I’m Bonnie, and this is my first post on my new blog, Bonnie Reads And Writes. Like many of you, I work a full time job. But that is not my dream. My dream is to create a career out of reviewing books and maybe someday write my own book. I am set to retire from my day job in 4 years and I am starting to take steps towards that dream. It is never too late to make your dreams happen. I am 56 years old, but I haven’t stopped dreaming, and neither should you! Please join me on my book review journey. I have been reviewing books part time on Netgalley for over a year, and have started doing voluntary reviews for Historical Novels Review Magazine as well. I would love to share my reviews with you. I dabble in writing a little, so you might see a poem or just an observation of the world. And I am lucky to live in the Appalachian Mountains, so I will definitely share pictures of the beauty around me with you.
I have the following badges by reviewing advance copies of books on Netgalley:
This means that more than three publishers have featured my reviews on their sites.
This means I am a Reviewer for Netgalley
This means more than 3 publishers have given me access to read all their available books on Netgalley. Right now, I am approved to read all Netgalley offerings for Bethany House, Revell, BooksGoSocial, BookBuzz.net, Black Rose Writing, Canelo, and Amazon UK.
I’m currently working on my 200 Reviews badge on Netgalley. I have done 152 reviews, and hope to hit 200 by the end of the year.
REVIEW REQUESTS ACCEPTED. IF YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO REVIEW YOUR BOOK, JUST MESSAGE OR EMAIL ME. My review will include a statement that a free copy was obtained from the author and my review is voluntary.
This is a really heartwarming collection of four novellas, all revolving around the same grand old oak “Kissing Tree” in Oak Springs, Texas. The extraordinary thing is that although each story is done by a different author, they collectively maintain the history of the town and are well woven together. The stories span from 1868 to contemporary times, as the town changes, romance blooms, and initials are carved into the tree.
Broken Limbs, Mended Fences by Regina Jennings begins in 1868. Adam Fisher returns to his boyhood town as a threshing machine salesman, determined to convince the town to embrace the changes of the times. He also wants to see Bella again, and apologize for an accident three years before.
Inn For A Surprise by Karen Witemeyer is the delightful story of how opposites attract. In 1891, Phoebe Woodward, a romantic at heart, wants to open The Kissing Tree Inn. Her father sends the ultra practical Barnabas Ackerby to assist her, and sparks fly.
From Roots to Sky by Amanda Dykes tells the story of Luke Hampstead and Hannah Garland. An airman during the war, Luke has been writing to Hannah, the sister of a buddy who was tragically killed. When it’s time for him to go home, he seeks Hannah out in Texas.
Heartwood by Nicole Deese is the story of Abby and Griffin, and how they deal with pain and loss.
From Roots to Sky by Amanda Dykes is my favorite Novella in the book. I instantly connected with the characters, and the story touched my heart. This is the second work I’ve ready by Dykes, and she’s becoming one of my favorite authors.
I wasn’t entirely on board with the ending of Heartwood, the last novella in the book, but overall these stories were woven together well and definitely enjoyable.
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
Another amazing book by Jodi Taylor! I truly enjoy everything she writes. Hard Time is the second book in The Time Police series, a spinoff of Taylor’s wildly popular Chronicles of St. Mary’s series.
A prominent politician has asked the Time Police to retrieve her spoiled daughter after an illegal time jump. Enter Matthew, Jane, and Luke (Team Weird), who are once again off on a chaotic and sometimes humorous adventure. And, as usual, they find more than they bargained for.
I continue to love reading about the adventures of this trio. Matthew is the son of Max and Leon from the St Mary’s series. He is a savant when it comes to the time map, but a little awkward in every other area. Jane was a victim of a lifetime of abuse, but continues to find her own way, and a new confidence is making its appearance. Luke is the disinherited, formerly spoiled, current playboy son of a powerful businessman. He has finally found something he cares about–Matthew and Jane. Follow this trio as they travel up and down the timeline–sometimes with permission, sometimes not. And the hilarious crew from St. Mary’s always makes an appearance.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of time travel fiction, or to anyone who just wants to read a well-written, often funny series with great characters. I also recommend that you check out the series from which it was born–The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. The first book in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s is Just One Damn Thing After Another.
I received the novel early after ordering a signed copy from the author’s website. So far, and to the best of my knowledge, she has done this with every new release since she started her website.
Madison James and Jonas Quinn, both US Marshals, are assigned to transport two dangerous criminals by plane to a new destination. After the plane crashes, Madison and Jonas must track an escaped murderer in the wilderness and beyond to try and keep him from killing anyone else. At the same time, Madison still doesn’t know who killed her late husband. However, clues have been turning up.
This is a fast paced, action-packed Christian thriller with many twists and turns. It was hard to put down and I stayed on the edge of my seat. There are interesting and surprising developments, and the characters are very well written, especially the “villain.” There is a hint of romance and a gentle Christian message of the hope God can provide in dark times. It is the first book in the U.S. Marshals series by Lisa Harris, and I can’t wait to read the rest.
