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.

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.

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.

The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Sanders Mystery #2) by Judi Lynn

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Pages: 268

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 23, 2013

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing . . .

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

My review:

What I like: I love the mystery that runs through each book in the series. The mystery is very interesting and both books have kept me guessing almost to the end.

I enjoy the animals featured and was very pleased to see Jazzi get the kittens from the little boy and not go to a pet store. I imagine those kittens are going to give George the Pug a run for his money shortly.

What I don’t like: Ansel’s insecurity with Jazzi is very disturbing almost to the point of being controlling. Yes, they’ve known each other a while but only been dating two months and already he is pressuring her to let him put a ring on it. A comment is made almost every day. I am tired of reading how handsome he is. We get it, he is the perfect Nordic God. How he acted while away at his family was sickening. Where is the trust he says he has in Jazzi? He is not showing it.

There is a lot of beer drinking while working. Every time they take a break, it’s “Let’s go have a beer.” Maybe they should drink some water every now and then.

The lead detective asking Jazzi for help in notifying next of kin was very far fetched for me. Seemed absurd. Yes, I realize this is fiction but it made the story hard to believe. No police officer that I know would be asking a civilian to help him break the news to the next of kin that someone has died.

I would not give this to a young teenager to read as there are adult situations (no details but heavily implied), drinking and the controlling behavior of Ansel.

I like the Jazzi Sanders Mystery series but it is not my favorite. I will continue to read the series.

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

A Perfect Amish Match (Indiana Brides #3) by Vannetta Chapman

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Pages: 217

Publisher: Love Inspired

Published: April 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazon:  After three failed relationships, Amish bachelor Noah Graber would rather disappoint his parents than try again. But when matchmaker Olivia Mae Miller agrees to provide courting lessons, Noah’s perfect match becomes clear—it’s Olivia Mae herself! With ailing grandparents at home, she hadn’t planned on love or marriage. Might a future with Noah be everything she’s been missing?

My review: As soon as I realized Olivia Mae was caring for her grandparents who are experiencing mental deficiencies due to age my heart was lost. Her unconditional love is something I think we all strive for. We could all learn a thing or two about patience and being kinder from Olivia Mae. Noah is no slouch either.

A Perfect Amish Match is a book I will revisit again and again. I usually gobble up Love Inspired and Vannetta Chapman books in 24 hours of starting them. I purposely made myself take it slower with this book and I’m so glad I did.

A Perfect Amish Match is the perfect book for the teenage girl in your life. Clean romance, clean language throughout. It would also make the perfect Easter or Mother’s Day gift for the women in your life.

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