Playing the Part by Jen Turano (review by Kristi)

 

 

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About the book:

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan’s interest turns threatening. Lucinda’s widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta’s life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson’s estate to hide out.

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there’s much more to him than society knows.

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail’s matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can’t ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it’ll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

About the author:       Jen Turano

Jen Turano is the best-selling, critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers.  Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist.  It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award.  Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013.  Her seventh book, Playing the Part, will release in the spring of 2016, followed by a new four-book series, The Wallflowers.  When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life.  She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ or visit her on the web at www.jenturano.com. She is represented by Susan Brower of the Natasha Kern Literary Agency. Her books may be found in most fine bookstores, or follow the Baker House Publishing link to find additional places to purchase her work.

My review: I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the characters but the story just fell a little flat for me. Of course, this may have been because this was the third book in the series and I haven’t read the first two.

I liked the two main characters in this book, Lucetta and Bram. They were both likable characters and had a bit of a sense of humor that made them even more enjoyable. There are a slew of secondary characters in this book and I found them a bit hard to keep straight at times.

The storyline of this book was good although a bit predictable at times. The story moves along at a pretty steady pace. I did think there were a few hiccups along the way that slowed the story down just a tad.

All in all, this was a good, fun read. I would recommend reading the first two books in this series first so maybe you won’t feel so lost. This was my first read by this author and I will be seeking out more of her work.

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.

 

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Just Plain Sadie by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

Just Plain Sadie

 

From Goodreads:The Amish of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, treasure their close-knit community, and the promise of their growing families. But one young woman is struggling to choose a future that is true to both her heart and her faith…

Everyone in Wells Landing has long expected Sadie Kauffman and Chris Flaud to marry–despite Sadie’s telling them differently. While she loves Chris, it is more as a friend than a husband. Yet at twenty-two, the plainest girl in her group, Sadie is also the only one who is still single. Perhaps it’s time to be practical and marry Chris–though he still has not asked. But when Sadie meets a kind, handsome Mennonite, it seems her prayers have been answered…

With Ezra Hein, Sadie at last feels the joy she nearly gave up on. Unfortunately, others only feel shock that she would consider marrying an outsider. To complicate matters, Chris has finally begun talking to Sadie about their future. Distressed, Sadie will have to search her heart to recognize God’s marvelous gifts to her–and find the courage to accept them, challenges and all…

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 29th 2016 by Zebra

 

My review: It was nice going back to Wells Landing, Oklahoma again and catching up with old friends and being introduced to new people. Sadie Kauffman is the focus of this book and she finds herself caught between two men–one Amish and the other Mennonite. When it comes right down to it can Sadie find happiness with one of them?

This book was unique in that Sadie’s story focuses on the differences between the Amish and Mennonite faiths. I have read many books where the Amish characters are attracted to someone who is Englisch but never where they were attracted to a Mennonite person and how the relationship is “forbidden”. This was an interesting storyline and it kept me interested from beginning to end.

I am going to be quite honest and say I was a little disappointed with the way the story ended. Sadie didn’t pick who I wanted her to but I fully understand why she picked who she did.

Great storyline, solid writing, and genuine characters make Just Plain Sadie anything but boring. An enjoyable read for fans of Amish fiction.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.

 

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Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower (review by Kristi)

Crime

From Goodreads: Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you…

Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good…

My review: If you like your cozy mysteries with a side of magic and humor then Crime and Poetry is the book for you. Amanda Flower and her dynamic duo team of “editors” have penned a well-written mystery that will have you laughing as you keep wondering “whodunit”.

I enjoy Amanda Flower’s quirky sense of humor and love how it comes through in her characters. Some of the things that happen to these people will have you laughing out loud and thinking how it could happen to you at the same time. Violet was easy to relate to in this book as was her skepticism of magical books. Grandma Daisy was a hoot and Sadie was charming making them booth instantly likable. My favorite character in the book was Emerson. When he pops out of the bicycle basket I laughed out loud. One of my favorite scenes in the book!

The storyline was great and the pace of the book was steady. I was kept guessing until the end as to who the murderer was. I must say I was shocked when I found out. I really liked the fact that I was kept guessing the entire book but found plenty of things to laugh at. This book is the perfect combination of comedy and mystery.

If you are looking for a mystery that is tons of fun to read pick up a copy of Crime and Poetry. You won’t be disappointed!

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion which I have given.

