Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Women's Fiction, Young Adult

September Reads!

Since it is unlikely that I will finish another book by tomorrow, here are the books I read this month! Any of the ones with 4 or 5 stars are worth your time. Some quick thoughts:

Thank You For Listening: This unique book, written by a woman who narrates audio books, is about people who narrate audio books! The main characters are great, a lot of their communication is through emails and texts, and the big reveal is very sweet. (Some steaminess.)

Rich Blood: This is a legal thriller with twists and turns aplenty! Jason Rich is a billboard-ambulance-chasing lawyer who must now defend his sister accused of murdering her husband. It keeps you guessing until the very end. I definitely want to read more by this author!

That Fine Line/Double or Nothing: These Cindy Steel books are fantastic, with a lot more going on than the covers would lead you to believe. They are clean romances with tons of hilarity, heart, and homespun characters that you will love. They are the first and second of a four-book series that I plan to continue. Extremely enjoyable!

A Pumpkin and a Patch/How to Get Over Your Ex in Ninety Days: Jennifer Peel is another author I was thrilled to discover this month! Her characters are smart, sensitive, and constantly learning from their mistakes. These clean romances are winners! Highly recommended!

The Deep End/Guaranteed to Bleed/Clouds in My Coffee: These are the first three books in a multi-book cozy mystery series. They are very entertaining, set in the 1970s among the Kansas City country club elite. Money might buy some nice things, but it can’t stop some people from being murdered…*cue sinister laugh* I plan to continue with this clever series!

The Bodyguard/What You Wish For/How to Walk Away: Books by Katherine Center, need I say more? You know I absolutely adore this woman. Hubby and I listened to all three of these in September, sometimes for hours. And guess what? We’re having a tough time finding other audio books we enjoy as much.

I hope you find something you love from this list! Happy Reading!!

One more thing,” as Detective Colombo would say… The “Most Messed Up Book Award” for September goes to Verity, by Colleen Hoover. If you’ve read anything by the popular and divisive “CoHo” then I can tell you that Verity is not within her “normal” style. Some people love it, some people despise it. I just wanted to vacuum that story out of my brain. It. Is. Twisted. And I know I’m not alone in that opinion. You’ve been warned!

ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance, Short Stories

Five Goodreads Reviews

In an effort to not get too far behind, I’m going to do some copy/pasting from Goodreads.

The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is the Young Adult novel, You’ve Reached Sam. It is about a teenage boy who is killed in a car accident and, when his girlfriend calls his number just to hear his voicemail message…he answers. That’s right. He answers. It’s as tender and goosebump-inducing as it sounds. I loved it.

Available January 17, 2023
Available April 11, 2023
ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Series & Collections

August Reads & September Faves

Here are the books I read and/or listened to in August! I rated them throughout the month so I could share them with you. Some will still be reviewed on this site (mainly You’ve Reached Sam, which touched me deeply.) If a book has 4 or 5 stars, I really enjoyed it. If it has 3 stars it means it’s good, but flawed. Anything with 2 or 1 star…you’ve been warned! All of these are just my opinion, of course.

Lastly, here are two advanced copies I read a while ago that I enjoyed very much. Both are coming out in September:

Right now I’m rereading Katherine Center’s The Bodyguard because my husband and I plan to listen to the audio book this week. Next I’ll be doing a buddy read of The Art of Racing in the Rain with one of the ladies in my online book club. There’s always something to read!

Cover Reveal, Fiction, Romance, Series & Collections, Women's Fiction

COVER REVEAL: Return to Satterthwaite Court, by Mimi Matthews

AVAILABLE April 11, 2023

Cover reveal! USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews’ highly-anticipated RETURN TO SATTERTHWAITE COURT releases April 11, 2023. Available to pre-order at your favourite online retailer now. https://www.mimimatthews.com/books/somerset-stories/return-to-satterthwaite-court/ 

SYNOPSIS:From USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews comes the long-awaited sequel to her critically acclaimed novels The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim.

The only son of a famous love match, ex-army lieutenant Charles Heywood is determined to make amends for his past mistakes by giving his mother the impossible—the deed to her long-lost childhood home, Satterthwaite Court. But arranging to purchase the remote west country estate is more difficult than Charles ever imagined. The property is mired in secrets, some of which may prove deadly. If he’s going to unravel them, he’ll need the assistance of someone as daring as he is.

