The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1) by Marthe Jocelyn

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada

Published: February 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A delightful read for Agatha Christie fans of all ages. Murder, mayhem, and intrigue lurk around corner of the debut novel in a new series.

Being a huge fan of cozy mysteries I jumped at the chance to read this new novel. I am so glad I did. Although it is a fictionalized version of a young Ms. Christie I was able to imagine this was how she started her career as the Queen of Mystery.

In this novel, Aggie is twelve years old and homeschooled and has plenty of time to use her imagination (a gift so many today do not get to explore). She fancies herself a mystery writer but when she finds a dead body she uses that imagination to try and solve the case. She gets herself into plenty of scraps but her friend Hector is always in the shadows to get her out of them.

This is the perfect novel to introduce the Mystery Queen to your young readers and open their world to a future of cozy mysteries.

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

NetGalley: A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Lemony Snicket and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.

Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal — including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends — to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit.

Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award–nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Amish Country Undercover by Katy Lee

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Pages: 224

Publisher: Harlequin – Romance (US & Canada)

Published: February 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A fast-paced edge of your seat read. As many of you already know I am a huge fan of Amish fiction and Love Inspired has done a great job in adding some adventure to the typical Amish fiction.

I especially liked Amish Country Undercover as it took place in my home state of Kentucky. Grace has spunkiness that at times pushes the limits of her faith but she needs it to keep her family together.

This is the perfect read for any romance reader out there who also likes adventure.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Harlequin – Romance (US & Canada), through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Secrets, sabotage and small-town danger.

Someone wants an Amish woman dead.

Taking the reins of her father’s Amish horse-trading business, Grace Miller’s prepared for backlash over breaking community norms—but not for sabotage. Now someone’s willing to do anything it takes to make sure she fails, and it’s undercover FBI agent Jack Kaufman’s mission to stop them. But can Jack face his own Amish past long enough to shield Grace from a killer?

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

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Pages: 422

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A thrilling psychological read that will keep you up late into the night. When you get to the last 15-20 chapters, make sure you can finish in one sitting. I had to wait to finish and it was agonizing!

Campbell does a great job alternating the first-person accounts between Caroline and Aiden. One minute you feel sorry for Caroline and the next Aiden. You don’t know who to believe until the very end.

This the perfect vacation book as you won’t want to put it down.

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: Parade’s “10 Books Written by Women We Can’t-Wait to Read in 2019” | She Reads’ “Most Anticipated Thrillers of Summer 2019” | Pure Wow’s “The Best Beach Reads of Summer 2019” | CrimeReads’ “The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer”

From bestselling author Michele Campbell comes A Stranger on the Beach, an edge-of-your-seat story of passion and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?

Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense #2) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 247

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: November 12, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Fan Mail is just as good as Desolate Shores. Aspen and her niece are a good team both in the investigation of murders and as a family unit. I didn’t want to stop reading from the moment I opened the book.

Please tell me a third book is on its way soon. I can’t wait to see who gets murdered next and how it helps Aspen overcome her past.

Clean romance as a side story, very few curse words, if any, but there are triggers of physical abuse, drug abuse and of course murder.

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

NetGalley: Agatha Award-winning and national bestselling author Daryl Wood Gerber returns with a dark new novel of suspense . . .

An adoring fan and a string of murders: a demented show of love that leaves no one safe . . .

Local celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .

The Body in the Gravel (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery #3) by Judi Lynn

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Pages: 274

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: My favorite visit to River Bluffs.

When I first started the series I was not a big fan but liked it enough to stuck with it. I’m so glad I did. I’m loving it and finding myself eagerly awaiting the next installment.

I love the closeness of Jazzi’s family and Ansel has finally gone from feeling like a controlling man to one who just loves his woman with everything he’s got. The more you get to know Ansel’s family the more you realize how lucky he is to have moved to River Bluffs.

There is the illusion of sex but nothing descriptive so I consider a clean read. No paranormal activity for those who are opposed. Recipes are usually included as Jazzi likes to cook as well as flip houses. No foul language that I can think of.

Each book can be read as a stand-alone but I always suggest reading in order.

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: Even in a lovely town like River Bluffs, Indiana, flipping houses can be a challenge. Especially when there’s the proverbial skeleton in the closet—and a literal corpse in the driveway . . .

House-flipper Jazzi Zanders has her work cut out for her. Her latest flip, which she co-purchased with her fiancée Ansel and cousin Jerod, is a three-story fixer-upper that’s more of a droopy-downer. One corner of the house is sinking and needs to be jacked up with a new cement foundation. That costs money. And causes headaches. And creates a work environment that’s not only hostile, but it’s also downright deadly . . .

