Book Review

Book Review: Carry the World by Susan Fanetti

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Susan Fanetti
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Eastern Kentucky, 1937.

After the death of her husband, Ada Donovan returned home to live again with her aging parents. She does all she can to help them keep the small family farm going. But times are hard, and there’s never enough.

During one of her infrequent visits to town, she sees a help-wanted notice for the Pack Horse Librarian Project, seeking librarians to ride up high in the mountains and bring books to the people there. Before her marriage, Ada was a teacher, and the thought of returning to the work she loved is impossible to resist. The mountains are her favorite place, books are her great joy, and her horse is her best friend.

But not everyone on the mountain is happy to see her.

Living in a crumbing cabin at the highest, most isolated point of Ada’s route, there’s a family that catches her attention. The father keeps to the shadows. There is no mother to dote on the happy, curious children. But soon Ada comes to love them just as fiercely as the woman they lost.

And makes it her mission to bring them the world.

TENDERLY ROMANTIC.

This was a read that was recommended to me where I was a bit nervous initially diving in. The first chapter is a present moment that then flashes back to a story. I was worried we would go back and forth, but NEVER FEAR, the entire story in 1937 is told before the last chapter that flips back to the present. You won’t be taken out of the story, read away my friends!

I got completely wrapped up in the romance between Ada and Jonah. Oh my goodness it was so dang sweet. It was a slow-burn with a lot of past to work through. I LOVE having both points of view because it allowed me to really appreciate both sides. Struggling through grief, isolation, and wondering if you’ll be able to provide for your family. The hardships of this time were very much realized. It was beautiful getting some hope in this couple and the surrounding plot.

This is a historical fiction about the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky! I’ve read one other book about this time and so I was happy to read another. The setting, characters and background are really well written. I felt transported to this time and felt the rawness of all that happened. A romance built on the resilience of Ada and Jonah and the love of their families (past and present) was resonating.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses to open and closed door scenes
  • Violence: animal attacks, near death experiences, gun violence, physical altercations, murder, car wreck
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a spouse(s), loss of a parent(s), home invasion, domestic abuse (Ada notices this about a small side character), attempted sexual assault

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Book Review

Book Review: The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ ☆
Audience: Historical Fiction + Romance
Length: 444 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: March 16th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the bestselling author of What the Wind Knows and From Sand and Ash comes a powerful love story about a musical duo who put everything on the line to be together.

New York, 1960: For Benny Lament, music is his entire life. With his father’s deep ties to the mob, the Bronx piano man has learned that love and family can get you in trouble. So he keeps to himself, writing songs for other musicians, avoiding the spotlight…until the night his father brings him to see Esther Mine sing.

Esther is a petite powerhouse with a gorgeous voice. And when Benny writes a hit song and performs it with her, their collaboration thrusts the duo onto the national stage…and stirs up old issues and new scrutiny that the mob—and Benny—would rather avoid.

It would be easier to walk away. But the music and the woman are too hard for the piano man to resist. Benny’s songs and Esther’s vocals are an explosive combination, a sound that fans can’t get enough of. But though America might love the music they make together, some people aren’t ready for Benny Lament and Esther Mine on—or off—the stage.

A BEAUTIFUL STORY.

Seriously. Here I am again singing the praises of Amy Harmon’s writing. It’s beautiful and captivating. Emotional and always hopeful. Wow did I love this book (like I love all of her books, favorite author alert).

I can’t say enough about the audio version of this too. The narrator brings Benny TO LIFE. It was so smooth and enriching. If you get a chance to listen to this (available on KU) highly recommend!

The storytelling here left me speechless. I felt so many emotions reading this. And the way that music played such a deep role for both Benny and Esther made me wish that this was a movie. Esther and Benny had immediate chemistry and the BEST banter. It all felt so natural and Benny’s passion for Esther had me swooning.

Add in a fantastic side cast and this book soared even higher. I loved Pop and Esther’s brothers. I found in them a well rounded story. Filling all angles and opinions needed to fit this book. I just love what this LOVE story showcased and how it all enfused a sense of hope for a better tomorrow.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses & a mostly closed door scene
  • Violence: gun violence, physical altercations, murder, poisoning
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: racism, micro-aggressions, segregation, murder of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Fiction
Length: 825 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: June 10th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It is June 1778, and the world seems to be turning upside-down. The British Army is withdrawing from Philadelphia, with George Washington in pursuit, and for the first time, it looks as if the rebels might actually win. But for Claire Fraser and her family, there are even more tumultuous revolutions that have to be accommodated.Her former husband, Jamie, has returned from the dead, demanding to know why in his absence she married his best friend, Lord John Grey. Lord John’s son, the ninth Earl of Ellesmere, is no less shocked to discover that his real father is actually the newly resurrected Jamie Fraser, and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for the woman who has just agreed to marry him.

