Reading Fanatic Reviews

Books to Add to Your TBR list... or Not!



Every Little Kiss by Susan Hatler

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Every Little Kiss*

The Call of the Ocean and Romance in Northern California

I read one other book by this author, and I enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this book. The book called to me for another reason. I am not sure precisely where on the northern California coast the fictional town of Blue Moon Bay is, but I traveled that route often when I lived in California when visiting family.

This is a sweet little contemporary romance. The heroine is a bit excitable, though she claims not to be. She does have a complicated and sad past, being abandoned by her parents when she was a young girl. They put her and her brother under the care of one of their grandmothers. The hero is an absolute sweetheart, thought that always makes you question if there’s something deeper that might be going on! The book felt a bit repetitious the way that the heroine would go on and on about why she couldn’t have even a little fling with a hero, even though there was definitely attraction and chemistry and he did actually changed his trip so he can spend more time with her. How can you turn down a nice guy even if the relationship might be brief? I thought it was odd, too, that both the hero and heroine had ties to reality shows. Not everyone in California is on reality shows! The heroine had her own briefly, and the hero’s father had one. It just was quite bizarre.

As someone who lived on the Northern California coast for more than a decade and did much traveling up and down it, I did have a few quibbles with the way the author described the area of course, I don’t actually know where this fictional town is supposed to be other than probably someplace where it would be comfortable to drive to Napa for the meet-in-the-middle visits of the heroine and her grandmother. In the fictional town, she described many two- and three-story houses. Where I lived on the coast, such dwellings were rare. I don’t think I ever saw a 3-story one. Also, compared to the Oregon coast, the Northern California coast does not have a ton of seafood restaurants. I know that one would think that it would have, but on the northern California coast, they’re actually surprisingly rare. You can find good seafood in regular restaurants, but there aren’t many strictly seafood joints. The Oregon coast is entirely different; I live in Oregon now, and I know that every little burg on our coast has some sort of seafood shack, joint, or restaurant. She also described sandy beaches. Much of the northern California coast is bluffs and cliffs with no sand in sight. Of course, there is sand in places, but if you drive from San Francisco to Eureka, it is surprising how little is sand there is in places. One last Coastal rant. She described the sunlight as glinting off the ocean surface as golden discs. As a coastal resident for many years, I never once saw anything like that. When the sun is out and fully shining down on that glorious Pacific Ocean, what it actually looks like is a scattering of glittering diamonds, little brilliant white shards reflecting back at you from the blueness. It is actually quite spectacular to have full sun on a choppy ocean.

I just had to share all that because, for me, having these kinds of details wrong kind of detracted from my enjoyment of the story. Perhaps if you’re not a foggybottom, you wouldn’t notice or care. Again, this is essentially a sweet little romance that is a pleasure to read.

Neurology Rounds with the Maverick by Bernard M. Patten, MD

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Neurology Rounds*

A Window into the “Golden Age” of Medicine

I am an RN–a generalist, not a neuro nurse–so I found this collection of this doctor’s patient stories from what he calls the golden age of medicine (back before the heavy influence of administrators and insurance companies) to be quite a fascinating one. Given what I know of HIPAA, I’m actually surprised that he could publish a book like this, but it is a fascinating read. There’s not much of a distinct organization to it. The bulk of the book is a set of patient stories, and at the end, he talks about malpractice, being an expert witness, and gives one detailed case study. If you have an interest in medicine, or neurology, you might find this book to be an intriguing one like I did.

10 Life Hacks by Ryan E. Winner

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10 Life Hacks*

Life Hacks… Or Common Sense?

Perhaps it’s my age, somewhere north of 50, but I have an issue with the word “hack” being used everywhere for everything. Yes, it’s silly; I know. Sometimes, I actually feel like I’m still kind of fuzzy on the precise definition because different people seem to use it in different ways.

But enough about that. This is a very short and quick read. Because of my aversion to the word “hack,” I might call this more social common sense–that probably isn’t quite as common as it should be. He has clearly organized each of the ten hacks, talking about it in general, giving an exercise, and providing a similarly structured FAQ. Surprisingly, he does have some good insights into how these small changes which can actually make a positive influence on social interaction. None are tricky or difficult; they just take a little bit of thought and remembering. But I imagine if one started to practice them, they would become second nature in no time–especially if you get good results. These simple but good ideas, if followed by more people, would indeed make the world a more pleasant place to be in.

