Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kelly Well Read Reviews - Happy Fall, Y'all!

I've been enjoying the nice cool front in North Texas the last couple days. I can feel the Fall weather getting closer! On my grocery stop this morning before work, I saw all the Fall flowers and decor, and couldn't resist an Instagram opportunity! Of course, it will be back up in the high 80s in a week, so carpe diem and all that!

What I Just Finished Reading:

I actually finished two books over the last week. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

The Kiss Quotient is an erotic romance, but that is not the whole story. It's written by a debut author who was diagnosed, as an adult, with Asperger's Syndrome. She is married, with two children, and used her personal experiences to create the main character, Stella. I emphasize the erotic part because you need to be prepared for some steamy scenes and the erotic language that goes along with this type of book. But it's also a good story, with the well-developed main characters going through some major challenges along the way to their HEA. Enjoy this one if you like spicy romance novels: just don't say I didn't warn you!

One of my favorite this year is Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens - another debut (I love debuts)! Set in the 1950s and 1960s in and around the marsh-lands of North Carolina, this novel has it all: evocative descriptions of the natural world, a haunting coming-of-age tale, a meditation on survival and the need for human connections, as well as a mystery with a suspenseful court room scene and an unexpected twist at the end.  The criticisms I've seen for this book have to do with two things, and I experienced them as well.

 First of all, the author uses a Southern dialect in her dialogue that is a little disconcerting at first "Where ya goin'" and " I don' 'member," for example, rather than the proper terminology. Even being from the South, myself, this was a little off-putting at first. But the story is so absorbing that I quickly just let that go and went with the flow. Secondly, the pace of the book is slower than I usually read. A lot happens, but there are long passages of descriptions of nature, and even some poetry, that interrupt the action of the story. Again, I was willing to read on, as I really wanted to know what happened to all the characters. It did take me longer to read this book than normal (several weeks); but it was so worth it to get to the end. I just hugged it to my heart and said, out loud, "This...this is what it feels like to have a true literary experience."  I don't know if everyone I recommend it to will have the same feeling, but I'm satisfied with my opinion of it: it's excellent! 

What I'm Reading Now:

A lot, actually! Many people can't relate to reading more than one book at a time, much less 4 or 5, but librarians do this frequently. In order to be able to confidently recommend books to customers daily, I have to expose myself to a lot of different books on a regular basis. Sometimes I don't finish them all (blasphemy, I know)! But, I will read enough to know that the a book is well-written; to be able to speak about elements such as pace, tone, and themes; and to become familiar with any issues that might affect me recommending it to certain patrons, such as graphic violence, language or sex scenes. I don't censor other people's reading, but I do get asked often about those things, and want to be able to speak to that when I recommend a book.

Right now I'm devouring Robert Galbraith's 4th title in the Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White. A couple things about this book: Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym for J. K. Rowling and she ran a contest to decide the title of this book!  This series has also been televised, first in the UK and then in the States on Cinemax, under the name "C.B. Strike." It's really good, too!  The first book, Cuckoo's Calling is my favorite; the ones that have come after have been progressively darker and more violent (kind of like the Harry Potter series, actually)! But I've become attached to the characters, and will just skim over parts that are too much for my sensibilities!  This book is currently #1 on the combined print and eBook NYT best-seller chart. Lethal White is more introspective than the other books, revealing more about the main characters and their lives, and is much longer than I expected: 656 pages.  It will take me a while!

I also just got my library hold for Anne Bogel's I'd Rather Be Reading, her first book. Ms. Bogel is the creator of the blog, "Modern Mrs. Darcy" (, which I love, and this book talks about her experiences with reading and recommending books. Perfect for bibliophiles and librarians! It's a slim book, only 160 pages, so I should get through this quickly.

And because I'm a grammar nerd, and really loved Kory Stamper's Word by Word, about her experiences as a lexicographer for Merriam Webster,  I grabbed an older book called, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, an extremely funny and sardonic take on the declining use of correct punctuation in the English language (nerd, I know)!

The Other Woman: A Novel (Gabriel Allon)

I'm also still working my way through the audiobook of Daniel Silva's latest Gabriel Allon novel, The Other Woman, on my commute (George Guidall, narrator!), and will be listening to The Big Inch, a historical fiction title by Kimberly Fish, narrated by Sydney Young, for the Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour coming in November.

What I'll Read Next?

I never know, exactly, as it depends on my mood and other reading commitments; but I'm excited about a few that are coming early next year:


And so many more to choose from!!  Until then...

Happy Reading!!

Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour: Promo, Giveaway, and Excerpt!

Ransom Canyon
  Sub-genre: Holiday Romance / Western
Publisher: HQN
Date of Publication: September 25, 2018
Number of Pages: 354

Scroll down for an exclusive giveaway from Jodi Thomas! 

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas. Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another. Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband? In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit. 

”Deeply poignant moments and artfully rendered characters create a rich story that transports readers to an idyllic place.” Publishers Weekly

From Mistletoe Miracles
by Jodi Thomas

Looking at his two brothers was like staring at one of those paintings with hidden figures masked in the folds of dots. There had to be depth in them, something that made sense, but damned if he could find it.

Griffin Holloway considered his own faults. Well, his one fault, really. That’s all he’d allowed himself in this lifetime. Some people might consider being born Texan a flaw, but he loved his state and this land that generations of Holloways had been born to.

