Beyond the Wand

Author: Tom Felton

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Release Date: October 18, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Best known for his portrayal as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, Tom Felton shares his life’s lessons so far!

You might think that Tom Felton is your typical childhood actor that enjoyed fame and fortune after the Harry Potter films, but it’s not all that you might imagine.  Tom is the youngest of four boys who kept him extremely grounded throughout this early acting journey.  His upbringing was a bit different being in England than of America and he found out at an early age that just because you’ve done film or commercials, literally no one cares.  Fortunately for Tom, out of the four main actors for Harry Potter, he was the one that was able to lead a somewhat normal life.  But that can take different forms when you want to fit in versus being unable to fit in.  There is a lot of wisdom this young man has had to learn the hard way and it is worth sharing.

I love reading memoirs and autobiographies in general because it gives me a look inside of what people have done in their lives.  Sure, I know Tom Felton from his on screen films, but I have no idea what he is like as a person.  His personal trajectory shows a lot of “character growth” as he first meets the other actors/actresses for Harry Potter and his initial behavior compared to his behavior after having been around some distinguished actors who share their wisdoms.  I think the most interesting part was discovering that he is almost opposite the Draco Malfoy character and how in tune with Emma Watson he is.  You think you know a guy, but until you learn about them, you have no idea!

Blood of the Sons

Author: Vincent B. Davis II

Series: Consentino Crime Saga #2

Publisher: Thirteenth Press

Release Date: August 30, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Picking up where Sins of the Father left off, Davis gives readers the ending they wanted, but not expected!

Sonny Consentino and his brothers want nothing more than to avenge their father.  Trouble is, they have no idea who killed him.  Now tied up with an Italian crime boss, they work to hold their territory while capturing others throughout New York. 

So, I really want to give more of a synopsis of this book, but it would just give it all away if I did.  I think this book is equally divided between Sonny and his brother-in-law Buster.  While the first book was Sonny’s origin story, this one was Buster’s but with a continuation of the first book mixed together.  There are some significant twists in this book that is likely to blow readers minds, especially at the end.  What a great work.  I highly recommend reading the first book before you jump on to this one!

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

Anything But Plain

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amish fiction that fans of Suzanne Woods Fisher will not want to miss!

Lydle Stolzful is the bishop’s daughter, and no matter how hard she tries, she is not like the other Amish girls. She doesn’t want to leave her family or the church, but she doesn’t feel like she can stay either. While between jobs, she works with the local doctor at the front desk. Taking the job gives her time before getting ready to leave and say the hard goodbye to those close to her. Nathan Yoder has told Lydle he loves her, but she and his father tell him she is not good enough for him. That along with other reasons are why she feels the need to leave.

Amish fiction is a unique genre that is not for everyone. It takes a little different frame of mind, especially if you prefer more suspense and high paced action in your novels.  However, every so often, there is an author who can craft a story set within Amish parameters that makes it read more like a straight contemporary novel. Without action based suspense, Fisher makes the story more suspenseful in other ways. While this isn’t my typical go-to type of novel, I have found that Fisher is one of the best at writing these books and finds ways of making the story and the characters interesting in such different ways than I am used to in the other novels I read. I did find myself smiling by the end of the novel as all the pieces came together and the story wrapped up just perfectly.

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

The Rose and the Thistle

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A historical romance that will hit all the right buttons for fans of the genre.

In 1715, an English heiress with a powerful family runs off to the Scottish Lowlands to avoid the enemy. While there, she finds herself thrown into temptation and pulled by her heartstrings in unimaginable ways. When difficult circumstances throw Lady Blythe into hardships unexpectedly, things get interesting very quickly.

Historical romance is a genre that can hit the heartstrings of readers and this one did a good job of living up to my expectations. These books take a little longer for me to read because I enjoy researching the time periods to see how much research the author did as well. As usual, Frantz does an amazing job of portraying the period accurately as I’ve come to expect in all of her books!  The romance arc was nice and well written where I was able to see the characters act in a way that was believable and kept the story moving along. I would recommend this to readers that enjoy historical romance; however, if it’s not what you enjoy this won’t be the book for you.

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

All the Lost Places

Author: Amanda Dykes

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: December 13, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Readers will enjoy not one, but two amazing stories surrounding the history of Venice, Italy.

One evening, a baby boy floating in a basket is discovered by a guildsman in the canals of Venice.  Only a few meters away from fate turning him over to an orphanage, young Sebastian is raised by five artisans.  As he grows up, he fears he will never discover who he truly is until a chance encounter on an island changes his life forever.

