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Showing posts from 2018

Bleak Harbor by Bryan Gruley

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Release Date - December 1, 2018



Bleak Harbor comes to life in the summer. Tourists flock to the lakeside town. The annual Dragonfly Festival draws crowds. Restaurants and local businesses start to boom from the influx of people. For Carey and Pete Peters, this summer is going to be a nightmare.

Both are hiding secrets. When Danny, their 16-year-old son, is kidnapped, questions have to get asked. Carey's situation at work and Pete's dealings with a shady local may be to blame. To help find Danny before it's too late, they may have to reveal all.

There are a lot of potential kidnappers in this story. Carey had an affair and is trying to handle the implications of that. She's also kept Danny from knowing his real father, and she wonders if that plays a part. Pete has his own issues and financial issues. The Bleak family, including Carey's mom, are hated by the town. While the Bleak's have amassed a fortune, they shut down businesses and caused many locals to go i…

The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere

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Release Date - October 16, 2018



Needing a change, Amy Dennison opts to volunteer at Glory's Place, an after-school program. It's there that she meets a delightful seven-year-old named Maddie. Maddie is in foster care and never knew her parents. She thinks it is her cerebral palsy that made them abandon her as an infant.

What Amy doesn't know is that Maddie is determined to find a soul mate for the elementary school's maintenance man. She thinks Gabe and Amy are perfect for each other. Little does she know that they share something rather painful in common. It may be a holiday miracle if they're to look past their pain and find a future together.

This is part of a series about the town of Grandon. I haven't read the others and I found, at times, that I might have enjoyed more characters had I been introduced to them earlier. The story is about Gabe, Amy, and Maddie, but Gabe's cousin and his fiancee often jumped into chapters and took over the plot. I reall…

Naughty on Ice (Book 4 in the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mystery Series) by Maia Chance

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Release Date - November 13, 2018



There was something about Naughty on Ice that made me feel it was like taking Agatha Christie and having her write an episode of Rosemary and Thyme. The book's Vermont setting was pretty apt in terms of the weather and people. I also enjoyed the quirky attitudes of the book's two sleuthing heroines.

Lola Woodbury and her cook and partner in solving crimes, Berta, head to Vermont after receiving a mysterious Christmas card that gives them their next assignment. They need to get into a holiday gathering in Maple Hill. There, they need to retrieve a ring that one family member allegedly stole from another Goddard family member many years ago.

When Cressida Goodard falls dead after sipping her Negroni, Lola and Berta become prime suspects. After all, they have the ring they've just taken from Cressida's finger. They know they can clear everything up by showing police their case file, except someone's stolen that when they were out of t…

Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

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Release Date - October 16, 2018



I started Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners. I stopped. I tried again. I stopped again. I really struggled to get into this book, but so many people said it was fantastic that I couldn't understand what I was missing. I still don't. Violet Baumgartner gets under my skin. I simply cannot stand her.

Each year, Violet Baumgartner pens a Christmas letter for her friends and family members. This year, she's going to do more than a silly letter. Her husband has retired and she's going to throw a retirement party/holiday gathering that's going to be in the papers. She's determined her family will be the talk of the town. She simply cannot expect to become the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. Her daughter's been hiding a secret, and it's one that will rock Violet to the core. As events unfold, it's clear that she'll get her wish even if it's not what she planned.

What could be very amusing took a col…

A Thousand Doors by J.T. Ellison

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Release Date: November 5, 2018



A Thousand Doors is a collection of stories penned by different authors. J.T. Ellison starts Mia Jensen's tragic tale. Mia's marriage is coming to an end. Her husband's been embezzling donations given to his non-profit and Mia knows all the details and is ready to share. Before she can, she's attacked and left for dead.

As she lies dying, she experiences different "what if's." Each chapter of a life she could have had is shared by a different author. In other lives, she could have been a lawyer with a cheating husband, a senator's frustrated and tired wife, a devoted mom with a shady past, and so many others.

Stories in A Thousand Doors are told by some of today's best romance and women's fiction writers - Kimberly Belle, Laura Benedict, Patti Callahan Henry, Heather Gudenkauf, Kerry Lonsdale, Catherine McKenzie, and so many others.

