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A Backlist Fantasy That’s Still Timely

Most books from the ’90s can come across as rather, well, dated. But this book covers issues that are timely even today.

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Hello, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful and restful spring break. 🙂

Today I’m reviewing a book that’s been available for a couple of decades. And unlike most of my other reviews, this is a traditionally published book by a well-known author— Terry Pratchett.

So, which of his many books am I referring to? None other than Jingo.

Like other books in the vast Discworld Series, Jingo is packed with fabulous puns. And it features many of the Night Watch characters you may already know and love.

You might be thinking, okay… so what?

What makes this book so timely?

In a word? Islamomisia. (By the way, this post is a great primer on why to use -misia instead of -phobia.)

In this story, the British coded citizens of Ankh-Morpork are pitted against the Middle Eastern Islamic coded citizens of Klatch.

This book has mystery, murder, and politics with a big helping of humor. But it also points out the inherent inanity of racism. And it takes a healthy stab at sexism, too. Click To Tweet

If you have yet to read any books in the Discworld series, I can’t recommend them enough. Terry Pratchett was a brilliant author. And the world lost him much too soon.

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Meet These American Literary Figures in a Way You Never Have Before

Person walking up an old wooden staircase.

Well-dressed person walking up an old wooden staircase.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

The United States in the 19th century was a very different place than it is today. Though we still experience divides along class and gender lines, expected societal behaviors were far more prescripted, restrictive, and, well, stoic back then. There was a strong sense of things that were and were not done (unlike today’s modern U.S. political arena *cough* *cough*).

Today’s book is historical fiction that takes a peek into the lives of some of the well-to-do, the American elite, and important figures in literary history. So, let’s dive in.

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.


Dearest David, by Glen Ebisch, is a delightful read. The characters use modernized language that flows nicely without, in my opinion, becoming a distraction. The story follows a young, working-class woman who becomes a servant in the Emerson household. Along the way, several other notable American literary figures are inserted into the mix. At its heart, the novel is a love story. However, this book doesn’t follow the standard romance formula. If you’re fond of historical romances, you should really know this before reading because you may otherwise be disappointed.

If you’re an American literary history buff, don’t expect everything in this narrative to be 100% accurate. The main character doesn’t have a real-life counterpart, although most of the other characters in the book were real people. Also, several aspects of the timeline were shuffled around to fit the narrative tension. All of this is clearly explained in the backmatter, though, along with how and when events really transpired.

PS: Want to read a queer historical romance set in America after World War II? Click here.

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A Book that Tamed the Ultimate Bad Boy

Bride holding a bouquet

Bride holding a bouquet

Photo by Orio Nguyen on Unsplash

Today’s book contains graphic language and several sex scenes and sexual references. If this is something you’d rather avoid in a book, absolutely no judgment here. Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll catch you next week. 🙂

Marriage isn't Always All it's Cracked Up to Be: a book review.

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.


When I Let You Go, by Lily Foster is the sixth book in her Let Me series. If you’ve read this blog any amount of time, you probably already know that I rarely read a series in order. But this series focuses on a small group of upper-class families through at least a couple of generations, so there is a rich history that unfolds from one book to the next. However, for people who read out of order, like me, this novel is fairly easy to follow— although the shift from the prologue to the first chapter was a bit disorienting (to me) at first.

This is THE book to read if you want to follow a character that you’ll love to hate. Dylan is a middle-aged husband with a frat-boy soul. The outright misogyny that leaks off the page from his point of view is horrifying, but (unfortunately) realistic. His character arc, alone, is worth the read. But the book also features a romance between two characters with a huge age gap between them. And this brings up a lot of super weird and uncomfortable moments in the book that are simply beautifully written. Though you may not quite care for the characters at first, you will probably find yourself rooting for them in the end. The pacing and interleaving of points of view are so masterfully done, that I swallowed this whole book in a night. That is incredibly rare for me and goes to show just how skilled Lily Foster’s writing ability really is.

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One Character’s Lucky Break

One Character's Lucky Break

Well, that was lucky.

One Character's Lucky Break

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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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.

