Friday, February 25, 2022

The Appeal

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon):  Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times, London) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child—but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their fellow castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.

But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy—nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the material—emails, messages, letters—with a growing suspicion that a killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.

A wholly modern take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a “daring…clever, and funny” (The Times, London) debut for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: The Appeal is told in a series of emails and text.  I actually like that format. The characters are super crazy and so much fun. The Appeal is entertaining with twists and turns through out it. It would help to have the list of characters handy in the beginning as there are a lot of them to keep straight. I can't wait for the author's next book.

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat. She lives in London and The Appeal is her first novel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Secret Love Letters of Olivia Moretti

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  Priscilla, Devon, and Bailey are sisters by blood, not by choice. The three are as different as can be – Pris, a brooding ex-ballerina whose dreams faded as she embraced motherhood; Devon, a hardworking academic who never steps a toe out of line; and Bailey, a dreamer who remains untethered to anyone or anything. Reunited after the unexpected passing of their beloved mother, the three sisters are keen to settle her affairs and move on and away from each other -- until they find a chest tucked away in the back of her closet, containing the deed to a house in Positano, Italy, and numerous heartfelt love letters written by a man who is most definitely not their father.

 Shocked and blindsided by their mother’s secret love affair, the women embark on a trip to Positano, situated along Italy’s dazzlingly beautiful Amalfi Coast, to discover who their mother really was – and to find the man she fell madly in love with many years ago. With family secrets and surprises around every turn of the page, Probst’s latest will take you on a journey to the Italian seaside for an unforgettable adventure.

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst is widely adored for her charming, sexy, and completely captivating romance novels. Last year, Probst’s debut women’s fiction, Our Italian Summer, whisked readers away to Italy with the multi-generational Ferarri women – a family saga filled with love, laughter, and a bit of the romantic chemistry that Probst is so well known for. Now, Probst returns with her second women’s fiction, THE SECRET LOVE LETTERS OF OLIVIA MORETTI (Berkley Trade Paperback; on sale February 22, 2022), transporting readers back to Italy as three sisters discover some long-buried secrets about their mother’s past.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Even Silence is Praise

   ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  Are you curious about biblical Christian meditation? Through stories, practical advice, and helpful prompts, Rick Hamlin guides Christians to center their minds and hearts on God as they seek to hear the still small voice above all the noise and chaos in the world.

Rick Hamlin has been unpacking the power of prayer in Finding God on the A Train and Ten Prayers You Can’t Live Without and the special Guideposts book, Prayer Works. In this new book, you will discover

  • how meditation has deep Christian roots that go back for millennia,
  • how it can be used to live more authentically and let go of anxiety,
  • how to love more generously and find God’s will in your life, and
  • how to grow in compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance.

The steps are simple, and at the end of each chapter Hamlin offers specific exercises to enhance your practice.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take his cross daily and follow me,” Jesus said to his followers. Meditative prayer offers a rich resource to do just that. Silence speaks volumes and becomes a tool for all Jesus followers.

One (or more) Sentence Summary: I was interested in reading Even Silence is Praise because over the past two years I have felt so much unnecessary thoughts and concerns are clouding my head. I think most of has been there or are still there. I am not one that can sit still, I do not like silence and I prefer to be around people. So as you can imagine quieting my brain down and meditation is a very hard thing for me to do, however, I wanted to make an effort. 

Even Silence is Praise has Meditative Moments at the end of each chapter which I found extremely helpful in my journey. One of my favorites is meditate for a minute.....even I can do this. My other favorite was called make your own movie. Here I picture myself sitting at Bass Harbor Lighthouse (Acadia National Park) on the rock just breathing. This brings me peace. Oddly enough, when I was getting my masters and U of Maine, I would often go out to Bass Harbor Lighthouse and make my way to the rocks (now there are paths and stairs) and sit watching and listening to the activity in the harbor. I always felt so much peace there. The picture of Bass Harbor Lighthouse is used on several books for a reason.

I am still struggling with mediation but will continue to try it and eventually it will come. I need to realize silence is okay and re-energize from that silence. 

