This cute book by Jennifer Peel had all the feels. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it (like all of her books). Here’s my 5-star review:
This is such an awesome, heart-tugging, fun story. Jake and Kasie are married and dropping their only child off to college. They married right after graduation senior year and Kasie has felt distance between her and her husband for a while now. She knows he regrets her roping him into a marriage he never wanted. He didn’t get to love the one he wanted, so he loved the one he’s with. She suggests they separate, since he doesn’t really love her anymore. He doesn’t argue, which breaks her heart even more.
And so begins the story of whether they can resurrect their love or not. It’s a great tear-jerker, but with enough comedic relief through a reality TV show to give you some laughs as well. I always love Peel’s books, and this was no exception. Super touching love story and character growth (my favorite part of a book).
Ah! I always love me an Amy Harmon book. And her latest, The Songbook of Benny Lament, touched and changed my heart in all the best ways. If you’ve never read one of her books before, you should. They are ridiculously amazing!
This book transported me into a different place and time. It’s set in the early 60s in a New York neighborhood run by the mob. Benny Lament (Benito Lomento) wants nothing to do with his family. Family means secrets. Family means being owned. Family means murder, corruption, and nothing good in his mind.
His life revolves around his music since he’s made a name for himself writing songs for big name artists. But when his father makes him come listen to a black girl named Esther Mine sing in a ghetto bar in another neighborhood, he is captivated against his will. But what he learns from his dad about Esther Mine’s birth parents makes him want to leave her alone. The woman can only bring trouble into his life. But Benny can’t get her voice out of his head, and though he runs from fate, it’s going to catch up to him.
What I loved about this book were the themes: racial prejudice, family ties and duties, and change. This story had heart, like all of Harmon’s books do. I came to love characters so different from me—mobsters, sassy black women, angry black men, conflicted Italians. I loved the sixties setting and all the history interwoven through the radio show. I love the self-reflection her stories inspire if you let them. Harmon’s stories are in no way preachy (I hate those kind of stories), but as you get inside the characters’ heads and experience life vicariously with them, I can’t help but stop and wonder, “Am I resisting change? Am I standing up for change? How could I do better?”
The plot showed racial prejudice from several different sides and lights. The author wrote about this touchy, sensitive subject masterfully. She didn’t try to tell me how I should be. She just told a story about how the world was, and how a few strong individuals stood up against the status quo to bring about change (a very slow change). I saw how easy it is to believe there is no racism (or more personally, to think I’m not racist), when really there’s a good chance there is and I am just unaware or ignorant of it because it’s not touching us/me right then.
Amy Harmon’s stories always plant a seed of change in my heart. That’s why I love them. She started writing this back in 2019 before all the civil unrest exploded here in the US. After reading this, I want to do better at challenging my cultural and societal beliefs, to make sure I never get cozy in a world where I’m only looking out for myself. I want to do better at making sure I’m always changing in a way that is including others, not excluding them. I want to be changing in ways that unite others in diversity, instead of clinging to my comfortable cliques or tribes. Anyway, I have nothing but praise for this book. The author tackled a hard subject with difficult characters, and did it with honesty and grace.
Sometimes the best way to hide is in the spotlight. If the whole world knows who you are, it’s harder to snuff you out.”
Prejudice is human nature, and it isn’t always ugly or violent or even obvious. We all make judgments, some of them justified, some of them not. We’re taught a certain way of thinking and doing, we’re taught to blame or justify, and a lot of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it. And that’s true of everybody. Not just white people. I told Esther she had a chip on her shoulder, and she told me I had a blind spot.”
If you’re tired of subpar books, look no farther than Amy Harmon. Her storytelling won’t disappoint you. Happy reading.
A reader recently told me she really enjoyed all of KM Shea’s fantasies, so I gave this author a try…and I have really liked her so far. I haven’t read a ton yet, so I’m no expert on all her books. But the Hall of Blood and Mercy series has been super fun and intriguing. Here’s the blurb for the first book–Magic Forged.
I’m one scrappy wizard. As someone with barely a flicker of magic, I’ve spent my life being mocked and surviving fights with bullies. But when my parents die in an accident, and I find myself responsible for our whole wizard house and family, I know my usual tactics aren’t going to cut it.
I have a thrilling fantasy series to spotlight today. Well, I’m only going to spotlight the fourth book in the series, but if you haven’t read a Brandon Sanderson book, I highly recommend you fix that error in your life. Rhythm of War, like the other books in this series, is very long and has complex world building and plot and character growth…but it was such a fulfilling ride! So, here’s my official review of it.
