Spotlight Review: GENDER QUEER by Maia Kobabe

August 16, 2022

 A Memoir 

From the publisher:

2020 ALA Alex Award Winner
2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book.

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Then e created Gender Queer. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fan fiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: It is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

“It’s also a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand.” — SLJ (starred review)

This special deluxe hardcover edition of Gender Queer features a brand-new cover, exclusive art and sketches, a foreword from ND Stevenson, Lumberjanes writer and creator of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and an afterword from Maia Kobabe.

https://amzn.to/3SVREcz

This book has been getting a lot of press and is one of the most banned books in America, so of course, I wanted to read it. I’m very glad I did.

Kobabe uses the pronouns, e/em/eir, and I will try to honor that choice. E struggled with eir identity for most of eir life, and that struggle is graphically portrayed here. When I say graphic, I don’t necessarily mean sexual, although there are a few sexual drawings here (which is probably what is getting this book banned.) What I mean by “graphically portrayed” is that first, this is a graphic novel, but second, it is a raw, honest look at a life of struggle. The struggle is real, and if more people read this book, maybe there would be more empathy and understanding towards the “other”, those who are different, in the LGBTQ+ community.

Like most graphic novels, it is a quick read, but it is also compelling and thought-provoking. I don’t have much experience to draw on here, so I learned a lot about the asexual nonbinary community. I feel it is also an important book because if Kobabe struggled with these feelings, you can bet others do as well. If this book gives comfort to even one person (and I’m sure it has affected many, many people) then it is worthwhile, worth reading, and certainly worth being available to anyone who wants to read it.

It’s 2022 and Two Books Are on Trial for ‘Obscenity’

These obscenity proceedings are in line with a history of attacks on our First Amendment rights to read, learn, and think for ourselves.

Not sure what is going on with the publisher, but the paperback version is not available directly from Amazon, but rather through the secondary sellers on Amazon. The hardcover (pictured on top) is only $20 and way less than the paperback, which is odd. There are also 2 different Kindle versions at different prices; I linked to the less expensive (original) edition.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GENDER QUEER: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe. Oni Press; Deluxe edition (July 5, 2022). ISBN: 978-1637150726. 240p.

Kindle

Audible


YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Cowboys of Creedence, Book 2

From the publisher:

This cowboy is falling hard

Mason James is the responsible one who stayed behind to run the ranch while his brother, Rock, took off to play professional hockey. Women have used him before to get to his brother―and Mason intends never to get burned again. But after he meets quirky Tessa Kane at his brother’s wedding, Mason discovers he’s ready to take a chance on love.

Tessa Kane is a reporter on the verge of losing a job she desperately needs―unless she’s clever enough to snag a story on the famous Rockford James. But when she falls for her subject’s brother, she’s caught between a rock and a hard-muscled cowboy. What will happen when Mason finds out who she really is?

Cowboys of Creedence Series:
Caught Up in a Cowboy (Book 1)
You Had Me at Cowboy (Book 2)
It Started With a Cowboy (Book 3)

https://amzn.to/3Ak8A5f

This is such an enjoyable series, especially if you like cowboy romance as much as I do. These books are set in Creedence, Colorado, outside of Denver. Creedence is a small, ranching town and I like small town romances, too, so these books are a win-win for me.

Mason is the middle brother and the one that stepped up to run the ranch when his older brother, Rock, followed his love of hockey to the NHL. Rock is home now and getting ready to marry his childhood sweetheart, Quinn, and their romance was in the first book of this series. Even though these books do stand alone, I think this series may be best read in order.

Mason has been burned more than once by women who pretended to be interested in him to get to his older, celebrity hockey player brother. But this whole week of wedding fun is becoming painful for him as he feels like everyone is pitying him for being alone, not to mention pointing it out to him. So not fun. So when he has to go to the supply closet at the welcome dinner, he gets quite an eyeful. Tessa is in there trying to button a clean shirt that isn’t quite fitting across her chest. Mason gets an eyeful and she is embarrassed, but being the nice guy he is, he gets her a shirt that will button. Their chemistry is palpable, and when she tells him she was invited to this dinner by a blind date who has stood her up, he asks her to be his date – for all the wedding festivities.

