Saturday, July 28, 2018

Book Review for The Cheerleaders By Kara Thomas

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Kara Thomas impressed me with her teen mystery The Cheerleaders. Do I think there was some  shoddy police work at play? Yes. Could I put the book down? No. If you were a fan of Veronica Mars, this is a book to read.

It's been five years since five cheerleaders died tragically. Two died in a horrific car crash. Two died in a shocking murder. One allegedly killed herself. Monica still struggles with her sister's suicide. Jen just wasn't the type. When she finds her sister's cell phone hidden in her stepdad's desk drawer, along with yearly notes telling him to connect the dots, she's convinced there is more to the five deaths than police suspected.

Monica starts with the last number her sister called. It puts her in touch with a mystery person telling her not to trust her stepdad. Wanting to know the truth, Monica starts going back to the people in Jen's life and asking questions. They're questions not everyone wants to answer, but Monica is determined to learn the truth about her sister's alleged suicide and the other girls' deaths.

The story had me hooked. Even as potential suspects were revealed, I was still quite involved trying to figure it all out. It can be a dark story at times, but the case and characters have you involved. Are people lying? Are secrets still being hidden five years later? As Monica and her new friend work through the facts of the case through old newspaper stories and interviews, it becomes clear that this isn't an easy case to solve.

I ended up making this a one-sitting book. I didn't want to stop until I knew. It was that good.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham

Release Date - July 31, 2018

Ella and Mack have a turn at romance in Set the Night on Fire. If you haven't read the other stores, you really don't need to. I do, however, recommend the entire series.

Since buying out Ford Abbott's stake in a family garage, Ella has not had a warm welcome. What was first an investment became a setting for some of her best memories of her brother. She doesn't want to give up the garage and hopes she can win Mack Abbott over with her marketing skills.

Mack is furious that his brother sold a share of the family business. It's supposed to stay in the family. Despite his growing attraction to Ella, he must get her share back. To do so, he'll really push her buttons. He never expects her to stand up to her tests, however. He starts to wonder if his desire to buy Ford's share back is really worth it.

I loved the chemistry between Ella and Mack in the previous entry in the A Cottonbloom Novel series. This book is not disappointing. Plus, there's another potential character introduced and I'd like to see her get her own story.

I do have to say that I was a bit let down with the resolution with Ella and her ex-husband. It didn't seem to fit with the character he had been. It's a minor part in the story, however, so it was easy to move past that.

Over all, Set the Night on Fire was another great addition to this very romantic, character-driven series.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Review for Zoje Stage's Baby Teeth

Release Date: July 17, 2018

A child should be a wondrous event. Suzette Jensen suffers from Crohn's Disease. For her, having a child is a risk. She loves her husband, however, and knows he wants a family. With a beautiful baby girl adding to their family, the pair of them are not prepared for parenthood.

At first, Hanna appeared to be an average child. As she grew, she never spoke. Years pass and Hanna still doesn't speak. Thinking she just needs to socialize more, Suzette and Alex enroll Hanna in school. She is kicked out of one school and then the next. Alex blames the school for not understanding Hanna. Suzette thinks there is more going on. She's convinced her daughter is evil.

Little Hanna is as creepy as they come. This child was one of the scariest characters I've encountered in a while. The interactions between Alex and Suzette also add to the story. You have Alex who works long hours so that Suzette can stay home to raise their daughter. He doesn't pick up on subtle cues that the reader does. There's Suzette who is battling her own disease and depression and undeniable love for Alex. She wants to keep her marriage together, but Hanna is equally determined to tear them apart.

I couldn't put Baby Teeth down. It's creepy, gripping, and could continue into future books if the author chose to go that way. I loved it.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Release Date - July 24, 2018

I've finished Every Time You Go Away and I'm still not sure what I think. I'm not convinced I loved this book. I get the point, but I think it comes down to how much you believe about ghosts.

Time stopped when Willa learned her husband had died of an unknown heart condition. Now a widow, the now 30-something has practically ignored her son as he grew from boy to teen. It's hard to be a parent when grief consumes you.

Over the years, the one thing Willa couldn't do was return to the family beach house in Maryland. It's where her husband died unexpectedly. She's dreaded returning there, but the time has come that she must return to get the house emptied and put it on the market.

Willa arrives as ready as she can be to clear the home and ready it for a sale. Other than her dog, she's alone. When she spies a young boy on the beach all by himself, Willa's nerves are shaken. He looked just like her son and husband did at that age. Inside the beach house isn't any better. Her dog is acting up. Before long, her deceased husband appears to her.

