Source: Purchase REQ | local library

#EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads this #WyrdAndWonder | Book Review of “Adrift” (Book One: Staying Afloat series) by Isabelle Adler

Posted Sunday, 26 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Borrowed Book By: Earlier this Spring, I participated in an event uniting book bloggers and Indie Authors called #ReviewPit. One of the authors I discovered during this event was Isabelle Adler – her s/o about the novel on Twitter was most enticing (see also tweet) because ever since I co-hosted a RAL with Lisa (deargeekplace.com) for #smallangryplanet I’ve noticed I am enjoying Soft Sci Fi, found family narratives set in Space and the interworkings of a crew who are sent on a mission which is both secreted from them as far as the fuller scope of why they were sent and the curious ways a long-term mission can either make/break the crew itself. I love Hard Sci Fi and Space Operas but I also like the rebels & rogues of Space, too! (ie. Rimrider!)

I was seeking stories during #ReviewPit which caught my eye for their uniqueness but also what was quite lovely is how most of the stories which intrigued me to read were actually within the realms of Fantasy! I found this wicked interesting and it is why I was thankful during #WyrdAndWonder Year 2 I could continue to celebrate my love of Indie Authors & Indie Publishers and Press!

I submitted a purchase request to my local library for “Adrift” which is published by NineStar Press an independent publisher of LGBTQ+ Fiction. I was thankful to find out my library accepted my purchase request and I decided to share my review on behalf of “Adrift” for my own edification as much as continuing to share my readerly life with my readers. I was not obligated to post a review for this novel but I choose to write one as I love celebrating the stories I am finding as a social reader. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I happily found an LGBTQ+ Space Opera during #ReviewPit:

When I first learnt of the #bookishTwitter event #ReviewPit, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect – I keep a watchful eye on twitterverse events where writers are seeking betareaders or where authors are seeking publication (ie. #PitchWars, etc) as I generally find #newtomeauthors this way and I do like to champion the writers who are on their path towards becoming published as this is something I can personally relate to as I’m a writer whose currently moonlighting as a book blogger and joyful tweeter! It is lovely to reach out into the Indie community on Twitter and continue to seek out the stories I desire to be reading. Ever since I first started blogging here at Jorie Loves A Story, I’ve had an eye out for Indie Press, Publishers and the writers who are seeking alternative publication – either through the Indie side of publishing directly through established publishers and press; or through Small Trade publishers or taking the full-Indie route into Self-Publishing or Hybrid publishing options.

This is what made #ReviewPit such a keen event for me – I decided to just jump into it and see what I would find. It is run similar to other events where you get a pitch about a story and you are given a clue of a nod towards its genre of interest. I quite literally had such a wicked joy just scrolling through all the lovelies being offered, I wasn’t entirely sure how many would be available to receive as print editions for review but I decided to give myself the chance to just seek out the authors first and request which ones were available lateron.

My second choice is to highlight the novel I had my library purchase for me by an author I crossed paths with during #ReviewPit – the twitterverse event where Indie Authors are matched with book bloggers and/or reviewers who are seeking Indie Fiction to read and review. It is a spontaneous event in that you do not know which genres are up for grabs and you do not know which stories are avail in the format you are able to read – for me, being a migraineur, this means I needed to find authors willing to send me their stories in print. The joy of the event was finding a lot of Speculative Fiction authors who had written Indie Fantasy novels and those are the stories you’ll see start to alight on Jorie Loves A Story between the 3rd and 5th week of MAY for Wyrd And Wonder – ahead of that, I wanted to read the first 25 pages of ADRIFT as this is a Science Fiction novel which drew my eye for its premise and the approach the author took in navigating us through this world.

To say I was overjoyed my library accepted my purchase request is putting it mildly – as it is a lovely feeling to know you have a local library whose striving to bridge the gap between Major Trade, Indie Publishers and Press and Self Published authors for today’s library patron who is seeking to expand their literary horizons.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

#EnterTheFantastic as #JorieReads this #WyrdAndWonder | Book Review of “Adrift” (Book One: Staying Afloat series) by Isabelle AdlerAdrift
Subtitle: Staying Afloat : Book One
by Isabelle Adler
Source: #ReviewPit Author, Borrowed from local library, Purchase REQ | local library

Some jobs are just too good to be true.

