Recent Reads 12.1.2020 – August/September

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a reading round up so this is Part One – August/September. So hearken back with me to late summer/early fall, when the the sun was still blazing before the breeze picked up too much. When we made the switch from flip flops and sandals to sneakers and (some days up here in the mountains) boots. When everything moves from soft and breezy to cozy and crisp. Now that you’re there with me, here are some books I read during that time:

Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley for the Review copy of the book. All opinions are my own. Rating: Four stars

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

I love this book! I’m not usually a big fan of World War II books, but this one really grabbed me from the very first line. The characters of Charlotte, Horace, And Julian have strong depth. I felt like I was right there for every raid, every kiss. The tension was palpable and the choices Charlotte has to make are wrenching. Charlotte’s daughter Vivi was a bright light and I liked the journey of her character. Very compelling! Not an easy read, but it pulls you in and won’t let you go. I highly recommend it! Rating: Five stars 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin Press and NetGalley for the review copy of this book.

Leaning Out: An Alternative Perspective for the Modern Corporate Woman by Monica E. Pierce (Audiobook)

This was an interesting perspective on the corporate work world for women. It explores the question: what about women who want to foster a balance in their lives and don’t want to go for the corner office. Leaning out is not giving up on any ambition, but is a balance of ambition and family/personal life. 

I’m one who has always leaned out so I could relate. It agues strongly for choice in the work world. A good read, but dragged in some spots. (listen- I listened on audio).

Thank you to NetGalley for the review audiobook. All opinions are my own. Rating: Three stars

Christmas Carol Society by Rebekah Jones

I LOVE Christmas stories. This one was an especially fun one. A riff on the Dickens story, the author did a good job of taking the twist and creating an inspiring story full of faith. Charlie’s story was compelling and kept me reading. This would be a great addition to anyone’s Christmas reading list. Start the season early when this one comes out.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

September

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Audiobook)

Bourdain provided a deep dive behind the scenes of some of New York City’s famous (Rainbow Room) and not so famous restaurant kitchens. A gritty (and foul-mouthed) look at what it’s like in the militaristic hierarchy on the kitchen line, Bourdain shows the interesting, and sometimes ugly, side of where upscale food is made. He minces no words about his own experiences starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to chef in various restaurants. The book was written while he was chef at Les Halles, before he went on to host his own travel-food show on CNN. He outlines his successes, his many failures, and the inner workings of restaurants. The book is filled with colorful characters (many pseudonyms are used) unique insights into human character, especially his own.

Some parts of the book unappealingly gritty or revealing, but anyone who’s ever thought that they wanted to be a chef (not me, especially not now) needs to read this book. It also a good book for restaurant patrons who want to be “in the know” about the origins and etiquette surrounding their food.

I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is narrated by Bourdain whose own voice adds more life to his words. I recommend it. Rating: Four stars

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

I chose this book for my church book group (Faith Fiction Fans-woo!) because it had a bookish theme and a thread of a faith story that wound through it. The book follows five people who get mysterious invitations to a story society at a book shop on Fifth Avenue: a professor who is trying to finish his dissertation on a famous writer, his ex-wife who is struggling to get the recognition she deserves at her job, a cosmetics company owner who almost became a princess, an Uber driver trying to reconnect with his kids, and an older gentleman who wants to write the story of his ideal marriage.

As the group continues to meet weekly, secrets are shared and each person grows in unexpected ways. The faith storyline is deftly thread into the story without being overbearing. The characters are likable and unlikeable in turn and every time you think you know what’s going to happen, a twist gets thrown in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the characters of the professor and the cosmetics company owner. The bond the group forms is realistic and close and reflects the same connection I have with my book group.

Rating: Four stars

Girl Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis (Audiobook)

I listened to this on audio, which I recommend as the way to consume this book. It was a great motivational book that helps you to let go of excuses and to train your behaviors for success. It’s about dreaming big and setting big goals. I felt like some of it applied to my life, while some of it was focused on creating a business that is scaled way up (which is not my goal). Still, she shares her experiences and has some good advice for anyone who has some ambition to build a business or just expand your experiences in life.

