July Book Reviews

I’ve been writing like a madwoman, so fewer book reviews this month – but some good ones!

My offering of  4 and 5 star reviews includes romance, historical fiction, mystery, family drama, superheroes, and prehistoric fiction. I hope you enjoy browsing.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The Sister Pact by Jacquie Biggar

I read this book in a day and thoroughly enjoyed the distraction. It’s a romance, but so much more than that. The story has a maturity to it that I appreciated, genuine characters struggling with all kinds of relationships, old hurts, forgiveness, and love.

Holly Tremaine is ill and, forced to leave her job, returns to the dysfunctional home of her childhood. You couldn’t cut the tension with a chainsaw, and she immediately wonders what the heck she just did. An old beau enters the scene, but so do old wounds, misunderstandings, and hurtful assumptions between the family members, particularly between Holly and her sister Susan.

One thing that I enjoyed about the book was how genuine the family and characters felt, flawed but trying hard to make their lives work. The focus is on Holly who shares the story’s pov, primarily with her sister. The writing is polished and tight, which provides a speedy pace while allowing for some beautiful descriptions. The plot works well and wraps up nicely. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy romances, relationship stories, and a fast-paced entertaining jaunt through family life. A perfect beach read.

*****

Cape Menace by Amy M. Reade

This mystery begins in 1711 in Cape May, New Jersey, a small settlement in the new world. Sarah Hanover’s mother disappears, and despite their grief, she and her father, the local apothecary continue on. But the question of what happened to Ruth Hanover never goes away and Sarah is determined to discover what happened.

I like historical fiction and the richness that a particular time period adds to a story. In this case, the beliefs about healing are fascinating – a reliance on blood-letting, drawing out a burn with hot metal, and shaving a head to cure a fever, to name a few.

The entire tale is tole in Sarah’s first-person pov. She’s a great character, kind and obedient to her father, but endowed with a well of inner strength, resilience, and independence. She’s also a bit of a snoop, which is highly improper, and about which she feels guilty. Secondary characters are also wonderfully developed, particularly Sarah’s father.

The mystery aspect of the story is well done with a weave of red herrings and parallel running plots. Despite all my guessing, I wasn’t able to guess the ending until it came. The book isn’t particularly bloody or scary though there is plenty of tension at certain points. The writing is polished and beautifully edited. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction and cozy mysteries. Appropriate for YA and adult audiences.

*****

A Ghost in the Kitchen: Three Ingredients 2 by Teagan Geneviene

I’ve read a number of Geneviene books, and what I love about them is how light-hearted and whimsical they are, full of great characters, fantastical creatures, and quirky adventure. This one is no different. Pip and her grandmother have the ability to see ghosts and several show up in Granny’s kitchen, including a rather colorful Maestro who enjoys cooking. The story has mermen, cursed cowboy ghosts, and Daisy, Pip’s friend who died under mysterious circumstances. Pip and her friend Andy are determined to discover the truth.

This is a lively story with great characters and a lickety-split pace. Pip is a 1920’s flapper with an engaging personality, and the story is full of fun lingo. I haven’t read the first book in the series and though there are references to what occurred, this book worked fine as a stand-alone. A lighthearted, magical read

*****

Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

Families aren’t easy, filled with flawed humans who bounce off each other in myriad directions, some sweet, some chaotic. When a family is full of secrets, things can get pretty tangled. Ben Glass was the glue that held his family together, and when he’s killed in a traffic accident, his widow Olivia and their five grown sons start the process of shattering.

Olivia struggles for control, and one by one begins interfering in her sons’ lives. She is the keeper of one of Ben’s secrets, but the young men have secrets of their own, and like an overpowering mother, she tries to “fix” everyone and “fix” their relationships. There were definitely points in the book where I wanted to shake her. That said, there aren’t any villains in this story, and I appreciated that real-life quality.

Without giving too much away, the family’s journey through grief and separation into repair is the main focus of the plot. A lot of detail and description gives the book a leisurely but steady pace. The characters are thoroughly developed, three dimensional and unique, with full emotional lives. I felt a lot of empathy for all of them, even for Olivia as she bungled along, an imperfect person who wants so much to manage her family into healing. In many ways, the story is about family strength and love. Recommended for readers of family sagas and literary fiction.

*****

Bystanders by Phillip Murrell

This is a great read for anyone who loves action, a plot-driven story, and superheroes. But it’s not typical of superhero reads since the superhero has almost no role in the narrative. Instead, the story focuses on those touched by his actions – a news anchor, hospital workers, EMTs, law enforcement, criminals, and a couple of teenage bloggers.

