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Showing posts from November, 2017

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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Setting: Kansas
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Release Date: January 2017



Born without sight, Will Porter is about to take a major step. He's been in a school for blind children for years, but he's entering a public high school. He's 16 and is well prepared, but his first day kicks off with him accidentally grabbing a fellow student's breast and sitting on another student's lap during lunch.

Will's not one to give up. Soon he's making friends. What he never expects is to become enamored with a classmate. Cecily is everything to Will. When he's given the chance to undergo an experimental procedure that might allow him to see for the first time, will he take it? The thought of seeing the world and Cecily for the first time is almost too good to be true.

Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the strongest aspects of Love and First Sight comes from Will's narrative. He paints a vivid picture of life as a blind person. He doesn't…
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Setting: Los Angeles
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union
Release Date: December 12, 2017



Halley and Adam Brennan have the relationship most couples long to have. They're head over heels for each other. Things come crumbling down when Adam reveals a secret. While they agreed they never wanted children, Adam's changed his mind. The problem is that Halley hasn't. She is happy being the doting aunt, but she does not want kids.

Both are unwilling to bend. When marriage counseling suggests it's a good time to separate and take some space to think about their goals, they do. Halley moves in with her best friend and Adam remains in their house. During this time alone, Halley starts to think about their marriage and what's truly best.

Strengths and Weaknesses
I look at Everything the Heart Wants from a somewhat personal note. Two guys I know were in marriages where they and their wives wanted children. After the marriage, spouses revealed kids were not in thei…

Roomies by Christina Lauren

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Setting: New York City
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: December 5, 2017



Holland Bakker has spent the better part of a half a year going out of her way to watch "Jack" play guitar in a subway station. The Irishman's music mesmerizes her. He's really good looking, so there's also that.

One night, a man attacks her and pushes her onto the tracks. Jack, whose real name is Calvin Mcloughlin, makes an anonymous call to get her the help she needs. His call has to be anonymous as his visa expired and he's in the U.S. illegally.

Holland soon realizes that Calvin is the answer to her cherished uncle's dreams. Calvin's guitar playing is exactly what her uncle needs in his Broadway musical. Her uncle agrees, but Calvin's lack of a work visa is a major hurdle.

There's one more trick up Holland's sleeve. If she marries Calvin, he'll have the visa he needs to perform in her uncle's musical. All they have to do …

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

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Setting: Scupper Island, Maine
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: December 26, 2017



She fled Maine as a teenager. With a full ride to Tufts University in hand, Nora Stuart achieved a lot. she's a specialist in a leading Boston hospital. She has a loving boyfriend who's an ER doctor in the same hospital. Her world crumbles when she's hit by a car and overhears her boyfriend hitting on another doctor while she slips in and out of consciousness.

It's been more than a decade. Nora decides to head back to the small island community she fled and stay with her mom while she recovers. There, she hopes to unite with her niece and start anew. The problem is her niece seems to want nothing to do with her, Nora's mom is just as flighty as ever, and some people within the community still seems to resent her for actually making something of herself.

Nora refuses to give up. She's going to stay and become the aunt she feels her niece needs. It's not …

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

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Setting: Southern California
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Zaffre
Release Date: December 14, 2017



It's a romantic Mexican getaway to celebrate 10 years together. Caroline Shipley is thrilled to find friends and family there to celebrate with them. On their last night in Mexico, their hotel babysitter never shows. Rather than disappoint everyone, Caroline and her husband decide to lock the sleeping children in the room and head to dinner downstairs. They'll check on the kids every 30 minutes.

Everything goes smoothly. The kids sleep soundly, and nothing seems to be amiss. When they return to their room at 10 p.m., their two-year-old daughter is missing. Caroline's world shatters.

Fifteen years have passed. Caroline's lived under the shame of being the mom who left her children alone. Most people believe she killed her youngest. She's dodged reporters and angry strangers for years.

One phone call changes her life. A 17-year-old Canadian woman calls to say she t…

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

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Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: December 12, 2017



If you didn't read the first book, stop here. This review will spoil some of the first book. I highly recommend reading the books in order. While they could be stand-alone novels, I don't think they should be.

