Reading Fanatic Reviews

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

Hey, ya’ll! I’m VERY behind getting my reviews up on the website! I’ve increased the reading and reviewing, leaving less of my leisure time available to update this website. I’ll do weekly posts with links to my reviews at Amazon; you can also check out my Amazon and Goodreads profiles.

By the way, I’m now a top 500 Amazon reviewer (#167 currently)… and the top 14 US reviewer of all time on Goodreads (and top 22 in the world). Cool stuff!

I hope to make updates to this site soon!

Secrets of the Heart by Suzan Tisdale

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Secrets of the Heart*

Excellent Beginning and Couple; End Not Wholly Related

I will admit that I am rarely drawn so quickly into a story, but this one pulled me right in and kept my attention when I should have been doing other things. The poor heroine has led a miserable existence because of her drunken thieving father. Others in the clan are quick to tar her with the same brush. She is vulnerable and falls victim to a man who pays her attention and says sweet words. But his only interest in her is carnal, although his lies claim otherwise. A year later, the heroine having giving birth to the man’s child, the hero of the story makes a wish with his grandmother a special well for a loving wife, a child, and peace for his clan. Little does he know that so many things are about to change.

This book really had me up until the halfway point or so. The heroine’s story and her being shunned and maltreated kept my interest. And I absolutely adored the hero, Connor. He is truly a decent and caring man who had gone through his own difficulties in losing his wife and child. He is never anything but kind and understanding toward the heroine, and I just adored that. However, though, things did get a little weird after the middle point in the book, unfortunately. The entire climax of the novel had not been clearly set up earlier. We knew some of Helen’s evil and what a lying jerk Darwud was, but no clue was truly given the extent of what they would go for or what their plans might be. So while I adored the love story of the hero and heroine (and their characters), I did not think that the climax of the story had anything, truly, to do with that. The climax of any novel must flow from the characters and the plot, but this one didn’t. The first part is so enjoyable, though, that I would recommend it even if the last parts of the novel were a disappointment.

Grumpy Old Gods Volume 1 by Various Authors

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Grumpy Old Gods, Volume 1*

Funny Tales of the Discarded Gods

Interestingly, I read Volume 2 before I read Volume 1 of this series. But, of course, it doesn’t really matter as this series is collections of humorous and fun short stories about the old gods. It was a delight to read this first one, a collection of 13 stories by different authors. Some were laugh-out-loud funny. Some authors have been very creative in thinking about how the old gods might interact with humans today or otherwise amuse themselves. These stories are all short, so they can be ready easily when you need to, say, wait at the doctor’s office or are on a break at work. If you love classic mythology, you may very well enjoy this sometimes hilarious spin on it.

Nessie and the Holiday Surprise by Isla Wynter

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de

Nessie and the Holiday Surprise*

Another Sweet Tale About Nessie

I had read the previous book by this author about Nessie finding out about human Christmas traditions. So I thought it would be fun to check out this next book as well. As before, I found this book to be delightful. The author has managed to imbue Nessie with quite the personality. In this one, she decides to go on holiday in the ocean, and she meets a new friend. Parts of this book were very funny, like when she first tasted salty seawater. Even the illustration of that was really cute. I like how this author includes mini activities on many of the pages, like counting seagulls or asking questions like if the reader would like algae shortbread or what would they write to Nessie on a postcard. I did catch one error. In the text, the phrase “ice floes” was correct; however, on the illustration, it was written as “ice floats.” Besides that, I found this to be a charming book that I imagine a child would enjoy.

Welcome Home, Abby by Jan Gallagher Dunn

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Welcome Home, Abby*

Didn’t Quite Gel for Me

I am not quite sure what to think of this book. For some reason, it never quite gelled for me. We are thrown into this modern marriage of convenience very quickly. I think the book would have been better served if the couple had explored the feelings left over from their previous relationship before they agreed to a marriage of convenience. So, to me, some of their issues seemed contrived, ones that could have been easily dealt with if they had simply talked openly early on or throughout. Instead, by setting themselves up to not talk about true thoughts and feelings, things went awry that shouldn’t. There still could have been adequate conflict and tension given their mutual past history as well as their problems in previous relationships. I loved the hero’s little girl, Erin. She’s such a cutie. Though, in the end, I felt a little disappointed by this book.

