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Showing posts from September, 2017

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

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Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: October 10, 2017



Hanne Hemsted's special powers make her feel ashamed. When someone she loves is threatened, she becomes a cunning and brutal killer. Hanne's brother insists their powers are a gift from their gods. When her father's attacked and Hanne uses her powers in a futile attempt to save him, the family goes on the run.

To avoid a murder charge, the siblings head from Norway to the U.S. to start anew in the west. The government is practically giving away land to anyone willing to create a homestead. While they have a guide to help them navigate this unexplored land, Hanne hopes to find the one man who might be able to teach her how to control her skills as a Berserker and keep from killing others.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Berserker doesn't start out slow. It starts in a flurry of action that holds your attention. Even after discovering Hanne's powers, the sibling's quest to get out of Norway keeps yo…

In the Light of the Garden by Heather Burch

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Setting: Gaslamp Island, Florida Genre: Women's Fiction Publisher: Lake Union Publishing Release Date: January 10, 2017

Charity Baxter's mother was never really the ideal mother. While Charity grew up wanting her mother's attention, she was thrilled to spend her summer's with her grandparents on Gaslamp Island. There, Charity experienced the magic of the island and the true meaning of family. That all ended with her grandmother's unexpected death.
Now an adult, Charity returns to the island after her grandfather dies. She now owns the large house and his life savings. What she wants more than anything is to return to a time when the island didn't hold bad memories.
Dalton Reynolds needs time away. He's on Gaslamp Island to renovate a cottage. While there, he is able to hide from the realities he faces. When he meets Charity, he soon realizes that maybe his time for hiding is over.
Charity and Dalton form a friendship that has the potential to blossom into …

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Disney - Hyperion
Release Date: January 2017



Five years ago, Adam Blake and his mother took a young foster child into their home. To Adam, Julian was the brother he never had. His mother loved Julian like her own. Everything was great until a distant uncle was found. He pulled Julian from their home and cut off any hope of staying in touch.

Adam is a senior in high school now. He's assigned to aide the school counselor. His first duty is to make sure a freshman actually shows up for meetings with the counselor. Adam is surprised to find Julian is that freshman.

Julian's school performance is pathetic at best. He does poorly on assignments, skips classes regularly, and has no friends. The counselor hopes that Adam may be key to reaching Julian. Adam takes Julian under his wing and starts to transform Julian's life. Those transformations, though, could cost the boys dearly.

Strengths and Weaknesses
The detail that went into the writing is amaz…

Deck the Halls by Donna Alward

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Setting: Darling, VT
Genre: Holiday Romance Novella
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: October 3, 2017



He used to be homeless, but thanks to the help of his friends, George now has a place to live, a modest income, and a job he enjoys. He's stunned when his friend and fellow soldier's twin sister shows up with questions. Amy feels it's high time she gets answers explaining exactly how her brother died in the Middle East.

George knows he's responsible for her brother's death. He wants to leave the past in the past. At the same time, he knows Amy deserves answers. Fifteen years have passed, is the magic of the holidays enough for both battered hearts to find what they need?

Strengths and Weaknesses
As this is a novella and not a full-length romance, things did seem really hurried. I liked catching up with other characters, and I was happy to see George get his own book, but I wasn't as thrilled with it being so short.

Deck the Halls returns readers to Darling, VT…

Hanna Who Fell From the Sky by Christopher Meades

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Setting: Clearhaven
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: September 26, 2017



Hanna's grown up sheltered in a community where the men are required to marry multiple women. At 17, Hanna's own wedding to a man her father's age is days away. She's uncomfortable being forced to marry a man of her dad's choosing, especially when that man is so much older. She can't help but wonder what life is like in the outside world.

Enter Daniel. Daniel's also part of the community. He and his family have returned after exploring the outside world. Daniel's brothers will be sent out of the community to seek new experiences, but Daniel's chosen to remain as the man who will follow in his father's shoes. Daniel's not sure he wants the life being chosen for him.

