Almost Home (by Valerie Fraser Luesse) … you’ll want to experience life sitting on the front porch with a neighbor and a glass of sweet tea

Well, now that I’ve finished this book, I’ve ordered all of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s books.  This was a wonderful story full of great characters and relationships.  This will fill your heart up with the delightfulness of things southern … the people, the food, the true sense of caring for your family, friends, and neighbors.  While set during WWII, it is more of a glimpse into life in the States for those left to keep the country going, whose loved ones are off fighting abroad, whose loved ones are not coming home, and the ones who have returned home after giving up so much for the war.

The conversation throughout the book is full of southern charm, the sense of love and loss spreads itself into your heart and presents so many heartfelt moments.  There is a sadness, but there are also moments of laughter and celebrating.

This is one of those books you need to move to the top of your to-be-read list.  It will leave you with a need to experience life sitting on the front porch with a neighbor and a glass of sweet tea.  You’ll close the book with a sigh and a smile on your face.

Thank you to NetGalley and Fleming H. Ravel Company for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Paris Secret (by Lily Graham) … wonderful dual timeline WWII story

I am a huge fan of books about WWII as well as those written with a dual timeline.  This one fit the bill!  I really enjoyed getting to know Valerie and the supporting characters.  They were so well developed and in discovering the history of Valerie’s mother and the Nazi occupation was done well.  This was an emotional read but there were also moments of joy amidst the angst of the way people were treated during the invasion.  The reader gets a glimpse of how far some individuals were willing to go to make a difference and hasten the defeat of Hitler’s regime.

I cannot wait to read another book by this author.  I love her writing style and ability to pull me into the story. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookoutre for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Murder at the Taffy Shop ~ Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #2 (by Maddie Day) … delightful cozy mystery

This is the first book I’ve read in this series, but I enjoyed it so much, I will go back and read the first one.  I love books set in Cape Cod, MA.  I’ve only vacationed there twice, but fell in love with the towns and the scenery.  This book made me want to book a trip soon!

The characters are well developed and I enjoyed getting to know them, especially Belle, Mac’s African gray parrot.  The mystery was intriguing and kept you guessing until the end.  The relationships between family members and friends, as well as romantic (not too gooey sickly sweet) relationships developing, were appealing.

Overall, it’s a delightful cozy mystery that you can read quickly but enjoy a lot. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corporation for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Sunflower Sisters ~ Lilac Girls #3 (by Martha Hall Kelly) … horrors of slavery is staggering

I absolutely loved, The Lilac Girls, the first book in the series!  The second book was really god, so I couldn’t wait to read the next installment.  However, this book just did not appeal to me.  The author’s writing style is wonderful and her ability to relate the atrocities that human beings are capable of is admirable.

However, I found the subject of the book difficult to read.  The horrors of slavery were staggering, and I am appalled at the mindset of so many people from that time period.  The fact that the story is told through the viewpoint of three very different women — Georgy, a northern abolitionist and nurse; Anne-May, a plantation owner; and Jemma, an enslaved girl — is engaging.  Experiencing life through their eyes makes the time period alive and emotionally touching.

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Martha Hall Kelly is an excellent writer.  Her ability to paint a picture so vividly is admirable.  I look forward to future books by her.

Coconut Layer Cake Murder ~ Hannah Swenson #25 (by Joanne Fluke) … good mystery but basic and silly character conversations

As someone who has read all of the books in this series, I really love Hannah and her cohorts.  But the conversations they have are too basic and are silly.  If you read, “They’ll love your…” (whatever creation Hannah has just made) once, you’ll read it 100 times in the book.  Really?!  We all know Hannah … and Lisa … and now Hannah’s sister, Michelle … are wonder ful cooks.

The saving grace for this book was that the mystery was really good and had you guessing until the end.  I love the recipes and look forward to making them in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Incredible Winston Browne (by Sean Dietrich) … one of the best books I’ve read in a long time!

I have to admit that it has been several days since I finished reading this book.  But I needed to wait and absorb all of the emotions that I experienced while traveling through the pages.  This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

The characters are so well developed and I fell in love with them.  My heart overflowed as I got to know Moab Sheriff, Winston Browne; his friends, Jimmy Abraham and Eleanor Hughes; young people, Buz Guilford and Jessie.  There are lots of topics covered, including terminal illness, alcoholism, cult mentality, love, loss, friendship, etc.

One of the reasons I loved this book so much was that I had laugh out loud moments and then times when I literally sobbed out loud.  It was such a pleasure to read a good clean fun book that focused on small town life and the relationships that had existed for years and new ones that developed slowly and deeply.

And then you add in the occasional “Moab Social Graces” newspaper column and you cannot help but roll your eyes and chuckle.

I cannot say enough positive things about this book.  I loved it so much that I purchased more books by the author.  I strongly recommend you put this at the top of your to-read list!

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Children’s Blizzard (by Melanie Benjamin) … amazing historical fiction

What an amazing book of historical fiction!  I had never heard of the blizzard that devastated the people of Nebraska in 1888.  The way immigrants were lured to America and promised a wonderful life full of harvest, homes, land, and riches was shocking.  So the reader not only learned about the tragedies that affected so many families in January of 1888, but the way the news outlets were misrepresenting the truth.  Not so different from today!

Another fact that shocked me was that girls who were basically teenagers were assigned positions as school teachers and given the responsibility for the lives of many children.

The characters are so well developed and you will be drawn into the story with a ferocity as strong as the blizzard winds.  You will love some characters, despise others, and your heart will break at some of the experiences they endure.

This is definitely one to put on your to-read list.  The author has once again gifted readers with a wonderful escapade through an amazing period of time.

Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting (by Lisa Genova) … informational read about the brain

To be honest, I was looking forward to another book in typical Lisa Genova style … a novel with a story line.  So I was a little sad when I started reading Remember.  Having worked for 38½ years in a Psychology department in a University, and specifically with neuroscience faculty and memory experts, the information provided was very interesting.

The brain is an amazing thing and all of the ways it works … remembering, forgetting, tasting, seeing, hearing, touching, the sense of pain, pleasure, stress, joy, etc.  What an awesome job our brains do and the ability it has is unbelievable.  The recommendations for how to keep your brain active and decrease the likelihood of dementia are very useful.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harmony Publishers for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Bounty ~ Fox and O’Hare #7 (by Janet Evanovich) … fun and exciting adventure

The seventh book in the Fox and O’Hare series is a good addition. I love Kate and her tough exterior. Adding Fox and O’Hare’s fathers to the “team” was fun. I liked the way the story line progressed so that it was like working a puzzle. Following the clues and figuring out where the next step would be was entertaining and kept me intrigued.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Picture Perfect Frame ~ Tourist Trap #12 (by Lynn Cahoon) … great mystery with delightful characters

I’ve read several books in other series by this author and really enjoyed them. So when I saw the opportunity to read this book, I jumped on it! It would have been better to have started at the beginning of the series, but I still enjoyed the book. The characters are well developed and I enjoyed the interactions between them. The mystery was set up early in the book and kept you invested in the book.

I have to say that Amy’s wedding plans would have driven me nuts if she were my friend. Though the fact that her fiancé disappeared so close to the wedding day may have pushed me over the edge.

I will definitely go back and read the earlier books in this series. I am a huge Lynn Cahoon fan and look forward to any new book she releases!

Thank you to NetGalley and Lyrical Press for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.