Beneath the Surface: Sibel Hodge

Holly Gold left the glitz and glamour of London to return to her hometown. After accepting a job writing for her small town’s newspaper, she finds herself covering fluff pieces and events. While she yearns for a harder-hitting story, her life’s monotony is shattered when her childhood best friend, her husband, and her son are all found dead.

By all accounts, it’s a horrific murder suicide. When Holly knew them, they were the picture perfect family. Two doting parents and a son living in a beautiful home with successful careers aren’t the type of people one reads about in the headlines. Holly can’t accept that Dean would kill his parents and then himself. She isn’t the only one who refuses to accept it as fact.

Barbara, Dean’s maternal grandmother, implores Holly to do some off-the record, investigative work. But, when Holly begins digging into the family’s life and the circumstances are it, she finds secrets, lies, and realizations that she never expected.

When ‘Beneath the Surface’ began, I was convinced that I was starting a perfect 5 star novel. It was suspenseful, fast-paced and well-written. While the latter two adjectives remained a truth until the end, the suspense was quickly dissipated. Within a few chapters, the author clearly revealed the causes of the ‘mystery’.

I had initially hoped for a different turn of events in the plot. Without spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it, I will simply say that the plot ended up being less thriller and more of a statement against big industry. I can’t say I disagree with Sibel Hodges views. I actually do
agree. However, I was expecting more of a mystery and thriller than what was delivered.

Holly started off as a champion- fighting for truth and justice. She was a character that made you want to throw your fist in the air and cheer. By the middle, she seemed reduced to a weak, victim-mentality dependent. That was also unfortunate.

These criticisms aside, ‘Beneath’ is a good book. It could’ve been great. However, many readers have/may view it differently and as always, I encourage readers to draw their own conclusion by giving it a go. For me, my initial mental rating dropped to a 4 star one.

Book Spotlight: Stitching With Jane Foster

Stitching with Jane Foster includes 37 quick and easy cross-stitch sewing cards with punched holes for easy stitching, as well as a 36-page project book featuring instructions for designing your own unique stitching patterns and color combinations. Gather all the tools and materials you need to get started and learn stitching basics, including the straight stitch, cross-stitch, back stitch, and more. A project gallery then shows examples of how to use your adorable stitched cards: everything from bookmarks and journals to greeting cards and ornaments. The simple stitching patterns taught in this book promote growth and development, hand-eye coordination, and creativity and imagination. Includes 37 adorable punch-out templates to get you started! Color them, stitch them, press them out, and play with them; Stitching with Jane Foster will entertain and delight crafters of all ages and is sure to inspire a lifelong love of embroidery.
(Pics/Synopsis property of Quarto)

Quarto Knows has tons of quality books that promote hobbies and ideas for children. No technology required! Get back to basics and give kids an opportunity to exercise hand-eye coordination.

We were provided with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Apple Assassination: Stacey Alabaster

A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery #13

Pippa has really gotten into her new role as a farmer. She’s been particularly fond of her all organic apple trees. When she wakes up to discover half of her trees are completely bare, it’s an understatement to say she ‘lost it’! Of course, her first call is to her best friend, bakery owner, Rachel.

Naturally, the two amateur sleuths are on the case and follow the missing apples all the way to their biggest rivals at The Dough Planet. Thinking it’s an open and shut case, the duo is stunned when The Dough Planet calls them with a problem. One of their customers is dead. Not only that, but the last thing she ate was a pie baked with Pippa’s apples!

Now, the case is more than a theft. It’s a murder mystery and a race to clear Pippa’s good name.

Our Bakery Detective girls are back in the game, finally. The 13th installment seems to be a lucky number for Stacey Alabaster. She gives us a great, fast-paced mystery to follow. There is a lot of back-and-forth between suspects.

We get to meet several residents that are new to us and they are quite the characters! I enjoyed this one enough to renew my faith in the series. I’m looking forward to a fabulous #14!

Liberty’s Promise By Heidi Sprouse

Liberty’s Promise
By Heidi Sprouse
Genre: Historical/Revolutionary War/Time Travel

Benjamin Willson and Charlotte Elizabeth Ross fall in love with one another amid the American Revolution, forming a bond that cannot be shattered by death—or time.
The Battle of Johnstown tears them apart with one vicious, indifferent musket ball, but the two souls will find their way back to one another over two hundred and thirty-three years later as Ben Wilson and Charlotte Elizabeth Ross the Second.
As the two reunited lovers share memories of their lives so long ago, they unearth a journal that belonged to the son they created just before Benjamin fell. Expecting to learn his story in the pages of his book, they are unprepared to learn that it is a tribute to his stepfather, Jacob Cooper.
Jacob had loved Charlotte since childhood, but the first time he saw her with Benjamin he knew any dream he’d ever had of claiming her for his own was hopeless. Worse, Jacob genuinely liked and respected Benjamin so he accepted his fate, although still tormented to see the two of them together.
But when Benjamin’s life drained away on a cold and lonely battlefield, Jacob stepped in to help Charlotte pick up the pieces of her shattered soul. He knew Charlotte would never love him as she loved Benjamin, yet he married her, took on the role of father to Benjamin’s son, and raised the boy to understand the precious gift of his heritage—and freedom.
Ben and Charlotte become lost in the words of their son from the past as they learn about the torch that Jacob Cooper carried for his only love, and what it means to keep Liberty’s Promise.

About the Author
Heidi Sprouse lives in upstate NY in historic Johnstown. She attended college at St. Rose in Albany, knowing all along her two loves were teaching and English. It took four years before she landed the teaching job of her dreams, but twenty years later she is still nurturing little ones in pre-K. She loves the privilege of watching brand-new little humans as they discover and begin to shape their own worlds.
Knowing what she wants and going after it in relentless pursuit is Heidi’s gift. Deciding to become an author can be downright unnerving, but Heidi bit into the challenge, took off, and never looked back. Her perseverance proves success is not a matter of luck; it’s a matter of finding what speaks to your heart, and committing to do that thing until it makes a difference.
When she isn’t busy teaching or with her husband, Jim, her son, Patrick, and her canine kids Chuck and Dale, she’s cooking up her next novel. She dabbles in sweet romances, historical fiction, and suspense thrillers, depending on what pleases her reader’s eye at any given moment. Heidi is always in search of the extraordinary in the ordinary, writing about strong men with old-fashioned values and the women who pick them up when they fall. She’ll tell anyone it’s never too late to chase after your dreams, no dream is too small or insignificant, and any mountain can be moved with a proposal and a good plan.
On Amazon:

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.