Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!
What am I currently reading?
What did I just finish?
What am I reading next?
What am I currently reading?
My current read is a listen. I’m listening to the audiobook of The Lady’s Guide to Death and Deception, which takes the characters from Pride and Prejudice and puts them into a historical cozy mystery series. You can learn more about the book by clicking on the cover. This is book 3 of the series.
What I recently finished reading
This was a disappointing read for me, with a three-star rating. This series is about a brother and sister who own a restoration shop and cafe, and often encounter mysteries through the restoration shop antiques. Good premise, but it fell flat. I’m going to go ahead and put up my mini review here because it’s just not interesting enough to get its own page:
I had a hard time getting into this one. There isn’t much of a mystery. The book spends way too much time on the daily routines and lives of Cullen and Luna and their significant others, even up to the point of putting the uninteresting content of text messages into the story. It just wasn’t compelling enough to hold my attention.
I received a free copy of this book from Kensington Books via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
What I’m reading next
Set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s, this is Book 9 in the Reverend Mother Mystery Series. This one is set during Christmas. Click on the cover to learn more about this series.
A snowstorm. A stranger. A spark. It should be the perfect start to the perfect love story.
But real life is far messier and more complicated than in the pages of the books in Megan Taylor’s family bookshop – the last few years have left this young widow in no doubt of that. Moving back home to York should have been a fresh start, but all it did was allow her to retreat from the world.
When prize-winning author Xander Stone rams his supermarket trolley into her ankles and then trashes her taste in books, Megan is abruptly awoken from her self-imposed hibernation. It’s time to start living again, and she’s going to start by putting this arrogant, superior – admittedly sexy – stranger in his place.
Just as she is beginning to enjoy life again, the worst happens and Megan begins to wonder if she should have stayed hidden away. Because it turns out that falling in love again is about more than just meeting under the mistletoe…
Three years after her husband’s death, Megan is still trying to move forward. On top of that, her bookshop is struggling and she’s not sure it’s going to make it. When famous novelist Xander Stone agrees to do a book signing at her shop, she is thrilled. But his rudeness and condescending manner do not bode well for the event. Angered by Xander’s scorn towards romance novels, Megan invites him to her book club and begins to see a different side of Xander Stone.
This is a sometimes light romance that, interestingly enough, pokes fun at some romance tropes while simultaneously introducing many of those tropes into the actual book. There are several nods to Jane Austen and some poignant discussions of the financial plight of bookstores right now. I’m not sure this transports me completely to the Christmas season, as I think most of the book could have taken place at any time of the year and I didn’t completely feel the holiday spirit.
I have some problems with Xander, the most important of which is that he has a pattern throughout the book of suddenly becoming rude and extremely verbally abusive out of the blue, with no warning. It happens more than once, and the explanation for it is not good enough. I also don’t like the name Xander as a shortened form of Alexander. It sounds like a little boy’s name. But considering his behavior and penchant for temper tantrums, maybe it’s fitting.
The other characters are likable and the narrator, Laura Brydon, does a good job differentiating between all the characters and bringing their personalities alive. This takes my rating from two stars to three.
I received a free copy of this audiobook from Saga Egmont Audio. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
NOTE: The first cover is the cover of the audiobook. The second cover is the cover of the Kindle edition. I prefer the audiobook cover. What do you think?
ANOTHER NOTE: I’m annoyed that a book with an abusive main character has 1500 ratings on Amazon and over a 4-star average while much better books struggle for an audience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Burton has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and always dreamed of being a writer until life somehow got in the way. After reading for a degree in Classics and another in English Literature she accidentally fell into a career in law, but eventually managed to write her first book on her lunch breaks. She loves words, Shakespeare, tea, The Beatles, dresses with pockets and very tall romantic heroes (not necessarily in that order) and lives with her husband and two cats in Yorkshire. A Bookshop Christmas was a finalist in the RNA Romantic Novel Awards 2022.
Bang. Bang. Bang. I jump as the knocks on the window crash above the roaring wind outside. Who could it be, at this late hour? I open the curtains and peer outside. ‘Hello?’ But the dark, the rain and the empty lane are all I see.
It’s been eleven years since I last saw Jonah, after his brother died that stormy summer night. And now, without warning, he’s back, living in his old house next door just like old times, on the remote Scottish island that is home. Where I used to imagine we’d stay, together, forever, sharing our lives and our secrets as we always had. But that was before.