This book is aimed at women, so many men may not be able to relate to some of the advice. Not the end-all, be-all of self help books, but some great motivational tips and ways to set yourself up for success.

Rating: Four stars

Spies and Sweethearts by Linda Shenton Matchett

I love a good spy story, and this was a fun one. Throw in romance and the World War Two era, and you’ve got a great suspense novel. The author did a great job making the setting come to life and really breathed life into the characters. They were interesting and I really cared about their story. The suspense was just right, put you on the edge of your seat without going overboard. It’s the tried and true hate-to-love trope without being tired and worn. This is book one of a trilogy, and I intend to come back for the next two installments.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review ebook copy. All opinions are my own.

Rating: Four stars

Cost Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith

I loved the style in this book. I’ve been looking for a way to describe my aesthetic and this is it. It was also nice to learn some decorating techniques that I can use with what I have. Definitely getting her next book.

Rating: Five stars

If I Run (If I Run #1) by Terri Blackstock

What a thriller! Terri Blackstock really knows how to move the plot along in this Christian thriller. This is the first of the three book series where we follow Casey, who is on the run because she is a suspect in her best friend Brent’s murder, and Dylan, the victim’s childhood friend who is hired to find Casey and bring her back to the police. 

As Casey starts on a journey to discover who is responsible for Brent’s murder and for framing her, she also begins a journey toward faith. Childhood pain, the loneliness of being on the run, and Casey’s good heart will help the reader start putting the pieces together. Dylan’s is also suspicious of the evidence that sets Casey up as a suspect and starts to discover the real truth behind the murder. As he works to manage his PTSD and to find Casey, he relies on his faith to get him to the truth.

Be sure you have the second two books queued up so you can read (or listen to- I took it in as an audiobook) them right after you finish this one. You won’t want to wait.

Rating: Five stars

Stay tuned tomorrow for my October-November reads, followed Friday by a special Holiday Gift Guide edition of Weekend Reading on Friday.

Happy reading!

— Amy

Recent Reading Roundup 8.5.20

It was a busy summer reading season between mid-June and July. This month’s selections included a variety of genres and books that were great summertime reads. Check out the books below:

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate paints a vivid picture of beach community Hatteras Island, located in the Carolinas and draws you into the story of Tandee Jo, who is charged with cleaning out the home of her recently deceased landlord. During the cleaning process, the single mom comes across shoe boxes filled with prayers that takes her on a journey of self-discovery that changes the lives of herself and her two children. Love blooms, and a life of responsibility and spiritual devotion blossoms as she learns the history of the woman who lived in the home and she and her friends work to preserve the landmark.

This was not always a comfortable read. Tandee Jo doesn’t start off as the most responsible mother, which is difficult to get through. But her journey is inspiring and the ending is satisfying. The book is filled with colorful characters, secrets, and redemption in more ways than one. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series. Rating: A-

Deadly Sweet Tooth by Kaye George

I really liked the premise of this book. The sweet shop setting in Texas opens up a lot of possibilities. However, I had a hard time investing in the characters. The main character always seemed stressed and that made me stressed. Some of the plot elements seemed to come together too easily or not at all. The mystery was compelling and even though I figured out the mystery about 2/3rds of the way through, I was wrong about some of the circumstances. A fine book, just not for me. Rating: B-

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an electronic review copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

Andre Leon Talley is a pillar in the last 40 years of the fashion industry. An insider, first at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, then at Women’s Wear Daily and W, and finally at Vogue, Talley has all the scoop on those in the know of the fashion industry. This dishy book names names and gives an inside look at Talley’s 40 year friendship with Chanel’s late Karl Lagerfeld and a unique look at his on-and-off friendship with Vogue editor Anna Wintour. He name checks throughout the book, with talk of YSL, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, even a bit about Alexander McQueen. The book also focuses on his experiences as a black, gay man in fashion and his continuing battle with his weight. He serves up the scoop with manners in line with his Southern heritage. It’s a great ride for anyone with an interest in fashion, but could feel a little dense for those who don’t know all the names (especially the early ones). This is definitely aimed at fashion fans, not fashion beginners. Rating: A

Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews

Loved this book! It follows reporter Conley Hawkins as she returns to her small town and is set up by her Grandmother to work at the family’s small weekly temporarily with her sister (with whom she doesn’t really get along) who is editor in chief. Right away Conley starts ruffling feathers with the story of a local Congressman eho dies in a mysterious car crash. She also reconnects with her childhood crush who broke her heat and live two doors down from where she grew up. 

