“A Plain Disappearance” by Amanda Flower

BOOK_COVER_A Plain DisappearanceAn Appleseed Creek Mystery, Book 3

Timothy Troyer takes Chloe Humphrey on a buggy ride for their first date. They stop at an old abandoned, rundown barn to stretch their legs. Timothy surprises Chloe with an early Christmas gift. But the joy of the evening evaporates when Timothy’s dog takes off running to the side of the barn. Timothy and Chloe follow and discover a horrible site.

Buried in the snow lay a young Amish girl, blue from death. At first, the cops believe an icicle fell from the barn and killed the girl, but no one can think of a reason the girl would be at the barn in the first place. However, this conclusion is not final when they find out the girl was actually strangled to death.

The Amish will not talk to the Chief of Police, Greta Rose, so she enlists Chloe to help. Chief Rose wants Chloe to talk to the Amish and see if she can come up with any Amish suspects.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

4

Read this series in chronological order!

Because this is the first book I read in the series (in hopes it would stand alone), there were a lot of references to things that happened in the previous books. That caused some confusion, especially when it came to character development. And I do not understand why a cop would enlist a civilian to talk to the Amish and she is not even Amish.

I never thought I would ever say I read an Amish murder mystery; this would be my first and what a great story to start with! As clues are gathered, you start to believe you know who the killer is, naturally. Then you find out things that throw a wrench in your theory. You are truly reading things and trying to come to a conclusion just like a real cop. And the ending will surprise you in so many ways!

Find more mysteries at http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

B_H Publishing Group

 

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“When You Were Mine” by Rebecca Serle

BOOK_COVER_When You Were Mine“What if the greatest love story ever told was the wrong one?” People remember Romeo and Juliet as a love story and forget it is actually a tragedy. “[T]here was someone before Juliet ever came into the picture. Someone who Romeo loved very much. Her name was Rosaline.”

In this modern-day adaptation, Rosaline and her Romeo, Rob, have been best friends since practically birth. Things started to get serious the night before Rob left for the summer to be a camp counselor. On the first day of senior year, Rob finally asks Rose out on a proper date. Though worried how it would affect their friendship, being together just seemed right.

Rose’s cousin, Juliet, moves back to town. It has been ten years since Rose and Rob have spoken to Juliet. But now Juliet has her eyes set on Rob. Rob easily falls for Juliet and Rose is devastated. But Rose began to notice everyone around her whispering. Some people are holding on to secrets that will change lives…forever.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:
3

Take it or leave it. It is up to you to decide if you want to read this modern-day adaptation of Romeo and Juliet from Rosaline’s point-of-view.

Modern-day Romeo and Juliet from the point-of-view of the jilted ex? A good idea in theory.

It really took a lot of strength to push trough this book. Juliet does not even appear until a third of the way into it. The beginning reads like a high school girl. Yes, Rose is a high school girl. But the non-stop fast talking in her mind was really annoying. Everything has a story behind it or references something that ends up irrelevant to the story.

While the story is about the forgotten character of Rosaline, needed information about Rob and Juliet lacked. I understand the heartbreak that Rose felt, but she never let on how much she knew about why Rob so easily turned from her. How can you mourn lovers when you do not know why they loved each other? (And that is not a spoiler – the entire world knows Romeo and Juliet die.)

For more books for the Young Adult, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

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“Last Light” by Terri Blackstock

BOOK_COVER_Last Night

The Restoration Series, Book 1

Doug and his daughter step off an airplane, just moments before the power goes out at the airport. But it is more than that. Planes are falling from the sky, cars have stopped working, and even watches have stopped ticking.

The Branning family, along with the rest of the neighborhood, learns that this blackout is continental. The government thinks it “was some kind of astronomic event, such as radiation from a nearby star, with catastrophic effects on our atmosphere… They’re pretty sure it’s not damaging to humans, but that’s about all they’re sure of…”

Knowing this is going to last more then a few days, Doug works on making sure the family is safe. Kay is trying to stretch what little food is left. And their four children cannot stop complaining. Deni refuses to grasp that the government is not working on a quick fix and is trying to find her way to D.C. to a waiting fiance. Jeff wants to hang out with his high school friends and the cute girl he likes and is learning the hard way that he needs to step up and be more of a man. Tween, Beth, found her teacher dead. The first of a string of murders in the neighborhood. And the youngest, Logan, desperately wants to be thought of as a man but never gets the chance.