As a last is my mother's birthday and she would have been 79. I lost my mother in 2006 and believe this post is her doing not this day. She is telling me to slow down, pray, reflect and appreciate the silence....go meditate.
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A long-time editor at Guideposts magazine, Rick Hamlin is a frequent contributor to all Guideposts publications. He often writes about his prayer journey and has hosted numerous prayer events for the Guideposts community, in person and on social media. A busy husband, father, magazine executive, and lay leader in his church, he stresses how prayer and meditation can be a natural part of everyday life. He grew up in Southern California but has lived most of his adult life in New York City, where he and his wife sing in their church choir. In addition to his nonfiction—most recently Pray for Me—he has authored several novels, including Reading Between the Lines. Rick blogs regularly at and has published several op-eds in the New York Times.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Beach Wedding

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  A high-society wedding party stirs up new evidence in an unsolved murder in this thrilling stand-alone from the New York Times bestselling coauthor of James Patterson’s Now You See Her and The Quickie.

Hamptons sand… Hamptons money… Hamptons murder…

When Terry Rourke is invited to the spare-no-expense beach wedding of his hedge fund manager brother, he thinks that his biggest worry will be flubbing the champagne toast. But this isn’t the first time Terry has been to the Hamptons.

As the designer tuxedos are laid out and the flowers arranged along the glittering surf, Terry can’t help but take another look at a decades-old murder trial that rocked the very foundations of the town—and his family. He soon learns that digging up billion-dollar sand can be a very dangerous activity. The kind of danger that can very quickly turn even the most beautiful beach wedding into a wake.

Beach Wedding

Michael Ledwidge

On Sale Date: February 15, 2022

9781335425751, 1335425756


$27.99 USD, $34.99 CAD

Fiction / Thrillers / Crime

352 pages

MICHAEL LEDWIDGE is the writer of seventeen novels, the last dozen being New York Times bestsellers cowritten with one of the world’s bestselling authors, James Patterson. With twenty million copies in print, their Michael Bennett series is the highest-selling New York City detective series of all time. One of their novels, Zoo, became a three-season CBS television series. He lives in Connecticut.

Excerpt: Chapter 1

A gull circling in the sea breeze banked into a clumsy slide, then settled gently on the tallest of the beach mansion’s brick chimneys like it wanted to be the weather vane.

At the far end of the back lawn where the sod became beach grass, I stood with my brother Tom, looking up at the massive castle-like structure, taking it all in.

At least trying to.

Tom, playing tour guide, had just explained that the Southampton summer dream house he’d just rented was a proper traditional two-wing manor, built in the French Renaissance Revival style after a famous house of landed gentry outside of London. Past the sun terrace we’d just walked across, you could see the pool peeking out around the side of the thirty-thousand-square-foot house like a giant block of sapphire wrapped in travertine.

To say that Tom was a tour guide wasn’t even an exaggeration, as the place was literally about the size of a museum.

“So?” Tom said. “What do you think?”

I turned away from the white elephant of a house and took a sip of my drink, studying the private staircase of weathered teak that dropped down the windy bluff at our back. I looked south to where the wood slat fence wound along the dunes, and beyond it, the Atlantic’s infinite slate blue waves rose and curled and broke and crashed with a soft hiss as it washed up onto the private beach thirty steps below us.

Being from the poor man’s Hamptons, Hampton Bays across the Shinnecock Inlet, Tom and I had been more of the to-the-split-level-born class. The only exclusive club we’d ever been members of was that of the hustling townie contingent. Up until now, the only times I’d ever gotten within spitting distance of these Southampton eight-figure beach castles was by working events as a busboy or a bartender or a valet. I’d never even dreamed of actually staying in one.

“What do I think of this beer?” I finally said, holding up my bottle. “Exceptional, Tom, really. What is it? Craft stuff? Head and shoulders above the cans of Miller Genuine Draft in my beer drawer back in Philly.”

“Ha-ha, dummy,” Tom said, elbowing me. “C’mon, really. What do you think?”

I turned, studying my brother. Tom usually looked pretty pale and stressed from his 24/7 Wall Street pressure-cooker managerial duties at Emerald Crown Capital Partners, the hedge fund that he had started. But he’d already been out here for a couple of days, and it had done him a ton of good, I saw. My dark-haired brother looked actually sort of relaxed for once, tan and handsome and happy in his preppy red shorts and half-unbuttoned cream-colored linen shirt.

“What do I think?” I finally said. “What do you think I think? It’s impossible, Tom. That’s not a house. It looks like a Park Avenue apartment building. I mean, where is Zeus staying now that you rented his house? Summering in the South of France? No, wait. Visiting Poseidon?”

Tom slowly put an arm around my shoulders.

“Zeus is right here, Terry,” he said, winking at me with a wide grin. “I am Zeus, come down to stand here with you stupid mortals. Right here before your very eyes.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, shouldering him away. “I remember all those times Zeus clipped his divine toenails into my Captain Crunch at the kitchen table like it was yesterday. And all the birthday punches. With one for good luck, too. Every time. The gods are so benevolent.”

