book reviews

Books I’m Glad I Read

Here is a collection of excellent books I’ve enjoyed this past few months:

  1. The Unwitting Journeys of the Witty Miss Livingstone: Journey Key–a time travel adventure through history
  2. The Lilac Notebook–difficult life choices for three women, but mostly about the progression of Alzheimers
  3. Once Upon a Griffin–a human unwittingly falls for a alien prince, about to become king–and that’s just the beginning
  4. Vampires of the Midnight Sun–two stunning stories that are nothing like anything you’ve read

–a note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

The Unwitting Journeys of the Witty Miss Livingstone: Journey Key

by Kennedy Quinn

In Kennedy Quinn’s unusual and fascinating The Unwitting Journeys of the Witty Miss Livingstone: Journey Key (FreeValley Publishing 2016), Book 1 of the  Miss Liv Adventures, we are introduced to the engaging Caprice Livingstone and find out how she uses her ability to time travel for the most meaningful of purposes. This first adventure starts in the early 1900’s, but meanders as far into the future as WWII, allowing Caprice to meet the younger and older version of a man she is drawn to. The adventure begins when the bibliophile Caprice peaks into the window of a yet-to-be-opened bookstore, eager to explore the shelves bursting with unread books. Unable to resist, she sneaks inside. Rather than discovering a plethora of addictive books, she finds magical gems that take her on a journey through time with a purpose yet to be determined.

To call this story unique is like calling the Mona Lisa a painting. It is clever and  enticing with so many twists, I never knew where each thread would end me up. I highly recommend this series for those who are tired of predictable stories and seek believable supernatural in their all-too-ordinary lives.

The Lilac Notebook

by Carol Balawyder

Carol Balawyder’s The Lilac Notebook (2023) is about the difficult choices life thrusts at three women, all ultimately coalescing in one woman’s descent into the murky incurable world that is life lived with Alzheimer’s.  Two of the women–Kim and Amelia–were abused as children, but arrive at adulthood with different perspectives on their experience. The third–Holly–has a normal childhood and ends up the Stepford wife of a man who ultimately divorces her when she develops early onset Alzheimer’s. Though the overarching story is the murder of Amelia, the real story is Holly’s efforts to solve her friends murder despite her declining mental state. We see how her illness starts with simple problems everyone has faced–finding the right word and mixing up events–progresses to losing her ability to speak coherently, and finally as she is locked in a young body and unable to communicate.
The book is compelling albeit heart-breaking, many times difficult to read but as often, through Holly’s acceptance of her condition, a realistic look at life lived with this horrific disease. This is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to better understand a friend or loved one suffering from this disease.
I wish I had a bigger megaphone because this book deserves it.

Once Upon a Griffin

by Carde Jean

Carde Jean’s debut novel, Once Upon a Griffin (Champagne Book Group 2023), is an action packed sci fi romance about an alien boy (Jaxzon) who falls in love with an earth girl (Guinn) on his last fling before he must choose the bride who will help him lead his other-world nation when his father passes the crown to him. When Jaxzon and Guinn meet, it’s love at first sight for both though the hoops they must jump through to morph their love to marriage are nothing like a normal Earth-relationship. To start with, Jaxzon doesn’t pick a partner. Potential mates vie for the match-up through a series of competitions. Guinn’s beauty and kindness quickly make her a planet favorite, but the alien female who had planned to be the chosen queen will do anything to get her way and she is as vile as Guinn is kind, as evil as Guinn is honest.

The story is fast moving and filled with surprises, somewhat an updated sci fi reprise of the beloved Cinderella. Highly recommended for those who want their love stories filled with intrigue.

Vampires of the Midnight Sun

by Priscilla Bettis

Two stories that you’ll keep reading even if you have to go to bed, eat dinner, or walk the dog. The first is the tale of two best friends stranded in the Alaskan wilderness, one a normal human, the other a vampire. As they struggle to survive the extreme cold, the starvation, and the illnesses that beset their bodies in this harsh environment, they must come to decisions about what is the best way for both of them to escape with their lives. Of all the vampire books I’ve read, this is like none of them, or any I’ve heard of. Clever is understating the plot twists the author has devised.

