Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

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Pages: 308

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon: Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.
The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all—the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

My Review: Things You Save in a Fire is my first Katherine Center book and will not be my last.

The beginning was a little slow (50 pages) but once it picks up, it takes off with the speed of a sports car. You will not want to put down. As a matter of fact, for two days my husband had to eat sandwiches for dinner. I was not stopping to bother with cooking.

This book has all the feels: anger, shock, sadness, laughter, and love. It is true to life where one moment we are happy and then something happens to make us realize how short life really can be.

Things You Save in a Fire has some foul language (F word every so often), a few sex scenes (not too in depth) and adult situations.

Put this on your TBR list and a reminder on your calendar to pick up your copy on 8.13.19 from your favorite book retailer. I just know you will like this book.

I received a complimentary copy from St. Martin’s Press. Any and all opinions expressed the above review are entirely my own.

#thingsyousavebook

Jealousy Filled Donuts (Deputy Donut #3) by Ginger Bolton

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Pages: 281

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon: It is a truth universally acknowledged—cops and donuts go together. Exhibit A: Deputy Donut Café, owned and operated by detective’s widow Emily Westhill and her father-in-law, the retired police chief of Fallingbrook, Wisconsin. Named after Emily’s adored and adorable tabby, the donut shop is a favorite among cops, firemen, and EMTs, as well as tourists and townspeople. So when Fallingbrook needs donuts for their Fourth of July picnic, Emily’s shop gets deputized.

But a twisted killer has found another use for Emily’s treats. At the picnic, a firecracker is hidden in a stack of raspberry-filled donuts and aimed at the unwitting queen of the festivities. When it explodes, she is killed. Having her jelly donuts involved puts Emily in a sticky situation, and when a shady shutterbug tries to frame her with incriminating photos, she finds herself in quite a jam. To preserve her freedom and her shop’s reputation, Emily needs to solve this case—before the fuse-lighting felon goes off again …

My Review: The ending is so romantic and swoon-worthy for a cozy mystery. I LOVE the fact that there is not a romantic triangle for Emily. I am already jonesing for the next book in the series!

I admit the first book in the series was not a home run for me but the second was good and this one is REALLY good. How can you not like a cozy mystery set in a donut shop with the most adorable cat ever written? I am not a big donut eater but this series is making me rethink that. I am ready to try the maple cheddar donut with some bacon.

Emily is the friend we all wish we had and were to others. Sincere, caring and joyful to be around. I like the addition of Jocelyn and hope to see more of her.

I suggest reading the series in order just so you get the full effect of the ending of this book. This series is clean in the romance department and language. Murder, of course, occurs but I wouldn’t say it is gory. A good series to start reading cozy mysteries if you haven’t read them before.

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

 

Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 305

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Published: July 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Keely Green always dreamed of leaving the beautiful shores of Nantucket to become a writer. Now she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, attending glamorous cocktail parties and mingling with the literary elite. Keely is also dating a charming, perfectly fine pediatric surgeon who looks good on paper but isn’t “the one.” She just can’t bear to break it off—until he declares his desire to settle down. Then Keely’s editor rejects her latest novel. With her personal and professional lives suddenly in shambles, Keely longs for the soothing island way of life.

Growing up, Keely and her best friend, Isabelle, were inseparable. Nothing could come between them—except, as it turned out, Keely’s high school boyfriend, Tommy. Returning home would mean facing Isabelle’s bitter betrayal and seeing for herself the family Tommy and Isabelle have created, the life that might have been Keely’s.

But when Keely’s mother falls into a deep depression, Keely knows what she must do, even though she is reluctant to face her estranged friend. And encountering Isabelle’s older brother, Sebastian—Keely’s longtime crush—only complicates things.

In one incredible summer, Keely must confront the mistakes of the past if she has any chance of finding true happiness in the place she will always call home. Nancy Thayer shines yet again in this uplifting tale of forgiveness and self-discovery.

My Review: Nancy Thayer has joined the cast of my MUST read authors for summer. She joins Mary Alice Monroe, Elin Hildebrand, and Dorothea Benton Frank. It doesn’t feel like summer until I read these authors. Thayer has written another hit. I found myself ignoring everything around me as I read. The heartache Keely felt many times throughout the book tugged at my heartstrings and I wanted to jump into the book and try to fix it for her.

The descriptions of Nantucket make the reader feel as if they are there playing in ocean waves, eating yummy food in the summer sunshine and listening to families excitement on vacation. You will be wishing you could hop on the next flight out.

If you haven’t read Nancy Thayer then start with Surfside Sisters. You will thank me when you are finished.