Everyone has their part in a struggle to survive. So much is unknown, impossible to get, running out, and in need of help. The Brannings want to help their neighbors, but which one is the killer?

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

5

I am sitting here, trying to figure out what to write, and I find myself still lost in the book.

This story takes everything away from you and leaves you in confusion. There are so many questions and no one has answers, yet everyone expects you to. How will you care for your family? Keep them fed, safe and sheltered. How much do you really trust your neighbors, especially when there is a murderer on the loose? Are they stalking you or looking out for you? Who do you turn to for help and what can you do to help others?

Life becomes a thin line between legal, moral and ethical. What side would you be on? What would make you cross it? Will you make the right decisions? And how do you feel about God? Would you blame Him or put your faith in Him?

This story is told by each family member. You know their thoughts and reasons. What they believe or refuse to believe. The differences in ages of the children show the difference in character, attitude and understanding.

This book will leave you wanting to reach for book two. This story leaves your heart torn from your head. It will leave you with so many what-if questions pertaining to the real world. Lastly, this story will leave you with the overwhelming desire to start hoarding clean water.

(As a quick add on – this book actually made me dream that my family was in the same predicament.)

For more books, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

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“Haven” by Kristi Cook

BOOK_COVER_Haven

The Haven Trilogy, Book 1

Violet McKenna’s stepmother has “been offered a job in New York, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… [She] gave [Violet] a choice: stay in Atlanta with Gran, or move to New York with her.” Gran and her stepmother are her only family since her parents are dead.

Violet chose to go to New York and attend Winterhaven boarding school. She “wanted to fit in. To blend in.” And she would “do just about anything to make sure no one [at her new school would] notice.” See, Violet has visions. They stop her in her tracks and it looks like she is having a seizure.

Throughout her first day at Winterhaven, Violet notices some strange things but she does not think much about them because she is too busy hiding her secret. A group a fast friends let her in on a secret: every single student at Winterhaven has some sort of psychic gift, something out of the ordinary. There are telekinetics, empaths, clairsentiences, shape-shifters and Violet has precognition.

Violet “left behind everything that was familiar to [her] so that [she] could go someplace where no one knew [she] was a freak, where no one would notice that [she] sometimes acted weird and knew stuff. And now here [she] was, at a school filled entirely with freaks.”

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

4

While this book is long, it is also captivating. I could not stop turning the pages on my eReader.

New kid at school, relationships, friendships are some of the things that reminded me of my four years of high school. In fact, I found my mind wandering to those memories and needing to snap back to the book.

This book is full of surprises and things you never see coming. It is informative (when you read the book, you will understand) and does not follow stereotypical types or rules. You will root for Violet in hopes everything will turn out alright.

For more books for the Young Adult Reader, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

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“What Once Was Lost” by Kim Vogel Sawyer

BOOK_COVER_What Once Was LostThe Brambleville Asylum for the Poor housed thirteen poor, orphaned and displaced individuals. After her father passed away, Christina Willems has been seeing to the bunch she considers family.

One cold winter night in 1890, Christina is woken by Tommy, a blind eleven-year-old with no family. He tells Christina that she has to get everyone out of the house because it is on fire. At first she does not believe him, then she hears the thuds of running feet and shouts of fire. By the time the group put out the fire, the kitchen was gone and the house was inhabitable.

Christina searched the entire town of Brambleville, Kansas for a place to house her charges. But no one would take in Tommy because he was blind. In a desperate attempt, Christina and Tommy rode out to Levi Johnson’s mill. People did not know much about Levi because he kept to himself and that is the way he liked it. But how could Levi say no to a blind child who reminded him of himself and to the beautiful Christina?

Christina met with members of the board and they refused her request for funds to rebuild the kitchen. The men felt it was not appropriate for a woman to be head of the household and, in fact, they wanted to close the Brambleville location. But what would happen to all the residents? What will happen to Christina?

