Thursday, November 30, 2017

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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 limit himself, and he's always willing to take a giant step to try something new. This made me love the scene where Cecily explains a painting to him. He has no concept of depth perception, so she has to break it down to a point where he can understand it.

I really enjoyed both characters. They go through a lot, and some of it involves details the reader isn't privy to until they're revealed. I liked the element of surprise.

RTR's Bottom Line

Will's story hooked me from the start. I'm not familiar with the all of the struggles of the blind, but I know enough to know that many of the things Will said are true. Blind people do not like being grabbed and led. They like to reach and hold you and then be guided. I remember one of my teen's classmates making that clear to his fellow students.

Seeing Will be refreshingly honest with those around him was a treat. Seeing his classmates not treating him like dirt was better. I found myself really liking the kids, the setting, and the story. It was a solid fictional win.

Love and First Sight is already out in hardcover. It comes out in paperback form in January 2018.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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 their plans. It's a lousy way to start a marriage, and the deception really did ruin the relationships. For that reason, I found myself sympathizing with Halley.

I didn't like Adam as much. I get his change of heart, but his pushiness drove me nuts. I found myself hoping that Halley would ditch him. That ended up being the reason I kept reading. I wanted to see Halley stick to her dream and not cave. Whether or not that happens is something you'll have to find out.

RTR's Bottom Line

Everything the Heart Wants is a good read, but I ended up having mixed feelings. There were times the book dragged and I just wanted to get back to Halley's story and not the side stories of her sister-in-law, sister, and best friend. There were times those plots seemed a little excessive when I wanted to keep focused on Halley.

My bottom line is that I enjoyed the story, but it's not a book I'd put on my keeper shelf.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Roomies by Christina Lauren

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 is put on a show of their own and convince immigration that theirs is true love. Will they recognize when it becomes real?

Strengths and Weaknesses

In my adult years, I've watched green card marriages crumble. Roomies was such a delight. I loved that it worked out. From the chemistry to some of the quips that came out of both characters' mouths, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this romance.

It was a one-sitting read. I started it before dinner and found myself enamored. I stayed up way too late seeing how things would end out. It was a great way to relax after the first busy holiday of the season. It's lighthearted, steadily paced, and very romantic.

RTR's Bottom Line

Loved this story. The chemistry between Holland and Calvin was so clear from the start. I enjoyed seeing them both realize this was definitely more than a convenience. Pick Roomies if you're in the mood for a feel-good, humorous romance.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

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 going to be easy.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Kristan Higgins has been a favorite of mine for years. She does a solid job creating characters you love. Nora is no different. My heart broke when her past started getting revealed. I still think there's more to her sister's story, and I hope she addresses it in a future book.

I enjoyed the setting. Portland is one of my preferred haunts. And, I have to agree with the characters who felt that Speckled Ax is the best coffee in the city. Love it there!

RTR's Bottom Line

I love the setting. I love any Maine setting, but I've spent plenty of time in Portland and on some of the islands north of Portland. The communities are always tight-knit but so inviting. The setting drew me in and kept me reading.

I really enjoyed the humor and romance found in Now That You Mention It. I would like to return to Scupper Island. It felt like a home away from home.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

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 thinks she might be Caroline's missing daughter. It could be another scam. Caroline's not sure she has it in her to go through another round of fraud, hatred, and media attention.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The plot of She's Not There is pretty similar to the real disappearance of Madeleine McCann. If you know that story, you'll see similarities. The parents went to dinner leaving the sleeping kids alone. One child disappeared while the other/s slept. The parents returned at 10 p.m. to find their blonde, angelic daughter missing. Many have wondered what happened to Madeleine. This story takes a fictional look at a possibility.

RTR's Bottom Line

I caught on to the truth before the halfway mark. I didn't find it that hard to deduce, but then I do read a lot of mysteries. Because I was pretty sure I'd figured it out, I found myself rushing to reach the end. It's a solid story that definitely put a tear in my eye.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

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 Gwen is up against are clearly a bunch of sadistic and smart jerks. I often found myself outraged by the things they manage to pull. This book is no different. The author does a spectacular job at making you completely hate people.

Like the first novel, I found this book hard to put down. I didn't want to walk away and leave Gwen hanging. She's often in tough situations with life hanging in the balance. Waking up at 3 a.m., I decided to give up on sleep and finish reading the book instead. It will be a long day, but it was worth it.

RTR's Bottom Line

I want to hope that this is it now. I have this feeling, however, that this series will continue. It's a mix of really disturbing characters, truly likable ones, and a pace that never lets up until you read the final sentence. If you want creepy, intense, and gripping, Killman Creek is a must!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

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 body is found. Gwen knows she's no longer safe, and she has no idea who she can trust to help her.

Strengths and Weaknesses

I never found it hard to determine the bad guy's identity. That said, the creep factor in this book always had me on the edge of my seat. There's no guessing when something bad is about to happen.

The author's pace never slowed. From the start, the story moves swiftly from start to finish. If you're looking for a book that's high on suspense and tension, don't miss Stillhouse Lake.

