The Traitor Beside Her

This book had potential but ultimately fell short of expectations. Set in 1944, it follows 21-year-old Justine Byrne, who is recruited by US Army Intelligence, to work at Arlington Hall, a code-breaking facility to uncover a traitor. Initially, the premise promised a gripping WWII espionage thriller. Unfortunately, the execution didn’t live up to that promise. The pacing was inconsistent, with the plot dragging in places where it should have been tense and thrilling. The characters, especially Justine, lacked depth and development. Though portrayed as an intelligent woman, she came across as flat and one-dimensional. The historical setting was well-researched, but it often overshadowed the plot. The repetition of words throughout […]

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A Beautifully Woven Tale of Love and Family Secrets

The story centers on Matelda Roffo, an Italian grandmother nearing the end of her life, who decides it’s time to reveal her family’s hidden secrets. As she unfolds the past, we’re transported back to her mother Domenica’s life in pre-World War II, Italy. Domenica thrives in the coastal town of Viareggio, Italy until she is banished by the Catholic Church. Her journey takes her from the rocky shores of Marseille to the mystical beauty of Scotland and onto the dangerous streets of war-torn Liverpool. Trigiani’s writing is lush and evocative. She captures the essence of Italian culture—the food, the landscapes, and the deep-rooted traditions. I could almost taste the homemade […]

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Legal Mystery with Christian Themes

In Double Indemnity, Robert Whitlow crafts a tale of mystery and suspense set in north Georgia. Matt and Elena Thompson’s seemingly perfect life starts to unravel with secrets and financial troubles. Their marriage faces a critical blow when Matt dies in a suspicious hunting accident. New attorney Liz Acosta and pastor Connor Grantham are drawn into the turmoil of the Thompsons’ lives. Liz digs into the legal intricacies of Matt’s death, while Connor, who counseled the couple, finds himself entangled in their explosive arguments. Whitlow’s legal knowledge adds authenticity, and elements of faith and clean romance provide a wholesome touch. However, uneven pacing and a slow start might test some […]

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Amy’s Picks and Pans, Issue 29

Welcome back to my monthly book picks and pans! This month was a whirlwind of adventures and not as many pages turned as usual, but fear not—my book selections still pack a punch. From the good, the not-so-good, and everything in between, my mixed bag of reviews is sure to keep things interesting. Whether you’re looking for a tale to tug at your heartstrings, a mystery that keeps you guessing, or a wild literary ride, grab your TBR list and let’s journey through this month’s eclectic reading roundup! There are a few titles and authors with which you might not be family, so dare to branch out. Remember, these are […]

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A Stirring Historical Mystery

Clark and Division by Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara brings readers into the poignant struggles of a Japanese American family in 1944 Chicago. After spending two years in the Manzanar internment camp, twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her family face another blow—the mysterious death of Aki’s sister, Rose, ruled a suicide by police. Convinced of foul play, Aki is determined to uncover the truth, thrusting us into a tale woven with historical intricacies and the harsh realities of racism and displacement faced by Japanese Americans during and after World War II. Hirahara’s portrayal of 1940s Chicago is rich in historical detail, offering a vivid backdrop to the personal and communal challenges Aki […]

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A Gripping Tale of Courage and Survival in the Arctic Wilderness

  In early 1853, a mysterious benefactor summons experienced California Trail guide Virginia Reeve to Boston and offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead a party of 12 women into the wild, hazardous Arctic in search of the lost Franklin Expedition. Based on true events, Greer Macallister’s The Arctic Fury is an adventurous historical mystery that considers what might have been if a women’s expedition traveled to the Arctic when women weren’t expected to leave the house, let alone explore the corners of the globe. A year and a half after the expedition, Virginia finds herself on trial for murder when not all the women return. Macallister captures the suspenseful […]

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A Riveting Investigation in 1940s Paris

Mark Pryor returns with the second installment of the Henri Lefort series, The Dark Edge of Night, an interesting blend of mystery and historical drama set in 1940 Paris. Police Inspector Henri Lefort tackles two challenging cases amidst the chaos. The first involves the suspicious death of a Frenchman during a botched robbery. The second, imposed on him by the Gestapo, revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a neurologist involved in secretive work at a Paris hospital. As Lefort digs deeper, he discovers a chilling connection to several missing children’s cases. Pryor excels in character development, presenting Lefort as a likable yet complex protagonist whose sharp instincts shine in the […]

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Amy’s Picks and Pans, Issue 28

  Welcome to my Monthly Book Round-Up! This month, I dive into a vibrant selection of ten reads that promise to spark your curiosity and stir your emotions. From the latest bestsellers to hidden gems waiting to be discovered, some were standouts and others were duds, but the list aims to cater to a wide array of tastes and preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for a thrilling mystery, a heartwarming romance, or a deep dive into historical intrigue, there’s something here for everyone. Grab your favorite beverage and let’s explore these enticing titles that are sure to keep your pages turning and your imaginations soaring. Happy reading!   Drawn […]

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Age is Just a Number in This Thrilling, Humorous Mystery

“Just then Fogerty emitted an unpleasant noise accompanied by a smell I knew too well. The human body has over sixty sphincters, and every one of them relates in death.”—Deanna Raybourn, Killers of a Certain Age. Killers of a Certain Age sweeps readers away on a wild, action-packed adventure that defies the typical portrayal of women over sixty. The novel introduces us to Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie—the first all-women assassin team of the secretive organization known as the Museum. After forty years of eliminating the worst of the worst, these formidable ladies are forced into retirement, deemed too old-school for modern times. However, their send-off—an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise—turns […]

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The Helsinki Affair: A Spy Thriller that Misses its Mark

I always get excited for a new spy thriller, but The Helsinki Affair didn’t quite hit the target. The setup was intriguing—Amanda Cole, a CIA agent in Rome, gets a tip about a planned assassination of a US Senator. The premise promises high stakes and international intrigue. However, the execution was lackluster. Amanda’s quest to unravel an international conspiracy after the assassination takes us on a whirlwind tour from Rome to Helsinki, yet the storytelling felt bogged down by too many details and awkward sentence structures. The narrative’s frequent point of view switches, especially noticeable in the audiobook, added to the confusion rather than the suspense. Halfway through, the novel […]

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