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Book Reviews

A Quick Read with a Big Concept

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Today’s book does a great job of packing a lot of story into a small package. If you enjoy Sci-Fi, you’ll want to stick around for this:


If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Lonely Phoenix, by Stephen L. Thompson, is a philosophical exploration of life in space. But rather than focus on well-worn tropes like intergalactic wars, alien viruses, and hostile living conditions, this story does something completely different— vampires. Or one vampire. But before you run away with images of blood-drenched teeth and lustful teenagers, this is nothing like Twilight. Instead, the characters tackle the burden of long life and the loneliness inherent in being one of a kind (at least on the ship).

Though some scenes (especially with women) feel a little stiff, the concept is intriguing. In fact, by the time I reached the end of the book, I found myself wishing there were more. This is a book that could easily be stretched into a series, trilogy, or simply lengthened. A great read when you’re looking for something quick to top up your Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day
Book Reviews

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, these romance reads will sweep you off your feet. Just in time for the sweetest day of the year: Valentine’s Day.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's DayPhoto by Leonardo Wong on Unsplash

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What’s better than getting gobs of chocolate and a night out on the town with the one you love? Snuggling up in bed with a feel-good book. (Is my introvert showing?)

Ah, romance. Where happily ever afters are real, and love almost always finds a way.

In keeping with the sticky, syrupy sweetness of this holiday, here are some reads that will make you feel all warm inside.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day

Desperate Duchesses Series by Eloisa James

This series contains 9 books as of this posting. I’ve only read 2-4 and 7 at this point, so those are the ones I’m recommending. Because I never read books in order. Ever.

Beginning in the 18th century and moving into the Regency period, these books focus on British aristocratic romance. If you’re fond of historical romance but need a breather on the Victorian era, try this series.

The Rules of Scoundrels Series by Sarah MacLean

And here’s another historical romance series set during the Regency period. It’s only 4 books long, and I’ve read all of them. (Not in order, of course. I began with number 4.) What I love most about this series is how it focuses on redemption and justice in addition to the romance.

The First Freak House Trilogy by C.J. Archer

If you prefer your romance a little more on the supernatural side, this is a fantastic series. Set in Victorian England, this is a nice, clean romance. With plenty of fire and magic.

 

Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. Archer

I’ve only read the first book in this series, but it was pretty compelling. It’s also set in Victorian England, and the heroine talks to dead people. As in ghosts.

 

 

 

The Bradens at Trusty, CO Series by Melissa Foster

If you’re in the mood for a modern romance firmly set in reality, this is a good place to start. I’ve only read one book in this series, but it’s fairly memorable.

 

 

 

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

If you enjoy romantic poetry, it doesn’t get much better than Neruda. Especially when read in the original Spanish.

 

 

 

Juliana Series by Vanda

Set in the U.S. starting in World War II, this series currently has 2 books. I’ve only read the second book, but it contains some of the most historically accurate and well-rounded depictions of queer romance I’ve ever read. If I had to choose my favorite book from this entire post, Olympus Nights in the Square would be it. Definitely an LGBTQ+ romance series to follow.

 

 

 

 

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Book Reviews

Romance Authors You Should Read this Valentine’s Day

Here are a couple romance authors who should go on your V Day reading list.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Melissa Foster

Athena Wright

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One Character's Lucky Break
Book Reviews

One Character’s Lucky Break

Well, that was lucky.

One Character's Lucky Break

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This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Okay, I have a confession. I don’t know how to play poker. And I’ve only played the lottery once. Even then, I only did it to give back to the student scholarship it funded. So, gambling isn’t really in my wheelhouse.

But this character could play poker in her sleep. And win.

She is one lucky ducky. Or is she?

 

One Character's Lucky Break

Ella Hote is a graduate student on the verge of earning her master’s degree in quantum physics. And her final project, a quantum computer, is nearly complete when the story opens. But she unwittingly stumbles upon more than she was bargaining for. After a series of lucky coincidences and terrible accidents, Ella realizes that some things don’t add up.

Does luck really exist? And if so, will anybody believe her?

Conservation of Luck, by Lesley L. Smith, is a first-person sci-fi novel that touches on quantum physics, relationships, personal responsibility, and addiction. Though not always likable, Ella is a compelling character. She wrestles with the implications of her discovery rather than choose a side (selfish or altruistic) right away. And she’s often oblivious to the lies she tells herself, both about love and addiction. It’s an incredibly realistic portrayal of an all too common problem.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Paperback: 335 pages

PS: Want to read another book by the same author? Read this review.

