Review: The Fixer-Upper by Phoebe MacLeod

The Fixer Upper

About the book, The Fixer-Upper The Fixer Upper cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (February 3, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages

Finding a man is like buying a house: sometimes you have to look beyond the exterior to see the potential underneath.

As an estate agent, Alex’s job is to create happy-ever-afters. It’s just a shame she can’t work the same magic on her own life. Her long-term boyfriend Thomas still lives with his mother, and her hopes of them taking the next step are dashed when he announces he’s spending all his savings (savings she’d quite hoped he’d want to put towards their future home) on an ‘artist retreat’ in San Francisco.

With Thomas thousands of miles away, getting a little too friendly with his fellow artistes, Alex strikes up a friendship with her new neighbour, Callum. Taciturn, grumpy and nerdy, Callum couldn’t be more different to Alex’s bubbly personality…. So why is he the one she wakes up wanting to talk to?

As they get to know each other, Alex starts to wonder if the answer to all her problems might be closer to home than she thinks…

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About the author, Phoebe MacLeod PhoebeAvatar

Phoebe MacLeod is the author of several popular laugh-out-loud romantic comedies. She mainly sets her books in her home county of Kent and her first new title for Boldwood will be published in November 2022. They will also be republishing her existing titles from August this year.

Connect with Phoebe:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

How refreshing it was to fall into the pages of The Fixer-Upper, Phoebe MacLeod’s latest romantic comedy, where friendship remains a pillar and shocking events don’t drive the plot. Rather, it’s a novel that lets us meet the main characters, sit with them a while, and watch them develop new and healthy relationships without any back-stabbing or scandal.

Alex and Emma are best friends who buy a flat together, and in typical rom-com fashion, fall for the boys next door – well, really across the hall. What follows is a sweet and often hilarious story about how confident real estate agent Alex and less confident Emma find themselves in a quest to find true – or at least lasting – love.

I enjoyed the tease of the title that persisted through the opening chapters, for the “fixer-upper” isn’t the flat that Emma and Alex buy. It’s their next door neighbor Callum, and even he doesn’t really need fixing so much as he needs a style consultant and a confidence booster.

Watching Alex process her changing feelings for her long-term boyfriend Thomas, especially after he moves to San Francisco for an artists’ retreat, is much like watching my own self in my twenties as I learned what I wanted, what I didn’t, and what wants were really needs, and it’s that universality that really makes this book shine. We’ve all had to re-examine our choices at one time or another. We’ve all had the focus of of our relationships change – at times the most important person is our best friend, while at other times it’s our partner. Those shifts are a normal part of our evolution into stable adults, and author MacLeod captures them brilliantly.

While I loved the Alex and Callum thread in this novel, and enjoyed the Emma and Mark thread, the character I felt was a bit underserved in this story was the other best friend, Michelle, who is a tower of support for Alex, especially when Emma’s focus changes.

If you’re looking for accidental sleuths, scandal, or mayhem, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a relatable, feel-good romance with well-drawn characters who feel like the people you might meet in the local cafe, run to your nearest source of books, and get a copy of The Fixer-Upper. You won’t regret it.

Goes well with: coffee and anisette toast.


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Review: The Girls from Sandycove by Sian O’Gorman

The Girls From Sandycove

About the Book, The Girls of Sandycove

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (January 23, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 328 pages

THE GIRLS FROM SANDYCOVE hi 4 boldwood.A mother and daughter adrift, a friend in need, and a village to call home…

When Kate O’Hare discovers she’s pregnant, she is determined to return to her hometown of Sandycove in Dublin.

On the other side of the Atlantic, her estranged mother, international superstar, Lola, is heartbroken following the loss of her soulmate, Paulie. On hearing Kate’s plan, Lola follows her, seeking a second chance at motherhood.

Kate discovers her best friend, Flora, is back in her childhood bedroom, her marriage and self-esteem in tatters following her husband’s public betrayal.

Flora now finds herself with no husband, home, or future, while her own mother Patsy is stepping out of her comfort zone into the world of interiors. Can Patsy’s new life reignite Flora’s talent and creativity?

And what of the O’Hare family secret which has the power to unlock a pathway to greater mutual understanding? And will music and the magic of Sandycove be enough to empower the women through such challenging times?

An emotive story of forgiveness, new beginnings and happy-ever-afters…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the Author, Sian O’Gorman Sian O'G

Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway and now lives just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer alongside writing contemporary women’s fiction inspired by friend and family relationships.

