Tag: reading

Book Review and Blog Tour: Confessions from the Quilting Circle, by Maisey Yates

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

Title Confessions from the Quilting Circle
AuthorMaisey Yates
Genre:  Romance   
Rating:  2.5 out of 5

When Lark Ashwood’s beloved grandmother dies, she and her sisters discover an unfinished quilt. Finishing it could be the reason Lark’s been looking for to stop running from the past, but is she ever going to be brave enough to share her biggest secret with the people she ought to be closest to?

Hannah can’t believe she’s back in Bear Creek, the tiny town she sacrificed everything to escape from. The plan? Help her sisters renovate her grandmother’s house and leave as fast as humanly possible. Until she comes face-to-face with a man from her past. But getting close to him again might mean confessing what really drove her away…

Stay-at-home mom Avery has built a perfect life, but at a cost. She’ll need all her family around her, and all her strength, to decide if the price of perfection is one she can afford to keep paying.

This summer, the Ashwood women must lean on each other like never before, if they are to stitch their family back together, one truth at a time…

Billing this as “romance” is a bit of a stretch: this is a novel about family. The so-called romances are subplots, at best. These three sisters…aren’t the most likable characters ever. Hannah is mean and ugly to everyone, all while feeling justified to herself. Avery is the queen of denial and looks down on everyone around her. Lark is flighty and ridiculous at best—and wonders why everyone treats her like that.

There is no hint that each of the sisters are hiding secrets. None. Until maybe a few pages before the reveal of said secrets. There is also no hint that their beloved grandmother had a secret, too, until 90% of the way through the book—no joke—and then it’s resolved on the next page with no conflict. I do not recommend this book.

Maisey Yates is a bestselling author. Confessions from the Quilting Circle is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: New Girl in Little Cove, by Damhnait Monaghan

Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

TitleNew Girl in Little Cove
AuthorDamhnait Monaghan
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:   5 out of 5

After the local French teacher scandalizes the fishing village of Little Cove, Newfoundland, by running off with a priest, the school looks to the mainland to fill the job quickly. They want someone who can uphold their Catholic values and keep a motley group of largely unwilling students in line.

The position is filled by mainlander Rachel O’Brien—technically a Catholic (baptized!), technically a teacher (honors degree!)—who’s desperate to leave her current mess of a life behind. She isn’t surprised that her students don’t see the value of learning French. But she is surprised that she can barely understand their English… Is it a compliment or insult to be called a sleeveen? (Insult.) And the anonymous notes left on her car, telling her to go home, certainly don’t help to make her feel welcome.

Still, she is quickly drawn into the island’s traditional music and culture, and into the personal lives of her crusty but softhearted landlady, Lucille, her reluctant students and her fellow teacher Doug Bishop. But when her beliefs clash with church and community, she makes a decision that throws her career into jeopardy. In trying to help a student, has she gone too far?

This was such a good read! The culture and landscape of Little Cove is a vivid character in this novel, and the author does a stellar job of bringing it to life. The characters are quirky yet relatable, and, despite the setting being such a tiny place, it’s full of life and activity. This was an easy read, but just so warm and comfortable, like a cozy sweater on a cold day.

Damhnait Monaghan is an award-winning writer. New Girl in Little Cove is her debut novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, by Julietta Henderson

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleThe Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
AuthorJulietta Henderson
Genre:  YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

Twelve-year-old Norman Foreman and his best friend, Jax, are a legendary comedic duo in waiting, with a plan to take their act all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe. But when Jax dies, Norman decides the only fitting tribute is to perform at the festival himself. The problem is, Norman’s not the funny one. Jax was.

There’s also another, far more colossal objective on Norman’s new plan that his single mom, Sadie, wasn’t ready for: he wants to find the father he’s never known. Determined to put a smile back on her boy’s face, Sadie resolves to face up to her own messy past, get Norman to the Fringe and help track down a man whose identity is a mystery, even to her.

I’ll be honest, initially, Sadie’s voice almost made me put this down. She just sounded so defeated. I am SO glad I didn’t! This ended up being a fantastic read! Norman is an awesome kid. I have no idea how he has such a positive attitude, considering everything, but he’s so uplifting and inspiring!

And, actually, Sadie is defeated when the book starts out. By life. By all the tragedy and hardship she’s experienced, by her own regrets, by her fears for Norman, and her grief. This story is as much her journey as Norman’s, and it ended up being such an enthralling story, with both laughter and tears, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Julietta Henderson is a full-time writer. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is her debut novel.

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

The Best Books I Read in April (2021)

I read 19 books in April, most of them solid reads, a few not-so-good, and three really excellent ones.

Blessed Monsters, by Emily A. Duncan. This is the ending to a fantastic trilogy! These books are dark and bloody, with grim magic and vivid characters, and are well-worth reading!

