Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder ~ Hannah Swenson #27 (by Joanne Fluke) … good mystery but choppy and shallow conversations

I have enjoyed this series through the years, but the writing has definitely gone downhill.  The conversations between the characters was so lightweight and choppy.  And Hannah’s internal debate conversation is right irritating.

While those are the negatives, I did at least enjoy the mystery.  And it was a nice change of pace for who was guilty.  Even though the recipes take up a good number of the pages in the book, I do enjoy having those and the ability to bake the delicious creations.  I hope the series improves back to the delightful books that were written earlier.  It would make me sad to miss out on Hannah’s adventures.

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

A Bone to Pick ~ Widow’s Island #2 (by Melinda Leigh) … well developed murder mystery

From the first page, you are sucked into the murder mystery and Deputy Tessa Black is pulling you along for the ride.  The book is full of well developed characters, an intense mystery, a sense of violence.  Tessa’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and this only adds to the many things on her plate.  There is the chance of a romantic relationship developing, but that’s just a blip on the radar and does not take away from the mystery that needs to be solved.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

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

Long Island Iced Tina ~ Catering Hall #2 (by Maria DiRico) … delightful cozy mystery

I had so much fun reading this book!  The characters are delightful and the story line was engaging.  Mia is a wonderful main character and her view of life as a mob princess, an Italian, and an amateur sleuth have you laughing.  She is surrounded by quirky family members and complicated relationships.  I am anxiously waiting for the next book in this series.  I am definitely a fan and look forward to what happens next at the Bell View Banquet Manor.

Kudos to the author for entertaining us with a complicated mystery, edge of your seat drama, and hysterics that will have you chuckling.

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

Dreidel to the Grave (by Yoel Bereket)

The major premise of the book was very appealing.  To hunt down the officers who played a primary role in the atrocities that occurred during Nazi regime.  And hunting for Hitler was the cherry on top!  The book is action packed and leaves you breathless in the constant action.

Enzo, his young cohort, was one of my favorite characters.  His interactions with David Gal, the main character of the story, was delightful.  I enjoyed the excitement and the efforts made to avenge the horrific acts perpetrated by Hitler and his army of killers. Thank you to the author for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Paris Dressmaker (by Kristy Cambron) … amazing trip back to WWII

There are two main characters whose lives are woven throughout the pages of this amazing trip back to WWII and the Nazi invasion of France.  One thread is with the seamstress Lila, who you are introduced to as she is escaping capture.  You are frantic as you experience her fear.  The second thread is with Sandrine, a mother and the wife whose husband has left to fight against Hitler’s atrocities.

What you don’t realize at the time is how the lives will be affected by their willingness to sacrifice their lives on behalf of the Resistance.  The women who work behind the scenes in unbelievable and simple ways are truly brave.  The stories of these two women go back and forth in time.  It was difficult to keep up with whether you were at the present time (1943/1944) or the past (1939) as you flipped through the pages.  I wish there was a way to help me navigate the time periods a little easier.  The story was still wonderful, but it often took me a while to realize “where” I was in relation to the time period.

There are so many times you heart will stop as you wait in anticipation for what will happen next.  The author does a wonderful job of keeping you on the edge of your seat, making the reader invested in the lives of the characters, and allowing you to experience the Nazi invasion through multiple viewpoints.

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

The Painted Castle ~ The Lost Castle #3 (by Kristy Cambron) … beautiful portrait of love, loss, trust, pain, and healing

This third book in the “lost castle” series has been my favorite.  I love the triple timeline story that weaves itself into a beautiful portrait of love, loss, trust, pain, and healing.  The author has such a gift of drawing the reader into the pages and making you care about the characters.

I am going to miss the people I’ve met as I explored various periods in history through this series.  The characters were well developed and the depth of emotions the reader is exposed to makes these books a must read.

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

The Final Wish of Mr. Murray McBride (by Joe Siple) … moving and touching story

This sequel to The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride, is equally as moving and touching.  I loved catching up with Jason Cashman from the first Murray McBride book and discover what he has been up to through the years since receiving the heart transplant from his best friend, Tiegan.

