No Small Target

Author: James Tyler Brooks

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: May 17, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fast paced thriller that blew me away by a debut author. No Small Target is one to add to the To Be Read pile for thriller fans!

Jack Case thought he had left Hawaii behind until he gets a call from Kamakoa, his closest friend asking for his help on a case. When he arrives, Kamakoa is missing and Jack is now in charge of finding him and stopping a traitor from selling defense secrets to North Korea. Being back in Hawaii is hard, but nothing could keep him from being there for the only family he has left. As the search continues for Kamakoe, Jack must figure out who he can trust and with every turn the stakes are higher as the threats to those around him continue to grow.

For No Small Target being a debut novel, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Just knowing what the story was going to be about intrigued me and made me want to read it; suspense novels are my go-to and this one did not disappoint! Jack Case was a great protagonist that had me hooked from page one.  He had a rough past that was unveiled little by little making it more interesting for me as the reader. Not only were the characters well written, but the story itself and the setting really transported me and kept me engaged the whole time. I was a little worried at first with it being set in Hawaii because a few books I have read recently have had characters from there and they have been over the top annoying, so I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case here and it wasn’t. This is the first in a new series and I can’t wait to see what else comes from James Tyler Brooks.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Greetings from Asbury Park

Author: Daniel H. Turtel

Publisher: Blackstone

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A look into the lives of children of a dysfunctional father.

A man dies, but life must go on for those around him.  Such is the case for three half siblings in the small New Jersey boardwalk town of Asbury Park.  The legitimate son David, the illegitimate son Casey, and the maid’s daughter Gabrielle.  All three have their own lives to consider, but when their father dies, the three are suddenly thrown together to cope with the aftermath.  Casey has been living in the city for some time but returns to Asbury Park for the summer to help.  He barely gets by and doesn’t want to ask for money.  Although David gets the lion’s share of the inheritance, he does get $50,000 and a house in Asbury Park, which is where he discovers his father’s maid lives with her daughter, who ends up being his half-sister.  Casey and Gabrielle really hit it off while his brother David begins to drink himself to death and buys anyone a round who will sit with him.  As the summer ends, some decisions have to be made that will again affect all three lives.

This is a good read that follows the lives of David, Casey, and Gabrielle as they all deal uniquely with their father’s death.  The story centers largely around Casey but throws occasional glimpses of Gabrielle’s life in for some backstory.  There are also some stories from supporting characters that add some context and ramp up the tension and climax of the story.  There is quite a bit of self-destruction in this story and sibling tension (not so much rivalry) that will makes readers side with different characters for different reasons.  It’s not so much just a story to read, but one to resonate with.

There is some foul language throughout and some implied sex scenes that will make this book recommended for mature audiences.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

100 Great American Parks

Author: Stephanie Pearson

Publisher: National Geographic

Release Date: May 10, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great book to give readers the traveling itch and hit the road!

If you love to travel, and visit national parks in particular, this book is a must for you.  This book selects 100 of the best National Parks throughout American with a glimpse into each one.  The book is organized around different regions, so if you live in a particular area or just want to travel there, you can skip to that section and find out what parks are available by state (or territory) and get your travel list in order.

I love that this makes it easy and fun to get the travel bug.  I’ve been to some of these parks, but there are still so many more to go.  Just yesterday we hit up Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan and I can’t wait to see what else we can see.  With amazing pictures and history of the parks, it makes it fun to just read about and plan your visit.

I recommend this book to travelers and those who just love a good book on travel for reference.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

No More Lies

Author: Kerry Lonsdale

Series: No More #2

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Release Date: May 10, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lonsdale continues to impress her suspense game with the next No More book!

Jenna Mason has a past that she would rather forget, but it always seems to follow her where she goes.  She and her young son Josh have constantly moved from place to place to stay one step ahead of anyone who might be after her or him.  For years they barely got by on the charity of strangers, but when she starts making a little money from some of her drawings and cartoons she has developed, she begins to get tired of running and she and Josh decide to settle down in one place for a little longer.  Jenna even manages to fall in love with someone and Josh is thriving at this new school.  Then one day her past remerges when a reporter shows up asking questions and dredging up a murder that happened when she was sixteen.  Is it time to run again? 

If you enjoyed No More Words, then you will love this book even more.  I was initially expecting a continuation, but this is a retelling of the same time period from Jenna and Josh’s perspective.  So, readers now the elements of what happened to Lily, but now get to read about it firsthand and understand how the characters became who they are today.  Needless to say, Lonsdale placed plenty of intrigue throughout the pages to keep her readers hooked through the full story.  There are references to events in the first book that readers may need to go back and enjoy again to get the full effect.  Either one can be read as a standalone, but the true masterpiece is reading them together.  And it doesn’t matter in which order. And there are three sides to every story, so be sure to grab Lucas’s version next year!

