Friday, April 28, 2017

Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Released: May 3, 2016
400 pages
Series: An Evie Blackwell Cold Case # 1
About the Book:
Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.
Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have.
When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie's determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.
My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars) 
“It’s a good thing our prayers don’t require instructions for God – He knows what each one of us needs.”

There is so much going on within this story. Evie, working with the state cold case task force, comes to town to work on two cold cases seeing if she can find answers to get them solved. She works closely with the town sheriff, Gabe, on this and gets to know him and his family. While the two cases are the main storyline of the book, so much more is going on. Secrets are revealed, a new search for answers begins, and a separate case gets solved. The cases are very personal to the characters and take an emotional toll not only on Gabe, but also on his parents and his two brothers who play a big part of the story. Ann & Paul Falcon (characters from previous books) also play a large role in the story, providing connections and support when they can. The cases were heartbreaking, I could feel and understand the emotional toll the characters were going though. I enjoyed following Evie and Gabe chase leads and piece together clues to solve the cases. I found myself fighting between needing to put the book down because I was emotional but not wanting to because I wanted answers.

The character development was wonderfully done, I felt like I really got to know so many of the characters really well. I loved the Thane family (hope they all return again). They were supportive and protective of one another, welcoming to others and strong in their pursuit of justice for their community and friends. There was a bit of romance between multiple characters mixed in which helped make the story not so heavy. I adored the way Josh was with Grace. Then there was Will & Karen, Ann & Paul, Caleb & Marie, even Gabe & Evie in a way.

Gabe was probably my favourite character, as the town sheriff he ends up carrying everything on his shoulders but other than his family’s support he has no one to turn to help ease the burden. There is a bond formed between him & Evie and there are some clear hints of attraction between them, but she is seeing someone else. I hope that a relationship between them is explored in future books.

Overall I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading book 2 in the series to see where the task force takes Evie next and if anything will happen between her Gabe.
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)


Monday, April 24, 2017

Then Came You by Becky Wade

Released: March 7, 2017
158 pages
Series: Bradford Sisters Romance # 0.5

About the Book:
A leather-bound journal. A single father. A woman in pursuit of freedom. Garner Bradford, heir to the troubled Bradford Shipping empire, doesn't know much about babies. But he's going to have to learn fast because he's just become a single father to his newborn daughter. As he confesses through his journal entries, he's not entirely sure how to keep a newborn alive, whether or not he'll ever patch together his shattered heart, or how to forgive himself for his mistakes. Career girl Kathleen Burke is wholly uninterested in settling down. She has big dreams, and none of them include Garner and his small hometown in Washington State. Yet she can't seem to get her handsome boss out of her head or her heart. There's something extraordinarily tempting about his beautifully sad green eyes. . . . Told through journal entries, phone conversations, and letters, Then Came You is a unique, heart-stirring romance novella by acclaimed author Becky Wade.
 My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (5 stars)   
This is the prequel novella to Ms. Wade’s new series the Bradford Sisters with book one releasing very soon (May 2nd).
I absolutely loved the unique story-telling style. Story is told completely through journal entries, letters and phone conversations. I was captivated by the characters and felt like I really got to know them by getting inside their head. The beginning shocked me with things that were happening that I did wonder where Ms. Wade was going, but as I got further in I realized she was showing the true nitty gritty details that can happen in life. My heart-strings felt tugged more than once, but the ending was definitely worth it. The letters never sent made me laugh, I could relate to what you want to say to others sometimes but won’t. One of my favourite parts was the grace that the church family showed grace to Graner, this was a wonderful example of how Christian’s should treat one another. This story gives readers a wonderful introduction to the Bradford Sisters, how their life began and what their father has been through. I can’t wait to spend more time with the family and get to know the sisters grownup.
The e-book version is currently free on amazon. I highly recommend for you to pick it up now.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart

Released: March 14, 2017
353 pages
Series: Hidden Springs Mystery # 3
About the Book:
Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she'll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor's body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor's death is a tragic accident--until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟  (4 stars)

I think this was the best of the series I did not want to put it down. 15yr old Maggie overhears a fight, discovers two dead bodies and is threatened by a stranger. Trying to protect her little brother she tries to deal with the threat on her own, but Anthony won’t let her he makes her tell Michael. The first death appears to be caused by an accident, but after the second body is found, obviously caused by murder, Michael begins to question the cause of the first one. Can Michael find the party responsible before someone else gets killed? I felt for Maggie, so much happened to her in such a short time. Yes the murder or murders was the main focus of the book, but romance blooming between multiple characters was embedded within the story as well.
I enjoyed the return of Anthony from book one it was great to see he was doing much better than earlier and to watch young love develop between him and Maggie. I loved that Michael’s relationship with Alex played such a large part of this story, I had been cheering for them since the beginning and wanted them to face their issues rather than avoiding them. Yes Reese and Aunt Lindy had to push them a bit to get them to this point. Of course things don’t go smoothly, but they finally shared their feelings. Is this the end of their relationship or the beginning of a new chapter?
The characters made this story. I was entertained by Betty Jean, Reese and Aunt Lindy. Rooting for Michael & Alex, and has Betty Jean finally found love? Miss Fonda was an interesting new character, her dementia added a new perspective to the incidents happening now.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

