Fast Five Review Roundup

Fast Five #1

Fondest felicitations, fiction fans! Forgive the EFF-ervescent greeting; It felt fitting for this first of my Fast Five Review Roundups—a fresh feature post I’ve formulated for 2018.

Phew! Anyone else feel the need to wipe down their screen after all those ‘f’s? 😉 But it’s true. From the beginning of 2018, I’ve decided to introduce a new type of post once or twice a month that I’m calling ‘Fast Five Review Roundup’. This is partly to discipline myself to write shorter reviews so that I can write more reviews (because they’re SO important to authors, and short and sweet is SO not my strength), but also so that I can share more great books with all my reader friends.

Most of the time, the books you find in these Fast Five Review Roundups WON’T be new releases. They’ll be books that I’ve had sitting around on my TBR pile or books that have suddenly grabbed my attention for some reason. And so without further ado, I present my very first Fast Five Review Roundup!

If you want to know more about any of these titles, click on the cover or one of the links* at the bottom of each review.

* Amazon links are affiliate links. For full disclosure please click here.

Review #1 ~ On Love’s Gentle Shore (Liz Johnson)

I’ve loved this Prince Edward Island series from Liz Johnson, but just wasn’t able to fit in the final book in the series when it released. Thanks to Chautona Havig’s recommendation in her Best Novel Awards for 2017 post, I picked it up over the Christmas break and loved it every bit as much as the first two books in the series. The story is a bit of a heart-wrenching one at times—there’s some pain and misunderstandings to get through—but I loved the way Justin and Natalie’s friendship was restored, piece by piece, into something much deeper and so beautiful. This had all the elements of a ‘best friends to more’ story that I love, with a whole lot of added depth. Just beautiful.

She whispered, “You were my answer to prayer when I was five. You’re my answer to prayer now.”
The backs of his eyes prickled like he might start crying, and he grasped for a joke, anything to lighten the mood, but all he could think about were her words. “I think you’re mine too.”

Amazon US  //  Goodreads


Review #2 ~ One Plus One Equals Trouble (Sondra Kraak)

I’ve had this on my TBR for so long, and I’m so glad I finally got to pick it up. Barrett is one of my new favourite heroes, doing both swoony and flirty SOOOO well! If you like your historical romance with heart AND a little sass, this is the story for you! Barrett and Claire have both been hired for the same teaching position, both have reasons for digging their heels in, and both have completely different teaching styles. The board’s divided, the kids are divided, and there are a whole lot of motives behind the scene that neither is aware of. But seriously, Barrett totally steals the stage in this book, in personality and in character. Love, love, LOVE!

“You know, if we were students, I’d do this until you looked at me.” He kicked her under the table. Over and over again.
“If we were students, I’d tattle on you.”
He kept kicking her. She moved to stand, but he hooked his leg around hers. Her gaze snapped to his. “Barrett Clark—”
“Made you look.”
Her lips trembled, forming a smile despite the way she clamped her jaw.

Amazon US  //  Goodreads


Review #3 ~ A Moonbow Night (Laura Frantz)

Why have I waited so long to read a novel by Laura Frantz? This is exactly the kind of historical novel I love—one that brings another time and place vividly to life and delivers characters and a story I don’t want to let go of. Set in the largely untamed Kentucke territory in 1777, both Sion and Tempe’s lives have already felt the brutal impact of tensions between White settlers and Red natives—tensions that are only heightened by Sion Morgan’s purpose for being in Kentucke territory: to survey and claim the land for the Loyal Land Company. Unfortunately for Sion, his presence is no more welcome to Temperance Tucker’s family, despite the hospitality their isolated inn offers his small company of men; Tempe’s father is a marked man after a boundary dispute with a Crown surveyor turned lethal. But Tempe’s skills as a guide and tracker and her knowledge of the area are unparalleled and Sion’s best hope of surveying the Green River country further west. Furthermore, Tempe’s father wants them gone, and what better way to achieve that, than to have Tempe lead them? But the journey is fraught with danger . . .

Frantz’s writing is a delight to read, perfectly matched to the era she’s depicting, and she takes the time to build her story, layer by layer, drawing you further and further into its world. The relationship that grows between Sion and Tempe is my favourite for this kind of novel: subtle, but ever deepening and enduring.

* I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

Aye, something new had bloomed between her and Sion, only Tempe couldn’t quite lay a finger to it. It was nothing spoken, for he seemed more taciturn than ever, igniting her impatience. ‘Twas the unspoken that befuddled and lured her like a bee to a blossom. She was all too aware of him, all too conscious of that overwhelming pull betwixt them.

Amazon US  //  Goodreads


Review #4 ~ The Engagement Plot (Krista Phillips)

I’m going to start out by admitting upfront: I HATE the current proliferation of bachelor/bachelorette/married-at-first-sight type shows. As in, I growl at the TV when I see ads for them. Maybe that means I should have passed up on this one when I was offered it for review, but I had heard quite a few friends say they enjoyed reading it (even ones who don’t like The Bachelor/Bachelorette), so I decided to give it a chance. There were definitely some things I could appreciate about the story, and I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.