Family drama ensues and Conley and her sister fight blowback on the stories and find new ways to save to paper. Political shenanigans I. The Congressman’s family also tear up as truths come out. 

Lots of good twists and turns. I love a good mystery/romance/political drama. Conley is a strong character with being overly abrasive. Other stories are well interwoven. A joy of a book and a great summer read! Rating: A

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic review copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

Summer By the Tides by Denise Hunter

This Christian family drama-romance is the epitome of a summer read. Three sisters, Maddy, Nora, and Emma are called to their grandmother’s beachside North Carolina cottage when she is reported missing by neighbor Connor. Turns out the whole this was a set up by grandma to get the sisters to settle their differences. Nora and Emma have been feuding for 20 years since Nora stole and married Emma’s fiancé. But each of the sisters is bringing secrets and baggage to the cottage and as Gram returns and a storm brews, the sisters begin to untangle the web of anger and betrayal that has affected them all. During the whole process Maddy and Connor strike up a growing attraction. The fallout from the stormy weekend will change all of their lives.

The conflicts in this book were a little uncomfortable, but they were well drawn and each of the characters was sincere in their beliefs and crafty with their secret keeping. The ending is far from pat and shows the journey each of the women and Connor went on throughout the story. Highly recommend to fans of Christian fiction. Rating: A-

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend. Rating: A

Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend. Rating: A-

Thank you to NetGalley providing me with an electronic eview copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

July Reading Challenge Review

As with many plans, my reading challenge choices changed as the month went on. I originally planned on reading Rodham, Hello, Summer, One Perfect Summer, Summer by the Tides, Nacho Average Murder, and Peachy Scream. Rodham is a very long book, and I only had a short hold on it, so I set it aside for The Guest List. I finished Hello, Summer, Summer by the Tides, and Nacho Average Murder. One Perfect Summer is in progress and Peachy Scream will be early on my August reading challenge. (All other books on this list were read in late June.)

Count: Books in Challenge completed: 3; Extra Books completed: 1; Books in progress: 1, Books held over: 1; for a total score of 4/6 for books read in July. August’s challenge (posting tomorrow) includes a higher number of shorter books, but is a bit ambitious. We’ll see how it goes.

How has your summer reading been going? Have you been able to read at a pace that is enjoyable? Any books still on your list that you want to get read before summer officially ends in September? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

–Amy

Reading Roundup 6.16.20

I’ve been trying to diversify my reading list, both racially and genre-wise and I think this set of reads is a good start. This was a pretty good month for books, and each one was a hit in its own way.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

This was a fascinating tale of the love story between Joy Davidson and C.S. Lewis. Told from the point of view of Joy, it follows the disintegration of her first marriage and her friendship that grows into love, with “Jack” (C.S. Lewis). Davidson was a writer and began writing Lewis in the later stages of her marriage, curious about Christianity.

The book was clearly well researched and is a good assumption of what Joy’s point of view would have been during those times. There is an accompanying podcast that includes an interview with one of her sons, who curates her collection of papers at Wheaton College.

This was at times hard to read, and Joy isn’t always the most lovable character, but it tells of a great love between two outstanding writers. Rating: A

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

This romp follows the assistants to America’s favorite (fictional) home renovation couple Melissa and Rusty Tripp as they set off on a book tour that is leading up to the premiere of their new HGTV show. The Tripps are pushing their new book on marriage, but the public doesn’t know that they can’t stand each other. Melissa is a control freak and Rusty plays the goofy sidekick to her supposedly sensible approach. As the tension mounts, sparks start to fly between assistants Carey and James.

