Mountain Brook Ink: Reading Romance As A 30-Something Single

New Post: Reading Romance as a 30-Something Single

Advertisements

Book Review: The Plum Blooms in Winter

Where do I even start. First things first, be sure to read the Author Note at the beginning and at the end of this one. Even if this book wasn’t exceptionally well done, I would give it a high rating just for the Authors Notes. Linda Thompson introduces her book with an explanation of why she did what she did and touching on what she is lifting from history and what is a fictional invention. And then at the end of the book, she takes a deep dive into dividing this is what happened in this time in history and this is a character she made up. And she goes into detail, I have such respect for this lady, everything is so deeply researched and has historical precedence.

Now to actually talk about The Plum Blooms in Winter. The story is split in two, half taking place shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the other half 6 years later in a Japan that is living in a post WWII world. The during WWII part follows a (fictional) pilot, Dave Delham, from the Doolittle Raid who was forced to bail out over occupied China and was captured by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war as a P.O.W. The post WWII part follows a (fictional) Japanese woman, Miyako Matsuura, who lived through the bombing of Osaka and became a prostitute to survive. She finds out that one of the pilots who bombed Osaka will be speaking near her and vows to kill him to avenge the death of her brother.

This book, is not an easy read. And not just because of the subject matter. Thompson has mastered the art of “fade to black” and not pulling punches. I was told she was really good at that, but you guys- she is really good at it. The story is relentless, she covers intense subject matter. The pilot is a prisoner of war in that time and place and it was a brutal reality. And she adds at the top of each chapter how many days he and his men have been captive and it goes on for years. Miyako Matsuura is near the bottom of the social ladder, and her life is tragic. Her entire world was shattered with Japan losing the war. (What blew me away the most was the author writing the character of Miyako in such a way that I completely believed western life was utterly foreign to her.)

So far I believe I’ve made this book out to sound like an excellent historical fiction to educate you and leave you wanting something to cheer you up. The first half is true, and go read it for that reason alone, but this is a story of faith. And a clash of world views. And it is powerful. I don’t use that lightly, go discover this new author and download her book to your kindle. And be prepared to stay up until almost 1AM reading and forget mostly everything you were supposed to bring the next day.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: The Awakened


I have a rule of thumb that I always review a book within a few days of reading it. It keeps me accountable to not be late and the story is freshest in my mind.

That said- it has been much longer than a few days since I had the opportunity to read The Awakened. Which means it already feels like it has been forever that I have been waiting for the second book and why is it not here now.

I had serious doubts about this book. End times fiction? Flashbacks that are essentially Biblical fiction? The author having Christ as a character in the story and having fictional scenarios? Why don’t we just throw in an adultery plotline and we can have all my least favorite things. The cynicism was high people. I am making such a big deal about this because I was less than 10 pages in when I had to stop and marvel at the grace and skill that the story in front of me was being handled. I got a lot of joy out of when my sister was reading it and she’d periodically text me and go “you’re right. This is amazing.”

The concept is: what if Lazarus didn’t die again. And what if there are a chosen few believers throughout history who were raised from the dead to stand against evil until Christ comes again. The story is told both through flashbacks to Bible times and modern day.

Confession time: the concept of writing historical fiction featuring people who actually lived terrifies me. This is because I know how hard I am on the genre. History isn’t just a playground for us to take pieces and put them together as a puzzle for our amusement. These are actual lives of people who once lived, just as you or I. And my personal conviction is the standard is even higher when your playground is events from Scripture. The respect Richard Spillman clearly has for Scripture is some of the best in fiction I’ve ever read. I’m still not entirely sure how he did it.

That alone would be enough for me to give this book high praise. But everything, the characters, the scenarios, the author is clearly well researched and gives humanity to situations that would be very easy to just slap on in the background. I kept getting blown away with how well done everything in this book was.

Count your blessings, you can go buy this today and you will have less a wait for the second book than I have had to wait thus far. If you like good, well researched, grace filled fiction that is going to make you pause and be like I didn’t know you could do that and it work, read this book.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: A Caffeine Conundrum

Usually when I finish book and really like it I think oh so-and-so would like this. Or how one friend would like it but it just wouldn’t be another friend’s cup of tea. That isn’t a reflection on a book, just individual peoples taste. I honestly think all of my reader friends would find something they like in A Caffeine Conundrum.