Jazzi knows it’s a tough job. Which is why she hired Darby to lay the cement. But when Darby gets into a fiery argument with the furnace man—and then never shows up to lay gravel for the driveway—Jazzi starts to wonder if the rumors about Darby are true. Did he kill his wife and son and bury them in the yard as some folks claim? When Darby’s dead body comes pouring out of a gravel truck, murder upstages the real estate market as her biggest concern . . .

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

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Pages: 337

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone—after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.
So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

My Review:

Wow, Coble has made me think twice about doing a DNA test to see my ancestry. I never thought about it being used maliciously. I’m a little scared now.

The mystery is a page-turner and interesting. I appreciate how Coble keeps the romance and the language clean.

There are many characters and some may find that a tad confusing but if you think about it when half-siblings come into play families get large very quickly. I would have loved to know more about Annabelle and Harper’s newfound sisterhood. Maybe someday we will see them in a future book as side characters.

If you are looking for a good mystery with family at the core Strands of Truth is a perfect read.

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

The Long Call (A Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves

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Pages: 382

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.

My Review:

The Long Call is my first Ann Cleeves book and the first in a new series. I admit the first 30% or so was so slow. Mainly because of the introduction of all the characters. Once I got that under my belt I flew through the book.

I get the same feeling I do when reading The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. A dark, brooding detective that is quietly processing the crime and when he speaks you listen. He doesn’t waste words on unimportant things.

Perfect for fans of mystery and suspense. No detailed sex scenes but there are talks of rape. If you prefer not to read about LGBTQ characters this probably is not the book for you. The main character is gay.

I’m looking forward to continuing The Two Rivers series.

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.

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales by Some of Christian Fiction’s Most Poplar Mystery and Suspense Authors

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Pages: 911

Published: August 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales of Suspense

Amazon:
Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before-published tales of Christian suspense from today’s most popular mystery and suspense authors.
Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

My Review:

I enjoyed most of the stories but there were a few I didn’t. The ones I did not enjoy were stories I wouldn’t normally read. They were good just not my cup of tea.

My favorites: Vannetta Chapman (takes place in Shipshewana and involves an Amish man and a lady FBI agent), Christy Barritt (part of her Lantern Beach series, which I have put on my TBR list) and Rachel J. Good (Amish Twins – one good and one very bad seed. I’m still shivering at the thought of being confused with an identical twin).

I have found several new to me authors that I will be looking to read in the future.

This is the perfect book for the person who likes to read but has a busy schedule. You can read a story in one sitting and not worry about stopping in the middle of a book and forgetting what is happening by the time you get back to it.

The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

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Pages: 315

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

My Review:

An intriguing, fast-paced read.

My BFF called me on release day and said you have to get this book immediately. So of course, I did and I promptly finished within 24 hours.

I enjoyed the chapters alternating between Free and Captured. I felt it added to the suspense of the train wreck of Lila’s life. I could imagine this being made into a movie. I think it would capture the attention of the audience right away.

If you are sensitive to coarse language (F word) then beware as it is present in this book. It does not feel excessive though. Don’t let that stop you from reading this intriguing book.

A perfect read for the last few summer weekends at the beach or lake.

A Daughter’s Truth by Laura Bradford

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Emma Lapp tries to be the perfect daughter, to earn the loving embrace of her family and her Amish community in Pennsylvania. Yet she can’t quite win her mother’s smile—or her forgiveness for a transgression Emma can’t quite place . . .

Emma knows she’s a reminder of her mother’s greatest sorrow, having been born on the same day Mamm lost her beloved sister. The one bright spot has been the odd trinkets anonymously left at her aunt’s grave each year on Emma’s birthday—gifts Emma secretly hides because they upset her parents. But the day she turns 22, a locket bears a surprise that sends her on an unexpected journey . . .

Searching for answers, Emma travels to the English world and finds a kinship as intriguing as it is forbidden. But is this newfound connection enough to leave behind the future she’d expected? The answers are as mysterious, and as devastating, as the truth that divides Emma from the only family, and the only life, she’s ever known . . .

My Review: I just finished A Daughter’s Truth for the second time! It has been a long time a book has made me feel so deeply. It is right up there with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah as one of my most precious books.

As you read A Daughter’s Truth you can feel every emotion Bradford put into her characters. The angst Emma feels as she learns the truth and explores her father’s world is heartbreaking.

Read with the understanding you won’t be able to put the book down.

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