The Noel Letters ~ The Noel Collection #4 (by Richard Paul Evans)

I love the stories that Richard Paul Evans weaves. His books are emotional journeys through heartbreak, loss, relationships, healing, and self discovery. The beginning of this book was a slow start and I had trouble being invested in the story and the characters. But I finally got to the point where I was sucked in and couldn’t put it down. Traveling through the pages with Noel and experiencing her view of life and perceptions of the past was difficult. The people that became a part of her life or those that reappeared were the catalysts to opening her eyes and her heart. The raw emotion that envelopes Noel and allows her to reevaluate her misconceptions will have the tears streaming down your face. This is one for your to-be-read list. Just make sure you have a box of tissues on hand. You will need them!

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

Facing the Dawn (by Cynthia Ruchti)

Cynthia Ruchti is one of my favorite authors. I can always count on her to deliver an emotional read. That being said, I found it difficult to get involved in the story. I kept going back and reading reviews to see what I was missing with all the 4 and 5 star reviews. There were quite a few that agreed with me, but said once they reached the halfway point, they were sucked in. They were right!

Mara’s snarky attitude and comments at the beginning of the book were so irritating. They were so offputting that I had to force myself to continue reading. And even with the tears streaming down my face, I am so glad I stuck with it. The raw emotion that flows through the pages will rip open your heart. The relationships that develop are touching and encouraging. Her forever friend, Ashlee, is the kind of friend everyone needs. She knew exactly what to do, what to say, how to help Mara wlak through her valley of the shadow of death.

Once again Cynthia Ruchti has weaved a tale of love, redemption, and God’s unending grace. As you travel through the pages, you will be moved by Mara’s grief and healing, her children’s growth and spiritual maturity, Ashlee’s ability to reach through her own grief and minister to her friend, and Solomon’s strength and wisdom and willingness to share God’s love with others right where they stand. I was blessed beyond belief by the time I cried through the last word and closed the book.

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

The School for German Brides (by Aimie K. Runyan)

A WWII historical fiction that leads you to believe it will be a different focus than what you normally read. The title and synopsis are very misleading. The majority of the book is NOT about school for German brides. You are about two-thirds into the book before the school is mentioned. And even then, it is glossed over. Three primary characters, Hanna, Klara, and Tilde, have three different viewpoints. It was interesting to see how each woman handled their situation during Hitler’s reign of terror. Of all three of the women, I felt so much emotion for Tilde. I was not deeply invested in the book and it fell flat for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow & Company for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

A Margin for Murder ~ Beyond the Page Bookstore #8 (by Lauren Elliott)

While the first book I’ve read in this series, it pulled me in so that I will read all of the books … before and after this one. The characters are well developed and you will have strong opinions about some of them. The murder mystery was handled well and the twists and turns and clues sprinkled throughout the pages kept me invested in the story. The various relationships … friends, family, romantic, etc. … are interesting and entertaining. This is a great cozy mystery to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with while curled up in your recliner.

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

The Devil’s Bones ~ Sarah Booth Delaney #21 (by Carolyn Haines)

This is the first book I’ve read in the series and probably affected my rating. This is a light fun read. And while the mystery and story line aren’t that original, the characters are well developed and help pull you into the story. I’m not invested enough with this one book that I will go back and read the first 20 books. However, there are enough positive reviews that I would encourage you to consider starting with the first book to see if this is a series you would enjoy.

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

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove (by Heather Webber)

After enjoying Midnight at the Blackbird Café by the author, I thought this would be a book I would like. I am not a fan of magical realism or a hallmark style story, so I did not become invested in this story at all. As with the author’s previous book, South of the Buttonwood Tree, this was too syrupy sweet and lacked a depth that would have allowed me to care what happened between the first and last page.

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

South of the Buttonwood Tree (by Heather Webber)

While I can handle some magical realism in a book, this particular one did not appeal to me. The story is a little too syrupy sweet and was too predictable. The magic focus was too intense instead of just being a nice addition to an interesting story. There was little depth and the similarities to the author’s previous book, Midnight at the Blackbird Café, were too much. Same verse same as the first…just a different setting and a few tweaks.

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

Bodies and Bows ~ Apron Shop #3 (by Elizabeth Penney)

This was a good cozy mystery. Though the first book I’ve read in the Apron Shop series, it worked okay as a standalone. But it also made me want to go back and read the first two books. The characters will have you invested in the story. Between family relationships, friendships, established and developing romantic relationships, the caring and supportive individuals have you wanting to visit Blueberry Cove. The twists and turns keep you flipping through the pages. And what a great ending! This is definitely a series to put on your to-be-read list.

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

A Rose for the Resistance (by Angela K. Couch)

I have loved all of the books I’ve read in the Heroines of WWII series. This is the first one that was set outside of the United States. As is typical with WWII historical fiction, you find yourself emotionally invested in the story and the lives of the characters. The willingness of everyday people to risk their lives to oppose the atrocities inflicted upon too many innocent people by Hitler’s regime. From the very beginning you experience sadness and begin the journey with Rosalie, Franz, Marcel, and Robert. It is easy to see how Rosalie struggles with her brother’s (Marcel) involvement with the resistance. And you watch her grow as she realizes the part she must play to help end the war. She is a strong individual and her dedication is admirable. While you get a peek into some of the uglier aspects of the German occupation, this book gives you more of a glimpse into how people worked together to end the war and that there were some individuals who wore the Nazi uniform who realized the evil deeds needed to stop. They put their lives on the line working from within the Gestapo to make a difference.

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

Lessons in Chemistry (by Bonnie Garmus)

It is rare for me to give a book only one star. But that was all I could bring myself to do. The synopsis made the book sound like something I would really enjoy reading. Unfortunately, there were many aspects that made me dislike the book so much. Too many points of view within a chapter was distracting. And since when has a book described as “laugh out loud funny” have a rape occur at the beginning. As someone who worked in academia for more than 38 years, the description of Elizabeth’s experience in college and working at a research institute was appalling. Yes, things were different in the 1960s, but the description of what she endured was nothing short of disturbing.

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