I received a free copy of this book from Revell via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
The most important thing I want to convey is I rate books compared to others of their type. I am not going to compare a light holiday romance to Gone With the Wind, for example. Since I do sometimes review nonfiction, such as history books or cookbooks, my nonfiction polices are included as well.
Fiction: It was compelling, well-researched, impressively written, and/or entertaining. The characters are memorable and I connected with them emotionally. I will search out this author’s other works.
Non-fiction: It was well researched and provided information that was both useful and impressive. The way the information was presented was easy to follow and engaging. I will use this information regularly. The photos and other supporting documentation are spectacular. I will seek the author out as an authority on the subject and enthusiastically recommend it to others.
Fiction: I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to others. I would definitely want to read more books by this author.
Nonfiction: It was well researched and provided useful information. The information presented was easy to follow and understand. The photos and other supporting documentation are very good. I will use this information again and recommend it to others.
Fiction: It was a good book. Although I wasn’t blown away by it, I would recommend it to others.
Nonfiction: The information was useful and fairly easy to follow. It includes helpful photos and other supporting documentation. I would recommend it to others.
Fiction: I liked some things about the book, but it did not live up to my expectations.
Nonfiction: Although there was some useful information, it was hard to follow or incomplete. Photos and other supporting documentation are lacking. I might hesitate to recommend it to others.
Fiction: I did not enjoy the book, and would not recommend it to others. My reasons will be well documented in the review.
Nonfiction: I could not find any useful information. Photos and other supporting documentation are lacking. I would not recommend it to others.
I enjoy a good audiobook. I spend a lot of time in the car for work, and audiobooks help pass the time. I was happy when Netgalley started providing advance copies of audiobooks for review. Below is my review of The Nothing Man, a spellbinding tale with dual narrators.
The Nothing Man is the story of Eve Black, whose family was attacked and murdered one night by a man who will go on to be known as The Nothing Man, a rapist and killer. Twenty years later, Eve writes a book about this killer,
I reviewed the audiobook version. This audiobook has two narrators. Alana Kerr-Collins is the voice of Eve and John Keating is the voice of The Nothing Man. Both do a fantastic job. Kerr-Collins has a suspenseful note to her voice that keeps you on the edge of your seat and Keating’s eerie Nothing Man is spellbinding.
Catherine Ryan Howard has written a thriller that is full of suspense and will keep you guessing. The ending is surprising and well thought out.
Fans of crime novels and novels about serial killers will be enthralled by this one.
I received a free copy of this audiobook from Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley My review is voluntary.
Today we have the first cookbook I’ve reviewed on this blog. Although I review a lot of fiction, I love to cook and I often review cookbooks, so you will see more of those occasionally, especially since the holidays are coming up. Below is my review of Clean Treats for Everyone. It uses natural ingredients to make delicious desserts. Release Date: October 6, 2020.
I am really enjoying this dessert cookbook. I wouldn’t classify my diet in any particular group. I’m not totally vegan or vegetarian, although I eat many of those types of foods. I don’t really follow any named diet. I’m just someone who wants to try and eat a little better. This cookbook gives me treats that use natural ingredients so that when I do snack, it is in a healthier way.
I have just made the almond cranberry granola bars, which were delicious. The chocolate mug cake is next on my list, and then the lemon bars. However, I will be trying lots of recipes in this book.
If you want some recipes for some sweet treats made in a healthier way, you will love this cookbook.
I received a free, temporary digital copy of this cookbook from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox is a multi-timeline novel set mostly in Tennessee. It shifts from 1994 to 1998-1999, and back to Present Day.
In 1994, Harvey, homeless and living by the highway, finds an abandoned baby girl. He connects with her immediately, trying to care for her in his lean-to by the side of the road. Abandoned as a boy, he hopes to make a family with this lost little girl.
In the Present Day, Ivy, who is in an abusive relationship with a controlling fiance, returns home to Tennessee to settle her grandmother’s estate. Her grandmother has left her a message and pointed her to a journal which will explain more about her adoption. With the help of her friend Reese, she starts to try and find out more about the first three months of her life.
The beauty of this book lies in the simple message of family and what constitutes a family. Ivy’s family has always been her parents, her grandmother, and her Uncle Vee. But who are they really?
This book also hits some hard issues. It looks at domestic abuse, sex trafficking, drug abuse, the foster care system, and PTSD. It shows how important it is to love each other, and how love can transform a life. And it shows how God answers prayers, but not always in the way you would expect.
The Edge of Belonging is well written and hard to put down. The characters are so well developed that they will permanently touch your heart. The message of hope amid sorrow and tragedy abounds through the book. I highly recommend this to anyone who has experienced loss, or anyone who just wants to read a well written novel.
I received a free copy of this book from Revell via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
As you will soon see, I felt very strongly about this one. I can be a lenient reviewer, but hateful stereotypes really set me off. Unfortunately, that’s what I found in this new series.
Still Knife Painting is a new series about Miranda Trent, who has inherited her Uncle’s homestead in Kentucky, in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest. She starts a unique business for tourists called Paint ’n Shine, providing a package which includes a scenic painting class, a Southern dinner, and a moonshine tasting.
