A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I will start my review saying I will NOT discuss the political sides of abortion or whether I think it is right or wrong.

George Goddard, an upset father, takes it upon himself to teach the women and doctor at the state’s only abortion clinic a lesson, by taking them hostage. He blames everyone there, patients and staff, for what has happened to his daughter.

After the first shot was fired, Hugh McElroy, a hostage negotiator, was one of the first one scene. What he doesn’t realize is that his fifteen year old daughter is inside with her aunt, his sister. Hugh has depend on his training and the others inside to keep his daughter safe.

Through the eyes of a nurse who is a patient, the doctor who performs the abortions, a retired professor facing a death she cannot control, the distraught father, an anti abortion protestor, a young woman who felt abortion was her only way out and a scared teenager we learn of the many different reasons humans make the decisions they do.

You can guarantee that when you pick up a Jodi Picoult book you will be made to dig deep inside yourself and think. You may not agree with the issue being discussed but you will be forced to see the issue from every side.

I was not sure if I would like the narrative structure The Spark of Life was written in but by the end I was glad it was written backward, meaning we start with the most recent hour of the hostage standoff and work our way back to how it all began. It forced me to question why and take more of the facts given into consideration.

A great book for book clubs as many discussions can arise while reading. Expect tears and heartache as you read.

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

His Promise (Amish of Hart County #6) by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Pages: 334 (Paperback)

Publisher: Avon Inspire

Published: October 23, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Grace has made her niche in life by pet sitting for Englishers who go out of town. This year for Christmas while she is pet sitting a very cantankerous dachshund her family has to go to her grandparents to take care of them. When the dachshund gets into a little trouble Grace runs into John Michael Miller, her sister’s ex-boyfriend and the boy she had a crush on when she was younger.

John Michael regrets hurting Grace’s sister several years ago but he had a good reason, he was falling for Grace. John Michael is now a firefighter and this season has been busy with arson fires being set to cover local burglaries.

Can Grace forgive John Michael for hurting her sister and let their feelings grow? Can John Michael keep Grace safe even when he is not around?

Let me start with the end, the last forty pages had me in tears. Why? The beauty of the story coming together and the action happening. See if you don’t have a glimmer of tears in your eyes as you read.

Shelley Shepard Gray has a way to make the love come through in a beautiful, clean way. I would feel very comfortable giving any of her Amish books to any young teenage girl to read.

I loved that Gray included helpful fire safety tips especially during the Christmas season in the story. A few things I learned and have started looking around to make sure my parents and family are as safe as I can make them.

Gray’s Amish of Hart County is a six book series that can be read any in order and each as a stand alone book. Once you take a visit you will want to keep visiting.

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

Sew Deadly (Southern Sewing Circle #1) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

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Pages: 290 (eBook)

Publisher: Berkley

Published: August 4, 2009

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tori has moved from Chicago, IL (the North) to Sweet Briar, SC (the South) and it hasn’t been easy. The vernacular is different, the previous librarian, Dixie, does not like her, and most of all she is the number one murder suspect. Can Tori overcome all these difficulties and make a home and friends in Sweet Briar?

An entertaining read, especially if you are a fan of sewing. This book made me constantly think of my Mamaw who loves to sew and create beautiful work. I wish I enjoyed sewing, Tori made it seem like the perfect relaxation technique.

I am already a fan of Tori and her library. I lost track of how many times I wanted to jump into the book and straight into the Children’s room and grab a copy of Little House on the Prairie and lose myself for hours.

I was a tad disappointed on the cozy mystery murder aspect of the book. Several times I thought I had missed pages as it jumped in and out of the murder mystery with little or no details I am used to reading in cozy mysteries. The big reveal of the murderer never really happened. No big scene between Tori and her murderer. Now, we do need to realize this was a very early work of the author. Her current mystery series (An Amish Mystery series) is one of the best out there. If you haven’t already guessed the author’s other known name is Laura Bradford.

I have already marked this as a series I am continuing and finishing in 2019. I cannot wait to see what Tori does with the library. Who knows, maybe I will take up a sewing project will reading this series.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

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Pages: 240 (eBook)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written. The ending will bring you all the feels from sadness to happiness to love. Twenty four hours after finishing I am still moved to tears thinking about this book.

