Tag: fiction

Book Review: Whispers of the Dead, by Spencer Kope

whispers
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Whispers of the Dead
Author:  Spencer Kope
Genre:  Thriller, murder mystery
Rating:  4.5/5

Magnus “Steps” Craig and his partner, Jimmy, are part of a special FBI tracking unit, called in to solve the tough cases. Only three people know, but Steps can see “shine,” a unique color trail left where a person has touched. This ability makes Steps very good at tracking and finding killers.

But this case is different. The killer is more cold-blooded than any Steps and Jimmy have ever seen. The only part of the victims found are their feet, left in a portable cooler for the next target to find.

The first body found was left in the home of a federal judge in El Paso, but when another body is found in Baton Rouge, Steps realizes the killer has big plans, and the FBI has almost no clues. It will take every scrap of ability Steps and Jimmy have to unearth clues before the Icebox Killer strikes again.

I didn’t realize this was part of a series until I finished reading it, but I had no trouble getting up to speed. The characters make this novel! Steps’ ability is unique and interesting, but he’s a complex guy with a lot of layers, and his deadpan humor and snarkiness were a joy to read. The relationship between him and Jimmy, and the rest of the team, was well-developed and believable, and I found myself glued to the page, watching the characters interact. This is not your boring, predictable police-procedural/forensic mystery, but a detailed story about fascinating characters with great relationships.

Spencer Kope is a former Russian linguist with the Navy. Whispers of the Dead is his new novel, the second in the Special Tracking Unit series.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Advertisements

Book Review: The Lion of the South, by Jessica James

Lion-of-the-South-ebook-Cover-Large-200x300
Image belongs to Patriot Press.

Title:  The Lion of the South
Author:  Jessica James
Genre:  Fiction, historical, romance
Rating:  4/5

Julia Dandridge grew up in Virginia. On the estate of her father’s friend, she ran wild, learning to ride and fish from Landon, who finally made Julia feel she was part of a family. Until she turned sixteen and Landon’s mother shipped her off to an aunt and uncle she’d never met, where she grew to adulthood in Washington society. Amid the Civil War, everything changed.

Now Julia is back, desperate to escape the prying eyes that keep tabs on her in Washington. She is also eager to see Landon, but finds the bitter, drunken man a far cry from the compassionate, noble young man she knew.

With everyone desperate for news of the Lion of the South—a heroic figure whose daring exploits bring hope to the Confederacy—Julia finds herself forced to choose between loyalty to the society she grew up in and the brother she adores.

The Lion of the South is set during the Civil War, but it leaves the issues behind the war  strictly alone, focusing instead on the lives affected by war and its impact on society. This is a simple, sweet novel that reminds me rather strongly of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The book is a bit predictable but is a light and easy read nonetheless.

Jessica James is an award-winning author. The Lion of the South is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Patriot Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

Book Review: In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills, by Jennifer Haupt

10,000 hills
Image belongs to Central Avenue Publishing.

Title:  In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills
Author:  Jennifer Haupt
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5/5

In 1960s Atlanta, Lillian Carlson was swept along in the Civil Rights Movement; listening to Martin Luther King speak and working to see change. She fell in love with Henry, a photographer intent on capturing the impact of solitary moments, but violence tore them apart. Heartbroken, Lillian moved to Rwanda to run an orphanage, making a difference in the lives of children.

Nadine is a young Tutsi woman whose life was shattered by the Rwandan genocide. While she seeks to make her dreams come true, the violence of the past haunts her present and her future, and the secret she keeps could endanger everyone around her.

Rachel is Henry’s daughter, reeling from the loss of her mother and her baby, and desperate to find the father who abandoned her years ago. She knows she needs to heal, but she doesn’t expect to find so much hope in a country scarred by hatred and violence.

This book. This book. It started out slowly, but I kept reading because of the characters. I loved all three women and wanted to see each of them find peace and happiness. The Rwandan culture comes to life on the pages, as the author delves into the horrors that happened between the Tutsi and the Hutus—and the survivors’ search for peace. I knew almost nothing about the genocide before reading this, so that part of it horrified me, but there is so much hope in this novel, and the beauty of Rwanda fills the pages.

Jennifer Haupt is a journalist and an author. In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is her first novel.

(Galley provided by Central Avenue Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: Hurricane Season, by Lauren K. Denton

Hurricane Season
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Hurricane Season
Author:  Lauren K. Denton
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4.5/5

Betsy and Ty Franklin run a dairy farm in southern Alabama. Ty is busy with the cows, while Betsy works constantly to manage the farm’s operations. They have a good life, although their inability to have children is tearing them apart. . When Betsy’s younger sister, Jenna, drops her two daughters off at the farm so she can attend a two-week art retreat, their quiet life at the dairy is turned upside down.