Many years later, Daniel Goodman is given the opportunity to turn his life around after some bad choices give him a prison sentence.  Now a free man, but saddled with personal guilt that keeps him paying penance to those he hurt, he is tasked to go to Venice, Italy to discover the full translation of the Book of Waters as well as sketch many of the historical artifacts for a man’s vision to bring part of Venice to California.  Upon his arrival in Venice, he meets Vittoria, the local bookkeeper, who assist him in both his personal and professional journey. 

This is the first book that I have read by Amanda Dykes and she amazed me from the beginning of the book to the end.  I couldn’t decide which story I loved more, that of Sebastian or Daniel.  And once the stories collided, it simply took off.  I love to read about well-known places that I’ve never been or expect to visit except through my mind’s eye.  My favorite character by far was Vittoria.  She was such a gust of wind that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up with her, but soon discovered we were kindred spirits.  I love it when a book has that ability.  I recommend this to readers who enjoy Italian history and just an overall great story!

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

Critical Threat

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Extreme Measures #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The third installment in the Extreme Measures series is another romantic suspense that will give readers exactly what they have come to expect from this genre.

Grace Billingsley works as a psychiatrist and behavioral analyst to help track down serial killers. When a new killer shows up with the same MO as a serial killer that’s been behind bars for years, prison psychiatrist Sam Monroe is pulled in to help with the case. Sam is the son of famed serial killer Peter Ramanos and is the one that turned his father into the authorities when he found evidence of him being a killer. Sam and Grace end up working together and quickly make a connection. Sam doesn’t want to get involved with anyone because of his father and tries to keep his feelings for Grace from growing. The more they investigate the case, the harder it is to stay away from each other and the more danger they find themselves in.

Lynette Eason has continued to craft a great series in book three as Critical Threat. I have been a fan of her writing for a long time and know I’m going to get a great story. For me though I was slightly disappointed with this one; right when it seemed the action was getting good and tension was going to be at its highest things just fizzled out. I had so much hope for how it was going to go, and it just didn’t reach it for me. I had a harder time connecting with the characters as quickly as I normally do with her books, but I just felt a little let down with this one. That’s not going to turn me off her books though; I will still quickly grab up the next one that comes out looking for edge of my seat suspense and hope that this one was just a fluke that it didn’t hit the mark with me. I recommend to readers looking for a light romantic suspense that will be a quick read not requiring much thinking.

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

Her Heart’s Desire

Author: Shelley Shepard Gray

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a fun story to kick off the New Year!

Mary Margaret Miller has always had trouble connecting with people, especially in her small Amish community.  So, she decides that she needs to get away and selects a bed in breakfast in Pinecraft, Florida, which will be much more pleasant than her snowy Ohio home.  On the bus ride, she meets two other girls that she begins to connect with.  When bad weather delays the trip in Georgia, they share a motel room, and their friendship deepens as they even stay at the same bed and breakfast in Pinecraft.  While there, they encounter two Amish men and a romance ensues, but appearances do always hold the truth as Mary Margaret will soon discover.

Amish fiction is not my usual go to genre, but this one was a good read.  With chance encounters and romance, it took the edge off some cold weather while I read (especially being set in Florida).  While an enjoyable read, it also featured some valuable lessons concerning forgiveness, especially when it is difficult to do so after you’ve been hurt. 

I recommend this book to people who like Amish fiction, contemporary romance, and an overall good story.

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

The Great Age Reboot

Authors: Michael F. Roizen, M.D., Peter Linneman, Ph.D., & Albert Ratner

Publisher: National Geographic

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Interesting ideas and concepts for how aging will look in the near future.

Imagine if you will, in the not-so-distant future, genetic engineering will make breakthroughs that will allow people to live to near 150 years of age.  Dr. Roizen and his colleagues take readers though a history of the average life spans over the past few generations and makes some pretty bold predictions on how aging may look very different in the near future, say around 2030.  He provides guidance on lifestyle choices including food and nutrition, exercise, and finances to try to help people understand how this can be achievable, but also has the caveat that human beings don’t always make the best choices so it will end up being mostly personal on how you can achieve it.

Definitely an interesting concept to think about possibly not only living to 100 years of age but possibly to 150.  The biggest question is how would the average person be able to pay for this possibility?  The short answer is that medical care would essentially have to be socialized, be accepted (key concept), and then shift from reactive to proactive care to become affordable.  Additionally, people will need to work much longer (till 90) to have enough money saved up in retirement to make it to 150 if they start in their early twenties.  And since your life choices will make you a healthier, more productive human being, the overall productivity will increase across the county and the GDP will increase so that more tax can be collected, thereby increasing social security measures.