Connect with Sian:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

This was my first “visit” to Sandycove, but it definitely won’t be my last.

In The Girls from Sandycove, author Sian O’Gorman has given us a story about mothers and daughters, exploring both the mother-daughter dynamic and exploring each role on its own. Her subject matter is universal, and her characters are relatable – who hasn’t run home to mom (at least figuratively) when their life has gone sour? Who hasn’t sometimes felt overshadowed by a particularly successful parent? (My own mother freely  admits that she prefers to always be the center of attention.)

So, this story of Flora and Patsy, Kate and Lola is written with realistic dialogue and mostly plausible situations. I liked that each mother-daughter pair had conflict but also drew strength from each other, and I loved that all of this was centered around Sandycove, a village “near Dublin.”

As someone who never really had a hometown, I’ve always been drawn to “hometown stories,” and this novel is no exception. There’s a special kind of magic in returning to the place where you grew up – nostalgic on one level, but a bit like a faded postcard on another – and O’Gorman has captured all of it, making Sandycove its own character.

If you like heartwarming family drama, strong female characters, and a story where people struggle but ultimately grow, read The Girls from Sandycove.

Goes well with: a sunny day, sandy feet, and sharing a bottle of prosecco with your mother, your daughter, or both.


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Book Review: Murder by Christmas by Lesley Cookman

Murder By Christmas

 

About the book, Murder by Christmas Murder-by-Christmas

  • Series: A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery (Book #25)
  • Publisher: ‎ Headline Accent (December 7, 2023)
  • Publication date: ‎ December 7, 2023
  • Language: ‎ English

Murder by Christmas

The twisting twenty-fifth instalment of Lesley Cookman’s much-loved Libby Sarjeant series

Libby Sarjeant is deep into rehearsals for the annual pantomime when a body is found in a doorway two weeks before Christmas – and Libby and her friend Fran are called into action once again, when their investigation leads them to a local brewery and the sale of many of its pubs.

With the help of a team of local publicans, can Libby and Fran unravel the case before it’s too late?

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Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the Author, Lesley Cookman Murder Tish's profile pic

Lesley started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories, in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. Lesley is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.

Lesley has also written pantomimes performed all over Britain, and published a book on how to do it!

Connect with Lesley:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

I love a good mystery, and I especially love one set at Christmas time. The lights and trees always make such a great backdrop for committing crime. Murder by Christmas, the twenty-fifth book in Lesley Cookman’s Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery series, is a good mystery with a holiday background. What’s not to love?

As someone new to this series, I immediately fell in love with Libby and Fran, the two women who must juggle Christmas festivities with the little thing of solving a murder. Having the crimefighters have to flit off and become pantomime fairies really made the pacing interesting in this novel, but it also added some touches of humor. I liked their relationship, and I liked the way they teased and snarked at each other, and with their friend Ian the policeman, the way good friends can, and do, even in the midst of serious work. I also liked the story involving local pub owners. Pubs are one of those quintessentially British institutions that really enhance the scene in a novel like this, and I was ready to pull up a chair and have a pint.

There are a ton of background characters, cameo characters, townspeople, and pub-goers in this novel, all grounding it with a real sense of place. It felt like some of this cast were familiar to the main characters, and likely recur throughout the series, but even without knowing their extended stories, I had no trouble following who was who.

If your idea of a perfect Christmas read involves horses doing tricks, performing in an annual production, and solving a murder, this book is perfect for your next fireside read. It has snappy dialogue, great pacing, and a plot that kept me guessing until the end.

I listened to the audio book as well as reading the text, and thoroughly enjoyed the narration by Patience Tomlinson. She really made this already-multidimensional story come alive.

Goes well with: mince pie and a piping hot cup of coffee laced with whisky.

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Review: The Edge of Too Late, by Jan Sikes with Giveaway

BNR The Edge of Too Late

 

About the book, The Edge of Too Late harbor pointe blue cover JS

  • Series: Harbor Pointe (Book 5)
  • Genre: Ghost Suspense / Contemporary Short Stories / Action & Adventure Romance
  • Publisher: RiJan Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 28, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 126
  • Scroll down for giveaway! 

Brandon Miller has his dream job, financial security, and he’s madly in love. Only one thing is missing—a commitment.