Lonsdale continues to shine a light on the condition of aphasia that can occur after a brain bleed.  She manages to bring much more than just a fictional tale in each one of her books and this is no different.  There is a bit of foul language throughout (to be expected with the characters) as well as a couple of sex scenes, but nothing overly graphic in this one.  I would still recommend this book for mature readers. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Spark of Love

Author: Amanda Cabot

Series: Mesquite Springs #3

Publisher: revell

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a great conclusion to the Mesquite Springs series!

Some people just won’t take no for an answer, especially when money is involved.  Alexandra Tarkington must leave New York for her own sanity and safety and decides to go to the booming metropolis of Mesquite Springs, Texas, which is nestled in the hill county and the town where her father is building a hotel.  After leaving a false trail, she arrives in Mesquite Springs to find that the hotel is nowhere close to finished and her father seems to have aged twenty years and taken on a different name.  Instead of being happy to see her, he urges her to return to her aunt in New York, but she knows she can’t and decides to carve out a life for herself here. 

However, things aren’t always as they seem.  The nice man who accompanied her to Texas known as Gabe Seymore happens to be an investigator hired to out her father as a swindler.  But as things progress, Gabe and Alexandra continue to find themselves in dangerous situations that can help but make sparks between them. 

I’ve loved this entire series and each year I get to spend a few days in Mesquite Springs with my favorite characters.  I was glad to see some characters from previous books and how they have been getting along in the town.  Each book is a little predictable, but they are still fun with a little twist of suspense thrown in at the end.  If you love western type clean romances, this is a series for you!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

All That Fills Us

Author: Autumn Lytle

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A story that is more of a journey about healing and how hard life can be but there are still good people in the world!

Mel Ellis has an eating disorder and knows full well that it is killing her. She has been trying to get a handle on it for years with no luck. Rehab is her next step, but she can’t bring herself to go. Instead, she decides to do something memorable, walk a trail across the North American Wilderness. There is no way she has the strength, physically or mentally, to make this journey but she sets out anyway and leaves Grand Rapids, Michigan to walk all the way to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. The trip is hard and several times she almost doesn’t make it, except for the help and kindness of strangers along the way. She learns from each of these strangers and confronts the ghosts of her pasts to live through the adventure she has set out on.

I want to start with the good about this book. This is a hard story with real issues. Eating disorders are a horrible thing to live through for all those involved. And it does take a lot of courage to come back from that. Autumn Lytle does a fantastic job of portraying this. Maybe too good of a job at times, especially for someone who has never lived through that or knows what it is like to be in that situation. With that said, I did find myself annoyed at moments with Mel and her over the top counting of calories and excessive workouts. I say this not to be offensive in any way but as someone who has never gone through this type of thing to understand how hard it is to deal with feeling this way. For someone going through this, I would imagine that this would be a fairly accurate portrayal of dealing with an eating disorder and how it makes you feel. By the back half of the book, I could see a growth in Mel as a character and the way the story unfolded leaves something for everyone to relate to. It is not just about Mel having an eating disorder, it is about her finding her self-worth and loving herself before she can let anyone else love her. To me, that is the overall point of the story and it is a beautiful one that we all need to hear. I would recommend this story to anyone who needs to find a way to let go of the hurt and find a way to love themselves with a reminder that there are really good people left in the world that will come along at just the right time to help us in our hour of need.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Fatal Code

Author: Natalie Walters

Series: Snap Agency #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The second book in the SNAP agency series is full of action, adventure, and plenty of tension to keep the pages turning. Fans of romantic suspense will not want to miss Fatal Code!

Elinor Mitchell is an aerospace engineer that finds herself with a target on her back after her grandfather passes away and she ends up with some of his work from decades ago that have to do with a nuclear energy project. The project she is working on has connections to the work her grandfather did and it is very sensitive. SNAP agent and cryptologist Kekoa Young is assigned to help keep Elinor safe. Elinor is Kekoa’s neighbor, and he is tasked with using his close status to spy on her. The more they work together, the closer they become. When she finds out he has been spying on her, she is more hurt than when she found out someone was trying to kill her to get her grandfather’s work. Even after he betrayed her, she must trust him in order to keep her safe and her work away from the enemy.

