RCR Says: “The storyline encourages readers to reflect on the many issues of post-war society, and to think about how far America has come since then, as well as the many ways in which racism and hate crimes are still a problem in our communities.”
★★★★ Diary of a Witch’s Son by Oksana Leslie follows an immigrant family’s harrowing experiences with their unfriendly and oftentimes dangerous neighbors. Told through the perspective of the author’s young son, this is a work of thrilling, narrative nonfiction that details the trauma and heartache the family faces at the hands of Mrs. Burton, their jealous neighbor who is bent on destroying the family and having their matriarch arrested. Max Bush, the young son, writes in diary form of how Mrs. Burton makes untrue claims about his family to the police, though they have a difficult time proving the claims to be false. Finally, after a sequence of dramatic turns, the Bush family is able to prove their innocence and continue on with their lives and livelihood. Overall, this is an inspiring story about a hard-working immigrant family finding personal success and financial security through honesty, long hours, strong family bonds, and pure determination.
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★★★★★ Kindness in a Scary World, written by Rebecca J. Hubbard and illustrated by Becca Johnson, is a children’s book that serves as a conversation starter with kids about tragic events like terrorist attacks and mass shootings. The story follows a child who observes his parents’ reaction to live news footage of a shooting, and witnesses some of that footage himself. This draws parents and child into a discussion about the causes and effects of tragedies such as the one they watched play out on the television that very evening, and whether there is anything the family can do to help make the situation better. Ultimately, the child’s parents tell him, many of us are only able to contribute in small ways, like sending money or thoughtful letters. But even these small instances of kindness can add up to make large differences in the lives of people affected by tragedy.
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RCR Says: “Full of action and suspense, Winds of Hope and Change is an exhilarating novel that will inspire readers to stay cool in the face of danger and to stand up for the causes they believe in.”
It’s that time of year—again! Even the most hardhearted can agree that there is something timeless and instantly relatable about a good romance novel. Everyone wants to feel loved, and many of us also enjoy reading about it. Whether you’re a hardcore romance aficionado, or just a sucker for the occasional love story, the five books below are sure to get your heart racing. There’s something for everyone in this list, so read through to learn more. You can also click on the book’s cover to read our full review!
For the foodie:
★★★★ Olivia Dumont, a young and beautiful pastry chef, moves from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas, where she quickly lands a job at Vita e Spezie (Life and Spice), a popular family-run Italian restaurant nestled in a charming historical building. Salvatore (Sal) Angeloni, Olivia’s new boss, is grateful for the extra help in the kitchen, which he sorely needs in light of his siblings’ declining physical and mental health. Upon starting work, a string of sudden, dire events causes Olivia to grow close to the Angeloni family. She becomes especially tight with Luca, Sal’s only son, who shows up unannounced to reunite with his father after many years of separation. The connection between Olivia and Luca is undeniable, and their feelings for each other develop amidst immense family drama, as well as Olivia’s own personal hardship, which she tries very hard to conceal.
For the short-story lover:
★★★★★ In this engrossing collection of eleven short stories, author and journalist Peter Sichrovsky gives readers a handful of love stories to ponder over. His newest work, Verklempt, explores the identity of many Jewish characters, most of who are caught up in the throes of passion, attraction, disappointment, uncertainty, danger, or bewilderment. The stories are connected in a way that the same kind of overwhelming emotion is ever present throughout the stories’ pages. While the narratives all offer something different, the author’s background and heritage is a noticeable influence on his character’s identities. Issues like The Holocaust and anti-Semitism are tackled, as are current and recent political issues. In the story “Prague” a young Jewish boy’s new romance is threatened by chaos in the city, while in “The Sirens” a family is faced with the terror of staying together during an attack on their homeland. A husband tries to figure out what to do with his failing marriage in “The Love Schnorrer,” while in “The Holiday” three different families try to have an enjoyable time together on a vacation to Greece.