Daniel wants to show Hanna that there is life outside of their community. Hanna's both intrigued and scared. If she leaves, she's leaving her handicapped sister behind, a…

Hope for Christmas by Stacy Finz

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Setting: Nugget, California
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 10, 2017



While she still misses her missing daughter dearly, Emily McCreedy is happily married to Clay, enjoying being a step-mom to his two sons, and loves her newborn daughter. Christmas is quickly approaching. Emily's busy getting set up for the town's cookie swap, caring for her two-month-old, and getting holiday shopping completed.

Emily's world takes a sudden spiral when she and her ex-husband both receive letters that Hope is alive. Could their missing daughter, a girl who has been gone for seven years, really be out there?

There have been too many hoaxes over the years, so she dares not believe in another one. It leads both her and Clay to wonder how they put an end to this madness and really get on with their lives. However, this person is persistent and may finally have the answers Emily needs.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Since reading the story where Emily and Clay met, I…

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

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Genre: Psychological Suspense Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press Release Date: September 26, 2017

Marion and her brother, John, live together in a home that was once well cared for but has now seen years of neglect taking its toll. In her 50s, Marion has never truly been seen as her own person. She's bossed around, verbally abused by peers and loved ones, and spends most of her day lurking in the home, ignoring the cries she hears coming from the basement, and sleeping with her collection of teddy bears each night.
Marion's neighbor only socializes with Marion when she wants something. John wants Marion to realize the neighbor only uses her. He also wants Marion to keep out of his things and do as he says. When he suffers a heart attack, Marion finds herself finally by herself in a house where John still wants to control what she does and says.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The atmosphere in The Visitors is chilling. It's creepy. It's one eerie family and that comes true from …

Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery by Melinda Mullet

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Setting: Scotland
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi
Release Date: March 21, 2017



Her parents died in a car crash when she was young. Abi Logan's uncle raised her, and she's always been incredibly close to him. When he loses his battle with lung cancer, Abi is shattered. She heads up to Scotland to decide what to do with Abbey Glen, the whisky distillery he owned.

Abi's an award-winning photojournalist who really has no interest in the business, but it was her uncle's pride and joy so she will do right by him. When threatening messages find their way to her, she's cautious but not dissuaded. When a body's found in one of the distillery's vats, Abi decides that she may be a little more diligent about getting to the truth behind the murder and the person that is so eager to get Abi to leave.

Strengths and Weaknesses
I liked Abi from the start. She's shrewd and having been all over the world in dangerous situations, she's not one to scare easily. It …

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

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Setting: Charleston, South Carolina
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release Date: October 3, 2017



As one of the owners of Two Love Lane, Macy Frost is uncertain the matchmaking service's latest prospect is worth their time. They find people's true loves. They arrange quick flings, and that's exactly what Deacon Banks is after. He wants to make his aunt happy by seeing a number of women before Christmas arrives. He has no interest in finding the love of his life.

Macy ends up taking on the project if only to prove to him that he just hasn't found the right woman yet. She's out there, and Macy knows it. What Macy never plans on is that she's the perfect match. He's her client, and that means she cannot possibly have what every algorithm finds or what her heart truly wants.

Strengths and Weaknesses
I know it's all part of the romance conflict, but I've never understood why people opt to ignore what's right in front of…
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Setting: Portland, Oregon
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: October 3, 2017



Dr. Dylan Michels has a gorgeous home, a loving boyfriend, and a job that keeps her busy. She's an OB/GYN in a thriving practice, but it's not enough. Dylan is desperate for forgiveness for a deadly mistake she made as a teenager.

Dylan lives her days and nights trying to make amends for the role she played in her older sister's death. Until that happens, Dylan will never be happy.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Perfectly Undone is an upcoming release in Harlequin's Graydon House line of novels. It's a strong example of everything I love with women's fiction. Dylan has it all, yet she harbors a secret that keeps her from happiness. As the secret is revealed, I felt for her and found the tears falling.