Released: May 17, 2016
352 pages
Series: Hidden Springs Mystery # 2
About the Book:

A Cozy Mystery Complete with a Small Town Full of Charming, Quirky Characters.
Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn't particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses--a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn't last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs' concerned citizens.
Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves--because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 (3 stars) 

After Deputy Sherriff Michael Keene prevents a jumper from jumping, pictures of a dead girl end up in his mailbox. Are the two incidents connected? Things start to get even stranger as the investigation processes it appears any girl Michael has had contact with is in danger. Before long it starts appearing that Michael is being set up to look like the killer. Can Michael clear his name and bring an end the craziness before someone else gets hurts? 

Story moved a good pace to keep you interested, you never knew just what was going to happen next, who someone else going to be killed, if so, who would it be and when. I was suspicious of a certain someone and it turned out I was right not to trust them. I am always a little pleased with myself when I suspect the right person. I did have a couple issues with the story though. There were a few parts where things were not answered clearly, such as the connection between a couple characters. And there was not much actual investigation work done, what the police did find out was pretty much handed to them or stumbled over by accident.
I really enjoyed Aunt Lindy and her tell it straight attitude to Michael, especially when it comes to his relationship (or non-relationship) to Alex. I had to laugh at her direct approach to them at the end. There is an obvious connection between the two of them and I loved the scenes with them together. Michael knows he loves her but is afraid to act on it because he fears things might not go the way he wants. I like the thought of them together and hope things improve between them in the next book.
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Murder at the Courthouse by A.H. Gabhart

Released: October 13, 2015
338 pages
Series: Hidden Springs Mystery # 1

About the Book:
After a few years as a police officer in Columbus, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried--after all the man was a stranger--until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street.
As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.
Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep readers guessing.
My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 (3 stars)

Hidden Springs, Kentucky is filled with many unique characters, a troubled teen and a deputy sheriff you can’t help but be drawn to. The book has the typical small-town feel where everyone knows everyone’s business (at least they think they do) and no one believes a murder could happen in their town, but as the investigation progresses more surprises arise. Can Michael find the killer and help the teen at the same time? I especially enjoyed the interaction between Michael and Hank, they had the typical reporter / cop interactions which had me laughing at times. There were times I found the story to move slowly and keeping track of all the characters along with their theories straight was a big difficult. I was suspicious of a certain someone thinking they could be the murderer, however I don’t think it was a dead giveaway, but I did have an “I knew it” moment when it was revealed. The town will be forever changed after this reveal. I also enjoyed the interactions between Michael & Alex, their connection was obvious, but while one is big city and one is small town can a relationship work, or what happens between Michael & Karen? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I look forward to spending more time with these characters in future books.
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills

Released: April 4, 2017
413 pages
Series: FBI Task Force # 2

About the Book:
A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution.
A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional—the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects.
Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer—and to each other—the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.
My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 (3 stars)
One quote from the book is: “People aren’t always who you think they are” and this definitely describes some characters in the story. As Cole and Tori investigate the crimes that have happened they learn things about the victim they did not expect. Tori & Cole are required to keep an open mind as they investigate and not shut down evidence that appears to lead to the victim’s wife and their friend, Sally. Is she guilty or did someone else orchestrate and commit the crimes? If so, what was their motivation?
The first chapter drew me right in, making me want to know what had happened, how the characters were connected and what Cole was running from. From this point on I had high hopes for the story, however I struggled to stay invested. The more I read the less I found myself caring about the characters and storyline; I just could not connect with caring about Cole or Tori. I did feel for Sally and the children though, they had no idea who their husband/father really was. I found the writing to be choppy when moving from one point in time to another. Each time I returned to reading the story I had to go back and remind myself of what was going on and where the main two characters were headed now. The arrest of the guilty party was surprising to me and the motivation seemed to be answered very quickly by Cole without any evidence given to the reader.
This is the second book in a series but definitely can be read as a standalone as no characters overlap from the first. I feel that maybe this writing style and storyline just wasn’t for me as there are many readers on Goodreads that have really enjoyed this book saying:
“...this is another adventure to enjoy. She has captured the rush of adrenaline along with a good romance.”
“Really enjoyed this book, it had the perfect blend of romance and a mystery with plot twists I did not see coming.”
If you are a regular fan of DiAnn Mills, you may enjoy this one more than I did.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)


