A Deadly Feast (A Key West Food Critic #9) by Lucy Burdette

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Pages: 283

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancé, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.

The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.

As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

My Review: This was my first foray into the world of Lucy and her Key West adventures. I am HOOKED! So much so I have already requested the first book in the series from my local library and have checked daily on its progress to my anticipating hands.

Even though I entered at book 9, I was never lost. The author did a great job in explaining the characters but it never felt like she was overdoing for those readers who have been reading since book one.

The story kept me riveted to the end and the description of the food made me rush to the store to make her Mojito Cookies this past weekend. They have been a hit. Next, I will try her pecan bars.

This is the perfect book to read outside, with a glass of sweet tea and some form of sparkling water in front of you.

I received a complimentary copy from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

 

Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity—much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy—who knows something about hiding secrets—must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .

My Review: I had to take my time with this one because it rocked me to the core. I’ve cried, felt outraged, and helplessness while reading. Definitely not for the faint of heart but a must-read for fans of suspense.

I could not imagine the life Lucy has experienced. This book made me look at her experiences in a whole new light. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give the suspense and surprises away.

If you are sensitive regarding the LGBTQ community please be warned this book may be upsetting. Personally, I suggest you read it to get more understanding.

There are violence and curse words in the book but not unnecessarily.

I received a complimentary copy from Kensington through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson

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Pages: 207

Publisher: Moody Publishers

Published: September 16, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon: The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through miles of rolling Virginia mountains. It’s a route made famous by natural beauty and the simple rhythms of rural life.

And it’s in this setting that Hannah Anderson began her exploration of what it means to pursue a life of peace and humility. Fighting back her own sense of restlessness and anxiety, she finds herself immersed in the world outside, discovering a classroom full of forsythia, milkweed, and a failed herb garden. Lessons about soil preparation, sour mulch, and grapevine blights reveal the truth about our dependence on God, finding rest, and fighting discontentment.

Humble Roots is part theology of incarnation and part stroll through the fields and forest. Anchored in the teaching of Jesus, Anderson explores how cultivating humility—not scheduling, strict boundaries, or increased productivity—leads to peace. “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus invites us, “and you will find rest for your souls.”
So come. Learn humility from the lilies of the field and from the One who is humility Himself. Remember who you are and Who you are not, and rediscover the rest that comes from belonging to Him.

My review: This book helped me find joy in life after the death of my Papaw by making me relieve sweet memories from childhood. Sitting in the yard breaking green beans, learning how to properly plant as I got older and how to find God in everything.

My papaw was a true Southern Baptist and did not let a day go by without reading his bible. He read it faithfully until he slipped into unconsciousness the week before he passed. I have always admired his belief and have to go realize after reading Humble Roots, he was humble in everything he did. He was truly humble.

Humble Roots will be a book I treasure.

I received a complimentary copy from Moody Publishers. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain

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Pages: 401/Audiobook

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: May 1, 2018

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must forge a path as her own woman and writer.

My Review: Hemingway was one of the first classic writers I can remember reading and enjoying. I was thrilled last year to be approved for this book. Quickly disappointment set in. I tried several times to read it and could not get interested. This year I opted to listen to the audiobook. I did finish it but again a disappointment.

The story base is very interesting but details seemed to overshadow and drag the story on longer than needed. The most interesting fact for me came towards the end when learning Martha was the only female at Normandy. I would have loved to have learned more about her experiences there.

I am happy I stuck with this book but do not think I will read again.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Publishing House- Ballantine Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own. The audiobook I received from my local library.

The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

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Pages: 310

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: April 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: With her Amish parents’ twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise–the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.

Sylvia’s bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda’s relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia’s recent engagement to the preacher’s grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

My review: I have been reading Beverly Lewis for I know twenty years and each book she releases keeps getting better and better. The Tinderbox is going to be one of my favorites. I am already eagerly anticipating the sequel due out later this year.

The shock at the end had my jaw dropping to the floor. What a surprise.

I admire Rhoda and her strength and faith in God to work through the secret her husband, Earnest, kept from her. I don’t think I could have been as calm and understanding as she. As always Lewis shows how our belief in God can help us with forgiveness but she doesn’t preach it. I like that.

A solid four star read.

I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Last Pen Standing (Stationary Shop #1)by Vivian Conroy

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Published: September 24, 2019 (according to NetGalley and Amazon)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: As the new co-owner of Tundish Montana’s stationery shop WANTED, Delta Douglas knows how to organize a killer crafting event. Creativity and cardstock are all she needs to move one step closer to her ultimate dream: developing her own line of crafting products. But on the night of the workshop, at the swanky hotel venue, glitter isn’t the only thing found sprawled on the floor. A hotel guest is discovered dead in the bar, and amid the confusion, Delta’s best friend is suspected of the crime.
Enlisting the help of her Paper Posse and Spud, her canine sidekick, Delta dives into the investigation. But with many high-powered suspects on the line, Delta soon realizes her sleuthing may come with deadly consequences.

My Review: A solid four stars. This is the first book I’ve read by Vivian Conroy and I will definitely be checking out her other books. She kept the story going with making sure enough red herrings were evident to keep the reader guessing the killer.