Restoring Lady Alice by Lydia Pembroke

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Restoring Lady Alice*

Another Very Dark Regency

Like the other book about Lady Jane in this series, I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. At times, it seems more like melodrama, or at least Regency with a heavy dose of Gothic. I wish the darkness in the series have been more obvious from the book blurbs. The covers make them seem like they’re just regular Regency or historical romance, but both of these stories are very dark. The villain doesn’t have a bit of light to him, at least not shown in either of these two books. Compared to the Lady Jane book, for some reason, I thought that the language in this one felt stilted. There were definitely some issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. This kind of book, where so much seems to be focused on as such a vile person, is just not my cup of tea.

Hook, Line, and Vital Signs by Florella Grant

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Hook, Line, and Vital Signs*

Not Quite the Medical Romance I Was Hoping For

I was attracted to this book at my favorite book review site because I am an RN, and I will admit to having a weakness for romances that have a medical setting. The heroine is an ER nurse and the hero is a CAT scan specialist. Right off the bat, unfortunately, I noticed some things that didn’t seem right about the medical aspect, about how things work in the hospital these days. I run across that far too often in fiction books. With the interconnectedness of people on the internet, I would think that authors could actually reach out to nurses and other medical people so that those aspects of their books would ring true. Seriously, does any ED use paper charts these days?

I did not like the hero. He was far too much of a jerk towards the heroine at the start of the book, and the author was not able to successfully rehabilitate him for me. The two had had a previous relationship that went south, but he pretended like he didn’t really remember her when they meet up again at the hospital. Then he seemed more interested in pursuing her cousin. Ick. Not hero material in my book. All around, I found this to be a disappointing book.

Heal Your Body, Cure Your Mind by Dr. Ameet Aggarwal

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori and Angus & Robertson

Heal Your Body, Cure Your Mind*

Broad Swath of Mental and Physical Health Topics Addressed

The topics that this book explores are vast. The author is a naturopathic doctor and gestalt psychotherapist who practices holistic integrated medicine. All of this is quite obvious when you read the book. The book is split broadly into three parts. The first part looks at emotions, the second how the body affects the mind, and the last covers a variety of topics and healing modalities. He explores mental as well as physical issues and ways to heal each. He does explain some of the science that is the background for some of his recommendations, like neurotransmitters and hormones. Much of the latter part of the book explores issues with hormones, like with the adrenals and the thyroid, as well as common issues like gut and liver issues. I am an RN, and I don’t wholly agree with everything that he says in this book, but he has given the reader much to think about, and I do believe he has the right of it in many places. He explores such diverse topics as sex, insomnia, and nutrition. He does give suggestions for different supplements throughout the book and shares some meditative practices. All in all, I found it to be a fascinating read.

Wedding at Walden Pond by Vivien Mayfair

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Wedding at Walden Pond*

Well-Done Exploration of Familiar Trope

I had read the other two books in this series, and I wasn’t really wild about them. But I always like to give an author two or three shots to impress me. In this case, I am so glad I did. I found this book to be an absolute delight. One of the things that I had enjoyed from the previous book was Zeph, the owner of the horror bookstore. He was an excellent foil for the heroine in that book. In this one, he gets his own story, and I was delighted to see that there was so much more to his character. He has gotten himself into a bit of a bother because his mother believes that he is engaged to the French woman who runs the patisserie across the road from his shop. So, yep, this is a spin on the favorite fake engagement romantic trope. Both the hero and the heroine are having parental problems. Mirabelle has never quite lived up to her father’s expectations, and she is bound and determined to do so even at the expense of her own dreams. She is a kind and generous person who is also being hassled by her landlord; she gives too much money away helping others and doesn’t pay her rent on time. She agrees to be Zeph’s fake fiancee. Of course, Zeph has been nurturing a silent attraction for the French woman. The stage, as you can see, has been set for humor, romance, and drama between warring factions and because of lies and secrets.

The book did have a few problems. There were some issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. As someone who has actually studied the French language and has a great appreciation for the French culture, I was definitely annoyed at the author’s use of the nonword “zee” to portray Mirabelle’s way of saying “the.” That rankled every time I saw it; it is just so wrong.