I GIVE THIS BOOK:

4

This book makes you think about your own life and how blessed we are.

This book is very humbling. We take so much in life for granted. What would you do if everything you have ever known was taken away from you? I bet some of you can identify with the experience of a fire taking your home. Even though this book is long and is a slow read, everyone can relate to something in this book!

For more books, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

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“Wish Upon a Star” by Michelle McLean

BOOK_COVER_Wish Upon a Star“Notorious Criminal Peter Crickett Gunned Down in Robbery Gone Bad”

Four years ago, Peter was in a horrific car crash that left him for dead, until Russell Saxton stepped in. Russell was the owner of Saxton Technologies and Peter’s father was a research scientist there. “Despite federal regulations forbidding the testing of cyborg prosthetics on human subjects…Peter had become the world’s only living cyborg, more machine than man, but still…a living, breathing, functioning member of society.”

Peter had become “Russell’s lead henchman, he most likely did all of Russell’s dirty work.” Now that Peter is dead, Russell will not give the Crickett family Peter’s body, saying the body belonged to him because he was more cyborg parts than human. But Peter’s father and brother were worried. Max Crickett “had been working on some sort of microchip that was supposed to help repair function to damaged brains. It was still experimental, but Russell implanted it in Peter’s brain.” Max and his other son, Jason, believe Russell modified Peter’s behavior to do his bidding that lead up to his death and they wanted to prove it.

After Peter’s accident and three days before his wedding, Jason Crickett left Ceri McKinley. In her grieving, Ceri met Russell who made her feel wanted. She got pregnant and they ended up marrying Russell. But after she watched Russell break the hands of a piano player she made small talk with, she divorced him.

Now Ceri is at Pleasure Island to meet with Russell to discuss visitation rights for their daughter, Skye. She runs into Max and Jason who told her of their trials. They were hoping Ceri could talk to Russell and convince him to release Peter’s body. Ceri knew Russell would not listen to her but she will try anyway. Because she never stopped loving Jason.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:
4

I love zombie stories and this book jacks it up a notch that I did not see coming.

I had a little trouble visualizing the climb up the puppet because I have never seen a puppet three stories tall.

But this book kept me captivated from the beginning straight to the end. You just never know where this story will take you!

For more novellas, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time!

SZ

ENTANGLED_PUBLISHING

“Mercy” by Jan Coffey

BOOK_COVER_Mercy“Every minute of Julia [Klein’s] day was a fight for survival.” She lost her husband in a car wreck two years ago, Their daughter, Amy, spent hours trapped in the car with her dead father. Amy has not spoken a word since. She is also being bullied at school so she brought Julia’s pepper spray and non-verbally threatened the kids. Boston considers pepper spray a weapon, so technically, Amy brought a weapon to school. Now she is suspended from school “for violet behavior, pending the results of an investigation and further psychological testing.”

The hospital where Julia works is being bought out so she is losing her job and health insurance. With the huge debt her late husband left her, how will Julia pay for the therapy sessions Amy goes to twice a week for her psychological trauma? To top it all off, her boyfriend, Garrett, was transferred to Atlanta for work. “[Julia] knew that there could be no happily ever after. She had too much baggage for any man to want to hang around for any extended time.”

So Julia packs up Amy and goes to Newport for the weekend “to separate the two of them from all the troubles, routines, schedules, and tensions in their lives.” The Inn they are staying at is haunted, allegedly, by a six-year-old girl and her mother. While exploring the room, Amy finds a new friend – a six-year-old girl she can see through named Mercy.

I GIVE THIS BOOK:
4

This novella packs a punch! My heart was racing at the end. Racing in a this is good horror kind of way.

This author has a very unique talent. She is able to pack a lot of information into sixty-some pages, but does not overwhelm you. When I was reading, I thought, “How can she tell this story novella-style?” As I continued to read, my thoughts changed to …well, they changed to focus more on the story because I wanted to find out what was happening.

I never really understood novella, so I never bothered to waste my time reading them. But color this girl impressed! The book made me understand the joy of a novella and the talent of their authors.

For more novellas, go to http://www.booksbysteph.com.

Until next time, live life one page at a time! 

SZ

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