Angela Cooper’s ex-husband left her with deep scars, souring her on the concept of marriage. She’s not interested in a do-over. Not with Brandon or anyone. Her heart is locked securely away behind a thick wall.

With a ring in his pocket and hope in his heart, Brandon arranges a romantic getaway to the historic Harbor Pointe Inn, where he plans to pop the question.

Before they reach the inn, Angela’s got her camera in hand and ghosts on her mind. But they arrive to find a much more tangible horror.

Accident or foul play?

Someone is up to no good, and Angela is the next target. When suspects can be worldly or otherworldly, danger and secrets lurk everywhere.

Poised at the perilous edge of too late, Angela and Brandon face the fight of their lives.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Jan Sikes Author Photo Sikes

Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart.

She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. She brought the entertaining true story to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale encompassing four books, accompanying music CDs, and a book of poetry and art.

And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published numerous award-winning short stories and novels.

Jan is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.

Connect with Jan:

WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK | X (TWITTER) | NEWSLETTER | BOOKBUB | AMAZON | GOODREADS

 

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

As someone whose first memory is the sound of fog horns, I’m a sucker for any kind of coastal ghost story. There’s just something about cliffs, crags, and crashing waves that’s just meant for the supernatural. Picking up the Jan Sikes’s  entry in the shared universe Harbor Pointe series, a The Edge of Too Late, was a no-brainer for me, though now I have to find the time to read books one through four.

This novel works perfectly well as a standalone story, and it’s got a lot going on in only 126 pages: ghosts, accidental (or is it) death, and romance. The relationship between Brandon and Angela was the center of the story, of course, but it isn’t a fluffy one. Angela has been burned by previous relationships, and fears being able to fully commit to Brandon, and her worries work really well to heighten the overall sense of unease that author Sikes has crafted so well. From the opening scene, Angela is experiencing shivers and goosebumps, and both characters are trepidatious when the police who zip past them on their way to their inn, and more so when the realize the police are handling an accidental death (or is it) that occurred just before their arrival.

Angela’s photography and Brandon’s sense of romance and adventure really work well to balance each other. When the former is looking through her camera lens, she’s certain and secure. And Brandon encourages her. It’s a lovely relationship, but the choice to have Brandon refer to Angela as ‘Angi Baby’ felt a little creepy to me (and even more so in the audiobook version which I listened to after finishing the text. (Kudos to the narrator, Jessine Van Lopik, whose performance was both compelling and, at times, chilling).

The Harbor Pointe setting was essentially in the character in this story, the way fictional villages often are. I spent my teen years in northern California, and Harbor Pointe reminded me a lot of Moss Beach and Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County (which has a haunted restaurant). It had that breezy California vibe without ever feeling like a caricature, and I could taste the salt in the air as I read.

This novel, as mentioned above, is only 126 pages long, so it’s easy to read it in one sitting, and honestly, the story is so gripping, I can’t envision any other way to experience it. Jan Sikes has given us a story jam-packed with characters, settings, and ideas that beg to be revisited. Check me in to the Harbor Pointe Inn any time, I’m eager to visit again.

Goes well with: Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and a glass of Fort Point Animal IPA.


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1st: $20 Amazon gift card

2nd & 3rd: audiobooks of The Edge of Too Late

4th & 5th: eBooks of Flowers and Stone

(US Only; ends midnight, CST 12/15/23)

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Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for this book for direct links to each blog, updated daily, or visit each blog directly.

12/05/23 Jennifer Silverwood Review
12/05/23 Hall Ways Blog Excerpt
12/06/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
12/06/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
12/07/23 JennCaffeinated Review
12/08/23 Librariel Book Adventures Review
12/08/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Character Interview
12/09/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
12/10/23 The Clueless Gent Review
12/11/23 Bibliotica Review
12/12/23 Rox Burkey Blog Review
12/12/23 Forgotten Winds Author Interview
12/13/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
12/14/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review

 

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Review: Arsenic at Ascot, by Kelly Oliver

Arsenic at Ascot

 

About the book, Arsenic at Ascot Arsenic at Ascot copy

  • Series: Fiona Figg and Kittty Lane (Book 4)
  • Publisher: ‎ Boldwood Books (November 28, 2023)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Paperback: 280 pages

Arsenic at Ascot (A Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mystery Book 4)

Saddle up for this first class historical mystery, perfect for fans of Helena Dixon and Verity Bright.