In the sequel to Stillhouse Lake, Gwen's ex-husband, a cunning serial killer, is still out there. His escape from prison went well, and he's making it clear that he's coming for Gwen. She's determined to find him first.

Handing her kids to the only couple she really trusts, Gwen and the brother of one of her husband's victims head off to find Melvin and put an end to his, and his large network of follower's, threats. They're staying a step ahead of her, however, and will do everything they can to end her before she ends Melvin.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Killman Creek is maddening, addicting, and satisfying. Paired with the first novel, the group that Gw…

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

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Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Release Date: July 2017



After her husband calls and asks her to pick up their kids from school, Gina Royal has no clue that her loving family is about to be torn to shreds. She and the kids arrive home to find their house surrounded. A drunk driver crashed into their garage, which is her husband's private workshop that's always kept locked. There, the body of a young woman is found hanging from the rafters. Her husband's acts as a serial killer and revealed, and no one believes Gina couldn't have known.

After spending a year in jail awaiting trial as an accomplice, Gina is finally exonerated. She honestly never had a clue, but few believe her. Since then, she and her children have been on the run. The threats are numerous, and she'll do anything to keep her son and daughter safe.

In a cottage on the shores of Stillhouse Lake, Gina, now Gwen, finally thinks they will be able to start anew. That is until a b…

Begin Again by Mona Kasten

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Setting: Oregon
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Bastei Entertainment
Release Date: November 14, 2017



It's worth mentioning that Begin Again is the translated release of a German new adult novel.

Allie packed up and fled her parents' house. She's gone to Oregon where she'll attend college and forget the events that made her leave. While hunting for an apartment, she ends up meeting Kaden. He's a grump who sets immediate rules involving her never getting emotional around him, never ending up in bed together, and not complaining when he brings home his latest one-night stand.

The apartment is perfect, so Allie's more than happy to move in and completely ignore him. Problems occur when Kaden makes it clear he doesn't have to follow the rules he set for her. He starts asking questions and a bond forms. Kaden's very complex and passions may be impossible to ignore.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Kaden comes off as a jerk from the start. Allie has more mood swings than…

Little Broken Things by Nicole Bart

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Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: November 21, 2017



Quinn Cruz and her husband currently live in a cabin owned by her mom. Nothing's easy. Quinn's struggles and her husband's dedication to his art are only part of the problem. Her mom's judgmental behavior is tiresome. When Quinn's older sister sends her a text message, Quinn has no idea how much things are about to change.

It all starts with the simple phrase: "I have something for you." She meets her sister after her husband goes to bed. That "something" turns out to be a six-year-old girl. Nora leaves the girl with Quinn and provides no more information other than keep "Lucy" safe and out of sight.

As the days pass, Quinn realizes that Nora may have gotten in over her head. Lucy could be in danger, and Quinn's not sure she can do what it takes to protect Lucy from whoever or whatever the threat is.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Little Broken Things moves…

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

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Setting: England
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: September 6, 2016



Alex's wife's kicked him out. Their son, Sam, is autistic and Alex has a hard time relating to him. He tends to avoid things by working long hours. Jody's sick of being the only one actually parenting Sam. She kicks Alex out and suggests he figure himself out.

After moving into his best friend's flat, things go from bad to worse. Alex's employer downsizes and he's one of the employees to get laid off. He has three months of paid salary and another three getting half of what he was making. It buys him some time. The problem is that Alex hated his job and has never really figured out what he wants to do with his life.

Over the weeks and months that follow, Alex begins to really get to know his son. What he finds about his son, and himself, will change both of their lives.

Strengths and Weaknesses
I have very limited exposure to people with autism, short of w…

PageHabit's Thanksgiving Giveaway

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What's better than finding a new author or a really gripping novel? How about a subscription box packed with books and gifts that revolve around your favorite genre?