Tandy Brandt and Marissa Alexander have similar goals, though you would never guess from looking at them. Tandy loves to wear black, almost as much as she loves her pomeranian Cocoa, whereas former beauty Marissa is all about fashion and has little interest in the licky furball Tandy carries around. Where our heroines’ paths cross is they both have a goal of opening their own little shop. Tandy a coffee shop and Marissa a tea shop. The problem is they want the same location. The bigger problem is the owner died right before them landing suspicious eyes on both ladies.

This book is an absolute crack up. The banter back and forth between whether tea or coffee is the superior drink, the personality differences as Tandy and Marissa get to know each other better. The Christmas backdrop adds a festive flavor to the whole feel of the novel. It is a good old fashioned murder mystery and I did not figure out whodunnit until near the end. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: The Sleuth’s Miscalculation

Nancy Daley has this life thing down. She works as a librarian, everyone knows she’s someone they can turn to in times of trouble and she is an unofficial consultant for the sheriff department. The sheriff who happens to be her mom. She is an independent woman who is doing fine on her own and appears perfectly content to live out her days just as she is. And then she gets paired up with the new deputy, Carter Malone for a mystery.

This is a fun little book. It’s first of all a mystery, it reminded more of an old Murder She Wrote in tone than Nancy Drew. There is a touch of romance, but that is secondary. Nancy and Carter just work together so well and nothing felt rushed about them. I really appreciate when the author has a strong independent woman character, who she doesn’t sacrifice her humanity to make a point of “See! Look how tough she is!”. Nancy is very human, and I mean that completely as a compliment.

I never figure these things out early, I’m a lazy mystery reader. But I found myself trying to figure out whodunnit quite early on, (and…I actually guessed! Yes, I was proud of myself). The cast of characters is quirky, without being flat, and the groundwork is clearly laid for future stories while being a fulfilling story in and of itself.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: Porch Swing Girl

Olive Galloway’s life has been turned upside down and she has been dumped at her Gramma’s house in Hawaii, along with her little sister. Her mother just lost her fight with cancer and her dad has deposited them with their grandmother so he can go deal with things at home in Boston. “Deal with things” being something which has Olive in a complete panic that her dad will deconstruct what is left of her world by getting rid of her mothers things and selling their house.

Full disclosure- Olive annoyed the ever living daylights out of me for the beginning of the book. Her behavior toward her sister, her gramma, her dad, the people who were trying to be her friends was so petty that any sympathy I would have had for her plight never had time to take root. She is dead set on getting back to Boston to make sure her dad doesn’t do something she would regret. And she will let everyone know who will listen.

But the book doesn’t end there, and neither does this review. Taylor Bennett shows the skills of a true storyteller and if this is the talent she is showing in her first book and as a teenager? I look forward to seeing what comes from her in the years to come. It is revealed that Olive’s new friend Jazz is also going through a severe trial, and we see that intensity that Olive portrayed at the beginning of the book being all about her redirected into her new friend. Olive has to process the death of her mother, and shows that she is a true friend by giving up what she wanted most for her new friend.

There is clear growth from the characters and showing how home can mean more than one place and mean people more than a place.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: Finding Love in Eureka, California

There is so much going on in this book. I kinda wonder if the author went, “I want to take all the controversial issues that are important to me and make a story from them, yes, I’ll do that!”

Genevieve Wilson is happily living her life. She enjoys her job, she’s building her photography business and daydreaming about the pilot from work. She is a happy person who just…sorta ignores the bad in her life. It’s so much better to make up her own narrative right?

Matt Lake is one of those guys who has crafted the “perfect life”. He has everything he wanted, he is on a path to have a pretty #blessed life. But, life has a habit of shaking things up.

This is a very good book, and handles topics which could have gone very, very poorly with grace. Again, there is so much going on. Both Genevieve and Matt have complicated lives, and both have to overcome ways they protect themselves from reality or risk. Matt wants to be the hero in the story. To his girlfriend, to Gen. He doesn’t know what to do when he can’t be the hero, and when it’s possible his actions could have hurt someone instead of saving them? He doesn’t even know what to do. The people in Genevieve’s life keep leaving, try as she might to get them to stay. It’s just easier to assume people will leave, because that’s what people do. Better to live in a daydream than to take a risk on reality.

I really enjoyed this book and would love to see a continuation with a story about Genevieve’s sister Rosie! And more aerial and goat yoga please.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.