What You Wish For (by Katherine Center) … a story of discovery and growth

I have become a huge Katherine Center fan. Her stories draw me in and the characters are well developed so that they spark strong feelings of love or hate.

While the main character, Samantha (Sam), got on my nerves at the beginning of the book, once she takes on the “Duncan” challenge, she became a different person. Her intense desire for the school where she is the librarian, and its students is touching. Sam is a caring individual and her relationships are full and life affirming.

As you travel through the story, you will discover what has happened in Sam and Duncan’s lives that have made them into the person they are today. And those stories will touch you deeply.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I can’t wait to be entertained by the author’s next book!

How Lulu Lost Her Mind (by Rachel Gibson) … laughter, tears, and spunkiness abound

What a delightful book! There were some moments of laughter, heart-wrenching sadness, and spunkiness. There is a little more “bad” language than I care for, but there are so many other things that make up for it.

Lou Ann’s (aka Lulu) mother, Patricia, is a hoot. Lulu’s willingness to step down from her successful business to care for her mother was touching. The characters were well developed, including the parrot, Rafael. And the relationships that develop between the characters are entertaining and you will find yourself cheering them on.

Lulu departs on a journey of self-discovery, an effort to survive and improve a relationship with her mother, a willingness to let go of her control issues, and examine the validity of some of the “love” advice she has spouted for years.

When you’ve closed the book, you will have shed a few tears, but the laughter you’ve experienced helps balance out the sad moments.

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

Little Bookshop of Murder (by Maggie Blackburn) … books and mystery — it doesn’t get any better!

I love books about bookstores! And when you add a mystery component to the story, it gets even better. The author does a great job of developing the characters and providing lots of intrigue to keep you guessing who committed the crimes.

I have to admit that the main character, Summer, got on my nerves with her snobby attitude about the books sold in her mother’s beachside bookstore. Just because she is a fan of the “classics” does not mean everyone else should only want to read that type of book. So just chill and encourage people to read! Period!

I loved the family relationships and the love and care that the women shared with each other. Such a wonderful community environment.

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

Jessica’s Promise (by Jill Child) … secrets, secrets, and more secrets

Whew! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened up this book, but from the first page I began wondering about all the secrets the characters are hiding. It’s obvious that things are not as they seem.

I fell in love with Jessica. She was such a sweet child and her sense of imagination was delightful. And while there seemed to be something unsettling with Angie, her love for children and her ability to keep them entertained and encourage their imagination made up for anything negative you felt. There are constant twists and turns and you will continue to make assumptions and judgments based on clues and “evidence.”

My heart broke when Jessica disappeared and I made an assumption about who was guilty. But hold onto your seats because you will be shocked in the end.

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

The Poppy Field (by Deborah Carr) … dual time line book full of growth and self discovery

I enjoy dual time line books and the fact that this one was set during WWI was a new experience for me. I enjoyed the part of the story that focused on that time period because I have not read many books about WWI. This was a romance book, but not sick syrupy sweet.

I loved the trip back in time through the 100-year-old hidden letters that are discovered in the process of renovating a french farmhouse. It was fun to uncover the various similarities between the female characters as they were revealed. This story was emotional, devastating, encouraging, and full of growth and self discovery. The lesson that love can develop and grow during times of crisis is something we need to frequently be reminded.

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

Stratagem (by Robin Caroll) … good mystery with great characters

This was a really good mystery with great characters, Christian focus, and psychological mind games. There are lots of twists and turns, family drama, constant guessing of whodunit, and a fast-paced story line. You never have a moment of sitting back and relaxing. Clues are constantly thrown at you to keep you trying to figure out the end of the book.

I loved so many things about this book. The mystery was well developed; the psychological twists were well delivered; the psychology/therapy view of the characters and situation; the fact that the characters were struggling with faith and forgiveness of the behavior of others as well as personal forgiveness; and Christian values and beliefs.

Thank you to NetGalley and Shiloh Run Press for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I can’t wait to explore additional books by this author!

Lost Souls ParaAgency and the Creature of White Oak Swamp (by K. M. Waller) … fun and adventure with the LSP and Walker Sisters

What fun I have when I get sucked into one of the LSP and Walker sisters adventures. This fifth book in the series focuses on the youngest sister, Ris, and once you open the book and start reading the first page, you are off and running.

You experience Ris’ point of view as she begins her first assignment with the LSP. But Jordie is along for the ride as well. So you get to read about his thoughts and feelings about he case and Ris.

The author does a great job of drawing you into the story, keeping things interesting, expanding the mystery, and having you smiling at the conclusion. I am always excited to join the gang on their adventures and can’t wait for whatever adventure they find themselves experiencing.

Thank you to the author, K. M. Waller, and Kizzie Waller Books for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Ghosts of Harvard (by Francesca Serritella) … great paranormal mystery and view into mental illness

This is a very good paranormal mystery. Though at times you don’t know if it’s paranormal or mental illness that is affecting Cady’s experience during her freshman year at Harvard. This is an emotional read…between the suicide of Cady’s brother, the effects of mental illness, family relationship issues, insecurity, the manipulation of Cady’s emotions, and the stress of handling the academic rigors at Harvard University.

Because I work in an academic environment, this book really appealed to me. I connected with many of the aspects of Cady’s experiences during her time in college.

My heart ached for Cady as she dealt with the emotional trauma of her brother dealing with schizophrenia and his eventual suicide. The drama she endured and the stigma and guilt she experience, were heart wrenching. Not only does this book deal with mental illness, but you are treated to a historical tale of people whose lives were touched by their time at the University…as students and slaves. You are also brought into a mystery that weaves itself through the pages.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishers for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I am looking forward to the author creating another delightful book in which I can get lost and enjoy! A great debut novel.

The Secrets We Keep (by Kate Hewitt) … what kind of secrets are they keeping?

What an amazing story of secrets…between families and between family members. As the book begins, you are wondering what really happened to bring these two women and their children to their respective lake houses.

Well, get ready! You will be in for unbelievable revelations. The characters are well developed and their personalities very unique. You definitely will develop strong opinions about them. Lots of family dynamics, love, loss, and emotional and physical trauma.

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

Murder in Waiting (by Lynn Cahoon) … fun, murder, laughter, and shenanigans!

I have fallen in love with the characters in the Tourist Trap series. There is fun, murder, laughter, shenanigans, and a great plot to keep you entertained. The characters are well developed and likable. You feel like they are your friends.

I love the twists and turns and the way the mystery(ies) develop.

Thank you to NetGalley and Lyrical Press for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I can’t wait for the next adventure in this series.