Tessa has had the day from hell. She just found out her grandmother who raised her after her parents were killed in an accident has fallen for the Nigerian prince scam and is flat broke. That prince hacked into her bank accounts and wiped her out, and now their home is in foreclosure. She’s a writer for a Denver magazine, and her boss just fired her unless she can get him all the dirt on the quickie wedding she’s now attending. She reluctantly agrees.

The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love. Tessa’s guilt is eating at her, and Mason can’t quite believe his feelings. But when he finds out she is a reporter, all hell breaks loose. No worries, they find their happy ending but so much angst before they get there! These were wonderful characters and I loved their story. Can’t wait to get into the next book!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 27, 2018). ISBN:‎ 978-1492655725. 352p.

Kindle

Audible

 

 


CAUGHT UP IN A COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Cowboys of Creedence, Book 1

From the publisher:

This Cowboy Turned Hockey Player Needs to Bring His Game to Win Back the Heart of His High School Sweetheart

Welcome to Creedence, Colorado―where the gossip flows, the chicken is fried, and the cowboys are hotter than a Colorado chili pepper.How do you heal a broken heart?

I play to win…

Raised as a tried-and-true cowboy in a town obsessed with hockey, I’ve always been competitive, whether on a horse or on the ice. I thought my cowboy days were over when the NHL snapped me up, but now injuries have me heading home with a bruised ego to match the damage to my body.

One problem―when I joined the NHL, I left my high school sweetheart behind with a broken heart and not much else. Now, when I finally “cowboy up” and go to ask for a second chance, I’m shocked as hell to find her with a baby and no man around. She thinks she can forget about what we had together, but I’m bound and determined to get her caught up in us once again.

https://amzn.to/3SLe9AN

I loved the Creedence Horse Rescue series so much that I went looking for more books by this author and found this series that precedes the one I just finished. Luckily, all the books stand alone so I’m good with that.

I was assigned a book to review for Library Journal, and I’m really not enjoying it so I read a few chapters, then put it down to read something I like. Like Jennie Marts. She is getting me through the book I have to read by giving me a break from it. When I was reviewing for Booklist, I liked that they don’t publish negative book reviews (for the most part) so if I got halfway through a book and didn’t like it enough to finish it, I could tell my editor that and get a different book to review. Library Journal doesn’t work that way; they want all the books reviewed, good or bad. Happily, this book I am reviewing for my blog is a good one!

So cowboys and NHL players? Yes, please! Rock grew up on his family’s ranch with his two brothers. They lost their father when they were pretty young, but his mom is a strong woman and she kept the ranch and family going strong. But Rock’s true love is hockey. And Quinn. They grew up together as best friends, then fell in love and were high school sweethearts. But when Rock left home for the NHL, he also left Quinn and broke her heart. He became known as a playboy and life was great, until he got a serious injury.

Rock is sent home to recuperate, and while he’s at home he sees Quinn again. He quickly realizes that he is still in love with her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, their families live on adjoining ranches and do a lot of work together, so they are constantly thrown together.

Quinn had a one night stand with a real jerk after Rock left, and she ended up pregnant. Luckily, her dad and brother stepped up and she has been raising Max for eight years on her family’s ranch. When Rock meets Max, he falls in love with the little guy, too. But how to get Quinn on board is the real dilemma here.

This is a sweet and occasionally sexy romance, and I loved these characters. My only complaint about this author is her endings always feel rather abrupt. I guess the idea is to leave the reader wanting more, and it works for sure! If you like cowboy romance or sports romance, this is a winner. Moving on to the next book in the series!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

CAUGHT UP IN A COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 1, 2018). ISBN:‎ 978-1492655695. 352p.

Kindle

Audible

 

 


HOW TO COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 3

From the publisher:

For fans of Carolyn Brown, Maisey Yates, and Jennifer Ryan, this steamy, emotional cowboy romance has all your favorites:

  • A hunky single dad showing his daughter the ropes
  • A heroine looking for a fresh start
  • Leaning on each other through hard times
  • Irresistible attraction
  • Rescue horses and ranch animals with lots of personality

How do you heal a broken heart?