Maggie Finds Her Muse, by Dee Ernst. This read was an excellent bit of fun! It’s billed as a romantic comedy, but I think it’s just more of lighthearted read about an almost-50 woman who finally figures out what she wants out of life. In Paris, of course.

Sweetshop of Dreams, by Jenny Colgan. This was also an excellent light read. When a Londoner ends up in a tiny English village, neither the village or the Londoner are ready. This was just a fun, enjoyable read, perfect for a weekend or vacation read.

What I Read in April (2021)

Books Read in April: 19

Books Read for the Year:  77/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Wings of Fury, by Emily R. King (TBR). This was just a “meh” read for me.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas (TBR, re-read). Why did I stop reading this series? Can’t wait to read the next one!

A Poison Dark and Drowning, by Jessica Cluess (TBR). I’m enjoying this series!

Forever Odd, by Dean Koontz (Re-read). I just love this series.

Stronger than the Struggle, by Havilah Cunnington (spiritual). Excellent read.

For Review:

Just Get Home, by Bridget Foley. This was a decent read, although I didn’t like the MC very much. She was basically useless and ineffectual.

Blessed Monsters, by Emily A. Duncan. I loved this entire trilogy, and this was a fitting ending to it. Very,very dark, but riveting.

The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin. This was an excellent read! I loved the bookshop itself, and the love of reading it fostered. And, it was nice to read a novel of World War II that wasn’t all dark and gloomy.

The Bookstore on the Beach, by Brenda Novak. This was an okay read, but I think there was too much going on to give any of the plotlines justice.

The Sign of Death, by Callie Hutton. I enjoyed this cozy mystery set in Victorian England just as much as the first one in the series. The unconventional heroine is a lot of fun—although I could do without the froufrou dog.

Bitterroot Lake, by Alicia Beckman. The setting here—and the lodge itself—is almost a character in its own right, and the descriptions made me want to visit, but there was never much question in my mind who the actual killer was, although the author tried to throw out some red herrings.

When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McLain. I enjoyed this thriller, especially the parts in the past in the woods.

Death with a Double Edge, by Anne Perry. I think this was the first Anne Perry book I’ve read. It was a solid read, but the ending felt a little too easy for me.

Maggie Finds Her Muse, by Dee Ernst. I thoroughly enjoyed this read! The heroine isn’t some young 20-something. She’s in her late 40s, and she’s still struggling with what she wants to do with her life, so when she ends up in Paris and meets a handsome Frenchman and her ex-husband wants to reconnect, well, there’s a lot going on. This was so much fun!

How to Train Your Earl, by Amelia Grey. This was a solid historical romance. It delivered on the promises of the genre, but wasn’t a standout, although it tried to make its heroine unique.

Sweetshop of Dreams, by Jenny Colgan. I enjoyed this so much! The setting, the characters, the story itself—all worked together wonderfully!

Mother May I, by Joshilyn Jackson. This was a good read, but it wasn’t my favorite Joshilyn Jackson novel (that would be gods in Alabama, if you want to know). I love her Southern fiction, and this was more of a thriller, so that was a little disappointing, but it was still a solid thriller—and I did not see the ending coming!

A Tale of Two Cookies, by Eve Calder. This is a sweet, fun series that I really enjoy. Cookies and cozy mysteries!

Just Because:

The Year of Living Happy, by Alli Worthington. This was a lovely daily devotional.

Leap into Love, by Havilah Cunnington. I enjoyed this bible study read.

Left Unfinished:

The Dictionary of Lost Words, by Pip Williams. This should have been fascinating, but I found it so slooow.

The Space Between Two Deaths, by Jamie Yourdon. I didn’t make it very far in this, as I just found it boring. It might have picked up and the setting intrigued me, but not enough to force myself to slog through it.

The Last Exiles, by Ann Shin. This just started off way too slow for me. Solid writing, just not good timing for me.

The Good Sister, by Sally Hepworth. I made it about 15%, but I just didn’t really care for either sister.

Sea of Kings, by Melissa Hope. I made it about 15% through this. I don’t expect middle-grade novels to be as nuanced as adult or even YA books, but this felt clunky and kind of a Harry Potter meets Under the Sea feel.

Under the Southern Sky, by Kristy Woodson Harvey. This just didn’t catch my attention in the first 10%.

When in Vanuatu, by Nicki Chen. There were a lot of books this month that I DNF. This one just didn’t catch my interest.

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cookies, by Eve Calder

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleA Tale of Two Cookies
AuthorEve Calder
Genre:  Cozy mystery
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

Pastry chef Kate McGuire is loving life on the laid-back island of Coral Cay, Florida. As junior partner in a bakery renowned for luscious desserts–especially her cookies–life is pretty sweet. So when an old friend arrives and announces a spur-of-the-moment beach wedding, that’s just the icing on the wedding cake.