Mince Pies and Murder by Carly Reid

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Mince Pies and Murder*

Murder and Christmas in Small-Town Scotland

I have read every book in this series, including the prequel. The series, where a young American woman goes to a small town in Scotland to stay with her aunt, immediately charmed me. Each book has felt infused with such a Scottish flavor and quirky characters like we love in any cozy mystery. This book, in particular, felt steeped in Scottish tradition—it is Christmas, after all—what fun! Who murdered Santa Claus after a big Yule festival? Dalkinchie, despite its small size, always seems to have an adequate pool of suspects! I feel like each of these books is getting better and better, though I did enjoy the first one. The author has a way of building a community of fascinating characters, throwing in blind turns and red herrings, and still making it all seem realistic. My hats off to the author, and I sincerely look forward to the next book of the series.

A Snowflake at Midnight by Anne Renwick

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo, Bol.de

A Snowflake at Midnight*

Christmas Steampunk Romance

I don’t read as much steampunk as I might like, but I do find it a very fascinating sub-sub-genre. This book had all the steampunk elements I enjoy, like all the science, airships, clockwork, a focus on industry, and harkening back to ancient traditions. I know once I read the description that it would be a book I’d like. I love the fact that the heroine is a librarian and the hero a botanist. I am intrigued by ancient texts myself, so I loved that that was an element in the mix. I absolutely adored the fact that the key to possibly finding a cure for her father had to do with a special type of mistletoe! Perfect for a Christmas story. I found both the main characters to be believable and relatable, and I loved that they were willing to sacrifice in the hopes of saving her father.

Miracle on Main Street by Lisa Hughey

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

Miracle on Main Street*

Didn’t Like the Hero for Most of the Book

This is the first book I have read by this author. I thought the writing itself was well done, with good turns of phrase, dialogue, and descriptions. I had a hard time with the characters, though. The hero, and I’m tempted to put air quotes around that, is a bit of a jerk for a long time. I didn’t like the way he sometimes treated the heroine. The heroine herself seemed almost too good and noble to be believable. Something just didn’t sit right with me from the get-go, and I couldn’t really get into the book.

Time Management for Women by Claire Haven

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NOT with Kindle Unlimited

Time Management for Women*

Some Nuggets, But Some Issues

I enjoy reading nonfiction of a variety of types. I find myself particularly intrigued by books on time management and productivity. This might stem from the fact that my previous boss continuously harped on time management as being my Achilles’ heel. But I am of the mind that time really can’t be managed; time just is. I think part of the problem comes from the idea that we inherently must accept all the tasks that keep us so busy and make our time management seem poor. That’s part of my problem with productivity books. They don’t seem to question why we have so much to do or if all that busy work is truly important. Rather, they seem to want to give steps to make the reader use his time more efficiently. To me, though, that still seems like too much of muchness, exhausting and stressful.

I did think, though, that this book did have some good pointers and a few unique perspectives—like becoming better at being productive by practicing productivity. But in the end, it felt like it still boils down to fitting as much as you can into the least amount of time. That way of living seems so stressful to me. Must we really go, go, go all the time? I think we should pare down our responsibilities, delegate, and automate as much as we can. And if bosses are too demanding or unreasonable, they should be told rather than just kowtowed to.

Over the Broomstick by Mara Webb

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Over the Broomstick*

More Needed in the Middle

I enjoy cozy mysteries very much, especially paranormal ones. In general, I like novellas, but the mystery genre just is not made for this short form of writing. A good mystery needs room to ramble, time for twists and turns happen, a space for the buildup of red herrings, etc. This story felt like it had great potential. The death of a loved one that brings you to a magical town? Sounds like the perfect setup. And the setup was good. But I didn’t feel like the follow-through was there. There wasn’t enough tension and forward motion to the plot. I thought the writing itself was fine. The descriptive passages were perhaps at times a little much, but overall, it was a pleasant read. I just wish that it felt like there was more to the middle of the story.

Ten Things My Husband Hated by Pauline Wiles

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Ten Things My Husband Hated*

Chick Lit Romance

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’m glad that we’ve been introduced. The book feels unusual because it is a good blend of chick lit and romance. Usually, a book is one or the other. The first half is heavy on the chick lit. I actually adored the heroine’s group of girlfriends. They helped her see herself more clearly after a very embarrassing moment, and they attempt to help her move on from her past in the way that caring friends do. I actually liked the structure that the author gave this book, with the divorced women choosing to do ten things that her husband hated as an act of defiance and reclaiming her life. The book is quite amusing at first; there’s almost a giddiness about it as the friends start to work through the list. But as the story continues, things get progressively more serious as the new life and the new love that the heroine has found appear to be threatened. I don’t think it’s easy to make that kind of a shift in a book and make it feel believable, so kudos to the author. The heroine had to grow and change in this book, and the author did a good job of showing it in a sometimes amusing and sometimes poignant way.

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.

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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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