Louisiana Elefante is awakened in the middle of the night by her Granny and told they are leaving for good right then. As they cross the FL/GA state line Louisiana realizes she will never see her friends again and starts plotting in her head how to get back to Lister, FL. When Granny starts having dental problems and finding a dentist is the number one goal, Louisiana finds more than she bargained for in a new friend and the family she has always dreamed of being apart of.

If the cover with a little blond girl and a cute bunny barrette does not pull you in immediately you will be pulled in by the second page and falling in love with Louisiana. Her spunkiness and pure childlike look into the word will grip your heart and not let it go. You will admire her determination and strength as she navigates the hand that is dealt to her.

Louisiana’s Way Home is a book I will be re-reading for years to come and will be sharing with my students every year. A wonderful example of how you can overcome a rough start in life and with grit and determination you can decide on who you will become.

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

In Cold Chocolate (A Southern Chocolate Shop #3) by Dorothy St. James

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Pages: 263 (ebook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: September 11, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Penn” is still making her place in Camellia Beach, SC and finding her inner chocolatier. It is the season of sea turtle hatching and Penn wants to become a turtle volunteer. In order to do so she joins Althea and the other turtle volunteers to watch a nest for possible hatching. As they are watching they notice a house has left outdoor lights on. Althea goes to get cardboard to cover the light and Jody, Penn’s nemesis, shows up with guns a blazing, truly. Unfortunately, Jody finds herself on the wrong end of the law when all signs point to her in the murder of the beach’s playboy, Cassidy. Can Penn prove Jody’s innocence?

I have really enjoyed this series this year. Penn has grit and determination of a Southern lady even though she is from Wisconsin. She has her mother’s blood in her that is for sure. I enjoy her spars with the police chief and detective. Detective Gibbons is one of my favorite characters. I believe he has a crush on Penn. I’m not a big love triangle kind of person but I hope something starts to happen in the love arena between Penn and Gibbons. Harley needs a run for his money.

This is the perfect book for all sea turtle lovers and cozy mystery fans. An enjoyable read for any time of the year.

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.

The Spook in the Stacks (Lighthouse Library Mystery #4) by Eva Gates

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Pages: 309 (Hardback)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publisher: June 12, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Loved!

Lucy loves working as a librarian in Outer Banks, NC but is not a fan of Halloween. She knows she must suck it up and roll with the flow until she finds the body of Jay Ruddle during one of the library’s Halloween celebrations. Jay had narrowed it down to the library and a local college to leave his extension collection of historical documents pertaining to NC. Can Lucy find the killer and save the donation before the spirits of the holiday take over?

This is book four in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series but the first for me. I enjoyed reading about Lucy and all the library staff. I have already downloaded that first book in the series to my kindle so I may get caught up. I was able to pick right up with who was who even though I came in the middle of the series. Eva Gates does a great job in giving background info on important characters.

I had no idea who the killer was until it was revealed and that I appreciate as it means the author did a great job in keeping the info under wraps until it was time. She also does a great job in not having too many characters.

A series I am definitely going to catch up on. If you love libraries, librarians and books this is the series for you. It is clean with no foul language. Being that it is Halloween themed there are mention of ghosts and it is questionable if the marsh ghosts make an appearance. You will need to read to find out.

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

The Diva Cooks Up a Storm (A Domestic Diva Mystery #11) by Krista Davis

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Pages: 352 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: May 29, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sophie and her best friend Nina are excited to spend their vacation on the beach but before they can leave they attend the trend of an underground dinner. The next day one of the diners is found dead. What or who had it in for him?

I absolutely adore this series. Sophie is your quintessential girl next door that everyone wants to be around. She not only can cook yummy dishes she also has a knack for solving the latest murder around town. Her ex-husband lives down the street and they share custody of Daisy, the most lovable dog ever and get this, Sophie and Mars get along. At times it makes you wonder if a certain someone was out of the picture would they get back together.

When you read a Diva book not only are you solving murders you are also learning so much about decorating, baking, cooking and general etiquette. I find that so very fun. It’s like reading Ann Landers all over again.