And while Claire is terrified that one of her husbands may be about to murder the other, in the 20th century her descendants face even more desperate turns of events. Her daughter Brianna is trying to protect her son from a vicious criminal with murder on his mind, while her husband Roger has disappeared into the past.

BEST OF THE SERIES.

Yup. I said it.

Best of the series.

I loved this book so much. It was a combination of being with these characters for so long, getting some storylines I was hopeful for and it ending on a note I could definitely live with. All of these things made for such a perfect novel.

I really recommend this series on audio! It’s the same narrator for all 8 books and she does a fantastic job. The characters feel alive and I think that’s what has helped me love them all the more.

Wowww do I love Jaime and Claire. One of my all time OTPs. These two do NOT give up on each other and I am always here for them. I love their unfailing faith in one another. Their stubborness to remain together in the direst of circumstances and the way they cling together when everything else has fallen apart. A couple I will love always.

All of these other characters, Bri and Roger (+their kids), Fergus and Marsali, William, Ian and Rachel, John Grey and others, have my heart. I love how well adapted everyone is. There’s so much to even just the side characters that the books themselves feel incredibly tangible. Like these people really were there. I love the clear effort and research that goes into each of these novels.

I’m so excited to hear that there’s another book coming eventually. I will be allllll over that one too! One of my favorite historical series ever!

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction / romance
  • Language: strong throughout
  • Romance: multiple open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones (child, pet, and adults), war, PTSD, slavery, attempted rape, sexual assault, sex with a minor, suicide, murder, abortion [these books contain many triggers and intense content, I know I may have missed some of them, please research before choosing to read this series!]

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Book Review

Book Review: Where the Stars Meet the Sea by Heidi Kimball

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 256 pages
Author: Heidi Kimball
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Release Date: March 2nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A broken man. A fiery young woman. Neither one’s heart will come away unscathed.

Juliet Graham fervently counts the days until her twenty-first birthday, when she can claim the inheritance that will grant her the freedom she has always craved and the guardianship of her younger brother. Until then, she is trapped under her aunt Agnes’s domineering will. When forced to accompany the family to a house party at Shaldorn Castle, Juliet’s only objective is to keep to herself. That is, until a chance encounter with a boorish stranger stirs up an unexpected whirlwind of emotions in her. Thrown off-balance, Juliet does the unthinkable: loses her temper and insults the man—who turns out to be her unwilling host, the Duke of Halstead. Fully expecting to be sent away, Juliet is surprised when the brusque and callous duke instead takes an interest in her.

Drawn to the duke in unguarded moments, Juliet finds herself more and more intrigued by the man who shuns Society’s rules as completely as she does, and over the next few weeks, their unlikely friendship deepens into a connection neither expected.

But even as Juliet comes to recognize her true feelings, her scheming aunt issues an ultimatum that threatens the future she was just beginning to hope for. Juliet must choose: either break the promise she made to herself years ago, or lose the man who has captured her heart and soul.

OFFICIAL REGENCY FAV.

Oh my goodness, I LOVED THIS. I kept this on my TBR for far too long. It’s an absolute favorite and if you don’t feel like reading this review, don’t worry, my answer for you would be READ IT. Thank me later.

From chapter one I was hooked. The initial banter and chemistry between Halstead and Juliet gave me all the feels and setup for an amazing read. I love the way the passion between them and the incredibly tender moments that had me swooning over and over. If you’re worried about a miscommunication issue, that isn’t a problem here! The conflict has been led to the entire time and it works out the way it should. Not to mention, that ending was PRECIOUS. I am still in a gush over the romance. There’s no steam here, but the wait Kimball builds heat and dynamic won’t leave you missing it at all.

I really liked the overall plot. It’s set at a castle (!!) and the writing sweeps you away to another time. There’s some general characteristics of regency romances but this holds its own with a unique story that had me finishing this in a day. I am an official fan now of Kimball’s and can’t wait to read her other books.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: emotional/psychologically/physically abusive family member, a runaway child, loss of parents

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