Captain Matt Spears learns this the hard way after a mysterious employer hires his ship to hunt down an ancient alien artifact but insists on providing his own pilot. Ryce Faine is handsome and smart, but Matt has rarely met anyone more obnoxious. With tensions running high, it isn’t until they are attacked by the hostile Alraki that Matt grudgingly begins to respect Ryce’s superior skills, respect that transforms into a tentative attraction.

Little did he know that their biggest challenge would be reaching their destination, an abandoned alien base located on a distant moon amid a dense asteroid field. But when Matt learns that Ryce isn’t completely who he says he is and the artifact is more than he bargained for, he is faced with a difficult choice. One that might change the balance of forces in the known galaxy.

Matt doesn’t take well to moral dilemmas; he prefers the easy way out. But that might not be possible anymore, when his past comes back to haunt him at the worst possible moment. When faced with a notorious pirate carrying a personal grudge, the fragile connection Matt has formed with Ryce might be the only thing that he can count on to save them both.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781945952555

Genres: LGBTQIA Fiction, Men's Fiction, Military Fiction, Science Fiction, Space Opera


Published by NineStar Press

on 26th January, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 192

Published by: NineStar Press (@ninestarpress)

The stories of the Staying Afloat series:

Adrift (book one)

Ashore (book two

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Isabelle Adler

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Historical Adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Sunday, 26 May, 2019 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Content Note, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Military Fiction, Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Space Opera, Speculative Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature

Book Review on behalf of an Edgar Awards nominee for 2019 | “A Knife in the Fog” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book One) by Bradley Harper

Posted Friday, 26 April, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: Last year, ahead of “A Knife in the Fog” being released I came across the author on Twitter – as Bradley Harper started following me. It was at this exact moment where I was starting to research new and upcoming book releases from one of my favourite publishers of dramatic Crime Fiction – Seventh Street Books – finding amongst the releases, there was a new author of after canon stories featuring a narrative styling similar to Sherlock Holmes but uniquely its own variant within the canon of interest as this new series was featuring Conan Doyle rather than Holmes himself. The uniqueness of the approach is also by bridging in the character Professor Bell which would also draw an eye towards a crafty nod to the traditional Holmes/Watson partnership.

I had originally requested this title for review consideration however, I hadn’t realised Seventh Street Books was about to undergo a sale and reacquistation by Smart Publishing; of whom has taken on this imprint and Pyr both of which were once under Prometheus Books. I came to know the imprints by being a reviewer for the parent publishing company of Prometheus Books wherein I request and review books throughout an eclectic subject focus within the branches of Science and Mathematics which interest me to research for personal enrichment as well as the pursuit of knowledge within those fields.

Thereby, earlier this year [2019] I submitted a purchase request for a paperback copy of “A Knife in the Fog” whilst I concurrently attempted to listen to the audiobook version. As I had some hiccups in my listening rotations through my Scribd subscription, I did a free trial of Libro.FM (for seeking audiobooks by giving Indie bookshoppes credit for those purchases – where I listed Powells (Portland, Oregon) as my bookshoppe of choice) allowing me to download a copy of “A Knife in the Fog” on MP3. I began listening to “A Knife in the Fog” on audiobook in-line with developing questions to ask Mr Harper during a phone interview (which I conducted in late March, 2019) wherein I discovered I loved his approach to writing this series.

Ahead of posting my review on behalf of the story, I wanted to read the print edition of “A Knife in the Fog” which had recently come into my library as my purchase request was not only accepted but fulfilled. There were some key parts of the story I wanted to re-read over and I also wanted to dig into the written aspects of the story-line outside of the scope of the audiobook.

Although my main interest was to seek out an interview with Mr Harper based on my readings and listening hours of “A Knife in the Fog” my ruminations on behalf of the audiobook and print edition are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. The Press Materials I received by Mr Harper’s virtual authorly assistant Stephanie @ Paste Creative are being used with permission on both this review and on my forthcoming interview with Mr Harper as dual showcase of the story, the series and the writer’s approach to the craft of Crime Fiction.

