Reading Fanatic Reviews

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

Josie by Beth Gildersleeve

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Available at Amazon only
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Josie*

Info Dumps and Distance

This is the first book that I have read by this author. I had some issues with it. Even though the book is of decent length, the author chose to do several information dumps in the beginning, both on the hero’s side and on the heroine’s side. One of the heroine’s actually happened while she and the hero were in the midst of their initial conversation in the book! It just seemed odd to have her thinking about her troubled romantic past in great detail while she is supposedly sitting and chatting with the hero, who happens to be her brother’s boss. I didn’t like the blackmail aspect of the story. After their marriage of convenience, they didn’t spend enough time together for it to truly feel like a romance. How can the relationship change and grow if they aren’t together? And, no, the texts don’t cut it. I know that work and distance were supposed to be at the crux of their conflict, but to me, the hero and the heroine have to be together more to make it a romance. So, I find myself a little disappointed in this book.

Your Rebel Life by Tikiri Herath

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Available at Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters).

Your Rebel Life*

Maintaining Your Rebel Life

I have read the other two books in this serious, Your Rebel Dreams and Your Rebel Plans, and I enjoyed both thoroughly. I thought the author gave a fantastic blueprint to claim the life you want. The two earlier books look at how to figure out your vision and then plan to make it a reality. I’ve actually been anticipating this book for a couple of months because I so enjoyed the other two. This series-ender is a little different from the other two, but once I understood what the author was going for, I appreciated what this book has to offer.

In looking at the big picture of the three books in this series, I think I can liken it to the trajectory of a weight loss plan. In this scenario, Your Rebel Dreams (the first book) is like choosing which diet you think would be best for you and your body. Your Rebel Plans would be the phase where you are actually structuring and implementing your weight loss plan. I would call this book the maintenance phase: You’ve established a plan, worked the plan, and now you need a longer range vision about how to maintain everything that you’ve worked so hard for.

The book has a relatively straightforward structure. There is a section of introductory material, some of which was familiar from the previous books. Here, she sets the foundations about the particular constructs of all these books, like the Passion Pyramid and the Heroine’s Journey. The bulk of the book looks at the ten key pillars of life as defined by the author. Specifically, she has you look at each of these areas and assess your strengths and weaknesses so you can set small goals for improvement. She then gives ten tips that will help with that particular pillar. There are check-ins at the end of each month for each pillar where you state what your goal was, how you did with it, and steps from there. I found this a fascinating approach to try to keep yourself and your life not only in balance but in a constant state of improvement, a little kaizen. If you’ve read the other books, you’ll most likely enjoy this maintenance phase of your Rebel Diva life. If you haven’t read the other two books, you probably should before you delve into this one as those two books will truly set the foundation for this one.

Lady Jane by Vicki Hopkins

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo, and Bol.de

Lady Jane*

Characters Didn’t Seem Regency

I had a hard time buying many of the aspects of this book. It is supposed to be Regency, but none of the characters seem to act like what we expect from contemporarily written Regency romance books. The heroine, Lady Jane, is a woman unlike any other that I’ve read in a Regency Romance. She’s the female equivalent of a rake, taking men as lovers and disposing of them when she grows bored. We don’t understand why she is like this for a little while. Her family seems supportive of this or at least tolerant, which strikes me as odd. While she does have somewhat of a reputation, she is not shunned by the ton. When Man Zero, the one who first took her virtue and left her to pursue his military career, comes back to town, things change for Jane. How will she be affected when she sees him at every social function? What will their new relationship be, if any?

The hero, Matthew, wasn’t an easy hero to like, first because of his and Jane’s shared past as well as his initial indifference to the pain he had caused her. He has been able to go on with his life relatively unscathed, while he left behind wreckage in Jane’s that altered her perspective and life immeasurably. Yet, at an early point in the book, he states that he never really gave her a thought until seeing her again. Now, I wouldn’t require him to pine forever when he had a loving relationship with his wife. But I would at least liked him to have considered his actions over the years or more when he sees her again. Given their past, what happens between them in this book just seems implausible. I just couldn’t buy it. I also didn’t like that many characters in this book seem to have what I would consider to be more modern sensibilities, acting and talking more like contemporary people than like people from 200 years ago. All in all, I found this to be an oddly disconcerting book.

The Perfect Brew by Jo-Ann Carson

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The Perfect Brew*

Bumpy Start Morphs into a Good Read

I enjoy a good cozy mystery. This one, unfortunately, started off with an information dump, which I never like in any sort of fiction that I read. It did get better after that. The heroine got more than she bargained for when she came to a small town in the Pacific Northwest to settle her great-aunt’s affairs. The now-deceased lady has left the heroine a coffee shop… and a curse. Soon, a second body drops, and the heroine has determined to help figure out who the murderer is. She’s got a little something going on the romance front as well, or at least potentially. I found this novel a quirky and enjoyable read, which is how I like my paranormal cozy mysteries.