At one and twenty, Lady Katherine Beresford has already earned a reputation to rival that of her infamous parents. As skilled with pistols as she is on horseback, she’s never met an obstacle she can’t surmount—or a man she can’t win. That is, until she encounters the infuriatingly somber Lieutenant Heywood. But Kate refuses to be deterred by the raven-haired soldier’s strong, silent facade. After all, faint heart never won a handsome gentleman.

From the wilds of rural Somersetshire to the glittering ballrooms of early-Victorian London, Charles and Kate embark on a cross-country quest to solve a decades’ old mystery. Will the greatest danger be to their hearts—or to their lives?

*****

Thank you to Mimi Matthews for choosing me to be part of the team to reveal the cover to next year’s book!

Books 1 and 2 of the series are some of my favorites! And now the children of these beloved characters will have a story of their very own in Return to Satterthwaite Court!

If you’re new to the historical romance genre, this series is where you want to start. Plenty of swashbuckling good fun too!

Book 3 releases April 2023!
Author Spotlight, Cozy Mysteries, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Series & Collections, Women's Fiction

June & July 2022 Reads

I even added stars next to my July favorites!

I guess you could say that I’ve read a lot of books in the last two months! People ask how I do it and this is my answer:

  • I live in a small town where there isn’t much to do.
  • I’m still living the pandemic lifestyle, staying home even more than usual.
  • My husband has had to work lots of overtime lately.
  • We don’t have kids.
  • I sleep terribly.
  • I read fast.
  • My online book group has tons of motivational activities.
  • I upgraded my Kindle from a Basic to a Paperwhite Signature. (I was getting eye strain from the Basic. My poor eyes are so happy now!)

Some books I skim, some I give a great deal of attention to, and there are even some that I start and don’t finish (I don’t list these.) You may recognize some titles from previous posts. There are still a few I plan to acknowledge here, but the ones who had the greatest impact on me have already been reviewed. It’s difficult to get to everything.

I also get asked about authors. Which authors do I recommend? This is a TOUGH question! Everyone’s tastes are different. Please keep in mind that just because I love a book doesn’t mean everyone else will love it. This is why it’s important to read several reviews (unless you’re really brave)–and not just mine–before buying a book. Join Goodreads, read reviews on Amazon, join NetGalley, find a Facebook group for your age and genre preference. Being proactive is the only way to find what YOU enjoy reading.

But to answer the author question, here are some favorites–all fiction. You can find all of them in the “author” section of this site.

I hope this gives you a little glimpse into authors to research and whose works to pursue. For the devoted reader there is truly something for everyone. ❤️

Email subscribers: Visit readwithkristie.com to see the site in its entirety.

HAPPY READING!

Fiction, Romance

Two Great Reads!

Before I begin my reviews let me tell you one thing I’ve learned lately: A whimsical book cover does not mean it is a whimsical story. Don’t be misled by these two covers. These are meaty books with emotion, depth, trauma, love, redemption, healing, and a myriad of other emotions. Both took me a bit longer to read, partly because there are several characters with whom to get acquainted, most of which are multi-faceted and complex.

THE SIGN FOR HOME, by Blair Fell introduces us to 23 year old Arlo Dilly. Arlo has Usher Type 1, meaning he was born deaf and lost the majority of his sight as he got older, except his sight was nearly gone fairly early. Raised by a tyrannical uncle in an extremely strict Jehovah’s Witness home, Arlo is bright but lonely. His uncle has systematically shut out anything he feels will taint Arlo’s eternal soul, even hiring a JW interpreter who is part informant.

But then, enter Cyril, Arlo’s new interpreter for a community college writing class. Cyril is hearing, gay, and dedicated to the ethics of interpreters. This means the interpreter does not make decisions for the client, he only interprets. Cyril has every intention of keeping his relationship with Arlo professional, but as he gets to know him and sees his potential, he realizes how much of the world Arlo has not been taught, even basic things like choices in the cafeteria. Over time, these two men from extremely different worlds become friends in an adventure I never expected.

Author Blair Fell is an interpreter at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., widely regarded as the most prestigious university for the Deaf. His writing will make you smile, cry, and get angry as you see how Arlo and others like him are often at the mercy of insensitive, incompetent people who dismiss the vast amount of resources and devices available to the Deaf, Blind, and DeafBlind. This is an emotional, raw story and I am grateful it exists. I learned so much! 9/10 Stars

ADULT ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, by Abbi Waxman is part 2 in her Nina Hill series. I loved The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, but I think I like Adult Assembly Required even better. It’s a bit more serious than its predecessor, but I felt a great connection to main character, Laura Costello, newly arrived in Los Angeles from New York and away from her family for the first time. A Columbia University alumni (daughter of two professors) and soon-to-be grad student at UCLA in physical therapy, Laura, through an early series of mishaps, ends up at Nina Hill’s bookstore needing a place to live. Nina’s extroverted employee, Polly, invites Laura to a large house in Hancock Park owned by 60-ish Maggie, who rents out rooms to young professionals just starting out in life.

