Remember Me

Author: Tracie Peterson

Series: Pictures of the Heart #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 1, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The start of another great series by Tracie Peterson!

Addie Bryant was forced by her father and brothers up to the Alaskan territory when they wanted to search for gold, but she never thought that her brothers would sell her to the highest bidder just to have some gambling money.  Being sold to the owner of a brothel was horrible, but fortunately for Addie the owner only wanted her for himself and took her as a wife.  After he is killed in a gambling incident, Addie discovers that everything is left to her and she is a wealthy woman, much to the scorn of her brothers that want her money.  She manages to slip away out of Alaska entirely and hopes to never see them again.

Years later in Seattle, Addie is working as a camera girl at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo.  Her brothers were arrested for burglary but have been released for good behavior while moving pieces to the expo.  They also pick up jobs as custodians at the expo and pick a few pockets while they are there, hoping to run into Addie and her money.  Addie’s first true love, Isaac, also shows up at the expo with his class of children and can’t believe he has found her after years of searching.  But the past doesn’t heal all wounds and Addie isn’t sure who or what she can trust.

As always, Tracie Peterson crafts a fantastic story where she brings history to light with lovable characters that must overcome hardships.  Having this set up in the Pacific Northwest was a nice change and I love how she managed to bring the expo to life for her readers.  I also love how she molded Addie and Isaac into who they needed to be to move past hardships brought to them.  I know they may not be in the next book, but I can’t wait to see where this goes.

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

Second Time Around

Author: Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun quick romance that readers will greatly enjoy!

Mallory Farrell inherits her grandmother’s tourist shop in Seaport, Oregon; however, she doesn’t want to spend the time and energy it would take to get the shop back up and running. That is, until her old crush shows up wanting to add the store to make a cookie cutter outdoor mall. Mallory now has the determination to make the shop what it can be. She catches the eye of a renovation TV producer who wants to feature her shop and the apartment above she has been living in. The apartment is much worse than the shop and Mallory is ashamed, causing her to almost pull out of the show all in trying to keep Grayson at arm’s length.

Melody Carlson is a great contemporary romance author that has a way of transporting readers to a faraway place in her stories. One thing I have come to love about her writing is the way the main characters interact; it is dynamic and fun and with the perfect amount of romance at all the right times. Whenever I pick up a book by Carlson, I know I am going to have a quick and enjoyable read. These are the types of books that when I pick them up, I don’t have to think too much or worry about the story.

In the way that Grayson wanted to turn Mallory’s shop into a cookie cutter shopping mall, this book is somewhat of the same thing. For me at least, contemporary romance novels are very much cookie cutter books. That’s not a bad thing as much if you are just looking for a quick read that doesn’t require much thinking. They are still entertaining, but readers don’t have to worry about a deep story. And in the world that we live in that can be great sometimes.

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

After the Shadows

Author: Amanda Cabot

Series: Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 21, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amanda Cabot takes her readers on a journey as she transports them to the Texas Hill Country in the late 1800’s on a wonderfully delightful novel.

When her husband is killed in a bar fight, Emily Leland has no sorrow. Her husband was abusive and with no husband she heads home to Sweetwater Crossing, Texas. Going home is not as easy as she expects; her father has mysteriously passed away and she has no home to return to. After a fight with her sister, she is left alone and with no money. With a broken heart and the mystery of her father’s death, Emily turns to the aid of Craig Ferguson, the schoolmaster that is widowed and the only one willing to help her.

Amanda Cabot always finds a way to thrill me with her writing. She has a way of writing historical romance where I feel pulled into a different time and place seeing myself right alongside these characters and the struggles they face. I’m from Texas so seeing a story set in the hill country close to me was fun and very engaging. Emily is a strong female protagonist even with all she has had to suffer through, and I found myself rooting for her to find love and succeed. All great stories have that one moment that feels different from the rest and this story had that with a few chapters left. I recommend this book to fans of Cabot’s writing and those that love historical romance.

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

Code Name Edelweiss

Author: Stephanie Landsem

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Landsem connects the darkness of the rise of the Nazi party on home turf in the USA.

