Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancée, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes, by hook or by crook, she'll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home.

Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home... until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs all his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they'll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics.

Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

This was a good, light comedic story. You really had to suspend belief for a lot of it though. For example, Agatha is supposed to be hiding because some unknown person is trying to kill her. However, she parades down the streets of New York with a pig on a leash. Matilda (the pig) was certainly an unusual character and brought a lot of laughter to the book, but we're supposed to believe that a woman knowing she is being hunted to be killed is going to go to all the trouble to put on a disguise and then go out with a pig as a pet.

I have to say I did like a couple of the characters - Mr. Blackheart and Mrs. Swanson were very endearing - and I would welcome a book about them in a heartbeat.

This book is actually the fourth in a series. I have not read any of the other books so I don't know if this one is just in the same vein or if the books build on each other.


My copy of this book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill

Argentine native Inspector Héctor Salgado is one of Barcelona's leading criminal detectives. After a stint on probation—he assaulted a suspect from a human-trafficking case—Salgado is back in the office and eager for something major.
      To his dismay, he's assigned to a routine accidental death instead: a college student fell from a balcony in one of Barcelona’s ritzier neighborhoods. But as Salgado pieces together details from the victim's the life, he realizes that his death was not all that simple: his teenage friends are clearly hiding something and drugs might be involved.  Salgado follows a trail that will lead him deep into the underbelly of Barcelona’s high society, where he’ll confront dangerous criminals, long-buried secrets, and, strangely, his own past. But Salgado thrives on pressure, and he lives for this kind of casedark, violent, and seemingly unsolvable.

As it turns out, the "routine, accidental death" is neither routine or, it seems, accidental. Stories don't add up. People seem to be hiding things. And Hector is not willing to let it go as accidental.

There are actually two deaths that seem accidental and seem to be tied together - but what is the link? Or is there a link?

Nice mystery with the two deaths colliding in an unexpected way. And I didn't see the solution to either of them coming!

This was not a book that I couldn't put down. But once put down, I kept picking it up because I wanted to get to the solution.

Good, solid book - if not a page turner. Be aware that there are some things not settled at the end. So if you can't let go of a story until it's completed - you'll need to continue the series.

For more info:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries by Isabella Alan

The Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries start of with a great first book in Murder, Plain and Simple, where we get to know everyone and get the lay of the land as far as who knew who when, where businesses are located and who owns/works in them, etc. It's a great foundation book.

I love the setting and the characters and who doesn't love a good mystery? The second book was a great follow up. I can't wait for the next in the series.

From Murder, Plain and Simple

When Angela Braddock inherits her late aunt’s beautiful Amish quilt shop, she leaves behind her career and broken engagement for a fresh start in Holmes County, Ohio.

With her snazzy cowboy boots and her ornithophobic French bulldog, Angie doesn’t exactly fit in with the predominantly Amish community in Rolling Brook, but her aunt’s quilting circle tries to make her feel welcome as she prepares for the reopening of Running Stitch.

On the big day, Angie gets a taste of success as the locals and Englisch tourists browse the store’s wares while the quilters stitch away. But when Angie finds the body of ornery Amish woodworker Joseph in her storeroom the next morning, everything starts falling apart.

With evidence mounting against her, Angie is determined to find the culprit before the local sheriff can arrest her. Rolling Brook always appeared to be a simple place, but the closer Angie gets to the killer, the more she realizes that nothing in the small Amish community is as plain as it seems....

From Murder, Simply Stitched:

When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone....

Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works.

The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.

By book two, the characters all seem like old friends and they bring so much joy of a new story with them. Give these a try - you won't be disappointed.

Highly recommended.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Child of Mine - David and Beverly Lewis

Jack Livingston has been raising his nine-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents' lives. While he travels for work, Natalie is lovingly cared for by Laura, an Amish nanny who loves her as her own.

Kelly Maines is nearing the end of her rope. Her baby was kidnapped, the apparent victim of a black market adoption ring, and for eight years, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. Now, there's one last lead from a private investigator: Just a few miles away lives a girl who matches the profile. Could this, at long last, be her beloved child?