Soon Laura is part of an eclectic group–Three guys and three girls in the house, plus Nina and her pub trivia team, who recruit Laura because of her biology/anatomy/sports knowledge. They all take a liking to her, especially horticulturalist housemate “Impossibly Handsome Bob” who, like the book covers above, has a lot more going for him than just his appearance, becoming an invaluable friend.

As Laura finds her niche and her voice, she begins to understand that “assembly” is more than being put back together. “Assembly” also means being part of a group. In this case, a group who supports one another despite their differences.

Abbi Waxman is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. She does “super intelligent plus witty” characters better than anyone I’ve read, even slightly upstaging my beloved Katherine Center and the irreverent but enjoyable Emily Henry. I savor her writing!

9.5/10 Stars

ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction

Two Fun, Witty Reads…

Here are two books I read recently that are extremely enjoyable. Happily, they also have intelligent, witty characters and plots with plenty of depth. A win-win!

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL, by Abbi Waxman–seriously, one of the funniest books I have ever read! Laugh-out-loud-at-crazy-hours-in-the-morning funny. There were times I would try to read a passage aloud to my husband and it was so hilarious that I couldn’t even get the words out because I was laughing so much. So who is Nina Hill? She is an introverted employee of a bookstore–one of a tiny group of women who work there–and a trivia team champion. Her recall for facts is amazing (once you learn about racehorses’ birthdays, you’ll never forget) and all of her time is spent reading for competitions, reading for her weekly book group, and reading for fun (Thursday nights only.) Her life is all about planning and learning as much information as possible. This is all fine and good until some unexpected family secrets come to the surface, upending Nina’s organized existence, but also giving her insight into why she is this way. A delight from start to finish with excellent supporting characters. 9/10 Stars

WHEN IN ROME, by Sarah Adams will be available September 20th. I’d seen fellow readers talk about it and was happy when my request for an advanced copy was quickly approved. A fun companion book to Norah Goes Off Script and The Bodyguard where a celebrity and a “normal” person find their lives intersecting. Pop star Amelia “Rae” Rose idolizes Audrey Hepburn and, taking a cue from Princess Ann in Roman Holiday, decides to escape her chaotic life by driving to Rome–Rome, Kentucky, that is, where she ends up stranded in the front yard of grumpy pie shop owner Noah Walker. In a plot that’s a hybrid of Notting Hill and Sweet Home Alabama, Amelia finally has a chance to breathe and reevaluate her life. Like with the previous book, When in Rome also has wonderful supporting characters, partly because they are actually supportive. Another 9/10 Stars.

Fiction, Philosophy, Romance, Short Stories, Women's Fiction, Young Adult

Ten Books-At-A-Glance

Here are 10 other books I’ve read recently with their 1-5 Star ratings on Goodreads. None of them made great impressions on me, but I still found the ones with 4 stars enjoyable. The biggest surprise was Someone To Wed, by Mary Balogh because the female main character was such a pillar of strength, despite her challenges. The biggest disappointment was the advanced copy (available Sept 20) of Lucy By the Sea, by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout. It is about a divorced couple co-habitating during the Covid pandemic. Personally, I think it is much too soon for a story on this subject. If you’re interested in any of them, I’m happy to answer questions in the comments.

Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction

Nora Goes Off Script, by Annabel Monaghan

It’s very satisfying when a book lives up to the hype! I’m happy to say that with Nora Goes Off Script, by Annabel Monaghan, mission accomplished.

After her too-good-for-work husband leaves her swimming in debt, cable channel script-writer Nora Hamilton has some choices to make. Fortunately, her marriage collapsing has also turned into a story idea for the best script of her life. The studio even wants to release it to theaters and film it on location at her historic home.

Unfortunately, actor Leo Vance (former Sexiest Man Alive,) is also at a crossroads. Refusing to sell his soul to Hollywood’s materialistic labels, Leo offers Nora one thousand dollars a day to stay at her house for one week after shooting wraps. Nora has bills to pay, so how can she refuse? But what is in it for Leo? He wants normal, which means eating pancakes with Nora and the kids, following her around the grocery store, and drinking coffee each morning on the porch.