London, 1918

Fiona Figg finds herself back in Old Blighty saddled with shuffling papers for the war office. Then a mysterious card arrives, inviting her to a fancy house party at Mentmore Castle. This year’s Ascot-themed do will play host to a stable of animal defense advocates, and Fiona is tasked with infiltrating the activists and uncovering possible anti-war activity.

Disguised as the Lady Tabitha Kenworthy, Fiona is more than ready for the “mane” event, but the odds are against her when both her arch nemesis, dark-horse Fredrick Fredricks, and would-be fiancé Lieutenant Archie Somersby arrive unexpectedly and “stirrup” her plans. And when a horse doctor thuds to the floor in the next guest room, Fiona finds herself investigating a mysterious poisoning with some very hairy clues.

Can Fiona overcome the hurdles and solve both cases, or will she be pipped to the post and put out to pasture by the killer?

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About the author, Kelly Oliver Author Photo

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Kelly:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

It’s a farce! It’s a period piece! It’s a mystery! It’s a romance! Actually, it’s all of the above, and you can find it in Kelly Oliver’s fourth installment in her Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mysteries, Arsenic at Ascot. This novel finds Fiona undercover as several different people from Lady Tabitha Kenworthy to a rear admiral, and she’s solving crime, thwarting international spies, and flirting with men – and danger – in a delightful romp through the English animal rights scene of 1918.

Kelly Oliver’s prowess is in her ability to make a period piece feel completely contemporary, while never compromising the setting. Fiona Figg’s costume and personality shifts as she moves between undercover guises are both fantastic and a little bit funny, and the author makes you want to jump into the pages and join the adventure. Her deft hand at pacing and plot only make the read even better, and I confess, she kept me guessing until the end of the story.

I also appreciated that this book, while fourth in a series, is perfectly readable as a standalone (though I’ll go back and read books 1-3 as time allows). While it would have been interesting to know more of the relationships at play, especially the history of Fiona, fellow agent Archie, and nemesis Fredrick Fredricks, not having their backstories in no way detracts from being able to follow the plot, through it’s many twists and turns.

I especially enjoyed seeing a feisty, independent woman leading the story in a period that isn’t given a lot of “air play” in literature, and it was interesting to observe both the similarities and the differences in the cultures of the past in the novel, and our own present.

I listened to the audiobook of this story as well as reading the text, and I can say that while the quick pacing makes it something that, I feel, works better in print, the narration by Willow Nash was spot on, and I’d happily listen to more of her work

Overall, this is a fabulous story with something for everyone: romance, intrigue, humor, danger… and horses. What’s not to love?

Goes well with: late-night whiskey in the library.


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Review: The Library Girls of the East End by Patricia McBride

The Library Girls of the East End

About the book, The Library Girls of the East End The_Library_Girls_Of_The_East_End_e-book

  • Publisher: Boldwood Books (November 27, 2023)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 248 pages

1940, London

When Cordelia accepts the post of head librarian in Silver Town Library, her mother is more than a little disapproving. The East End has high levels of poverty and illiteracy, and her mother says it’s no place for a woman of her status.

But Cordelia is determined to make a difference in these times of strife, and along with her colleagues, Jane and Mavis, she begins to help the local community, making sure everyone knows what the library can offer them.

And maybe even a romance will blossom, giving Cordelia the strength to make it through the chaos and destruction that constantly threatens their livelihood.

Against a background of war, air raids and rationing, it becomes clear the library is more than a building filled with books – it is the beating heart of a community refusing to be torn apart.

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About the author, Patricia McBride IMG_6301

Patricia McBride is the author of the very popular Lily Baker historical saga series. She is now writing a new WW2 series for Boldwood, based in the East End of London during the Blitz, the first title of which, The Library Girls of the East End, will be published in November 2023.

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

As a child, libraries were my sanctuary, so I was excited to read The Library Girls of the East End, the first book in a new series by Patricia McBride. Set in the war-torn London of the 1940’s this novel is about three young women, Cordelia, Mavis, and Jane who all discover their best selves while working in the library.

Filled with romance, family drama, and the resilience of humanity this book is a lovely glimpse of a time that is getting further and further away from us with every breath. I loved that each of the three main characters had a distinct story and personality, and I applaud the author’s deftness at braiding them into a coherent whole. I appreciated that class differences were addressed, but never used as an excuse, and I was impressed that in addition to wonderful traits, every character also had a flaw they had to overcome.