But the groom vanishes right as a television crew descends on the town to film a hot, new realty show. Is there a connection? Is her friend Desiree somehow involved? Or did groom Judson simply get cold feet? The bride and groom were paired better than warm cookies and cold milk, so Kate doesn’t buy it.

As the show’s cast runs amok on the island and the investigation into Judson’s disappearance heats up, Kate and her pal Maxi, along with town dog Oliver, will brave the rambunctious world of reality TV and a wedding weekend gone awry, in an all-out effort to find the missing groom.

Warning:  do not read this if you’re trying to give up sugar or carbs! Because dang, the cookies and cakes described in this book sound fantastic.

This was a quick, fun read. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and can’t wait to read more. The quaint tropical setting is great, and the characters are quirky and memorable—even the dog. I honestly had no idea who the culprit was until the big reveal, and that made this even more fun. I also like that, three books into this series, we’re not already emmeshed in a romance, which is pretty common for cozy mysteries. I’m not opposed to that, but it’s nice to read a series that isn’t focused around that.

Eve Calder is from Florida. A Tale of Two Cookies is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Mother May I, by Joshilyn Jackson

Image belongs to William Morrow.

TitleMother May I
AuthorJoshilyn Jackson
Genre:  Fiction, thriller
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned by her single mother that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected her mother’s fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of: a loving lawyer husband, two talented teenage daughters, a new baby boy, a gorgeous home, and every opportunity in the world.

Until the day she awakens and sees a witch peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price, making her complicit in a tangled web of tragedy and shocking secrets that could destroy everything she loves. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will lead Bree to dangerous places, explosive confrontations, and chilling truths.

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

I’m a huge Joshilyn Jackson fan. Her novel gods in Alabama is one of my top 10 favorite books ever. I discovered her quite by accident, fell in love with the voice of her stories, and realized Southern fiction was a thing.

Mother May I is more of a thriller than her other novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The character arc that Bree experiences during the short time period of this novel is incredible to experience, and I was up early finishing up this novel before my day started. Highly recommend! (Also, this cover is perfect!)

Joshilyn Jackson is a bestselling author. Mother May I is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Sweetshop of Dreams, by Jenny Colgan

Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

TitleSweetshop of Dreams
AuthorJenny Colgan
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5

Rosie Hopkins has gotten used to busy London life. It’s…comfortable. And though she might like a more rewarding career, and her boyfriend’s not exactly the king of romance, Rosie’s not complaining. And when she visits her Aunt Lilian’s small country village to help sort out her sweetshop, she expects it to be dull at best.

Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton’s sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. When her great-niece Rosie arrives to help her with the shop, the last thing Lillian wants to slow down and wrestle with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully colored sweets.

But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what’s comfortable might not be so great after all.

This was such a fun book! Rosie’s boyfriend got on my very last nerve—and he’s fictional! I loved the scenes of life in the little village, and Rosie’s misadventures had me laughing. Reading this was sheer enjoyment!

Jenny Colgan was born in Scotland. Sweetshop of Dreams is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Beautiful Ones, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Image belongs to Tor Books.

TitleThe Beautiful Ones
AuthorSilvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre:  Fiction, fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina — and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.

The Beautiful Ones is both magical and beautiful, with a Jane Austen-like feel for its also being a comedy of manners. Nina is a brave girl who stumbles as she enters a new world she doesn’t understand. Nina’s propensity to speak her mind and act without thinking gives her trouble at the hands of the elite of society, but her love for Hector gives her hope.

Hector is battling demons from his past, and his good intentions are often derailed at the hands of long-held dreams. The battles he faces are as hard as those of Nina, and the darkness threatens to overtake them both. I loved this book! Very different, with hints of steampunk twisted with a classical literary feel.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia was born in Mexico. The Beautiful Ones is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: How to Train Your Earl, by Amelia Grey

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleHow to Train Your Earl
AuthorAmelia Grey
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Brina Feld has settled into a life devoted to helping others since the sinking of the Salty Dove left her widowed. She has no need for a man in her contented life. But when the notorious and handsome Lord Blacknight returns and awakens her desires, her peace and serenity vanish. If she agrees to an alliance with him, she knows she will have to battle her heart to keep from being snared under his spell.

Zane, the Earl of Blacknight, was never supposed to inherit the earldom, so he didn’t much care to lead a respectable life before then. Fistfights, card games, and drinking are the order of the day. Now he’s determined to change his rakish ways and he knows the proper lady who can help him. There’s just one problem: He’s already bet he’ll win her hand before the Season is over. With her resolve to out-scheme him, how can he show her that his love is true?

This was a solid, if unexceptional, read. I thought Zane’s out-of-nowhere wager was a bit contrived, but I went with it. I liked the characters and enjoyed the read, but it was standard romance fare, not a standout.

Amelia Grey lives in Florida. How to Train Your Earl is her newest novel.

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