Jenna’s free-spirited days are over. Instead, she spends her days managing a coffee shop and caring for her daughters. She yearns for the days when she pursued photography, but that dream took a back seat when she got pregnant and her boyfriend split. Now, she’s offered a two-week stay at the Halcyon artist retreat, and a chance to pursue her dreams and change her life.

With the most active hurricane season on record underway, Betsy and Ty try to save their marriage, while caring for the girls and working to keep the dairy safe from approaching storms. Their lives are in turmoil, and they must wait on Jenna to decide her course before they can move past the storms that fill the hot summer air.

I loved this book! These two sisters are so different, but they both struggle against the truth of their lives—and what they will do about those truths. Betsy and Ty’s relationship is troubled now, but their love for each other shines strong even in the darkness. I related to Jenna and her dreams—and her struggle to decide between chasing those dreams, and the life she has now.

Lauren K. Denton is a USA Today bestselling-author. Hurricane Season is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan

paris by the book
Image belongs to Penguin/Dutton.

Title:  Paris by the Book
Author:  Liam Callanan
Genre:  Fiction.
Rating:  3/5

Robert Eady is a novelist, an unconventional one who takes writing breaks from real life and his responsibilities, leaving his wife, Leah, to pay the bills and take care of the kids. The marriage is faltering, but Leah is used to Robert’s disappearances—he’s an artist, after all—so she doesn’t think much of it when he doesn’t come back from a run one day, even though he didn’t leave a note like he usually does.

Until the disappearance stretches out into weeks without a single word or trace of Robert. The police think he’s dead. Then Leah finds six letters on a scrap of paper hidden inside a cereal box and realizes Robert had bought tickets for all of them to visit Paris—the city he and Leah had talked about since the day they met.

Leah and the girls head to Paris in search of Robert and end up co-owners of an English-language bookstore. The girls claim they see Robert everywhere, but Leah thinks he’s gone…until she finds one of his books in the store window, I’m sorry scrawled inside. Is Robert dead? Are the girls really seeing him? Leah struggles to untangle the truth as she builds a life in Paris.

This book sounded like it would be a great read. The execution, however…this was very slow-paced. Very. I found Robert completely selfish and unlikeable, to the point of active dislike. Leah is in denial about everything for most of the book. (Actually, make that “all” the book.) I finished this, but the disconnect from Leah and my dislike of Robert made this merely a so-so read.

Liam Callanan is a n award-winning novelist, teacher, and journalist. Paris by the Book is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Penguin/Dutton in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: In Sight of Stars, by Gae Polisner

In Sight of Stars
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  In Sight of Stars
Author:  Gae Polisner
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5/5

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s life has changed immensely in the past year. He’s living in the suburbs. He’s in love with the volatile and free-spirited Sarah. And his beloved father, who taught him about art and explored New York City with him, is dead.

When life with his ice queen mother gets to be too much and an unexpected betrayal sends him over the edge, Klee ends up in the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens.

Klee must deal with his past if he’s ever to get back to his real life, but that means exploring the darkness and the secrets he doesn’t even know are there. Pushing people away has always been the easy way out, but Klee will have to learn to trust if he’s ever to heal.

In Sight of Stars alternates between the present, when Klee is hospitalized, and the past, events leading up to his breakdown. Klee is a fascinating character:  he’s broken, but he longs for wholeness and belonging, despite the blows the world keeps raining on him. This is a look at mental illness from the inside, gazing at the hurt and confusion that ripped one boy’s life to shreds, and how he learns to knit those shreds back into something whole.

I enjoyed reading this, and loved learning the truth right along with Klee, as he searches for the meaning in his past, his present, and his future. There’s a little bit of Klee’s brokenness in all of us. And, hopefully, his strength as well.

Gae Polisner is a family law attorney. She writes women’s fiction and young adult fiction. In Sight of Stars is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Heart Between Us, by Lindsay Harrel

HeartBetweenUs2
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Megan Jacobs spent her life being careful, being in the hospital, and watching her sister, Crystal, live life to the fullest, while Megan dreamed about the future, what she would do when she was no longer sick. Three years ago, Megan got a heart transplant, but she’s still playing it safe, living with her parents and working at the library while she yearns for more.

Then, Megan’s heart donor’s parents give her their daughter’s journal, and Megan finds someone she identifies with in the pages. She also finds an unfinished bucket list and decides to fulfill all the items on the list, pushing past her comfort zone as she fights her tendency to play it safe.

When Crystal decides to come with her, Megan hopes they can repair their fragile relationship. With Crystal at her side and her old friend Caleb—a fellow heart transplant recipient—encouraging her, Megan thinks she has all the support she needs to complete her audacious journey. But will she be able to overcome her fears and embrace her new heart?

