Word of the Week: January 30, 2023

Happy Monday! Time for the Word of the Week!

I’ve lived a fair number of years on this earth, and I’ve read a lot of books in that time. And today’s word is one that is completely new to me. I love it when that happens!

So were you familiar with the word “recondite” before today? Do you think you’d use it in conversation?

Link up your Word of the Week below, and invite your friends to play along, too!

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Book Review: An Enemy Like Me by Teri M. Brown

  • Title: An Enemy Like Me
  • Author: Teri M. Brown
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Would I recommend: Absolutely. Teri M. Brown writes a compelling story.

Synopsis:

How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?

Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife, and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.

In An Enemy Like Me, Teri M. Brown uses the backdrop of World War II to show the angst experienced by Jacob, his wife, and his four-year-old son as he leaves for and fights in a war he did not create. She explores the concepts of xenophobia, intrafamily dynamics, and the recognition that war is not won and lost by nations, but by ordinary men and women and the families who support them.

My review:

I had nothing but good things to say about Teri M. Brown’s first novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. She set the bar high for her future books. And with An Enemy Like Me, she surpasses her earlier work.

An Enemy Like Me opens from the perspective of young William Miller. His parents are fighting for the first time, and his comfortable routine changes. His father leaves, and there is no definite answer as to when he will be back.

We then see the story unfold from different viewpoints: William as a child, William in 2016 as an adult looking back on his life, Jacob, and Bonnie. Jakob Mueller – now Jacob Miller – grew up in America, the child of German immigrants. His father died when Jacob was young, and his childhood and youth were times of privation and struggle.

Yet Jacob was making his way as a young man, and he met and married Bonnie, a young lady from a well-to-do family. They were young and in love. It wasn’t long before they added William to the family. And then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and everything changed.

Before the United States entered the war, anti-German sentiment ran high, and Jacob felt this keenly. He was proud of his German heritage, but he was also proud to be an American. How can a man reconcile the two sides of himself? Jacob thought to do so by joining the military and fighting the Japanese, to show his love for his country.

There are some descriptions of the war itself, but Brown’s focus is not the graphic horror that is war. Her focus is the battle of the heart and mind. Jacob felt the tension in which he lived as an American of German heritage. How could he be proud of his heritage and true to his country at the same time? He joined the military after Pearl Harbor, hoping to go into battle against the Japanese. They were not his people. He could fight them. But when his orders changed and he was sent to Germany, he struggled to make sense of a war that had him fighting against men who looked like him, who lived and loved and raised their families in the same place Jacob’s ancestors had come from. How do you justify taking up arms against someone who could have been your friend, your neighbor, had circumstances been different? This is one of the all too human fronts on which the war was fought.

Brown also looks at the impact of war on a family over decades. We see William as a child, trying to understand why his father must leave and trying to uphold his father’s wish that he, William, be a brave little soldier for his mother. We see his father’s return through the eyes of William a little older, see Jacob’s challenges at reentering civilian society and Bonnie’s efforts to help him return more to himself. War changes people, so the story says. Brown examines how those changes hit and how they ripple through the years, impacting not only Jacob and Bonnie and their relationship, but rolling down to how William relates to his children.

The story is at times joyful and full of youthful exuberance. At other times, it is weighed down with despair, and hope seems hard to come by. Brown illustrates clearly that it may be nations that declare war, but it is fought by men and women on fronts foreign and domestic, and the effects of war do not end when a man hangs up his weapon and returns home.

Teri M. Brown is quite possibly one of the finest writers of historical fiction I’ve had the pleasure to read in recent memory. If you want to be pulled into a story that makes you consider historical events in a new light, if you want characters who will make you want to hug them and whose struggles will break your heart, you need to pick up An Enemy Like Me.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the author and Atmosphere Press. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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Book Beginnings on Friday and Book Blogger Hop: January 27, 2023

Book Beginnings on Fridays is hosted each week by Rose City Reader. It’s a chance to share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading this week. You can check out others’ book beginnings here. I’m also going to link up with Carrie at Reading Is My Superpower for First Line Friday.

This week’s book beginning:

Synopsis:

It proves to be a Christmas to remember when Chris Matheson’s body is discovered in the woods near an international airport.

Everyone is stunned—especially Chris Matheson.