After one injury too many, Cade Callahan gave up the rodeo for a simpler life working at his cousin’s horse rescue ranch. But his life turns upside down when his estranged daughter is placed in his custody after a tragic car accident. Wanting nothing to do with her father, thirteen-year-old Allie struggles to adjust to her new life.

Newly single and living out of her mother’s basement, physical therapist Nora Fisher doesn’t think twice about taking a job as a traveling therapist for Cade’s daughter. The trouble is, she doesn’t know anything about horses, or hunky cowboys. Now both in way over their heads, can Cade and Nora find a way to help Allie, and trust in the attraction building between them?

https://amzn.to/3bKEFtx

I’ve read three books in this series, but somehow missed this one. As soon as I realized that, I hustled over to the library (ok, to the library website!) and found this book on Hoopla. As I’ve pointed out in my reviews of the other books in the series, it is terrific and each book stands alone, so no worries if you can’t get them in order.

Cade chased his rodeo dreams for years until injuries finally forced him to retire. Meanwhile, he had a daughter. He was around for her first few years, but her mother pushed him away and they’ve been out of touch for years as Allie is now a teenager. When her mother dies, Cade is there for her but she doesn’t really want anything to do with him. Forced into the situation is a grieving teenager with a bad injury from the accident that killed her mother, and a whole lot of attitude.

Cade hires Nora Fisher, a physical therapist, to help his daughter. She recently quit her job and is available to move to the ranch to take care of Allie. The three of them grow close just by being in that proximity, but Cade quickly realizes his feelings for Nora go way beyond the professional relationship – and she feels the same. Meanwhile, Allie’s aunt is trying to get custody and of course, there is money involved from a life insurance policy.

This story was compelling between the budding romance and the father-daughter relationship. I liked it so much that I started looking at more Jennie Marts books and found another of her cowboy series that also features hockey players. It’s a win-win for me; reviews to follow.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HOW TO COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 28, 2021). ISBN:‎ 978-1492689706. 336p.

Kindle

Audible

 

 


Spotlight Review: ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER by Amanda Usen

August 9, 2022

From the publisher:

Clara Duke lives to crochet wearable art. But right this second, she’s looking at the one guy who has the uncanny ability to unravel her in every possible way. Zane Brampton. He broke her heart in high school and now wants to make it up to her—in a single night. Just being in the same room as him feels dangerously volatile. A whole night with this delectable, gorgeous man would be nothing less than a total sexpocalypse. But oh, what a way to go.

The sight of Clara and her mouthwatering curves might actually kill restaurateur Zane. Ten years ago, their volcanic chemistry exploded… taking their social circle along with it. But Zane hasn’t forgotten the heat—and this feels almost like fate. He’ll be damned if he’ll let her run from their connection again. And he might just have found his chance to prove he deserves more than just one night…

Now Zane is driving Clara to California to meet her professional dreams. But between the road, the chocolate, and the ridiculously hot sex, Clara risks getting tangled up with her not-so-one-night-stand. And worse, Zane might just be the thread that snaps all of her perfectly crocheted plans.

https://amzn.to/3P8UWWP

This book is basically a bunch of sex scenes with a bit of story thrown in, so more erotica than romance, at least to my mind. There is not much depth here or even character development, but there is a happily ever after, which I liked. I also learned a bit about the “fiber industry,” which I knew nothing about, as the main character, Clara, is a crocheter of original designs. She also loves yarn, and I didn’t know that was a thing either. So maybe more story than my initial impression?! There is the romance requisite witty banter and a bit of angst before the happy ending.

If you like a very sexy romance, then this is your book!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER by Amanda Usen. Entangled: Brazen (August 8, 2022). ASIN: ‎B0B66KTVRJ. 200p.

Paperback


JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG by Kerry Winfrey

August 5, 2022

From the publisher:

Two high school sweethearts get a second chance at their perfect ending in this charming new romance by Kerry Winfrey, author of Very Sincerely Yours.

