Author: tamaramorning

Book Review: Tracking Game, by Margaret Mizushima

tracking game
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:  Tracking Game
Author: Margaret Mizushima
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Mattie Cobb is a K-9 officer in Timber Creek, Cole Walker is the town veterinarian. Their romance may be blossoming, but secrets still threaten to keep them apart. When an explosion outside a community dance send them racing outside, they find a burning van and the dead body of Nate Fletcher, a local outfitter. But it wasn’t the explosion that killed Nate, it was two gunshots to the head.

When their only suspect winds up dead and Mattie searches for his body, she hears the growl of a predator—but not one of the cougars native to the area. Soon she realizes that they know nothing of what Nate Fletcher was truly up to—and what they’re up against.

Tracking Game wasn’t a bad read. I was interested enough to keep reading, but some of the details of Robo (Mattie’s K-9), instead of being worked seamlessly into the story, were highlighted to the reader, as if the author were pointing out her knowledge. I’m not really a fan of author intrusion, so that was a detractor for me. This is the first book I’ve read in this series, and Mattie’s reactions to things felt a little…unrealistic to me as well.

Margaret Mizushima  is an award-winning author. Tracking Game is her newest novel, Number five in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: Navigating the Stars, by Maria V. Snyder

navigating the stars
I do not own this image.

Title:  Navigating the Stars
AuthorMaria V. Snyder
Genre:  YA, sci-fi
Rating:   5 out of 5

Lyra Daniels just wants to stay in one place and finish school with her friends. But her parents, the leading experts on the Terra Cotta Warriors found on twenty-two planets, refused to leave her behind when they set off to study a new discovery—and the time dilation leaves decades between Lyra and her best friends.

Lyra spends her days worming into the Q-net, which made traveling the vast distances of space a reality. The only person on board the ship near her own age is a security officer who keeps poking his nose into her business and threatening to throw her in the brig.

But when the planet they just left goes silent, Lyra’s not the only thing capturing the attention of security—missing data files and looters—and soon Lyra realizes there’s far more going on that two parents trying to ruin her social life.

I love Maria V. Snyder’s books, and this one was no exception. The concept was fascinating, and the details were even more interesting. Lyra’s attitude made me laugh frequently, and her escapades kept me shaking my head, but I could not put this book down!

Maria V. Snyder was a meteorologist before she became an author. Navigating the Stars is the first book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series.

Blog Tour: Day Zero, by Kelly deVos

9781335008480.indd
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  Day Zero
Author:    Kelly deVos
Genre:  YA, dystopian
Rating:  3.8 out of 5

Jinx Marshall grew up preparing for the end of the world—because her doomsday-prepper dad made her. Krav Magna, survival skills, and drills filled her days, but she thought all that was over when her parents divorced. Until the end of the world happened, and her father is accused of starting it all.

Now Jinx must take care of her little brother, her opinionated stepsister, and her cute stepbrother as she struggles to locate her vanished father, all while evading the law. But she can’t stay more than half a step ahead of the people after her, and safety seems even farther away with every step she takes.

I’m…undecided about this read. I loved the premise, but a few things were a little hard to believe:  the black-and-white nature of the politics (everyone’s either one thing or the other, with no shades of grey), Jinx’s trusting nature (which seems implausible, considering how she was raised), and her propensity to stick to a plan…even if it’s going down in flames. This was intriguing at times, eye-rolling at others, but I’d probably read the second book in the duology.

Kelly deVos is from Gilbert, Arizona. Day Zero is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Bake Shop, by Amy Clipston

the bake shop
Image belongs to Zondervan.

Title:  The Bake Shop
Author:    Amy Clipston
Genre:  Christian, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Christiana Kurtz loves to bake but using her family’s kitchen to run her roadside bake stand is a bit hectic—and customers stop by the house even when the bake stand is closed. When her mother encourages her to move her stand to the local marketplace, Christiana agrees. She’s eager to spend time with her cousins, have more room—and a little bit of freedom.

Jeffrey Stoltzfus has the leather and woodcraft shop next to Christiana’s bake shop. He opened his shop while still reeling from a personal tragedy, and he knows he’ll never get over it. Now his shop is failing, and the crowds for the bake shop are blocking him even more. Jeffrey’s never been good with words, and everything comes out all wrong when he tries to talk to Christiana about a solution.

Eventually the two become friends, but when Christiana’s father makes a surprise visit to the marketplace one day and realizes Jeff uses electricity for his personalization machine, he forbids Christiana from speaking to Jeff again. Between that and the fire in the marketplace, there are far too many obstacles for Jeff and Christy to overcome on their own.