This book was stressful to read, but at the same time engrossing. It’s like watching a train wreck and not being able to look away. The story is compelling and it’s easy to get invested in all the characters. The ending was a complete surprise, but fit well with the rest of the book. Rating: A- (only because it was a bit stressful to read).

Cozy Case Files, A Cozy Mystery Sampler, Volume 9

What a fun compilation, I enjoyed all the previews and will be picking some of them up. I especially enjoyed Nothing Bundt Trouble, The Secretof the Bones, The Art of Deception, and A Royal Affair. I will also definitely choose the next volume of this series. It’s a great way to find some good reads,

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free review copy.

Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire by Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker takes a stand in this book for standing in your truth. A former speaker in the Evangelical Christian sphere, Hatmaker shares her journey to what she calls the freedom to be who she is. Hatmaker recently called for the complete inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the Christian community and was ostracized for her stance, losing much of her career. This book is the result of what she learned from the struggle to find her truth and what others need to know to honor their own truth. This is not a memoir or a self-help book, but more the result of self-discovery and research into social psychology. Rating: B+

The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me by Keah Brown

I listened to this book on audio and I’m glad I did. I think it added to the experience of the memoir to hear the author’s own voice. Brown shares the intimate details of her experience with being disabled and coming to an acceptance of herself. She takes the reader (listener) on a journey with her through the ups and downs of being a black, disabled woman journalist. Her writing style is earnest and enjoyable, though your heart breaks during some of the really tough parts. Rating: A

This Wandering Heart by Janine Rosche

This work of Christian fiction tells the story of how geography teacher Keira Knudsen finds a home. After turning down a proposal from her longtime boyfriend and principal of the school, Keira dons her alternative identity of travel blogger Kat Wanderfull and takes a trip. She is offered the travel opportunity of a lifetime. Meanwhile, her first love Robbie faces a challenge when the mother of his daughter reappears and wants custody. Keira and Robbie form a partnership to get them each what they want. But secrets threaten to tear their growing relationship apart.

I loved the unique angle of this story. Kat isn’t just a damsel in need of a man and Robbie’s not just the ruggedly handsome man she left behind. They each have depth that carries the story forward. The ending is satisfying and not totally predictable. Each faces realistic obstacles that can be truly heart wrenching. The plot kept me reading and interested until the very end. Definitely one I’d recommend.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and NetGalley for the review copy.

I’ve got several books I’m reading this month: The Prayer Box, Hello, Summer, One Perfect Summer, Deadly Sweet Tooth, Nacho Average Murder, The Chiffon Trenches

Happy Reading!

–Amy

Recent Reads – The COVID-19 Edition

This month’s reads ran the gamut, from Christian fiction to heartfelt, agonizing poetry. April was the height of the stay-at-home order in Colorado, so it made finding reading time much easier. Still, I found myself distracted from my reading, drifting some amidst the tension of the time. Eventually, I got back into a groove and began enjoying my reading life even more. Has the quarantine had the same effect on any of you? Let me know in the comments.

Recent reads:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

This is very different from my usual reading, but was recommended to me. Amazing poetry that expresses the pain of abuse, and the joy and agony of love won and lost. Kaur captures her feelings in a revealing way, with no filter. Illustrations that accompany the poems can be quite explicit. Her poetry is powerful and hard to read, but also very moving. Not for the faint of heart.

Rating: Four stars.

Desert Willow by Patricia Beal

In following Clara’s journey with Andrew, Beal tells a tender story of second chances in this Christian romance. Her portrayal of Clara is sweet as she slowly opens up after starting out so guarded. Both she and Andrew are compelling characters that tell a story that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Read with a box of tissues!

Thank you to NetGalley and Celebrate Lit for the review copy of this book.