As my brother cracked up, I smiled and took another sip of my beer.

Because I felt happy too then. Or maybe suddenly at ease was a better way to describe it. Truth be told, I’d been a little reluctant to make the trip up from Philly and all the way back home after all these years.

Actually, more than a little.

Even with the fact that my oldest brother was finally tying the knot.

There are reasons why some people leave the place they were born and raised and never come back. Usually, they’re very good reasons.

But maybe, I thought as I took in Tom and the billion-dollar scenery some more.

Maybe this wasn’t such a big deal after all. Time had passed. Quite a bit of it. And didn’t they say that time heals all wounds?

At least it wasn’t a big deal as far as Tom was concerned, I realized.

Despite his new ginormous pockets, Tom was still just Tom. Tom, who used to let me ride back home on the handlebars of his ten-speed from Little League practice when I was a kid. Tom, who let me read his comic books as long as I kept them neatly in the plastic covers. Tom, who hit a kid who was bullying me in the head with a basketball from half-court in the schoolyard that time.

Just Tom, I thought, looking at him as the summer wind scattered some more expensive sand across the back of my pale neck and knees.

Only with a couple of specks of white in his black Irish hair now and more than a couple extra zeros in his bank account.

“Okay, I’ll bite,” I said then. “Only because I know you’re dying for me to ask. How much is it running you?”

“What? You mean with the staff and everything?” Tom said, comically wrinkling his brow.

Tom had already mentioned the chefs and the maids and the gardeners, and even the chauffeur and limo that the rental came with to heighten the full modern money-be-damned Great Gatsby experience.

“Yes, the whole kit and caboodle. Out with it, moneybags. How much?”

“Five,” Tom said, staring at me calmly.

“Five? What do you mean? Five what?”

He looked at me again silently for a beat before I got it. If I hadn’t already just swallowed my beer, I probably would have spit it all over him.

“That’s impossible! Five hundred grand? Half a million dollars for the season?” I said in shock.

“Oh, no,” my brother said, chuckling softly as he shook his head.

He gave me another wink as he brought his own beer to his lips.

“That’s just for July, Terry,” he said. “Just July.”

Excerpted from Beach Wedding @ 2022 by Michael Ledwidge, used with permission by Hanover Square Press.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Dark Truths

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon):  Is a serial killer walking the quiet streets of Angel Falls?

Small-town Sheriff Jonas Clearwater is suddenly responsible for investigating his best friend’s death. Preliminary observations suggest the successful true-crime novelist Cecil Howard could have died from a drug overdose or suicide. Jonas is racked with guilt wondering if he could have prevented the tragedy.

On the night Cecil dies, Jonas comes face-to-face with author Peyton Patel, a woman with whom he’d had a brief encounter and never expected to see again but couldn’t get her out of his mind. Why was she there, and what does she know about Cecil’s death?

Months earlier in a chance meeting on a lonely night, an instant attraction had ignited between them, but both were hurting from personal tragedies and the timing wasn’t right. Peyton had just buried her beloved grandfather, and Jonas learned that his father has a fatal illness.

Soon, it becomes evident that someone was trying to silence Cecil before he could expose the facts about the brutal murders of three women in New Mexico.

This time Peyton’s life is in danger, and Jonas realizes his feelings for her are real. Now, he’s in a race with time to keep Peyton from becoming the next victim.

Will the fire that’s been smoldering between them burst into flames again?

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  The overall story and trying to figure out the killer was a good plot. I did figure out who it was very early on and that is not like me, usually it has to be spelled out in front of me. I like the characters and would like to see if the earlier books in the series introduces them and their background. You do NOT have to read the other books first as this is also a stand alone read.

What I didn't care for is some of the writing style. At times I felt there were sentences or a paragraph that would have been in a book for fourth graders. It reminded me of reading a Bobbsey Twin book. Other times, the write was fantastic. I am not sure if that is because it was written by two authors? A lot sentences just seemed out of place for this type of novel.

Would I read another book in the Angel Falls series - yes I would. The story kept me engaged and wanting to read more.

Charlene Tess and Judi Thompson combined their two last names into a pseudonym when they began writing romantic suspense novels as a team. They also write contemporary romance novels as Annie Curtis. Judi Thompson is a novelist and a retired supervisor for special education at a local school district. She lives with her husband Roger in Texas. Charlene Tess is a writing teacher and a novelist. She also writes educational materials and is the author of the Simple Steps to Sentence Sense series of grammar workbooks. She lives with her husband Jerry in Colorado.