Don’t expect any deep character development, emotional turmoil, or personal growth. For the most part, the characters are simply reacting to events and don’t have overarching goals that drive the action. But do expect well-rounded personalities revealed through exceptional dialog, the strongest element of the book.

The pace is good throughout, though there are times when the dialog, though realistic, goes off on short tangents. There’s some humor around the superhero’s name, and there’s plenty of violence, so be prepared for blood. An entertaining book that I recommend to readers of plot-driven superhero and action novels.

*****

Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray

This book concludes the fascinating trilogy that began 850,000 years ago as Xhosa and her People begin their search for a new home, migrating across continents, meeting different peoples, and facing the harsh elements. They learn new skills, adapt, and develop strategies that help them survive. I recommend reading this series in order since it entails a single journey.  (For the full review, click here.)

*****

Happy Reading!

173 thoughts on “July Book Reviews

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks for all the great reviews, Diana! You sure know how to keep me busy. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lisa Damian says:

    Thank you for the reviews and recommendations. I’m adding a couple of these to my to-read list.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ocean Bream says:

    I have been at such a loss to find a good book to read lately. All the recommendations on Goodreads seem to be modern chick flicks and strange books which are of no interest to me. These seem solid! I specially liked your review of A Ghost in the Kitchen .. what a quirky title 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I had the same reaction to this list. I am so thankful to have discovered Indie authors with our wealth of varied topics.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I read a lot of indie books, Lenora, and it exposes me to some genres that I wouldn’t normally pick up. I’m finding that my tastes are broader than I thought. And I know just what you mean about browsing. I get most of my reads from other blogger reviews and rarely go wrong. Ghost in the Kitchen is cute. My favorite of Teagan’s books is Atonement Tennessee if you want to try one out. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Ocean Bream says:

        I totally get what you mean about finding your tastes are broader than you thought. When people ask what my favourite genre is nowadays I cannot tell them at all because there are plenty of excellent books in a variety of genres 🙂 You know, I shall take a page out of your book and get my recommendations from blogger reviews too. I have noted Atonement Tennessee down, looking forward to reading your August book reviews now 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A marvelous line up of books as always Diana. I look forward to reading as many as possible! You are an absolute gem for the giving is such in-depth reviews ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  5. mydangblog says:

    The books sound great and your reviews are excellent. A couple of these sound right up my alley!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Jennie says:

    Excellent reviews, Diana. You have a great selection of books, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. acflory says:

    Great reviews as always, Diana, and congratulations, Jacqui!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Finally joining your party here and I am reading your reviews open-mouthed. You read these books and wrote these fabulous reviews and you’re also writing like a mad woman? What are you?A mad woman?
    Besides that, you’re going to make me into a mad woman because I am enticed to read every book you review here. The only one I’ve read so far is Amy Reade‘s cape mystery which I thought was excellent. I am going to soon be entertained by Jacquie’s and Jacqui’s books and Teagan will help me relax and join in her fun. Kudos to you, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Jan Sikes says:

    Hi, Diana! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on these fabulous books! Wow!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. amreade says:

    Diana, thank you again for a thoughtful and lovely review of Cape Menace. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it. What an honor to be among terrific writers James, Teagan, Jacquie, and Phillip.

    We’ve been without power as a result of tornados a mile from here, so I’m just now able to comment on your post (we got our power back late last night). Hope you’re having a great day!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. That is quite a collection, Diana

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Steven Baird says:

    This is a great batch of reviews and recommendations, Diana.It’s always a pleasure to see what’s piqued your reading interests. Stay well, my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Staci Troilo says:

    What a fabulous selection, Diana. Jacquie and Teagan are always engaging. Jacqui and James have been on my radar for a while now. And you introduced me to some new-to-me authors, too. Thanks for such thoughtful reviews.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Terrific selection Diana.. some I have read and others on my TBR.. so many good books…always something to look forward to. x

    Liked by 4 people

  15. That’s quite an eclectic selection of books–something for everyone!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Great selection and reviews, Diana!

    Liked by 4 people

  17. I’ve heard some good things various places about “Watching Glass Shatter” and “Against All Odds”. “Bystanders” sounds fascinating, I love the idea of a superhero story from the perspective of those around him. Oddly enough, the “Cape Menace” review has me most interested. You know I love my writing dark and a bit speculative, but I’m also a bit of a history buff, so this one’s going right on my pile. Great reviews, D 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  18. dgkaye says:

    Wow, those are some fantastic reviews Diana! I loved Jay’s Watching Glass Shatter and already have a few others here on my reader. And I’m currently reading another of your recommends – The Mermaid and the Bear. Love your reviews! ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  19. A great reading collection and excellent reviews, Diana. I’ve read and reviewed The Sister Pact, and have two books on your list on my reader. The heat and this stay home make my brain dull.