Once upon a time, Sandy Macintosh thought she would have her happily ever after with her high school sweetheart, Hank Tillman. Sandy wanted to be an artist, Hank was the only boy in town who seemed destined for bigger things, and they both had dreams to escape town together. But when Sandy’s plans fell through, she stayed in their small town in Ohio while Hank went off to Boston to follow his dreams to be a musician, with the promise to stay together. Only that plan fell through, too.

Fifteen years later, Sandy runs a successful greenhouse while helping her parents with their bed and breakfast. Everything is perfect…until Hank rolls back into town, now a famous alt-country singer with a son in tow. She’s happy with the life she’s built by herself, but seeing Hank makes her think about what might have been. There aren’t enough cliché love songs in the world to convince Sandy to give Hank another chance, but when the two of them get thrown together to help organize the town’s annual street fair, she wonders if there could be a new beginning for them or if what they had is just a tired old song of the past.

“A warm, heartfelt novel that’ll get stuck in your head like your favorite love song.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Winfrey’s sweet, low-heat read, with endearing and humorous characters and small-town setting, will appeal to fans of Candis Terry and Victoria James.”—Library Journal

https://amzn.to/3d9rMcM

Winfrey has turned into one of my favorite authors, and I really enjoyed this book. Sandy and Hank grew up together, best friends until they grew their relationship into something more. He was a musician who longed for a bigger life; she was an artist with the same longings. They planned to go away to college together, but a family emergency leaves Sandy with no money for college. Hank goes off to follow his dreams, and Sandy stays behind.

Sandy quickly realizes that she has to end things with Hank or he will come back to this small town and forget about his dreams. She loves him too much to do that to him, so she breaks his heart. Fifteen years later, Hank returns to town, a young son in town, recently divorced and a single dad. Sandy tries to avoid him at all costs -she has never stopped loving him.

You can guess what happens in this second-chance romance, but spending time with these characters was so much fun it doesn’t matter. This is a popular trope for a reason. The small town and all its quirky characters inject a lot of humor into this book. It is a fast, fun read and I loved it.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG by Kerry Winfrey.  Berkley (August 2, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593333433. 336p.

Kindle

Audible

 

 


THE DUKE’S ACCIDENTAL BRIDE by Eva Devon

August 5, 2022

From the publisher:

Never trust a rake to find you a husband…

Lady Jaqueline Peabody is extremely vexed. Her nemesis, the Duke of Stone, has just ruined her life by matching her sister with a perfect gentleman. Except the gentleman in question has little in the way of income. With the family fortune in tatters, it means Jacqueline is tasked with marrying well—and must bid adieu to her dreams of a lovely spinsterhood with her pianoforte.

James Haven has a respectable title and a rogue’s reputation. After all, love and passion can lead only to disaster. While he’s eschewed marriage for himself, he enjoys great success with matching London’s most eligible ladies and gentlemen. So if Jacqueline needs a wealthy husband, he’ll find her one. Love need not apply!

Only, James is having the devil of time finding the perfect husband for the spirited female. And certainly not because he’s falling for Lady Jacqueline, who heats his desire and dares to stand slipper-to-boot with him. Ridiculous. But, when scandal erupts, Jacqueline’s hopes for the perfect husband might be replaced by the perfect rake…

https://amzn.to/3QlB6Zb

Jacqueline, or Jack as she is known to her family and friends, is newly on the marriage mart. She has been studying pianoforte in Vienna, but when her father dies penniless, she must return home. Their next-door neighbor and her brother’s best friend, the Duke of Stone, has arranged a match for her sister, but she is marrying a vicar, which will do the family no good. It falls to Jack and her brother to marry money and fill the family coffers again.

The Duke of Stone loves matchmaking, a rather unusual hobby for a Duke, but no one can argue with success. All the matches he’s made are thriving and happy. But Jack isn’t happy that she will be forced to marry to save her family, and reverting to her wild childhood ways, she wears her brother’s clothes and climbs the tree outside the Duke’s window, launching herself into his private rooms.