I was thrilled the series is set in Montana. A state on my bucket list of places to travel. She combined that with retired K-9 digs and I was hooked.

I am not a crafter but this book has piqued my interest. I had no clue what washi tape was and have since watched several YouTube videos in what you can do with it. I just might become dangerous in decorating.

I received a complimentary copy from Poisoned Pen Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Stone Bridges (A Swift River Valley #9) by Carla Neggers

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA

Published: March 26, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Adrienne Portale has never settled in one place for long, but takes a job as innkeeper in tiny Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, to spend some time getting to know the father she only recently found. When three small boys get lost in the wilderness that borders the inn, Adam Sloan leads the search. His family ties to the town go back generations. Adrienne sees the bond that people in a small town have as they band together to find the missing children. Adam is impressed with her calm strength, but he’s sure she won’t find what she’s looking for in his quiet hometown.

Despite their differences, Adam and Adrienne discover they have more in common than they’d expected. They love to explore old stone walls and bridges, and she adores his dog. As summer bleeds into the gorgeous New England fall, the attraction between them grows, and they must decide where—and who—makes a place home.

My Review: A spectacular addition to the Swift River Valley series. Even if you’ve never read any books in the series you will be fine delving right in. In fact you will probably be tempted to read the first eight books immediately following this one as you will fall in love with Knights Bridge and not want to leave.

I enjoyed being back at the inn with Adrienne and Adam’s story. The inn is magical when it comes to love. The inn makes me want to start an herb garden in my backyard.

Stone Bridges is the perfect romance to read on the first pool weekend of the season. It just may help heat up the water!

I received a complimentary copy from Harlequin/MIRA through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

 

Take a Chance (Bridgeport Social Club #1) by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Published: September 18, 2018

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Kurt Holland wants the best for his younger brother, which is why he moves Sam to Bridgeport, Ohio. It’s a bigger town with a well-known high school. Just the place to give his little brother more opportunities-maybe even a scholarship to college. Kurt hopes his gamble pays off since Sam’s future isn’t the only thing riding on it. Kurt’s put most of his savings into a new landscaping business there, too. But when Sam gets in trouble for fighting at school, Kurt isn’t so sure it was the right decision … until he meets Sam’s English teacher. Emily Springer is passionate about helping all of her students succeed, but there’s something about Sam Holland that makes her want to go the extra mile. When he’s caught in a fight at school, she goes to bat in his defense, and during a conference with the principal, she meets Sam’s rugged older brother-and guardian. Emily has a strict no-dating policy when it comes to her students’ parents, but Kurt isn’t technically Sam’s parent. It’s OK to bend the rules a little bit, right? In an effort to make some friends and find a place in the Bridgeport community, Kurt starts up a weekly poker game in his garage. It’s not long before everyone wants in, and they all soon discover that these Friday night poker gatherings are about more than just the game. Shelley Shepard Gray’s new Bridgeport Social Club series is about men who need a place to call home, a community in need of hope, and a group of women who are special enough to help both things happen. This first installment is genuine and heartfelt. It’s filled with hope, warmth, and the belief that love and acceptance can overcome any tough situation.

My Review: Let me start with the saying I am a huge fan of Gray’s Amish romances. I was not a fan of Take a Chance.

This was marketed as a clean romance but I would not say it was completely clean. It does discuss wanting to have sex outside of marriage and there are a lot of curse words.

My biggest problem was it felt like it was written geared to a young adult or new adult reader. I have a feeling I would have really loved this book when I was in my late teens/early twenties (not so much in my forties).

I did enjoy the fact Gray incorporated so much of Cincinnati in the book. It was nice to see a town I spent four years in represented nicely.

If you are looking for a romance that will let you read the afternoon away, Take a Chance is for you.

I received a complimentary copy from Blackstone Publishing through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat #5) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

My Review:

As I closed the book I was crying. Why? I fell so hard into the story every time I opened the book that I didn’t want it to end. The emotions Jane experienced were so real. She had to make many hard decisions but I loved that she followed what she thought was the right thing to do even if it wasn’t going to be popular. I feel we really got to know the real Jane and what a powerful force she is.

A series I would suggest the start from the beginning so you can connect with the characters and not ruin any surprises along the way.

I am looking forward to seeing how Adams progresses the series. There is a world of possibility and Adams is the best author for the job.

I received a complimentary copy from Kensington through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

On a Summer Tide (Three Sisters Island #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 308

Publisher: Revell

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Sometimes love hurts–and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island–a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals–and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

My review: I am a huge fan of the Amish books by Suzanne Woods Fisher and now I’m a huge fan of her contemporary works. On a Summer Tide blew me away.

Direct quote “Planning doesn’t make the wedding. And the wedding doesn’t make the marriage. The marriage is what we live with, day in and day out.” Oh, how I wish engaged couples would read this book just for that quote. It is so true! Look beyond the glitz and glam of the ceremony and reception and look toward your future. Where do you want your marriage to be in ten, twenty years?

There is religion in this beautiful work of art but it is expressed serenely and at the most appropriate moments. It makes the reader sit back and reflect before moving on.

At the end of the book is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using rice crispy cereal that I plan on making this weekend and a discussion guide. This book has just about everything in it.

I am looking forward to reading the next installment of The Three Sisters series.

I received a complimentary copy from Revell through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.