Child sitting on a bed reading a copy of The Lord of the Rings.
Book Reviews

Favorite Books from My Childhood

The stories you read in childhood can stay with you for a lifetime.

Child sitting on a bed reading a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Today I wanted to share some books that shaped me both as a person and a writer. I was always an awkward child (as I’m sure some of you might be able to relate), but it’s something I’ve grown to love about myself (and you should, too. 🙂 ). And though I read pretty much all over the place in my childhood, three genres enticed me the most: fantasy, mystery, and horror. (I blame the horror bit on the fact that my birthday’s so close to Halloween.)

Now, decades later, I continue to find myself circling these genres again and again, with a little science fiction thrown in for flavor. Here’s a list of some of my absolute favorite middle grade books from childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

1. At the Back of the North Wind

2. The Chronicles of Narnia

3. The Dragonriders of Pern

4. Encyclopedia Brown

5. Nancy Drew

6. Sherlock Holmes

7. Poems and Tales of Edgar Allen Poe

8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

9. Goosebumps

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Beautiful and happy black woman outside on a sunny day.
Book Reviews

8 Books to Start Off Black History Month

These black authors weave stories and touch hearts.

Beautiful and happy black woman outside on a sunny day.
Photo by @theoptimistdreamer via nappy.co

It’s Black History Month.

I don’t know about you, but my ancestors did terrible things to black people. And some of my ancestors were black and on the receiving end of those atrocities. You wouldn’t know by looking at me.

Maybe this month you are honoring your own black heritage. Or maybe you are focusing on making far overdue reparations. And maybe you’re stuck in the middle, like me. Either way, one of the best things we can do this month (and preferably all year) is to support black voices.

The following books are from some of my favorite black authors:

  • Frederick Douglass
  • Maya Angelou
  • Chinua Achebe
  • Barack Obama
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Justina Ireland
  • Trevor Noah
  • Angie Thomas

These books range from classic to the modern day. Let’s dive in:


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1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


3. Things Fall Apart


4. Dreams from My Father


5. Americanah


6. Dread Nation


7. Born a Crime


8. The Hate U Give

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems
Book Reviews

A Sci-Fi Read That Is More Than it Seems

This Sci-Fi novel had me on the verge of tears.

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

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This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Not many books will make me cry. Maybe that’s because I subconsciously avoid depressing books. At any rate, this week’s sci-fi novel tore at my core like Edward Scissorhands in a fistfight.

And it was 100% worth it.

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

A Sci-Fi Read That is More Than it Seems

Sabrina Sabriya knows a few things. She’s an orphan, most of humanity died in a nuclear fallout, and religion is evil. And her best friend, Lindsey Mehdina, is her opposite in every way. Whereas Sabrina prefers practicality and usability, Lindsey is a colorful and visionary artist. Literally. And Lindsey’s visions can see into the past, present, and future.

This is a book of dualities. Religion versus science, flamboyancy versus minimalism, humanity versus machines, man versus woman.


City on a Hill, by Ted Neill, is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel that delves into the human condition. And holy crow does it ever dig deep!

Since Sabrina was raised by the head of the city, a man she calls “uncle,” she has certain views of the world. Because of that, she enlists in law enforcement. And in the process of furthering her career, she slams up against several difficult truths. While she struggles with these difficult new truths, she is forced to make an impossible choice.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Paperback: 402 pages

 

PS: Want more dystopian fiction? Read this review.

 

 

 

Book Reviews

Read About Romance on a Greek Island

The main characters may not be Greek gods, but they are every bit as dramatic.

Ancient Greek statue fountain.
Today’s book is one to add to your Valentine’s Day reading list. Especially if you like your romance novels ultra steamy. If sex scenes are not your thing, you should probably pass on this one. (But if they are your thing, this book has a lot of well-written ones.)

Some More Warnings:

Since the story is set in the 1970s, there are some slurs against the Romani people, mentally ill people, and disabled people which were common use at the time. And if kidnapping, descriptions of food, swimming accidents, and ambiguous consent issues are difficult for you to read, you may wish to choose another book. Also, there are birds. Lots of birds.

Still with me?

Great. Let’s dive in.

Romance on a Greek Island: A Book ReviewIf you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Aphrodite’s Tears, by Hannah Fielding, centers around the fictional island of Helios. Oriel, the heroine, is a British archeologist who is contracted to work there by the island’s leader— Damian Lekkas. But the island is rife with gossip, secrets, superstition, and danger. With so many varying accounts, it’s difficult for her to uncover the truth, especially when Damian is so distracting.