Jonah’s not the sweet boy I once knew. His mood is changeable, his behaviour unstable, our brief conversations are forced and awkward. And then the knocks on my window begin. It can only be him, but why, and what does he want? I used to love him. Now I don’t even want to invite him in.
Because after all these years, I see our childhood secrets, the ones we swore never to reveal, in a newly terrifying light. Was his brother’s death truly an accident? Could Jonah’s secrets have been worth killing for? And how safe am I now, on this isolated island, with the man I used to love…?
A totally addictive and twisty psychological thriller with a jaw-dropping twist. Anyone who loves The Woman in the Window, The Wife Between UsandThe Housemaid won’t beable to put Childhood Sweetheart down!
Ailsa’s childhood love, Jonah, is back after 11 years, living next door and bringing with him memories of secrets that were long buried. But Ailsa has little time for anything new, as she’s trying to raise her autistic son, Kyle, of whom she is very protective. But Jonah has changed so much, and even the best-hidden secrets have a way of coming to light.
This thriller is somewhat slow-paced at first, but eventually picks up speed. I enjoyed the setting on a Scottish island, and there are plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings. Ailsa’s challenges as a parent of an autistic child are well described, and Kyle’s personality is very well done. I also feel that the reaction of some of the characters to Kyle is very realistic. There are varying points of view as well as flashbacks, and as a warning rape and child abuse are a part of the story.
Overall, this is an entertaining thriller that will keep you guessing.
I received a free copy of this book via Bookouture. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wendy Clarke was a teacher until the small primary school where she worked closed down. Now she is a writer of psychological suspense but is also well known for her short stories and serials which regularly appear in national women’s magazines.
Wendy has two children and three step-children and lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex. When not writing, she is usually indulging in her passion for dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post
After a long work week followed by 57 straight hours of watching three grandkids (ages 3, 3, and 7), I headed straight to the salon after I dropped the kids off yesterday. About an hour of getting a long-overdue pedicure really helped me destress. I really need to remember that pampering myself a little goes a long way the rest of the week.
Along the lines of de-stressing, here are some photos of my “happy place,” the place I go to in my mind when I can’t go in person–Deep Creek, part of the Smoky Mountain National Park. Although part of the park, Deep Creek is not inside the park itself, but located in Bryson City, NC.
Friday I will post a review of The Duchess of Idaho that I did for the August edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society. I will also participate in Friday 56 and Book Blogger Hop if time permits.
On Self-Published Saturday I will review/spotlight self-published books.
BOOK HAUL LAST WEEK
I really need to quit requesting books for a while, but it is addictive!
At my daughter Mabel’s sixth birthday party, there’s a cake with candles, sausages on the barbecue, and the sound of her friends’ excited voices as we open her gifts. But at the end of the day, I hug my daughter tightly, drop a kiss into her shiny brown hair… and leave her with my ex-husband, who won’t even meet my eyes.
After our divorce, Matthew and I wanted to do the best thing for Mabel. We agreed to share the family home, despite living separate lives. Now one of us stays with her, and one of us stays at the apartment across town.
The night of the party, I fall asleep on the sofa, tired and a little sad. When I wake up and stumble into my bedroom, I know immediately something is wrong.
There’s a body in my bed. A man I dated. In an apartment where only Matthew and I have the key.
Would Matthew go this far to be rid of me? I thought I could trust him… but now I can’t be sure.
Or has someone learned the terrible secret that both tore us apart, and tied us together forever?
An absolutely gripping thriller that will keep you reading late into the night, unable to put the book down for a second. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell.
Life changes once again for British spy Miss Mary Bennet when Napoleon Bonaparte escapes from the Isle of Elba. Mary quickly departs England for Brussels, the city where the Allied forces prepare for war against the French. But shortly after her arrival, one of the Duke of Wellington’s best officers is murdered, an event that threatens to break the delicate alliance between the Allies.
Investigating the murder forces Mary into precarious levels of espionage, role-playing, and deception with her new partner, Mr. Withrow—the nephew and heir of her prominent sponsor and the spy with whom she’s often at odds. Together, they court danger and discovery as they play dual roles in gathering intelligence for the British. But soon Mary realizes that her growing feelings toward Mr. Withrow put her heart in as much danger as her life. And then there’s another murder.
