High Cheekbones by Erika Tamar

Vintage Book

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

4 Stars

Hot-pink book cover shows half the face of a glamorous teenage girl, wearing a long earring and looking upward with a small smileHigh Cheekbones by Erika Tamar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description: Alice Lonner always keeps her feet firmly on the ground—at least until the day she’s discovered by a top modeling agency. Leaving homework, baby-sitting, and overnights with her best friend behind, Alice suddenly finds herself pounding the pavement for jobs, posing for photo layouts, and entering a world she’s totally unprepared for.

My thoughts: It took a long time for me to find this early ’90s YA novel again. It’d been quite a while since my adolescent self once read it, and I couldn’t remember the title or the author’s name. But I remembered how the hot-pink paperback book cover looked.

I also remembered the gist of the plot, similar to another novel I’d read around that time about a teen model, Crystal by Walter Dean Myers.

Crystal book cover shows the face of a smiling teenage model wearing hoop earrings

Book cover image courtesy of FictionDB.com

Neither one of the novels are the upbeat, happily-ever-after type, and I wanted to find High Cheekbones again for remembrance but not nostalgia. The language, with the (sometimes repetitive) uses of “hell” and “damn” and a few other words for nonliteral purposes, wasn’t to my personal taste back then or now. And while the tone of the novel isn’t the incredibly dark and depressing type I typically can’t get through these days, even with the story’s rather “PG-12” handling of matters like drug use, underage drinking, sugar daddies, grownup-and-teenager attraction, parental neglect, and mental illness, it hasn’t exactly been fun reading or rereading for me and this book.

Yet, I like the novel (and better appreciate it now) because reading it back then helped to confirm something about my adolescent self. The kind of fast-lane social “thrills” that first entice Alice never appealed to me, and how her story pans out played a part in shaping the overall idea for me that how I felt was okay. A bright, full, wholesome kind of life was what I wanted, and that was okay.

Sometimes, it isn’t so much about getting pleasure out of a story but rather about what the story shows or confirms to you…

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The Quilt by T. Davis Bunn


Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

5 Stars

Illustrated book cover shows a cozy bedroom with a colorful quilt on the bedThe Quilt by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: Despite her arthritis, Mary, an elderly grandmother, is determined to make one more quilt in order to pass along her spiritual legacy to her family and friends.

My thoughts: An oldie novella from one of the most versatile authors to ever write ChristFic.

This isn’t a story with a sermon or a come-to-Jesus moment stuffed into it to make it “Christian.” Rather, one woman’s soul-deep task of faith is the story here, along with the way she gently impacts the lives around her.

It’s a simple tale but not a shallow one. Heartwarming but not corny or oversweet. The style is almost rambling, but it’s an intentional ramble, taking its time to show the intricate nature of some imperfect, loving relationships between compellingly human characters.

Really, Mary’s relationship with her younger, middle-aged son, a bond that isn’t particularly sentimental but that’s still deeply felt on both sides… I could have read this book just for that.

It’s a poignant story—not the kind to reach for when you’re looking for an upbeat, happy ending for everyone. Rather, it’s for those contemplative moments when you feel like pausing to appreciate the blend of joys and sorrows that make up this priceless thing we call life.

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Jhoi Series by Nadine C. Keels

Jhoi Series
Read together or as standalones

Sweet Contemporary Love Stories
Friendship. Belief. Love. And Jhoi.

You’ll find more information and direct links to the bookstores on each book page.

World of the Innocent
A sweet contemporary love story

Are you ready to love this young man?
Buy World of the Innocent ebook
Buy World of the Innocent paperback

World of Joy
A sweet small-town romance

'Tis the season to reclaim her name
Buy World of Joy ebook
Buy World of Joy paperback

Series Collection

Friendship. Belief. Love. And Jhoi.
Buy Jhoi collection ebook
Buy Jhoi collection paperback

Add Series to Goodreads

Five Stars from Readers’ Favorite
World of the Innocent

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Jhoi: Blending Life with Story

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Notes on the Books’ Content

No profanity. If a character does curse, their specific words aren’t written out.
Kissing but no sex scenes.
Whenever there’s violence, it isn’t gratuitous.
Any substance use is mild or brief.

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D-Dames by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Fantasy Fiction

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

5 Stars

Illustrated book cover shows a serious woman in World War Two service attire, and war planes flying overheadD-Dames by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: Four stories of women and elemental magic in World War 2. Meet young women finding both courage and powers as they resist the Axis forces in England (fire), Wales (air), Northern Ireland (earth), and Scotland (water).

My thoughts: I had yet to try any of this author’s work before, but I went to her website and knew I wanted to read this short story collection the minute I saw the title and book cover.

I think it’s pretty safe to say this is the only time I’ve ever read historical fantasy fiction based on the Second World War. I thoroughly enjoyed all four stories and their depictions of imperfect, believable, powerful women. They aren’t almighty heroines who know everything and make nothing but superb decisions all the time (which would’ve been too over-the-top to be interesting). But these women are gritty and incredible when they kick into gear at critical moments, whether the actions they take are dramatic or subtle.

These tales have what I love about good short stories: sharp lines and meaningful details with no dispensable scenes. Vignettes like these reveal what’s important and let it be enough, trusting the reader’s discernment and imagination. Demonstrating how a story doesn’t have to be long to be substantive, with strong characters.

Oh! And after reading the stories straight through, you’ll definitely want to check out the annotations and bonus images. They’re like dessert that’s more than dessert.

D-Dames is currently available at
Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s website.

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