Book Recommendations: April 2021

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My apologies, my bookish peeps, I’ve fallen behind on writing reviews due to these incessant daily migraine headaches and another bout of bronchitis. Having a migraine every day is bad enough, add in hacking up a lung (at least that’s what it feels like at times), and it just adds to the joy. Of course, it could be so much worse and I’m incredibly grateful it isn’t. To make a long-story shorter, in lieu of reviews, I’ll simply be posting the synopsis of a few of the books I’ve read that I’m recommending you add to your TBR list, if these titles aren’t already there.

Okay, I have two recommendations for you romance lovers. First up is the final book in the Brown Sisters trilogy by Talia Hibbert, Act Your Age, Eve Brown. If you haven’t read the previous two books in this series, Get A Life, Chloe Brown and Take A Hint, Dani Brown, then you’ll want to add those to your list as well. These stories feature flawed, but realistic characters that are trying their best to cope in a world that doesn’t often make room for differently-sized, neurodiverse/neurodivergent, or differently-abled people. What more can I say other than these are great diverse romance reads.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown, The Brown Sisters #3, by Talia Hibbert
ISBN: 9780062941275 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062941282 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062941299 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781799971085 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B089WJ184B (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B089SYX5F5 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Romance
Release Date: March 9, 2021

In USA Today bestselling author Talia Hibbert’s newest rom-com, the flightiest Brown sister crashes into the life of an uptight B&B owner and has him falling hard—literally.

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how.

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help . Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

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Read an excerpt here.


My next romance recommendation is the first book in a new series by award-winning romance author Sandra Kitt. Winner Takes All kicks off the Millionaires Club series. This is nice, tender, and sometimes emotional diverse romance from an author that has written quite a number of tender, emotional romances.

Winner Takes All, The Millionaires Club #1, by Sandra Kitt
ISBN: 9781728214887 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781728214894 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781662081477 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781662081828 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08SR9CXWF (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08DHGVN2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: April 6, 2021

“Great story-telling of the most romantic kind.”—Brenda Jackson, New York Times bestselling author

“A warm-hearted story and a clever plot reflecting current issues with sensitivity, warmth, and wisdom.”—Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jean Travis has the job of announcing the latest lottery winner on TV and is stunned to find that Patrick Bennett, her teenage crush, is the top mega winner. They haven’t seen each other in years, and Patrick is thrilled to renew their acquaintance. Jean, not so much. After all, a lot has changed since they used to study together and Jean worked so hard to hide her feelings. Now that he’s won so much money, Patrick faces a whole new world of demands from family, friends, coworkers, strangers. The only person he knows for sure he can trust, is Jean…

“Romantic, tender, emotional, and compelling.”—RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author

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The previous books have already been released and are available for purchase in multiple print and digital formats. The next book won’t be available for some months, but I highly recommend adding it to your TBR list and pre-ordering it especially if you’ve ever read anything by this author in the past. The book is The Passing Storm by Christine Nolfi and this could be categorized as women’s fiction and/or family fiction. I simply classify it as a darn good read. It is a story about secrets, forgiveness (of others and of self), tragedy, survival, second chances, love, and family being more than DNA. Although this book won’t release until November, it will be worth the wait.

The Passing Storm by Christine Nolfi
ISBN: 9781542029124 (paperback)
ASIN: B08SXRK8M1 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08MZPFY3J (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: November 1, 2021

A gripping, openhearted novel about family, reconciliation, and bringing closure to the secrets of the past.

Early into the tempestuous decade of her thirties, Rae Langdon struggles to work through a grief she never anticipated. With her father, Connor, she tends to their Ohio farm, a forty-acre spread that itself has enjoyed better days. As memories sweep through her, some too precious to bear, Rae gives shelter from a brutal winter to a teenager named Quinn Galecki.

Quinn has been thrown out by his parents, a couple too troubled to help steer the misunderstood boy through his own losses. Now Quinn has found a temporary home with the Langdons—and an unexpected kinship, because Rae, Quinn, and Connor share a past and understand one another’s pain. But its depths—and all its revelations and secrets—have yet to come to light. To finally move forward, Rae must confront them and also fight for Quinn, whose parents have other plans in mind for their son.