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Why reading after canons about Sherlock Holmes and/or Conan Doyle appeal to me as a reader inasmuch as why I love Historical Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers:

I personally feel as if Crime Fiction has a soft spot in my heart and mind; for as long as I can remember I’ve been claiming Mysteries, Suspense and Thrillers as being my most keenly interested section of television teleplays and dramas of interest. Counter to that pursuit, are the novels – spilt between the Cosies I personally adore and have a deep affection for devouring and the more intriguingly brilliant and layered Cosy Historical Mysteries which have passionately become a favourite pursuit of my readerly life since I became a book blogger.

Adjacent to those inclinations, I am also most intrigued with the Historical Suspense and/or Thriller – there are a few of my interests in these kinds of stories which are on the ‘outer edge’ of my tolerance levels for visuals and/or inclusive scenes which are relevant to the story/series itself. Those I happily refer and reference as “Hard Boiled” entries for a point of reference here on my blog as well as a marker of interest in my own pursuit of the stories themselves.

When it comes to chasing down television dramas in Crime Fiction as much as Fictional series of the same nature, I have a profound affection for those writers who give keen insight into Forensic Science, Forensic Pathology and Forensic Investigative Techniques or the Psychology of the Crime through Forensic applications on the psyche.  What is interesting about studying Forensics through Fiction is how crafty writers have to become to keep us not only invested in their stories but for giving us a truism of realism within the boundaries of their stories. When they go to infer a step into their worlds – a world they are illuminating to become the mainstay of interest for a series in development for the new reader whose found their words – they are giving us a prime example of what is become expected of their collective works in future volumes.

This is why if a writer of Crime Fiction can capture me straight out of the gate – by their voice, their style or their world – over and beyond their lead character(s), supporting cast and the delivery of the suspenseful bits interwoven into the back-stories – they will have found a loyal reader in me for the life of their series*. (*) co-dependent on the fact they do not disappoint my palette of interest in future installments.

When it comes to Sherlock Holmes and the after canons of his stories – I have a very, short list of interest – at which you will find the Mary Russell stories at the very top as Laurie R. King was the first author I had discovered in 2009 who was writing a level of intuitive intention regarding Holmes which felt naturally intrinsic of the character I had remembered. Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer arrived a bit lateron but was a bit of a harder sell for me being that Enola’s story-lines were slightly a hit/miss for me but the character of Enola was intriguing enough to where I wanted to read more of her adventures. With Mary Russell – I was immediately smitten by her and Holmes at this junction in his life and thereby, wooed immediately into the world King had set out for us to discover.

I am quite critical about after canons, stories inspired by classical novelists and sequel authors – notwithstanding my interests in Conan Doyle, there are my inquisitive pursuits of chasing down stories of this nature within the embodiment of Jane Austen and the re-tellings of Jane Eyre.

What I am constantly seeking out is a certain layer of conveyance of presence, of loyalty to the authentic voice of the inspirational character in question and a purposeful dedication of not just honouring the past but of elevating the tone of the new incantation against the old. I love finding authors who have their own unique approach to re-writing a familiar character and giving us a newfound way of appreciating them through their new variant of interest in the here and now. Thus, what captured my attention with the Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle Mysteries was simply this – how a pathologist was motivated to write these stories based on his own interest in Holmes and the writer behind Holmes (Conan Doyle) led him into a portal which granted us an immersive look at how Doyle himself might have approached investigative interests which re-lead us to appreciate how he created Holmes and Watson.

Overall, what I love most about Holmes and Watson in the traditional sense is the camaraderie of their relationship – their zest for intellectual dissection of the facts and their pursuit of uncovering the sociological implications of what is fuelling the crimes in which they investigate. They are uniquely timeless in how they inter-relate to one another but also how they approached their techniques – leaning on the intellect and the divisiveness of their research talents, they uncovered the criminology of their cases because of how they approached their ability to sleuth.

My hopes for this novel and the subsequent series ranked high – I was dearly hoping this would become another ‘beloved’ entry in my pursuit of Seventh Street Books and their Crime Fiction stories – whilst my love and appreciation for Holmes and Watson was inspiring me to take a chance on this new entry into a Holmesian niche of after canon story-lines. Not that this is a traditional after canon in the sense that there is an influence of Holmesian styling but it is not effectively a re-telling or a reincarnation of that canon per se but as you read or listen to A Knife in the Fog you’ll find Holmes and Watson have materalised anew in a different vehicle of interest altogether.