The emotional trip with Jason as he faces a serious health issue and his interactions with people who need to receive a heart transplant has it keeping your interest and cheering on the various characters.  Alexandra is a wonderful addition to the story and I fell in love with her from the beginning.  She gives Jason a purpose and he needs to resolve his obligations with his hope for the future.

The beginning of each chapter features words of wisdom from Mr. Murray McBride’s journal.  If you have not had the pleasure of reading that book, it gives you a glimpse into the history of Murray and Jason’s relationship.  I strongly encourage you to read that book!

Thank you to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.  This is one of those books that I enjoyed so much that I will purchase a paper copy once it is released so that I can share it with my bookloving friends!

The Way it Should Be (by Christina Suzann Nelson) … the author weaves a story that touches you deeply

What an emotional roller coaster you are on once you open the first page and delve into the story of Tiff and twin sisters, Zara and Eve.  The story will pull you into the lives of the characters and have you invested in their lives.  I will say I struggled on who I was rooting for and how I really wanted the book to resolve.

There are many facets to this story…genetics, drug abuse, heart breaking loss, love and support, insecurity, self-discovery, and redemption.  I found the tears streaming down my face as I experienced life on the street with homeless drug addicts, with a wealthy couple struggling in their relationship, and individuals who are trying to do what is right through difficult situations.  And when you factor in two precious children, Charlotte and Sammy, your heart is aching but full of love.

I really enjoyed the diary Eve kept so that you experienced her challenges, her efforts, her hopes, and her fears.  It was definitely a wonderful description of how difficult it is to struggle with drug addiction.

Tiff’s experiences with loss and attempting to find redemption was touching.  She was a strong and determined woman and her dedication to make a difference in the lives of people on the street as well as her own home was impressive.

This beautiful story is another gift by an amazing author.  Christina Suzann Nelson has a gift with words and weaves a story that touches you deeply.  I hope there will be a sequel because I would appreciate seeing what happens as Charlotte and Sammy grow up and discover what life with a loving family can be like.

Thank you to the author and Bethany House Publishers for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

The Unwilling (by John Hart) … difficult situations and twists that leave you heartbroken

John Hart is an author that can take some of the most difficult situations and twist them until you are left heartbroken and aching.  I have so many thoughts as I have closed the last page and set the book aside.  The book is set during the Vietnam War and I would have to stop myself and remember that this was a different time period.  Family relationships is a major focus in this book.  And how those relationships can be twisted and the characters misunderstood or judged is disheartening.

There are some twists and you learn some of Jason’s background story and how he has been misrepresented.  He is NOT who you think he is.  His life has been destroyed and he is having to make decisions based on what others assume to be true.

The younger brother, Gibby, is a teenager who is confronted with a family that is falling apart, wants to have a relationship with his older brother, Jason, endures his mother’s over-the-top protectiveness, interacts with a father who is struggling to deal with the changing family dynamic, and discovering his sexuality and developing relationships with females.

There are two serial killers.  And their extreme evil is disturbing.  The ugliness of their lives and deeds was appalling.  And how it affected the lives of the other characters was disturbing.

Even with all of the negative aspects of the story, there are some positive things to take away.  Family and friendship are precious and should be protected and treasured.  The fragility of our lives and the time we have together should be cherished.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my advanced review copy.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.

A Year of Extraordinary Moments ~ Magnolia Grove #2 (by Bette Lee Crosby) … amazing story that has you invested in the lives of the characters

There are so many wonderful characters to enjoy and appreciate in this second installment in the Magnolia Grove series.  But then there is Dominic.  He pushed all of my buttons and I wanted to just pop him upside the head and tell him to get his act together.

There are some deep issues addressed in the book … from cancer to hearing impairment, single parenting, loss of family … and tempers them with continuing and developing family and friendships.  The relationships established throughout the pages are touching. It is a heartwarming story of self-discovery, hope, love, and commitment.  There are so many poignant moments as Alice’s desire to spend her remaining time getting to know her great grandson is fulfilled.

The author does an amazing job of developing the characters, bringing the reader into their lives, and making you invested in their stories.  I hope she will continue the Magnolia Grove series.  There is still so much you can learn as you experience the personal growth of Tracy and Meghan.

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