With forgiveness, love, and the spring thaw, there might be hope for a new season—a second chance Rae believed in her heart was gone forever.

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Needless to say, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading and could recommend many more titles, but felt this would be a good start until I get back to normal-for-me. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these books as much as I did. (Psst, if you enjoy reading nonfiction then you might want to grab a copy of The Black Church by Henry Louis Gates Jr. This book is an excellent companion to the recent PBS special and has some fascinating historical tidbits.) Have you read anything lately that you can recommend?

Happy Reading, y’all!

2019 Book 201: UNDER CURRENTS by Nora Roberts

Under Currents by Nora Roberts 
ISBN: 9781250207098 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250213273 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250219336 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07JBQTL3W (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 9, 2019 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own. 

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.





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Zane and Britt Bigelow seemed to have an idyllic childhood with the perfect home and parents, but appearances are often deceiving. Their parents, the esteemed Dr. Graham Bigelow and Mrs. Eliza Bigelow, had what can only be perceived as a toxic relationship. Superficially they were perfect and doting parents, but Dr. Bigelow often belittled and demeaned his children in public and private as well as physically abused them along with his wife. He never hit them anywhere where it might show, until one particularly bad beating that ends up with Zane suffering multiple broken bones and being arrested and charged with beating up his sister and assaulting his mother. Fortunately for both Zane and Britt, Britt escapes the hospital, contacts her aunt, gets law enforcement outside of the city of Lakeview involved and Zane is not only exonerated but his parents are arrested for assault, child abuse, and a host of other charges. Zane and Britt are adopted by their loving aunt, change their last name from Bigelow to Walker and move on from their sordid childhood with their father imprisoned for the next 18 years.

Fast forward 18 years, Darby McCray is a divorcee who has recently lost her mother. Without any familial ties to hold her down, she sells her landscaping business and home, and decides to relocate down South. She ends up in Lakeview, North Carolina, immediately feels at home in this small town, establishes her business credentials by landscaping one of the vacation cottages owned by Emily Walker Keller (Zane and Britt’s adoptive aunt/mother) and makes this town her new home. Darby is new to Lakeview, but Zane is newly returned to his hometown and the two meet and sparks fly. Zane is a retired prosecutor and new small-town lawyer and Darby is his first client. Turn about seems fair play, so Darby takes on Zane as a client and provides him with plants and landscaping ideas for his new office. Before he knows what hits him, she’s talked him into buying the house he’s been thinking about and even has him agreeing to all of her landscaping ideas. Just when it seems as if things are smooth sailing for this newly minted relationship, Darby is attacked, then Zane’s house and law offices are targets of vandalism. Even though they know why they were the targets of both of these incidents, it seems as if there might be another party out there targeting them and neither of them knows why? Can they identify the culprit before someone else is injured or worse?

For those of you that don’t know much about me and my reading habits, let me confess now that I Love reading Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb books. How much do I love reading these books? Well, I generally reread the entire “In Death” series at least once every other year and I’ll re-re-read numerous Nora Roberts titles every other year (there are so many, so I try to rotate them). Having said all of that, I was ecstatic when I learned that I was going to be able to read Under Currents by Nora Roberts, thank you St. Martin’s Press and Edelweiss+. I sat and read this book in one afternoon yesterday even with an increasingly painful migraine headache looking to spoil the afternoon (hey, that’s what pain medication is for and I could still see and if I could still see I could still read!). I enjoyed reading about Zane and Britt’s childhood and the background was needed to provided context on their monster parents. And yes, their parents were indeed monsters. I loved Darby and her energy, think the Energizer Bunny without the drum but with plants and charisma galore. There are plenty of characters to love in this story, including Zane, Britt, Emily, Lee (Emily’s husband and former Asheville police detective), Roy (Darby’s first landscaping hire), and General Zod (Darby’s dog). And yes, there are bad guys, Dr. Graham Bigelow, Eliza Bigelow, and more. This story weaves in child abuse, spousal abuse, mental abuse, and much more along with the uplifting stories of love, acceptance, helping your neighbor, and standing up for what’s right no matter what. I enjoyed the characters, the action, and the romance. Although there’s a certain amount of formula to romance and romantic-suspense novels, as a reader you’re never quite sure what twists and turns the writer is going to take to get you to that HEA ending. Nora Roberts is a maestro at romantic suspense, in my opinion at least, and I found Under Currents to be topical, well-crafted, and a pleasure to read. (Can you tell I enjoyed this book?) If you don’t already have Under Currents on your TBR list and you’re a romance or romantic-suspense reader, I strongly encourage you to do so ASAP! If you’re not a romance or romantic-suspense reader, then here’s your opportunity to begin. I look forward to reading and re-reading more Nora Roberts in the future. 