Could it just be memories and her mind playing tricks or is Ben really there? Willa does the only thing she can and starts talking back. Still not convinced she's sane, Willa does what everyone needs to get past the grief. She gets her son, her best friend, and her best friend's daughter to come to the beach home to ready it for one last goodbye.

I believe in ghosts. I really do. I don't believe in ghosts that easily appear and hold full conversations. I had a hard time with that part of the book. Ghosts are there to be sensed. There may be a scent or a cold spot, but a ghost you can see, talk to, and even go outside with was a little odd to me. It had me wondering if there would be a moment in the book when you'd learn it was all a dream. You have to read to find out the truth.

The book's message of love, loss, and the stages of grief was very true. In the end, I read every page, but I can't say I loved the book. I really only ever liked it.

The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal

Release Date - July 17, 2018

After her mother's death, Olivia Shaw is still deeply mourning the loss. She finds herself in England after uncovering a mystery. Her mother owns an English estate and Olivia holds the title of Lady Olivia. She went to England to settle the estate and sell the land and buildings. What she finds is that she's falling in love with the estate and many of the townspeople.

Rosemere holds a lot of secrets, however. In order to get help restoring all the buildings, Olivia must unravel the truth her mother and grandmother spent decades hiding.

The lush setting and descriptions of foods in The Art of Inheriting Secrets had me hooked. I could smell the dampness overtaking the mansion. I could taste the rich spices of the many Indian dishes Olivia eats during her time in England. I loved the romance between Olivia and a man who many say is beneath her newly discovered title.

That said, there were aspects I felt were left open. I don't know if that means a sequel will follow. I hope so. I feared there would be a big revelation into the truth about Olivia's father. I also wanted to know if Olivia would turn things around financially. That didn't get as much attention.

Hopefully, Barbara O'Neal has a sequel in store. If there is to be one, I'll be one of the first in line to buy it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Space Between by Dete Meserve

Release Date - July 24, 2018

When I read Dete Meserve's novel A Good Sam, I knew she was an author to watch. The Space Between is just as gripping and emotional.

Sarah Mayfield returns back from her trip to NASA where she and her team presented proof of an amazing discovery. She's riding the high of their success and what it means for her field. Her teen son is home, but her husband, a wealthy restaurateur, is nowhere to be found.

Things look bad when Sarah finds the security camera footage was scrubbed. There's a gun in their bedroom. He deposited a million dollars in a bank account they haven't touched in years.

Soon, Sarah's life is unraveling. While it first appears that Ben may have been taken by people he was suing, it starts to look much, much worse. Ben's blood is found in his abandoned car. A life insurance policy is discovered. Detectives start to wonder if Sarah killed him to get the money he possessed. If Sarah wants to uncover the truth, she's going to need to trust her instincts and dig through the clues.

This is a one-sitting book. I was so glad I had a couple hours dedicated to reading. I was able to get through most of Sarah's story. I had part of it pegged. I found the mystery wasn't so baffling. It was more the why that kept me guessing.

If you haven't picked up a book from Dete Meserve, you should. The Space Between is a great way to discover her work. Once you've finished it, you'll want to check out her other works of fiction.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

Release Date - July 24, 2018

Caring for her two daughters is challenging with her husband often gone on business. Cecilia Wilborg makes it work. After all, her husband loves her, her daughters are perfect, and they have a home in a wealthier area in Norway.

While taking her daughters to the community pool, Cecilia runs into the one thing that could tear her perfect life apart. Someone left their young son at the pool. Cecilia's asked to run him home. She never imagines that the boy's parents will not be there. She and her husband agree to take him in until his parents are found.

Annika Lucasson knows Cecilia's secret. She may not be more than a junkie, but the secret she knows could be her claim to wealth. To keep her world intact, Cecilia must deal with her past and maintain a calm facade as Annika intrudes more and more on her life.

Some of the secrets and mysteries within The Boy at the Door are apparent. I wasn't shocked by some revelations. I was more surprised that Cecilia opted to keep some of her secrets hidden. They weren't that big a deal in the scheme of things.

The story is told through Cecilia's, Annika's, and the boy's eyes. You get to see a clear picture of how their stories come together slowly over time. I actually loved the breaks and getting to know each character so closely.

