Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Family as a Blessing and Bane
Author Guest / November 18, 2020

As we approach the (much different this COVID year) Thanksgiving holidays, traditionally a time of fetes and family gatherings, this month’s selection of novels explores families and family-like relationships that can be either blessing or curse. We begin with THE WRIGHT SISTER by Patty Dann.  While everyone is familiar with the famous brothers who made the first flight at Kitty Hawk, few know about the sister who supported and took care of her famous brothers for most of her life.  After Wilbur’s death, at age 52, Katherine married a widowed friend of the family, Harry Haskell.  Furious and feeling betrayed, Orville remained with a housekeeper in Dayton, Ohio, while his married sister began a new life in Kansas City.  The story is told via her (unanswered) letters to the brother who never forgave her for “abandoning” him and her “marriage diary,” detailing her joy in her new life, her enthusiastic support for the suffragette cause, and her never-realized hopes to reconcile with her brother. A vivid portrait of a woman who was long restrained from becoming all she could be by the demands of her restrictive family. We continue with a better-known woman in LEARNING TO SEE: A NOVEL OF…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: The Aftermath of Upheaval
Author Guest / October 21, 2020

Like many, I’ve posted ironic images on my Facebook pages comparing the 2020 Year of COVID to many things–a hula hoop made of barbed wire, a pinata that’s actually a hornet’s nest, a time clock that sent us in March from Standard Time not to Daylight Savings Time, but into the Twilight Zone. So perhaps more than in “normal” times, we can identify with protagonists who are attempting to reconstruct their lives in the aftermath of unprecedented upheaval. And aside from a world-wide pandemic, nothing uproots people and disturbs lives like war. We begin with a novel by three of the most talented writers penning historical fiction today, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White.  The trio collaborated to create ALL THE WAYS WE SAID GOODBYE, using an iconic Parisian hotel as a locus for their stories.  Aurelie de Courcelles is devastated when, at the outbreak of World War I, her home is taken over as a German headquarters.  The dilemma is made more difficult when she discovers the commander’s aide de camp is the handsome young man who charmed her during her debut season in Paris.  Despite their opposing loyalties, friendship deepens into love…until betrayal drives Aurelie back to…

Danielle Dresser | Spooky Reads
Author Guest / October 15, 2020

Confession time: I’m a big ol’ scaredy-cat. I’ve been to one haunted house in my life and never want to go again, and I’ve been known to sleep with the lights on after seeing a trailer for a scary movie.  But I love Halloween. Weird, right?  I have been known to dip my toe in what I’m calling “spooky” reads, though. They aren’t really scary per se, but they definitely have an atmosphere. My #romancelandia pal, BandHerBooks, and I like to say we’re “pastel goths,” which I think just means we like skulls and cozy sweaters and idolize Morticia Addams, but that’s a topic for another blog post.  I gravitate toward spooky reads around this year especially, but my supernatural-lite obsession lasts year-round–does my skull soap dispenser stay in the powder room even if it’s weeks past October 31st? Yep. Do I wear all black pretty much every day? You bet. Will this lovely typewriter with a “heartwarming” message have permanent residence in my office? MOST DEFINITELY!  Here are a few spooky reads for the rest of the pastel goths out there–enjoy them at Halloween or whenever you want to do your best Lydia Deetz impression. . . *** THE…

Kym Roberts | Cozy Corner: The Last Get Away of Summer
Author Guest / August 24, 2020

Summer has almost reached its end, school’s in session, and many of us are looking forward to the cooler temps of fall, but life is far from normal. An escape from the constant turmoil of our world is high on my list of must-dos. With travel being out of the question for many of us, however, the need to escape has never been greater and what better way than to delve into the world of mystery and intrigue between the pages? With that in mind, I chose to feature a few books that may not be on your radar this fall. From a debut series, to Kindle Unlimited titles, my list is rounded off with a few series that will grab your attention from across the pond; I found these novels a refreshing look into new worlds. Take a chance and travel that uncharted path, these books are well worth your time. For Whom the Book Tolls An Antique Bookshop Mystery Laura Gail Black 9/8/2020 In this cozy series debut from Laura Gail Black, Jenna Quinn finds her uncle murdered in his antique bookstore, and Jenna–his primary beneficiary–becomes the prime suspect. Trouble follows Jenna Quinn wherever she goes. Fleeing some unsavory…

Danielle Dresser | Most Anticipated New Releases: Fall-Winter 2020!
Author Guest / August 10, 2020

This has been a roller coaster of a year when it comes to books and reading. I don’t think a read a full book in the month of March, but I read over 10 books in July! With Fall quickly approaching, here are a bunch of wonderful and intriguing titles coming out this month through the end of the year, and I cannot wait for everyone to read them. AUGUST Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera – Two New Yorkers get together while they’re both working in Texas. There’s some workplace drama, instant attraction, and much more. Sexy, fun, and low angst. You Had Me at Holaby Alexis Daria – This felt like reading an entire season of Jane the Virgin. Clever, funny, and ultimately, uplifting. Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer – So we can’t go to hockey games, but we CAN read about them. badass ladies to boot? Sign me up. Also look for: Marriage by Arrangement by Sophia Singh Sisson, Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles *** SEPTEMBER When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole – I am not a thriller reader. I repeat – I am NOT a thriller reader. but I stayed up…