Rating: Four Stars

Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon

This is the first book in the Tourist Trap mystery series and follows Jill Gardner who runs a bookstore and coffee shop in South Cove, California. When her elderly friend Miss Emily is murdered, Jill inherits her dilapidated home that happens to be on prime property. While trying to figure out who killed Miss Emily, Jill is hounded by a greedy developer and threatened to sell or else by the mayor. Jill works to renovate her new home before a condemnation order by the city takes effect, and she’s assisted by the handsome Chief of Police, who is also on the case.

This was a fun book. I related well to Jill, who was slightly quirky but not in an annoying way. She is frazzled through most of the book, and you can feel the tension mounting as the city’s deadline nears and death threats start to come in. The suspense is really good, and though I had a good idea of whodunit, it was still a surprise ending and wrapped up in a satisfying way.

Rating: Four stars.

I love Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series. The mysteries are always engaging and I love to reconnect with the people from Lake Eden. This latest installment doesn’t disappoint. Hannah has to help clear her sister’s boyfriend and sheriff’s detective Lonnie of a murder he didn’t commit. The path through the book is familiar to readers of the series and can, for the most part, be read as a stand alone. You’d miss out on a lot of the backstory though. (I skipped a few books in the series and was at a loss for some of the storyline, but it didn’t affect solving the mystery).

The solution is a satisfying one, but there aren’t a whole lot of twists and turns. Should be another favorite for fans of the series. For those who haven’t met Hannah yet, I’d suggest starting at the beginning so you can really become familiar with the interrelated arcs of the characters. I’ll definitely keep reading (but I’m going to have to go back and catch up some).

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copy of this book.

Rating: Five stars

I listened to this on audiobook, which I love to do with books of essays. It’s read by the author and the work comes through in a much more touching way through audio. The author shares about her life and work and family, all tied together with a quote from her son which makes the title of the book.

It’s not really a how-to, lessons on life type of book, but you certainly can learn from Philpott’s experiences. The essays give insight not only into her life, but into how we shape our lives as well. Never preachy, Philpott shares her experiences in a way that is relatable and gives you hope that your life is full of interesting experiences too.

Rating: Four stars

I listened to this on audio and I highly recommend that format.

This quirky book centers around a journal that a lonely, elderly man leaves in a coffee shop with an essay about his “authentic” life in the front. He goes on in the essay to challenge those who find it to write their authentic story and to leave the book for someone else. As the book finds new owners, a group of friends forms, betrayals and secrets are revealed, and lives are changed.

I thought the idea was original and interesting. Pooley ties the characters and storylines together well and comes up with some interesting twists. My favorite is the grandma in the art class. She’s not a main character, but her sassy nature adds some interesting spice to the book.

I rarely re-read books, but this is one I might take a look at in print or electronic form, just to see if the experience is different.

Really loved this book. Rating: Five stars

So what are you reading during this season of isolation? Has your reading life been altered in any way? Share your thoughts in the comments.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

With all the “extra” time we all have while we’re sheltering in place, I have had a difficult time focusing on reading. I’ve heard the same thing from some other bloggers and people in my life. I’m not sure if I’m distracted because of all the COVID-19 news (I’m a news writer by night, so I write a lot about the virus), or if it’s just a reaction to being trapped inside for so much time. I’m still reading, but my pace has really slowed. If you’re looking for an escape from the current crisis, try one of these:

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

I love Jen Hatmaker as an author. She has a great voice and a nice amount of snark (without being mean). The book was well written, and interesting. I also like the idea behind this project: to cut the excess from your life. And it was interesting to read through her experiences. It clearly took a lot of effort and hard work to put together this book.

What struck me with this book was the rhythm of it: summary of challenge, confession, good things, gripes, challenging information about how awful we all are in that area of our lives, final summary. Each of the chapters followed this rhythm and it got a bit repetitive and predictable.

I appreciated the information she shared, but it almost sounded like it came from a position of privilege. It’s easier to cut down to seven areas of spending when you have more than seven to begin with. It also would be difficult to meet some of these challenges in areas that don’t have organic markets or a lot of places to regularly buy local.

I think Ms. Hatmaker wrote this book from a place of good intention and performed each challenge with the best of everything in mind. I just think the execution of the book didn’t do justice to her efforts or translate well into other people’s experiences.

