The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble

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Pages: 216

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishing

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Willow knows the unknown is scary. Especially when your little brother has been sick for a long time and nobody has been able to figure out why. All Willow wants is for her brother to get better and for her life to go back to normal.

But after a bad stroke of luck, Willow and her family find themselves stranded in an unusual town in the middle of nowhere and their life begins to change in the most unexpected way. Willow soon discovers that the town isn’t just unusual—it’s magical—and the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined.

Will Willow find that this could be the secret to saving her family—or discover that the root of magic could lead them to something greater?

My Review:

Would you want to know what each day would bring before it happened? This is the question Willow must answer when a terrifying accident brings her and her family to Kismet, Maine.

The Root of Magic is a story filled with the wonders of magic, love, and acceptance of yourself and others.

Appropriate for children of ages 8 – 12. There is no foul language and no sex (a first kiss only). It would make a great read-aloud for families. Discussions will abound.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Children’s Publishing, 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.

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.

In Peppermint Peril (A Tea and Read Mystery) by Joy Avon

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Pages: 285

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 27, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Callie has moved back to Maine to help her Great Aunt with Book Tea. A fun tearoom that is filled with sweet bookish clues from beloved mysteries. They’ve agreed to cater a small party at Haywood Hall for Dorothea so she can make an announcement regarding her will. Unfortunately, several things occur, one of which is murder, that prevents the announcement from happening. Callie has taken it upon herself to find the killer. Will she succeed?

My favorite part of the book: Daisy, the Boston Terrier. I wish she had made the cover of the book. As a Boston Terrier owner, I am a sucker for books with one on the cover or as a character. Daisy doesn’t do much but eat and sleep but alas that is the life of a Boston.

As a debut cozy this series has a lot of potentials. I am curious how the town will progress, the direction of Callie and Deputy Falk’s friendship and Callie’s job at Book Tea. I was disappointed no recipes were shared at the end of the book. As a culinary cozy mystery, I have come to expect them. I would have enjoyed learning more about Iphy’s “The Duel”. It sounded yummy to eat and look at.

I will definitely be reading the second book in the series.

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

‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #2) by Jacqueline Frost

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Pages: 309 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 13, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Holly White has barely recovered from her almost death last Christmas while investigating a murder when another murder finds her this Christmas. The town lothario winds up stabbed to death and left in the town square’s gigantic peppermint candy bowl. Unfortunately Holly’s best friend and town cupcake maker, Caroline, is the main suspect. Can Holly solve this murder before becoming a repeat customer of the “almost dead” club?

This series is my guilty Christmas pleasure. Holly and her family are what you think of when you think of Christmas. First, they live in Mistletoe, Maine where the twelve days of Christmas is celebrated with the Reindeer Games. You have blindfold gingerbread house building and snowman building contests. The town plays Christmas music and every store is decorated. A little murder is thrown in to make things even more interesting.

You will laugh, scream and cry with Holly at every turn. Her love life is interesting. She is kind of dating the local sheriff but they have yet to get on the same page at the same time.

In book two, Holly’s family is building an inn at the Christmas Tree Farm and I am interested to see how the dynamics change in future books with this addition.

If you love Christmas and murder together you need to get this series ASAP.

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

Town in a Sweet Pickle (Candy Holliday #6) by B. B. Haywood

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Pages: 338 (Paperback)

Publisher: Berkley

Published: February 3, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In book six, Candy Holliday finds herself questioning the balance between working as interim editor of the newspaper and working the blueberry farm with her dad. Candy and her arch nemesis and co-worker Wanda have organized an event for the local amateur cooks to show off their talent. They were even able to snag a popular cookbook author to be a guest judge. As Wanda goes around helping collect the goodies for the event she finds herself on the wrong end of a tasting. As she recovers, Candy is left to handle the event on her own. Things turn worse when a local favorite drops dead at the event consuming a pickle. Is someone targeting the event or all of Cape Willington?

I continue to enjoy this series the more I read it. Candy is so down to earth that you cannot help but like her. Her love for her dad and the farm is a beautiful addition to the story. Family plays a great role in cozies and this series highlights that wonderfully. The blueberry farm has very little role in this book and I did miss it.

I was saddened by the death of a particular character. I won’t mention who but if you have kept up with the series you will be saddened as well. There is a funeral in this book that will have you laughing and wondering do such things really happen?