RTR's Bottom Line

I'm so glad the second book is out next month. I was addicted to the story in Stillhouse Lake, even if I'd pegged the bad guy from the start. This book is intense and definitely won't be forgotten soon.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Begin Again by Mona Kasten

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 I do, and that says a lot. She's hiding something, as is he, and it takes a while to figure out what. When their secrets are revealed, Allie I could understand a bit. Kaden still came off as a jerk to me. I never fully embraced his character's bad boy attitude.

There are aspects of the story that bugged me. Allie mentions she's never eaten pizza. I find that impossible to believe of any teen that attended elementary, middle, or high school, but I'll move on. When she has pizza, she's amazed and almost orgasmic over the experience. That's out of the way, I thought, expect it's brought up more. She never had eaten pizza and OMG how weird. I grew sick of that.

RTR's Bottom Line

I never loved the characters in Begin Again. Both had a lot of growing up to do, but they were college age, so maybe I'm just lucky with two kids who aren't as emotional and moody as these two characters. As Allie's secret is revealed, she started to make more sense. I did feel compelled to read the whole story, so there's that. Otherwise, it was simply okay but nothing I felt I needed to read again and again.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Little Broken Things by Nicole Bart

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 swiftly. From the moment Lucy was dropped off, Quinn's story picked up into a frenzied pace of suspicion, wrong turns, and tension.

There are really four main voices in Little Broken Things. You have Quinn and Nora's mom, a widow who is trying to move on with her life. There are Quinn's struggles to figure out her marriage, become a temporary mom to a stranger, and figure out what Nora's running from. You have Nora and her best friend, too, both of whom are hiding secrets and want desperately to resolve the danger they're in.

I figured out a big part of the mystery very early. It seemed obvious to me. If you're reading this for the mystery, you may find it easy to solve.

I did like the relationships between the characters. I really enjoyed seeing Quinn and Nora's mom move from being an annoyance to an integral part of the story. She's a strong, very determined character who ended up stealing the show.

RTR's Bottom Line

While I could figure out Lucy's identity, the rest of the novel kept me on the edge of my seat. I read it in one sitting and enjoyed every minute of it. For that reason, I recommend Little Broken Things.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

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 what you see on TV or in movies. Keith Stuart used his experience raising an autistic son to create Sam. I fell in love with Sam. He was honest, charming, and so very likable.

As you get to know Alex, you understand why he is like he is. My heart broke for him. While he may already be a grown man, A Boy Made of Blocks became his coming of age story. I laughed with him, I cried with him, and I often cheered him and Sam on from the sidelines. I have nothing but high praise for this feel-good story.

RTR's Bottom Line

Taking a page from things my mom would say growing up - This is bloody brilliant! I am overjoyed that A Boy Made of Blocks found its way into my inbox. Keith Stuart's book fascinated me from start to finish. I was sad when it was over. I wasn't ready to part ways with this charming family. Keith Stuart has another book coming out next year and I can't wait!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

PageHabit's Thanksgiving Giveaway

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 release and a free shipping offer towards any of the subscription boxes at PageHabit.

You only have a couple of days to enter this book giveaway. To enter the PageHabit ThanksGiveaway, click on this link.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Poison: A Novel by Galt Neiderhoffer

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 reading. I wanted everything to turn out okay for them!

RTR's Bottom Line

I will admit that Poison: A Novel kept me on my toes. Ryan comes off as likable, but then you wonder if Cass is truly sane, but then you question if it's Ryan who's sanity has slipped. I bounced back and forth between them and simply couldn't predict the outcome, no matter how hard I tried. I loved the suspense, the uncertainty, but in the end, I almost felt let down with the sudden resolution.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Map to You by Lindy Zart

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 means of getting to her destination and nothing more. Now if only her heart would listen to her head.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Blake is a bit of a bad boy. He's a bad boy with heart, which made him very likable. Opal's similar. She comes off as tough, but she has a heart of gold. I loved their pairing. I found myself rooting for them, even when it didn't seem that they were going to be compatible.

The story is short at just under 200 pages. It flows smoothly and never felt incomplete. There were times it felt a little rushed, but never so much that it frustrated me. For a shorter romance, I definitely never felt let down. It was satisfying and left me wanting to return to them someday to see what happens next.

RTR's Bottom Line

The Map to You is part of the Least Likely Romance series. Given the younger ages of the characters, there were times I wondered if this is more New Adult than romance for all ages, but I soon found myself not really caring. I was hooked. I definitely recommend this one.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

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 only in town long enough to get her career fired back up though and many in the community want her gone. If she's going to make it in this town, she'll need to draw on skills she didn't realize she had.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Sweet Tea and Sympathy was a solid win. Molly Harper drew me in with characters who charmed their way into my heart. Kyle's little girls are just adorable and had some of the best lines in the book. The author did well to capture the innocence of a child and pair it with the no-nonsense attitude you'd expect from a child growing up in that community.

