Grateful American by Gary Sinise

 

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Pages: 305

Publisher: HarperCollins – Zondervan

Published: February 12, 2019

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My Review: An interesting look in how Gary Sinise became one of the most prominent military and first responders supporters. It was nice to read about an actor who uses his popularity for a good thing. As a daughter of a Korean War and retired Army, I want to say thank you to him for caring and helping those in need.

In regards to his personal life, I had no idea he has been married to his wife for 40+ years. Congrats. What an accomplishment in these modern times. I also did not know all the movies he has been in and now want to try and watch them all.

If you are looking for a positive Hollywood story Grateful American is the book for you. Available now from your favorite book retailer.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, HarperCollins – Thomas Nelson, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose–or so it seemed.
Within a few years, Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI: NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half-million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am absolutely horrified such a person as Georgia Tann existed. The pain suffered for generations is a tragedy. It’s also horrifying to think she was never officially brought to justice.

While I agree some children went on to live extraordinary lives it still doesn’t change how crudely they were adopted. I do believe you should have the right to your adoption records. I do not know much about adoptions but if there is one thing I hope is learned is that adoption facilities should get detailed health information of the families from the families for the children.

My eyes have been opened and my heart hurts for the Georgia Tann kids. Hopefully, nothing like this happens in the USA again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought a new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense #2) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 247

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: November 12, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Fan Mail is just as good as Desolate Shores. Aspen and her niece are a good team both in the investigation of murders and as a family unit. I didn’t want to stop reading from the moment I opened the book.

Please tell me a third book is on its way soon. I can’t wait to see who gets murdered next and how it helps Aspen overcome her past.

Clean romance as a side story, very few curse words, if any, but there are triggers of physical abuse, drug abuse and of course murder.

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

NetGalley: Agatha Award-winning and national bestselling author Daryl Wood Gerber returns with a dark new novel of suspense . . .

An adoring fan and a string of murders: a demented show of love that leaves no one safe . . .

Local celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .

Desolate Shores (an Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 239

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I was blown away by Desolate Shores. The story was full of action and kept me on my toes trying to guess the killer. Every time I thought I guessed it a new red herring would be introduced. Any author that can achieve that with me is a go-to author.

I loved the side story with Aspen’s niece, Candace. I can’t wait to read more in this series to see how their relationship progresses. I feel so invested in their story that I have to know more.

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

NetGalley: Daryl Wood Gerber, the national bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, returns with a novel of gripping suspense . . .
A chilling murder, an elusive killer, and a family mystery that hits too close to home . . .

After finding the body of her best friend on the icy shores of Lake Tahoe, Aspen Adams refuses to stand by and watch as the local sheriff’s department begins their search for the killer. Launching her own investigation, she’s soon confronted with a growing array of secrets—both about the friend she thought she knew and about many of the people in her own life. As fragmentary clues and escalating dangers threaten to derail her, she must also cope with the disturbing behavior of her deadbeat sister and troubled teenage niece.

Determined to overcome her personal demons over past failures, Aspen is driven to unravel the conflicting evidence and a shifting range of suspects to bring the killer to justice, even as a family trauma unfolds that threatens to upend her life. And as her investigation inexorably leads her to a shocking discovery and taunts her with a solution that is just out of reach, Aspen realizes that the killer wants nothing more than to see her and her niece dead . . .

Memories and Murder (A Tourist Trap #11) by Lynn Cahoon

 

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Pages: 202

Publisher: Kensington (Lyrical Press)

Published: November 12,2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I stumbled on this series about a year ago and have gobbled it up like turkey on Thanksgiving Day. I feel so at home with Jill and her Aunt Jackie every time I open up a book in the Tourist Trap series. We have books, coffee, and murder. A trifecta of perfect cozy mystery ready.

I enjoyed the topic of elder abuse in the form of scams. Unfortunately, there are so many elderly that have no one to watch out for them and they end up losing so much. Lynn Cahoon tackled the subject with finesse and made it entertaining so as not to seem like a lecture.

You can read this series starting with any book in the series but I still suggest reading in order to get the best reading experience.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.
NetGalley: It’s October in South Cove, California, and the locals in the quaint resort seem to be happily pairing off in the lull before the holidays. Everyone, that is, except for Jill Gardner’s elderly aunt, who just dumped her besotted fiancé—and she won’t say why.

When Jill hosts a talk at Coffee, Books, and More on the topic of elder abuse, all that’s really on her mind is lunch. But the topic hits close to home when she discovers Aunt Jackie has been getting mysterious calls. Jill’s certain the caller is a con artist, of course, but her feisty aunt claims to understand this, though she’s still shaken—and Harrold’s still heartbroken. Who’s behind the scam and why was her aunt targeted? When a volunteer from the Senior Project is found murdered, Jill’s detective boyfriend is on the case—and it soon becomes clear no one is safe when a caller from beyond becomes a killer in their midst.