The Duke is mesmerized by the very nature and spirit of this young woman who he used to play with as a child. Now he’s like to play with her again, but he cannot. The Duke’s parents had a terrifying marriage, and his father descended into madness before passing away. Sure he will inherit that madness, he is determined not to marry and certainly never to fall in love. Until he meets Jack again and she completely upends his life.

This was an enjoyable read and a quick one. I would have liked to see more character development, but there is enough angst to get me invested. The happy ending is guaranteed, of course, and it was fun getting there.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DUKE’S ACCIDENTAL BRIDE by Eva Devon. Entangled: Amara (August 1, 2022). ASIN: ‎B0B1BWCZ4T. 280p.

PAPERBACK

 


NEVER ENOUGH COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 5, 2022

Creedence Horse Rescue, Book 4

From the publisher:

Fans of Carolyn Brown, Maisey Yates, and Jennifer Ryan will fall head over cowboy boots for this second-chance romance from USA Today bestseller Jennie Marts.

A heartwarming cowboy romance on the ranch…

This lighthearted second-chance romance is filled with:

An independent single mom who’d do anything for her son

The handsome Sheriff’s deputy who can’t stop thinking about her

The undeniable attraction between them

Characters who must learn to trust in love again

Rescue animals who deserve their own second chances

Single mom Jillian Bennett barely has a moment to herself between raising her ten-year old son, volunteering at the horse rescue ranch, and her new job as head librarian of Creedence, Colorado. She doesn’t have the time or inclination for romance, even though she and the cute deputy, Ethan Rayburn, have been doing a little flirting the last few weeks. Still, when Ethan puts out a call out to all the horse rescues to help with a large rescue operation, Jillian jumps in to help.

Ethan doesn’t consider himself the impulsive type, but there’s something about Jillian that calls to him. When he also forms a bond with her son, Milo, Ethan soon realizes that there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for the feisty librarian who’s won his heart.

https://amzn.to/3JxhG1p

I read the first two books in this series (not in order, of course!) but somehow missed the third, which I will be rectifying shortly. I really like this series. The romances are sweet and not too sexy, the characters are interesting and I can’t help but root for them to find their happily ever after. And they do. Throw in animal rescue, in this case horses, and I’m a happy reader.

Jillian reminded me of my mom – single and putting her child first. She is not interested in dating at all, except Deputy Ethan is super hot and even better, super kind. He falls hard and fast for the fiery, gutsy mom but she remains cautious – for a little while, at least. But he is so good with her son that he quickly wins her over.

This was a fun read, but the animal abuse may be difficult for some readers, even though they are rescued. On the other hand, there are a pig, goat, and a miniature horse that absolutely steal the show! This was a quick read for me; I got totally involved with these characters and was so sorry to turn the last page. This is a terrific series, and the books each stand alone so no worries if you can’t get them in order.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NEVER ENOUGH COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 26, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-1728226132. 336p.

Kindle

Audible

 

 


Spotlight Review: THE MAGIC OF LEMON DROP PIE by Rachel Linden

August 2, 2022

From the publisher:

An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.

Lolly Blanchard’s life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she’s lost.

As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift—three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present.

https://amzn.to/3cUzAyI

This is an engaging story with a touch of magic realism that works really well here. Lolly is a good and dutiful daughter. The eldest of two girls with several years between them, she takes family responsibility seriously. When her mother dies unexpectedly, she feels compelled to take her mother’s place in the family business, a Seattle diner. She wants to be there for her devastated father and to try and mother her little sister as best as she can.

Lolly and Rory met as kids and became best friends, as did their mothers. As they grew up, that friendship turned into something much deeper. They were engaged to be married when Lolly lost her mother. Rory was a brilliant student who had dreams of becoming a sports medicine doctor for as long as he could remember. When he is offered a residency at Johns Hopkins, he is torn and doesn’t know how to tell Lolly. She ends things between them and breaks both their hearts in the process.

