Hello all. I have gotten behind on my reviews, so rather than inundate you with post after post, I am doing small groups of reviews with a button to go to Goodreads to read the synopsis. All of these books were provided by the publisher upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson, Narrated by Keylor Leigh

Published May 19th 2020 by Berkley, Penguin Audio

 4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Real Men Knit is a contemporary story of family, friends and romance. Mama Joy fostered four boys and eventually adopted them. They were a rambunctious group, who loved her with all their hearts. When she dies suddenly, they are thrown into turmoil. Of the four, Jesse is adrift. He has a reputation of being a lothario and doesn’t have a decent job. He is adamant that he wants to try and keep Mama Joy’s knitting store open. With the help of part-time employee, Kerry Fuller, they work together to keep the neighbourhood shop open and run the programs that make it a community gathering place. Kerry loved Mama Joy as much as the boys and would do anything to keep Mama Joy’s dream alive. Of course, the more time Jesse and Kerry spend together, the more their emotions and feelings toward one another are stirred up.

I liked Kerry, she is strong and independent and very easy to like. She has some issues with insecurity, especially when she compares herself to the other women Jesse has shared his bed with. She does develop more of a backbone as the story progresses and I liked that. Jesse also has a lot of insecurities, especially when he compares himself to his more successful brothers. He hasn’t treated women very respectfully in the past, so I was worried about Kerry and him starting a relationship. He is very caring though, and it was very evident when he was working with the children in the community, especially Errol, a young boy who was being bullied. Real Men Knit is a story about family and community. The setting of an old New York neighbourhood, the diversity aspect of this book and the idea that knitting is okay for anyone, young or old, male of female, all added to my enjoyment of the story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Published October 8th 2019 by Pamela Dorman Books

3.5 Stars:

This was a very different story than what I am used to from JoJo Moyes, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. This is the story of a group of women who banded together and became known as The Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. This little group was made up of an Englishwoman in an unhappy marriage, Alice; Margery, the daughter of a moonshiner who had died and she wanted her independence; the daughter of a rich couple who had polio, Beth; Sophia, a young black woman, and Izzy. They answered Eleanor Roosevelt’s call to bring books to the illiterate in the hills of Kentucky. Of course this brings change and literacy to many and the owner of the local mine is not happy. He is also Alice’s father-in-law. He will do whatever it takes to get his own way, disband this group and discredit Margery.

I loved this group of women. They dealt with so much due to the expectations of women at the time. There were attempted assaults, racism, sexism, bullying by locals, ostracism and more. With the women fighting the owner of the mine, they became closer, like family and were willing to do whatever it took to protect one another. There were some love interests in the story which softened the events somewhat. Besides learning more about the Packhorse Librarians, I learned a bit about life in the Kentucky mountains, the cruelty of the mine owners, the way law and order were dealt out and the corruption that was possible and the racism and double standards. There was a lot of drama, angst and parts of this book were hard to read. I enjoyed the story, but not as much as I had hoped. It is a good story and I do recommend this one to those who like Romantic, Historical Fiction based on actual events.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor, Narrated by Imogen Church

 Published October 9th 2018 by William Morrow, HarperAudio

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a dual timeline story based on some real events and characters. It is fictional as the author created a life for the characters outside of what she was able to research. In 1838, a ship exploded just off Farne Islands and Grace and her father rowed out to the rocks to save the survivors. She became famous with songs, stories and plays being written about her. She also had a personal life in the story where she falls in love with a man that is already engaged and honorably stands aside so he can follow through with his commitment. The second storyline is set in 1938, with one of the characters based on an actual female lighthouse keeper in Rhode Island. Her young cousin is pregnant and unmarried, so her parents send her to the US to have the baby and give it up for adoption. Once there, events occur that make Mathilda change her mind.

I loved the strong women in this book. They were smart, independent women who were willing to do what they needed to for love and loyalty. This is a story of following your dreams, self-forgiveness, love and family. I enjoyed both settings and stories, but I did enjoy Grace’s story more than Mathilda’s. Hazel Gaynor’s writing is beautiful. The descriptions of life in the lighthouse gave them a life of their own, almost like another character in the story. The islands, the isolation, the gifts from the sea, the storms all added to the atmosphere of the story. This was a wonderful story that I very much enjoyed and definitely recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction, especially where women are strong and accomplished. I did a read/listen with this book, but I read more than I listened to due to pacing. I wanted to read it faster than what the narration allowed. I do enjoy Imogen Church’s narration, so this was not because of her performance, just personal preference.