It’s a silly premise and there are a couple of predictable steamy scenes, but it works. The book is an absolute delight. A combination of philosophical and frothy, Nora and Leo are the puzzle pieces missing from each other’s lives. His interaction with the kids and the town’s bucolic setting is very cute, a testament that you just never know what Life has in store.

9/10 Stars

Romance, Young Adult

Three Heartfelt YA Novels

Recently I joined a fun online book group! We do Bingo boards, read-a-thons, and scavenger hunts, all of which have pushed me out of my comfort zone. Young Adult novels are very popular with this bunch, so I’ve read a few lately.

These three are my current favorites.

PLACES WE’VE NEVER BEEN, by Kasie West brought back some childhood memories. Two families go on a road trip together after one family moved away a few years before. The kids all have their favorites, but Norah’s and Skyler’s friendship has been reduced to liking each other’s Instagram posts. (Boy, do I feel old.) Norah is excited to see her friend again, but Skyler is distant and apathetic. Only by communication, forgiveness, and working through misunderstands will they repair the friendship. 9/10 Stars

TELL ME THREE THINGS, by Julie Buxbaum is a novel I was introduced to by our book group admin, who is a connoisseur of the YA genre. I LOVED IT. It’s like a teenage You’ve Got Mail (oops, dated myself again) and I was completely swept away. Jessie is mourning her mother’s loss and adjusting to a new school, new state, and new step-family. An online friend introduces him (or herself) as “Somebody/Nobody,” offering to help Jessie navigate high school, with its angst and cliques. Is it a joke? Or can this person be trusted? Over time, Jessie and “SN” confide in each other more and three different characters become candidates for the anonymous friend. The story is extremely sweet with a great ending. 9.5/10 Stars

WHAT I DIDN’T SAY, by Keary Taylor is my favorite of the three, only slightly edging ahead Tell Me Three Things. After a horrific drunk driving accident, Jake Hayes’ vocal cords are irreparably damaged when a post goes through his throat. One of seven kids in a boisterous, loving family, Jake will never talk again. Back at school, his longtime crush, super student Samantha Shay, becomes his tutor and close friend. Sam has secrets of her own. She’s getting thinner, sadder, and more detached. Together, Jake and Sam help each other, filling in the gaps in the other’s life and creating an unbreakable bond. Did I mention how much I loved this book?? And Jake’s family is awesome. 9.5/10 Stars

Author Spotlight, Fiction, Romance

Author Spotlight: Emily Henry

One cannot read an Emily Henry book without laughing out loud. Her biting wit and highly intelligent characters have created quite a following these past few years. Her female characters are educated, funny, flawed, and often make life decisions that…could be better. The men are often sharp and closed off, but with great potential when the right woman comes along. The banter between the sexes usually evolves from scathing and competitive to civil to friendly to more. The steamy level is medium to low, but there is some steam in every book.

BEACH READ, published in 2020, is my favorite of Emily Henry’s three contemporary novels. It’s promoted as a rom-com, but there is actually a lot of depth to this story. January Andrews, a romance writer in a slump, learns about her father’s infidelity after his death. She inherits a beach house he used for his affair, planning to sell it. While cleaning it out she discovers that her neighbor is literary giant, Augustus Everett. He was also her rival in college. They strike a deal to stir up their creativity. January will write a dark, brooding book in Gus’s style and he will write a romance. The first one who sells their book is the winner. There is some wonderful dialogue with unexpected depth. 9/10 Stars

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION, published in 2021, follows the “friends to more” formula. Poppy and Alex are best friends. She is a travel writer who now lives in New York. He is a high school teacher who stayed behind in their Midwest hometown. They have little in common except a shared history that’s lasted decades and their annual vacations together. This year the destination is less exotic Palm Springs, California. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. But those challenges bring out some hidden feelings too. Again, great characters. 8.5/10 Stars

BOOK LOVERS, Henry’s 2022 novel, introduces us to literary agent Nora Stephens. While coddling one of her writers into meeting a deadline, she has to deal with a new publisher, Charlie Lastra, known for his no-nonsense approach. Nora agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, the setting for her client’s books, hoping to cultivate some ideas. She takes her pregnant sister, Libby, and they discover that it is Charlie’s hometown. In addition, he’s there helping his family through some hard times. Seeing him in his natural setting, with old friends and family, changes things. Very cute. 8/10 Stars

ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Beyond the Moonlit Sea, by Julianne MacLean

AVAILABLE June 14, 2022

I’ve never read a book by Julianne MacLean before, but she is an author I will definitely seek out in the future. I absolutely LOVED Beyond the Moonlit Sea. It is nothing like what I expected, but that’s OK. It’s fun to be surprised and intrigued!

