Welcome to my round up of books I have reviewed in February. All terrific reads and they come highly recommended.
The first recommended read is the memoir Ok, Little Bird by Deena Goldstein. A celebration of her relationship with her father.
My review for the book February 4th 2023
This is a loving tribute to a father who throughout his life created strict rules to live by, not just for himself but his growing family. The youngest of three children, Deena was the apple of his eye and got away with a great deal more than her older brother and sister, much to their disgust on occasion, although it is clear they too were dearly loved. Even as a young baby, Deena was fearless and could change his mood in seconds with a direct and amusing way that charmed him into laughter.
Horses and all things western were her father’s go to environment and this included dressing the part and spending any free time at the stables with a succession of much loved companions. He invited Deena into this world much to her joy, and this was a pattern that was repeated over the rest of his life in his business and at home.
After a series of life-challenging diseases, the close family relationship becomes fragmented as ‘Marc’ moves into a group home and Covid restrictions result in lack of physical contact. However, the author finds some ingenious ways to keep her father upbeat even if it is through a pane of glass.
We are given an invitation to enjoy this relationship between a daughter and her father through the years and whilst it is clear ‘Marc’ has a somewhat rigid approach to life and family, beneath the gruff exterior is a warm, funny and loving individual.
The author has a wonderful easy writing style and shares the anecdotes from her father’s life with charm and honesty which showcases her father’s rather quirky approach to life beautifully.
There are some laugh out loud moments and some that bring back memories of the grief felt at the passing of a parent that require a tissue alert. It is heartwarming and a perfect tribute to a long and rich life. Recommended especially to those who miss that bond they shared with their own father.
Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – Amazon UK
The next book I enjoyed was the latest release by John W. Howell the sequel to the excellent Eternal Road... another supernatural adventure…The Last Drive
My review for the book February 6th 2023
Having read Eternal Road I was eagerly anticipating the sequel The Last Drive and loved it.
You do need to buckle up for this road trip, not just of a lifetime, but several lifetimes, as Sam and James reunite for a mission to save the missing soul of military pilot Ryan, lost in time, along with his idol flying legend Eddie Rickenbacker. Time is of the essence, as the malicious involvement of the devil is believed to be behind their status, and that can never be a good thing.
The characters of Sam and James were well established in the first book and it was easy to pick up their close relationship. The author does a great job in bringing the two missing souls and the evil, crude and manipulative devil together, for an adventure that spans hundreds of years from Ancient Rome to present day.
The places and times where they find themselves, were not known for peace and harmony, and often portrayed mankind at its worst, but also in some cases at their best. They are times in history that most of us are familiar with, but we are taken backstage to the events, to focus on the people involved, often as they too, like the heroes, face their final journey.
The theme of good versus evil runs through the story with imagined intereactions between those fighting on either side. The reader is invited in to spectate, and also consider, how closely these two divisions are aligned, and are often present together during the most pivotal moments in our history. It makes for fascinating reading.
It is a fast faced thriller with excellent characters, including the Prince of Darkness, who is dispicable as he should be. There are some scenes where you might be tempted to look away from, as they underline the evil men do, however the author handles these situations very well. Also his wry humour threads its way through the story, lifting the darker side of the narrative and adding a wonderful element to the reading enjoyment.
I can recommend this book to fans of John W. Howell. and those who enjoy an excellent thriller with compelling characters.
Head over to buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK
Here is my five star review for Dan Antion and The Evil You Choose: Dreamer’s Alliance – Book 2
My review for the book February 11th 2023
The first book Knuckleheads was a great introduction to the characters and also to the powers that Zach and Billy developed over their childhood and teen years.
Now at retirement age and having managed to stay beneath the radar of those who would love to exploit their special abilities, Zach has come to the attention of an ambitious and self-seeking FBI agent and his boss who seems to have his own agenda.
Another player in this game is a powerful underworld boss whose activities are now under scrutiny. Zach’s family and his have had close ties for at least two generations and had reached an understanding that Zach feels honour bound to respect.
This is a fast paced and cleverly written thriller with the added element of the supernatural, which at the same time is almost plausible. We all dream and sometimes those dreams feel very real and even frightening. It makes you wonder if there are people out there with gifts they too wish to keep under wraps, and based on this story, for very good reason.
Keeping track of the various parties and their complex legal and illegal activities, requires not just Zach’s observational skills but Billie’s sixth sense and technical support. Thankfully the author keeps the reader up to date as the plot thickens and then reaches a nail-biting climax.
I thoroughly enjoyed the concept and the flow of the story. It is refreshing to have more mature characters who have an opportunity to put years of experience to good use and are still portrayed as relevant.