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Book Review on behalf of an Edgar Awards nominee for 2019 | “A Knife in the Fog” (Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle series, Book One) by Bradley HarperA Knife in the Fog
Subtitle: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle
by Bradley Harper
Source: Purchase REQ | local library, Purchased | Personal Library, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

September 1888. A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, although gaining critical and popular success, has only netted him twenty-five pounds. Embittered by the experience, he vows never to write another "crime story." Then a messenger arrives with a mysterious summons from former Prime Minister William Gladstone, asking him to come to London immediately.

Once there, he is offered one month's employment to assist the Metropolitan Police as a "consultant" in their hunt for the serial killer soon to be known as Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees on the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Professor Joseph Bell--Doyle's inspiration for Sherlock Holmes--agrees to work with him. Bell agrees, and soon the two are joined by Miss Margaret Harkness, an author residing in the East End who knows how to use a Derringer and serves as their guide and companion.

Pursuing leads through the dank alleys and courtyards of Whitechapel, they come upon the body of a savagely murdered fifth victim. Soon it becomes clear that the hunters have become the hunted when a knife-wielding figure approaches.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633884861

ASIN: B07HKJ71X5

Also by this author: A Knife in the Fog (Interview)

Also in this series: A Knife in the Fog (Interview)


Genres: After Canons, Amateur Detective, Classic Detective, Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Suspense


Setting: London, England, UK


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 2nd October, 2018

Format: Audiobook | mp3, Trade Paperback

Pages: 288

Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes (unabridged)

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley HarperA Knife in the Fog (audiobook) by Bradley Harper

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

As an aside, despite the fact Seventh Street Books has been bought out by Smart Publishing – all links to their website and social accounts have remained active and use the same urls. The new publisher has maintained all their sites and thereby, the transition was seamless for readers who wanted to keep in touch with the authors and the series they come to love by Seventh Street Books & Pyr!

Converse via: #AKnifeInTheFog, #HistNov and #HistFic OR #HistoricalMystery
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

A Knife in the Fog was nominated for
an Edgar Award in 2019 for “Best First Novel”

Initially, I was going to do this review ‘ahead’ of the Edgars announcing their winners, as I wanted to help re-highlight the novel to an audience of Mystery appreciators who might be seeking their next wicked good Historical Suspense – however, due to everything going on the past month and a half, I’ve been a bit behind in my readings and in my reviews. As a result, I shifted this review forward a bit to where I could await the announcements – per the author’s suggestion to run this instead on Friday after the winner’s were officially declared. Although, Mr Harper did not win the Edgar I felt it befitted the nomination and blessedly showcased a publisher I personally love for dramatic Crime Fiction! Harper is amongst a list of novelists I turn to whenever I want to read a crime narrative by this publisher – Susan Spann, Larry D. Sweazy, Jennifer Kincheloe and Terry Shames round out the list (thus far known as I am going to be reading new authors this year to see which of them whet my thirst of joy for Mysteries).

On that note, I am thankful to announce I’m discovering the Cosy Spice Shop Mysteries this late Spring/early Summer by Leslie Budewitz – whilst I am eagerly in wait for the seventh Hiro Hattori novel “Ghost of the Bamboo Road” by Susan Spann; the third Anna Blanc Mystery “The Body in Griffith Park” by Jennifer Kincheloe and the sequel to “A Knife in the Fog” – “The Queen’s Gambit” by Bradley Harper.

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About Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper

Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate's Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and has been nominated for an 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 26 April, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, After the Canon, Amateur Detective, Arthur Conan Doyle, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Margaret Harkness, Paste Creative, Realistic Fiction, the Victorian era

#ThanksgivingReadathon | as #JorieReads and discovers her *second!* book hug: “PRIDE: a Pride and Prejudice Remix” by Ibi Zoboi

Posted Friday, 23 November, 2018 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

#ThanksgivingReadathon badge created by Jorie in Canva

This lovely readathon is hosted by Jackie @DeathbyTsundoku

You can find the Announcement Page on her lovely blog!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I fully admit it – I am positively consumed, addicted and attracted to the story of PRIDE & PREJUDICE!! In all its incantations and variants of entrance – if there is a PRIDE retelling, variant or after canon sequel, there is a good chance I am going to find it, sample it and either a) love it to the moon OR b) find it wasn’t my cuppa. In this instance, I remember vividly finding out about this particular release in the twitterverse, I even remember tweeting the author to talk about how wicked enthused I was about this re-telling – as I am forever and then some on the hunt for Austen stories which have a certain element of the original canon within them but then, take us through an wholly original variation only the writer themself could have envisioned!