Of course the library regulars – the Readers – were integral parts of the story. Whether it was the grumpy man who grumbled over the daily newspaper, or the children learning that books could take them beyond any walls, the community members provided the reason for Cordelia, Mavis, and Jane’s being employed at all, but also provided the tapestry against which the rest of the scenes were played. Without readers, after all, what good is a library?

In addition to reading the text of this novel, I also listened to the audiobook of this novel, which really made me pay attention to McBride’s flair for dialogue. Every character had a distinct way of speaking, which was reflected in print, but really sang in audio. Kudos to the narrator, Julie Maisey, whose pronunciation of the word “ate” specifically really made me feel immersed in the period of this book.

Overall, this is a satisfying read with three strong female characters at its heart.

Goes well with: mushroom risotto and a nice merlot.


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Review: Christmas at the Cabin by Rebecca Boxall

Christmas at the Cabin

About the book, Christmas at the Cabin Christmas at the Cabin Cover LARGE EBOOK

  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 24, 2023
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

A festive, coming-of-age tale about an Oxbridge candidate and a young homeless man who find themselves in the bittersweet predicament of falling in love with exactly the right person at exactly the wrong time.

Well-to-do Jed never imagined he’d end up homeless, but family circumstances have made it his only option. Local vicar, Ben, tries to help him but there’s an element of self-punishment to the homelessness that makes Jed continue to put up with his situation – until disaster leads him to re-consider the vicar’s offer of a place to stay.

Hattie is on the cusp of adulthood, frantically trying to persuade her mum that she doesn’t want to attend an elite university, preferring the idea of pursuing her love of art and textiles. When she meets Jed, she badly wants to understand his circumstances and why, when she has everything at her fingertips, he doesn’t.

Hattie’s mum, Christine, has had a hard life and is desperate for more for her only child. When she meets Ben, the vicar who’s trying to help Jed, she finds an unlikely ally, and the two heartbroken souls find themselves drawn to each other. Until they find their relationship suddenly tested to the limit.

One thing’s for certain: none of these characters is looking forward to Christmas. It’s the worst time of year for each of them, for different reasons. But perhaps this year, the festive season could defy all expectations.

Rebecca Boxall is the award-nominated author of five bestselling novels – Christmas at the Vicarage, Home for Winter, Christmas on the Coast, The Christmas Forest and Christmas by the Lighthouse. She is also the author of Christmas at the Farmhouse and her popular short story, A Winter’s Day.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the author, Rebecca Boxall

Rebecca BoxallRebecca Boxall was born in East Sussex in 1977 and grew up in a bustling vicarage always filled with family, friends and parishioners. She now lives by the sea in Jersey with her family and Rodney the cat. She read English at the University of Warwick before she trained as a lawyer and more recently worked at a psychiatric unit.

She is the No. 1 bestselling author of Christmas at the Vicarage and Christmas on the Coast as well as the bestselling writer of Home for Winter, The Christmas Forest,  and Christmas by the Lighthouse, in respect of which she was nominated for the Romantic Novel Awards in 2020. She is also the author of Christmas at the Farmhouse and her popular short story, A Winter’s Day.

Connect with Rebecca:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Rebecca Boxall’s latest novel,  The Christmas Cabin is the kind of novel that balances an uplifting story with the gritty reality of contemporary life. Told in alternating first-person chapters from each of the four main characters, Hattie, Jed, Christine, and Ben, it a book that gives us four journeys of self-realization that intertwine to form a satisfying whole with just enough holiday warmth to leave the readers smiling.

Each of the main character is one melody in a literary medley that includes a coming-of-age story, a mother-daughter story, a second-chance story, and a second-chance romance, but none of those through-lines exists in a vacuum. Hattie’s relationship with her mother, Christine, influences her choices when she meets the homeless guitarist, Jed and his dog Lola. Ben the Vicar’s past relationships informs his behavior with Christine, whom he first encounters in a sidewalk accident, and later identifies as Hattie’s mother. Jed’s personal history affects his ability to accept help from Ben. And yet, in the near-perfect confluence of events in the days that lead up to Christmas these four people merge their disparate stories into a perfect holiday chorus.

What I loved about this novel was the fact that even though it’s very much a holiday tale, everything is grounded in emotional truth. Santa isn’t granting wishes; each character has to identify and achieve their own goal without magical help, but with the help of community and family, both biological and chosen.