I was hooked from the start. I wasn't sure about the setting, so my enjoyment of it took me by surprise. A bait shop, fishing charter, and funeral home in one seemed odd, but it worked. I loved watching Margot adapt and shift from her big city ways. It was simply enjoyable from start to finish.

RTR's Bottom Line

I loved so much about this introduction to the Southern Eclectic series. The characters had me laughing and tearing up. The setting was fabulous. I felt at home and didn't want to leave. You have no idea how happy I was to find out this is the first book in the series. As I read, I was already counting all the ways this charming town could bring in new characters (someone needs to buy the town bakery) and bring me back to this fictional world.

Monday, November 6, 2017

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

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 would have made me like characters better. Marley wasn't a character I found I could form any connection. Her almost childish treatment of her boyfriend when his ex-girlfriend came to town bugged me. He was honest, so I couldn't get why she was so paranoid. I have a feeling that jumping into the series was my downfall there.

The mystery was intriguing. I did like the twists. Some were really easy to solve, but the main mystery wasn't as simple. I appreciated being kept on my toes.

At the end of the book are several Pancake House recipes. That's one of my favorite parts of a culinary mystery. I love that I have some new breakfast recipes to test out!

RTR's Bottom Line

Book three in the A Pancake House Mystery series is my introduction to the series. I'm not sure if I should have read the other books first. I got the relationships between the characters within the town, but I never really felt that I connected with any of them. Of Spice and Men simply became an okay read, but nothing I'd want to keep.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

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 he simply cannot manage.

Harriet will do anything for the dogs in her care, so she agrees. Little does she know that the grumpy doctor she's living with could be her very own Mr. Right.

Strengths and Weaknesses

You do not need to have read all the books in the From Manhattan With Love series, but you'll want to. Moonlight Over Manhattan hit all of my marks. I loved the characters, the setting, and the pace. Things move swiftly, but not so fast that they become unbelievable or feel rushed.

I've read several of the books, and some do tie together in terms of characters, but each stands alone. If you're worried about diving into something that's already started, don't. There are no plots that carry into another book in the series.

RTR's Bottom Line

I love this series and this is another excellent addition. Ethan was a tad on a grumpy side, but he had his reasons. I liked watching him slowly changing his views on dogs and love in general. Harriet's steadfast beliefs helped add tension to their relationship. I've been waiting for her to have her own story, and it definitely did not disappoint.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

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

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 good way to delve into the talk about a grandparent's memory loss. My own kids are young adults, so they understand my mom's symptoms with Alzheimer's. If they were younger, I'd love having a book like this to help me out!

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson

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 her stories, but I soon realized I had the killer pegged. Then I'd question myself because Faith really didn't seem reliable.

If you're like me and try to solve the mystery before the characters in the book, this one is full of subtle hints. From time to time, there are twists tossed in. When that happened, I questioned myself a few times, but I kept coming back to the same person. I love a book where I succeed in my mission, but where I'm also never quite sure. It builds suspense well.

RTR's Bottom Line

The Girl Who Lived is dark, often sad, and completely compelling. I started it expecting to read a few chapters and then get chores done. Not the case. I started it and stayed up to finish it in the same day.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

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

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 and not focusing on the alcohol. Her holding that against Will bugged me.

The story itself drew me in. I loved the setting and would like to move there, please. I also loved the holiday feel. The news is full of doom and gloom. I loved being uplifted with holiday cheer.

RTR's Bottom Line

I read this a month ago and somehow overlooked doing a review. A month later, I still find myself remembering the details. That's a plus! With so many books read each month, some rarely stick in my head after a week or two. Mina and Will's romance was honest, fun, and memorable.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trace by Archer Mayor

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 bit of a rough time as there are several cases going on that demand the VBI's best. There's the murder of Beverly Hillstrom's daughter's roommate. The murder doesn't look like your average murder, it looks like a hit.

A two-year-old open and shut double murder involving a police officer is also weighing on the VBI. Lester Spinney at the VBI gets a call regarding evidence that proves the accused shooter really didn't shoot the officer at all. Someone else did and that killer could still be out there.

Finally, a young girl is wandering the railroad tracks when she finds three bloody teeth. Thinking it may be nothing, the VBI starts to investigate and discovers there's far more to this case than anyone could imagine.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Archer Mayor knows what he writes. He's been a medical examiner, police officer, and EMT/firefighter. His knowledge shines in all of his books. That's part of what draws me to the Joe Gunther series. He also has traveled all over the state since he lives here. His details into the towns and cities are always spot on. I've seen other novels where Burlington and Waterbury are side by side (not at all true), so I appreciate the accurate geographical details.

Trace did have a few plots going at once, but I grabbed a notepad until I got acclimated to the different characters and locations. It didn't take long before I was into the story and eagerly reading each case.

RTR's Bottom Line

I admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Archer Mayor and his books. I've always loved the characters. The author gave a speech at my son's high school years ago, and the things he told the students resonated. I used to drive one of the carpools, and the kids talked about his speech for days.

If you want a solid crime novel that takes you on an enjoyable ride, don't miss the Joe Gunther series. Trace is a book I would buy for gifts and my keeper shelf.

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