Daughter of Moloka’I by Alan Brennert

Publication Date: February 19th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Fourteen years ago, we were introduced to Rachel Kalama in the book, Moloka’i. Rachel, diagnosed with leprosy was quarantined on Moloka’I island in Hawaii, where she birthed a beautiful baby girl, Ruth. Daughter of Moloka’I is Ruth’s story. This second book in the series, released over a decade later, is the life that Ruth leads after leaving Moloka’I, free of leprosy. This read is a sad reminder of the United States’ past, from Japanese internment camps during WWII to the harsh treatment of those that don’t “look like us.”

Moloka’I will always remain a favorite of mine, but this was a worthy follow up, even ending gracefully as the story is finally complete. While this read provides enough background to read as a standalone, I highly recommend picking up book one prior to reading this.

*A review copy of this book was provided by NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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New Every Day: Navigating Alzheimer’s with Grace and Compassion by Dave Meurer

Publication Date: November 20th, 2018

Rating: 3 ¾ Stars

I do not currently have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, however given the number of people diagnosed with this disease every year I felt compelled to learn more about the stages, symptoms, family strain and resources available for those that do. Author, Dave Meurer, accomplishes this and much more through his injection of humor and stories of his mother-in-law, currently in moderate stage Alzheimer’s.

New Every Day provides readers light resources on how to navigate the treatment and support of loved ones with Alzheimer’s. From Medicare, Medicaid, assisted living facilities and personal respite care, Meurer covers all the bases. His stories are relatable to those who have encountered this disease and the knowledge he provides is critical for family members new to caring for individuals affected. While the internet and your own research can often provide in depth guidance, this book gives the necessary encouragement and humor for those immersed in the disease.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures (The Victorian Ladies #1) by Sandra Byrd

Publication Date: October 9th, 2018

Rating: 3 Stars

A Victorian love story of Eleanor and Harry as they learn to trust and love each other again.

Eleanor is tasked with undertaking a thousand-piece inventory of Lord Lydney. In doing so she faces the hardest decisions of her life. Facing financial peril and the struggle of being a single woman in Victorian times, the reader is left praying for Eleanor to succeed in making the right decision.

Byrd pens a powerful story of women helping women in an era of men – the mid-1800’s. Eleanor Sheffield hopes to break the glass ceilings with the help of fellow females, as every female can relate to her struggles of determining who to trust. The timeless profession of appraising art and jewelry takes on a new challenge in a time of female possession by men. Will Eleanor prove worthy of making a name for herself as a female? Will Eleanor trust the right people? Lady of a Thousand Treasures takes the reader back in time to answer these very questions and more. Unfortunately, despite the more than 100 years that separates Eleanor from today, the struggles she faces remain ever relevant.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Hidden Peril (Code of Honor #2) by Irene Hannon

Publication date: October 2nd, 2018

Rating: 3 Stars

Kristin Dan is content in her world, owning her own shop that sells fair trade products from around the world. But, when her part-time shop keeper is murdered her world is thrown into peril. Detective Luke Carter is determined to find the killer. But, he finds something more in the process.

This slowly building romantic suspense winds the reader through Kristin’s life of giving back and Luke’s procedural attempt to chase down a suspected terrorist. Will Luke find the killer or will his feelings for Kristin get in the way?

Reading like a standalone novel, the good natured-ness of Kristin’s life is overshadowed by the MANY concurrent events in both the investigations and familial life. While the interwoven first-person narrative of the terrorist, Luke and Kristin cause for some confusion throughout the chapters, Hannon proves to be on par with the authors of this, the romantic suspense genre.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Happily: 8 Commitments of Couples Who Laugh, Love & Last by Kevin A. Thompson

Publication Date: October 16th, 2018

Rating: 3 ¼ Stars

Author, Kevin A. Thompson, is a pastor. As a pastor, Thompson has witnessed many marriages, divorces and deaths in his more than a decade of service. Given his role, this book leans heavily toward holy references, but I loved that he opened each chapter with a bang, quickly grabbing the reader’s attention and drawing you in.

For instance, Chapter 7 lists several Nobel Peace Prize recipients and other historically significant individuals, and, while each person mentioned holds significant prestige, they have something else in common as well – divorce. Thompson’s point isn’t to show that divorce is inevitable and that we are all headed to that ending, but rather to provide reference that success and accomplishments in one’s life do not translate to success in marriage. Just like one works hard in their occupation, one must work as hard, or harder, in their relationship.

As an athlete and “newly” married person one passage that really stood out to me was on page 103:

Ask a coach, “How’s your team?” and they know how to answer. Ask your co-worker, “How are sales?” and they know how to answer…. But ask someone, “How’s your marriage?” and they will fumble and stumble. Why? Because most people never look at marriage as something that can be improved. From the very beginning, they take a passive approach to their relationship, failing to understand its true nature. They treat it as though it’s out of their control. They pretend like marriage just happens.