I related to Megan so much. Her fear of change and of new things is so familiar, as is her desire to travel and to write. So familiar. She’s been through so much, and it’s easier to coast along with the status quo, than to risk failure. Even when Megan has stepped out in faith, she still falters, but the love of those around her propels her forward. This is Crystal’s story, too, the “perfect” sister who is driven by her ambitions even while her marriage is failing. Stepping out in faith and changing is just as hard for Crystal as it is for her sister, but the two don’t even realize they have this in common. I loved this book and highly recommend it!

Lindsay Harrel writes inspirational fiction. The Heart Between Us is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira

in search of us
Image belongs to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR).

Title:  In Search of Us
Author:  Ava Dellaira
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating:  4/5

In LA in the late 1990s, Marilyn is a pretty 17-year-old with a mom who has ambitions;  she expects Marilyn to make it big in Hollywood, so Marilyn can support them. But her mother never asks what Marilyn wants:  going away to college and becoming a photographer. With Marilyn landing fewer jobs, they soon find themselves living with Marilyn’s unpredictable uncle.

Marilyn is just biding her time, living for graduation, when her “real” life will start. Then she meets James, the boy who lives downstairs. James shows her how to live in the now.

In the present, Angie has a single mom, a dead father she never met, and no one to help her sort out her identity. With her brown skin and curly hair, she looks nothing like her mom, and she knows nothing about her father. Then Angie finds out her mother has been lying to her all along, and she sets out on a road trip to LA with her best friend, Sam, hoping to discover who she really is.

In Search of Us is an emotional story about family, love, and finding yourself. These two stories are entwined seamlessly, and I’m not sure which I was more emotionally invested in, Marilyn’s or Angie’s. Both feel like their mothers don’t understand them, and both want more out of life. Marilyn is struggling to break her mother’s hold on her, and Angie struggles to find her father in more than just a single old picture. Racism is a strong theme here, portrayed honesty and realistically, with a large helping of grief. I was in tears by the end, and this book made my heart ache, as well as being so vivid I felt like I was a part of the story.

Ava Dellaira is the author of Love Letters to the Dead. In Search of Us is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum

thecoincidencemakers
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Coincidence Makers
Author:  Yoav Blum
Genre:  A mix of several:  mystery, romance, literary fiction-ish.
Rating:  3.5/5

We’ve all had something happen “by coincidence,” like running into your childhood best friend on the side of the street when you have a flat tire. Or meeting someone new in a coffee shop after you knock your drink off the table onto their shoes. But what if those things don’t just happen by chance?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are Coincidence Makers:  they work for a secret organization, creating the coincidences they are assigned through complex manipulations and machinations. Sometimes, they create a love match. Sometimes, they just give someone the push they need to live their dreams.

Guy used to be an Imaginary Friend, and he fell in love with another Imaginary Friend. He’s never forgotten her, and thoughts of her haunt every day, so he tries his best to ignore Emily’s overtures. But when Guy is assigned a coincidence that’s higher than anything he’s done before, he realizes even his hidden world has deeper secrets.

I liked this book. The concept is unique and fascinating—even if the “science” is sometimes a bit over my head. Guy, Emily, and Eric are characters I liked, and they would be fun to hang out with. The book is dreamy, and reading it felt like floating…or I probably would have enjoyed it more (not the right type of book for my mindset at the time), but it was a good, creative read.

Yoav Blum is an Israeli author and software developer whose novels have become international bestsellers. The Coincidence Makers is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Southern Discomfort, by Caroline Fardig

southern discomfort
Image belongs to Alibi Publishing.

Title:  Southern Discomfort
Author:  Caroline Fardig
Genre:  Mystery, Southern Fiction
Rating:  4/5

Quinn Bellandini runs a B&B with her grandfather, her sister Delilah, and the ghost of her late uncle Frank—whom everyone but Quinn believes in. She bakes scones, keeps the B&B running smoothly, and plays guitar in a band with her friends. She doesn’t even have time to date.

Her friend Drew runs a restaurant down the street with his brother, Jason, a surly, argumentative guy who fights with everyone—including his wife. When Quinn finds Jason’s body one night, she’s horrified—but not really surprised, considering how everyone disliked Jason.

What does surprise her is her presence near the top of the list of suspects, along with Drew. When Drew suggests they try to uncover a more-likely suspect to save their own necks, Quinn reluctantly agrees. She’s more suited to baking than investigating, but she finds her talent for killing people with kindness to thinly disguise her pointed remarks comes in handy. And she’ll need every trick she has to stay out of jail while she searches for a murderer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Southern Discomfort. I’ve never been to Savannah, but as a born-and-raised Southern girl, I found the setting believable and familiar (especially the popularity of sweet tea). Quinn and Delilah’s relationship was fantastic, and their interactions made the book even better! A great read for cozy mystery fans and anyone who loves Southern fiction.

Caroline Fardig is the author of the Lizzie Hart series, the Java Jive series, and the Ellie Matthews series. Southern Discomfort is her newest novel, the first in the Southern B&B mystery series.

(Galley provided by Alibi in exchange for an honest review.)