Author Boxall has given us a perfectly paced plot, with vibrant characters. Especially deft is her use of dialogue. Hattie and Christine speak differently than Ben and Jed, even when those differences are subtle. Similarly, her descriptions are enough to let us imagine the scenes – the comfortable bedroom of teenaged Hattie, the crackling fire and cozy couches at the vicarage, and the bitter-cold streets of the Jersey streets. At the same time, though, because this is a Christmas story, the edges are softened a little, as if we’re seeing everything through a filtered lens..

Overall, this was a compelling read – I devoured it in one day – with vibrant characters who feel as dimensional as real people.

Goes well with chunky vegetable soup, crusty bread, and red wine.

The Oxygen Farmer by Colin Holmes – Review & Giveaway

BNR Oxygen Farmer

About the book, The Oxygen Farmer  Cover Med Res Oxygen Farmer, The 1

  • Genre: Science Fiction / Space Mystery
  • Publisher: CamCat Books
  • Date of Publication: December 5, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 338 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

After 35 years of living on the Moon, cranky old oxygen farmer Millennium Harrison has stumbled onto a hidden facility in the shadows of the Slayton Ridge Exclusion Zone with a radiation leak and a deadly secret. Mil’s discovery leads to the death of a young astronaut, sabotage, murder, and cover-ups that may go all the way to the Chief Administrator of the space agency. Unfortunately, she happens to be Mil’s estranged daughter, busy trying to secure her own legacy—the first international mission to Mars.

With time ticking down to a limited launch window, enemies, friends, and even family may do anything to ensure the truth doesn’t come out. Or will history finally catch up with a deadly scheme that has the potential to destroy the moon and eradicate all life on Earth? It seems the planet’s only hope is a cantankerous guy who never really liked those people in the first place.

Praise for The Oxygen Farmer

“An action-packed thriller perfect for fans of Andy Weir and Jack McDevitt.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This space mystery is a page-turner rooted in its convincing and compelling protagonists and their well-written relationships . . . SF fans will enjoy this rich novel full of good world building, mysterious space intrigue, and dry humor.” —Booklist

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About the author, Colin Holmes Author Pic Holmes

Before the pandemic, Colin Holmes toiled in a beige cubical as a mid-level marketing and advertising manager for an international electronics firm. A recovering advertising creative director, he spent far too long at ad agencies and freelancing as a hired gun in the war for capitalism.

As an adman, Holmes has written newspaper classifieds, TV commercials, radio spots, trade journal articles and tweets. His ads have sold cowboy boots and cheeseburgers, 72-ounce steaks, and hazardous waste site clean-up services. He’s encountered fascinating characters at every turn.

Now he writes novels, short stories and screenplays in an effort to stay out of the way and not drive his far-too-patient wife completely crazy. He is an honors graduate of the UCLA Writers Program, a former board member of the DFW Writers Workshop and serves on the steering committee of the DFW Writers Conference. He’s a fan of baseball, barbeque, fine automobiles and unpretentious scotch.

Connect with Colin:

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

The Oxygen Farmer has it all: a plausible near-future science fiction setting, compelling characters, family drama, and a mystery that catches your interest from the start and expands until the end. With perfect pacing, realistic dialogue, and a deep love of real-world space history that shows in every description, this novel is intriguing, entertaining, and truly satisfying.

As a space junkie myself, I loved the blending of real history and fiction that author Colin Homes used to make his version of the moon feel like a living place and not just a dusty rock we visited a few times, many decades ago. As someone who has watched  Apollo 13 and the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon countless times, and has devoured every account of the space race and many astronauts’ autobiographies, I appreciated the rich lore Holmes created on his personal lunar surface. I smiled the first time I read “Slayton Ridge,” because I understood the reference (Deke Slayton totally deserves to have a lunar landmark namesake) and that enhanced my enjoyment of the story, but there’s enough world-building and character work here to engage people who are less familiar with NASA history.