Mary will need to unmask the murderer before more people are killed, but can she do so and remain hidden in the background?
Self-published Saturday is my effort to help self-published/indie authors with marketing. Self-published/indie authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to spreading the word about their book. If I can help even a little with marketing, I’m happy to do it. Below is my review of My Alien Life, a wonderful novella about a 9-year-old girl taken in by her elderly aunt after her father’s death.
“My mother was a no-nonsense woman. If it wasn’t in the Bible or on Jerry Springer, then it couldn’t happen. Of course, there’s a lot of freaky stuff in the Good Book, with ladders to heaven and angels with animal faces and such. And crazy, muckraking talk shows probably aren’t the best yardstick for anything short of how depraved humans can be. But the point is that when she was abducted by aliens and impregnated with me, she had some trouble processing. I’m pretty sure Jerry actually covered that one, but I guess she missed the show that day. TiVo hadn’t been invented yet, just in case you’re wondering. Trust me, if it had, she’d have been all over that.” — Lynette, age 9
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Martain is a coastal North Carolina native who spends most of her time questioning the way the universe and all the beings in it work. This often leads her down a deep research rabbit hole until she resurfaces with a new theory and a backstory to explain it. Her characters are sometimes human, sometimes not, but they prefer not to be judged on that criteria.
Abandoned by her mother, Lynette is raised and cared for by her devoted father, until the day he dies when she is 9. Amongst a sea of uncaring relatives, her elderly Aunt Magnolia arrives and takes her home, with a deal that “Mags” will stay alive at least until Lynette is 16 and can raise herself. This is a heart-touching novella that will induce smiles as well as tears.
The writing of J. Martain absolutely captivated me throughout. Every bit of dialogue and every descriptive word paints a vivid and imaginative picture that allows the reader to completely immerse themselves in Lynette’s world. Lynette’s strong, realistic, and precocious personality just jumps off the page. Mags’ no-nonsense manner does not hide her loving nature, and she begins showing Lynette how to care for herself at a very young age. Together they are an unlikely pair—a woman in her 90s and a preteen, but they become a family. This is a lifetime of a story in four chapters and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves stories with strong characters
I received a free copy of this book via BookSirens. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
*If you buy the book, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.
*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share this book with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published/indie authors go a long way!
The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, Billy @ Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer relaunched the hop on February 15, 2013. Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book-related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to their own blog.
Yes, absolutely. If I don’t have time to read/review the book, I also have an option to do a spotlight with the cover art, blurb, and buy links. That way we can still get the word out about the book even if I don’t have time to do a review.
I’d like to take this time to encourage authors to send me info for a spotlight, even if you are also waiting for a review. Please be sure and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me the cover art, a book blurb, an author bio, and anything else you want to be included in the post. (If you have a book trailer, send it to me. I love them.) I will add buy links.
This is the first book of my favorite time travel series about a group of madcap, time-traveling historians. Madeline Maxwell is a trainee in book one and on Page 56 has just completed her first time jump, which is actually a test to see what she does when the system shuts down and she appears to be stranded.
“This is fantastic tea.”
“How long ago did you run out?”
‘Two long days ago.”
“We were spot on then. We have to try and gauge it so you’re close to running out of supplies but haven’t yet struck out across country to search for help. When were you planning to go?”
“I wasn’t. I knew you wouldn’t let me starve.”
“No one likes a smart arse.”
“Does this mean I’ve failed?”
“No, Miss Maxwell, it means you’re top of the class.”
Yes! My future stretched happily in front of me; back to the past.”
If you click on the cover above, you can learn more about the book.
1946. Peggy is living with her father and working at his auto shop, but spends much of her time helping out at the Barnetts’ veterinary practice across the street. She regularly visits her good friend, the Barnetts’ son Jimmy, who was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt after his service in World War II. Determined to help Jimmy, Peggy begins looking for other soldiers who served with him in the war, and for the woman, Gisela, whose picture was among Jimmy’s possessions.
1939. After the Nazis begin to persecute and murder the Jews, Gisela and her family are put on a ship, the St. Louis, and given passage to Cuba, which had agreed to allow them to settle there. But the ship is turned away in Cuba, and Gisela begins a journey that will end at Buchenwald, where she meets a young American medic named Jimmy.
