The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler

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Pages: 315

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: January 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I could not put this book down. I was sure I had the killer all figured out then Spindler would throw something out there and make me question myself all over again. Every time I was ready to stop for a moment I’d turn the page and Id find myself 50 more pages in the book. I was right on my initial assumption of the killer but had no clue as to why. So, if you figure it out early I promise you it is worth it to finish the book. You will be surprised as to why.

I have not read an Erica Spindler book for many years. I know my mom used to gobble them up like hot chocolate chip cookies on a snowy day. After reading The Look-Alike I have decided to get my mom’s books and read them. I will definitely be getting this one for her.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above are entirely my own.

NetGalley: From Erica Spindler, the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes The Look-Alike, a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?

Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.
In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head—that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

Hems and Homicides (Apron Shop #1) by Elizabeth Penny

 

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Pages: 288

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: December 31, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am in love with this series already. Grammie and Iris make a great team. Add the adorable cat, Quincy and we have a winner.

The author has done an excellent job of keeping the reader involved with plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing. There is a hint of romance but it doesn’t overtake the story at all. Plus, big bonus, no love triangle.

Aside from murder (after all it is a cozy mystery), a clean read that can be enjoyed by many.

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

NetGalley: Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . .

Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online hand-made apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement

Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is…and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.

New Beginnings at Promise Lodge (Promise Lodge #4) by Charlotte Hubbard

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I have really enjoyed the Promise Lodge series as the characters have built a new town and the new addition is just as good.

This time we get to learn more about Frances and Gloria Lehman as they navigate life after the death of husband and father respectively. Beware, Gloria, is a brat and Frances gets whiney but by the end, you will love them.

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

NetGalley: Spring blossoms with new life and new beginnings for the flourishing Amish community of Promise Lodge. And as a just-opened bakery sweetens the air with fresh-baked goodness, residents will find that change can be a most joyous test . . .

Recently widowed after twenty years of marriage, Frances Lehman is only just tasting the freedom and opportunity that her Promise Lodge friends enjoy. So she’s not about to be pressured into marriage by her widowed brother-in-law, even if she and her daughter have no real means of support. Much more promising is her new friendship with Preacher Marlin Kurtz, though their respective families don’t see their relationship as proper . . .

When Frances suffers a serious injury, she’s determined to prove she can recover—and remain independent—without burdening Marlin. Now, with his steadfast belief in real love tested, Marlin’s hope is that Promise Lodge’s irrepressible residents can help him restore Frances’s joy—and that faith will show them a way to turn their fragile second chance into a blessed and abiding future together . . .

Murder, She Uncovered by Peg Cochran

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Pages: 284

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Why did I wait so long to read this??? I could not put it down. It kept me guessing the entire time.

Elizabeth’s character grabs you immediately and you feel like you’ve known her forever. I was surprised how independent and strong she was given it is 1938 in the book. The more the book progressed the more her confidence grew.

I am already lobbying for Santa to bring me a kindle gift card so I can get books one and three. I want to see how it started and where Elizabeth’s character is going. Definitely, a must-read series for those who love historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

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

NetGalley: An intrepid 1930s Manhattan socialite uncovers deadly secrets during an assignment to the Hamptons in this riveting historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Rhys Bowen.

Westhampton, 1938. To the dismay of her well-to-do family, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams is quickly establishing herself as a seasoned photographer over at the Daily Trumpet. Growing more confident in her decision to pursue a career, Elizabeth is thrilled when she and her reporter sidekick, Ralph Kaminsky, are sent to Long Island to cover the story of a young maid found dead in one of the glamourous summer homes in the devastating aftermath of the Great New England Hurricane—also known as the Long Island Express.

At first, it’s assumed that the young woman was caught in the terrible storm, but when a suspicious wound is found on the side of her head, the police suspect murder. The maid’s death becomes even more tragic when it’s discovered she was pregnant, and with Elizabeth and Kaminsky at the scene of the crime, the Daily Trumpet scoops all the other papers in town.

The young woman’s boyfriend emerges as the likeliest suspect. But as Elizabeth follows the story, she begins to wonder whether someone in the household of the maid’s employers might be responsible—someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth about the baby’s paternity hidden. . . .

Verse and Vengeance (A Magical Bookshop #4) by Amanda Flower

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Pages: 260

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: December 10, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review:

My favorite of the series so far.

A fast-paced read with plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing until the end. Verse and Vengeance had me stumped on the killer right up to the reveal. I thought I was pretty good at guessing the killers but I was proved wrong.