I loved every moment. I was rooting for Mia in each story. While her situations c…

Indigo Hill: A Novel by Liz Rosenberg

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Release Date - November 13, 2018



After Alma Johansson is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her daughters are shocked. One expects her to fight the disease, but the other accepts and respects her mom's stance. Cancer takes Alma from them sooner than expected. What she leaves behind is something more shocking. It's something the sisters must come to terms with in their own way.

As they mourn their mom, Michelle and Louisa also face their lives now. Part of what makes them the women they are goes back to a fire that happened when they were younger. That fire on Indigo Hill haunts Louisa, and her mom's death may be what it takes for her to finally come to terms with it.

I struggled with the opening of Indigo Hill. It's a third-person POV and referring to Alma as Mrs. Johansson, while meant to be respectful, seemed so impersonal and made it hard for me to connect with the characters. It took a while to acclimate to that writing style.

After a new character is introduced, I…

Dancing With the Sun by Kay Brant

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Release Date - November 27, 2018



Empty nester Sadie Harlan is at a crossroads. Tragic events have strained her marriage. While her husband heads out on a camping trip, Sadie opts to fly to California to spend a couple of days with her daughter who is at Yosemite for an internship.

The women set off for a quick walk, but a sudden storm catches them by surprise. They wind up lost and unprepared. With no emergency supplies and a cell phone that's dead, Sadie and Lauren must try to find a way to get help and avoid the dangers of the wilderness.

Dancing With the Sun is a fast read. It seemed a little slow at first, but once Sadie and Lauren were out in the forest, the pace was lightning fast. There were times I was frustrated by their choices, but I wasn't in the situation, so who knows how I would have acted in a very stressful situation.

I liked Sadie's instincts when it came to protecting her child, even if Lauren is grown and capable of protecting herself. I loved the descr…

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

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Release Date - October 9, 2018



For Beth, her daughter's often cruel behavior and lack of emotion are clear signs of a troubled mind. Her husband isn't convinced. He feels Beth overreacts and that Hannah is misunderstood.

Decades later, Clara is dismayed when her loving boyfriend doesn't come home after work. After a day, it's clear that he didn't just crash at a friend's house. Ominous emails seem to prove that there's something more going on.

As Clara tries to find out what happened to Luke, she comes across information about his long-missing sister. Luke's sister made a new friend right before she disappeared. Someone knows something that may tie the past to Luke's disappearance. The clock is ticking and Clara wants to unravel the truth before time runs out.

The Lies We Told takes place in the past when Hannah is a young girl and switches to Clara's present-day point of view. It does take some twists, but I can't say they shocked me. I saw…

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

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Release Date - October 2, 2018



Let me give a little background. When I was 18 (go back to the '80s), a friend went to Planned Parenthood for her first pap smear. Pro-lifers were outside and threw rocks at people entering the building. She was terrified, all because she needed an affordable pap smear. I have not had respect for pro-lifers since that moment.

A Spark of Light takes a look at both sides. Several women are in a women's clinic for different reasons. A gunman walks in. Some are shot, some are taken hostage. The resulting story looks at all of the women, the law enforcement trying to save them, and the gunman.

Hugh McElroy is the police negotiator. He's stunned when he discovers his teen daughter is one of the hostages. He's raised her almost single-handedly. The only person helping him out, Aunt Bex, is one of the hostages whose been shot.

Over the span of the story, which is told backwards in terms of time, you meet the doctor, his pregnant nurse, a pro-life…

After the Fire by Will Hill

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Release Date - October 2, 2018

It's been a while since a book has caught my attention and had me refusing to budge. I found it and am so glad I did. I'd been on a bit of a reading slump because a number of books I picked up were okay but nothing special. This is special. It may not be easy, but it is going to leave a lasting impression.
If you were alive or know of the Waco siege, this book is going to tug at your emotions. There were times After the Fire was a little hard to read. I was pregnant when the Waco siege happened. I remember reading how a 10 year old was one of Koresh's wives. It outraged me. The second I started reading Will Hill's book, I knew where he'd come up with the inspiration from his story. I loved that it was told from the viewpoint of a surviving teen. I got her fear, her anger, and even her hope. 
Moonbeam is the storyteller and heroine. She's one of the survivors of a Waco-like siege of the place where she's grown up, the Lord Leg…

The Nightmare Before Dinner: Recipes to Die For: The Beetle House Cookbook by Zach Neil