Friday, April 7, 2017

Deadly Encounter by DiAnn Mills

Released: Aug. 1, 2016
401 pages
Series: FBI Task Force # 1

About the Book:
Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston’s airport. What she encounters instead is a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man’s motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747.
Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy’s community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.
My Rating & Thoughts:   🌟 🌟 🌟 (3 stars)
What begins with a discovery of a murdered man ends up leading to a plot of bioterrorism with FBI investigators trying to figure out who is involved and are various incidents connected or just moments of coincidence. There was a lot of scientific and medical talk throughout that made it hard for me to follow at times.
Parts of the story that I did really enjoy was Stacey’s determination to become Whitt’s mom and the remarkable intelligence of Whitt, the way he spoke and acted made it hard to remember he was only 12. The relationship between Stacey and Whitt, and the possible addition of Alex to this dynamic had me rooting for the characters. I was so touched by the change in Ace toward Whitt at the end that I cried.
As much as parts of the story touched me, it has not stuck with me. I know it was revealed why Stacey seemed to be in the middle of everything going on, but as I reflect back on it I can’t remember what the reason was and I just finished reading the book last night. 
Overall I think I would have enjoyed this story more if I understood science more than I do. I will be reading the next in the series to see where the series goes.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

Released: April 4, 2017
384 pages
Series: Hidden Justice # 1
About the Book:
Hayden McCarthy is on track to become the youngest partner in her prestigious D.C. law firm . . . if the case she's just been handed doesn't destroy her first.

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain when justice is not served. It's why she became an attorney and why she's so driven in her career. When she's assigned a wrongful death case against the government, she isn't sure if it's the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership—or an attempt to make sure she never gets there.

Further complicating matters is Andrew, her roommate’s distractingly attractive cousin. But Andrew’s father is a Congressman, and Hayden's currently taking on the government. Could the timing be any worse?

The longer she keeps the case active, the higher the stakes become. Unknown enemies seem determined to kill the case—or her. Logic and self-preservation would indicate she should close the case. But how can she, when justice is still just beyond her reach?

My Rating & Thoughts:   🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

A boy has been murdered while in a detention centre and his mom wants answers that no one seems to be giving her. Hayden is assigned as the mom’s lawyer to seek out answers. The boy’s brother is part of a program that Andrew runs. Andrew & Hayden begin as purely acquaintances but a slow friendship forms as their dig for answers and their duty to protect the two have them working together.

There was a lot of suspense - trying to figure out what really happened, who was all involved, and do various events tie together or not? The climax moment had me on the edge of my seat, would the villain get caught in time or would Hayden be injured?

I liked Hayden’s determination to get answers for her client; she did not let anything scare her away. Andrew also was a strong likeable character; his care for those around him felt realistic. The interactions between Hayden& Andrew were enjoyable, I could picture these two together fighting for the underdogs.

My biggest frustration was that there were times the pov suddenly changed between characters which left me having to reread the section to follow the switch.

I liked Emilie’s spunk and zest for answers. She was a support system to both Hayden & Andrew but also pushed them when needed. There was a mysterious air about her and I would be interested to know more of her story. The author’s legal experience shines throughout the book.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Through the Mist by Liz Isaacson

Released: April 3, 2017
225 pages
Series: Gold Valley Romance # 3
About the Book:

Can Landon and Megan use prayer and faith to find their happily ever after?

Landon Edmunds has been a cowboy since birth, even winning in the rodeo for several years before an injury ended his career. He returned to his hometown of Gold Valley, where he works at Horseshoe Home Ranch as a cowhand, but now he's looking for something of his own. He's thinking of buying a horse ranch and training horses for the rodeo, but when an old high school friend returns to Gold Valley, he turns to construction instead.

The preacher's daughter, Megan Palmer needs a helping (cow)hand to get her father's church in good repair so he can retire. Megan and Landon work well together, and as sparks fly, she’s sure God brought her back to Gold Valley so she could find her happily ever after--if only Landon wasn't looking to leave town.

Through serious discussion and prayer, can Landon and Megan find their future together?

My Rating & Thoughts:   🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

I had a hard time putting this one down. I was drawn to the characters immediately. Both Megan and Landon have been hurt in past relationship and are leery about beginning a new one especially when it seems that Landon is probably going to be moving away soon. But they are drawn to each other and decide to take the risk. At first everything seems to be going smoothly, Landon even says to Jace that it has been easy, but then trouble arises. Doubts and fear enter, and they become torn between what their heart is telling them and where God is leading them. Do they have enough faith to follow God’s leading? Can the relationship survive? I really enjoyed this one and enjoyed the inclusion of characters from previous books. This was a sweet romantic story and left me with a happy heart.
(I received an ARC of this book from the author; opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

My Recent Faves (Jan-March)

Below are some of my favourite reads from the last three months.
I am a re-reader and would re-read all of these. 

What about you? What are some of your recent faves and do you re-read?