For more information, visit Tess Thompson’s website:

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Night She Went Missing

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~


Months after she disappeared, a high school senior is found floating in the town’s harbor, alive but unconscious. Where has Emily been, and how did she get into the water? In Kristen Bird’s “gripping” (Publishers Weekly) debut The Night She Went Missing, three friends-to-frenemies mothers in a close-knit, wealthy Texas community decide to investigate after the police hit a dead end. While each woman has secrets to protect, they’ll all be forced to look at their own children – or each other’s – to uncover the truth.

With the relentless pacing and complex female characters of Big Little Lies and an expertly crafted small town setting, The Night She Went Missing introduces Kristen Bird as a new force in the world of domestic suspense. Her novel goes well beyond that, exploring complex questions about mothers and daughters, loss, and the line between taking chances and living dangerously. 

The Night She Went Missing 

Author: Kristen Bird

ISBN: 9780778332107

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Publisher: MIRA

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble




Murder by the Book (Houston, TX)

Kristen Bird lives outside of Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music and mass media before completing a master’s in literature. She teaches high school English and writes with a cup of coffee in hand. In her free time, she likes to visit parks with her three daughters, watch quirky films with her husband and attempt to keep pace with her rescue lab-mixes. THE NIGHT SHE WENT MISSING is her debut novel.

Author Website

Twitter: @kbirdwrites 

Facebook: @kristen.bird.writes 

Instagram: @kristenbirdwrites 


Excerpt: EMILY

They find me faceup in the murky water of the harbor on the day of my funeral. Or memorial service. Whatever. It’s not like there’s much difference. Dead is dead.

Except I’m not. I. Am. Not. Dead. I would pinch myself if I could move.

“Can you hear me? Hey, what’s your name? Can you open your eyes?”

My eyes are as dense and heavy as basalt. Basalt: rich in iron and magnesium, Mr. Schwartz penned on the board during our volcanic rock unit in eighth grade. I fight to come out of the emptiness that has held me for the past…the past what? Hours? Days? Weeks?

I attempt to whisper my name even though my eyelids remain anchored. Emily. That’s right. Emily. I can’t remember the last time I voiced those three syllables.

“Pull her up.” 

Hands yank at me, jerking me from the arms of the water. Two hands wander up my body—over my feet, my legs, the arch of my hips, my arms, onto my neck, stopping at my forehead. This touch is not like the familiar plying of the boy I love, so fiery that it almost stings. This touch is necessary, cold, perfunctory. Perfunctory, Mrs. Abbot, my sophomore English teacher had pronounced for us students as we learned the word for the first time. P-E-R-F-U— 

The voice cuts in. “Tell them we have a girl, a teenager. No broken bones as far as I can tell but looks like she’s been out here for hours. Unconscious, but breathing on her own.” His voice muff les as he turns his head. “I think she might be Emily.” 

Suddenly, a brilliant choir of tenors and baritones and basses burst forth. “The Emily?” 

Emily. Yes, that’s me. What a comforting thing to hear one’s name spoken by those who can point the way home. I breathe in gratitude and descend into the lightness of sleep before a hand touches my cheek again. 

“You awake, Emily?” 

The swooshing of the waves calls to me, a reminder that the song of the deep is steady despite all the new sounds: The bustle of work boots, the hum of the boat waiting to churn to life and set out across the open sea. 

“Your mama’s been looking for you, Ms. Emily. You gave us all a fright. You hear me?” The man seems to sense that I can hear his words while my body remains frozen despite the warmth of the water and the sun overhead. “You’re gonna be okay, sweetheart. Yes, ma’am, you’re gonna make it just fine. Got a daughter about your age, and I woulda been worried sick if my girl had gone missing for weeks on end. Your mama sure is gonna be happy.”

A nasally voice now. “Where you think she’s been all this time? Turned into a mermaid?” The boy chuckles. 

“Hush, Beau.” 

The man’s hand touches my forehead, his fingers sandpapery with callouses. “Now, sweetheart, if you can open your eyes for a sec, I can introduce you properly to the crew. We’re getting you help as fast as we can, but you can go ahead and open them eyes before all the medics arrive. They’d be good and relieved to see you looking around.” 

I try. Oh, how I want to f licker them open, but my head aches and oblivion pulls harder. The siren call of the void is too tempting to resist.

Excerpted from The Night She Went Missing by Kristen Bird, Copyright © 2022 by Kristen Bird. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.