While each book can be read as a stand alone I suggest to get the full experience you read them in order. So far there are eleven books:
1. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme
2. The Diva Takes the Cake
3. The Diva Paints the Town
4. The Diva Cooks a Goose
5. The Diva Haunts the House
6. The Diva Digs Up the Dirt
7. The Diva Frosts a Cupcake
8. The Diva Wraps it Up
9. The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss
10. The Diva Serves High Tea
11. The Diva Cooks Up a Storm

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

Killer Jam (Dewberry Farm #1) by Karen MacInerney

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Pages: 274 (eBook)

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Published: July 28, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Lucy has decided to buy her grandmother’s farm and live life on her own terms but first she must fight the previous owner on the rights to the oil in the middle of her broccoli patch. Before she can get very far the previous owner is found dead next to a broken jar of Lucy’s Dewberry Jam at the Founders’ Day Festival. Can Lucy overcome this obstacle before losing the farm in more ways than one?

I am absolutely in love with this series and so happy I started reading from the beginning. Every character is believable and the situations they get in are as well. Not once did I sit there and go “Really?”. Lucy is a trip. You will have many laugh out loud moments that you find others staring at you as you read because you can’t help but laugh out loud.

There is a smidgen of romance but in no way does it take up the entire story line. I like the fact that the romance may come later in the series but right now we are learning who Lucy is and what makes her the perfect amateur sleuth.

Blossom the cow is the best character yet. She is trouble with a capital T and don’t think she doesn’t know it. I cannot wait to see what she gets herself into in the future books. Lucy best just have an account open at the flower center for replacement geraniums as Blossom seems to have a taste for them.

Recipes are included in the back of the book even one for Dewberry Jam which I did not know was a real fruit. It seems they are similar to blackberries.

 

His Guilt (Amish of Hart County #4) By Shelley Shepard Gray

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Pages: 265 (Paperback)

Publisher: P.S. a trademark of HarperCollins

Published: March 6, 2018

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Calvin Fisher is caught between a rock and hard place trying to redeem himself after a lifetime of bad decisions. He wants to get out of gang life but the only way to accomplish that is work for the DEA. Either way he still has to hide his life from his family and do things that goes against the faith he was raised. A phone call from home has him rushing to his brother, Mark’s, side.

Alice has lead the life of a good Amish girl after a wild rumspringa and enjoys her life as an Amish preschool teacher even if she feels smothered at times by her family. To have some freedom, she has agreed to housesit for her brother and sister-in-law who live across from Mark. Alice has developed an interest in Calvin as she watches him from afar.

Will Calvin be able to leave his city life behind while in Hart County or will the city life destroy what he has come to love in this quiet community?

This is the fourth book in the Amish of Hart County series but reads as a stand alone book. I was captivated from the first sentence until the last. Gray has written a beautiful work of art set in my home state of Kentucky. I felt myself traveling the roads with Calvin and Alice and seeing the beauty of the rolling hills filled with Kentucky bluegrass.

His Risk is filled with romance and suspense. You have the budding romance of Calvin and Alice and the married romance of Mark and Wanetta that have the reader cheering and crying. My heart is still pounding from a few scenes and I am not talking about “that”. I am talking about suspense that keeps you turning the pages well past your bedtime.

I was so impressed with His Risk that I have already bought the first three books in the series and will read on my Spring Break from teaching. If interested the books in the series are:
1. Her Secret
2. His Guilt
3. The Gift
4. His Risk
5. Her Fear – release 7/24/18
6. His Promise – release 10/23/18

I dare you to give any of Shelley Shepard Gray’s books a read and not find yourself gobbling up all of them as fast as you can.

Playing with BonBon Fire (A Southern Chocolate Mystery #2) by Dorothy St. James

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Pages: 349 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: March 13, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Penn is finding her way as the owner of her grandma’s chocolate shop as well as organizing a beach music festival to bring in the crowds. As a favor, her sister has asked music star Bixby Lewis to perform and with the fame comes the crazy fans. Was the murder of the local a mistaken identity for Bixby as Bixby claims or is there something deeper going on? Can Penn solve the crime before damage is done?

This is the second book in A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery and it has proven to be a winner for me. I feel in love with Penn’s character right away. She has already proven she is strong with overcoming her background of a loveless childhood. She moves to a new town and new state and starts overcoming adversity with trying to find out who her mother is and fighting family members left and right for the knowledge she is seeking.

I have not read the first book in the series (I think I am seeing a pattern for me) but I was able to follow along with who the characters were and how they related to each other. I really want to see how the friendship/relationship between Penn and Harley progresses. Harley seems like a real sweetheart but is he too soft for Penn who has a wall up around her heart?

Thank you Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest review based on my own thoughts.