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to purchase a copy of this novel when it published but I have had some good luck this year submitting purchase requests at my local library – to where they have purchased so many lovelies for me, I’ve lost track of them! I appreciate being able to submit the requests and it is an unexpected joy of mine finding out which ones are accepted as I never take it as a given they will accept a request for purchase. I feel humbled by the fact they enjoy my selections and are allowing me the grace to read stories faster than if I had to wait the six months outside of publication to seek them through ILL’ing (inter-library loaning).

I also was struck by the fact as soon as I saw the premise of this PRIDE and started to gather a sense about how it was writ – I knew it was the STORY I wanted dearly to READ but never knew I was seeking it! It was one of those random moments where I connected with a story prior to reading it – I have had a healthy attachment to stories set in New York City & the boroughs – I love literature what takes us to the City and gives us a heightened sense of what it is like to live there from all perspectives, lifestyles and areas of the City itself. I’ve felt as if I’ve lived a part of my life there due to how many stories I’ve read that are set there.

Brooklyn has been a place I’ve tried to envision and yet, failed a bit round the edges. As soon as I opened PRIDE – not only did I feel as if a part of my own childhood was re-envisioned through a conveyance of reality I knew once myself – but I felt as if the best grace of this story was feeling a personal attachment to Brooklyn itself! The beauty for me is how Zoboi wrote PRIDE.

As I grew up in a melting pot of a metropolis, I was also surrounded by cultures outside of my own heritage on an everyday basis. I love her instincts for telling this story – from the slang which is partially an upgrade from the slang of my youth (finally sorted out what ‘don’t throw shade on my door’ reflects as it is similar to a phrase from my youth) whilst it also tucks in linguistic nuance. I grew up hearing slices of different languages all the time – I still do in many ways, as cultural and ethnically, I live in a region that is rather diverse and I wouldn’t trade it for anything as I love how we all merge our lives together.

I was happy to realise I still knew what these phrases & words were – they were like little memory anchours of my past, coming back to the surface and allowing me to alight in the story as if I have never distanced myself from whence I was bourne. There are other variables I noticed – from their personalities to how they interacted to their dialogues and everything about how this was becoming introduced to us about their life, their world and their family. It was almost as if the people I knew as a child and young girl were now populating this novel. And, for me, that as the best literary gift to receive the week of Thanksgiving!

The library happily added this title to their card catalogue in October, 2018 – shortly after I requested it and during #ThanksgivingReadathon I was happily able to soak inside its prose and find myself so dearly attached, I am overjoyed for the discovery!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

My #25PagePreview of the SECOND #Mythothon story which gave me such a warm bookish hug & gave me a thirst for more of it’s bookish heart!

during the 2018 #ThanksgivingReadathon !!

Pride badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit jorielovesastory.com

Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi

was happily #borrowed via my local #library!

It ought to go without saying, but I am sharing my bookish ruminations for my own edification but also in a continued method of sharing my bookish life to help my readers find their own #mustreads and follow my own readerly journey into the stories I’m reading myself. I was not compensated for sharing my opinions and thoughts herein.

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Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix
by Ibi Zoboi
Source: Borrowed from local library, Purchase REQ | local library

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780062564047

Genres: After Canons, Classical Literature, Re-telling &/or Sequel


Published by Balzer and Bray

on 18th September, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 336

Site | @ibizoboi | Pub’d by Balzer & Bray
*purchase request of mine which was accepted by my local library
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #ThanksgivingReadathon 2018
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Posted Friday, 23 November, 2018 by jorielov in #ThanskgivingReadathon, After the Canon, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Classical Literature, Inspired By Author OR Book, Jane Austen Sequel, Pride & Prejudice Re-telling, RALs | Thons via Blogs

Blog Book Tour | “A Cowboy’s Pride” (Book Four: Rocky Mountain Cowboys) by Karen Rock Whilst feat. reviews of “Christmas at Cade Ranch” and “Falling for a Cowboy” books one and two in the series!

