by Sally Cronin
“Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries” is a perfect blend of poetry and short stories. The poetry is tucked between the stories that bestowed beautiful images that completed the picture the collection of short stories offered. The characters were engaging, and I could feel empathy for their situation, good or bad. There were five categories covered, and I enjoyed each subject and story. It was like reading about people I already knew. I rooted for the woman with an abusive husband, felt the heartbreak of a woman who had lost a child, and laughed when a woman went to buy her groceries. This collection offers hope in everyday situations. A well-written and heartfelt book that I highly recommend!
“Twelve Days of Christmas” was just what I was looking for to read over the holiday season, but this could be read any time of the year. It’s a varied fictional collection that includes a dragon and trolls but had some heartwarming family stories too. There wasn’t a story I didn’t enjoy, but the two that stood out to me were “The Angel in the Tree” and “Snowman.” I loved the idea of a being, or the angel, attached to a tree and a young boy’s quest to help the tree survive. In “Snowman,” seeing a family’s story through an ornament was not only unique but a clever way to show what happened. I highly recommend this collection and will be reading more from this author! Five-Stars!
by Jan Sikes
“Ghostly Interference” is Ms. Sikes’ debut fictional novel. I’ve read all her memoirs and short stories and have loved them, so I was excited about this book. It didn’t disappoint with the drama and otherworldly presence. My favorite character was Rena, a hard-working waitress who rides a red Harley. I had to warm up to Jag, who was cautious and in an unpleasant situation at work. Luckily, his mother had left him open to excepting otherworldly experiences. Both characters grew, and their interactions had a nice spark. The realistic details put into the story really captured what it’s like to ride on a motorcycle, along with a glimpse into the music world. This is not only a steamy romance, but it gives the characters room to become who they are, with a paranormal nudge. The end had me on the edge of my seat, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes. A well-written tale that I recommend. Five-Stars!
by Sandra Cox
Gwen is a young woman who’s raising her little brother with the help of a family friend, Chen. She took after her father, who was a Bounty Hunter. After a job, she comes home to a man who saved her family from a would-be robber. The hero, Jordie, leaves the minute the sheriff arrives. Gwen finds out that Jordie is wanted, but she doesn’t go after him after saving her family. Gwen wants to move to Montana and start a new life on a horse ranch, so she takes the job of catching three of the worst outlaw brothers. I love Gwen’s strength and ability to take care of herself in a time when women were more dependent on men. Promising one last job to her little brother, she sets off, against the sheriff’s advice, to catch her outlaws and earn her big retirement payoff. She ends up with an unexpected partner. I love the relationship that develops between them on the trail. There are great conversations and plenty of action. As the two learn about each other, a dog finds them. You can’t help but fall in love with these amazing characters or the dog. I didn’t expect a couple of twists, and the scenery was detailed, making me feel like I was along on the ride. This is an exciting Western romance that I didn’t want to end, but it did, and very satisfactorily. I hope we aren’t done hearing from Gwen Slade. She’s a wonderful heroine. I highly recommend “Gwen Slade, Bounty Hunter.” Five-Stars!
“The Adventures of Ollie Orangutan” is a charming story for middle-grade readers about an orangutan named Ollie. Young Ollie was being transported by train to a new zoo when the train crashed. He was able to escape into a swamp area, tasting freedom for the first time. Thrown into something he’s never had to deal with before captured my heart. I didn’t want to put it down and needed to know what was going to happen next. He learned who to trust, including himself. There is a lot of detail Mr. Landgraf brought into the story adding more depth to the dangers that lurk in a swamp for Ollie. I bought this book for my ten-year-old granddaughter for Christmas. I make it a point to read children’s books before gifting them. The story pulled me right in, and I know my granddaughter will love it as much as I did. Five-Stars
“The Culmination” is the third book in the Contract Series. I loved all the books, but this one topped them. It touched me on a level of reality and fear, bringing the idea of hope in our current cold social climate. It starts after the second book and an assassination attempt. There is a group determined to cause mayhem and stop anyone in their way, including heads of state. There’s not only exciting action but developing relationships and political intrigue. I found a lot of what was going on in the story relevant for current times. Where Ms. Plano took this story is a place where I could imagine the right things being done in the middle of chaos. I loved the American Vice President with her logic and heart. Beautifully written and thought-provoking with scenarios all too familiar, some heartbreaking, and some tender. This book not only scared me but offered an optimistic option at the same time. I highly recommend it and the whole series. Five-Stars!
I only post my 4 & 5-star reviews. If I don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. It doesn’t feel right leaving a review in that case, but I have been known to email the author:) Life is too short not to enjoy every book you read!
Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! Happy 2021 🙂 D. L. Finn