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Book Review ~ Revenge Tour

3 out of 5 stars     

 

Revenge Tour by Mike Lupica. This critic/reader prefers it when the (antagonist) villain in the story has a tiny bit of redemption.  A cutting edge sense of humor, a good brother, or a slice of empathy. When the victim (so-called) has not an ounce of  redemption that does not bode well.  In the case of Revenge Tour, please somebody just shoot Melanie Joan Hall immediately. Or shoot me and end my misery. 

I could have cared less if Sunny Randall and her helpers kept the famous author safe.  She was a miserable human being.  But, other than that I always enjoy Sunny’s escapades. Many of the old gang is back in this one…which readers always appreciate.  The dialogue is cutting edge, very Robert B. Parker. 

Special Note:  I hadn’t realized that it literally takes a village to keep producing Robert B. Parker novels.  I read the ‘Acknowledgments’ (page 321) which lists the team who is involved, with the author, to create another story.  David and Daniel Parker (sons? grandsons?), a senior editor, Lupica’s editor, and the curator of the RBP’s collection, Esther Newberg; all keep Parker’s stories alive.

Did you miss my Interview with Mike Lupica? 
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Coming soon!  August: Author, Jay Hartlove

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Book Review ~~ Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

        3 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review 

 

A charming story to be sure. Love finally conquers, maybe.  A breath-taking story of how the system fails sexual assault victims and the justice system turns those women into suspects when they are forced to defend themselves. Shocking, but true if you are poor, a woman, and NOT white.  Deftly told by Susan Wiggs. 

I rarely comment on book covers but this cover does the story such an injustice. The beautiful cake, on the cover, suggests that a bakery is the focal point of the story. A woman with blond hair (the only part they got right) with ugly hands and an even uglier manicure.  Sure, the love interest has a bakery, but it plays such a minor role that it doesn’t even deserve a mention. 
This story is about BBQ and I would have thought (if the cover designer had read even the first few pages), a big platter of BBQ ribs would have been on the front. Always, ALWAYS use a hand model if you’re going to stage a cover with ‘hands’.   Cooks don’t have manicures (gels), nail polish (very unsanitary). They have short clean, unpolished nails and knife-nicked hands.

But I digress.  The woman in this story is sympathetic, without being a typical ‘victim‘.  There are times when all she has in the world is her BBQ and the custom sauces she has invented.  The reader likes her.  If the reader is a woman, she can relate to Margot.  No one likes a happy ending more than me, but it’s touch-and-go. 

On sale: July 26th
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Did you miss my Interview with Susan Wiggs? 
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Coming soon! July’s author interview with Donna Ashcroft.

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Book Review ~~ The Impulse Purchase by Veronica Henry

 

5 out of 5 stars       Book Review

 

‘Ah, well, thereby hangs a tale. I’ve just bought the village pub. Rather on impulse.’  And what a tale it is! The only trouble with author, Veronica Henry’s books is, we (readers) never want the tale to end. 

Stock-in-trade is Henry’s excellent writing.  Deeply developed characters that we love (or hate), that we fall in love with or wish they were our kids.  Believable and likeable and human. A delicious read. The exact perfect balance of descriptive writing and dialogue. One of this reviewer’s pet peeves. 

I don’t write synopses of the books I review. That’s not a reviewer’s job.  Just know that you will miss out on a terrific ‘tale’ if you don’t read this book. 

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Review ~~ Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan Hyde

5+ out of 5 stars  Book Review

 

Odd, loveable, quirky characters are sprinkled throughout this story. From the first page they  seduce and beguile the reader.

Stewie, a 10 year old boy (when we first meet him) is passively neglected by his overly taxed, older sister.  His Gam has recently died and as a way to stay connected to his much beloved grandmother, he adopts and takes over the care of her chickens.  During his ‘egg route’ he meets Marilyn, another grandma-type with the same rough edge as his Gam. 

And that’s where I’ll leave the spoiler alert.  The writing is done with the same brilliance we have come to expect from Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her turn of phrase is unapparelled.  Her balance of descriptive text and dialogue is near-perfect. And my readers know how too little dialogue irks me!  This will never happen in a Hyde book.  The characters are well thought out and deeply written. Hyde ‘shows’ you her characters; never tells you who and what they are. And who else could get a beautiful story out of a young boy and his chickens?

I highly recommend this book to my readers. If you loved Allie and Bea (and I did!) you will certainly love Dreaming of Flight.

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Did you miss my interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Book Review ~~ A Spanish Sunrise

 5 out of 5 stars ~~ Book Review

 

Sigh. Another delicious, wonderful story from Boo Walker.  Perfecto! Magnífico!   We all know him for his fabulous series, Red Mountain.  Plopping his readers down amongst the vines in northern California. Introducing us to wonderfully drawn characters that we could savor through the series. 

With  A Spanish Sunrise, he takes us on a journey of loss, grief, fear and love. A Dad and his little girl, each seeking peace in their own way.  And then a surprising and shocking email arrives one day.  Enough said, I try not to write spoilers. 

A little while ago I wrote a “teaching” book review about the writer who ‘tells’ the story instead of ‘showing’ the story with the actions and dialogue of his characters.  This book is a perfect example of ‘showing’ the story.  Through the characters’ voices I could smell the loam in the olive tree orchards. Feel the hot sun on my shoulder, taste the pungent, spicy oil on my tongue.  Because Walker showed me, through his characters’ actions and dialogue. He didn’t tell me “the oil was good.” 