Desperately, Kelly initiates a "chance" meeting with Jack Livingston. It goes really well. So well, in fact, that Jack asks her out. One date leads to another, and before she can come clean with her original motives, Kelly realizes Jack is falling for her--and she for him.

Now how can she tell Jack why she's really here? And having gotten to know Natalie, what if she isn't her long-lost daughter, after all? This was all supposed to be so simple.

I have long been a fan of Beverly Lewis. I love her stories of the Amish culture so I was thrilled to be able to read and review this book.

This one actually doesn't revolve around the Amish as much as many of her other books do but this book was just as compelling and interesting as any of her books.

The characters are likeable, the plot is plausible - which of us wouldn't search endlessly for a child stolen from us?

There are twists and turns that I just didn't see coming! There was a point in the book when I said "wow! it all makes sense now - remember what she said, remember when that happened" but it wasn't what I thought it was.

This book will keep you guessing and hold your interest until the very end.

Highly recommended.


My copy of this book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
   But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev's world her own.

I have to admit I had a hard time with this book at first. I had read some reviews and the description above and thought "I would really like this!" - but I didn't. I wanted to, I struggled to....but I didn't. But, I said I would review it - and I really wanted to like it - so I read it.

And am I ever glad I did! Although it's set in the recent past (people use cell phones) it feels like the 60s. Rich and powerful people, stealing away to a secluded family compound. The patriarch everyone respects and fears. The lovely but aloof matriarch. The adult children with their young children visiting. The eccentric aunt. A few "outsiders" - guests of the teen-aged family members. Swimming, fishing, barbecues. Idyllic days spent in the sun. Beautiful people. New love. And mayhem and murder.

The characters were wonderful! The descriptions of the houses and the compound were glorious. There were twists and turns - things are not always what they seem.

I simply loved this book and could not put it down.

I do want to point out there is some language and some sex.


Go here for more info:


"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow

Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940 with a love of ships and high hopes. Though he leaves behind his new wife, Agnes, and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream—but things change when he is shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister in his own hometown of Boston—and finds an immediate and undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.

Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic and a historical drama that brings the streets and neighborhoods of Boston vividly to life from World War II through the civil rights era to the present day, A Life Apart takes readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, unending guilt, racial tensions, death, and the profound effects of war.

I absolutely loved this book! It has everything I like in a book - it takes place over a period of about 50 years, chapters are told from different character's point of view, the writing is believable, the characters are flawed but likeable and the emotions are raw and moving.

I found myself constantly thinking "why didn't they just....." but then had to remember it was a long time ago and the world was a different place than the one we live in now.

For myself, I wanted most for Beatrice to be happy. I know it was wrong for her to be with another woman's husband but I liked her. She was strong and confident and a woman I could admire - and I could sympathize with how she was drawn to Morris. I hated how he would stay away from her for so long and go back thinking things would just go back to the way they were. My heart broke for her heartaches.

Two things I didn't like about the book - one was some of the language I found very objectionable. But, it was used in context and it wasn't all that frequent - and it was appropriate (unfortunately) where it was used. The other thing was something in the very beginning of the book that wasn't resolved at the end of the book. When I read the last page I thought "wait - that can't be the end! What about....". I'm guessing the author wanted us to draw our own conclusion but I wanted to know what she was thinking - after all, the entire book was what she was thinking and it was wonderful.

I highly recommend this book. Here are some links that will give you some more details.

Info to buy the book:

And an excerpt from the book (just to whet your appetite):


 "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Last Bride

Of her Old Order parents' five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie's father opposes the match.

Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they'll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?

This is the fifth book in the Home To Hickory series by Beverly Lewis. And what a fabulous addition to the series it is!

Tessie and Marcus throw caution to the wind when her father refuses to let them court and marry and elope. Hoping that they can change her father's mind and live together as man and wife, they meet secretly in the home Marcus is setting up for them.

But one day something terrible happens that will change everything. Can Tessie find a way to make her commitment to Marcus, her honor of her parents and her desire to join the Amish faith come together for a happily ever after?

Beverly Lewis is the absolute queen of Amish fiction. There is simply none better. And this story is just another jewel in her crown. Though this is part of a series, it, and all of the books in this series, can be read as stand alone novels.

Don't miss this one!


This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.