Posted Saturday, 29 September, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I would imagine your curious about this post – specifically, why it is a bit more unique than my usual blog tour reviews!? I had the chance to read the first book in the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series – ‘Christmas at Cade Ranch’ and the second in the series ‘Falling for a Cowboy’ ahead of reading the newly released fourth novel ‘A Cowboy’s Pride’. Try as I might, I was not able to secure a copy of ‘Bad Boy Rancher’ through my library ahead of the tour, so for now, that is the only novel in this series I haven’t had the joy of reading!

As you might already know – I have a fierce passion for reading novels in sequence when it comes to book series. I can’t always do this – sometimes I have to skip around the order or other times, I might pick up a book I hadn’t realised was a series in-progress – generally, this oft-times happens when it comes to Harlequin series – either through this lovely imprint (Harlequin Heartwarming) or the Love Inspired Suspense imprint which you might remember this past July I was talking about rather exclusively!

Therefore, a few things to note – I am reviewing the fourth novel for the blog tour, however, before I share my thoughts on what I found inside the fourth novel, I wanted to take a moment to talk about what I loved inside ‘Christmas at Cade Ranch’ & ‘Falling for a Cowboy’! If you missed my author interview with Ms Rock last year, you might not have realised I read the prequel to this series ‘A Cowboy to Keep’ – of which this was my key takeaway on behalf of how Ms Rock started this lovely series of hers:

You’ll notice a thread of interest in the Romances I love to read – they are supporting what I call ‘relationship-based romance’ wherein the heart of the relationship and what curates a connection amongst those who are dating strengthens the appeal of reading the stories themselves. Reading Romances like I do, I get caught up in the lives people are living – some make hard choices which I cannot always relate too but are right for them, therein, each time we read, we’re not only ‘time travelling through our own living histories or the historic past’ we’re stepping into different pairs of shoes of people who are living wholly unique lives whilst attempting to pursue a relationship where both parties are standing on equal ground. Romances are a lift of joy to read – even if the circumstances turn dramatic or suspenseful – if at the heart of them, there is hope for the couple at hand, odds are I am a ready fan of how the stories are being written – across publishers and imprints.

As we progress through how Jackson and Dani continue to intercede on each others’ behalf, we start to see how the seeds of their romance were firmly planted in their hearts. They each had a toll to weigh against the yearnings of their hearts but it’s how Rock shows their individual growth towards a resolution the reader rallies behind to see happen is what makes the story hold it’s salt against the ‘dangers’ lurking in the shadows. You truly want all the soul wrestling on both their parts to be for ‘something’ and as the concluding chapters show – redemption might take awhile to receive, but it’s the journey towards it that is somethings more important than how it arrives!

There were some intense moments where you weren’t sure if Jackson or Dani were going to get out of this alive – where the job of being a bounty hunter was shown exactly how dangerous of a livelihood this is to maintain countered against the will of a woman’s heart to do what is right even if she knows she might be jeopardising her future. You grieve for them both – for the past they both cannot accept without further anguish and for the futures they both are seeking which they never felt either of them deserved! There is a lovely ‘twist’ in the ending – one even I hadn’t thought of as I thought for sure this was going to play out differently – my gratitude to Ms Rock for keeping me on my toes straight til the ‘end’ as it was the sweetest reward!

This is one reason, Ms Rock stood out to me – as she’s one of the Harlequin authors I genuinely enjoy to read – she has a way of capturing what I love about the essence of a Contemporary Romance but with the ease of knowing I won’t be flinching for word usage or language issues. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reprieve in that regard!

She dives straight into the heart of what is affecting the well-being of her characters – from the psychological groundwork to the soul wrestling angst of trying to own up to your own mistakes whilst sorting out how to live at the same time. She’s tackled hard issues affecting her characters lives but does it in a humbling and honest way – seeking to share the truth of their choices whilst countered by the truth of the circumstances which has led them to this conclusion on where they individually stand.

-quoted from my review of A Cowboy to Keep

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Borrowed Book By: I made a purchase request at my local library for “Christmas at Cade Ranch” as I had previously ILL’d (inter-library loaned) the ‘prequel’ “A Cowboy to Keep” as a way of understanding the foundation for the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series. This is the first time I’ve had the chance to read and share my thoughts on behalf of this first novel. I was not obliged to post a review and decided to share my thoughts with my readers for my own edification. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Christmas at Cade Ranch by Karen Rock

Synopsis for “Christmas at Cade Ranch”

The Christmas they never had.