Given that, it is hard to get into Dylan's mindset when you're still trying to figure out her past. I struggled to see how a smart woman could be so blind.…

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

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Setting: Worthy, Georgia
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: September 12, 2017



Lake Union Publishing releases another gripping novel. This time, Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author that kept me hooked for a few hours.

It's mere hours after Worthy's high school team landed another victory. In those moments, a number of lives will change forever. Three cheerleaders are killed in a devastating crash that also leaves a football player fighting for his life in the hospital.

Fingers point at him as the cause of the crash. He and another friend were racing. At the same time, the girls had been drinking and their designated driver didn't have a driver's license. It's a crash that changes the town and pits neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend.

Strengths and Weaknesses
In When We Were Worthy, it's hard not to get pulled in. The story is told from multiple perspectives. You have the cheerleaders. You have their fourt…

Good Sam by Dete Meserve

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Setting: Los Angeles
Genre: Women's Fiction/Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: June 20, 2017



Kate Bradley is less than thrilled when her boss puts her on the feel-good story of a woman finding cash on her front porch. The anonymous gift turns into a great assignment when Kate learns other people also found that cash. Plus, the cash amount in each case is $100,000. That's quite a gift!

As Kate delves into the case, she quickly learns that the benefactor does not want to be revealed. She ends up getting the chance for an exclusive interview, but her boss wants the story passed on to a more veteran reporter. Kate's not sure she's ready to give up the story that she broke. She's also not really prepared when Good Sam reveals himself to her. This has Kate questioning a lot of her own choices.

Strengths and Weaknesses
I read a lot of books and many of them are mysteries. While there are red herrings tossed your way, I never found them that tricky. I …
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Setting: New Jersey
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: September 26, 2017



Lizzie Glass once had it all. She was a rising star on Food Network with her own show. Eventually, it all came crashing down. Since then, she's worked as a personal chef and magazine columnist, but she's currently unemployed and desperate for a job.

Enter the chance to spend her summer at the beach home of the Silvester family. Lizzie just needs to cook meals that meet the differing needs of the family members. Kathryn is currently on the Paleo diet, while her daughter, Zoe, is a health nut and blogger, requires only clean foods. The patriarch, Jim, needs low-fat foods. It isn't long before Lizzie realizes that there's something fishy about Zoe's site. However, the Silvesters seem to have Zoe on a pedestal, so Lizzie needs to watch what she does or says or she could be jobless again.

Strengths and Weaknesses
My biggest issue with Virtually Perfect was the big secre…

Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone

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Setting: Iowa and California
Genre: Women's Fiction/Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union
Release Date: September 19, 2017



Facing a divorce and having been laid off from her job, Hannah Smith has to start anew. She leaves her Chicago home and heads to Iowa to help care for her mother, a woman diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease, a form of dementia. Her mother's cries of "You're not my daughter" do not hit until Hannah finds evidence that she truly isn't her mother's daughter.

Feeling lost, Hannah heads to the address listed on her birth certificate. She's determined to unravel the truth about her parents' past and who her mother really is.

Strengths and Weaknesses
By now it's no secret that Lake Union Publishing is a favorite of mine. While a few books haven't grabbed me, the majority have. I've loved the pace, the characters, and the plots. Half Past is another strong novel that drew me in and held my interest until the final page.

Hannah's…

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

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Setting: Yorkshire, England
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 7, 2017



Roxanne couldn't wait to escape the quiet lifestyle Burley Bridge offered. She's made quite a success of herself in London. When a new editor takes over the fashion magazine and announces Roxanne is being shifted to a new role, a role that Roxanne doesn't want, she decides to take her new boss up on the idea of a country sabbatical.

Back in her hometown, Roxanne's helping her sister with her sister's bookshop. She's also enjoying quieter mornings walking the hillside with her sister's scrappy little terrier. What Roxanne soon finds is that London may not be all she thought. She needs to decide if being a high-powered magazine fashionista is really for her or if the quiet charm of Burley Bridge, and the charming bakery owner, are what she needs now that she's older.