A Very Mummy Holiday (A Tourist Trap 9.5) by Lynn Cahoon

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Pages: 81

Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 29, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A great addition to the Tourist Trap series. I loved that the novella took place during Thanksgiving as that is my favorite holiday. Family, friends and yummy food.

We get to learn more about Kathi, a newer edition of the series, and I’m not a big fan. She is a good character but personally, she drives me crazy with her need to be perfectly groomed and trying to change Jill.

A Very Mummy Holiday is perfect for a chilly fall weekend read.

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

NetGalley: Jill Gardner has left her book-and-coffee shop behind to spend Thanksgiving week in coastal Oregon with her cop boyfriend, her golden retriever Emma, and a crowd of friends and family. But before the feast can start, foul play interrupts their vacation . . .

The rented house was supposed to be a relaxing getaway. But Jill and her companions feel a sense of danger instead. First, they learn that their hosts’ son had a fiancée, but her disappearance remains unexplained—and then they meet some menacing members of a local trail-riding club. When one of Jill and Greg’s friends finds human remains amid the dunes—with a diamond ring around one mummified finger—things start heating up fast, and they’ll be thankful just to survive through the long weekend . . .

The Friendship Lie by Rebecca Donnelly

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Pages: 272

Publisher: Capstone

Published: August 1, 20149

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

My Review:

I found this book enjoyable and enlightening in regards to recycling. In being a substitute teacher, I have learned that fifth grade is a lot harder than I remember and The Friendship Lie shows that very well. More and more kids deal with situations that when I was younger were few and far between like parents splitting and one moving away and I am not talking about just across town. Kids worry more about the environment than ever before. They understand that we are depleting our natural resources and there is no way to recreate. They also start realizing that once what bound them to their best friend may not be something they like or enjoy anymore. They start coming into their own person.

Donnelly has done a good job in showing all the dynamics above between Cora and Sybella. The most important lesson taught in this book is that sometimes all it takes is a conversation to clear the air in a positive light but sometimes that conversation is the hardest thing of all to start.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Capstone, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

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Pages: 315

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

My Review:

An intriguing, fast-paced read.

My BFF called me on release day and said you have to get this book immediately. So of course, I did and I promptly finished within 24 hours.

I enjoyed the chapters alternating between Free and Captured. I felt it added to the suspense of the train wreck of Lila’s life. I could imagine this being made into a movie. I think it would capture the attention of the audience right away.

If you are sensitive to coarse language (F word) then beware as it is present in this book. It does not feel excessive though. Don’t let that stop you from reading this intriguing book.

A perfect read for the last few summer weekends at the beach or lake.

Sifting Through Clues (A Cookbook Nook Mystery #8) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 364

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: April 23, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Even though I started reading this series in the middle, I really enjoy the series. My hope is to read the beginning this summer.

Sifting Through Clues has so much to offer from interesting cookbooks to look for, cozy mystery books to read and yummy recipes at the end. I pretty much gobbled it up.

I had no idea who killed Ivy until it was revealed. I honestly thought it was another character and still wanted it to be. Books that can keep me guessing until the end are very enjoyable.

My only problem was with one main, important character, Cinnamon, the Chief of Police. I’m used to the chief being semi-rude with the amateur sleuth but Cinnamon seemed way over the top. She almost seemed too flighty to the point of finding it hard to believe she was a police officer much less a chief. When the book ended I had come to the conclusion I didn’t like her character very much.

Sifting Through Clues will leave you hungry and ready to tackle the recipes included. I’m ready to bake up some cheesy scones.

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

Mother’s Day Mayhem (A Tourist Trap # 10.5) by Lynn Cahoon

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Pages: 75

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 2, 2019

Rating: 3.5 stars

NetGalley:
Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More is almost out of Mother’s Day cards. She has a few more in stock, but she’s set them aside because she needs Greg’s help choosing one for his mother. It’ll be Jill’s first time meeting her boyfriend’s mother, and she’s understandably nervous.

Turns out Jill isn’t the only one having feelings about mothers. Kyle, who works at the antique store next door, needs to find the perfect card for a mother he hasn’t seen since he was five—when she went away to jail. But her arrival in South Cove isn’t exactly celebratory, her behavior toward her son unexpectedly restrained. Piqued, Jill discovers that a mother can never be replaced . . .

My review:
I have enjoyed these novellas until the next full-length novel is released but I felt this was out of order. I would suggest reading Mother’s Day Mayhem before Killer Party.

Mother’s Day Mayhem is the perfect way to pass a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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