Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Nell and Lady by Ashley Farley

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 came across as very genuine and while these issues were not always handled well, they were not ignored.

I really enjoyed this story. It did bounce back and forth in time, something I don't always love, but it worked in this situation. I loved the relationships and story.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Found Child by Jo Crow

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 had the story's outcome pegged. I was wrong. Jo Crow gets high marks for pulling a twist I didn't see coming. I love being surprised and this one did just that.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March

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 time. When her house is raided and her son is knocked over and his arm is broken, Jenna packs him up and moves him. Police can't find her stalker, and she feels helpless.

When she learns her son has been making calls to "Santa," she wants to end it. The Santa on the other end of the phone convinces her to let her son continue to call until he has to return to his home in Australia from Eternity Springs. The calls come to an end when she's forced to move after her son's arm is broken.

In a new state, the same thing happens. She's been the victim of swatting twice now. She hopes a trip to Eternity Springs, the place that "Santa" made sound so peaceful, may help her son get past the fear of simply living.

When Devin learns the attractive single mom he meets is the stranger he'd talked to on the phone, he befriends her and her son. With the help of his friends, he's determined to help Jenna catch her stalker for once and for all. When he's done, he'll return to Australia for good. He never expects to fall in love.

Jenna knows Devin has a business to run in Australia. While she's equally smitten, she can't give her heart to a man who plans to leave.

The swatting sequences in The Christmas Wishing Tree broke my heart. Reilly's fear is so real. I couldn't read the book with dry eyes for that reason. I also had to read the book in one sitting. I'm so glad I did. It was enchanting and the best book I've read this month.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

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 attend a family Christmas. She hasn't been to one in a couple years, and she knows she can't avoid this one.

Posy never left the family's lodge. She helps her mom run the cafe and assists in mountain rescues. Their current guest, a bestselling author, has Posy wondering if she's missing out.

The three sisters are bonded by tragedy, but it's that same tragedy that's shaped them into the women they are today. If Suzanne's wishes come true, this will be a holiday gathering that will help them form the bond that's been missing.

The Christmas Sisters was a little slow to start. Beth and Hannah's characters were hard for me to like at first. They couldn't see the things that were good in their lives and focused only on the negative. Once they were all in Scotland together, I was completely hooked. I fell in love with the family and couldn't put the story down.

I laughed and cried with this one. I wouldn't mind seeing them return in future novels just to see how things are going!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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

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 title. Ash is not a trustworthy character. M knows it and tries to stay a few steps ahead of him, but the race for the relics is the key to getting her dad back. M will do anything to rescue her dad, even if that means working with the enemy.

The pacing had moments where it dragged. In France, I found the "you must party with this guy first" to be a bit dull. It dragged on and I really didn't care. M seemed older than she was, which threw me off several times. She often seems more adult than teen.

While I didn't hate this book, I never loved it. It was just okay. I stuck with it to see how it ended. I'm glad I did. It took a bit of a turn into horror and I loved that. In the end, that was what saved the book for me. It went from "meh" to "awesome," if only for a moment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lies by T.M. Logan

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 Ben. He opts to save Wills.

After Wills has his asthma treatment, Joe returns to the parking garage where Ben fell. Ben's missing. Joe assumes he was okay. Later, he learns Ben has disappeared.

It isn't long before Joe gets the first of many threatening messages. Ben's being set up and he seems to be helpless to stop it. He doesn't know who to trust, and Mel's told a few lies that could tear the family apart. The life Joe knows is unraveling and he doesn't know how to stop it.

Lies has the potential to be a chilling psychological suspense. It could have been had I not figured it all out. When my Kindle showed I was 11 percent of the way through the book, I'd figured it out. That was disappointing. I hoped I was wrong, but as the story continued, I knew I had it solved.

Joe is kind of a meek character. I wish he'd been a little savvier at picking up the subtle clues around him. He's also a little naive and does things you may find yourself getting annoyed by. Other characters are stronger and had you either loving or hating them. You'll see what I mean as you read the book.

This was a good read, but it was predictable to me. That keeps me from being able to give it a four over three stars.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

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 close to her.

Once Natalie is back in her own home and far from Ronan's, he has plans. He isn't interested in a commitment, but he can't get Natalie out of his mind. She's in agreement that true love doesn't exist, but a little fun never hurt anyone, right?

I loved Why Not Tonight. It's light, humorous at times, and packed with romance. It was a nice change of pace from the string of mysteries and psychological suspense novels I had been reading.

Susan Mallery never fails to create towns that I want to be part of. I could see myself befriending many of the characters. Ronan is probably the most obnoxious, but even he starts to come around and make himself more appealing. I enjoyed every minute of this novel. If you're looking for a warm, comforting novel, this is one to savor.

Monday, September 10, 2018

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

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 years.

I've already heard a lot of people talking about When the Lights Go Out. I know that the ending has infuriated many. Here's my take. I get it. I also pegged it way too early. That's my main reason for not loving this book. I had it figured out way too early.

Do this mean I hated the book? No. I was absorbed in the women's stories. I wanted to see how it would all come together in the end.

Is it the best of Kubica's novels? Also no. I have loved her writing, but this one wasn't as fascinating to me as the others. I liked it, but it's not a book I'd consider a keeper. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Release Date - September 4, 2018

Sadie Hunter disappeared not too long after her younger sister's body was found. The case captures the attention of radio producer West McCray when he comes to Cold Creek, Colorado, to record his "Forgotten Towns" segment. He has mixed feelings about investigating a girl's murder and another girl's disappearance, but he's also drawn to the case. He wants to know what became of 19-year-old Sadie.