I’ve read most of Walker’s books; maybe all of them. A Spanish Sunrise is my all time favorite from this wonderful writer…..so far.  It would be divine if this was book 1 of a new series. Boo, are you listening? 

Did you miss my Interview with Boo Walker ?
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A Teaching Book Review

This could have been a great story, a fascinating, enjoyable family saga spanning several generations.

Instead, the writer, Bill Kitson, chose to tell his readers the story, instead of showing them.  Chapters of telling, telling, telling.  Then a half page of dialogue and ‘showing’.  For example, the rift between patriarch, Albert, and his son, James. Albert’s decline into dementia would have been an interesting sub-plot if the writer had shown it; not told it.   Jesse’s arduous journey from war-torn Europe back home to England. The First World War (section) was reduced to a few chapters of ‘telling’. Ugh.  Leaving this reader not caring about Kitson’s characters much at all. 

The characters that this writer created were interesting, predictable in places, but on the whole pretty good. But, with the storytelling style of ‘telling’ rather than showing who these people were they were not deeply drawn.  Dialogue enriches not only the story but the characters.  Telling rather than showing is, to my mind, a lazy way of writing.  

for the story.                                                                                     For the writing. 

The formatting was distracting. The pages were not titled with the traditional title and author’s name.  In the front or back, there was no list of Kitson’s other books; a missed marketing opportunity. There was no author biography. 
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Book Review ~ Olivia Holmes Inherited a Vineyard

 4 out of 5 stars ~~ Book Review

In one of my recent searches for new authors to read (and maybe review) I bought this one by Mark Daydy. I wasn’t

 enamored of the title…too long, not very creative and certainly a spoiler alert. Why did the writer give away the plot of the whole story? I thought, ‘a much better title would been  Vineyard in the Moonlight or Grapes to Glass or The Vines. I could go on and on about the wrongness of the title but instead of giving it a pass, I bought the book. 

Next I’m not a fan of a man writing chick lit (fiction for women). They simply don’t have the empathy to write about women for women. I scoffed but ran my credit card anyway. 

I’ve been eating crow with each page that I turned.  This was an excellent story, with well drawn characters.  There was a certain crispness that I don’t find with female authors, much as I luv ’em.  My only critique was that Olivia was a bit ‘wishy-washy’ at times. It would have been a stronger story if she had been more decisive about (for example) leaving her job. She could have done it sooner in my opinion.  But what PANACHE! when she finally did it!  

I’m looking forward to reading the sequel very soon.  

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Review ~~ Sunday at the Sunflower Inn

5 out of 5 stars   ~~   Book Review

First page, first sentence, the reader meets McCoy and is hooked.  A broke-down, wounded, homeless handsome cowboy. Who can resist?  This new book is part of the “Honey Creek” series. 
   
The other characters in this story are equally empathetic and interesting. Jam, Tucson, Pecos, Pop Sadler, to name just a few. My only criticism (if you can call it that) is I would have liked more paper and ink dedicated to McCoy’s story. 

This is a story of small town, USA; Honey Creek.  Infused with colorful and interesting characters that only Jodi Thomas can serve up. 
The writing is supurb…it is Jodi Thomas after all. 

On Sale: April 26, 2022
Did you miss my Interview with Jodi? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Book Review ~~ The Raffle Baby

 5 out of 5 stars ~~~~ Book Review

 

This is one of those rare books where the reviewer wants to give it ten, no, a hundred, no, two thousand stars!  The writing is stunning. Ruth Talbot has a delicate, beautiful usage of words that we mortal writers can only dream of for ourselves. 

And her words craft a wonderful story. Griping, grim, tragic at times, nostalgic and loving. About friendship, perseverance, crushing hardship, with no real happy ending.  Talbot takes us tramping across this great nation of ours during one of the bleakest times in our history. The Great Depression. I, for one, never imagined that children….yes, you heard me correctly….children were cast out into the world to join the thousands of ‘hoboes‘ who jumped on and off trains and used them as their only transportation. Following work and seasonal harvests in order to not starve to death. 

Beautiful writing….a book you’ll want to take your time with. Mulling over a turn of phrase in the prose if you are a ‘English literature’ buff….or view, in your mind’s eye, the stunning visuals Talbot paints for her readers. 

This appears to be Talbot’s debut novel and we can only hope that she is working on her next one.  
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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A Study in Elegant Writing ~~ Book Review

  5 out of 5 stars  ~~  Book Review

We can all agree that historic, Victorian romances are a dime a dozen. Some writers are better than others and the market place doesn’t seem to care. Unless, of course, the reader stumbles upon Jennie Goutet (as I did). 

Ms. Goutet writes with an uninterrupted elegant flow. She never drops out of the genre with a more modern turn of phrase or word. The formality of this period deserves a formal treatment when writing the story. It takes great talent to never break the flow, never break the cadence or flavor. And until you have read Jennie Goutet, Grace Burrowes, and Mimi Matthews, the reader will not notice the glaring difference. 

Selena Lockhart comes with neither dowry nor connections, and she knows better than to expect Society to give her a welcome—especially after her father gambled away his fortune, precipitating the family’s sudden fall from grace and Selena’s betrothed to break off their engagement. It therefore comes as no surprise that her new neighbor, Sir Lucius, treats her with disdain. Why should he look beyond appearances when her own promises so little?
 

A Fall From Grace was a speculative purchase on my part, having never read anything by this author.  I am so relieved that I didn’t miss this author or this book. I look forward to reading some of her other books, which I have on order. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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