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Release Date: October 16, 2018



Zach Neil's The Nightmare Before Dinner: Recipes to Die For: The Beetle House Cookbook is a Halloween-themed cookbook that offers tempting recipes from Beetle House restaurants. The cookbook offers recipes in these categories:


Sauces and Dips for the Recently DeceasedNightmares Before DinnerHerbs, Plants, and CauldronsPlatos de los MuertosTricks and TreatsPoisons, Potions, and ElixirsPut the FUN Back in Funeral

Starting with Sauces and Dips for the Recently Deceased, there are recipes for items like homemade ketchup and a very cheesy Cheshire Sauce that looked tempting based on the photo of grilled baguettes with the sauce. There's also a vegan version of the Cheshire Sauce.

Nightmares Before Dinner is all of your appetizers. I loved the spin on shrimp cocktail that has a raspberry cocktail sauce. The Beetle Bacon Bread doesn't sound good for you, but it certainly sounds delicious.

Herbs, Plants, and Cauldrons is next. These are all the recipe…

Christmas in Evergreen by Nancy Naigle

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Release Date - July 10, 2018



Evergreen is a magical town where the Christmas spirit tries to remain throughout the year. The town's Christmas-themed diner and its snow globe are rumored to really make your wishes come true.

Allie Shaw is selling her veterinary building and heading to Washington D.C. She wants to see if she and her boyfriend can really make a go of it. It's a big change, but it's one she's ready for. Even if it means leaving the Christmasy town she loves behind.

At the airport, a winter storm cancels flights. She books a room in the airport hotel and discovers the next morning that flights are still canceled. She has no choice but to return to Evergreen for Christmas.

Ryan Bellamy and his young daughter are still moving on after his wife's death. He plans a sunny beach getaway for Christmas. His daughter isn't convinced that Florida is the place Santa will really be. When their flight is canceled and they learn flights are still canceled the ne…

The Season of Silver Linings by Christine Nolfi

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Release Date - July 17, 2018



I'd held off reading The Season of Silver Linings because I prefer reading holiday novels closer to the holidays. The third novel in the Sweet Lake series has been out for a few months, but it's still available in paperback or e-book.

Jada and her two friends have turned Wayfair Inn into a thriving business. As a pastry chef, Jada is plenty busy, but Linnie's upcoming wedding has everyone feeling a bit stressed. Linnie is weeks from her big day, but she still can't find a dress. Cat is newly married and focused more on her new husband. Jada's tackling an awful lot in these weeks before the wedding.

Her hands are full trying to convince her long-time friend's little girl that dress-up costumes are not suitable attire for a flower girl. She's battling her feelings for Philip, the girl's dad, and the guilt she can't shake off after Philip's wife's death. A stranger coming to the inn and asking all kinds of personal…

Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

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Release Date - October 16, 2018



For three generations, Heart of Christmas has sold unique items to the residents and visitors of Pleasant Sands, North Carolina. This year, Angela Carson is struggling to keep her grandmother's store open. A large competitor opened up and is threatening to put her out of business. Out of desperation, Angela listens to her young niece and asks Santa for help.

To make matters worse, the good-looking guy Angela bumps into is her competition. Geoff Paisley and his mom own the Christmas Galore chain. He's in town to make sure his newest location thrives. If it knocks out the competition, that's just an unfortunate side of retail.

When Geoff's mom is hospitalized, he has to take over the new Dear Santa app. Some letters get an automated response, but others get a personalized answer. He finds himself charmed by one letter and keeps talking to the mysterious woman. Little does he know that letter writer is the same angry store owner who blames…

Love in Catalina Cove by Brenda Jackson

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Release Date: October 30, 2018



I'll start by saying that Love in Catalina Cove has cover art that caught my eye. I love the beach scene painted on the cover. I also found myself immediately liking Vashti's character. She's tough, but she's not so tough it makes her cold and distant. I liked Sawyer, too. As a couple, I really enjoyed them.

Vashti left Catalina Cove, Louisiana, years ago. When she refused to name the father of her unborn child, the entire town turned against her. That child died soon after childbirth, and Vashti left, made a name for herself, and vowed never to return. The only reason she's back now is to sell the inn her aunt left to her. Once that sale is complete, she won't return.