Debbie Wiley | Cozy Mystery Recommendations
Author Guest / July 13, 2020

Canceled plans, social distancing, and masks are a regular part of our lives nowadays. Can we all just give a huge round of applause to the authors, editors, and publishers out there who have kept the books coming even as the world has seemingly shut down? In fact, I’m supposed to be just returning from an Alaskan cruise right now, sharing pictures and memories of what was to be a trip to rival my outstanding trip several years back to Ireland. Thankfully, there are a plethora of phenomenal books out there to keep me entertained (and keep my mind off that missed Alaskan cruise LOL!). Daryl Wood Gerber adds a dash of the paranormal to the cozy mystery, A SPRINKLING OF MURDER, where readers enter a world where fairies exist and they have to complete certain goals to earn their wings. Courtney Kelly loves sharing her belief in the world of fairies with others through her store, Open Your Imagination, where she teaches and sells various items to help with landscaping, including how to design fairy gardens. Her own personal fairy, Fiona, is visible to those who are willing to believe. Can Courtney and Fiona uncover a murderer? Readers will…

Debbie Wiley | Finding Welcome Distraction in Urban Fantasy/Dark Fantasy Recs
Author Guest / June 18, 2020

Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley 2020 has been a difficult year–a global pandemic, economic turmoil, and racial injustice finally being called out. . . Discussions about how to move forward are hard to comprehend, let alone actually have. As a social worker, I am in a position to see and hear about these issues firsthand, and there is much more work to be done. While I find myself scrolling through news posts and continuing to work through the things I want to improve on, I turn to my favorite way to find solace during difficult times–books. Urban fantasy and dark fantasy may not be the genres for everyone during all of this, but for me, escaping to a different world is a welcome distraction for a little while. Thankfully, there are a plethora of phenomenal books out there to keep me entertained! DEVOLUTION by Max Brooks is one heck of a scary thriller, particularly when read during this quarantine, and I can guarantee you’ll think twice about all those modern conveniences we take for granted (looking at you, Amazon one-click shopping, lol). Mt. Rainier has erupted, and the tiny ecological experimental town, Greenloop, is now cut off from the rest of…

Miranda Owen | Visiting Alien Worlds
Author Guest / June 4, 2020

With COVID-19, nowadays “quarantine”, “social distancing”, and “isolate” are common parts of our everyday vocabulary. While isolating is necessary right now, it can lead to varying levels of depression and other unexpected emotions – even for an introvert like me. As I was sitting in the quiet of my apartment, with my cat keeping vigil next to me, I was longing for any type of travel and human interaction. Travel and human interaction are not normally things that are normally high up on my “must haves.” While dystopian films and novels might seem like a natural for readers to gravitate right now, a lot of my friends have avoided those types of entertainment because it seemed off-putting. It’s as I was sitting at home in isolation that I thought of some of my favorite romances that take place in far off worlds and unique characters and bizarre situations that seem like just the thing to perk up a reader longing for travel, adventure, fun, and excitement. You might not be able to go far right now, but books provide an entertaining alternative. Although I don’t normally read sci-fi, something about the Cat Star Chronicles books by Cheryl Brooks intrigued me….

Debbie Wiley | Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night…
Author Guest / May 21, 2020

by senior reviewer Debbie Wiley Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie. When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing- wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?  I have a love/hate relationship with birds that started with Mother Goose and the Song of Sixpence nursery rhyme. Sure, there are birds I dearly love, like the graceful Sandhill cranes and the majestic owls, but it is the mystery of those blackbirds that has left me with a healthy dose of fear for birds. I know I’m not alone as look at Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (shudders). Several authors recently have challenged me to rethink how I feel about some of these maligned birds and I’d like to share their wonderful books with you. Heather Webber tackles the Song of Sixpence directly with a bit of magical realism in MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE. Anna Kate Callow has arrived in Wicklow, Alabama, to bury her beloved Granny Zee. Unbeknownst to her, she inherits her grandmother’s entire estate, including the Midnight Cafe under one condition- she has to remain in Wicklow and run the cafe for a specific amount of time. Anna Kate has preconceptions about Wicklow….

Debbie Wiley | Cozy Mysteries are the Perfect Escapist Reads!
Author Guest / May 11, 2020

by Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley With the long days of quarantine both behind and still in front of us, if you’re like me you’re tired of hearing nothing in the news but gloom and doom. Luckily for us as readers, we have a great selection of cozy mysteries to curl up with and take our minds off seeing only the people we’ve been quarantined with. So, sit back, pretend it’s a cold day inside by the fire where staying inside is fun, and let’s look at a couple great books to choose from! Amanda Flower is one of my go-to cozy mystery authors and what could be better than a novella including an appearance by Jethro, the support pig? In BOTCHED BUTTERSCOTCH, a Mother’s Day fundraiser goes awry and now Bailey King is determined to uncover a thief. Amanda Flower offers up just the kind of heartwarming mystery we need, as BOTCHED BUTTERSCOTCH showcases Abigail’s Farm, a program opening up in the Amish community to help women recovering from substance abuse. We have a lot of fun bantering the wedding that isn’t even an engagement yet and yes, we have a great Jethro scene!  SIX CLOVES UNDER by Gin Jones features…