This is powerful, because people constantly ask, “how are you doing” or “how’s married life” and I just respond with the typically “fine,” but after reading this I have begun to view these questions from the point-of-view of the team coach or class teacher. Is “fine” truly how it is? Or are “sales” behind? Or has your “team” had a string of losses recently? No passionate coach responds to the question “how’s your team” with a halfhearted “fine” that many of us are used to responding with when asked these questions personally.

There were MANY points made throughout Happily that resonated with me. My marriage of only two years is certainly fresh, but whether you’ve been with your spouse months or even decades, the advice within is seemingly sound.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Lethal Target (The Line of Duty #2) by Janice Cantore

Publication Date: October 9th, 2018

Rating: 2 ¼ Stars

Tess and Oliver have both suffered traumatic loss. Oliver, the local preacher has maintained his faith through the difficult times, while Tess, the local police chief, has struggled to answer the “why’s” behind her loss for so many years. So, when the local Oregon pot farm starts stirring up trouble she is forced to confront her faith and maintain composure.

The many ongoing story lines, character insertion and varying plot narrations caused this to be a confusing read. While I fought to keep track of the ever-entering characters, the underlying story packed the suspense ripe for a TV-worthy drama. It was more than apparent Janice Cantore brought her impressive police knowledge in this unraveling of a homicide in small town Oregon.

Despite being book #2 of The Line of Duty series, Lethal Target maintains its ability to read as a standalone novel. However, for fans of Tess O’Rourke, The Line of Duty’s female heroine, be sure to check out book #1 Crisis Shot.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Publication Date: September 4th, 2018

Rating: 3 ¾ Stars

Lisa, Ava and Marilyn all have secrets, but some secrets are undoubtedly worse than others. So, when each of their secrets start coming out, worlds quickly spiral.

This thrilling read will keep you guessing to the very last page. Heart pounding, twisted and suspenseful, Sarah Pinborough once again delivers. For those who loved Behind Her Eyes, Pinborough pens a more realistic suspense as she intertwines here, now, before and after and the reader is left piecing together a twisted timeline of surprises.

From a self-described, quick to guess the plot, reader, I was more than half way through the book and still trying to untangle all the clues. Pinborough is an author I will continue to come back to as Cross Her Heart not only initiated great conversations, but proved her skill in creating captivating works.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig & Karen White

Publication Date: September 4th, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Tess, Caroline and Sarah are captured within these pages as their stories are unraveled to create a timeless, romantic drama, filled with love, loss, heartbreak and beauty. Jumping between 1915 and 2013, these three women could not be more different. Tess, a thief, Caroline, a wealthy wife, and Sarah a present-day writer. Despite these differences, their stories on stumbling into love and the heartbreak they each face are important reminders in this ageless historical fiction.

Authors, Williams, Willig & White, have quickly become a female dream team in this, their second book together. This writing team quickly entraps you in this engrossing novel as each chapter and character perspective mesh seamlessly together. Fall in love with the characters this team have created, while learning more about the RMS Lusitania sinking during WWI in this newest historical fiction.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

Publication Date: September 18th, 2018

Rating: 3 Star

When Gracie’s house is broken into late one night she assumes her house was chosen at random.  But, when the burglar confronts her looking for “the key” she realizes her paranoid patient may have been right, someone is after them. 

Detective Nate and Psychiatrist Gracie have just enough history to make their relationship engrossing.  The heartbreak they’ve each experienced provides for deep and emotional character connection.  The first three-fourths of A Secret to Die For is incredibly well done, the suspense of the attacks is unwound and the connection between Nate and Gracie is built upon.  However, as the book begins to climax the finale seems to undermine the detailed build up, wrapping too quickly and neatly not to feel “corny.” 

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive by Jessica N. Turner

Publication Date: September 18th, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Stretched Too Thin is the “self-help” book every female needs!  I don’t care if you are a mother or childless, spouse or single, home owner or living with your parents – Turner offers sage advice, relatable experiences and achievable solutions.  From friendship to self-care, work, parenting and home every page had me nodding my head in agreement and jotting down notes for positive changes to make in my own life.  Anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed or guilty will relate to this book. 

As a working female, or adult in general, I often feel overwhelmed in all that needs to be accomplished and the minimal hours in my day.  I feel frustrated that many of the books I read on overwhelmed feelings offer stories with no solutions or workable advice.  Stretched Too Thin provides relatable experiences and attainable action items to better yourself.  It also provides important reminders that every human needs to hear again and again.  Each chapter wraps up with several pages of prompts and activities to help the reader both become self-aware and resolve the concepts broached in each chapter. 

This is absolutely a book I will be picking up again and again!  For any female, mother, adult or employee, do yourself a favor and read this book.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher; all opinions are my own.