The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

pumpkin

Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

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

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

book woman2.jpg

Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

I received a complimentary copy from Sourcebooks 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

stone

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.

 

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

wetlands

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.

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

two

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.