By the way, the Walden Pond in the title is NOT the one you are thinking about. All in all, I found the book to be a delightful read.

The Art of Minimalism by Olivia Telford

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The Art of Minimalism*

More than Just the Art of Minimalism

I have read another book by this author on mindfulness, and in this book, she brings mindfulness to minimalism in a variety of ways. The book is roughly divided into thirds: generalities and mindset about minimalism, specific strategies for decluttering your physical environment, and ideas for decluttering your relationships, your thoughts, and your day. What I like about this book is that you can tell that the author walks the talk. She isn’t just cobbling together a variety of information from online sources and other books as happens far too often in nonfiction books these days. Instead, she shares personal stories and insights as well as tips that she herself has come up with. I particularly loved the section on how to naturally clean all the areas of your home after you’ve decluttered. I’m planning to implement some of those ideas very soon.

I have read several books on minimalism, but her approach draws you right in because she helps you understand your thinking about the excess of “stuff” in your life and the history of consumerism. Much of her advice is very detailed, like the specific recipes for natural cleansers and how to use the pomodoro technique in your decluttering. The book has some unusual topics for a book on minimalism, like affirmations and time management—and of course, the entire last section that is more about the mental aspects, like clearing toxic relationships and thoughts from your life and replacing those thoughts with more positive ones. It might seem from the outside like it’s an odd combination of ideas, but the ideas do work together to help support you in decluttering all aspects of your life.

My Christmas Darling by Vivien Mayfair

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My Christmas Darling*

Books, Books, Books

Having read another book in the Snowdrop Valley series, I was a little surprised by this one. Sometimes reading books out of order can be a little confusing. I’m always intrigued by books that have an element about books in them. This book certainly had that, with a publishing house at the forefront, a woman who worked as a manuscript evaluator by day and was a writer by night, and much ado about a potential bestseller. I do have some knowledge of the publishing industry, and I definitely think there’s a fantastical element here because no new writer would have been offered such big money for a first novel. The heroine certainly created a heap of trouble for herself with the snowballing effects of her lies and cover-ups. I didn’t quite like the faux love triangle aspect of it. Mark is such a jerk, always wanting to tear the heroine down. Why she let that loser continue to have anything to do with her I can’t quite understand. Along with the romance, both the hero and the heroine had issues with their parents, too. The book did have some problems with grammar, punctuation, and usage. Comma splices seemed to be everywhere. All in all, something about this book just didn’t sit right for me; it wasn’t the feel-good Christmas story I was hoping for.

The Influential Author by Gregory V. Diehl

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The Influential Author***

Required Reading for Would-Be Nonfiction Authors

On so many levels, I found this book to be an absolute delight and would recommend it to anyone who is considering writing a nonfiction book. It seems like these days most nonfiction authors are going for the quick reads category on Amazon, so unfortunately so many nonfiction books are more flash than substance, sometimes with just a paragraph or two given to a meaty topic. That’s part of what makes this book a refreshing change. The author goes into deep detail about the process of writing a nonfiction book. That’s not entirely accurate. He actually starts well before the writing begins. The book begins by discussing, in what he calls the philosophy section, whether or not you should write a book and what you may have to offer the world. Later sections dig deep into the preparation, writing, and publishing process, with step-by-step instructions with lots of details and advice given. As an author and a freelance copy editor myself, I don’t always agree with everything that he says in this book, but for the fledgling nonfiction writer, he gives you much to think about and consider as you approach and work through the process of conceptualizing, writing, and publishing your nonfiction book. I liked, too, that he gives information about how to think about your book even after publication so that you can learn lessons that will take you further in your writing career. With his book, the author is trying to set up future writers for success. Well done!

Jamie Brydone-Jack

Jamie Brydone-Jack

Reader, Editor, Writer

I’m an avid reader, for both fun and business. I enjoy a wide variety of books, including literary fiction, romance, thrillers, cozy mysteries, and fantasy for fiction and history, contemporary issues, philosophy, music, medicine, and cookbooks for nonfiction. I’m a freelance copyeditor who also does beta and alpha reading. I have two websites that are all about romance and mystery. You can follow my reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.


The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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