A Stranger’s Promise by Tarah Scott

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Free with Kindle Unlimited

A Stranger's Promise*

Love Story Not Truly Realized

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but the book seemed like it would be a historical romance. While much happened in the strange household of the hero, he and the heroine spent far too little time together for this to be really called a romance. It didn’t have the traditional build of a love story; there was no organic evolution of the romance. Parts of it were interesting to read, but I just kept waiting for a love story to kick in (it felt like). So, unfortunately, this story didn’t quite work for me.

Old Magic by Tiffany Shand

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de

Old Magic*

Surprising Twists in this Installment

I have been reading this series and have completely enjoyed the complex world that the author has created. After the defeat of Urien and the rescue of Xander in the last book, this book seemed to be non-stop action with some rather shocking twists. It is the kind of book that is hard to put down, gripping because you want to find out what happens next—as it is usually not what you think it will be. That doesn’t happen often enough in fiction in general and certainly in this kind of fantasy and magic story; too often they are predictable. I don’t want to give away too much, as this book is one to be savored by the reader as they experience it. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the story.

Thief of Broken Hearts by Louise Cornell

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Thief of Broken Hearts*

Didn’t Quite Work for Me

I enjoyed the first part of the book as we got to know the duke and his estranged duchess. But then it felt like the story got a bit repetitious and didn’t really have an escalating progression of events that a story should have to keep it interesting. I soon found it a little tiresome, especially the continual reference to 17 years ago and other such concepts; yes, we know! Because the heroine had such contempt for the hero at first, I had a hard time believing her turn around. It’s one thing that authors need to consider. When the couple is very distant from each other at the start of the novel, the author has to work to show us a true evolution, which will be a rocky road but should mostly progress in a 3-steps-forward, 2-steps-back way. I did not feel that happened here. Therefore, I found this a somewhat disappointing read.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

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Only available at UK Amazon
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Northanger Abbey*

Beautiful Cover for a Gothic Classic

This is a new edition of Northanger Abbey that has been given a beautiful and colorful cartoon cover that I believe is meant to appeal to teenage girls. The text inside is Jane Austen’s original. Since Jane Austen’s writings are in the public domain, publishing houses can do things like this. In this case, I think this is a good idea because it would be awesome if Jane Austen could be discovered by the next generation. I myself found Jane Austen when I was around 13 or 14. Pride and Prejudice changed my life. I became interested in writing romances myself and wrote several as a teenager, and I have several ideas for my own Jane Austen-inspired fanfiction that I’ve written and one day hope to publish. I’ve also gotten to know amazing authors in the Jane Austen fanfiction universe, some of whom I consider friends. So I truly hope that young women discover Jane Austen through books like this one.

For those who don’t know, Northanger Abbey is the closest that Jane Austen came to writing gothic fiction. She still has her wonderful insight into the human condition and the state of society and manners at the time. But the gothic twist certainly adds a little fun to the story.

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de

Burried in the Stacks*

Too Slow Getting to the Murder

Librarian Carrie has many projects going on at work when one of her colleagues is killed in a car accident and believed to be murdered. The library has a resident ghost who happens to be the dead woman’s aunt. The ghost wants to figure out what happened to her niece, and it turns out that the murdered women had a secret life that would make her many enemies.

Despite the paranormal aspect of this, I did not feel that this was a true cozy mystery. It is more like an amateur sleuth story with a paranormal element. I felt like the story started too slow. Until the murder (which happened near the 25% mark), we basically just saw Carrie meeting with her friend, her hospitalized colleague, and working at her job (even though there were new aspects to her job). It just felt like too much setup, not enough actually happening. The writing is straightforward and clean. Even the idea that there is a ghost who is such an integral part of the story is treated in a no-nonsense manner. I feel neutral about this book; it was an okay read, but I’m not particularly looking forward to the next book (which I hope to do for any series that I start).

Highland Faith by Madelyn Hill

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Highland Faith*

Best Book of the Series

This is the second book about the three Scottish McAlister sisters: Hope, Faith, and Honor. This is the middle book for the middle daughter. Like the other two books in the series, this book starts the prologue that shows a pivotal scene in the young girls’ childhoods, when their father is dying after a skirmish with an enemy clan. It’s a poignant moment for all and is actually well done. You can’t help but feel for these little girls and their poor mother. With nearly his dying breath, the father charges the young girls to lead the clan together in the future.

Faith is a complex character. She is a skilled hunter and enjoys providing for her clan, but she yearns for a life beyond the confines of Wild Thistle Keep. Be careful what you ask for; she is soon nabbed by a man who hopes to ransom her so he can redeem himself in his father’s eyes and save the family from his father’s debt. I didn’t like the men in the other two books of this series, but I did like this one better. He is trying to reform his roguish ways and save his family. He treats Faith better than her sisters’ men treated them.

I have had issues with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage with the other books in the series, but this particular installment had far fewer issues. There are a few problems, like a rather bizarre sentence that made no sense; it appeared to be a mash-up of two wholly unrelated sentences.

While the other books of the trilogy can help add some backstory, each book in the series is a standalone. Of the three books, this is the only one that I feel like I can recommend.

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.

Disclosure

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.

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

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