The story itself is as wonderful as the setting Holmes has created. Mil Harrison is the perfect protagonist. Cantankerous and aging, but still curious, he represents the contemporary world and the future in equal measures, and his status as the first baby born in the twenty-first century just adds to the created history in this book. Mil’s work as the titular Oxygen Farmer is interesting, but it’s also a mechanism to get us into the mystery of an undocumented lunar facility, among other things. The family saga aspect of this novel – Nique, Mil’s granddaughter, aspires to an assignment on  Mars, carrying their family further into space – really resonated with me, and I thought this generational storytelling was well-plotted. I felt like this was a real family, with real issues – Mil’s poking around adversely affects Nique’s career at one point – and grounded the science fiction in emotional truth. (Mil’s daughter Bailey is also exceptional – and may I just take a moment to compliment the author on writing fantastic female characters?)

Holmes has an exceptional ear for dialogue. The shifting between workplace banter and military professionalism was brilliantly executed, and helped to establish relationships between the character. Pacing, also, is a skill this author demonstrates ably. I never felt like there was too much exposition or that the mystery was solved too soon.

If you like family drama, mysteries, or solid science fiction, you will enjoy The Oxygen Farmer. If you enjoy all those things combined, or have a passion for any of them you will LOVE this book, as I did.

Goes well with: freeze-dried ice cream and Tang.  Just kidding. A bacon cheeseburger, french fries, and a chocolate milkshake.


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Signed hardcover of THE OXYGEN FARMER

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 11/22/23)

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for direct links to each blog post on this tour, updated daily, or visit each blog directly:

11/13/23 The Clueless Gent Review
11/13/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
11/14/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
11/14/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
11/15/23 Bibliotica Review
11/16/23 Rebecca R. Cahill, Author Review
11/17/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
11/18/23 Forgotten Winds Review
11/19/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
11/20/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
11/21/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
11/21/23 The Page Unbound BONUS Stop
11/22/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Review

 

 

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Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage, by K.T. Dady – Review

Christmas Memories Header

About the book, Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage Waterside

  • Series: Pepper Bay (Book 10)
  • Publication date: November 1, 2023
  • Language: English
  • File size: 910 KB

Welcome to Pepper Bay, where you’ll find love, drama, and a happily ever after.

Snuggle down with this cosy, feel-good, comfort read that whisks you away to a beautiful bay on the Isle of Wight – Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Alison Sherlock, Rachael Lucas, and Holly Martin.

The Pepper Bay books are standalone stories that intertwine with recurring characters. Best enjoyed when read in order.

Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage: Charlie and Grace have been together for four years, but when Grace wakes up in hospital after an accident, she doesn’t remember her husband at all. With Christmas just around the corner, and it being their favourite time of year, Charlie pulls out all the festive stops, hoping his wife will remember their relationship or at least fall in love with him all over again, because there is no way he can lose her.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, K.T. Dady KT Dady

Hello, I’m K.T. Dady. I’m the bestselling author of the Pepper Bay series. I’m also a chocolate lover, mum to a grown-up daughter, and a huge fan of a HEA. I was born and raised in the East End of London, and I’ve been happily writing stories since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, baking cakes, or pottering around in my little garden in Essex, trying not to kill the flowers.

Connect with K.T.:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Christmas Memories at Waterside Cottage is my first visit to Pepper Bay, but it definitely won’t be my last! While the title suggested a sweet, almost Hallmark-esque holiday tale, the book is actually a deep reflection of love and memory, and how each informs the other.

I really liked the character of Grace who wakes up from a three-week coma missing four years of memories. Author KT Dady did an amazing job of depicting her initial befuddlement, her ongoing confusing, and her journey back toward strength and confidence, giving her an excellent supporting cast in her Hot Doc husband Charlie, and her younger sister Molly, and the rest of their family and friends.

I really liked the way Dady kept this story grounded in emotional truth, and let the characters find their way organically, and I especially appreciated how graceful (no pun intended) and well-crafted the plot was – turning this novel into a sort of second-chance romance with a refreshingly original twist.

I don’t know how much the setting of Pepper Bay figures into the other books in this series, or if it’s merely a connecting point for all of Dady’s work, but the town felt real. As for the titular cottage – I’ll happily spend Christmas there any time I’m invited.

Overall, this is a holiday romance that manages to be warm and hopeful without any commercial schmaltz. Highly recommend.

Goes well with: Mulled wine and mince pie.