During the summer of 1933, Germany has just named the new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.  The Great Depression has been affecting people across the globe and the United States has felt its effects.  In the film industry in California, people are losing their jobs, but there is also growing tension between Germany and the film industry due to several of the studio owners being Jews.  Liesl Weiss loses her job as a secretary and finds herself begging an unknown stranger, Leon Lewis, for a job.  She discovers that he is a Jewish lawyer who has been watching the change of tides as Germany’s new Nazi party has come into power.  He asks Liesl to take a job as a spy with the Friends of New Germany group and report to him what she discovers using her new code name, Edelweiss.  As she places herself and her family in danger, the information is too dangerous to ignore, and she knows that she must stand for what is right.

This is my first book by Landsem and as someone who loves this era of fiction, it will definitely not be my last.  She quickly pulled in my attention with the Liesl’s story and that of some of her counterpart spies with what was happening in the Los Angeles area during the 1930s.  I’ve always heard that not much emphasis was put on the war until after Pearl Harbor, but discovering this was based on a true story with sleeper Nazi Germany cells throughout the United States was really unnerving.  The character development was great and I would love to see more come out of this story in the future!

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

The Family Bones

Author: Elle Marr

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When does a psychopath make the jump to serial killer?

Olivia Eriksen is a member of one of the most notorious psychopathic families of the last century.  But more than that, her direct line of ancestors abducted and killed young women and even murdered each other.  Needless to say, the gene for being a psychopath is hereditary, but not everyone makes the jump to becoming a killer.  Olivia is working on her doctorate to prove that is the case.  When she gets an invitation to the Eriksen family reunion in Oregon, her mother convinces her to go so that she can work on her research.  She even takes her fiancé along so that they can begin to introduce their relationship to her family.  However, things at the reunion turn dark quickly as members of the family begin to turn up dead and the evidence points toward Olivia being the killer.  Can she prove her innocence?  Or did she make the psychotic jump without knowing it?

This was definitely a different kind of read where the reader is trying to figure out what is going on with the main character.  Told from Olivia’s perspective, everything seems as if she is being framed.  On top of everything, she is dealing with a lot of pressure from her fiancé to go public.  Truthfully, I couldn’t stand the guy because he was such a whiner about her not wanting to bring their engagement to light when all this death is going on around them.  Aside from that, it is a really interesting concept that makes you think concerning being around a family that has psychopathic tendencies.  There is some strong language throughout and some implied sex that would make this suitable for mature audiences.

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

Under Fire

Author: Lynn H. Blackburn

Series: Defend and Protect #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third book in the Defend and Protect series is by far the best and probably my favorite of all the books I’ve read by Blackburn!

Secret Service Agent Zane Thacker is now working to protect the President and even though it’s his dream job, he isn’t fully happy. He is now assigned to go back to Raleigh, North Carolina to help when the president goes on an event there. He gets to work with his best friend, Special Agent Tessa Reed; not only is she his best friend she is also the woman he is secretly in love with. Tessa has been working through her past dealing with her problems with alcohol and healing from her demons. Zane knows her deepest darkest secrets and Tessa doesn’t want to do anything that jeopardize their friendship in any way. She oversees arranging the protection for the President on his trip to Raleigh and every step of the way problems arise threatening the President and those assigned to protect.

This is the third book in the Defend and Protect series and having read all in the series, I am happy to say this is my favorite. Lynn Blackburn is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors and Under Fire lives up to my expectations of what I’m going to get when I pick up one of her books. Which is nice to say after being extremely underwhelmed by most of the romantic suspense books I have read lately. Christian fiction has become a growing market with many more options than in decades past. Blackburn has managed to overcome the typical genre stereotype formula to create a unique series that continues to be interesting. She has restored my faith with Under Fire and kept me on the edge of my seat and loving the dynamic between Zane and Tessa. Fans of the series will not want to miss this one.

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

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

Author: James Patterson & Chris Tobbetts

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: November 6, 2012

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in the Middle School series is an imaginative, fun read for kids that will be great for getting them into reading.

Rafe Khatchadorian is starting middle school and doesn’t expect it to be great and so he puts in place a plan to make it the best year ever. Rafe has his best friend Leonardo the Silent at his side egging him on with points for every rule in school he breaks. He does all of this to avoid what he is afraid of but it doesn’t take long for it to all catch up to him and he must decide what is most important in surviving middle school. 