    Hope your mountain is refreshing. It’s 16 days before I visit my granddaughters. Both my daughter and I will self quarantine before my arrival. I’m excited to meet my new granddaughter. She rolled over already. They grow so fast.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Hi,

    I’m incredibly grateful for your generosity in including me here. I love the review, and I’m honored to be with so many other wonderful authors this month. 🙂

    Jay

    Liked by 4 people

  21. “Only” five books, Diana? Shameful!

    Cape Menace sounds fantastic — right up my alley! Thank you as always for reading and recommending such a broad swatch of genres!

    Glad you’re making progress on your own writing! Can’t wait to hear what you have cooking…

    Liked by 3 people

  22. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    All great reviews, Diana. I have three of these on my TBR list. I’m looking forward to reading them. I agree about Watching Glass Shatter, it was a great read:) The rest all sound intriguing and a good variety of genres.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Diana, thank you for the wonderful surprise! You managed to get in a wide variety of genres last month- I’m so happy you enjoyed The Sister Pact 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Reblogged this on Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author and commented:
    A wonderful review for The Sister Pact by Diana Peach of Myths in the Mirror!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Teri Polen says:

    You’ve read some fabulous books, Diana, and what a variety! Most of these authors are familiar to me, and I completely agree about Teagan’s books – light-hearted and whimsical.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Thanks for including me in this august list, Diana. The Sister Pact is way up on my list!

    Liked by 4 people

  27. balroop2013 says:

    A nice collection and your reviews are always well-balanced Diana. I just finished Jacqui’s book, have read Sister’s Pact and Watching Glass shatter – all three riveting reads.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Pink Roses says:

    Thank you for those reviews. I really fancy Cape Menace. I’ll download a sample to my Kindle.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Dear Diana, thank you for taking time to read A Ghost in the Kitchen. I’m honored to be in such good company. I enjoyed all these reviews. You’re the cat’s pajamas.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Very nice reading picks, and congrats on the progress of your writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. So many great books, Diana. You’re not helping my TBR pile get any smaller…but I forgive you. 🙂 I’m reading Jacqui’s latest now. It’s terrific! Happy writing. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  32. Jina Bazzar says:

    I’ve read Watching Glass Shatter, Diana, and enjoyed it very much too. Jacquie’s book sounds like the kind of romance I enjoy, and Teaggan’s the mood lifting kind. I already said what I think of Jacqui’s new release – and I feel like I’m stuck on repeat going on and on about it 😉
    Well, they all sound great!

    Liked by 5 people

  33. These are all wonderful reviews, Diana. You have done fairly well with your reading this month. I have read and enjoyed a few of these books.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I love those Diana. Thank you for sharing.
    xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Tessa says:

    So many of these sound wonderful- Cape Menace and Bystander are particularly intriguing to me. Lovely reviews! And happy reading! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cape Menace flew by, Tessa. It was a great combo of historical fiction and mystery. Bystander was well-done and an unusual approach as the superhero has almost no role in the book. All of these were good reads. Thanks for the visit and Happy Reading. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • amreade says:

      Hi, Tessa,

      Thank you! It was such a lovely review and I appreciated Diana taking the time to read and review the book. I hope you get a chance to read Cape Menace and if you do, please let me know what you thought of it. Best wishes.

      Liked by 3 people

  36. Erica/Erika says:

    Hi Diana, I always appreciate book recommendations, especially for our camping trips. A favourite indulgence. I agree with your word “distraction.” And your words “reading binge.” All of the booksin this list are new to me. Thank you for the insightful reviews. I am ready for a binge.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m going to binge as soon as my books are out. I’ll need the relaxing indulgence of a month of uninterrupted reading. Lol That will be a long long review post! Thanks for the visit. I hope you’re doing well. Happy Reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  37. Mae Clair says:

    Your reviews are always so insightful, Diana. I’ve read the Sister Pact and Watching Glass Shatter and thought they were both well done. I’ve read other books by Teagan and Jacqui and know that they both always deliver quality stories. My TBR continues to grow!

    Thanks for introducing me to the other authors and their work as well. The cover of Cape Menace is beautiful!

    Liked by 5 people

  38. Thanks for these, Diana. It’s always good to have someone point us in an interesting direction when choosing books.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I choose a lot of books based on blog reviews, Anneli. My TBR list can get pretty hefty, which it is now. As soon as I get my books done, I’m going on a reading binge and will whittle it down! I can’t wait. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  39. Great overviews. I am not sure I am interested in any of these ones, but it was fun nonetheless!

    Liked by 3 people

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