James Cade has one priority: keep the family ranch running smoothly in the wake of his younger brother’s death. With Jesse’s ex, Sofia Gallardo, and her young son, Javi, stranded at Cade Ranch over Christmas, this task just got a lot harder. The longer Sofia and Javi stay, the harder it is to imagine the ranch without them. James couldn’t save his brother from his inner demons, but he can give his nephew a secure future. Maybe more—if he can figure out how to trust Sofia, and stop feeling like he’s betraying Jesse. Because trying to stop thinking about beautiful, determined Sofia is impossible.

– previously featured during an Author Interview

Christmas at Cade Ranch
by Karen Rock
Source: Purchase REQ | local library

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780373368617

Also by this author: A League of Her Own, Author Interview (Christmas at Cade Ranch) Karen Rock, A Cowboy's Pride (Spotlight w/ Notes), Winning the Cowboy's Heart, A Rancher to Remember

on 7th November, 2017

Pages: 384

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My review of Christmas at Cade Ranch:

The first six paragraphs were originally shared on behalf of reading the chapter sampler of this novel – I’ve edited those thoughts a bit but they are still reflective of what I was thinking about as I started to read this novel for the first time straight-through.

We find Jewel (the spunky cowgirl heroine of Cade Ranch), Justin (Jesse’s surviving twin) & James are taking over the duties of Cade Ranch – trying to keep the place solvent and everything running as smooth as they can manage, despite the hurdles of trying to sort out how to ‘move forward’ after such an alarmingly tragic loss. You can easily ‘step back’ into the series – as the prequel did such a great job of ‘setting the scale’ of the series by placing you into the heart of what makes the Cade’s such a strong family!

Here — we get the fuller back-story about Jesse – even though his addictive habit did kill him in the end (due to circumstances his brother, had no way of knowing would impact his future) – it wasn’t the addiction which caused his death; it was something related to being an addict. Despite this, he left behind a girlfriend and a son; a son whose five years old now – meeting his grandmother, Aunt & Uncles for the very first time. This is where we find James – the reserved & cautious elder brother who wouldn’t trust you if you looked honest – he has find a way to validate your intentions, your heart & your motivations.

In so many ways, James reminded me of Jackson! Those two are alike the most of where they are the hardest to convince your on a better path in life – even if your first attempt to ‘make it’ proved to have some obstacles in the road to overcome. Dani & Sofia would love being sister-in-laws because they each had to fight hard for what they were getting out of life – they both made certain choices which affected their futures but what united them, was their hope & belief that second chances are never too late in arriving. Sofia is as jumpy as Dani, too! I don’t blame either of them – the Cade brothers are a wee bit scary due to how they appear to be unbending & unwilling to accept you ‘where you are’. Of course, that’s one fast way to short-change their personalities – but both James & Jackson don’t exactly have the best ‘bedside manner’ so to speak! Their affection might be hard-won but if James is anything like Jackson – his heart will soften long before he allows Sofia & Javi (her son) to exit his life for good!

Seeing this part of the story – how it’s unfolding to bring everything ‘back to centre’ at Cade Ranch – where it all began and where the future shall be written for the siblings – as this is land inherited through past generations – you can gather the fuller depth of where Ms Rock is taking the series! The continuity is wonderful – I feel like this is the best place to re-insert us into the series – it is on the foot-heels of finding out about Jesse from Jackson’s POV whilst opening the door for Sofia to tell her story – what is remarkable is how it feels like both time-lines are running nearly concurrent to each other, rather than having any gaps in the momentum of the ‘next’ section of where we alight into the Cade family’s journey.

One thing to note – is I agree with the sensitive way in which Ms Rock approaches her harder hitting subjects – in this instance, it’s with addiction & recovery. Previously, it was addressing being involved in a bank robbery (Dani’s story-line) — each time Ms Rock knits us closer to her characters, she does it with compassion and empathy. In many ways, I enjoy this aspect of her writings the most – she puts in a lot of thought & time to get the lives of her characters to not only be realistically pleasing to us, the reader, but to honour the real-life counterparts who might be living a similar life. Even the fragility of Joy, the Cade’s mother – is aptly described – of being stuck ‘betwixt & between’ – of not knowing how to proceed forward after losing one’s son. I could relate to this due to not only my own personal losses but the losses of others, of whom, have felt this muddling ‘inbetween’ feeling wash over them – to where they needed to find something to ‘focus on’ outside of their grief before they realised they could ‘transition’ through their sorrow.

