Sunday, September 29, 2013

Through the Smoke Review

Through the SmokeThrough the Smoke by Brenda Novak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am reviewing this from an ARC given o me by the author. All thoughts are my honest opinion.

This author is relatively new to me. I have read two Whiskey Creek novels from her. When I was offered the opportunity to read Through the Smoke, I took it for two reasons. One, I wanted to see if her writing was the same caliber across genres. Two, I am, proudly, from a coal mining family. I really wanted to see how that was written of. I am not a big historical romance fan. Most who know me, know I read across genres. You never know what I am reading but it is usually not historical romance. The reason for this is that sometimes the author gets so caught up in the language, the fashions, the customs that I feel like I am reading a school book with a little romance tossed in. Through the Smoke surprised me. I was so lost in the story that I had to actually go back and check for the above mentioned items to write the review! Yes there is a bit of language differences, references to fashion and customs but the main thing was the story. That is why I am giving this book 5 stars. Ms. Novak wrote a story. One you can get lost in. One you can feel the characters in. One you laugh, cry and get angry in. For me, one that represented coal miners. Yes there were some ugly, hard coal miners in it. But there were also references to hard workers doing a hard job for their families. Coal miner's have rarely made their worth. Whole families have lived and died for coal. And some miner's have been rough, ugly men who were hard on any woman stepping down into the mines. Different countries and different eras, I was still able to relate to the coal mining references. Kudos to Ms. Novak.
The story itself takes many twist and turns. When I thought I had it figured out, I was given pieces to make me doubt my choice. By the time I absolutely knew I was far to invested in how it would play out to care I guessed it. I recommend Through the Smoke not just to fans of historical romance and romance in general but also to those who are interested in exploring the historical romance genre. The book is due out fall of 2013 and I think it is a perfect time to get lost for a weekend. Wear your favorite jammies, put something in the crock pot, grab your favorite beverage and get comfy...then get swept away.

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For more on Brenda Novak please see her webpage at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When Lightning Strikes Review

When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek, #1)When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this story. It was romantic fantasy that took me away. I enjoyed the fact that Simon was portrayed so humanly. He went from being a famous actor to regular Joe to famous actor. I believe that is a realistic portrayal. Famous people are frequently thought of as self serving and out of control. It is easy for the average person to want to believe the hype around them, regardless of truth. I have long thought it must be the most difficult life someone could choose to live. For the money and beautiful things they have, the lifestyles they are able to live, they each pay a very high price. I think it takes a very strong person to survive it. Making Gail someone who was in his circle but just an average person was believable for me. I think if the author had made the love interest a fan, someone he met in a bar, at the airport or any number of places, I would have had a hard time getting into the story. It is not to say I do not think it could happen.I just think there is less of a chance of it happening. Gail, working in L.A., knowing Simon through her job, was perfect. I think the author took care to make the story as realistic as she could. Yes, at times it did seem a bit convenient, (such as the easy acceptance of Simon). These instances, though, worked over all for me. I have lived in a small town. I have family that would put aside what they thought to give a chance. I have been in a situation where the last person I expected was the first person to respond. Finally, I have been betrayed by those close to me. All without the money or the fame. I can imagine the sad reality of what fame and money can do to family and friends. Money changes everything. Some times for the good but just as often for the bad. I think the book is a strong opening for the Whiskey Creek series, but do not see it as the author's best. It took me a bit to warm to Gail, maybe because I first saw her as cold.By the end of the book I cared more for her though she is not my favorite Whiskey Creek character. Isn't this the realistic charm of a series though? In life we all surround ourselves with family and friends we care about. The degree we care though is different for each one. The author's ability to recognize this and effectively incorporate it into the series helps the series stay interesting, strong and realistically,a fantasy that will have broad appeal. I love Whiskey Creek. I think it will appeal to new readers who are fans of the tv series, (and book series by different author), Cedar Cove. They do have much in common, though I see Whiskey Creek as being a bit fresher and more realistic of the two series.

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Review: Inheriting Murder: A Bobwhite Mountain Cozy Mystery

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