The synopsis said it is about a woman named Olivia Hamilton whose husband, Dean, goes missing around the Bermuda Triangle in a plane he was piloting alone. True. It also said there was a woman named Melanie Brown, a student doing a dissertation on why planes disappear in that section of the ocean. Also true. I knew these women’s paths would eventually intertwine–which they do–but not all at like I initially guessed. I like being wrong! Predictability is much less entertaining.

This novel has the mystery, romance, high-quality writing, and momentum of The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave, which is one of the highest compliments I can offer. I could NOT put it down. Many plots have multiple points of view from different characters, but this one did it expertly, allowing the reader to really see inside the minds of Olivia, Dean, and Melanie. We get a glimpse of the three main characters’ motivations and inner turmoil over several years. We’re also reminded that sometimes our circumstances are the results of our own choices and sometimes by the choices of others. Sometimes a tangled combination of both.

Beyond the Moonlit Sea is a winner and one of the best novels I’ve read all year. Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the advanced copy.

9.5/10 Stars

Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

Gentleman Jim, by Mimi Matthews

Author Mimi Matthews is one of the best discoveries I’ve made this year. Her Regency era books are so fun and so unique. My favorite is The Work of Art, but Gentleman Jim now runs a very close second.

The plot can get a bit confusing because our male protagonist–a cross between Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights and Westly from The Princess Bride–uses three different names, but it is worth every bit of the reader’s attention. Meanwhile there is the long-suffering Maggie Honeywell, who, ten years before, sent her one true love, Nicholas Seaton, off into the world, never to return. Or did he?

There’s romance, action, witty banter, a plucky heroine, and a swashbuckling time from beginning to end. The supporting characters are well-developed and add great foundation to this story that pulls you in and carries you away to another period when birthright and honor reign supreme. A jolly good read!

9/10 Stars

ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Christian Fiction, Fiction, Romance

I’ll Be Seeing You, by Robin Lee Hatcher

AVAILABLE June 7, 2022

When Brianna Hastings is asked to interview the oldest person in her family for a college assignment, she has no idea the impact it will have on her. The “interviewee” is her 98 year old great-grandmother, Daisy, whose teenage life in Boise, Idaho during World War II mirrors Brianna’s in ways she didn’t expect.

Most of the novel is set in the 1940s, as Daisy crushes on her older sister, Lillian’s, boyfriend, Brandan, right before he is deployed. A fateful choice brings next door neighbor, Todd Kinnear, to Daisy’s rescue. Todd, who is mature beyond his years but classified 4-F and cannot enlist, is as heroic as they come, yet has always been more like a brother to Daisy and Lillian. Still, he was the best part of the story.

I’ll Be Seeing You could be classified as Christian Fiction because of the amount of Biblical references and characters’ internal dialogue reconciling their actions with God’s teachings. However, the sisters’ immaturity and bad choices are so blatant that it appears they haven’t learned a thing, which makes the teachings feel heavy-handed and out of place.

The message of learning from others’ mistakes is fairly clear, as well as “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” but it is plot-driven more than character-driven. My motivation to keep reading was finding the answers to certain questions, some of which, frustratingly, never materialized. In the end, it read more like a Young Adult novel (and not a great one) than any other genre.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishing for the advanced copy.

8/10 Stars

Faith, Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance

How to Save a Life, by Kristin Harmel

“…maybe love is, at its core, about opening your heart to another person as opposed to taking their love for yourself.”

I could make this review nice and short and just emphatically say Read. This. Book. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say that after two frustrating days of starting (even finishing) a few books and being disappointed, finding How to Save a Life, by Kristin Harmel, was worth the wait.

It’s a novella–only 160 pages–but it is amazing how the right story in the right hands does not have to be long to make a significant impact.

Imagine being given the worst possible news. (I’ll let you decide what that will be.) Then imagine being given the gift of resetting one day again and again until you can make things right. For Jill, a 39-year-old pediatric oncology nurse, this is what happens.

I do not want to say too much, except, again, Read. This. Book. It will make you look at your life, your relationships, your time management, and your fears through new eyes. After all, what is “time” anyway, right? An abstract concept meant to measure our day? Or something over which we truly have control? Your opinion might change if you give this book a chance.

9.5/10 Stars