The second story tells of a group of parishioners burned during a church service and how in the aftermath, an unlikely hero arises. It forces readers to think about what hides inside each of us, whether we can do what must be done when needed.

Two thought provoking stories that will entertain and horrify you  in equal amounts. They are highly recommended for any who are bored by the usual fiction fare they find in books.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Endangered Species Winter 2024


96 thoughts on “Books I’m Glad I Read

  1. I just realized I’m also just posting about books I love. I guess we’re alike that way. I wish I’m just as dedicated in writing about reviews. I’ve read so many great books this year and I want to share them with my fellow readers too. I’m not finished with my article about romance book series yet. Thanks for sharing your list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Out of all of these, the only book I’ve read is Priscilla’s. But your reviews have me contemplating at least two others. I love what you said about The Unwitting Journeys of the Witty Miss Livingstone being so incredibly unique and unpredictable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these, Jacqui!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As always great reviews from you Jacqui I have read a few books on your recommendation and reviews and thoroughly enjoyed them they didn’t disappoint…The Lilac Notebook stood out for me as my mother has Alzheimer’s …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jacqui, Thanks for the great reviews on good book selections. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Once Upon a Griffin with its many unexpected developments. Guinn and Boden are my favorite heroes. I look forward to Carde Jean’s next book, A Griffin No More.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Once Upon a Griffin is a fun read. Suspense and intrigue on another planet and a romance that ends in marriage to the king. I’m looking forward to book #2.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Once Upon a Griffin” is full of action and good feelings. It’s very well written and reads like the wind. There are charming characters and detestable scheming ones. You want this couple to make the relationship work against all odds.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That especially means a lot coming from a talented and skilled author like you, Jacqui. It’s been a bit of a tough road to get books that aren’t spot on with any genre, out to the readers who will enjoy them. But I’m glad I let the art speak and worry about ‘marketing’ later. It’s a fulfilling journey, and especially fun when readers take the time to share their thoughts afterward. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Jacqui, thanks for your tips on these four different novels. I have read “Once Upon a Griffin” and highly recommend it to those who enjoy a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, mystery, and romance all in one book. The author Carde Jean handles it all so creatively with a cast of fascinating characters and vivid descriptions of space travel, magic powers, high technology, interplanetary politics, a mystery murder, and evil shape-shifting villains intent on preventing the hero Prince Jaxzon from marrying his kind, beautiful earthling love Quin. This is a romance that takes readers through an interplanetary roller coaster ride with moments of wonder, terror, humor, and tenderness. Quite a story from a gifted story teller.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Once Upon a Griffin by Carole Jean was a fun, delightful read. The characters live on in my memory. The setting was recognizable although thousands of years in the future. I cheered for the main character, Guinn, through all her triumphs and worried for her challenges. Well written and with endearing characters, this book entertains and charms.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What an amazing collection of stories all so different from each other! I love the sounds of The Lilac Notebook, Vampires of the Midnight Sun, and The Unwitting Journeys of the Witty Miss Livingstone. Thanks for sharing! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What fun, Jacqui. I’ve read all the Miss Livingstone’s to date and I just love Miss Liv and her unique vibrant voice. Sheri does a great job with it. And Vampires of the Midnight Sun was wonderful. I was riveted. Thanks for the recommendations of a couple new-for-me books too. Congrats to the authors.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks for those three recommendations, Jacqui. I know I learned a lot about Alzheimer’s from reading The Lilac Notebook, and it wasn’t a downer as some might think. Sure it’s sad to get any kind of dementia, but it was presented in a tactful and compassionate way, while adding a viable murder mystery in the mix.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It’s always fun to see what other people are reading. Surprisingly, as I have never been a fan of the vampire genre, that book has the most appeal for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jacqui! What a cool surprise to see Vampire of the Midnight Sun included in your “books I’m glad I read.” Thank you for reading and reviewing it.😃

    Great reviews. The Lilac Notebook sounds particularly interesting to me because I lost a family member to Alzheimer’s. I think it’d be really emotional, though!

    Liked by 2 people

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