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Good Talk… Good Talk, by Ginny Andrews – Book Review and Giveaway

BNR Good Talk

 

About the book, Good Talk… Good Talk Cover Hi Res Good Talk

  • Genre: Nonfiction / Humor / Comedy / Essays
  • Publisher: Ginny Andrews Comedy, LLC
  • Date of Publication: October 5, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 171 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Raise your hand if you have ever run into a mannequin in a store and apologized. Continue to keep your hand raised if you want to pre-write thank you notes to those whom you anticipate attending your funeral because you suffer from chronic “way too nice” syndrome. Keep it up high if you have ever farted in church or yoga class. Man, my arm is getting tired!

Most people are awkward during the middle school years, grow out of it, and blossom into mature, well-functioning human beings…I’m still waiting for this to happen. Awkwardness is my hidden talent, although most who know me would tell you it isn’t hidden—it’s written on my forehead. My daily life is filled with epic failures. Sometimes I feel like I’m one big malfunction! As I have gotten older, I just try to embrace it.

After you read this collection of essays, hopefully you will be able to accept your imperfections too! Nope, probably not because I’m still not there! However, maybe my comedy will stick with you like that hemorrhoid you can’t seem to get rid of, like ever—Good Talk. . .Good Talk.

Praise for Good Talk. . .Good Talk:

“Reading Ginny Andrews’s Good Talk. . .Good Talk is a lot like hanging out with that girlfriend that invariably makes you laugh until you cry.” —Lauren Cassel Brownell, author of Zen and the Art of Housekeeping and Dying to Donate

Good Talk. . .Good Talk is a laugh out loud winner, filled with quirky stories reminiscent of Patrick McManus.” —J. Andersen, author of The Breeding Tree, The Gene Rift, and Legacy’s Impact

“Anyone with anxiety will totally relate to Ginny Andrews’ humorous tales of the struggle of day-to-day life in today’s world.” —John A.B., Amazon Reviewer

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Click to Purchase | Goodreads


Watch the trailer for Good Talk… Good Talk


About the author, Ginny Andrews Author Photo Andrews

Ginny Andrews is a former high school teacher and coach, who is now an aspiring comedian, speaker, and writer. She would greatly appreciate it if you purchased her book! Door Dash, dog-sitting, used car sales, lawn mowing, and selling random items found in her house aren’t high paying gigs!

Connect with Ginny:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Amazon | X/Twitter

TikTok | YouTube | Goodreads | BookBub

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My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

Ginny Andrews’s new book, Good Talk… Good Talk, is the perfect antidote to the rather dour early November. It’s breezy, it’s candid, it’s relatable, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Presented as a series of essays – monologues, really – about everything from attempting meditation to fitness classes to an epic BenGay overload and beyond, and she does it all with self-deprecating humor that makes you empathize with her plight, murmur, “Same, girl, same,” and dissolve into hysterical laughter, often at once.

And yet, beneath the humor there’s a very real, very flawed (as are we all) human being trying her best to navigate a world that changes daily, seems to mock us as we age, and didn’t come with any kind of a manual. From her childhood experiences with religion to her confession that “Andrews is awkward,” there is a poignance that grounds her stories in the emotional truth of being a single woman in her forties. As she writes, “It’s cute to compare your ten-year-old self to your twenty-year-old self, but anyone thirty and above… it doesn’t fare well for us.”

If you like your humor with a side of insight, you will appreciate Good Talk… Good Talk. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and realize that, yes, you have bumped into store mannequins and apologized, that horror movies kept you awake at night as a child, and that you do take longer than others to catch on to the latest fads (or just basic household skills) you will not merely love this book, you will identify with the author.

Run, carefully lest you trip, to the nearest bookstore (or, let’s be honest, the nearest computer or tablet) and buy a copy of Good Talk… Good Talk. You will begin the month of November with a smile on your face, secure in the knowledge that you are not alone – Ginny Andrews is there to make sure.

Goes well with: Pizza, possibly a whole one, and Dr. Pepper.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER:

Signed paperback of GOOD TALK. . .GOOD TALK

+ $25 Amazon gift card

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 11/10/23)

Giveaway Good Talk

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily, or visit each blog directly.

10/31/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Notable Quotables
10/31/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
11/01/23 Bibliotica Review
11/01/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
11/02/23 Reading by Moonlight Guest Post
11/03/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
11/04/23 Carpe Diem Chronicles Author Interview
11/05/23 The Real World According to Sam Excerpt
11/06/23 A Page Before Bedtime Review
11/07/23 The Page Unbound Scrapbook
11/07/23 Forgotten Winds BONUS Review
11/08/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
11/09/23 Reading by Moonlight Review

 

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