Sawyer and his teen daughter, Jade, have made Catalina Cove their home after Sawyer's wife and Jade's mom died. He's the town's beloved sheriff. He never expects to find himself truly drawn to a woman he pulls over for speeding.

During her return, V…

Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

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Release Date: September 25, 2018



Mistletoe Miracles is really three stories in one. It's written with the same warmth Jodi Thomas is so good at. I loved it, though I do wish it hadn't ended. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the characters.

His family's ranch is in danger of bankruptcy. Griffin Holloway doesn't want to lose Maverick Ranch to debt, but there's little hope. The only way out that he can see is to find a bride with lots of money. But, what woman would want to marry a man just to bail out his ranch?

Jamie Johnson loves her home and job in Crossroads, but the advances of a married co-worker are less than enjoyable. She tells everyone in town that she's married as a cover. She's shocked when she returns from a school trip to find a very sexy "Mr. Johnson" in her shower.

Jaxon O'Grady has been living the life of a hermit ever since an accident left him with physical and emotional scars. He sees a car accident and finds an injured d…

Donald and the Golden Crayon by P. Shauers

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Release Date - September 28, 2018



Donald and the Golden Crayon turned a gloomy, rainy afternoon into a joyous one. I snickered several times and even chuckled out loud while reading it. This parody of the current presidency is also a fun spin on the very popular kid's book Harold and the Purple Crayon. It joins other kid's books written by Stephen Colbert and John Oliver on my keeper shelf.

In this humorous parody, Donald has a golden crayon. With it, he'll make his dreams come true. He'll draw his expansive golf course and a wall to keep those who aren't perfect like him out. He'll tweet his late-night messages, even if they make sense to no one but him. Covfefe, anyone?

Enjoy this parody that is certain to make the non-MAGA crowd laugh. Nothing is made up. It's all based on things that have been said or done within the current presidency. It even uses the BEST words. I loved it.


Nell and Lady by Ashley Farley

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Release Date: September 18, 2018



Willa Bellemore was shocked when her close friend and employee died. Knowing that May May had no family, Willa steps up and adopts May May's teen daughter Nell. Willa's daughter, Lady, and Nell grew up together anyway and are already as close as sisters.

At the age of 16, something happened that tore them apart. Willa never understood what happened. The girls never talked about it. Nell left for college and shut Willa and Lady out.

Many decades have passed. Both Lady and Willa are moms of teens. Willa is diagnosed with cancer and is convinced she's dying. Before her final breath, she wants to reunite with Nell and bring her family back together. Doing so will make all of the women go back to the events that changed them.

A lot of the story in Nell and Lady involves racism. There are parts that may make you think of the current #metoo movement. As time progresses, abuse, alcoholism, and anxiety/panic attacks are added to the mix. It all cam…

The Found Child by Jo Crow

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Release Date - August 31, 2018



Years earlier, Elaine suffered the worst pain a mother could endure. Her infant son vanished. He's returned to her and his kidnappers are jailed. Seven years later, Elaine must face a new pain. Her son is diagnosed with leukemia. Worse, blood tests reveal he is not their son at all.

Despite her love for her son, she cannot help but wonder. If this isn't Jakob, whose child does she have? What happened to his parents, and why is her husband hiding stuff from her?

It's clear there is a bit of a complex mystery in The Found Child. I found myself torn, however. I wanted to buy that Elaine was a doting mom, but she did a lot of things that had me questioning her. She takes off while her son is undergoing cancer treatments. She's gone for hours at a time, if not a full day, and never really seems to be too torn apart that she's left him in the hospital with the husband she's suspicious of and a sister who seems to hate her.

I thought I …

The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March

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Release Date - September 25, 2018



This isn't my first time in Eternity Springs, but this one had me crying the hardest. I think it hit the fears the "mom" in me would experience in Jenna's shoes. The Christmas Wishing Tree is a strong, addicting contemporary romance, but it does have aspects of romantic suspense, too.

Devin Murphy's family is all in Eternity Springs. He adores them and visits as often as possible. It's not easy when he's half a world away in Australia. During a Christmas visit, his phone gets a call from a young boy who wants to talk to Santa. Devin connects with the boy and continues to take his calls. All the boy wants is a dad for Christmas.