I can highly recommend to anyone who enjoys action packed thrillers with plenty of twists and turns.
Head over to read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK
Next my review for the intriguing collection of stories Strange Hwy by Beem Weeks...
My review for the collection February 18th 2023
This is an eclectic collection of stories set mainly in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly focused on the formative years of childhood and early teens. A time of discovery, identification of differences between individuals, the reality of family and a growing relationship with love and loss.
The author has a great understanding of those years, and creates characters and storylines around issues that impact us all, but which have an added overwhelming intensity when we are young. These include suicide, dementia, drug addiction, illiteracy, autism, cancer, fractured families and mental illness.
This is not a depressing collection by any means, and there are some lovely twists to the stories and better outcomes than expected. Such as memories of a welding torch that created a wonderful being in the family, a very young musical genius, a flood that changed the dynamics between a boy and a grumpy old man, and how three quarters bought the joy of music and a protector from a father’s abuse.
There are stories of sacrifice for love, including a brother’s determination to save his sister’s life, and an ethereal young girl called Lucy who promised it would all be alright in the end.
Life and relationships are complicated and our experiences in childhood and our teen years can change the course of our lives for better or worse. Some of these stories will strike a nostalgic note with readers, others will make you grateful that you enjoyed a safe and nurturing childhood untouched by harsh realities and tragedy.
I don’t have any favourites amongst the stories as I enjoyed them all and can highly recommend the collection in its entirety.
Read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK
Another book that I can highly recommend is the debut memoir of Cheryl Oreglia which is a wonderful reflection on life…
My review for the book February 25th 2023
There is a line towards the end of this beautifully written and fascinating reflection on life that mirrored many of my own thoughts.
“Authenticity is everything! You have to wake up every day and look in the mirror, and you want to be proud of the person who’s looking back at you. And you can only do that if you’re honest with yourself, compassionate, and focused.”
Cheryl Oreglia applies that authenticity as she explores her life with its love, loss and glorious moments with focus, honesty, wry humour and compassionate grace. Completely relatable for those of us who are also celebrating several decades of living and loving, but a must read for the younger generation. The chapters provide a hope filled guide to what is to come, which is an invaluable resource.
It is easy to become engaged in the life of the author and her extended family. Life during the pandemic becomes a tad chaotic as family, including toddlers move in for the duration. Finding peaceful moments to write become precious, but there is so much to be enjoyed as grown children and grandchildren infiltrate every corner of the house and the day.
The tandem bike riding adventures are hilarious and I was there in spirit even if I was unable to assist with the pedalling uphill, but how I welcomed the downhill freewheeling at the end of the effort.
Into every life there comes a time when control is no longer in our hands and we must accept the loss of those we love. The memories we have made together keep them in our hearts forever. It helps if you have a special place to go with these memories, and we are invited to the family’s lake house often during the book, to sit in the early mornings on the porch where we can enjoy the serenity to reflect and find peace.
I loved reading this collection of essays and I have many favourite moments, but perhaps the most thought provoking, is where the author explores what it is we as humans really want from life, but are perhaps afraid to ask for.
She shares her list of what she really wants. Including moments she would like to revisit, people she would love to have had more time with, fireworks, birdfeeders, movies, lack of clutter, chocolate, a literary agent and healthy wit.
I firmly believe Cheryl Oreglia has that one nailed already.
Beautifully written with a flowing and engaging tempo, I have no hesitation in highly recommending this wonderful collection of essays on life. I will be dipping into it many times to treasure the wisdom and humour.
Head over to buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK
And my last recommended book for February is for – Letting Go: The Defiant Sisters- Book1 (The Defiant Sisters Duet) by Jacquie Biggar.
My review for the book February 25th 2023
I do enjoy Jacquie Biggar’s romances as she creates great characters working through the complexities of love and passion with skill.
In this story, the relationship between sisters, its closeness, expectations and miscommunications has resulted in Renee leaving home abruptly following a tragedy. It has also resulted in Izzy blaming her for much of what followed within the family including their mother’s death. Stuck in the middle is their younger brother Ben who is unable to cope with the loss and badly in need of both his sisters to be there for him.
It is not just the sisters who have a relationship to repair as Renee has to find a way to resolve issues with the love of her life who she feels betrayed her but still pulls her in with an undeniable passion. Izzy does not trust her judgement and pushes away the one person who is the most reliable in her life.
There is plenty of issues that need to be dealt with including a life or death accident that forces the family and those around them to reassess their priorities. There are some resolutions but the door has been left open for more reveals and answers to the past in the next book in the series which I am looking forward to.
Head over to read the reviews and buy the book:Amazon US – And:Amazon UK
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. Sally.