Reading Recommendations

All Reviews By Kristy McCaffrey
I've included Amazon links, but most of the books are also available at Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, as well as print and audio.
The Lost City of Z
By
David Grann
This book is part memoir, part modern-day adventure. Mr. Grann recounts the life of Percy Fawcett, who in the early 1900’s explored the dangerous Amazonian jungle along the Brazil-Bolivia border. Fawcett was in the rarefied company of other extraordinary explorers such as Richard Burton (who searched for the source of the Nile) and Ernest Shackleton (an early explorer of the Antarctic), all members of the Royal Geographical Society in London. Fawcett’s repeated expeditions into the jungle—along with his amazing ability to survive lethal indigenous tribes, starvation, piranhas, and the particularly ghoulish occurrence of maggots under one’s skin—left him convinced that a mythical city (the Spanish conquistadores called it El Dorado) existed somewhere in the area. His preoccupation would eventually lead to his disappearance in 1925. He was never heard from again. Did the lost city of Z exist? Read the book to find out! A gripping and well-written account of the intersection of compulsion and passion within the human spirit.
*****
 

Desert Heat

By

Patti Sherry-Crews

A satisfying short read about single mom Angel Harper trying to run a vacation ranch in Arizona and the cowboy/firefighter who turns her world upside down. Boone Donovan isn't looking for romance but sparks fly the moment he meets Angel. With many obstacles between them, not the least of which is Angel's reluctance to let a man into her and her son's life, this romantic tale will have you rooting for them. And don't miss the follow-up story, Phoenix Heat, about Boone and Angel's daughter Harper. I loved both!

Desert Heat

*****
Bad Boy, Big Heart
By
Andrea Downing

East coast city girl K.C. has come to Wyoming for the summer to work at a ranch. She's warned to stay away from bad boy Chay, but that soon proves difficult to do. Ms. Downing has written a romantic novella with a sexy hero and a smart heroine. Loved it! And don't miss the follow-up story, City Boy, Country Heart.

Bad Boy, Big Heart

*****

Irish Moon

By

Amber Scott

 

Breanne O’Donnell is training in the druidic arts when her mentor Heremon is murdered. A mysterious knight named Ashlon Sinclair is left behind, ill and unable to recall what happened. Breanne nurses him back to health, but he is English and she is Irish, so she keeps his identity hidden. But Sinclair, a Templar Knight, is in pursuit of a chest that has been stolen from him and he ingratiates himself into Breanne’s clan to locate it. He’s also drawn to Breanne but his nomadic life leaves him conflicted about what he can offer her. She has seen with her second sight the fate that intertwines them and worries for his safety, believing that he must leave her to stay alive. This is an enchanting story filled with magic and Irish lore. Breanne is a strong heroine and Ashlon a compelling and romantic figure, and you won’t be able to stop reading this steamy love story until the satisfying conclusion.

*****

Nearly Departed In Deadwood

By

Ann Charles

 

Single-mom Violet Parker has got problems. Unless she can sell a house, she’s about to lose her job as a realtor. Her prospects involve a house-sniffing, enigmatic man named Doc (although he’s not an MD) and a handsome Ken-doll client whose efforts to woo her may be too good to be true. Throw in a paranormal mystery involving several missing girls alongside Violet’s ensuing anxiety about the safety of her own two children, and you’ve got a nonstop thrill-ride of a tale, which I dare you not to read in one sitting. This is the first in an ongoing series told from Violet’s point-of-view (Book 8 is soon to be released). Ms. Charles has a flair for dialogue and humor, and you’ll fall in love with Violet and all the quirky side-characters that populate Charles’ version of modern-day Deadwood. But be prepared: this series will grab you and you’ll disappear until you’ve read each and every book.

Nearly Departed In Deadwood (Deadwood Humorous Mystery Book 1)

*****

Slade

by

Julie Lence

As part of his incarceration, outlaw Slade Barlow has been placed on work detail at the Prescott farm. Thrown in the calaboose on tenuous charges, he needs to keep his head down and bide his time until he can flee the Widow Prescott and her two daughters, Jillianne and Camille. But he hadn’t counted on his growing feelings for Jill or the fact that someone is stalking their property. As he digs deeper, he comes to realize that he may be more deeply involved in the mystery of Jill’s deceased father and the time the man spent away from the farm than he’d like to be. And, at the end of the day, can he walk away from Jill? This is a solid western romance with great descriptions that will put you right in the time period. Slade is a tormented hero, Jillianne is a kindhearted heroine, and their romance will hold you in its grip until the end. Don’t miss another winner from Ms. Lence!

