last Garden in England, by Julia Kelly. I enjoyed all three timelines in this novel a lot, which is unusual. I loved reading about the lives of these determined women and what they experienced.

Falling Down Under, by Errin Krystal. This is billed as a romantic comedy, but I wouldn’t really call it comedy. More of just a light read. The MC showed a lot of character growth, and I enjoyed that, but the secondary characters—undoubtedly slated for their own romances later in the series—were fairly one-dimensional.

Good Eggs, by Rebecca Hardiman. This had a Fredrik Backman feel to it—except set in Ireland—and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The grandmother is quite a character.

The Bounty, by Janet Evanovich. I do love the Stephanie Plum series, and I think I read the first book in this series, too. This was a fun read, but it felt like a big-budget action movie with lots of convenient occurrences and the characters never really in danger.

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, by Pamela Terry. This book. I’m not sure I have the words to convey how much I loved this. The voice is phenomenal. I mean “Growing up in the South is not for the faint of heart.”…How wonderful is that sentence? This really was a fantastic book!

The Memory Collectors, by Kim Neville. This was a bit odd, I’ll admit, and I really disliked one of the characters, but it was a solid read.

Namesake, by Adrienne Young. Fantastic read! More adventure on the high seas in this sequel to Fable.

Danger in Numbers, by Heather Graham. Yep, I’m definitely not going to visit the Everglades anytime soon. Cults and life on the edge of nowhere? No, thank you. A decent thriller read, though.

Tell No Lies, by Alison Brennan. There was a lot going on here in this thriller set in the desert—the landscape was as much a character as any of the people—but I was totally invested in what was happening.

Odin’s Child, by Siri Pettersen. This was a phenomenal read! I loved all of it and can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant, by Nizrana Farook. I don’t usually read middle-grade, but this was cute.

Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley. I enjoyed this so much! I love how vividly—and well—the culture was portrayed.

Checking Out Crime, by Laurie Crass. This was an easy cozy mystery. I haven’t read any of the others in the series, but that wasn’t a problem.

The Path to Sunshine Cove, by RaeAnne Thayne (review forthcoming). This was a decent read, but not a standout.

Just Because:

A Mind Set Free, by Jimmy Evans.

Left Unfininished:

Just My Luck, by Adele Parks. I think I made it 15% in this, but the characters were just unlikable, so I put it down.

Strongheart, by Jim Fergus. I didn’t make it very far in this at all. I wasn’t a fan of the MC or the voice.

Book Review: Checking Out Crime, by Laurie Cass

Image belongs to Berkley.

TitleChecking Out Crime
AuthorLaurie Cass
Genre:  Cozy mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Librarian Minnie Hamilton and her clever cat Eddie solve a purr-fect murder, in the newest installment of the delightful Bookmobile Cat Mystery series.

Minnie and her rescue cat Eddie can often be found out and about in their bookmobile near Chilson, Michigan, delivering great reads to grateful patrons all over the county. But they always brake for trouble, and when Minnie sees a car speeding away down the road, and soon comes upon a dead bicyclist, she assumes she just missed seeing a hit-and-run.

Minnie is determined to discover who was behind the wheel, but it soon turns out that things are far more complicated than they seem and there’s more to this case than meets the eye. Luckily, this librarian is ready to read the killer his rights.

This was a quick, easy read. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, but that wasn’t a problem. I’d call this a standard cozy mystery, with the MC never in any danger and a quirky setting. Eddie was my favorite character, as his personality is bigger than any of the other characters. If you need an effortless read, this is it.

Laurie Cass is a bestselling author. Checking Out Crime is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley

Image belongs to Macmillan/Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

TitleFirekeeper’s Daughter
AuthorAngeline Boulley
Genre:  YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother.

The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, but secretly pursues her own investigation, tracking down the criminals with her knowledge of chemistry and traditional medicine. But the deceptions—and deaths—keep piling up and soon the threat strikes too close to home.

Now, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go to protect her community, even if it tears apart the only world she’s ever known.