That's what PageHabit is all about. Each month or quarter, you get a book subscription box packed with books, book-related stuff, notes from the authors, and codes for digital books. In addition, the company donates some of the proceeds to children's literacy programs. All of this for less than $30 for a monthly subscription or $75 for quarterly.

Genres range from young adult to mystery and general fiction to cookbooks. There are a limited number of subscriptions, so those who get a box are part of an elite group.



The Contest
Starting November 10th, Pagehabit is running a $100 ThanksGiveaway. The winner receives a $100 gift card for Barnes & Noble and one PageHabit subscription box of the winner's choosing.

10 entrants receive a PageHabit subscription box of their choosing.

500 winners receive a new r…

Poison: A Novel by Galt Neiderhoffer

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Setting: Portland, Oregon
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: November 21, 2017



Ryan and Cass Connor seem to have the ideal life together. Their kids are adjusted and loving. Their marriage is solid. They have dream jobs and a dream house overlooking the lake. What appears so perfect is anything but. Subtle personality changes are just the start. Soon, Cass wonders just who she married and if anyone will believe her suspicions when things seem so perfect to the outsider.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Poison: A Novel is a dark, twisting novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I never felt bored thanks to the swift pace.

I never truly loved Cass's character. I certainly didn't love Ryan either. I felt bad for those kids. In the story, Cass's older kids are hers from a prior marriage. Her first husband lost a battle with cancer. Ryan's her chance to start anew, and they have a son together. The kids are part of the reason I kept …

The Map to You by Lindy Zart

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Setting: North Dakota
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Release Date: November 28, 2017



Since his grandfather's death, Blake Malone's been a little lost. He and his dad are estranged, and that's his goal right now. Blake wants to say what he needs to say. He's driving to North Dakota to get that off his plate before possibly heading to Australia to start anew.

What Blake doesn't expect is find a young woman in his truck when he comes out of a store. She's a bit abrasive, a complete mystery, and quite sexy in a wild way. She needs a ride, so Blake ends up agreeing, even if she is a pain in the behind. How can someone so annoying become someone he can't stop thinking about?

Opal Allen won't tell Blake her real name, not at first anyway. She has her reasons for getting out of town, and Blake's the best solution. She never expects to fall for him. Once she's at her destination, she doesn't plan to stick around. He's the m…

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

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Setting: Lake Sackett, Georgia
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: November 21, 2017



All it takes is one egotistical chef to ruin the career Margot Cary built for herself. She's a talented event planner who has the world at her fingertips. When one chef decides to serve shrimp, even though Margot put notes regarding the hostess's seafood allergy, Margot's a laughing stock without a job. A call from a distant relative in Lake Sacket, Georgia, will have to do.

Margot heads to the remote community to help out at her estranged father and uncle's bait shop/funeral home. It's different from anything she's done before, but she needs a place to live and a job until something else comes along.

What she doesn't plan on is an intense attraction to Kyle Archer. She's convinced, at first, that he must be the town lumberjack. Discovering he's the local principal takes her by surprise and only makes him more intriguing. She's onl…

Of Spice and Men: A Pancake House Mystery by Sarah Fox

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Setting: Wildwood Cove
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi
Release Date: November 7, 2017



Marley McKinney owns the Flip Side Pancake House. Her days are busy enough, especially with the cast and crew of the remake of a classic horror movie in town. When she's invited to the set by the lead makeup artist, Marley is happy to accept the offer. Things take a drastic turn when she arrives to find the woman's trailer on fire and the makeup artist dies.

Soon, Marley finds her beau, Brett, in a hug with the lead actress, Alyssa Jayde. She finds out that that actress happens to be Brett's ex-girlfriend. Alyssa also happens to be the prime suspect.

After being approached by a reporter who happens to be related to the makeup artist, Marley offers to team up and uncover the murder and problems occurring on the set. It looks like someone wants to sabotage the movie, but who and why?

Strengths and Weaknesses
I haven't read the other two books, so I wonder if I missed things that wo…

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

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Setting: New York City
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: November 28, 2017



Her twin's happily settled and enjoying life in the Hamptons. Harriet Knight decides to challenge herself now that her sister isn't sharing the apartment. Her first real act is online dating and this latest date is going horribly wrong. Her date is far older than he advertised. That's why Harriet is jumping out of bathroom windows and twisting her ankle in the process.

