Cheers, friends and fellow bookworms, and welcome to our Book of the Month picks for January as chosen by the team at The Novel Approach Reviews! It’s great to be back after a December hiatus, and I’m so excited to share our picks with all of you. We’re kicking off 2018 in a great way, to the point where some of us had a hard time choosing a clear favorite. Some of the honorable mention titles include KA Merikan’s On His Knees, Marshall Thornton’s Hidden Treasure, and Harper Fox’s Guardians of the Haunted Moor: Book Five in the Tyack & Frayne series, so if you haven’t had a chance to grab them yet, they’ll be included in the Giveaway too!
And now, here are the books we loved this month!
Sadonna – Their Life As They Live It by A.M. Arthur – “This story is an exceptional illustration of how to tell a story effectively in flashbacks, which can be really difficult to do. As the tale winds between the stress of present day and Richard’s health emergency, Bear remembers everything that has made his life with Richard what it has been over the past thirty-plus years. The time jumps are well labeled, and the narrative is so well done that it does not detract at all from the tension in the present day. The expository sections of the past are well done and provide a lot of insight into Gabe’s motivations and his difficulties growing up, accepting who he is, and making a life with Tristan.”
Maryann – Trick Roller by Cordelia Kingsbridge – “Not only did Cordelia Kingsbridge create another exciting mystery in this series, but she really shows her knowledge with detailed police procedure and trial questioning. I was thrown off a little in the first chapter, but I think that was intentional. The pace of the storyline was interesting too, and it made the conclusion of this story very powerful. I really liked how the author presented a deeper look at how Levi and Dominic complement each other, give each other support, and the chemistry between them picks up steam. There’s a lot of heartwarming moments too, with Dominic and his Nonna, Levi and Adriana, and with Rebel. There’s some very solid secondary characters as well, in Martine, Justine, Carlos, and family and friends, which gives a nice balance to the story.”
Jenn – Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox – “As always Lucy Lennox provides a wonderfully sweet, without being saccharine, tale. I’d happily label this as a modern fairy-tale. If the author hadn’t mentioned it at the start that the kingdom of Liorland wasn’t fact, I’d have completely believed it to exist (but then, geography has always been a place for stories to take place in for me) as she crafts a story with depth and grounding in the world we know.
A real treat for me was hearing more about Doc and Grandpa Wilde, as they help the struggling lovers reconcile all the responsibilities placed on them with their own desires and love. I really want to see a Doc and Grandpa Wilde novel or short story, and I’m positive I’m not the only one.”
Sammy – In the Absence of Light by Adrienne Wilder – “This novel—it is just breathtaking. It pulls you into a world where fragments of light far outweigh the dark. It does not apologize for the moments of pain and anguish both men must suffer, but surrounds them with equal portions of beauty and grace. Author Adrienne Wilder never shies away from delivering a story that bursts with action, pathos and delightful flashes of humor. In the Absence of Light is a carefully balanced story which exudes compassion and love, wrapped up in a compelling plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I can only end this review with the highest praise and recommendation. It is a story that solidifies the idea that Adrienne Wilder will be an auto-buy novelist for me from now on.”
Mike – Enlightened by Joanna Chambers – “There are so many good things here. The relationship between the two men becomes a true love affair during David’s recuperation, but pressure from the outside world, and the realities of late 18th century life, come calling all too soon in the sanctuary the two men have come to thrive on. But the political life of Murdo’s father, and the fate of David’s mentor, Patrick Chalmers, now hang in the balance. This entire series is a definite buy. As a historical romance it is accurate, and as an exposé of the life of the middle and upper classes in Georgian England. The love affair is deep and true, and the final chapters of this series do not disappoint and leave the reader with a satisfied smile.”
