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Monday Musings…Cover Love

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Zara Ruiz is a normal So Cal girl on the verge of graduating high school and thinking about her dawning future. But when dusk brings a shattering loss—and she discovers a priceless object in the shallows of a tide pool—she is thrust into the distant past. There she meets handsome ranchero Javier de la Ventura—who has big dreams and bigger secrets—along with his enchanting family, in a land that is at once familiar, and yet utterly foreign. Between cattle rustlers, pirates and a growing call for statehood, it is not an easy time to be a Mexican settler in young Alta California. But it is there that Zara must decide if she can find what she longs for most in the past, or if her precious Three Wishes can only be resolved in the present.

 

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Mary Jane Hathaway’s A Star to Steer By

Roxie Sunshine Hardy is perfectly happy living in Philadelphia, far away from her hometown. Growing up as a chubby nerd obsessed with classic literature, Roxie finally feels like she’s found her place in the world. She’s kept her full name a secret and has never, ever, ever told a single soul how she spent her high school years. People might think growing up in a family bakery is delightful, but Roxie knows the reality. Spending countless sweaty afternoons inside Sunshine Bakery’s big, pink foam cupcake costume is the stuff of her nightmares.
Those terrible days are behind her now, but when her family needs her, Roxie decides to return to Natchitoches. She assures herself that it’s only for a few weeks, and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Dante’s Inferno that she’ll have to get into that cupcake suit.
Moving from New York City to Natchitoches shouldn’t be a problem for Andy McBride. The slower pace, Creole culture, and friendly locals make up for the lack of any good Thai take-out. But Andy hasn’t counted on how much he’d miss his brother, Mark. He can’t uproot Mark from his group home for the mentally disabled back in New York, so Andy tries to go on as usual. To everyone else, including his fascinating neighbor from Philly, he’s living the carefree life of a wealthy bachelor, but Andy is haunted by the knowledge that Mark might not be around for much longer.
When an unlikely friendship blossoms with Sunshine Bakery’s anonymous dancing cupcake, Andy decides to stop pretending to be someone he’s not. He learns seizing the day isn’t just for poets, and life is too short to be without the people you love. A story of family, loyalty, and a true love that can’t be disguised, A Star to Steer By will warm your heart.

Review

So I’ve been in kind of a reading slump lately (hence the light reviews) and I started this book not expecting much (not due to the write, due to my writing slump) and found myself pulled in and completely invested. My thoughts:

What I liked:

This is the fourth book in the series, and though each novel can function as a standalone, it was was still nice to be in this town with these familiar characters.

Andy. He was a fully developed realized hero. He had flaws, and yet there was something really wonderful about Andy. Sometimes you read romance novels and the guys are so perfect, you know you’ll never meet someone like that. But with Andy, he’s definitely the guy next door and that made him all the more attractive.

Roxie. She was a lot of fun. Sometimes she’s a bit of a grump, but she also has a great sense of humor and quick wit. It’s not too often I like heroines, but Hathaway writes some great ones.

The romance. It just worked. Andy and Roxie became good friends before they started dating and this romance was classic showing instead of telling. You could see them falling for each other.

Spiritually, the book is kind of light. It’s assumed they are all believers. They pray, but no real spiritual moment.

What I didn’t like:

To a degree, both Andy and Roxie spend a lot of time on their fears and sometimes it felt a bit forced. Their fears were legit, but…

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, a solid conclusion and fun read and the perfect thing to pull me out of my reading slump!

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Patrick Carr’s The Shock of Night

Patrick Carr Launches a New Suspense-filled Fantasy Epic

When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.

Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it’s as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that’s not supposed to exist.

Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive.

Review

Patrick Carr writes wonderful, in depth, fantasy novels that give you a feel that the world he creates is ever-lasting. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The world-building. I really liked the idea of a world where people have gifts and can pass them on in death. It adds quite the fantastical element to the book. Also, most fantasy novels are building towards a war. In this one, the war happened ten years ago, and people have to learn to live with the results.

The romance. It’s actually a small part of this book and most of it is in the novella (free and online), but the relationship is built upon friendship and respect…on both sides. I loved every scene in which Willet was with his fiance.

The unreliable narrator. Willet is an unreliable narrator. For reasons I’m not going to go into, there are times you as the reader will wonder if you can trust him. And I loved every minute of it.

Willet. He’s a detective who misses nothing and yet is incredibly vulnerable at times. In spite of the novel being fantasy, there was something very real about him.

The mystery. There is a lot going on. Willet’s personal mysteries are somehow linked with these random murders that are going on and it makes for some complex storytelling. What happened to Willet ten years ago???

Spiritually, the novel is an allegory and appears to match Christianity, merely having different names. Willet, though a believer, has a fascination with death and what’s on the other side.

What I didn’t like:

Around the 50% mark of the novel, things changed a bit. Other characters besides Willet began to get more facetime and honestly, they failed to really capture my interest as much. I will admit to skimming their parts of the story. I just wasn’t invested in them.

Romantic scale: 6

Overall, a very good start to a new series!

**I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**