Several years later, Lolly’s middle school diary makes an appearance, and she sees the list of goals she had set for herself. She realizes she hasn’t completed anything she wanted to do in her life. The diner is barely hanging on by a thread, but she feels trapped there. Rory is married, has a son, and is living in Tampa, lost to her forever. Despondent, she talks to her great aunt, whose advice is to “follow her bliss.” Then her aunt gives her three lemon drop candies and tells her they are very special. When she goes to bed, she should eat one of the candies and wish to look at whatever she thinks she’s missed out on, which will give her a glimpse of the life she could have had for one day, then she will return to this life.

Looking at what might have been is educational yet devastating, but so is her present. Lolly is determined to live her best life and perhaps learn what her bliss is by eating the candy and seeing what she’s missed. “What if” can be two dangerous words. When I couldn’t possibly see a way forward for her, she finds one and that leads to her happily ever after.

This was such a compelling and emotional story. I don’t like paranormal romances (vampires and whatnot) but I enjoy a touch of magic. This is an unputdownable magical story, and I loved it.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE MAGIC OF LEMON DROP PIE by Rachel Linden. Berkley (August 2, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593440193. 352p.

Kindle

Audible


SUGAR AND SALT by Susan Wiggs

July 29, 2022

Bella Vista Chronicles, Book 4

From the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Lost and Found Bookshop brings readers a can’t-miss tale of friendship, hardship, redemption, and love between a San Francisco baker and a barbecue master from Texas.

Jerome Sugar learned the art of baking in his grandma’s bakery, also called Sugar, on historic Perdita Street in San Francisco. He supplies baked goods to the Lost and Found Bookshop across the street.

When the restaurant that shares his commercial kitchen loses its longtime tenant, a newcomer moves in: Margot Salton, a barbecue master from Texas.

Margot isn’t exactly on the run, but she needs a fresh start. She’s taken care of herself her whole life, pulling herself up by her fingernails to recover from trauma, and her dream has been to open a restaurant somewhere far, far from Texas. The shared kitchen with Jerome’s Sugar bakery is the perfect setup: a state-of-the-art kitchen and a vibrant neighborhood popular with tourists and locals.

Margot instantly takes to Jerome’s mother, the lively, opinionated Ida. The older woman proves to be a good mentor, and Margot is drawn to Jerome. Despite their different backgrounds their attraction is powerful—even though Jerome worries that Margot will simply move on from him once she’s found some peace and stability. But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot’s past in Texas comes back to haunt her…

https://amzn.to/3BiUOkf

I love Susan Wiggs’ books; they always have intriguing characters, interesting settings, and unputdownable stories, and this is no exception.

This is not the book I thought I would be reading based on the publisher’s description (above.) All that is true, but it misses the major plot points of the story and why I was so drawn into it. Yes, there is a romance, two in fact, but while it is the premise that allows this story to be told, it is not your usual boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-back-again story.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I will tell you it deals with a small town in Texas, a rape, and the unwanted pregnancy that follows (despite what some incredibly ignorant Republican congressmen have said about what they call “legitimate rape,” and that women’s bodies somehow can block an unwanted pregnancy. Science, people!) It deals with abortion and adoption and prison and women’s rights. It deals with our justice system and how it favors the rich. It could not be more timely, and all these things are handled with truth and grace and real life emotions.

This is one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in a while. It made me think about things I’d rather not, but it was okay in this novel. It would undoubtedly lead to a lively (possibly contentious) book discussion and it makes me sorry I don’t have that option anymore. It’s an important story, a woman’s story, and I hope it is widely read and discussed.

While this is the fourth book of a series, it easily stands alone, as do all the books in this series. That said, I have loved every one of them and highly recommend them all. Do yourself a favor and read them in whatever order you can get them. This one is sure to make my best books of the year list.

The Bella Vista Chronicles in Order:

  1. The Apple Orchard
  2. The Beekeeper’s Ball
  3. The Lost and Found Bookshop
  4. Sugar and Salt

 You’re welcome.

7/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SUGAR AND SALT by Susan Wiggs. William Morrow (July 26, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0062914224. 368p.

Kindle

Audible