For the non-traditionalist:
★★★★ Stalker, My Love by Zack Scott follows the untraditional love story of Rosalyn Ray and Rhett Calloway. In their early twenties and still living in their hometown, the motley gang—self-named REM, for Rosalyn, Elliot, and Mimi—attempt to navigate life in a stiflingly small town: Pine Bridge. Unlike most traditional love stories, this one begins with the would-be knight-in-shining-armor perched in a tree with a pair of binoculars, creepily observing his maiden fair. Clumsily, fumbling, and bumbling, Rhett is caught red-handed by Rosalyn, who promptly threatens to call the authorities on him. Meanwhile, her best friend, Elliot Venice, a newly minted deputy, and the supposed love of her life, Earl Wick, a washed up ex-high-school-baseball player, slept together, completely confounding everything the moment Rosalyn winds up a missing person. Of course, the minute she learns of her best friend’s disappearance, Elliot jumps right into action, despite the fact that her superiors caution her to wait the full 24 hours before launching an official investigation. Spurred by equal measures of love and guilt, she enlists the help of an unlikely gang of fellow officers. Through twists and turns and topsy-turvy unrealities, the truth of Rosalyn’s disappearance proves to be stranger than fiction—as does the romance that burgeons in the midst of it all.
For the nostalgic:
★★★★ An intriguing tale that twists together the paranormal with a witty rom-com, Seven For a Secret is both a ghost story and a romantic escapade. We follow twenty-four-year-old Kate as she moves into a new apartment, celebrating the freedom she feels as the year 2000 ushers in a new millennium. She decides to take a break from her boyfriend Dexter so that she can explore more of her spontaneous side, quickly developing a crush on her attractive next-door neighbor. However, it’s not long before her plan for romance goes awry, as she learns that her building, Camden Court, was once a hotel in the roaring twenties. Now, eighty years later, Kate is confronted with the reality that many of the hotel’s past guests haunt the halls. One of these supernatural beings happens to be ninety-year-old Olive, whose life ended in Kate’s very apartment. As the narrative unfolds, we learn that Olive holds a deadly secret she’s eager to share, one that links her to a scandalous affair involving a young man named Lon, who brings a whole bout of tragedy to the situation that Kate is forced to deal with, whether she likes it or not.
For the thrill-seeker:
Part thrilling court drama, part enthralling romance, Forever Bound by J.B. Millhollin follows the complicated story of determined defense attorney, Rosa Norway, as she attempts to juggle the murder trial of Angelo Bonaventura and her messy love life. The story begins before Angelo and Rosa cross paths, with the backstory of the murder that’s led Angelo to be tried by the Nashville District Attorney’s office. Chuck Harris, Angelo’s son-in-law, just so happens to also be his employee at Webber’s Furniture Store. Chuck has figured out a way to grift money from innocent, unsuspecting old ladies, and he’s certain that his menacing father-in-law will remain none the wiser. His assumptions prove fatal, as Angelo has him “taken care of” shortly thereafter. Fast-forward five months to when Rosa’s story begins. Rosa, in a fog post-drunken-night-out, edges her way out of an awkward situation with an ex. From that moment her feet touch the ground, she never quits running around trying to defend indefensible actions and manage multiple dalliances with lovers current and past. Among the key characters in her fascinating trials and tribulations are David, her prickly ex; Stoney, a handsome former lover and current business partner whose misdeeds land him in the worst sort of trouble; John Winstrom, another complicated lover with piercing blue eyes and a magnetic quality that keeps drawing Rosa back for more; and, of course, Angelo Bonaventura, a dangerous felon with a propensity for having bodies mysteriously pile up around him. It takes everything in Rosa’s power to maintain her composure and navigate her way through these murky waters.
Have you been thinking it’s time to start establishing a home base online? Wondering where or how to get started? We asked author Rumer Haven (What the Clocks Know, Coattails and Cocktails) to share a bit of her experience crafting an author website. The process doesn’t have to be difficult, and you can keep the project as slow-paced or as light as you’d like. Read below for advice from Rumer.
★★★★ In Gus and the Winter Sprite by J. Steven Young, a diminutive dragon named Gus is lamenting the loneliness that winter brings—after all, his friends are all hibernating for the season and his treasured garden has gone dormant—when a winter sprite comes zooming into his cozy house and interrupts the quiet. Crystal, the sprite, has a problem of her own: she’s not like other sprites, and helping to bring on winter doesn’t make her happy like it does everyone else. Gus swaps a story for a story and tells Crystal that he was once feared by the other inhabitants of the forest, who didn’t understand that Gus is actually harmless. Emboldened, Crystal tells Gus that what she really wants to be is a phoenix, the legendary bird of fire. She uses the power of a wish to transform into her heart’s true desire and helps awaken Gus’s friends so that they can all gather for a festive winter party. Continue reading “Recently Reviewed”