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 133: THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Result (Don Tillman Book 3) by Graeme Simsion
ISBN: 9781925773811 (hardcover – May 28, 2019)
ISBN: 9781925773828 (trade paperback – May 28, 2019)
ISBN: 9781925774580 (ebook – February 5, 2019)
ASIN: B07KRNFGJD (Kindle edition – May 28, 2019)
Publisher: Text Publishing


I was standing on one leg shucking oysters when the problems began…

Don and Rosie are back in Melbourne after a decade in New York, and they’re about to face their most important project.

Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school: his teachers say he isn’t fitting in with the other kids. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards.

For Don Tillman, geneticist and World’s Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new.

It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity.

And opening a cocktail bar.

Hilarious and thought-provoking, with a brilliant cast of characters and an ending that will have readers cheering for joy, The Rosie Result is the triumphant final installment of the internationally bestselling series that began with The Rosie Project.





We were first introduced to Rosie Jarman and Don Tillman in the delightful The Rosie Project. Rosie was a psychology doctoral student in search of her biological father and Don was a research professor in search of a wife. I won’t go into all of the amazing details of their relationship, but let’s just say it was fraught with comedic errors, mostly unintentional. By the end of the book, Don had proposed marriage and Rosie accepted. In the second book in this series, The Rosie Effect, Don and Rosie are living in the United States. Don is working in research at Columbia University and Rosie is finishing her doctorate and just entering medical school when she learns she’s pregnant. Again, errors of omission and commission occur and their relationship flounders for a while before they regain their footing and have their baby, a son named Hudson. 

Fast-forward eleven years and the Tillman family has moved back to Australia from New York City. Don has become embroiled in a racist stereotype brouhaha at his college, which was definitely not his intention, but in this era of social media and judge first and ask questions later, the school can’t be seen as insensitive. As a result of this incident, Don takes a sabbatical and decides to become the primary carer for his son. Rosie is also going through some political machinations at her job and feels torn between her responsibilities to her son and those of a job that she feels is important. Hudson, on the other hand, didn’t want to leave New York, is dealing with the death of a grandparent and also somewhat of a social outcast at his new school. Don sees parallels between Hudson’s school life and his own tortured school life and tries his best to provide advice, all the while avoiding a psychological diagnosis of Asperger’s, Autistic, or Neuro-atypical for his child. Don and Rosie are also working together to get a new business off the ground, a bar. Don is used to solving problems but is having difficulty solving the problems his son is facing, as well as facing the reality of his own possibly diagnosis of Asperger’s, along with new business woes, his wife’s job issues, and more. Can Don, Rosie, and Hudson successfully navigate a society that wants to diagnose and often ostracize anyone that is slightly different? 