I think there were two main reasons for that. The first was the pretend engagement, and the second was the way these characters dealt with being wronged. In the case of the former, rather than entering into that kind of a public deception, I would have liked to see the story explore how things would have proceeded had Hanna stuck to her guns and refused the pretend engagement. In the case of the latter, these characters seemed to struggle with holding grudges—at times I felt like Hanna was even reminding herself to hold a grudge (to try and stop her heart from becoming attached again).

To be fair, both of these aspects may have been deliberate on the part of the author in order to show that, no matter how much we stuff up, God can still use us. Hanna’s best friend Carly makes this point, and also the point about a soft answer turning away wrath, towards the end of the book. It’s true, and I can appreciate what the author was trying to illustrate; I just don’t think this was the story for me.

* I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

“You had a lot of good intentions going into The Price of Love regardless of how wise or unwise it was. You totally maintained your witness, despite what some people might say, even if you weren’t always perfect along the way. But I think maybe where you went wrong was hiding when the pressure got high. You got scared and snuffed out your light so no one would look at you and hurt you anymore. You gave them the power to would you instead of seeking the One who had the power to rescue you.”

Amazon US  //  Goodreads


Review #5 ~ Ashes in the Wind (Peggy Levesque)

I picked this book up on a spur of the moment impulse when I saw a friend recommend it on Facebook. If you enjoy police (or associated, in this case DEA/FBI) procedural suspense with a little bit of romance in the mix, then you’ll probably enjoy it too. It becomes obvious early on who the corrupt agent is, but even so, the tension remains strong throughout, and there’s plenty of danger and action (although there were a couple of times when the heroine brought it on herself by making some unwise choices).

I did find it confusing early on trying to keep some of the names straight in my head, particularly before I was certain which of the good guys were really good guys—names like Ferraro and Navarro, Alvarez and Alonzo kind of blended together. There were also many different point of view characters, including several secondary characters. Sometimes I thought they added to the story, but at other times I thought it made the story seem a little cluttered. And there was one particular editorial point that bugged me endlessly—missing commas after beginning a sentence with a dependent clause!

But all that being said, this book kept me engaged and turning the pages to find out how it all ended. And although it was definitely not the focus of the story, the little thread of romance between Sara and Mac was a nice addition.

“Sorry to hit you with a double whammy, buddy, but I’ve got bad news of my own.”
Mac straightened at the warning in BJ’s voice. “What’s up?”
“Sara left the house, and I’ve been following her like you asked.”
“And?”
“She’s got another tail besides me.”

Amazon US  //  Goodreads

So, what do you think of my first lot of Fast Five reviews? Have you read any of them? Do you like this shorter format?

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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17 Responses to Fast Five Review Roundup

  1. sbmcmh says:

    Oh, I like the short format and the fast and furious review of five books 🙂
    I’ve read one, have one to read soon, have been dying to read another on the list, and discovered two new books!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bellesmoma16 says:

    I really like this idea!!! 😊
    Your reviews here are great. I love the bite-size review. It grabs my attention and I get to see more authors. I like that you reviewed different genres too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Winnie Thomas says:

    I love this idea, Katie! Personally, I prefer shorter reviews, although I usually read the longer ones if they’re written by my besties (yes, you!). On Amazon or Goodreads, I usually will read the ones that are only 1 or 2 paragraphs and skip the longer ones. I’ve read 2 of these and have 2 others on my TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is great! Good content quick! Super idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Resolutions | Fiction Aficionado

  6. Carrie says:

    love this post idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Chanel M. says:

    I really liked reading these shorter reviews. I’ll probably add a few I haven’t heard of onto my TBR, like One Plus One Equals Trouble Even though I don’t gravitate to historical, I loved that excerpt and want to give it a try. I’ve been anxious to read The Engagement Plot and your review was very interesting. I’m not sure if this a fair comparison because I haven’t read The Engagement Plot yet, but the part about the heroine (Hanna) reminding herself to hold a grudge against the hero (I assume) reminds me of my recent read, Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade. I adored Meant to be Mine and totally understood when the heroine in this book had to put up walls and defenses because of the breach of trust she had with the hero. I wonder if this situation is kinda similar. Anyways, I’m just eager to read it and get my take on the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting comparison, because I actually loved Meant to Be Mine. I can totally understand someone having to remind themselves not to let themselves be taken in again, and I guess that aspect is the same in both stories. I think it comes down to the character’s attitude and the way they do it, though, eg are they being driven by self-preservation or anger, andI think that’s where I found ‘The Engagement Plot’ wasn’t as enjoyable for me. Maybe I’ll have to read them both again and do a comparison! Hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to read it. 🙂

      Like

  8. Mary Kay says:

    Lucky me, finding your reviews as you introduce your new Fast-Five. I like the format and it gives me enough info to decide if a book is for me, And that’s interesting, because I’ve been doing as you apparently have ~ long, glowing, deep, food for thought reviews. I’m glad to hear you loved A Moonbow Night. One of my faves for 2017. I’m nearly finished Laura’s new one, The Lacemaker. Wonderful! Sure to be an enjoyable read for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Best of 2018: The Emoji Files, Part IV – Take Me Away . . . | Fiction Aficionado

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