The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

pumpkin

Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

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

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

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

The Diva Sweetens the Pie (A Domestic Diva #12) by Krista Davis

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Nothing heats up Old Town quite like the annual Pie Festival, and this year is no exception, especially since Sophie’s professional rival, Natasha Smith, is barred from participating. Sophie, meanwhile, has been asked to oversee the pie eating contest. But the drama really rolls out when celebrity judge, Patsy Lee Presley, host of television’s most popular cooking show, bites the crust during the competition, and Sophie’s friends are suspected of the crime.

As the folks of Old Town dish, the tough truth about Patsy’s meteoric rise to domestic stardom begins to leak. It turns out that Patsy’s sweet exterior hid a secret sour side, which alienated many of her closest allies, including a jilted ex-husband, a bitter ex-mentor, and a jaded ex-best friend. With the festival falling apart, and her friends in danger of being boxed up for murder, Sophie must cobble together the clues and stop a flakey friend from serving up any more deadly desserts.

My Review: This series gets better with each yummy addition. I’m not sure what I enjoy more, the mystery, the baking/cooking tips or recipes. I’m now in the mood to bake pies especially a strawberry pie.

I enjoy how Davis does not let romance overshadow her mysteries. There is just enough to make it interesting and real. I still think her and Mars make a great couple.

If you are looking for a delicious, sweet read this is the book for you.

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

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

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Pages: 347

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: April 23, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

My Review: This is my second Sally Hepworth book and both have been amazing reads. It was a close 5-star read.

A perfect book to show how money can ruin lives.

Would I recommend this book for a teenage reader? No, as it has many adult situations (not sexual) that might be too much. This would make a perfect book club book. I wish I was in one just to have some animated discussions in the plot.

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