Carrie – Two Feet Under by Charlie Cochrane – “I totally enjoyed revisiting murder with these characters, and I am really hoping that this series continues. I adore how very British they are, and Cochrane is a master at creating time and place, mixing them with good, solid characterizations and police procedurals. Each of the stories in this series is a standalone. You could pick them up individually and read them, but start with the first to get Adam and Robin’s love story from the beginning. These two met, fell in love, and now are thinking about the future amidst all the chaos and colorful people in their lives. These books are witty, the banter between the MCs entertaining, and the mystery is always just that, a mystery to be solved. I highly recommend them.”
Taz – In the Blood by Hailey Turner – “Ms. Turner pulled no punches when it came to the violence of the military sequences. I don’t want to ruin anything by giving examples, but the villains are so hateful and sadistic in this book that the way she brings them to their demise is remarkably gratifying. To that end, people who find graphic violence off-putting should read with caution. But read the book anyways, just skip over some of the more gory scenes. There aren’t too many, but the ones that are there are truly visceral.
Overall, another amazing book by an author who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I look forward to the next book in this awesome series.”
Jules – Relay by Layla Reyne – “First and foremost, I loved, loved both Dane and Alex. I loved Dane’s drive and his perseverance in becoming dominant in his sport once again, after being sidelined by an injury and left out of the last Olympic games. I loved his friendship with Mo, and his respect for his other teammates. And, I loved that he never stopped loving Alex. He knows how badly he hurt Alex when they were kids, and that he needs to put in some OT in the sucking up and apologizing category. Tell me this quote doesn’t make you swoon pretty hard…
Another thing that worked quite well, I think, despite there not being much competition in the book, was the pacing and flow of the story. Reyne managed to keep the intrigue and excitement up with the sheer charisma of the characters, and their individual and collective dramas, and with the doping plotline.”
Kim – Wedding Bellskis by Astrid Amara – “I love how Ms. Amara can make each story in a series even more interesting than the last, with a surprise twist in Wedding Bellskis that kept me, the reader, eagerly turning the page to see what would happen next. I love these types of stories, where the two MCs continue to grow in their relationship with each other. It also helps that I’m familiar with the location that the story takes place in.
Highly recommended to those who love this series and want more!”
Lindsey – Pressure Head by JL Merrow – “How much do I love this book? Let me count the ways….
The plot. How amazing is it to have a plumber by trade who has this knack for finding things; a gift of divination, if you will? Utterly brilliant. Or at least the way this carefully crafted tale is delivered. Mind you, they aren’t usually lost things. They are hidden things. And water. And sometimes people. Tom can sense secrets people don’t want others to find or know about, and in his unique case, water, which makes him a pretty fabulous plumber to have come around. Mostly what he senses is more or less harmless. Water leaks (of course), porn stashes, expensive jewelry, love letters… But sometimes his gift can be used under more dire circumstances. Like finding dead bodies. In this case, after his pal in the police requests his services in finding a dead body, Tom’s path ends up converging with Phil’s—Tom’s former bully and a now out-and-proud, gorgeous private investigator who thinks Tom’s particular talent can help him track down the murderer and, in turn, save Phil’s friend from falsely taking the fall.”
Lisa – Agent Bayne by Jordan Castillo Price – “It’s been eight years since I picked up Among the Living, book the first in the PsyCop series, and eight years since I discovered that author Jordan Castillo Price had not only brought two fantastic protagonists to life, but that she’d done so with intricate detail and precise execution in an alternate reality that isn’t only intense and densely woven but is also a love story tucked in between murder investigations and ghost encounters on the streets of Chicago. Every time I open a PsyCop book and Vic starts speaking, it’s like hopping back into the middle of a chat with an old friend—albeit a usually oddish, non-sequitur sort of conversation—but no matter how long it’s been, I fall back in sync with him in no time at all.
The true testament of the adroit storytelling here, however, is the author’s disappearance into her narrator. Victor Bayne is given full agency, is a fully realized character who’s motivated by external voices and events to draw the listener into his story. Something that, in reality, would probably make him feel uncomfortable, being the center of our attention, and is one of the reasons I love him—that in his efforts not to draw attention to himself, we readers are drawn to him in every single way.”
And that does it for this month, friends. Until next time, happy reading!
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