Holy chasmfiend! This book tore my heart out. These books are literal genius at work. Yes, they’re as long and emotionally torturous as the chasms in the Shattered Plains themselves (which you’ll know about if you read them), but if you work your way through them, you grow like the characters do…and my, my, my is there a TON of growing for the characters in this book. This book was brilliant as well because it made me like (or at least respect) one of the main villains by understanding her inside and out. That is the gift of pure genius. This book delved deeply into mental illness (depression, multiple personality disorder) as several characters are suffering from these issues from horrific events that happened earlier to them. I felt the author did a spectacular job showing what mental illness looks like and feels like…and also how to deal with it.
You all know how much I love Jennifer Peel’s book. Her latest is no different. I keep falling in love with each new book she releases and think it will be my new favorite…until her next one. Ha ha. I didn’t know what to think when I saw this title. My first thought was: “Ew. Blood?” I wondered if it would be a vampire book, but nope! All’s Fair in Love & Blood is a solid contemporary romance. Here’s the blurb:
They are both out for blood, but could it end in love?
Scarlett Armstrong and Kane Hudson have a tangled past involving not only their families but their own failed love affair. Now, eight years later, to make things more complicated, they’re both in the running to become the next CEO of Scarlett’s family’s business, Armstrong Labs, a privately held blood plasma company. It all comes down to who presents the best business plan to the board of directors.
The latest release by Becky Monson was a WINNER! I hope you get to read it. Here’s the blurb:
Wrong number. Right guy?
Once upon a time, Maggie Cooper lived for adventure. Jumping out of planes was child’s play. Now she can’t even work up the nerve to ask out her coworker. For a bit of self-therapy, she begins to text her recently deceased mother’s phone—the only problem is that the number has been reassigned and for weeks she’s been unknowingly texting a stranger her deepest thoughts and feelings. There have also been some not-so-deep texts, like the ones about her appreciation for her coworker’s butt.
This newest Hunger Games book takes us back in time, way before Katnis’s time to when President Snow–Cornelius, or Corneo–was a teenage boy in high school. He lives with his cousin, Tigris, and the Grand Mam (his grandma). They’re destitute, having sold off almost all their belongings to keep up the façade of a solid Snow heritage with no worries. He’s been raised with the mantra: Snow always falls on top. But everything seems to be falling on top of him.
Here’s a new release by my friend Amanda Sowards (A.L. Sowards). It’s a medieval romance that’s pretty clean and beyond riveting. I couldn’t put it down when I read the beta-version. It has a beautiful cover as well–always a bonus.
Amanda is one of my favorite historical fiction writers, and she’s become adept over the years at wrapping a sweet romance into her stories as well (if you know me–I LOVE romance. It makes every story so much greater!). Here’s my review and the links below:
This year was a doozey. But there was a lot of down time to read. That’s always a plus for me. I read 100 books from 11 genres, with 2 of those being broken into 15 subcategories (fantasy – 2, romance – 13). Five of that total number were my own books. The lonely category was a YA book (The Wave by Todd Strasser). Romance was the most read genre (of course). 47 books. The top three subcategories were Regency (11), Contemporary (9) and Chick Lit (8).
In nonfiction, I learned more about writing, painting, democracy, and how the FBI was founded. I learned about Michelle Obama (most popular book), Russell M. Nelson, Reese Witherspoon, and Frederick Douglass (the escaped slave abolitionist). I learned self-help principles from Brooke Snow and Brene Brown and have loved putting new principles into action.
Here is my Goodreads infographic so you can see and click on any book that interests you. Below are my favorites. The top 10 are in order but after that I liked them all and it was hard to order them. 🙂
Here’s another fun Christmas story. (Not so) Alone for Christmas is a novella. Short and sweet. It’s written by the lovely Jenny Proctor (who also has edited a couple of my books). She’s a great author and an amazing editor. I would be lost without her. 🙂
So, without further ado. Here is the blurb for this book:
Problem number one: Maddy’s family is NOT at home. A surprise Christmas visit to Charleston only works if the family you’re surprising hasn’t decided to spend the holidays in Hawaii.
Problem number two: Maddy is stranded. There is snow on the ground in Charleston, a city that doesn’t even own a snow plow. Flights are grounded, and the power is out. Maddy isn’t going anywhere.
Problem number three: Bo Bradshaw, Maddy’s old high school crush, is stranded with her, and he is hotter than ever.