This book was good but not quite as good as the first in my opinion. I enjoyed the interaction between Elinor and Kekoa, but some of the other minor characters just didn’t sit well with me. The only other thing that bothered me was some of the dialogue with Kekoa; with him being from Hawaii it got into that a little much for my taste. There was some good humor at times and the story flowed well making it a quick read, which was enjoyable. The book sets a pretty steady pace but does speed up at the end with a powerful conclusion that was satisfying and leaving me wanting more from the series. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the series. I recommend this book and series to those that love romantic suspense and have enjoyed the first in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Strangers We Know

Author: Elle Marr

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: May 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An incredibly intense plot that had me guessing how it would all work out until the very end.

After Ivy Hon is stricken with a mysterious illness, she does online genetic testing to see if she can find her family since she was adopted days after she was born. Ivy is contacted by the FBI after her DNA links her with a serial killer located in the Pacific Northwest. She connects with her cousin in Washington state and the more family she meets the more questions she has about her past, the notorious serial killer, and how it all ties back to her. With each new question, she puts herself closer to the killer and further in danger of being the next victim.

Starting off, Strangers We Know was a very interesting and intense plotline. I was pulled in and wanted to find out what was going to happen. As the story continued, Ivy kept me intrigued and into the story. There were a few moments throughout the story that dragged a little and lost my interest but not for long. The nice thing was this was a quick read that left many possibilities of how it might all end up for the characters. There are many secondary characters throughout and it can be hard to follow at times if you aren’t paying attention. Once readers get a little over halfway, the pace picks up and you will fly through the last half. Overall, this was an average read for the year but I found that I enjoyed it.  A good solid effort by Elle Marr. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy thrillers that are fast, and full of surprises.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Faith Pump 40 Day Devotional

Authors: Beth Duewel, Edie Melson, Karen Porter, Kaley Rhea, Rhonda Rhea, Karen Sargent & Tina Yeager

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: April 14, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A devotional book that I can see myself reading again, and again, and again! So much good within the pages that readers will absolutely love.

With all the wit and fun that Faith-Pump has brought to their Facebook Group and previous books, this new devotional will leave readers feeling refreshed and spirit soaring. One of the nicest things about this group of ladies is that anything they write is always exactly what I need to read at that moment. No matter what you are going through, you will always be able to find encouragement, wisdom and insight from this group. Each day comes with a story from the different authors that is filled with humor and more than enough personalization to make you feel like you are sitting on the couch with a group you might gather for bible studies on a regular basis.

This is the kind of book I see myself buying up all the copies and giving out to anyone I come into contact with. So much good within the pages, readers will have trouble spreading it out to 40 days if they are anything like me. As soon as I finished one day, I would continue to the next to see what other wisdom was on the pages for me. A lot of times when I pick up a devotional book, I will read a few pages and then put it aside and not think about it for a while. Not with Faith-Pump, I kept turning the pages and felt so encouraged as I kept reading. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, if you are down you will be encouraged, if you are needing a laugh you will find it, if you just wonder what God might be saying to you, listen closely as you read and you will hear him talking to you. I am so happy I came across the Faith-Pump group on Facebook, it has been a huge blessing to me and I hope it will be to others that pick up this book.

Sea Glass Cottage

Author: Irene Hannon

Series: Hope Harbor #8

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another hit in the fan favorite Hope Harbor series adds new characters while keeping several favorites in this charismatic novel!

Christi Reece has come to Hope Harbor in a last-ditch effort to get help from the last person she never thought she would be asking for help and can only pray Jack Colby will listen to her. They have a past and not a good one, Christi broke his heart and he left wanting to never see or hear from her again. Shortly after she arrives, the tables turn and Jack ends up needing her help. In the town that heals hearts, there is hope that Christi and Jack can come out of this making peace with their past and find a new beginning.

Normally contemporary romance is not my favorite genre, but there is something about the Hope Harbor series that I love. It is a fun, fast read with great characters reoccurring and new with each book that readers will love. Of course, Charley is always a fan favorite that comes back around in each book and helps all those that come to the town with their troubles. In some ways Charley is like the guardian angel for the town who knows everyone and what they need at the right moments. I really liked Christi and the growth seen in her, even if it was a little out of order, I would have liked to have known what happened to her to bring about the change a little sooner. Other than that, the story played out nicely with the interactions between characters enjoyable and natural. The nice thing about this series is that each one is individual and yet they work together so well. This is the eighth book in the series and I don’t see it stopping any time soon. I foresee much more from Hope Harbor and I will be around to read it. I recommend this series to anyone that enjoys a fun and fast contemporary romance that will make you want to whisk away to a quiet little beach town to find love.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.