A Promising Thriller Undermined by Vulgarity

“Monsters are real. They’re real, and they’re capable of doing the unspeakable. And they don’t hide under beds or in closets—they hide in plain sight. You just don’t always notice them.” ― Minka Kent, The Thinnest Air. Meredith Price seems to have it all—a loving husband, charming stepchildren, and a life of luxury in a mountain resort town. Her life, however, takes a dark turn when she mysteriously disappears, leaving behind her car, purse, phone, and a slew of unanswered questions. The story unfolds through dual perspectives: Meredith’s, detailing her life with Andrew and leading up to her disappearance, and Greer’s, her sister, who arrives in town desperate to find […]

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A Journey of Power and Vengeance in Medieval Norway

The Norse Queen takes readers to ninth-century Norway, a time of fierce battles and fractured kingdoms. The protagonist, fifteen-year-old Åsa, is the daughter of a Norse king with dreams of becoming a shield-maiden. Her world shatters when she spurns a powerful warlord who then decimates her family, killing her father and brother and taking her captive. To save her people, she must marry her father’s killer and, to exact her revenge, she must rise to become his queen. I am of Norwegian heritage and have a working knowledge of the culture. The novel’s depiction of ancient Norse society feels authentic, reflecting meticulous research. For instance, the burial rituals are vividly […]

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Intrigue and Secrets in a Kentish Village

“There was something about even the smallest fire that was more unsettling than other crimes of a similar caliber. The match idly thrown on tinder can become an all- consuming blaze, while sparks ignored can envelop a mansion if left unchecked. And flame ignited for the sake of malicious damage strikes at the very heart of individual and collective fear, for isn’t fire the place where the devil resides?”—Jacqueline Winspear, An Incomplete Revenge. Set in 1931 during an economic downturn, An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear follows psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs as she tackles a puzzling case in the picturesque village of Heronsdene, Kent. Every year, during the bustling […]

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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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