Tag: blog tour

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Wildest Ride, by Marcella Bell

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

At thirty-six, undefeated rodeo champion AJ Garza is supposed to be retiring, not chasing after an all-new closed-circuit rodeo tour with a million-dollar prize. But with the Houston rodeo program that saved him as a wayward teen on the brink of bankruptcy, he’ll compete. And he’ll win.

Enter Lilian Sorrow Island. Raised by her grandparents on the family ranch in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Lil is more a cowboy than city boy AJ will ever be. It shows. She’s not about to let him steal the prize that’ll save her ranch, even if he is breathtakingly magnificent, in pretty much every way going.

The world watches on as reality TV meets rodeo in a competition like no other. In front of the cameras, Lil and AJ are each other’s biggest rivals. Off-screen, it’s about to get a whole lot more complicated…

I read about 30% of this, but just couldn’t finish it. The writing was solid, but AJ and Lil’s characters seemed to consist mainly of arrogance and attitude, so they just weren’t people I wanted to continue reading about. This just wasn’t a good fit for me.

Marcella Bell was born in the Pacific Northwest. The Wildest Ride is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Last Nomad, by Shugri Said Salh

Image belongs to Algonquin Books.
  • TitleThe Last Nomad
  • Author:  Shugri Said Salh
  • Genre:  Nonfiction
  • Rating:  4 out of 5

Born in Somalia, a spare daughter in a large family, Shugri Said Salh was sent at age six to live with her nomadic grandmother in the desert. The last of her family to learn this once-common way of life, Salh found herself chasing warthogs, climbing termite hills, herding goats, and moving constantly in search of water and grazing lands with her nomadic family. For Salh, though the desert was a harsh place threatened by drought, predators, and enemy clans, it also held beauty, innovation, centuries of tradition, and a way for a young Sufi girl to learn courage and independence from a fearless group of relatives. Salh grew to love the freedom of roaming with her animals and the powerful feeling of community found in nomadic rituals and the oral storytelling of her ancestors.

As she came of age, though, both she and her beloved Somalia were forced to confront change, violence, and instability. Salh writes with engaging frankness and a fierce feminism of trying to break free of the patriarchal beliefs of her culture, of her forced female genital mutilation, of the loss of her mother, and of her growing need for independence. Taken from the desert by her strict father and then displaced along with millions of others by the Somali Civil War, Salh fled first to a refugee camp on the Kenyan border and ultimately to North America to learn yet another way of life.

This was a fascinating read! I don’t know much about Somalia, so that was pretty much all new to me. Parts of this were extremely difficult to read—the explanation on FGM and how it was accepted and sought after, the way Shugri was abused by her sister when she got to Canada—but it was a powerful, moving read with a lot of hope on its pages.

Shugri said Salh was born in Somalia but now lives in California. The Last Nomad is her story.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Radar Girls, by Sara Ackerman

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Daisy Wilder prefers the company of horses to people, bare feet and salt water to high heels and society parties. Then, in the dizzying aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Daisy enlists in a top secret program, replacing male soldiers in a war zone for the first time. Under fear of imminent invasion, the WARDs guide pilots into blacked-out airstrips and track unidentified planes across Pacific skies. 

But not everyone thinks the women are up to the job, and the new recruits must rise above their differences and work side by side despite the resistance and heartache they meet along the way. With America’s future on the line, Daisy is determined to prove herself worthy. And with the man she’s falling for out on the front lines, she cannot fail. From radar towers on remote mountaintops to flooded bomb shelters, she’ll need her new team when the stakes are highest. Because the most important battles are fought—and won—together.

This was a pretty cool read! I loved the historical premise of the novel, of which I’d never heard the slightest bit about:  Hawaiian women being trained to use radar in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The writing is solid, and the characters are unique and believable individuals. I truly enjoyed finding out what happened to these women against the backdrop of war, with the setting of Hawaii as a vibrant character in its own right. A perfect weekend read!

Sara Ackerman lives in Hawaii. Radar Girls is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Lady Sunshine, by Amy Mason Doan

Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title Lady Sunshine
AuthorAmy Mason Doan
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

ONE ICONIC FAMILY. ONE SUMMER OF SECRETS. THE DAZZLING SPIRIT OF 1970S CALIFORNIA.

For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods… until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.

Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

This book was unexpected. That’s the only adjective I can think of to describe it. Parts of it are lyrical, parts are sad, parts are just plain magical. Excellent, vibrant writing—I can practically watch events unfolding in my imagination as the narrative switches between present-day events and those of the past. I highly recommend this!

Amy Mason Doan grew up in California. Lady Sunshine is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The House Guests, by Emilie Richards

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleThe House Guests

AuthorEmilie Richards

Genre:  Fiction

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

In the wake of her husband’s sudden death, Cassie Costas finds her relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unraveling. After their move to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida, Savannah hates her new town, her school and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie has enough to contend with as she searches for answers about the man she shared a life with, including why all their savings have disappeared.

When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie empathizes with the woman’s predicament and invites the strangers to move in. As their lives intertwine, Cassie realizes that Amber is hiding something. She’s evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her.

This book wasn’t what I expected—in a good way! I enjoyed both Cassie’s and Amber’s viewpoints and stories, but I found Savannah more than a touch annoyingly selfish and oblivious (although there was character growth, thankfully). The friendship that developed between the two women was believable and realistic—no insta-best friends here.

The unraveling of the two mysteries was well-done, leaving the reader intrigued and curious, with no dumping of information to overwhelm the senses. I think the best part of the story was the Greek family and culture layered in, not to mention the descriptions of food. The author juggled all the different plotlines fantastically, bringing them all together into one tidy and fascinating package.

