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Apr 7, 2019

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Sunday, April 07, 2019

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
Gallery Books February 5th
eBook library borrow

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.
A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

I read The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald in about a day and rated it five stars. It is a very intriguing story of a mother in search for answers for what happened the night her daughter Olivia fell from a bridge. The narrative shifts between Abi and Olivia as we slowly are revealed the events of Olivia's teenaged life and we discover secrets and relationships of Olivia's the same time that her mom Abi does. There are tons of things that can be hidden from a mother and yet in this story it keeps coming and coming and it is hard to tell who pushed Olivia off a bridge. Olivia is actually on life support because she can still be the womb for the child she is carrying; what happens to the baby? Very emotive and tissue worthy.

I devoured this story and really appreciated the plot twists .. spoiler free review therefore I will have to stop here. Great book, if you like suspense and quick reads with complex themes, this will work well!

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Mar 17, 2019

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

Sunday, March 17, 2019

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
Random House Publishing Group, January 2019
General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers
Review copy via NetGalley

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust? A teen girl is missing after a night of partying; thirty years later, the discovery of her body reopens a cold case in an absorbing novel featuring a small-town cop determined to finally get to the truth—for fans of Tana French and Kate Atkinson.

On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along. The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever.
This searing, psychologically captivating novel marks the arrival of a dazzling new talent, and the start of a new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens.

I've always been a fan of the crime shows from anything like Law & Order to Murder She Wrote and I figure myself a pretty keen judge of character and can figure out angles of mysteries fairly quickly. This novel is definitely one that kept me guessing even though the obvious fact is that the murderer had to be one of the six friends who were camping with Aurora when she had died. The fact that this was a cold case adds a whole new level of fact checking thirty years later and determining what a motive could be to murder the ethereal young beauty that Aurora was.

There are many characters to set up this mystery whose traits were revealed slowly throughout the novel which helped draw out the suspense. There were nuances of foul play between all the friends, and then add in those who knew the friends and weave in possible corruption of the police to a cover up at a higher level at the school that all sets up a captivating web of leads to follow.

 I appreciated the level of attention given to all the suspects and enjoyed learning more about the detectives themselves, setting up background for another novel in the author's future featuring the group headed by Jonah Sheens (which is assumed will occur based upon the Goodreads' subtitle). The setting in Scotland adds another check mark of a cool setting to the overall effort that was very well done for a debut writer and this one even made me tear up!

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Feb 26, 2019

A Dangerous Collaboration (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Book 4) by Deanna Raybourn

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Dangerous Collaboration (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Book 4) by Deanna Raybourn
Berkley Publishing Group, March 12 2019
Review copy via NetGalley, thank you!

A bride mysteriously disappears on her wedding day in the newest Veronica Speedwell adventure by the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey series.

Lured by the promise of a rare and elusive butterfly, the intrepid Veronica Speedwell is persuaded by Lord Templeton-Vane, the brother of her colleague Stoker, to pose as his fiancée at a house party on a Cornish isle owned by his oldest friend, Malcolm Romilly.

But Veronica soon learns that one question hangs over the party: What happened to Rosamund? Three years ago, Malcolm Romilly’s bride vanished on their wedding day, and no trace of her has ever been found. Now those who were closest to her have gathered, each a possible suspect in her disappearance.

From the poison garden kept by Malcolm’s sister to the high towers of the family castle, the island’s atmosphere is full of shadows, and danger lurks around every corner.

Determined to discover Rosamund’s fate, Veronica and Stoker match wits with a murderer who has already struck once and will not hesitate to kill again.…

I have read a few of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey titles but this is my first Veronica Speedwell novel. I knew I would be able to jump right into this book four as they are styled as stand-alones. I would love to go back to read the rest of the titles by Raybourn but there is just so much time in my day that I will settle with a current read so that I may offer a review.

The series features a spunky heroine who enjoys being a woman ahead of her time and not caring that she is fast approaching spinsterhood. This book opens up to Veronica and Stoker on a bit of a tightrope between friends and romance and they don't know quite how to handle that. Meanwhile they are set off on an adventure to a castle complete with ghosts and tall tales when they are tasked with finding out what why a friend's bride had disappeared on their wedding day three years prior.

The setting was one of the better characters of the novel, featuring deadly gardens, hidden priest holes and woeful little islands. The supporting cast of the devoted housekeeper, various family members and the cat help to add confusion to the mystery at hand.

The murder/disappearance of Rosamund was intriguing and I didn't have it all figured out though just slightly grasped at the possibility of of her demise. I enjoyed the banter of the two brothers who were Veronica's traveling companions but certainly hope the next book would finally address the romance of Veronica and Stoker. Overall it was an enjoyable experience for someone stepping into the middle of the series and engaging for a cozy mystery.