I will continue to read books by this author, because I really like her writing style and point of view. This one just didn’t click with me.

Who Murdered Mr. Malone? by Hope Callaghan

I love cozy mysteries, and this Christian cozy mystery doesn’t disappoint. The characters are interesting and the mystery is plotted pretty well. I liked getting to know the “garden girls club” and following their adventure together. This is the first in a series, so I would definitely read the next one. I will say the ending was not what I expected, and I’m not sure if I liked it or not. But the rest of the book was worth it and I’m guessing some questions will be answered and characters fleshed out in the next book.

Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel

I love Anne Bogel’s approach to life in this book. It may seem like a small thing, but overthinking can be really draining. Bogel offers practical tips that work for any lifestyle and budget. She includes helpful questions at the end of each chapter to prompt the reader to explore the topic in their lives more deeply (without overthinking it). I look forward to her next book and am a big fan of her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and the What Should I Read Next? Podcast. 

**Thank you to Netgalley and Anne Bogel for the review copy. I also bought a copy of the book.**

I’ve got plenty of books on my TBR, and plan to work through seven of them this month. What are your reading goals? How has your reading life been going? Comment below with your thoughts.

Happy reading!

Recent Reads: You’re Staying In, So You Might As Well Read.

Since we’re all staying home more because of COVID-19, it’s a good time to catch up on your TBR list. There are a lot of great new books coming out, but don’t forget those backlist picks. It’s also a great time to buy e-books or download them from the library (try Overdrive or Libby). Audiobooks are great choices for listening to while you’re working from home (support independent bookstores through Libro.fm).

Here are some of my recent reads (just a few this time):

This is a dark, but interesting story. The lead FBI agent Elsa Myers is on the case of the disappearance of Ruby. The case blows up into the hunt for a serial kidnapper and killer. The team Myers is working with sorts through the clues and information to try to find the man who has kidnapped and killed girls in sets of three. During this race against time, Elsa is triggered by her own past as she tries to care for and reconcile with her father, who is dying. As the case ramps up, the third kidnapping makes it personal.

This can be a hard book to read at times, because of the dark subject matter. Elsa is a well-developed, complex character who is hardly predictable. The supporting cast on the team as well as her sister and niece play pivotal roles that lead Elsa down a twisted road to solve the case and resolve her feelings about her past.

I can’t say this book was enjoyable, because of the focus on child kidnapping and abuse. But it was interesting and a good read. I would recommend the author’s future books. Just follow it up with something light.

**Thank you to NetGalley for the e-book review copy in exchange for an honest review.**


This is the third book in the St. Caroline series. I haven’t read the others, but this can be read as a stand alone. Cassidy Trevor is off limits to Matt Wolfe, but when the two are thrown together the chair a holiday event. Their experience becomes a secret friendship that blossoms into love. 

In this somewhat spicy book, the author creates clearly drawn characters that are interesting and fun. The reason they’re “off limits” to each other seems a bit contrived, but the storyline is generally believable. You find yourself rooting for Matt and Cassidy as the story comes to a satisfying end. 

I’m guessing I would have understood all the relationships in the book a lot more easily in I’d read the first two books. 

This is a good, fun, enjoyable escape with some spice for those who like that.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of the e-book in exchange for an honest review.

I love a great cozy mystery, and this one didn’t disappoint. Sammy runs a community crafting store and must involve her cousin Heidi and sister Ellie (who together make up the S.H.E.s) when a woman dies while posing as a live mannequin in Sammy’s window display during the Fire and Ice festival in Hartford, WI.

This book kept me guessing. I’m usually pretty good at guessing the killer by about halfway through, but this one took a little longer. There are some good suspenseful scenes that turn the plot on its head and were great ways to speed along the story through the middle. (No saggy middle here!)

The ending left me with a few questions, but overall it was satisfying. This is the third book in the series, and while it wasn’t hard to read as a standalone, I think some of the characterization would have been easier to understand if you have read the first two books.

A delightful author. I’d love to read more by her.

Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.