He cussed, though. Far more than allowed, he fig­ured. His mother had washed out his mouth so many times when he was a kid that he’d grown to like the taste of Ivory soap.

But his two younger brothers were not nearly as dis­ciplined. If they had to carry all their shortcomings in a sack, they’d both be permanently bent over.

Holloway men might all top six feet and they were reasonably good-looking, but Griffin wasn’t sure any, including him, could claim to be long on brains.

Cooper, the youngest at twenty-three, was lanky and limber as a bungee cord. He thought the ranch was his private playground. Hell, he should’ve been born free like a coyote or a hawk. As a kid, he hadn’t bothered to wear clothes unless their mother made him when she was expecting company.

He was so wild, she swore if he’d been able to grow fur, she could have sold him to the circus. Griffin wasn’t sure, even today, that his little brother wasn’t more critter than human.

Growing up hadn’t changed him much.

Right now, Cooper was standing, covered in mud, in the headquarters’ great room, and it wasn’t even eight o’clock in the morning. He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the weekly family business discussion, but that was nothing new. He obviously wanted to get the talking over with and head out to roam the land—fishing, hunting, exploring for Aztec gold—doing anything but work.

Elliot, the middle brother, tried to look like he was following Griffin’s weekly lecture about how broke the ranch would be by Christmas. At least Elliot did his share of the work and had since the day he’d come home from college to help run the place. But Elliot’s heart wasn’t in ranching, never had been. He spent ten hours on his computer for every one he spent on a horse. He made Griffin think of a bit actor who’d accidentally stumbled onto the wrong set.

Facing them both, Griffin cleared his throat and got straight to the point. “We have a problem with a simple solution. I’m thinking we’ve tried everything else and now it’s down to only one answer.”

They both looked clueless. Elliot started texting and Cooper scratched his brown hair, dry and dirty as a tumbleweed.

I’m adopted, Griffin thought. It’s the only explana­tion. Or they are. He’d been around when his mother went to the hospital to deliver them both, but he hadn’t actually seen the births. He’d been eight when Elliot was born and eleven for Cooper. He could have han­dled watching. After all, he’d seen his dad pull dozens of calves by then. Even helped with some.

How much different could it be?


A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable. 
With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.

An exclusive giveaway from Jodi Thomas!

(No purchase necessary. Transportation is not included. Winner will have one year to select available dates. Limit of four people at the condo for selected dates. No exchanges.)


Author Interview
Author Interview
BONUS Review
BONUS Review

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo, Giveaway, and Author Top 5!


  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: July 31, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Welcome to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England. Tressa Harlowe’s father kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Now Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. 

It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune—before someone else finds it first.

“Everyone loves a treasure hunt—pair it with a heroine you can’t help but love, a hero you can’t help but swoon over, and a family mystery that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, and you end up with A Rumored Fortune. This book is a treasure in itself and one you won’t be able to put down!”
— Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of the Ladies of the Manor series and Shadows Over England series

“Politano combines romance and mystery with great skill to create plot twists that will keep readers captivated until the very end.”— Publishers Weekly

“The author has done a great job, offering up a plot filled with wit, charm, action, and a lot of female strength.”— Suspense Magazine


The Top Five True Stories That Made It into My Novels
By Joanna Davidson Politano

1. Hidden money

My friend once told me about her grandfather who buried his entire fortune because he didn’t trust banks (or even his family, apparently). He promised to tell his wife where it was before he died, but of course he died suddenly, leaving his wife and four children with a vast mansion and sprawling vineyards… and no money. This became the central mystery for A Rumored Fortune, but in real life the family ended up abandoning their mansion and living penniless, the fortune never found.

2. The secret writer

As a kid, I used to write little stories that included the people around me. I brought justice to their characters and highlighted the kids who were always overlooked, making superheroes out of them. It appeased the sense of justice in my little heart, but when the stories started getting around the classroom, it caused a lot of chaos as people recognized themselves. My heroine in Lady Jayne Disappears did the same thing, writing about her family under a pen name and then letting chaos ensue as they tried to guess who was writing about them.

3. A writer in debtor’s prison

Like the heroine in Lady Jayne Disappears, Charles Dickens was a Victorian era serial novelist who spent part of his childhood in debtor’s prison because of his father’s debts.

4. Marriage of opposites

The romance in A Rumored Fortune is a pairing of total opposites, which resulted in immediate dislike for the heroine. This entire dynamic, and the trajectory of the characters’ relationship, is based on meeting my own husband and eventually falling hard for him, even after saying an immediate “no” to a second date. My marrying him later surprised everyone—including me!

5. Bronte sisters approach the publisher

My opening scene in Lady Jayne Disappears was inspired by an intriguing image that is believed to be the Bronte sisters, a shy trio all huddled together in their worn and high-necked gowns, approaching their publisher to inform him that they were the bestselling authors Acton, Currer, and Ellis Bell.

Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears. She freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her



GRAND PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune + Novel Teas
         (box of 25 tea bags) + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

2ND PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune
$10 Starbucks Gift Card

3RD PRIZE: Copy of A Rumored Fortune
+ $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  September 11-20, 2018


Notable Quotable
Author Interview
Notable Quotable
Character Interview
Author Top Five

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