By the end, I was thoroughly hooked. I can't say I loved Cecilia. She makes foolish mistakes that never needed to be made. She's pretty stuck on herself and that made her hard to like. The rest of the characters drew me in, however, and I was definitely intrigued and wanted to know more with each page.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Somebody's Daughter by David Bell

Release Date: July 10, 2018

Somebody's Daughter will have your thoughts going all over the place. You may think you've got it all figured out, but you don't. I did eventually catch on, but it took a lot longer than usual.

Michael Frazier and his wife have a relaxed evening planned. After years of dealing with infertility issues, it's a good night to have a romantic dinner and try for the baby they both desperately want. Things take a very dark, ominous turn when Michael's ex-wife Erika shows up. Her daughter vanished and Michael must help her. She reveals Michael is the nine-year-old girl's father. He never knew.

The last thing Michael's wife expects is for Michael to agree to leave with Erica. Angela is stunned. Worse, when the police come to interview her, she learns Michael has been hiding things. Did he know he has a daughter? Is the girl really even his daughter?

As the hours pass, Angela starts to hear more and more about Erika's past and her concern grows. Something isn't right. When a mystery man appears with connections to Erika and an equally avid interest in discovering the truth, Angela agrees to team up. She's hesitant to trust a stranger, but she needs to know what is happening to her quiet marriage.

This story took so many twists. I kept trying to predict things and failed miserably each time. I love not being able to guess an ending so easily. It took a good portion of the book before I'd figured it out. I did have one complaint. One story that develops along the way really just gets glossed over. I needed to know how that turns out. Maybe it will be told in future novels. Who knows. Either way, I'm delighted I read this book.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Broken Promise by Tara Thomas

Release Date: June 26, 2018

I loved the first entry in the Sons of Broad series. I wasn't as taken with Broken Promises. It was okay, but it was nothing I rushed to read in one sitting.

Officer Alyssa Adams has never forgotten her sister's murder. Maybe that's why the disappearance of Kipling Benedict's long-lost sister has her riled. She leaves the force in an agreement to help the Benedict brothers find their sister and end the madness the Gentleman has created.

Kipling may have been arrested by Alyssa, but he's not going to blame her for doing her job. In fact, he finds her quite appealing. He cannot let his attraction get in the way of finding his sister, however. Jade's safety is most important to Kipling and his brothers. He's ready to end the Gentleman once and for all.

The Gentleman is a creepy, sadistic man who has been putting the brothers through hell for multiple books. I was glad to see this is the final entry. I didn't find it as gripping as Darkest Night.

As the story progresses, you learn that Jade and Alyssa have an unknown tie. I liked that aspect. It made me tear up a bit. But, I never found Alyssa and Kipling to be that interesting a couple. Their entire relationship seemed rushed and there simply to be there. I didn't buy into a smoldering attraction.

In the end, I'm glad I read the first book in this series. I'm glad I've learned the conclusions to the secrets. I just wish I'd like the romance in this book more than I did.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook by LInda Larsen

Released in July 2016

Forget any other air fryer cookbook. This is the book you need. I have an air fryer. I also hate it. I've tried making fries. They were limp. I tried making fried fish. It was lousy. I put it away after that.

The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook had me pulling it back out. A recipe for healthier scotch eggs caught my eye. I love scotch eggs. With the ingredients in hand, eggs boiled, and air fryer ready to go, I gave the recipe a shot. These were the greatest scotch eggs. They were crispy, moist, and delicious.

There's a good guide to get you started with an air fryer. I used the Power Air Fryer XL while testing these recipes. Recipes and information are divided into these categories:

  • Fast Food or Good Health
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Appetizers
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Vegetables and Sides
  • Desserts

I had temperatures of 95 F at my house yesterday. The heat index reached 125 F. I was a little worried about using the air fryer, but it didn't heat up the kitchen at all. The oven would have. I liked the air fryer for that reason.

After making scotch eggs, I tried a few more recipes. Arancini worked wonders with some of the short-grain rice I'd cooked a few days ago and set aside for making California rolls this week. The Roasted Potato Salad was also great.

I'm not sure the air fryer will get constant use, but The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook has shown me that the machine is better than I thought. The recipes in the product guides were lousy. These are worth the cost of the book. It's a win. Thanks to Callisto Publisher's Club for pointing it out.

The Road to Christmas: A Sweet Holiday Romance Novel by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 20, 2022  Sit down and explore the holiday season through four sets of eyes in Sheila Roberts' latest holiday...