Slade (Jackson Creek Series Book 1)

*****

Lead Me Into Temptation

By

Devon McKay

In this historical western romance, Violet Webster is looking for her father and her only option is to become a mail-order bride. Garrett Sutherlin, her betrothed’s son, has been sent to escort her, a task that will free him from living under his father’s dictates. Ms. Devlin takes this standard trope and delivers a richly-drawn tale with a likable heroine and a compelling hero. Fans of this genre will love the story! I certainly did.

Lead Me Into Temptation (Gold Dust Brides Book 1)

*****

The Peacemaker

By

Andrew McBride

 

Calvin “Choctaw” Taylor is a young Indian scout contracted to guide a peace ambassador into the stronghold of the famed Apache leader Cochise. Accompanying them is the man’s adopted Apache daughter Nahlin. Together they enter one of the most dangerous areas in the old west—the Dragoon Mountains. Their journey is one of bold intentions, treacherous encounters with both Indians and white men, and, ultimately, agonizing heartbreak. This is a well-told story of historical fact woven within fiction, of well-crafted and flawed characters, and a plot that will leave you guessing and eager to reach the conclusion. I highly recommend.

The Peacemaker

*****
Daring Greatly
By
Brene Brown
Ms. Brown considers vulnerability in all its many forms, whether it be in the workplace, in schools, or in your own home. Through years of research she’s compiled real-life data and offers practical and stark truths about how to deal with the shame inherent in our culture as a result of being vulnerable.
The simple truth is that “to feel is to be vulnerable.” Brown addresses fallacies of vulnerability: It’s not a weakness and it’s not letting it all hang out. It does require trust and boundaries. She stresses the importance of developing shame-resilience: recognizing shame and understanding its triggers, practicing critical awareness, reaching out, and speaking about it with a trusted someone.
The last part of the book deals with parenting and how we can all do better by simply engaging with our children, developing our own ability to be vulnerable and mirroring that to them, and forgiving ourselves when we’re not perfect. Perfection is a form of shielding and freeing ourselves of our “armor” is an important first step. “I am enough, I’ve had enough, and showing up, taking risks, and letting myself be seen is enough.”
This book is amazing and authentic, and Ms. Brown hasn’t taken the easy road—she digs deep into the subject matter, offering insights that are painful yet ultimately healing.
*****

Texas Mail Order Bride

By

Linda Broday

 

Cooper Thorne lives in Battle Creek alongside his adopted brothers, Rand and Brett. They were all raised in an orphanage and now steadfastly guard their independence and freedom, which means no matrimony. They’ve even formed a ‘Bachelor’s Club’. When determined Delta Dandridge arrives in town fully expecting to become Cooper’s mail-order bride, his answer is a swift no. He never sent for her, so refuses to honor a promise he never made. However, Delta decides to remain in Battle Creek and forge a new life for herself, and Cooper can’t seem to avoid the woman. And soon enough, he doesn’t want to. Ms. Broday’s novel is an entertaining western romance with great banter between the leads, wonderful side characters, and a steamy love story. The perfect tale to curl up with before bedtime.

Texas Mail Order Bride (Bachelors of Battle Creek Book 1)

*****

Remanence
By
Jennifer Foehner Wells
In this follow-up to Book 1: Fluency, we find Dr. Jane Holloway and Dr. Alan Bergen on the alien spaceship discovered near earth. They are now headed to the home world of the creatures who mysteriously perished on board. Guiding them is the only survivor, a massively intelligent squid-like creature who controls the ship and is telepathically linked to Jane. Because of this connection, Jane is now the commander. The tale unfolds as they make first contact with a species known as the Sectilius. I really enjoyed this story, especially the relationships between Jane and the entity and the prickly romance between her and Bergen. Thankfully, it comes to a satisfying ending since there will no doubt be a third book. I can’t wait!
*****
The Devil’s Teeth
By
Susan Casey