The Rosie Result is the third book in the Don Tillman series by Graeme Simsion. I considered it to be a fast-paced and thoroughly engaging read. As with the previous books in this series, Mr. Simsion deals with relationship dynamics in a realistic manner, that is sometimes painful and sometimes quite humorous (just like life). I enjoyed getting to know Don’s family a bit better in this book, along with Rosie’s father. Don and Rosie’s friends from New York, Sonia and Dave along with their children, move to Australia for work. We even get to see the grown-up Carl and Eugenie, along with their parents Gene and Claudia. George the drummer even makes a token appearance. This story includes a wide variety of topics, including domestic violence, anti-vaxxers, the rights of children to medical care against parental wishes, well-meaning school personnel wishing to pigeon-hole children with a blanket diagnosis if they’re just a little bit different, dying wishes, acceptance for who and what people are without judgment, and lots of family drama. It’s been interesting to watch Don and Rosie’s relationship develop and change over these three books and I loved the incorporation of their son and his drama in this third book. If you’ve already read The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect I probably don’t have to tell you to grab a copy of The Rosie Result to read as it’s most likely already on your TBR list. If you haven’t already read The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, first where have you been for the past few years?!, and second, go grab copies and read them ASAP! After you’ve successfully read those two books, you’re now ready for The Rosie Result. I encourage you to take a few weekends to enjoy these books or set the three books aside for your vacation reading. Seriously, if you haven’t read these books, get your copies and start reading. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I consider The Rosie Result to be a must read book and this entire series to be a must read series. (And yes, I reread the first two books before I read the third one. I’ll probably reread all three books at some later this year simply because I enjoyed them all so much.) All I can say at this point is thank you Mr. Simsion for hours of reading pleasure with the Don Tillman series. I’m going to miss Rosie, Don, Hudson, and their friends and family.   


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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The Rosie Result

2019 Book 68: BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
ISBN: 9780062838155 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062838179 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062838186 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07BK1HP2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019


Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

 

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder. . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .






Henrietta “Hen” Mazur is an artist. She’s also bipolar and has a history of obsessions going back to college. In college, she just “knew” her dorm mate had attempted to kill her roommate by giving her the flu. She then “knew” the dorm mate was out to kill her simply because she knew the truth. That whole situation ended with Hen being hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, a restraining order being placed against her, her withdrawal from that college and transferring to a different college. After her marriage to Lloyd and whilst living in Cambridge, MA, Hen became obsessed with the death of an area resident. Now that they have moved to a suburb outside of Boston, Hen is convinced her next door neighbor is the murderer. She attempts to convince the Cambridge detectives of what she knows, but that doesn’t go very well. She then decides to keep an eye on her neighbor, witnesses him stalking then murdering a local man, and subsequently identifies her neighbor as the killer to the police. Hen is suspicious of Matthew, who in turn is suspicious of her suspicions. Will anyone ever take her reports seriously given her past behaviors or will her neighbor literally be able to get away with murder?

I’ve read several books by Peter Swanson in the past and found them all to be well-written, twisted, and filled with surprises throughout and Before She Knew Him is an excellent example of his work. There are a lot of nuances to this book including the fact that a person with a known mental health problem isn’t often taken seriously by law enforcement despite the fact that they may be able to provide crucial evidence. Hen’s situation is an excellent example of this predicament and seems to exemplify the old adage that just because a person is paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone after them. Hen knows what she knows and no one believes her or so she thinks initially. She quickly comes to realize that Matthew definitely knows what is going on and is willing to use her past against her. When Matthew and Mira get a restraining order against Hen, it seems as if the story might have nowhere to go but then several twists and surprises arise. No, I’m not going to reveal what they are…read the book! Mr. Swanson fills Before She Knew Him with psychological suspense and enough plot twists and turns to give the reader motion sickness (trust me, this is a good thing). It was impossible to determine what was going to happen next and I love that in a story. I empathized with Hen and even Mira and felt Matthew deserved whatever might happen to him. I wish I could say more about Lloyd, Hen’s husband, but let’s just say that even he isn’t as nice a guy as he initially appears. I’m wholeheartedly recommending Before She Knew Him to all of you lovers of the mystery-suspense genre as well as those of you looking for something a little different to read. Come on, read outside of your comfort zone this year by grabbing a copy of Before She Knew Him to read. You may be surprised by just how much you like it. 



Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Read a sample of Before She Knew Him here.



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Before She Knew Him