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Feb 24, 2019

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night: Finding and Following God's Will for You by A.W. Tozer

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night: Finding and Following God's Will for You by A.W. Tozer, edited by James L Snyder
176 pages; Bethany House Publishers, March 2019
review copy via NetGalley, thank you

How can I know God's will for me, personally? It's a question that haunts us all at times--maybe when we're looking for the right job, thinking about moving to a new city, or deciding whether or not to get married. At every stage we have difficult decisions to make, and we long for God's direction and his warm reassurance that we're heading the right way.

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night captures Tozer's teaching on the will of God taken from sermons he preached just before he left his successful church in Chicago. Tozer was no stranger to facing difficult decisions, and his wisdom and biblical insight will help guide you in decisions of your own. The title comes from the story of God leading his people out of Egypt into the promised land. In the same way, let this book help reveal where he is leading and reassure you that he will be by your side every step of the way.

I have heard my pastor quote from A. W. Tozer a few times in the last year so when I was given the opportunity to review this book that is coming out Spring of 2019 I was excited to try it. While Tozer himself is no longer on this earth his classic and encouraging words remain. The book is actually set up so that it could be read a chapter a day similar to a devotional. It is a quick 176 pages (paperback version) divided into 23 chapters, each beginning with a simple but relevant prayer or poem.

In today's modern world of distractions and endless responsibilities dragging us farther and farther away from how God wishes we would live, Tozer's message remains clear and focused, reminding us of the truths of God's love for us through His almighty power and attributes. Sample chapter titles are "Coming against our enemy", "Blessings and Battles" and "The Curse of Delayed Blessings".

A favorite and timely quote: "There are weeds of unbelief choking our belief. Our job is to find them and uproot them from our lives. The Angel before me will faithfully lead me away from all elements of unbelief hiding within my life."

The way in which Tozer reminded myself of the many enemies I have (myself being the greatest) but recognizing the enemies such as temper, inferiority complexes and of course facets of other people in general is a valuable reminder of obedience and turning those into weapons for the kingdom of God.

As you go throughout your day making your simple decisions and then perhaps your tougher decisions, are you remembering God's will? Do you struggle with finding what God's will means for you? Through Tozer's own inspired words in A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night you may find a little more clarity in recognizing paths of rebellion and ambition and instead better yourself by leading in the path of graciousness. Tozer himself writes "I am where I am today because of the wisdom of God in opening up the right doors at the right time."

I really enjoyed this book and will continue to do so. Its message is timeless and can be used as a daily tool to remind yourself which binoculars to use as you are choosing paths all the while cultivating the presence of God.

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Jan 13, 2019

Searching For You by Jody Hedlund

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Searching For You by Jody Hedlund
Orphan Train #3
Bethany House, December 2018
eGalley from NetGalley

(Public Service Announcement: Please read book one and two before reading Book Three, this is not a stand alone novel)

Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he's in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?
I previously reviewed books one and two from the Orphan Train Series by Jody Hedlund on my blog at this link.
I really enjoyed this entire series from Jody Hedlund. I love her writing as a combination of several things I look for in a novel: clean romance without seeming silly, characters that are hard to let go of, historical settings and an underlying storyline regarding one's faith.

This novel picks up where the second book left off and I wrote in that review that I was perturbed that the search for Sophie was not a predominant theme. And so voila here is book three devoted to Sophie at last! Elise and Marianne are not featured very much at all this time as the story focuses on Sophie's struggle to hang on to Olivia and Nicholas. Sophie is wild at heart but a good person through and through making it so easy to love her, even when you want to strangle her due to her wild nature. She is still young and impetuous but lucky for us we witness her transformation with the help of a genuinely good soul who takes her in.

The setting of 1850's is portrayed as simple, quaint and close-knit on the farm, with nuances of the crimes and poverty prevalent in the cities. I absolutely adored Reinhold and would definitely see him as a super sexy cross of Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth kind of guy. Sophie could be young sweet combinations of Reese Witherspoon (she has that wild side!) with a dash of Nicole Kidman. Would love to see this as a PBS special or mini-series.

The romance angle was so perfect for Sophie and sitting here thinking in hindsight that it all wrapped up nicely in a pretty bow yet the steps we took with Sophie to get there was a blessing of a story. I have read a few of Hedlund's other novels before and have truly enjoyed each of them and I could gush copiously about the masterful storytelling of Jody Hedlund but I just want you to see for yourself.

Fans of Christian Fiction and historical romance will definitely enjoy the Orphan Train Series, but will be very sad to see the end of the stories of the Neumann sisters. If you're not open to scripture and His promises of love and healing then these stories would not be recommended for you.