The Farallon Islands—a rocky and barren chain of jutting, granite peaks—sit just 27 miles from the San Francisco coastline. A handful of biologists reside in this remote outpost to study the bird, pinniped, and shark populations. Every fall, great white sharks arrive to feed on the local seal population and Ms. Casey delves into the research undertaken in the surrounding waters. It’s a story of grit and terror, and a testament to how little we know about these fascinating and monstrous creatures. Casey also recounts the history of the island—at one point, the eggs sold in the Bay area markets were collected from the massive seabird population, nearly depleting their numbers. The main attraction, of course, is the sharks, with personalities as varied as the people who investigate them. By the end of the book, despite a lingering fear of the giant fish, I couldn’t help but gain a healthy respect for the apex predators of the ocean. This is a riveting and enlightening read.

*****
Love Proof
By
Robin Brande
In Love Proof, lawyer Sarah Henley must work opposite her former lover from college, Joe Burke. He broke her heart six years prior and never had the decency to tell her why. This premise may sound too simple, but in the hands of the talented Ms. Brande, a solid, compelling love story unfolds. I definitely lost sleep reading this on vacation.
The romance is hot, the legal proceedings are entwined just enough to give context but not overwhelm the story, and the characters are likable and credible. But not perfect. When the romance is re-ignited, Sarah and Joe face an ethical issue as they work on opposing sides of the same case. How that unfolds, as well as Sarah’s own reservations about Joe, create the obstacles they must overcome. It’s a reminder that despite mistakes made along the way, everyone has the power to become a better version of themselves.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a great read. You won’t be disappointed.
*****
Deer Hunting in Paris:
A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat
By
Paula Young Lee
In the title of this memoir, author Paula Young Lee refers to both Paris, France, and Paris, Maine. How she connects the two disparate places speaks to the overall theme—you never know where you’ll end up, but chances are, it will be a place that softens the quirky edges and incongruent personality traits that never quite fit together.
Lee is a Korean woman raised in the United States by a father who preached Christianity in rural America—mostly in the backwoods of Maine. Paralyzed from the waist down, his belief in God never wavers, but Lee constantly questions and strives to stretch beyond the dictates of Korean culture.
For a time, she lives in Paris, France. When severe food and other allergies besiege her, she develops a love of meat. Hers isn’t just a cursory fascination; she’s taken it to the next level, trying to understand where cuts of meat originate in an animal and sharing recipes that are hundreds of years old.
A wanderer, she doesn’t desire to be tied down. Then she meets John, a divorced lawyer from Paris, Maine. The bulk of Lee’s story unfolds as she and John spend time with his folks, siblings, and extended family. And they are hunters. Lee expounds on tracking bear and moose. She explains in great detail how to dress a deer in the wild upon its execution. She describes the process of a pig roast with such detail that you’ll smell the succulent meat and your mouth will water.
 Deer Hunting in Paris is a love story. John and Lee couldn’t be more different, but on a deeper level their relationship works. Her appreciation for the animals and the process of hunting wins over John’s family, and while many will cringe over the gory descriptions of how an animal is gutted and quartered, there is a sense of the order of nature here. Living close to the land—a skill many of us have lost—isn’t for the faint of heart. Lee has qualms as well, but in the name of love she pushes through. Her forthright and honest prose had me laughing aloud in parts, and her esteem for the natural world and the man she loves make for a unique and compelling read.
*****

The Dark Net

By

Benjamin Percy

 

In this paranormal technological thriller, we meet a diverse crew of characters: Lela, a laser-focused journalist with no life; Mike Juniper, hiding a past as an evangelical minister and owner of a homeless shelter; Sarin, a woman who may be far older than many realize; Cheston, a computer hacker and voyeur; and Hannah, a young blind girl who will play a pivotal role in the storyline. Evil has come to Portland, Oregon, and the pathway is the Dark Net. I don’t want to say too much more because the story unfolds with many interesting twists, and I was quite glued to my e-reader until the end. Mr. Percy offers insights into our digital age that will astound and horrify you, while giving us an edge-of-the-seat terror ride. I highly recommend the novel and I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually turns up in the movie theater.

The Dark Net

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