Several recipes are included at the end of the book and I cannot wait to bake the Harvest Cookies for my hubby.

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

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Pages: 176 (eBook)

Publisher: Revell

Published: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wendy and her son, Jackson, have been living in Cincinnati, OH and trying to cope with life after the death of her husband, his dad. Wendy’s grandfather passed away and left her his home in Seaside, Maine. Wendy plans on updating the home and selling it ASAP. They drive to Maine over Thanksgiving break and both fall in love with the house and town. Jackson wants to live there but Wendy sees no way to make a living and insists they must go back to Cincinnati. Will the townspeople, one in particular, change her mind and give a young boy his Christmas wish?

What a heartwarming, beautiful Christmas read. Melody Carlson writes with such love and hope that you can’t help but fall in love with Seaside. She makes the reader wish we could experience the Christmas season on the Maine coast with mornings of shelling, days filled with creating beauty within our home and evenings filled with delicious seafood meals.

I would like to see a return visit to Seaside with one of the other characters with an update to how Wendy and Jackson are doing.

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

The Summer Nanny by Holly Chamberlin

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Pages: 352 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: June 26, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amy and Hayley are used to the tourists descending on their town of Ogunquit, Maine when summer arrives. Amy, a recent college graduate, and Hayley, who just lost her job from the business closing down, have decided to be nannies for the rich summer people. Amy wants to save her money for her move to Boston but first she wants to buy some pretties she has been eyeing. Hayley hopes to move her mom and her away from her physically and verbally abusive father. Neither girl realized this would be a summer of growing and learning life lessons that change their futures forever.

The Summer Nanny is touted as a beach read and while I agree it is also filled with depth. It is in no way fluffy chic lit. Abuse in many forms play a huge role throughout the entire book. it shows you abuse doesn’t care about social class, age, gender or where you live. Mother-daughter relationships are also highlighted from several different aspects.

I found this to be a quick read with the short chapters. Language was appropriate for all ages. Romance was present but nothing more than a heated kissing session. Drugs are present but not prominent. Age appropriate for any reader 16+.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Neighbor by Joseph Souza

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Pages: 352 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 24, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Leah’s husband wants to own his own brewery and make it big. What’s a wife to do but move her two kids across country from Seattle to Maine to support her husband’s dreams. Nothing is what she expected. They live in an undeveloped neighborhood, she has made no friends and never sees her husband. Whether out of boredom or desperation or both Leah becomes fixated on their only neighbors, the Gaines particularly Clarissa Gaines. Leah starts sneaking in their house trying to get to know Clarissa better. Things heat up when a local college student goes missing and is feared dead. Is there a connection between her neighbors and the missing girl?

Talk about a stay up all night and read book, this is the book. I found myself turning the pages faster than you can say BOO. Every chapter seemed to have a twist that made me go “WHAT?” and keep reading to find out what was happening next.

The only issue I kind of had with the book was the racial tone at the beginning seemed forced and I wasn’t sure if it was necessary but as you read the book you came to understand why it was used and it makes the story so much more real. I do think it speaks of the current time we are in and what some of us experience in our communities.

This is the second book I have read by Joseph Souza and I plan on reading more. He is one of my top psychological thriller authors. If you have not read him, give him a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley from Kensington. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet

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Pages: 448 (eBook)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: April 17, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

As World War II blazes through Europe and Hitler becomes a menace, Augusta “Gusta” Neubronner is sent to live with her grandma she barely knows in Springdale, Maine. Her father was escorting her but in Providence they became separated so she trudges on until she finds her grandmother’s doorstep. She brings very few possessions but her treasured French horn as made the journey with her. As she learns her way in life and the new town will the French horn be able to save her and her family as family secrets start leaking out at the seams?

What a treasured read. The book is loosely based on the author’s own mother’s life as a child during wartime in Maine. You can see the trueness of the story shine through the words on the page. I was enthralled with this different aspect of a children’s book during World War Two. As a reader you learn about Alienation registration and how children treated other children who seemed un-American based on their name or look. At times it reminded me of what is going on the America today with the immigration disputes among people.

This may be a children’s fiction book but anyone who loves a good story, no matter the age, will find themselves cheering gutsy Gusta as she learns her way in life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.