What does irk your ire quite a bit though is how James won’t quiet the voice in his head over Sofia! She has enough anxiety coursing through her veins without his added input to cast more shadows over her head! It is like walking between lightning strikes and hoping your not going to be struck whilst you reach the safety of a building! He has a short fuse when it comes to tolerance – he pre-judges her based on his experiences with his brother Jesse and that isn’t half as fair as it might sound because no one should be judged against another person. Even if they both had struggles with addiction – every person is different and no one should have to feel that kind of oppressive weight bearing down on them; it is too much to bear really. Sofia needs reassurances in her life – adding more stress to shoulders already buckling under the pressures she puts on herself is not aiding her ability to move forward; if anything, it’s making her question if she is strong enough to overcome her past.

A good portion of the novel centres around the cyclic season of addiction and how addicts struggle to keep clean. Sofia and Jesse were both struggling with their own addictions but Sofia found a way through the worst of those storms – so much so, what infuriated her the most about James is that he did not or rather could not see what she’s accomplished thus far forward since she was able to maintain her sobriety. I think the hardest part for Sofia, as a lot of her issues stem from her father’s persecution of her existence (long story!) – being around James was like she had recaptured what she had escaped from her father.

Ms Rock does a great job of taking you into the heart of addiction – first through the opinions of family who feel they are being helpful but in reality their falling a bit short with a few good observations. Secondly, she takes you into an NA meeting to hear the stories of other addicts who are struggling just like Sofia to quash their innermost doubts and to remain above the pains of addiction whilst re-setting their lives free of the substance of their choice. It was in one of those meetings where Sofia felt both ashamed to be present and rather awkwardly at first, comfortable amongst those who she could relate too.

Ms Rock also highlights what it is like to have a controlling personality – someone who is unable to yield or bend – this was spoken about in regards to Sofia’s father but in the present time-line of the series it is mostly directed towards James who has a definitive way of ‘taking over’ and claiming roles he was not meant to lead because doing so would jeopardise another person’s sense of self.

One of my favourite parts of the story is how closely Sofia and Joy (the Cade siblings mother) bonded over being in such close quarters whilst she was recuperating. Joy still had quite a bit of spunk left in her and she had a right to want to keep living her life to the fullest she could. Sofia inspired her in equal measure of Joy inspiring Sofia to take new risks and to keep bettering herself for her future and her son’s (Javi). Javi was an impressionable child but he also understood what was important in his young life. I can see why Sofia stressed about how he might react around James and why being around James for both of them was proving to be a bit too difficult.

One of the beautiful things about this series is how redemption and second chances permeate through the stories. Erstwhile, you are becoming closer in acquaintance with the Cade family themselves – the ranch they live on becomes the anchour to their lives, the place where they gather and they grow; where love nurtures their present and where it breathes hope into the future. Each installment of this series builds on the last story in sequence – thereby, by the time you start at A Cowboy to Keep whilst reading each new story thereafter, you are given a wonderful portrait of a resilient family. A family whose honest about the hardships in life and where good or bad, this is a family who remains evermore true of themselves.

The only part I struggled with to be honest was which Cade Sofia felt had caught her affections as to me it seemed like the case had been proven against the match. So much so, I had hoped the ending was a bit different – where she would have struck out on her own, independently and perhaps had dated a different Cade brother as I wasn’t convinced even in the end, the one she felt she loved was the best one of the bunch. I think it is because of his personality but also, of how well Ms Rock showed both sides of the romance – she took a lot of time developing these characters and so for me, in the end of Christmas at Cade Ranch, I felt the character who had grown the most was Sofia. She truly had transitioned from the woman who was full of anxiety and fears to a self-reliant woman who embraced all the pieces of her life; including the bits she was not as confident about acknowledging. On the opposite end of the story, I felt James hadn’t transitioned enough and that was the rub for me in the concluding chapters.

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Posted Saturday, 29 September, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Indie Author, Library Find, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Modern Day, Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Specialised Crime Investigator, Suspense, West Coast USA, Western Fiction, Western Romance