The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by A. E. Hotchner

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.

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by A.E. Hotchner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Aaron is right outside when a jewelry store robbery goes awry, resulting in murder. Although Aaron sees the real culprit bolt from the scene, Aaron’s father is the one the cops come and take to jail. It’ll be up to the “detectifying” of an almost-thirteen-year-old boy to prove his father’s innocence in The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by author A. E. Hotchner.

Now. I should tell some of you, don’t be fooled by the young protagonist and the lads on the vintage book cover and think this is a children’s book or something. Readers from Aaron’s age to the age of the author—who’s around a hundred years old—are bound to enjoy this tale.

An old-fashioned historical mystery it is, steeped in its Depression-era St. Louis setting, but it’s not driving hard to be super-mystery-ish the entire time. During the first quarter, it kind of reminded me of reading one of those slice-of-life classics my teachers would’ve assigned back in school.

Then, gradually and all of a sudden, I was all in. Aaron is such a mix of maturity and innocence, of inexperience, sharp wits, and relevant, real-deal principles. (You ought to hear this kid talk about his soul.) He narrates in a distinct, blunt voice, saying what’s on his mind as it comes to him, and he’s also funny without necessarily trying to be.

I’d be having a bit of a laugh, and then, just like that, Aaron, his memories, and his next “happening” would break my heart. Then warm my heart. Then get my heart all pumped, like, “Yeah, you tell ’em, kid! You show ’em! Get it, Aaron!”

I suspected I’d find this novel delightful and entertaining, but I didn’t expect all the substance, poignancy, and hope that comes along with it. I also didn’t expect to have tears in my eyes twice or thrice, including at the end of the story, but, well. That happened.

Note to my blog readers: this book contains a scene of bloody violence and a minimal amount of profanity/crude language.


Ace Carroway and the Handsome Devil by Guy Worthey

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.

Ace Carroway and the Handsome Devil by Guy Worthey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The adventures of World War I veteran and ace pilot Cecilia Carroway continue in Ace Carroway and the Handsome Devil by author Guy Worthey.

At this point in the series, much of what I could say would be spoiler-ish for anyone who’s not read the previous books yet. So a big point of my posting such a review is to tell readers: check out the other books in the series, then read this one, too.

Now! I will say it took a few chapters before I grasped a sense of this story’s direction. Once I caught on, though, I ate up this book as I did the previous two. I got such a kick out of seeing the whole motley gang back together again. (I mean, not “gang” as in “gangsters,” though this book does include some of those 1921 gangster types.) Besides Ace, my favorite of the bunch may be Sam. “Sahib. You should be more polite… Also, do not leave your solar plexus unguarded.” He just says the darndest things sometimes.

I dig it whenever an author has a knack for saying what I wasn’t expecting, like making a reference to “a rumpled trench coat [standing] there with an unshaven man inside it.” I appreciate the uncommon and old-fashioned flair to this story’s style, along with the fact that it’s not afraid to be a little, well…weird. I mean, come on—some mysterious man dashing about the city in a mask and a cape? For goodness’ sake! I dig it.

And as I’ve formed a habit of mentioning, Ace is one bad, bad chick. Even to the point where she borders on seeming too perfect, but then stuff comes up to show that she isn’t almighty or all-knowing after all. Ace needs help, and she has just the gang to help her! I mean, not gangsters…

But I already said that.


Here’s my review of the first book in the series, Ace Carroway and the Great War.



Christmas Romance Sale!

With the holidays coming up, now is a great time to stock up on Christmas romance reads! More than 60 clean romances are on sale for $0.99 each, now through November 18, 2018.
Enter the sale here!


Contemporary Fiction is a Real Genre

In the midst of other fiction genres—thrillers, mysteries, romances, and whatnot—it seems contemporary fiction oftentimes gets overlooked or left out.

“Contemporary fiction? Oh, you mean general fiction.”

Well, yes. But also, no. Contemporary fiction isn’t merely a general or nonspecific classification, and it certainly isn’t a throwaway category.

Granted, if I had to pick a favorite genre, historical fiction would likely be mine. As I think about the many historical novels I’ve read over the years, not all of them have been about an actual historical figure or event. A good number of the stories have been about purely fictional characters experiencing various facets of life during time periods in the past. Experiencing life in a historical setting doesn’t necessarily mean the characters are investigating a crime, or searching for true love, or discovering magical gates to lead them into different realms.

You can think of contemporary fiction as a bookend to historical fiction, if you like. Not every contemporary plot is about investigating crimes, searching for true love, discovering magical gates that lead to different realms, or other scenarios that reflect genres folks may identify more readily. Many contemporary stories are about fictional characters experiencing various facets of life in contemporary times. And life is nothing to sneeze at.

You may find a story about a brother estranged from his siblings, navigating the winding path to reconciliation. Or a woman tackling the challenges of opening a shelter for survivors of abuse. Or a man whose best friend is diagnosed with a terminal disease, so the two of them interrupt their regularly scheduled schedules to go and snap all the pictures they can on a road trip they’ve been putting off for years. No telling how many contemporary scenarios I could come up with.

And as for women’s fiction—

“Women’s fiction? Oh, you mean romance.”

Nope. I mean women’s fiction.

The romance genre is its own thing, and its rules are specific. The development of a romantic relationship must be the main focus of the plot, the story must have an HEA (Happily Ever After) ending for the couple, and other rules that adhere to the romance genre formula. Sell a “romance” novel where the hero and heroine shake hands, say goodbye, and go their separate ways in the end, or where nothing romantic happens until late in the story because the hero and heroine are busy with other matters and only just meet each other halfway through the book, and you’re gonna have a lot of miffed romance readers on your hands.

They’re not in the romance genre, but these two contemporary stories certainly have romance in their storylines.

But that’s beside the point. Finding someone to date or to stand at the altar with isn’t the only thing that happens in women’s lives, folks. 😀 Women’s fiction encompasses much more than that, with women’s growth and experiences as the focus. Their health. Their careers. Their rights. Their relationships with friends and family. The list goes on. And, yes, a women’s fiction novel can include a romantic storyline if it wants to, but it’s not necessary.

Of course, this isn’t to say that women’s fiction is restricted to the contemporary category. You can find historical women’s fiction. Fantasy women’s fiction. Again, the list goes on. But women’s fiction is indeed a big component of contemporary fiction, where characters experience so many of the ins and outs of modern life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll enjoy a good present-day mystery, or a present-day suspense story, or a present-day romance, or a present-day sci-fi adventure. But just because a present-day story may not be from one of those genres doesn’t mean the story is ambiguous or genre-less.

Contemporary fiction is a real genre.

A Few
I’ve Read