I was excited to read this because like the protagonist, Miranda, I lived elsewhere, but spent all my summers in the mountains with my relatives, who were Appalachian locals (in my case from the mountains of North Carolina). Unfortunately my expectations for this book fell far short. The main character Miranda is very unlikable. Miranda is supposed to be from a local family, even though she has been living in New York, so she should have some empathy and understanding for the locals. Instead she looks down on them and is downright rude at times. Her thoughts are shown in italics, and are usually something mean about others. I really hated the approach of presenting her thoughts in italics, because whenever I saw italics coming up, I knew it was probably going to be something cruel or condescending.
Then there were the ridiculous stereotypes presented in this book. When the Sheriff’s Deputy showed up and is described as a “Barney Fife,” I rolled my eyes back in my head. Then he passed out at a crime scene. Too cheesy. Too ridiculous. Mountain people are not stupid. They are not Barney Fife. The police do not pass out at the scene of a crime. I really wanted to put the book down at that point.
In addition, she should have some understanding of the rich culture and traditions of the locals. Very little of that is brought forth. Instead she is rude, condescending, and standoffish with the locals. As someone whose families are locals, Miranda should at least have been sharing a lot more of the cultural stories and traditions of the area. Miranda is starting a business involving art, distilling moonshine, and cooking, but she doesn’t really spend much time tying that in with the rich history of each of these things in the mountains. We could have learned something in this book besides how the main character is annoyed and affronted by everyone and everything. A lot of potential was lost in this series. Her constant denigration of the locals really ticked me off. I know the locals in my mountain town to be loving, smart, resourceful, and talented. The book’s presentation of mountain locals as stupid, inconsiderate people who supposedly tried to limit Miranda’s art is really offensive.
And by the way, young people are taught to say “yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” in the South. It’s automatic. This is not an “insider/outsider” thing and should not have annoyed Miranda. After spending all her summers in this area, she should have known this. Miranda spent a lot of time complaining about the insider/outsider perception in the mountains. Although there is some of that, nobody in any town anywhere is going to open up to a rude person who looks down on others. At the same time she is complaining about the insider/outsider perception, she complains that mountain people share too much of their personal lives with her! This is contradictory.
There is no real strong cast of characters as there would be in a small town. Just another of many disappointments. None of the characters are memorable for me except Miranda, and that is only because of her horrible personality.
What started out as a series with potential fell flat for me. I will not be interested in reading anymore of these books. I cannot find anything likable about the main character. I was excited to see a series set in the Appalachian Mountains. That excitement faded pretty quickly.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
A Deception At Thorncrest is the latest book in the Amory Ames mystery series. In this installment, a heavily pregnant Amory is visited by a woman claiming to be married to Amory’s husband! If that isn ‘t enough, relatives are coming out of the woodwork, and a local young man is shockingly murdered. Even though the baby’s arrival is imminent, Amory is on the case, determined to find the killer.
Amory’s wry sense of humor, even while thinking her husband might be a bigamist, is a delight. The mystery takes many twists and turns, and the true culprit is a surprise. Although this is book seven in a series, it can be read as a standalone. However, it may contain spoilers for the previous books.
Anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries with lots of humor and a strong cast of characters will enjoy this book. I would definitely read more of this series, and I rate it four stars.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
I am writing this review of Doing Time, which came out last year, because the second book in this series, Hard Time, is winging its way to me in the mail as we speak. My review of Hard Time will be along soon. I must preface this review by saying Jodi Taylor has become my favorite author. Her St. Mary’s Chronicles is an absolute must for Time Travel (Sorry Dr. Bairstow) Fiction Readers. I would be remiss if I didn’t advise you to drop whatever you are doing and buy the first book in the St. Mary’s Chronicles, entitled Just One Damn Thing After Another. You will not be sorry, and I envy you the experience of reading it for the first time.
Doing Time is a spinoff of the St. Mary’s series and revolves around Matthew, son of two St. Mary’s main characters. Now that I’ve set this up and advised you to check out everything the brilliant Jodi Taylor has ever written, on to the review!
EDIT: My copy of Hard Time (Book 2 in the series) has been received. The review will be posted on 10/13//20. Hard Time will be released on 10/15/20.
Jodi Taylor has done it again. A spinoff of her wonderful St. Mary’s Chronicles, Doing Time is the story of Matthew, Jane, and Luke, trainees in the Time Police. Matthew is of course the son of Max and Leon from the St. Mary’s Chronicles. There is mystery, laughter, and intrigue all rolled up in one story as the trio (Team Weird) become Time Police cadets, and are faced with opposition from the Albayans. The Albayans are leftover followers of the late Colonel Albay, the former Time Police leader and unapologetic fascist, who killed first and asked questions later.
Beloved characters from St. Mary’s make an appearance and provide a lot of hilarity during some stressful times, and we learn a tiny bit about what is going on in Matthew’s head. I hope more will be revealed in subsequent books.
If you love Time Travel, history, and well written characters, you will LOVE these books.