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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bleak Harbor by Bryan Gruley

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 into financial ruin. Anyone could be behind Danny's kidnapping, though part of that is revealed pretty early into the book.

I liked the setting. I struggled with all the potentials though. So many possible suspects and secrets started to bog me down. For that reason, I struggled to keep reading. By the time the origins of the kidnapping were revealed, I found that I really no longer cared to know more than that. It made it hard to keep going.

That said, I'm glad I did. There are curveballs thrown at you that you don't see coming. The ending had a delightful twist. I can't say this is my favorite read of the year, but it was definitely one that kept me on my toes.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere

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 really disliked how they ended up seeming more of the focal point Gabe and Amy.

The other thing I struggled with was the writing. There were times I felt I was being told rather than shown. Some of the narrative seemed to bash me over the head with details I could have inferred on my own. As a result, I liked the story but never loved it.