This is an incredible book! From the very first page, I was invested in Daunis and her story. The cultural details come to shimmering life on the page, and though I’m unfamiliar with the culture, the details made me feel like part of everything—even the hockey, which is a big part of the storyline. Daunis herself is an extraordinary character: a strong woman surrounded by strong women who frequently have their strength stolen or attacked by men. You should definitely read this!

Angeline Boulley has had a career in Indian education at the tribal, state, and national levels and is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Firekeeper’s Daughter is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan/Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girl who Stole the Elephant, by Nizrana Farook

Image belongs to Peachtree Publishing Company.

TitleThe Girl who Stole the Elephant
Author:  Nizrana Farook
Genre:  Middle-grade
Rating:  4 out of 5

Chaya, a nobleman’s rebellious, outspoken, no-nonsense daughter, just can’t resist the shiny temptations the king’s palace has to offer. But playing Robin Hood for her impoverished community doesn’t come without risks, and when Chaya steals the queen’s jewels from a bedside table—a messy getaway jeopardizes the life of a close friend. After an equally haphazard prison break, Chaya barely escapes on the king’s prized elephant! With leeches and revolution lurking in the jungle, Chaya leads her companions on a thrilling adventure. After leaving her village as a thief, can she return as a hero? Or will Chaya’s sticky fingers be the beginning—or the end—of everything for the intrepid gang?

This was a cute, fun read. Chaya is a Robin Hood character, stealing from the evil, rich king to help people—until her best friend winds up in jail and sentenced to death for one of her thefts. There’s lots of adventure here and a vibrant setting as Chaya learns a lesson about how to treat others and taking responsibilities for her actions.

Nizrana Farook was born in Sri Lanka. The Girl Who Stole the Elephant is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Peachtree Publishing Company in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Odin’s Child, by Siri Pettersen

Image belongs to Arctis.

TitleOdin’s Child
AuthorSiri Pettersen
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  5 out of 5

15-year-old Hirka has always been an outsider in the world of Ym: she’s the only person without a tail, and the only one unable to access the Might, a current of power that runs through the earth.

Her differences become more and more of a concern as the date approaches for the Rite—the ceremony where everyone is to be blessed by the all-knowing Seer and the Council of powerful families who rule in His name. With only a few weeks until the Rite, Hirka discovers the shocking secret behind why she is tailless and Mightless: she is not from this world. As an infant, she was brought through an ancient stone circle known as a Raven Ring, and as long as she’s in Ym, the passageway between worlds remains open inviting terrifying creatures called the blind to follow.

No one can know the truth of Hirka’s identity, especially not Rime, her childhood friend who just might become something more. But is Rime is hiding secrets of his own?

I was enthralled in this from the very first page! Hirka is a fantastic character, and I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do next. The mythology and culture in this book is so well-done it all felt natural, like I was watching familiar scenes play out before my eyes, yet it’s quite unique and not like anything I’ve seen before. Vivid characters and setting bring this story to life, and I cannot read to read the rest of the trilogy!

Siri Pettersen lives in Norway. Odin’s Child is the first of the Ravneringene/The Raven Rings Series.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Tell No Lies, by Allison Brennan

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleTell No Lies
AuthorAllison Brennan
Genre:  Thriller, mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the desert hills just south of Tucson, Arizona. When Emma Perez, a college-intern-turned activist, sets out to collect her own evidence, she too ends up dead. Local law enforcement seems slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and the copper refinery located there in search of possible leads. Costa and Quinn find themselves scouring the desolate landscape that keeps on giving up clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking, other killings. As the body count continues to add up, it’s clear they have stumbled on more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.

I don’t think I’ve read the first book in this series—yet—but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The desert setting is vividly drawn and almost becomes a character in the story, both its beauty and the darkness hidden within it. I liked the whole undercover team, but the two MC and their interactions were the best. I can’t imagine pretending to be someone you’re not like that, but their viewpoints made it make sense, and I was totally invested in their investigation.

Allison Brennan is a bestselling author. Tell No Lies is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)