It was an interesting read that I will be watching over the next seven years to see how this might play out.

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

Awesome Titles for 2023

Happy New Year! Hope you got some great reading in last year and can’t wait for everything to release this year! Here are just a few of the titles that we can’t wait to read!

Critical Threat

Lynette Eason

Revell Publishing

January 3, 2023

Romantic/Suspense

Everything is just Beginning

Erin Bartels

Revell Publishing

January 23, 2023

Contemporary

Under Fire

Lynn H. Blackburn

Revell Publishing

March 7, 2023

Romantic/Suspense

No More Secrets

Kerry Lonsdale

Lake Union Publishing

March 14, 2023

Contemporary/Suspense

Her Deadly Game

Robert Dugoni

Thomas & Mercer

March 28, 2023

Suspense/Thriller

The Vanishing at Castle Moreau

Jaime Jo Wright

Bethany House Publishing

April 4, 2023

Time-Slip/Suspense

Broker of Lies

Steven James

Tyndale House Publishing

April 11, 2023

Suspense/Thriller

The Libyan Diversion

Joel C. Rosenberg

Tyndale House Publishing

May 16, 2023

Suspense/Thriller

The Wayward Prince

Leonard Goldbert

St. Martin’s Press

July 11, 2023

Mystery

The Inheritance Games Series

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Little Brown Books

September 1, 2020

YA

2022 Top Reads

It’s new year’s eve and what better way to celebrate than sharing our top picks for 2022. Any of these make your favorite list?

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold

The Extraordinary Death of Mrs. Kip is just that, an extraordinary book, especially when you realize this is a debut book. Sara Brunsvold has written a delightful new story that is going to be in the running for one of my favorite books of the year.

Read the full review.

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime Jo Wright is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I was slow to pick up her books because she writes part of her stories in the past and historical fiction has not been one of my top go to genres. But when you write in the way Jamie Jo Wright does, it doesn’t really matter if it is past, present, or future; the story is so good it takes time out of the equation and puts the reader deep within the story. I am finding with each of her books that I read it is better than the last and The Souls of Lost Lake is no exception.

Read the full review.

The Girl Who Could Breathe Underwater by Erin Bartels

Erin Bartels has become one of those authors that I read every book she writes without even reading the synopsis or looking at the cover.  The stories are just that good and the tension and internal conflict her characters have intensifies with each story.  The Girl Who Can Breathe Underwater is no exception to either tension or conflict. 

Read the full review.

The Local by Joey Hartstone

I love a good legal thriller and Hartstone definitely delivered a fantastic story.  As a fellow Texan, I have friends who are patent lawyers in Marshall, so it was fun to pick their brain while I read this story to get an idea of what goes on.  The book centers more on the criminal case of the murdered judge instead of patent law, which probably makes the book move faster and get readers more engaged. 

Read the full review.

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

If you pick up a Blake Crouch book, you know that you are going to be in for a wild ride that will likely result in sleepless nights while reading the book and after reading the book because you keep thinking about it for months.  Upgrade was no exception to his formula.  However, he changed tactics a bit and strayed from his usual focus on quantum entanglement to human gene modification.  He has also moved from being more current day to a time of a dystopian world after disasters. 

Read the full review.

Willow by Ronie Kendig

Ronie Kendig is really amazing me with this new series. I have enjoyed her writing for years, but this is my favorite series of hers by far. The way she has written the characters in these books have hooked me faster than most authors have ever been able to and kept me glued to the pages with all the feels for what is happening. I am deeply invested with the characters both from Stone and now Willow.

Read the full review.

Life Flight by Lynette Eason

With each new book, Lynette Eason has shown that she is a powerhouse when it comes to romantic suspense and is leaving others far behind. I keep saying each new book is her best, but it is true, and Life Flight is leaps and bounds ahead of her others. Some books have the ability to make a movie play out in my mind while I read, but those are few and far between. Life Flight was a great movie in my mind that I hated to see it end. The book started with the kind of action you see in the climax of most others that then peters off for the rest of the pages. But here it never petered out or slacked in any way, even to the last pages I never once felt the tension let up.

Read the full review.

Dark Angel by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

There is a lot to unpack within the pages of this novel, but for me, it was well written with a fast plot, characters I wanted to see succeed and a lot of moments that left me with some good questions to ponder about life, spiritual matters and so much more. This is a book that will leave readers thinking about more than just the work of fiction.

Read the full review.