Emilie Richards is a bestselling author from Florida. The House Guests is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Warsaw Orphan, by Kelly Rimmer

Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

TitleThe Warsaw Orphan
Author Kelly Rimmer
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality–and that it’s the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Using Sara’s credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara’s cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm’s way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever.

I’ve read a number of books about World War II, but I’m not sure I’ve ever read one set in Warsaw. With the different points-of-view, the reader sees what life is like inside the ghetto, but what it looks like outside the ghetto, too. This was an engrossing read, and although not a light or happy one, there were some glimmers of light peeking through.

I recommend this read, for illustrating a slightly different aspect of the World War II tragedy. The characters are believable and I was invested in what happened to them and how they learned and grew from their experiences.

Kelly Rimmer is a bestselling author. The Warsaw Orphan is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Stepsisters, by Susan Mallery

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleThe Stepsisters
AuthorSusan Mallery
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.

I’m actually kind of surprised I finished reading this. The rather dramatic opening scene was solid, but I took an almost instant dislike to Sage, which took a while to turn into acceptance. I didn’t care for Cassidy at all. She was too whiny and dramatic for me.

I liked Daisy and sympathized with her struggles, but I can see how growing up with her would have been difficult. She always has to be right and watching her being doted on by her father probably wasn’t easy to take, either. Sage’s “careless act” was more of a “deliberate and ruthless act” than anything and would be almost impossible for anyone to forgive, much less someone she had such a tenuous family relationship with.

Susan Mallery is a bestselling author. The Stepsisters is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Legends of the North Cascades, by Jonathan Evison

Image belongs to Algonquin Books.

TitleLegends of the North Cascades
AuthorJonathan Evison
Genre:  Fiction        
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Dave Cartwright is already living on the edge, with a blue collar job he hates that barely pays the bills, a house on the verge of foreclosure, a failing marriage, and the recurring memories of three tours in Iraq. His only bright spot is his sometimes too-wise daughter, Bella, who sees and understands much beyond her years. When the unthinkable occurs, Dave makes a seemingly over-the-top decision to move with Bella to a cave in the wilderness. As they embark on this compelling and challenging backcountry adventure, Bella’s reality takes an unforeseen turn, retreating into the ancient world of a mother and son who lived in the cave thousands of years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. What unfolds amidst the struggle to survive is a meditation on both the perils of isolation and the human need for connection.

I’m not 100% sure what I think about this book. Excellent writing and the setting was vivid and vibrant, but…honestly, I finished the book and thought “What was the point?” I felt sympathy for Dave and his struggles—and I actually agree with him about wanting to shut the world out because of the toxicity and hate—but we didn’t get to see his moment of epiphany.

The ending was very abrupt, and I didn’t even care if Dave lived or died. I cared about Bella, yes, but what was the point of her flashbacks into the ancient past? Why did they even happen—and how? No answers, sadly.

Jonathan Evison is a bestselling author. Legends of the North Cascades is his newest novel.

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

Blog Tour: The Summer of No Attachments, by Lori Foster

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

TitleThe Summer of No Attachments
AuthorLori Foster
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  DNF

Summer flings with no strings mean nobody gets hurt.

At least, that was the plan…

After putting the brakes on her dead-end relationship, local veterinarian Ivey Anders is ready to soak up this summer on her own terms. The way she sees it, no dating means no disappointment. Why complicate life with anything long-term? But when she meets Corbin Meyer—and his troubled young son, Justin—Ivey’s no-strings strategy threatens to unravel before she can put it into practice.

Trust doesn’t come easy for Ivey’s best friend, Hope Mage, a veterinary-clinic assistant who’s affected by an incident that’s colored every relationship she’s had. Though Hope’s happy for Ivey, she can’t quite open her own heart to the possibility of love. Not just yet… Maybe not ever. Soon, however, she’s faced with a dilemma—Corbin’s older brother, Lang. He’s charming, he’s kind…and he may just be the reason Hope needs to finally tear down her walls.

And as the sweet summer months unspool, the two friends discover love won’t give up on them so easily.

I read about 25% of this before DNFing it. I found the characters low-key annoying, especially Ivey’s dramatics. If I wouldn’t want to hang around these people at all, what’s the point of reading about them? The dog and her elderly cat were almost enough to keep me reading, but in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Lori Foster is a bestselling author. The Summer of No Attachments is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: You Will Remember Me, by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleYou Will Remember Me
AuthorHannah Mary McKinnon
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Forget the truth.

Remember the lies.

He wakes up on a deserted beach in Maryland with a gash on his head and wearing only swim trunks. He can’t remember who he is. Everything—his identity, his life, his loved ones—has been replaced by a dizzying fog of uncertainty. But returning to his Maine hometown in search of the truth uncovers more questions than answers.

Lily Reid thinks she knows her boyfriend, Jack. Until he goes missing one night, and her frantic search reveals that he’s been lying to her since they met, desperate to escape a dark past he’d purposely left behind.

Maya Scott has been trying to find her estranged stepbrother, Asher, since he disappeared without a trace. Having him back, missing memory and all, feels like a miracle. But with a mutual history full of devastating secrets, how far will Maya go to ensure she alone takes them to the grave?

I feel like it’s usually kind of pointless to read a mystery or thriller where you already know who the culprit is. That being said, I never had much doubt who, exactly, was the bad guy in this story. With the multiple POVs in this story, there wasn’t much hidden about that—and sometimes the author was pretty heavy-handed about it as well.

I also feel like an author makes certain promises to the reader with the setup of a novel, and, frankly, I felt like the author broke those promises with the ending. That may just be me, but I doubt I’ll ever read anything from this author again.

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK and lives in Canada. You Will Remember Me is her newest novel.

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