I enjoyed The Bake Shop so much and can’t wait to read more stories in the series. I’m fascinated by Amish romances—and this one was sweet, simple, yet complex. The characters struggle with their pasts, their families, their insecurities, and their culture, resulting in a compelling and uplifting story.

Amy Clipston was born in New Jersey but has lived in Virginia Beach and North Carolina. The Bake Shop is her newest novel, the first in the Amish Marketplace series.

(Galley courtesy of Zondervan via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell

the family upstairs
Image belongs to Atria Books.

Title:  The Family Upstairs
AuthorLisa Jewell
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

When Libby Jones turned 25, she received the letter she’d been waiting on her whole life, the letter telling her who she really was and who her parents were. She wasn’t expecting to find out she is the sole inheritor of an abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames worth millions of dollars. She wasn’t expecting the story of how she was found, either.

Twenty-five years ago, neighbors called the cops to report a crying baby. The officers found Libby—called Serenity then—a happy, healthy 10-month old, in her crib. In the kitchen they found three dead bodies starting to decay and a hasty note. There was no trace of the other two adults, or the four kids rumored to live there. Nor was there any trace of whoever had been caring for the baby.

Libby has been waiting her whole life find out who she is—but she’s not the only one who’s been waiting. And asking questions about the past just might draw more than answers out of the dark.

This was a creepy tale of family suspense—not to mention dark manipulation and the growth of a cult. Weird family. Weird kids. Weird situation. But I was completely intrigued with the tale and finished it in one sitting.

Lisa Jewell is a New York Times-bestselling author. The Family Upstairs is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis

we met in december
Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title:  We Met in December
Author:   Rosie Curtis
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

At 29, Jess has finally gathered the courage to leave her safety net behind and move to London to chase her dreams. She misses her grandmother, but she’s scored a fantastic deal on a flatshare in Notting Hill, and she’s eager to start her new life. At a dinner thrown by her new landlord, she meets Alex, the guy she’ll be sharing her floor with, and there’s a definite connection.

Jess daydreams of growing closer to Alex and of love blooming between them, but when she returns from a holiday with friends, she finds Alex has started seeing the beautiful Emma, another of their flatmates. Now Jess is forced to watch the man of her dreams chase someone else—from the room next door.

This was such a cute read! I think we can all relate to Jess and her high hopes and dreams for the future, which get bludgeoned with reality. The interactions between all the flatmates were fun to read about, and Jess and Alex have such a great friendship, with both struggling with their feelings for one another while trying to keep said feelings a secret.

Rosie Curtis grew up in the Scottish Highlands and now lives in England by way of Melbourne. We Met in December is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperCollins via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Middle Matters, by Lisa-Jo Baker

the middle matters
Image belongs to WaterBrook & Multnomah.

Title:  The Middle Matters
Author:    Lisa-Jo Baker
Genre:  Christian, Self-Help
Rating:  4 out of 5

The best-selling author of Never Unfriended opens up about midlife and what it feels like to have outgrown those teenage jeans, but finally grown into the shape of our souls.

For everyone who is still caught off-guard when someone calls you ma’am—even though you don’t recognize the newest tween celebrities or have a prayer of fitting into those old jeans. You’re an adult now. You’d think you’d be used to that…

The Middle Matters is a look at an “ordinary” life—from the inside—and just how extraordinary it can be. Because a life well-lived is where the beauty is. No matter how ordinary you think your life is.

The stories and anecdotes made this book so relatable! I enjoyed every single page, even the ones I truly couldn’t relate to (not having kids will do that to you sometimes). This book is like your best friend or your older sister giving you solid advice as she talks about the realities of life.

Lisa-Jo Baker is a former attorney and an author. The Middle Matters is her newest book.

(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook & Multnomah via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in October (2019)

This was a tough one. I read 21 books in October, bringing my total for the year to 186. And, while several were just “meh,” several of them were really excellent. The best of these:

the library of lost things

The Library of Lost Things, by Laura Taylor Namey.  This is about mental illness, friendship (and SUCH an awesome friendship!), love, and figuring out the future. I loved all of it!

the grace year

The Grace Year, by Kim Liggett.  This book was unusual. Dystopian setting where women have no rights and are treated as nothing (that’s clearly not the unusual part…), and they spend their entire seventeenth year banished outside the town…and not all of them come back. But no one talks about that Grace Year. Completely compelling read.

the curious heart of ailsa rae

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, by Stephanie Butland. This was a cute, sweet read that I immensely enjoyed. Ailsa is such a likable and lovely character, and her transition from on the verge of death and needing a heart transplant to a determined survivor was engrossing from the first page.