A trip to the emergency room puts Harriet in the care of a Dr. Dreamy, but she knows she'll never see him again, or will she? Harriet's a dog walker. Her business is booming. She's happy to do as her clients ask, and picking up the energetic Madi and her client's brother's house is no problem. That is until Harriet discovers Dr. Dreamy is the brother and he's a grump with no tolerance for an active dog. Ethan's hopeful she'll move into his home temporarily to help with this dog …

If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhofel, Nele Palmtag, Georges Bizet, and Sergei Prokofiev

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Genre: Children's Book
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
Release Date: November 1, 2017



Ten-year-old Max is not happy that his grandfather's been moved into an assisted living community. His grandfather has dementia, and Max has big plans. He sneaks his grandfather out of the community to take him on an adventure. However, Max has his hands full when a former school teacher sneaks out with them. The trio head off to the grassy field where Max's grandfather proposed to his grandmother for a day they'll never forget.

Strengths and Weaknesses
The book is easy enough for a middle reader to handle. Plus, there are illustrations that add to the touching story.

The one thing I can't review is the audio CD that comes with the book. The free copy I received via Netgalley was only the book. I imagine that the music would be an absolutely enjoyable addition to the emotional story of one boy's love for his grandfather.

RTR's Bottom Line
If My Moon Was Your Sun is a goo…

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

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Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Greyson Media
Release Date: November 4, 2017



What should have been a fun birthday retreat turned into a nightmare for Faith Winters. Her 13th birthday plans shattered when she watched her older sister's murder. Also killed where Faith's father, friend, and friend's mother. Police shut the case believing her father killed everyone before killing himself. Faith knows it wasn't her father she saw.

Ten years later, the anniversary of the murder is closing in. Faith's released from a psychiatric hospital just in time for that anniversary. Others want her to stay sober and focus on rebuilding her life. Faith wants one thing. She wants to uncover the truth and make sure a murderer pays for his crimes.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Faith is a pretty unreliable witness. Every time she thinks she sees the killer, she's usually broken her sobriety and sucked down multiple shots of whiskey. I thought that would make it hard to believe h…

A Season of You: A Cloud Bay Christmas Novel by Emma Douglas

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Setting: Cloud Bay
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release Date: October 3, 2017



Mina Harper's past weighs heavily in some of her choices. After hitting her head in the middle of a storm, she's happy that Will Fraser saw and was able to help her, but she wants nothing to do with him beyond that. He and his brother own the local distillery and that, to Mina, is a real problem.

A drunk driver killed her husband, and Mina will always blame alcohol for his tragic death. Her involvement in Cloud Bay's Christmas festivities put her in close range of Will on a regular basis. She can't help but admit that her attraction to him is growing. However, she's not sure that she will ever be able to move past her husband's death.

Strengths and Weaknesses
I admit that Mina wasn't my favorite heroine. I have never been in her shoes, but I know enough about myself to know that if my husband was killed, I'd be totally after the driver for his actions an…

Trace by Archer Mayor

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Setting: Vermont
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur
Release Date: September 26, 2017



I usually prefer Kindle books. This time I'm so thankful I had an actual book. A storm hit Vermont on Sunday night/Monday morning and left many of us without power. My Kindle wasn't fully charged when I went to bed Sunday night. By Monday evening, I was in need of books I could read by lantern. This was perfect.

If you're not familiar with the Joe Gunther series, you should go back to the first and enjoy some of the best crime fiction around. You don't have to in order to follow Trace, but they're really not a series to miss.

Lyme disease is scarily present in Vermont. The head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigations (VBI) gets a call that his mom has Lyme encephalitis. The best plan of action involves an out-of-state trip to the Francis Rehab Institute. Joe offers to take her, which means Samantha Martens is going to have to take his place at the VBI.

The VBI is in for a bi…