The Homecoming by Alan Russell

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You wake up to get the kids to school to discover that one of your children is gone. No sign of a break-in or any disturbances. But, for the Pierce family, the nightmare is a reality. After a bonfire on the beach, the Pierce family returned home. Early the next morning, their 7-year-old daughter, Stella, had simply vanished.

An enormous investigation was launched. No clues except dead ends. While the family struggled to move on with their lives, the lead investigator continued to follow each lead no matter how obscure. Things appeared hopeless. Stella was gone. Just as abruptly, 7 years later, Stella reappears.

Although elated, the family is shocked. Of course, Stella is grilled as to her whereabouts. Her answer? She’s been with the Travelers – a group of extraterrestrial explorers. Thinking she’s traumatized, they try everything to get Stella to tell the truth. What the don’t realize is the truth is stranger than anything they can handle. So, where has Stella been & what exactly happened to her?

I was highly anticipating reading this one. The synopsis was intriguing and it was listed in my preferred genre (mystery/thriller/suspense). I feel completely let down. I’d heard great things about Mr. Russell. His writing style/talent isn’t the issue. The book was the issue.

It started off perfectly. I was drawn in, cared about the progression of the case, etc. What I didn’t anticipate was the fact that the book should have been categorized as paranormal or even sci-fi. My initial belief was that it would progress as the synopsis hinted. Stella’s return would be plausibly explained.

I was wrong. If you’re thinking of reading it, please note that. If sci-fi mystery is your bag, then you’ll enjoy this book. It is not my bag and perhaps the mischaracterization of the plot caused me to have a chip on my shoulder towards the book. Regardless, I was disappointed in the ending as well. I felt completely let down.

The bright spot in it was Detectve Cheever. He was a fantastic character & would have been much more appreciated had he been given a real case to solve. For me, I give it a 3 star rating. Again, YA romance ( which also takes up a huge piece of the book) fans & those into sci-fi, paranormal, will probably have an entirely different opinion. Mr. Russell is quite talented and could’ve have crafted a much better story.

The Good Widow: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

The last thing Jacks Morales expected was to see two police officers on her doorstep. But, it shocks her to her core when they deliver the worst news possible. Her husband of eight years has died in a car accident. As if that’s not bad enough, his death didn’t occur in Kansas, where he said he was. Instead, he died in Hawaii and he wasn’t alone.

James died alongside his mistress. She, too, had been living a double life. When her fiancé, Nick, arrives shortly after the police, he and Jacks decide to travel to Hawaii, together. There are too many variables. When did the affair start? Why did two seemingly happy people decide to cheat on their respective partners? How exactly did the car accident occur?

Jacks hopes Nick can help her reassemble her life and come to terms with the secrets her husband had hidden. Their plan is to retrace the deceased couples final days. But, as details emerge, she’ll have to wade through a lot of fact and fiction.

The author duo has joined the ranks as suspense/thriller authors. This novel is a mix of romance, family drama, thriller, & mystery. Jacks is a flawed heroine- kind of love her or hate her character. Though the plot definitely lagged a bit in spots, the writing is solid. Some of the events will readers having shaking their heads. I wasn’t quite convinced that too many scorned wives would travel to their husband’s love nest in order to retrace his final steps.

Regardless, it was a good read and I would read additional works from one or both authors. I give it 4 stars.

Boomer at the Bat (Woodville Tales Book 1) by Julia Dweck


If you’re looking for a fun summer read for your elementary-aged child, look no further! Julia Dweck, acclaimed children’s author, has crafted yet another winning read.

‘Boomer At Bat’, the first of the Woodland Tales, features two animal teams battling it out on the baseball diamond. Boomer is determined to be the game’s hero by nailing a home run. He’s so determined that he forgets how important it is to be a good sport. Thankfully, his coach is there to reinforce good behavior. Can Boomer do the right thing & still be a winner on the field?

Books with a moral message still need to be entertaining. After all, they don’t get their point across if no one reads them! Julia Dweck has done a tremendous job writing a terrific story AND getting her message through. As an added bonus, Chris Kennett has drawn exquisite characters. The story will most definitely keep your child(ren) interested. I can see this one becoming an ‘every night’ read before bed.

I thought so much of it that I’ve recommended it to my Aunt who is a librarian at a local Christian school & at our community library. I give it 5 stars. I never get tired of reviewing Julia’s books. Good authors should also be celebrated. Good children’s authors, even more so!

*I received a copy in exchange for review. ALL of my opinions are my own.

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