Jenna Stockton does everything she can to keep her adopted son safe. She's gained the unwanted attention of a stalker and it needs to end, but she's powerless to stop it. The attacks are stepping up. From slashed tires to dozens of pizzas showing up at her house, she's having a hard ti…

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

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Release Date - September 25, 2018



Many years ago, Suzanne became a guardian to three young girls. She's wanted nothing more than to keep those girls from experiencing heartbreak again. With the help of her Scottish beau, they raised three smart women, but the past has a way of staying on the mind. This Christmas, Suzanne wants to get the family together for a Scottish Highlands Christmas no one will forget.

Beth is a devoted mom, but she longs for something more. Her two daughters wear her out. When an old boss offers her the job of a lifetime, she expects her husband to be thrilled. He's not. Upset and uncertain she and her husband have the same dreams, she takes off for Scotland to have time to herself before the family gathers for Christmas.

Hannah is a successful businesswoman who has no time for love. Her boyfriend of six months seems perfect, but Hannah doesn't believe in happily ever after. She can't handle a surprising revelation, so she flees to Scotland to a…

I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

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Release Date - September 11, 2018



Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz have a book that caught my eye. The cover design is eye-catching and drew me in. The story is okay, but it's not as gripping as I hoped. I didn't feel an urge to keep reading at any moment in the book.

Since her father's death, Memphis "M" Engel has dealt with her new life. She has guardians who have moved in and taken over her home. She's not thrilled with them. When Ashwin "Ash" Sood shows up, a mystery man that proves irritating yet intriguing, she can't help but insist she join him on a quest.

Ash has proof her father is alive and being held captive. A dangerous sect wants the information on a map M possesses. Only her knowledge of ancient languages and symbols can help find the relic some desire to possess. M has no idea if she can really trust Ash, but she must save her father and Ash is the only one who can lead her to him.

I Do Not Trust You kind of says it all in the titl…

Lies by T.M. Logan

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Release Date - September 11, 2018

Love, love, love the premise to Lies, T. M. Logan's debut novel. "What if your whole life was based on lies?" 
That said, I also find that that line alone was one of the reasons I so easily guessed what was going on in this novel. I was prepared for shocking twists, but I had the mystery pegged very early into the story. That was a bit of a letdown.
Joe Lynch and his wife, Mel, have what seems to be the perfect marriage. While driving their son back to the house, young Wills spots his mom's car. They decide to surprise her and follow her to a hotel where they spy her having an argument with Mel's friend's husband. 
When Mel rushes off without acknowledging Joe, he's baffled. He goes to talk to Ben to see what the argument was about. He ends up pushing Ben, who falls and hits his head. Wills has an asthma attack in the process and the inhaler is missing. Joe must choose between getting Wills the help he needs or helping B…

Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

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Release Date - September 18, 2018



As a jilted bride, Natalie Kaleta has put her heart and soul into the gallery where she works. Her job has her heading up the mountain to check on Ronan Mitchell. He is a reclusive glass artist. The truth is that Natalie finds him almost scary. It's her job though, and she needs the income to pay off the wedding expenses her groom walked away from.

When a storm causes a mudslide, Natalie's stuck in Ronan's fascinating home. She can't help but admit that there's more to the reclusive man than she expected. In fact, she finds him downright appealing.

Ronan is nursing his own level of hurt. It's a key reason he prefers to be alone. He's not about to make a guest miserable, however. He opens up his home and a bit of his personality to Natalie. It isn't long before he finds himself wishing his attraction to her could be something more. It certainly can't happen though, no matter how much he finds himself wanting to be c…

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

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Release Date: September 4, 2018



Mary Kubica and Jojo Moynes are two authors I will not miss. If they have a new release coming out, I know I will read it. Mary Kubica just released When the Lights Go Out, and it sounded just as intriguing as her other novels. I was ready to go.

Jessie Sloane's mom is in the final stages of a battle against cancer. Jessie is exhausted. She put her life on hold to care for her mom. She can't imagine not wanting to be there.

When her mom finally succumbs to the cancer that's ravaged her, Jessie must finally live her life. She's able to find an apartment she can afford. She's ready to go to college. The college, however, informs her that her SSN is invalid. Jessie doesn't exist.

What begins is her quest to figure out who she is. If she's not really Jessie Sloane, what could it mean? As exhausted as she is, Jessie cannot take time to sleep. She must figure out where she came from and why her mother lied to her for all of these …