The narration is replete with visual descriptions of the island, buildings, artifacts, food, and clothing. In my opinion, this slowed the pace down, but that may also be due to my borderline aphantasia. If you enjoy detailed narration to give you a visual sense of location, the pace may flow much quicker for you.

Dialogue throughout the book is sprinkled with Greek, and the plot works in some of the finer points of old Greek customs and traditions. Also, the romantic conflict between Oriel and Damian is incredibly well-structured. But will Oriel survive the island’s many dangers long enough for a happily ever after? Does she even want a happily ever after? You’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉

PS: Add this book to your Valentine’s Day reading list!

Buy it here, and I’ll get some money.

Buy it here, and I get nothing. 

Women holding hands.
Book Reviews

A Novel Featuring Queer Romance in Post-WWII America

All you need is love.

Women holding hands.Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

This is the first queer historical fiction I’ve ever read, and I absolutely adore it. Because of the time period in which the story is set, the book has some homomisia (explanation of that word here), transmisia, sexism, and racism (without praising or glorifying any of it, mind you). Some of this has been internalized and expressed by the characters about themselves. If this is something which may be difficult for you to read, thank you for stopping by, and I hope you pop in tomorrow. 🙂

For everyone else: OH MY GOODNESS THIS BOOK BLEW MY MIND!

*ahem*

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Written by Vanta, this novel is the second in the Juliana series. Olympus Nights on the Square follows Alice “Al” Huffman from May of 1945 through September of 1955. And she is desperately in love with a cabaret singer named Juliana— a very married Juliana. As the war comes to an end and society returns to the way things were (think “women giving back their jobs to the returning men”), Al finds it difficult to give up the freedom she’d felt. Through the narrative, she wrestles with her own identity, her financial future, and her undying love for Juliana.

One aspect of this book I really appreciate is how casually historical trends and figures are worked into the plot. The birth of television, the Red Scare, McCarthyism, purported scientific “cures” for homosexuality, and famous music icons like Liberace. And it’s also particularly poignant that finding accurate information about the female body was so difficult at that time, let alone books about queer people and their relationships.

More than anything, this story highlights the confusion and sheer terror associated with being queer during this tumultuous and conservative time in America. But it also brings forth the beautiful and deep bonds that only love can build.

PS: Don’t forget to buy this book!

Buy it here and I’ll get some money to pay bills and keep this site running.

Buy it here and I get nothing. (I won’t judge. You do you.)

Broken pieces of a ceramic plate are scattered on a smooth concrete floor.
Book Reviews

This Book Explores #MeToo Issues Before the Movement Even Began

Broken pieces of a ceramic plate are scattered on a smooth concrete floor.

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If you are opposed to strong verbal language, sex scenes and/or might be triggered by depictions of sexual assault and bullying, this book is not for you. And I’m not going to waste your time today.

But if you’re still with me, we’re about to dive into a New Adult (NA) novel that does some pretty extraordinary things. Ready? Grab your hat because we’re going to cover a lot of ground pretty fast.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Published in January of 2017, Let Me Fall, by Lily Foster is a heartbreaking yet satisfying coming-of-age read. The narrative follows two characters, Carolyn and Jeremy, as they navigate their messy world from middle school through their early twenties. But this book doesn’t get bogged down in flashbacks, info dumps, or any of the other literary sins that can make novels unappealing. In fact, it flows along at a nice pace without any lulls. And the angst and pain the characters experience is palpable.

But what I love about this book more than anything else is how seamlessly it addresses a variety of difficult issues without ever glorifying or romanticizing them:

  • Differences in socioeconomic class
  • Sexual abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Harassment
  • Bullying
  • Dyslexia
  • Consent
  • Alcoholism
  • Suicide

Each of these issues is subtly woven into the fabric of the story without ever seeming forced or preachy. Instead, Foster paints scenarios in a realistic light that all too many of us understand, firsthand.

As an older Millennial who grew up before smartphones and taught younger Millenials as well as part of Generation Z, I was especially affected by the online bullying scenes. It is something I never had to experience at that emotionally and mentally vulnerable stage of life yet is a very real threat to today’s youth. And this novel does an excellent job describing both the subtlety and the absolute horror that can be unleashed.

Graffiti heart on a wooden park bench.

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

However, at its heart, this book is a love story. Will Jeremey and Carolyn overcome their hurdles and finally get together? I’m not giving away any spoilers. But whether or not they actually become a couple in the book, I totally ship it. And you will, too.

PS: Don’t forget to buy this book!

Buy it here and I’ll get some money to pay bills and keep this site running.

Buy it here and I get nothing. (I won’t judge. You do you.)