Growing up, Sadie was more a mother figure to her sister than anything else. Sadie saw it as her job to protect, nurture, and love Mattie. When 13-year-old Mattie died, Sadie's world fell apart. Her grandmother couldn't do anything to help. Sadie developed one clear goal. The police may not have done a great job, but that won't stop Sadie from uncovering the truth. Armed only with a knife and cash, Sadie takes off.

West hears of the family's story at a gas station. He's intrigued and opts to take a closer look after talking to the grandmother. It's a long, dark journey, but when Sadie's car is found empty and abandoned with no sign of her, West can't help but push harder to uncover the truth.

Told from two viewpoints, Sadie changes between West McCray and Sadie. West's broadcast involves interviews with the girls' grandmother, as well as some of the people who know something about them or the case. Sadie's story is told as she travels thousands of miles in search of a killer.

I couldn't put the book down. I was hooked from the start and appreciated the story's structure. West's part reads like a podcast with the different speakers during interviews. The changes in format made it an incredibly quick, powerful read. It's just as gripping to an adult as it would be to a teen. I became engrossed from the first page and didn't put it down till I was done. It's gritty, terrifying, and sad all at once. It's also very, very real. While it's not a true story, it certainly feels like it could be.

There's plenty of buzz about this book already. That buzz is deserved. Read Sadie and see why.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch

Release Date - September 4, 2018

Dare You to Lie is a book with which I'll have a love-hate relationship. First, it's clearly the start of a new series. I wasn't prepared to walk away with almost more questions than I had at the start. That's the "hate" aspect of this review. No. Sorry. I just don't want to wait to find out what happens next. Am I eager for the next release, you bet. I feel like I'm in one of those cliffhanger endings to a favorite TV show and now have to wait months or even a year to get some resolution.

With much of her hometown turned against her, Kylene Danners is back. She's at her old high school. The same football team that made her life hell are still ready to make her life hell. This time, it's harder. Her father, a former FBI agent, is in prison for a crime Kylene knows he didn't commit. Proving it isn't easy.

For now, Kylene needs to settle into her new home with her grandfather, get through school, and see if she can solve another mystery from her past. While she's trying to do that, someone is just as determined to keep her quiet. Even with new friends on her side and old ones returning to support her, Kylene learns the true depths people will go to keep the truth hidden.

I started Dare You to Lie this morning. I fully expected to follow my usual writing routine. Make coffee, see husband off at 6, read news with coffee in hand, shower at 7, walk the dog, start writing articles by 8. This book threw me off that routine. It was more read until I had finished the last page until 8. My dog couldn't figure out what was going on. The book was too good to put down. It reminded me a lot of Veronica Mars.

I felt rage for Kylene. I wanted to strangle some characters. I cheered her on when she pulled out her martial arts moves. My heart broke for her when she went into the prison to see her dad. I wanted to hug her and her friends many, many times. I was so taken with the characters that the mom in me wanted to be there for them.

As the mystery progresses, you are left wondering who Kylene can trust and who she cannot. Some aspects are resolved, but there's a lot left open for the next book. I just hope I don't have to wait long!

Monday, September 3, 2018

In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James

Release Date - September 21, 2018

I've been a fan of cozy mysteries since my mom handed me a Diane Mott Davidson novel. In Cold Chocolate was clearly not the first in the series, but I caught up easily enough. It also wasn't long before my mouth was watering for salted chocolate turtles, spicy truffles, and more. I can't wait to test out the two recipes in the back of the novel.

This is the third book in the series. Charity Penn is finding her place in the small beach town of Camellia Beach, South Carolina. Her handsome neighbor and his son are still becoming good friends, much to the dismay of the man's ex/boy's mother. Jody Dalton makes it clear that she dislikes Charity. Jody also seems to be very gleeful when announcing that Charity's lie is going to have her losing everything. Charity has no idea what she's talking about.

It's time for the turtles to hatch on the beach. Charity is invited to tag along and watch. She ends up stumbling onto another murder and getting grazed by a bullet at the same time. Jody is arrested for the murder of her lover, Cassidy Jones. When Jody's son asks Charity to prove his mom didn't do it, Charity agrees.

It's peak tourism season and the chocolate shop's business is booming. Between the murder, business at the shop, and whatever is going on with this "lie" Charity supposedly told, she has her hands full.

I liked the characters. I loved the descriptions of the town and the chocolates. I am kind of bummed that I pegged the murderer's identity way too early. The moment the police came to the crime scene to investigate the murder, I had the killer pegged. It was a bit predictable to me.

In the end, I would have loved In Cold Chocolate far more if I'd had a harder time solving the crime. It was a good read, but the bottom line was I knew the outcome long before I think I should have.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Feared by Lisa Scottoline

Release Date - August 14, 2018

I haven't read any of the novels in the Rosato & DiNunzio series until now. I'm sad I've been missing out. Feared was a gripping read.

Mary DiNunzio has plenty on her plate. She and her partner Bennie Rosato have a big case coming up. Mary's in the final trimester of pregnancy, too. The last thing they need is to be hit with a lawsuit. It's a discrimination lawsuit at that. Three men have come forward and said they were not hired by the firm because they're male.

Nick Machiavelli is leading the suit against them. He lost to Mary once and doesn't plan to lose again. He's ruthless. When the one male employee at Rosato & DiNunzio admits he's felt out of place as the only male in the firm and then quits, the case looks hopeless. When he turns up dead, things spiral out of control.

Mary's friend is the prime suspect. If she can't clear the firm of any wrongdoing and clear her friend of the murder, she could lose everything.

This mystery had me hooked from the start. I couldn't even predict how it would all play out, which is a really good thing. I was guessing right up to the final chapters.

I need to go back and read the other books in this series. I loved the characters and the swift pace. I can easily see myself getting hooked in every one of these novels.

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...