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

 

Beach Weekend Wedding by Rachel Magee

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Pages: 298

Publisher: Hallmark

Published: May 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: When Brody broke up with Paige and went to Europe, he suggested that someday, they’d pick up right where they left off. A hopeless romantic, she believed him. But when they meet again, Brody’s dating a gorgeous actress. They’re all going to attend the same wedding, and Paige plans to win Brody back. She even enlists her best friend’s brother, Aiden, to pretend to date her and make her ex jealous. A breezy, charming restaurant owner, Aiden actually avoids serious relationships, but as a fake boyfriend, he’s perfect. As old friends and exes take part in wedding preparations and enjoy the beauty of the Florida coast, they begin to see themselves—and each other—in a new light.

My Review: When I want a good-hearted romance I turn to Hallmark Publishing. Their books are as sweet and comforting as their movies. Paige and Aiden’s story is the perfect story to read as you relax on a hot summer weekend.

This book is a good one for the teenager in your life that wants to read romance older than young adult. It has no foul language and no sex scenes (mild kissing). Also a good book for your elderly grandma.

A bonus: the book includes a recipe for BBQ Brisket Tacos with Sunshine Slaw. I am thinking of making this summer.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hallmark Publishing through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe

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Pages: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only a few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

My Review: Mary Alice Monroe is my go to Southern writer every summer. I live for her view of the beach, sea life and Southern family drama. It allows me a vacation when I can’t take one.

The Summer Guests is a different summer southern read. The focus is on how a hurricane displaces more than people. Families have to find shelter for their pets from million dollar horses to the tiniest puppy. Living so far from the ocean, these are concerns I do not think about when listening to the news. Monroe does an exceptional job of letting one know about this issue.

Fans of southern fiction need to add this to their “must read” list for the summer. You will not be disappointed.

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

Toxic Toffee (Amish Candy Shop #4) by Amanda Flower

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Bailey King’s in New York wrapping up a six-week shoot on her first cable TV show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets, when she gets a call from her Ohio town’s resident busybody. With Easter around the corner, Bailey’s been recruited to create a giant toffee bunny for the weeklong springtime festival that will also feature live white rabbits. But back home in Harvest, death becomes the main attraction when Stephen Raber keels over from an apparent heart attack—with Bailey and Raber’s pet bunny as witnesses.
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Except it wasn’t Raber’s heart that suddenly gave out—a lethal dose of lily of the valley was mixed into a tasty piece of toffee. Who’d want to poison a jovial rabbit farmer who reminded Bailey of an Amish Santa Claus? To solve the murder, she and her sheriff deputy boyfriend Aiden must uncover a twenty-year-old secret. She’ll need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to keep a healthy distance from toxic people, including one venomous killer . . .

My Review: Adorable, if you can say that about a murder mystery. The addition of Puff to the series was just the right touch.

Amanda Flower writes with such knowledge of the Amish and does a fantastic job of making the reader feel apart of Harvest, Ohio. You can almost smell and taste the chocolate creations from Swissmen Sweets.

Toxic Toffee is perfectly paced and the red herrings are perfectly spaced throughout. A wonderfully entertaining read.

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.

 

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.

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.

Two Weeks (The Baxter Family #5) by Karen Kingsbury

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Howard Books

Published: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:
Cole Blake, son of Landon and Ashley Baxter Blake, is months away from going off to college and taking the first steps towards his dream—a career in medicine. But as he starts his final semester of high school he meets Elise, a mysterious new girl who captures his attention—and heart—from day one.

Elise has her heart set on mending her wild ways and rediscovering the good girl she used to be. But not long after the semester starts, she discovers she’s pregnant. Eighteen and alone, she shares her secret with Cole. Undaunted by the news, and in love for the first time in his life, Cole is determined to support Elise—even if it means skipping college, marrying her, and raising another man’s baby.

When Elise decides to place her baby up for adoption, she is matched with Aaron and Lucy Williams, who moved to Bloomington, Indiana to escape seven painful years of infertility.

But as Elise’s due date draws near, she becomes focused on one truth: she has two weeks to change her mind about the adoption. With Cole keeping vigil and Lucy and Aaron waiting to welcome their new baby, Elise makes an unexpected decision—one that changes everyone’s plans.

Tender and deeply moving, Two Weeks is a story about love, faith, and what it really means to be a family.

My Review:
This book hit me right in the feels. Even 24 hours after finishing I’m still feeling the effects.

How easy this could be about any teenage girl right now? Previously in a bad relationship with a terrible guy who gets away with the unthinkable. Does she have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption or keep the baby and forgo all her dreams? I couldn’t imagine making that decision. My heart aches for Elise.

I could relate to Lucy in some ways as never being able to have a child of my own. Luckily I was able to be a mom when I married my husband. His son became my son as well. Two Weeks made me look into myself and question if I could have been strong enough to go through so many failed adoption attempts. It might have shaken my belief in God like it did Lucy’s.

There is a third storyline in Two Weeks not mentioned on the book jacket that will have you reaching for the tissues and once again questioning why.

Take your time reading Two Weeks and soak up the amazing work of God in our daily lives.

This is book 5 in The Baxter Family and if you’ve read all the Baxter books or this is your first you can jump right in with no hesitation.

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