Strengths and Weaknesses The atmosphere created by Ellen Berry really drew me in. If yo…

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

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Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: September 12, 2017



Liza Cole is working on a thriller that she hopes will revive her career. At the same time, she's struggling with fertility treatments and a husband who seems to be devoting every hour to his work and not her. When her husband's business partner, Nick, vanishes, he becomes even more distracted.

With nothing to do but keep seeing her doctor and working on her novel, Liza focuses on Beth, her new character. Beth finally has the daughter she longed for, but her husband's cheating on her. Beth wants a happy family unit, she doesn't want anyone getting in the way, even if that means killing the competition and tossing her body in the river.

When Nick's body is found in East River and her husband is investigated for his murder, Liza must start to unravel the truth about those closest to her.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Lies She Told is told from two perspectives. First, there's Beth, …

Penguin Teen Releases to Watch For

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Penguin Teen has a number of books coming out this fall. They sent out a teaser of five of them. I have to say, the first hooked me. Note that the brief review is based only on a couple of chapters.



A young woman can't pay her rent. To raise the cash, she hunts for people with a bounty on their heads. Why the bounty? The game Warcross is a phenomenon and people are happy to place illegal bets. She rounds them up. When she inadvertently finds herself hacking into the wrong place at the wrong time, she ends up experiencing the game from a new level.





From the publisher: Boundary-breaking fantasy. I couldn't get into it, but then I'm not a huge fantasy fan.




This one reminded me a bit of the 70s/80s teen horror When a Stranger Calls mixed with Scream.



If you need what shapes up to be a really good tearjerker, here you go.



This one I just couldn't get into, yet the cover art was so gorgeous I really wanted to.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Setting: East Rockport, Texas
Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: September 19, 2017



In East Rockport, the high school's ruled by the jocks. Vivian Carter is sick and tired of the esteemed football team getting away with everything they want. With the star jock's father serving as the principal, nothing changes. From interrupting girls in class with stupid chants of "make me a sandwich" to girls getting pulled from class for wearing "suggestive" clothes and being forced to wear baggy everything, Vivian's done.

Tapping into some of her mom's old stuff, she creates a zine where Moxie Girls Fight Back. Soon, the revolution is sweeping the school. More girls are participating in the protests and new bonds are being formed. Will this be what it takes to get a male-dominated school to wake up and realize girls have far more power than the guys believe?

Strengths and Weaknesses
I'm not sure I can find a true weakness in th…

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

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Setting: Connecticut
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Author: Zoe Whittall
Release Date: September 19, 2017 (Hardcover)



George Woodbury comes from a prominent Connecticut family. His wife, daughter, and son enjoy their life in the family estate where old money makes sure they're comfortable. George is also an honored member of the town thanks to his heroic actions when a shooter ended the school where he's a science teacher. He tackled the shooter right before the shooter shot Sadie, George's daughter.

Years later, the unbelievable happens. Four girls come forward and say George raped them or was sexually suggestive during a ski trip he chaperoned. He's arrested and held without bail until trial.

Sadie, his daughter, finds her life at school changes drastically. She's now scorned as the daughter of a pedophile. She goes from being the popular valedictorian prospect to hated by almost everyone. Her older brother escaped the town years ago, but now…

Give Me Back My Book by Travis Foster and Ethan Long

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Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
Release Date: September 5, 2017



Two creatures battle over a book in Give Me Back My Book. Redd is sitting near a stump enjoying the green book he's reading. Bloo shows up and demands that Redd give him back his book. The two begin arguing over whose book it is. When Book Worm shows up, what will happen next?

Travis Foster and Ethan Long have created a humorous look at both reading and the problem with arguments. I snickered a few times and found myself truly engaged. I can see children loving this book and wanting a copy for their shelves. It's easy to read, fun to look at, and has a great message.

Give Me Back My Book is a must for your family library, especially if you have kids who squabble over the same toy. Find out how Book Worm changes Redd and Bloo's focus and gets them to look twice at their actions.