Lynn Austin has given us another well-woven and meticulously researched historical saga. This dual-timeline novel is set both during and after World War II, and slowly entwines the lives of two young women who are connected by a young soldier. We witness the heartbreaking voyage of the St. Louis as the captain tries in vain to reach a safe harbor, and we see the terror of Jews trying to hide in Nazi-occupied territories. We are shown the horrors of World War II and the struggles of survivors to move forward. A Christian crisis of faith is explored, and primitive mental health surgical practices of the 1940s are brought to light. Long Way Home takes us across the sea and back again, into concentration camps and even to small American towns on an unforgettable journey about the evil of war and the love that brings us through it.
My rating is 4.7 stars, rounded up to five on sites with no partial star option.
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.
Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.
Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.
Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.
In 1865 in the shanty town of Tartatenango, the Caketown Bar is owned by the extraordinary Jaguar Paloma, matriarch of a village that is home to raucous miscreants, cast-off mothers, muleteers, and forgers. Amid drunken monks, a roaring trade in faked marriages just for fun, and the Romani, all balance on the knife-edge between legality and the illicit. Paloma’s life is honed by this community, as their lives are affected by her mystery and magic.
Co-founder of this extraordinary gathering is Orietta Becerra. Breathtakingly beautiful and ambitious, her distillery builds the success of Caketown. But when she crosses the tracks and marries the town’s mayor, her double life severs her friendship with Paloma and the town starts to pay the highest of prices.
Adding to this land of chaos and feminine power is a forger, a murderer, the darker shade of the female heart, and a Civil War that claims men before their time.
Caketown – men want to destroy it. Women want to play in it. The township itself has to fight on all sides to survive.
Told in evocative magical realism, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar is a tale of wronged women who stand up to be counted.
1865, Colombia. Betrayed by her family, Paloma sets out on her own with only determination and anger as companions. When the very tall Paloma meets the very beautiful Orietta, a friendship is formed. They start the Caketown Bar, a home for castoffs of all kinds, and it quickly becomes more than a bar. It becomes a society where everyone is accepted, no matter how odd. Fake weddings are held just for fun. It is a happy, successful, and carefree life, until Orietta marries the bank manager.
This is a completely unique and captivating story that quickly drew me in, as each character and their experiences were introduced in such compelling ways. The ability of Paloma, Orietta and their friends to basically build a world where they all belonged in Caketown speaks to the misfit in all of us. This is a story of people who rose above rejection, hatred, and abandonment, built their own world, and then had to battle against the evils of war and a terrible man. It is also a story of mistakes, betrayal, and loss, and the way we fight to come back from that. This novel is steeped in magical realism, but contains an even more powerful magic—the one that happens when a kind soul reaches out to the abandoned or neglected, and they begin to blossom.
I received a free copy of this book from the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jess Wells is the author of six novels and five books of short stories, winner of a Nautilus Prize for Fiction, a Foreword Reviews Indies Award for Adult Fiction/Romance, the recipient of a San Francisco Arts Commission Grant for Literature, a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award, and a member of the Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame. Her work has appeared in more than three dozen literary journals and anthologies, and has been reprinted in England and translated into Italian and Dutch.
Self-published Saturday is my effort to help self-published and indie authors with marketing. Self-published/indie authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to spreading the word about their book. If I can help even a little with marketing, I’m happy to do it. Below is my review of a wonderful Christmas novella, Christmas in ’45, by Indie author Mark W. Sasse.
On Christmas Eve, 1944, Roberta and her mother are notified that her father has been killed in the war. The following year, Roberta struggles with loss, grief, anger, and moving on. As Christmas 1945 approaches, she’s decided not to celebrate it at all. But love, patience, and a wonderful gesture could change everything.
This is a beautiful Christmas novella about loss and starting over again. It’s also about fathers, daughters, and grief. It will break your heart as you watch a little girl try to heal from losing her Dad. If you enjoy heart-touching Christmas stories, you will appreciate this novel, which explores the love of a father and the different forms it can take.
I received a free copy of this book via BookSirens. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark W Sasse is a novelist and award-winning playwright and director. He vacillates on a daily basis between which genre of writing he enjoys the most. Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose! Sasse’s novels have been featured on curated sites such as Bookbub, Freebooksy, and EReaderNewsToday while his plays have been produced in New York, Penang, Columbus, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, Australia, among other places.
*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.
*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published/indie authors go a long way!