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A Sci-Fi Read That Is More Than it Seems

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

Photo by Jaclyn Moy on Unsplash

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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.

 

 

 

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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. 

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A Novel Featuring Queer Romance in Post-WWII America

Women holding hands.

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.)

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This Book Explores #MeToo Issues Before the Movement Even Began

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

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

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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.)

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A 19th Century British Detective That Isn’t Sherlock Holmes

A 19th Century British Detective That Isn't Sherlock Holmes

This book is so delightfully British.

A 19th Century British Detective That Isn't Sherlock Holmes

A 19th Century British Detective That Isn't Sherlock Holmes

A 19th Century British Detective That Isn't Sherlock Holmes

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.

This week’s book is the fourth in a series. (I know, I know. I never read things in order.) It features an exquisitely researched setting and rounded characters with distinctive voices. And this particular book is set over 40 years before Sherlock Holmes would have been born (had he been a real person, of course). So which mystery book is this? I won’t keep it a mystery much longer. 😉


Plague Pits & River Bones, by Karen Charlton, is a wonderful murder mystery full of clues and thrilling adventure. The main character, Detective Lavender, is a relatable and slightly rebellious man with an excellent gut instinct. His wife, Lady Magdalena, is a spitfire and it’s obvious they’ve had a history of getting out of sticky situations together. In this book, work keeps Lavender away from home chasing down one criminal after the next, all while trying to solve a few side-project mysteries of his own. When he starts connecting the dots, he suddenly realizes that these crimes are more personal to him than he first believed. And he may be too late to save himself.

The narrative does a beautiful job of pacing, switching between Constable Ned Woods and his family, Magdalena and her life as a lady, and Lavender’s packed schedule. It also highlights many sociopolitical issues of the time like unlawful slavery, rape, domestic abuse, and prejudices against Catholics and Jewish people without rewarding or supporting these views. This, in my opinion, makes Lavender even more likable.

Though I wouldn’t describe most of the book as a pageturner, per se, this book was well-crafted and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

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P.S.: Be sure to check out this review of a more modern indie British crime novella.

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An Inspiring Book for Conservative Christian Women

An Inspiring Book for Conservative Christian Women

Some may consider this book empowering and inspiring.

An Inspiring Book for Conservative Christian Women

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Before we dig into the meat of this review, I need to confess something. I am not the ideal demographic for this book. When I chose this book, it held the promise of an inter-religious (including atheists and agnostics) inspirational book. And, honestly, men and women from most major monotheistic religions will probably get a great deal from this book. Keeping that in mind, I will tread lightly and attempt to make this review as respectful as possible. So what is this book?

Permanent Happiness, by Iyabo Ojikutu, M.D., is a conversational exploration of what it means to live a balanced and healthy life. She outlines a three-step plan to acquire peace. There is only one Bible quote in the entire text, but it builds the basis of the first and most crucial step. Though the opening of the book takes great care to include all of humanity, there is a God-centered focus to the text and several conservative views on dating and apparel which some may find less appealing. And there are instances where the text speaks to teenagers and men, but most of the book is squarely aimed at women, especially mothers. Part of this is because the author is a Christian mother, herself. She converted to Christianity from Islam, which her parents in Nigeria practiced. But she is also a pediatrician, so she has a keen focus on children’s needs and childrearing.

It is clear that the author wishes to impart her wisdom and advice in good faith to improve as many people’s lives as possible. She described the process of creating the book as an urge, a supernatural need to spread peace. And she shares many stories from her own life, both the struggles she has endured and the successes she has gained. This is a deeply personal work, and that is something I can definitely appreciate.

At times she can take on a judgmental and critical tone when discussing various topics, which some readers may appreciate. Religious women with more moderate views may glean something from this book but disagree with parts of the author’s advice.

Personally, as a non-religious, non-mother, queer woman of the Puerto Rican diaspora, there was very little in this text for me to relate to. And this book would have been greatly improved by honing in on its ideal audience: religious conservatives. However, I appreciate the body/soul balancing metaphor the author created, and it was interesting to get a glimpse into her life story.

Rating: 3.3 out of 5

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P.S.: Want to explore other cultures? Check out this review.