The mystery deepens when they discover the victim has Chris’s federal agent badge and appears to have been investigating one of his old cases.

The Geezer Squad’s latest case is not only a whodunit but who-got-dun. Is this a case of mistaken identity? Was Chris the intended victim? If not, then they must identify the murder victim to find his killer.

With Christmas days away, join the Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad as they race to piece together the clues to their most puzzling case yet.

Chris Matheson pushed through the glass door of the coffee shop.

It’s a rather humble beginning, but it turns into much, much more!

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer. It starts each Friday and runs through the following Thursday. Each week, there’s a new prompt featuring a book-related question. It’s designed to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, make new blogging friends, and gain followers. See what others have to say on this topic and link up your own post here.

Do you prefer to read in a quiet or noisy setting?
(submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

For me, the background doesn’t really matter. Quiet or noisy, I can lose myself in a book just about anywhere. My only requirement is that no one talk to me while I’m trying to read. I can’t concentrate on both book and conversation. People talking on TV, across the room, that doesn’t bug me. But if someone addresses me directly, I have to stop reading to respond.

What about you? Do you like it quiet when you read, or is a little noise okay?

Posted in Book Beginnings on Fridays, Book Blogger Hop, Book Memes, Mystery | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

Title: At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities

Author: Heather Webber

Genre: Southern Fiction, Magical Realism

Publication Date: August 1, 2023

Publisher: Forge Books

Synopsis:

From the USA Today bestselling author of In the Middle of Hickory Lane comes Heather Webber’s next enchanting novel, At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities!

Ava Dowling is on the run. After the sudden death of her fiancé only a month before their wedding, she closes up her lonely apartment in Vermont to answer a want-ad in Driftwood, Alabama—a town she’s never heard of—to apply for a job she’s never done. But the promised benefits far outweigh the cons, and being a live-in caretaker to a cranky old man in a beachside cottage is the perfect way to hide from the pain of her loss and the realities she doesn’t want to face.

Maggie Laine Brightwood hardly ever sits still. On the surface, she is a bundle of bright energy as she runs Magpie’s, Driftwood’s coffee and curiosity shop. She spends her days matching people to what they were missing—whether that’s the perfect coffee blend or a trinket they didn’t know they needed. Keeping busy is the best way to distract herself from her strained relationship with her aging father, Desmond, and the guilt she feels in hiring a stranger to take care of him instead of doing it herself. She hopes no one can see the sadness lurking under her cheerful exterior, even though it weighs her down like an anchor.

As the season stretches on and tourists come and go from the beach, Ava and Maggie become fast friends, bonding over the magic they find in letting go in order to move on—because sometimes drifting through life will lead you to where you belong.

My thoughts:

That’s when I want this book! And I’ve got to wait until AUGUST!!!!!

But it’s Heather Webber. All of the other books of hers that I’ve read have been fantastic. So I know this one will be worth waiting for!

What book are you eagerly anticipating?

Posted in Book Memes, Can't-Wait Wednesday, Magical Realism, Southern Fiction | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-to-Me Authors in 2022

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out upcoming Top Ten themes on Jana’s blog and go here to see what others have on their Top Ten Tuesday lists!

I love finding new authors whose books I love! Here are ten that are new to me from the past year, and the books that introduced me to their work. Some have extensive backlists (yay!), some are just starting out (more books to come!).

  1. Susan May Warren, Sunrise
  2. Karen Witemeyer, In Honor’s Defense
  3. Kim Davis, Frosted Yuletide Murder
  4. Amanda Cabot, The Spark of Love
  5. Verity Bright, A Royal Murder
  6. Kimberly Fish, Comfort Zone
  7. Teri M. Brown, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow
  8. Katherine H. Brown, A Spoonful of Gunpowder
  9. Lorenzo Carcaterra, Nonna Maria and the Case of the Missing Bride
  10. DiAnn Mills, Concrete Evidence

And it’s a new year, and that means more new authors to discover!

What new authors did you find last year?

Posted in Book Memes, Bookouture, Christian Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Mystery, Romance, Steampunk, Top Ten Tuesday | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Word of the Week: January 23, 2023

Happy Monday! It’s time for a new and entertaining word of the week!

This is one that’s actually used from time to time at our house.

I have been known to call people blithering idiots from time to time.