There are now 15 books in the Middle School series for a good reason. James Patterson has created an empire with his children’s books and this one, which was released ten years ago, I’m just now reading it because my kids are into them are fantastic. Rafe is such a relatable character for kids that might be having a hard time fitting in and wanting to read about a kid that is having the same problems as them. One of the things about the book is that even though Rafe becomes a bit of a troublemaker, he is also going through a lot and we see him struggling with that and letting it be a real thing. This is a great start to what I’m sure is going to be a great series for kids to read and enjoy reading instead of books that turn them off from reading.

Under the Whispering Door

Author: T.J. Klune

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: September 21, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book with character development better than any I’ve read in a long time.

Wallace Price worked as an attorney and was not the best person he could be before passing away from a heart attack. When he wakes up at his own funeral, a reaper is ready to collect him and take him to where he is supposed to cross over. At first, he doesn’t want to believe he is dead, but it quickly becomes evident that is the case and this is more real than he would like it to be. When he meets Hugo, the owner of a unique tea shop that is supposed to help him cross over, he doesn’t feel ready to leave just yet. He is given one week to finish figuring out what he needs to do before crossing over.

I want to start with the good points of this book: the character development of Wallace was stellar. Kind of hard to have character development of someone that dies but Klune did a phenomenal job of making this character that starts out despicable as someone you want to root for and see come out happy in the end. What I didn’t know when I picked this book up was it was a book dealing with LGBTQ issues, not a book I normally pick up. The story and characters were well written and readers that enjoy these issues will want to pick this one up.

My Jesus

Author: Anne Wilson

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 25, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An uplifting story about dealing with loss and healing while learning to lean on God during the good and the bad!

Anne Wilson came onto the Christian music scene with a powerful country/bluegrass sound and her song, My Jesus, which exploded up the charts. In her book, My Jesus, Anne gives listeners of her music an inside look at her path to becoming a recording artist. Anne originally had a goal of going to space and becoming an astronaut, but when her brother passed away in a car crash, her plans changed. She and her family were very close and the death of her brother, Jacob, almost crushed them. When they couldn’t find anyone to sing at his memorial, Anne stepped up; even though she had never sung publicly she quickly found she had a talent for it. Finding hope in God was how Anne and her family made it through the hardest time in their lives.

This book was a quick glimpse into the life of an up-and-coming Christian music artist, one that is quickly become one of my favorite artists. I enjoyed seeing how she was shaped by tragedy and found her voice, a gift given to her by her Jesus. Her voice in singing and now in writing is real, authentic and a breath of fresh air. The tragedy she and her family faced is one no one wants to have to encounter but the way they let it move them closer to God and each other is uplifting and so great to read. I recommend this book to those looking for an uplifting read with one of the brightest young stars.

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

The Greedy Three

Author: Karen Katchur

Publisher: Podlum Publishing

Release Date: February 28, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A dark and twisted tale of greed and how far some are willing to go for what they want.

Noah has worked hard to build his reputation as a respectable person to do business with, even if that business happens to involve buying and selling babies. His newest clients want a three-week-old baby and he has everything lined out when it all goes wrong.

Hester lives in a cabin in the woods and stays to herself after a restraining order placed against her keeps her from seeing her daughter and family. Hester only wants to help but her actions always seem to be seen the wrong way and she ends up in trouble. One night she hears a knock on her door and opens it to find a young girl holding a baby in need of help. She takes the girl in and tries to help, but it isn’t long before Noah shows up looking for them and money taken from him. Between the three of them things turn tense quickly and no one will emerge unharmed.

This book was not what I expected, but in a good way. After finishing a book that was just so-so, I enjoyed this book more than I expected. The tension throughout was well done and the characters kept me engaged. Hester was the most well written in my opinion, she had gone through a lot, but it was obvious she was just trying to do what she could to help, even if she went about it the wrong way. Each character was greedy in their own way, just like the title suggested. There was more to the story than simply implied at the beginning and I really loved the way that played out. There was some language and darker themes throughout that make it not good for anyone younger to read. I do recommend this book to those that enjoy suspense thrillers.

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