Amanda Flower and her dynamic duo editing team #editorTummy and #editorCheeps
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Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble(review by Cathy)

Mermaid Moon

 

From Goodreads:

Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.” Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point. Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions.

But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart—and left—without a word, years ago. When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye.

As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

My review:

I’m fast becoming a fan of suspense novels.  When it’s blended with a bit of romance like Mermaid Moon, I like the genre even more.

This book had enough twists and turns to rival any roller coaster ride that I’ve ever taken!

Mallory and Kevin were characters that I really liked.  I haven’t read the first book in the Sunset Cove series, “The Inn at Ocean’s Edge”, but it was easy to pick up that they had a past relationship.  They are about to embark on another journey that neither of them could have imagined!

I loved the descriptive scenes and I imagined the boats speeding across the water.

Mallory discovers so much when she returns home. Much more than she ever imagined and I’m glad to have taken that journey with her…..even if it did take me on a wild ride!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest opinion which I have given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I Run by Terri Blackstock(review by Cathy)

If I Run

 

From Goodreads:

Casey knows the truth.
But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

 

My review:

What an excellent book!  It’s suspenseful, has great characters and is masterfully written.

I became so involved in Casey’s travel’s that I needed to keep reading to find out where she would go next!  She’s a pretty resourceful young lady, but she’s so lost and alone that I really felt bad for her.

I liked Dylan because he was reasonable and not easily swayed by others. He’s hired to find her, but he’s not on a witch-hunt, like most of the town wants him to be. He’s searching for the truth as to why Casey would commit such a horrendous crime.  Why would she murder her best friend?

Where can Casey go and who can she trust?  Luckily, she meets Miss Lucy in her travels which provides some sense of normalcy to her.  Given the circumstances of being wrongfully accused of murder, I’d say that’s no easy feat!

I adored Miss Lucy, she’s sweet and caring and helpful to those around her.Through Dylan’s investigation we meet her sister and mother.  Both sweet characters with problems of their own.

This was without a doubt a book that kept me on the edge of my seat and almost made me become a nail biter!

I didn’t realize that this was the first book in a series by Ms. Blackstock and now I’m going to be watching frantically for the next installment.

I highly recommend this one to fans of suspense novels.

Definite 5 star.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion which I have given.

 

 

 

 

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale (review by Cathy)

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

From Goodreads
 

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake. 

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food—especially dessert— is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family— even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

 

My review:

I absolutely loved this book!  Once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop!   It’s one of those “I’ll just read one more chapter before I go to bed” books.

I laughed and cried with Carrigan, Ella Rae and Laine.  I loved these characters so much.  They were imperfect and that’s what made them so real to me.  I would definitely want to hang out with them and have a big slice of hummingbird cake.

The author certainly keeps the story moving at a great pace and doesn’t sugarcoat things at all.  I liked that and it made for one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time.

I was surprised to learn that this is a debut novel!  I look forward to reading more from Celeste Fletcher McHale.

For those of you curious about the Secret to Hummingbird cake, you’ll cry when you find out what it is!  I know I did.

This is a definite 5-star book.  It probably will not get that rating from some readers due to some profanity and situations.

I received a copy of this book from publisher for an honest opinion, which I have given.

Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble (review by Kristi)

Mermaid Moon

From Goodreads: Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.” Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point. Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart—and left—without a word, years ago. When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye. As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Thomas Nelson

My review: Wow! What a read this book was!! Colleen Coble knows how to write a suspenseful tale that will keep you up late, on the edge of your seat, and turning pages as fast as you can to see what happens next.

Mermaid Moon takes place in Maine and focuses on Mallory Davis as she tries to come to grips with the mysterious circumstances around the death of her father. She also has to face the ghosts of her past in the form of game warden and former boyfriend, Kevin O’Connor. Mallory seems to have a lot on her plate but is strong and determined and faces everything head-on.

This story was very easy to get interested in. One downfall though was I felt like I should have known more about the characters than revealed at the beginning of the story. I’m not sure if that’s due to this being the second book in the series and perhaps the characters backstory was revealed in the first book. It wasn’t an issue for long though as I became so engrossed in the story that I soon felt like I had a complete understanding of the characters and knew them as real people.

It is clear from the beginning that Ms. Coble researched the setting for this book. Her descriptions made it seem as if I were there and seeing everything right along with the characters. This made the story even more interesting and entertaining.

A perfect balance of suspense and romance make this book a perfect weekend read!

About the author: USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.