Have you ever used this word, or is it new to you? Leave a comment! And feel free to link up your own Word of the Week below!

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Cover Reveal: Fraser (The Minnesota Marshalls #1) by Susan May Warren

If y’all have followed along with the blog for a while, you know I love Susan May Warren’s books. Y’all can see what I had to say about her Sky King Ranch series here.

So it is with great excitement that I share with you the cover for the first in a new series, FRASER.

SERIES OVERVIEW

Jump into this action-packed romantic adventure series featuring the tough, brave and charming Minnesota Marshall family. We first met the family as the hosts for the PEAK Montana Rescue team in Storm Front, when a tornado ravaged their small Minnesota town and trapped their youngest son, Creed and his track team in the rubble. Also in that story was older brother Jonas Marshall, a storm chaser. Readers then met brother and former smokejumper Ned, as well as the oldest brother, Fraser, a Navy SEAL, in Wait for Me, (book 6 in the Montana Rescue series.) Fraser also appeared in the recent Sunburst and Sundown (Sky King ranch series).

But now it’s time for the cousins of the Montana Marshalls, the owners of Marshall Fields Winery in Minnesota, to have their own epic story. From Fraser to Jonas to Ned to Iris, the mysterious sister, to Creed, as well as the parents, Garrett and Jenny, every Marshall has a role to play in this epic, global-slash-midwestern series about how one family just might find themselves in a plot to destroy…or save the world.

Yeah, those Marshalls…what have they gotten themselves into this time?

Dive into the epic series of 2023 – the Minnesota Marshalls!

It all starts with FRASER, releasing February 14 across online retailers and available for the pre-order sale price of $5.99. HOWEVER, if you want to dive into Fraser’s story RIGHT NOW, you can order it from Susie May’s website store immediately, at the retail price of $9.99. Your choice!

#fraser #minnesotamarshalls #susanmaywarren #epicromanticadventure #newseries #romance #cantwaittoread #mustread #coverreveal #coverlove


What do you think? Does this sound like a series you’d read? Leave a comment!

Posted in Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Cover Reveals, Romance, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Beginnings on Fridays and Book Blogger Hop: January 20, 2023

Book Beginnings on Fridays is hosted each week by Rose City Reader. It’s a chance to share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading this week. You can check out others’ book beginnings here. I’m also going to link up with Carrie at Reading Is My Superpower for First Line Friday.

This week’s book beginning:

Synopsis:

Former actress Becca Ransom lived her dream in Hollywood for seven years before returning to her hometown of Larch Haven, Vermont. Known as the Venice of North America, Larch Haven has canals instead of roads, gondolas instead of cars, and charming cottages that look like they were plucked from the pages of a fairy tale. It’s also where Becca is pursuing her newest passion as a chocolatier at True Confections, the chocolate shop owned by her grandparents, Lolly and Pops.

While Becca’s testing new flavors and reconnecting with old friends, the town is gearing up for the annual Gondola Races, popular with both residents and tourists, with one exception. Local curmudgeon Archie Smith wants nothing more than to keep tourists away from Larch Haven. He’s determined to derail this year’s event and does his best to stir up trouble for the organizers, including Becca’s grandfather.

Following a heated argument with Pops, Archie is found floating face-down in the canal, and Pops finds himself in hot water as one of the top suspects. Becca’s determined to clear her grandfather’s name, but when the case heats up, she could be facing a sticky end.

“Binx, I have a feeling we’re not in
Hollywood anymore.”

Are you going to keep reading?

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer. It starts each Friday and runs through the following Thursday. Each week, there’s a new prompt featuring a book-related question. It’s designed to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, make new blogging friends, and gain followers. See what others have to say on this topic and link up your own post here.

Do you use social media to keep up with your favorite authors?
(submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

I do! I love connecting with authors on social media. If I could find a way to make that part of my full-time job, I would. I have a full-time job right now, and it doesn’t leave nearly enough time for promoting and talking to authors. I’d love to be more engaged, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. A girl’s gotta sleep sometime!

What about you? Do you get in touch with authors on social media?

Posted in Book Beginnings on Fridays, Book Blogger Hop, Book Memes, Cozy Mystery | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

Title: A Day of Fallen Night

Author: Samantha Shannon

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: February 28, 2023

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Synopsis:

The stunning, standalone prequel to the New York Times bestselling The Priory of the Orange Tree.

Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose.

To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be.

The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate.

When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat.

Intricate and epic, Samantha Shannon sweeps readers back to the world of A Priory of the Orange Tree, showing us a course of events that shaped it for generations to come.

My thoughts:

I’ve never read The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon’s first book. It’s been on my radar, I just haven’t made time for it. But this one sounds compelling. Since it’s a prequel, I may start with it first, then move on to Priory. What do y’all think?

And what upcoming release are you excited about? Share in a comment!

Posted in Book Memes, Can't-Wait Wednesday, Fantasy | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Book Review: Murder Spoils the Fair (Dodo Dorchester #8) by Ann Sutton

Book cover with the title "Murder Spoils the Fair" on a colorful background depictins a carousel, Ferris wheel, and roller coaster in the background. There is a young woman in 1920s dress in the foreground.
  • Title: Murder Spoils the Fair
  • Author: Ann Sutton
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Would I recommend: Only if you want to read an engaging, clean cozy mystery! I loved it!

Synopsis:

A high profile national fair, a murdered model. Can Dodo solve the crime before it closes the fair?

The historic British Empire Fair of 1924 is set to be officially opened by the king at the new Wembley Stadium and Lady Dorothea Dorchester, Dodo, has an invitation.

The whole fair is an attempt to build morale after a devastating World War and the planning and preparation have been in the works for years. So much is riding on its success.

The biggest soap maker in England has been offered the opportunity to host a beauty exhibit and after a nationwide search for the ten most beautiful girls in Britain, they build an extravagant ‘palace’ that will feature live models representing famous women of history, including one who will represent today’s modern woman. Dodo has succeeded in winning the bid to clothe Miss 1924 with fashions from the House of Dubois for whom she is a fashion ambassador.

But the fair has hardly begun when disaster strikes. One of the models is murdered. Can Dodo find the murderer before the bad PR closes the fair?

My review:

I loved my introduction to Dodo Dorchester, Murder on the Med. Murder Spoils the Fair raises the bar for the series!

Here we see Dodo as a working woman! (Not to worry, though, she hasn’t left the lap of luxury entirely.) She’s now a fashion ambassador for the House of Dubois. In that capacity, she has won the opportunity to provide the wardrobe for Miss 1924, one of ten young ladies representing famous women of history in an exhibit at the British Empire Fair. The exhibit is hosted by the biggest soap maker in England, and the young ladies chosen for it are expected (and contractually obligated) to behave in a manner above reproach. But when one of the lovely young models is found dead in her exhibit space, the fair may be over before it starts.

Once again, I am struck by how accepting law enforcement is of Dodo’s ability to help. Here, the lead detective on the case acknowledges that Dodo has access to, and the chance to uncover, information that he does not, given her position working with the young ladies in the exhibit. So often in cozies involving amateur sleuths, I’m on edge, worrying that their efforts to help investigate are going to get them into trouble. I don’t have that worry here, and it frees me up to enjoy the mystery, and Dodo’s investigative efforts, that much more.

We see more of Lizzie, Dodo’s maid (and occasionally, partner in investigations), in this book, too. She and her young man appear to be moving ahead in their relationship, and Dodo wholeheartedly encourages it. She puts her maid’s happiness first, not any inconvenience she might suffer should Lizzie leave her service.

And Rupert and Dodo are getting along swimmingly, too! We see an interesting facet of Rupert’s personality as he and Dodo discuss his plans for her twenty-first birthday party. I’m not going to tell you what the plans are (you have to read the book to find out!), but it’s going to be quite a wingding.

Most importantly, the mystery is top-notch. Ann Sutton puts a unique spin on the whodunnit by her choice of villain in this story. She took me on quite the chase, with first one suspect, now another, now a third, but wait! A second dead body turns up and all three of those suspects were out of the picture! It was a treat unraveling clues along with Dodo.

I was also delighted to learn something I didn’t know before. I had no idea there was a British Empire Exhibition, but it was an actual historical event. It was basically a big PR push on the part of the British government, and it sounds like it was quite the spectacle.

Murder Spoils the Fair is another five-star read for Ann Sutton. I recommend it for anyone who likes a good cozy with a little history and a spark or two of romance!

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