Even after four books, I’m still intrigued by a magical bookstore. I’ve often wished I could visit Violet and her store to see what book it would pick for me.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the paranormal or magical world but love cozies you have to give this series a try. I’ll think you will be surprised how fast you will fall in love with Cascade Springs.

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

NetGalley:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

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Pages: 306

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: August 6.2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Once I started this book I couldn’t put it down. It moves with the speed of a runaway locomotive.

You will be appalled at how supposed doctors and nurses treated the little HUMAN beings they were entrusted to care for and love. I can’t wrap my head around how a nurse with children of her own could watch a child drink water out of a toilet and say, “Oh, she’s just being difficult.” Seriously?!?!?!

Whether you understand the precious world of special needs or not you will understand the horrors experienced at Willowridge. I would have kidnapped my child and did exactly what Ginny did. Do I understand why she let her father-in-law and husband make the initial decision to begin with? No, but I was raised in a different time with parents who taught me to stand up for myself and make my own decisions.

Keeping Lucy is a work of fiction based on a true story that will have you cheering Ginny all the while making you think about “what would I do.”

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

NetGalley: The heartbreaking and uplifting story, inspired by incredible true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter.

Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.

But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.

The Brides of the Big Valley: 3 Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community by Wanda Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter and Richelle Brunstetter

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Pages: 450

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: June 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This collection of three stories set in Pennsylvania was a quick but great read. I enjoyed that each story focused on the different “toppers” in the Amish community.

My favorite story was Deanna’s Determination. You have a widowed mom with a son with Downs Syndrome who is trying to create a life for both of them. There are so many misconceptions regarding special needs children and in this story, we get to see their loving and curious side. No different than other children their age. Beautiful!

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Shiloh Run Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.

A Wedding on the Beach by Holly Chamberlin

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Pages: 448

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 3 stars

NetGalley:

A summer wedding, a college reunion, a gorgeous Maine beach house—it’s the ideal setting for bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s captivating novel about the connections that shape us, sometimes break our hearts, and forever change our lives . . .

Bess Culpepper has long been sure of two things—that her group of college friends would stay close, and that love is worth the wait. At forty-two, she’s found the right man, and she’s celebrating her upcoming wedding by inviting her best friends to beautiful Kennebunkport.

Bess has always been at the helm of these reunions, herding everyone together despite distance and outside commitments. As usual, Marta and Mike journey from their home near New York City, while Chuck and his husband, Dean, travel from Los Angeles. But Allison, half of a devoted couple since college, is making the trip from Chicago without her husband, Chris. None of the others knows the reason for their impending divorce. There are other tensions too. The usually level-headed Marta is conspicuously on edge, and Chuck reveals devastating personal news.

As reality encroaches on her dreams of the perfect gathering, Bess begins to second guess her assumptions about friendship and fidelity. If relationships like these, nurtured over decades, can flounder, how can any couple stay committed? Is it possible to truly know the ones we love—or even to predict where one’s own path will lead?

My Review:

I hate rating books below 4 stars but I could not rate this book any higher.

Major reasons why I was not thrilled with the book:

  1. It was never-ending. I felt like it went on and on and I was reading every single minute of their lives.
  2. For Bess, to be in her early 40’s she sure was whiney and self-centered. I understand it is all about the bride but this went overboard. She acted like everyone had to run their lives by her or it was poor pitiful left out me.

I normally like Holly Chamberlin’s books and plan on reading more. Give this a whirl if you love summer beach weddings, you may find it a favorite.

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

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In the tradition of Wonder and Out of My Mind, this big-hearted middle-grade debut tells the story of an irrepressible girl with cerebral palsy whose life takes an unexpected turn when she moves to a new town.

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

My Review: A beautiful read. If you like Wonder than you will love Roll with It.

Ellie is an inspiration that will stick with you. I couldn’t put this book down and I was hooked from page one. Yes, at times Ellie could be a tad whiny and smart-mouthed but what pre-teen isn’t and sometimes she had a right to be whiny. It made her character seem believable.

I definitely will be buying a copy or five for some local elementary schools in my area. I want to share Ellie’s story with as many as I can.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly.

Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

My Review:

I had never read Kate DiCamillo until a year and a half ago when several of my students had to read Because of Winn-Dixie for their third-grade class. I have been hooked since.

I’m a huge fan of coming of age literature. DiCamillo does an outstanding job in showing us how sometimes we have to choose our family whether that includes a favorite pet or an elderly woman who is fighting to live on her own. It is ok for family to be those friends you pick up on the way during your life’s journey. Love comes in many different forms and sometimes when we least expect it.

Beverly, Right Here is another perfect read-aloud book to promote discussion with the middle-graders in your life. I enjoy how DiCamillo left the story open-ended as we have the hope to visit the Three Rancheros again.

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