2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge

The final reviews – I managed twenty-one books in the month long FB challenge, some have been posted here individually.

Beautiful Boy – Kathi Goldwyn – four stars

Beautiful Boy is one of those stories that capture your heart and runs away with it.  Goldwyn has created characters that resonate and inspire the reader to keep reading and to root for their ultimately winning.

A dysfunctional family, an escape to a “better place”, but the one left behind that still owns your heart.  There are strength and determination in this story, Goldwyn masterfully weaves danger and disillusionment and heartbreak into a tapestry that gives a fitting end to Sam’s story.  Definitely recommend!

*****

Your Words – Louise Belanger – five stars

I’m not usually a reader of poetry . . . but I found Belanger’s work easy to read and enjoy.  Some of these really spoke to me, highlighting parts of my own life and feelings, and isn’t that what we look for when reading anything?

I’m hard-pressed to name a favourite, so I won’t, but I know there are pieces here that I will come back to again and again.

*****

Texas My Texas – Caryl McAdoo – four stars

Book Two in the Cross Timbers Family Saga . . . Texas My Texas does well as a standalone too.  a sweeping story of new beginnings, McAdoo doesn’t sugar-coat the hardships endured by these characters.  And yet, through disappointment and loss, their spirit and faith are such that they persevere and even overcome.

A good read, with well-drawn characters, Texas My Texas felt like a glimpse of history in my hands.

*****

Lucy the Clarinetist – Judy Ann Davis – five stars

A Musical Christmas Series, Book Three

Take a mystery, add a touch of romance, and set it around Christmas time and you have the makings of a great cozy read!  Third in the series, Lucy the Clarinetist stands alone perfectly.  We’re introduced to a young lady in a boring dead end job, but with a dream.  We meet her “adoring-from-afar” friend Andre, and the excitement starts. 

Andre has bought an old barn that he hopes to convert to a theatre.  That barn harbours a hidden world renowned clarinet that must be found; and of course, Lucy is enticed by the mystery.

Davis has created some interesting and fun characters that pull you into their story and keep you reading.  You want to know if they get their happy ending.  A good story, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy, as I did.

*****

Igniting Love – Sara Ohlin – five stars

Rescue Me Series, Book Two

I have always loved a starting over story and Igniting Love hits that twice when both our heroine and hero are starting again and healing from old wounds.

Katie is a young widow, uncertain that a new love is a good idea, especially with three little girls.  Leo is an artist, recently moved back to the area, nursing a betrayed heart.  Though the sparks are undeniable, are they ready to place their trust in someone else’s hands?

Ohlin draws her characters with great sympathy and understanding; you want them to overcome the past and move forward.

I enjoyed Igniting Love, I think you will as well.

*****

Round of Applause – Marilyn Barr – four stars

Strawberry Shifters, Book Two

I used to read Kelley Armstrong – a Canadian writer of paranormal romance – and immensely enjoyed her work, though I haven’t read any of her for a long while.  This is why I was surprised that while reading Applause, I felt it very much in the Armstrong style.  A conflict, some romance, and a rather unconventional resolution.

Barr has made her characters amiable and endearing and intriguing enough to entice me to read Bear With Me though Round of Applause reads perfectly well as a stand-alone.  But I do love me a series!

An excellent paranormal read that I’m sure you’ll also enjoy.

*****

Fatal Obsession – Casi McLean – five stars

Her Silent Shadow Box Set

A psychological thriller that pulls you along on its trajectory and doesn’t loosen its grip till it’s done with you.  McLean packs Fatal Obsession with revenge, intriguing characters, and fast-paced action; you will not want to miss this rare treat!  AND there’s a dog in the story!

*****

Spring Upon a Crime – M L Erdahl – four stars

Seattle Wilderness Mysteries, Book Two

Spring Upon a Crime is Book Two in the series but is easily read as a stand-alone.  This episode finds Crystal leading a tour into the Olympic Rain Forest, where along with flora and fauna, they find a dead body and Crystal’s friend Roxie holding the murder weapon.

And so the investigation starts.  But there just might be too many suspects for this one to be an easy case.  Erdahl’s characters are quirky and fun, making this cozy mystery a great read.  I enjoyed Spring; I’m looking forward to more of Crystal’s adventures.

*****

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the authors of these books, through the 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions expressed herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

Danger Signs – Fiona Quinn

Delta Force Echo, Book One

Five of five stars

When Ty is pegged for a new CIA joint mission, his first thought was that he’s tactical and K9 ops, not psyops.  He is, however, the best one for this assignment – to make the target fall in love with him, thus giving him access to the terrorist the mission is tasked with taking down.

His target – Qatari royalty with a dilemma of her own to face.  She’s an American, born in America of Qatari parents, but her father has passed away.  Which, now that she’s done her Ph.D., puts under the aegis of her uncle.  In Qatar, under Sharia law.  And he’s found her an acceptable husband, so she’s been ordered home; back to the family compound.  After close to thirty years with no one to answer to, does she accept marriage to the stranger chosen by her uncle or face certain death by honour killing?

There is much at stake – including the lives of innocents – when her uncle’s marriage plans for her coincide with Ty’s mission. 

Quinn has once again penned a story that packs a powerful punch of both intrigue and romance.  The research this author invests in each new volume of her Iniquus World is simply daunting and what keeps this reader always coming back for the next one.  Danger Signs isn’t just about the danger encountered every time these men and women are out in the field, but also about the danger that threatens the heart – when the last thing your mission needs is for your heart to be entangled.

Par for the course with Quinn’s books, Danger Signs kept me up all night till the threads were all woven together.  A page-turning, unputdownable, wild ride you will not want to miss, promise!

pick up your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Signs-Delta-Force-Echo-ebook/dp/B08PTMDRGT/

[I was fortunate to receive a prepublication copy of the book from the author with no obligation to review.  The opinions expressed herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

The Silent Speak – Val Collins

An Aoife Walsh Thriller, Book Three

Five of five stars

An investigative journalist and a Detective Inspector – what could possibly go wrong?

Aoife Walsh has been hesitant to “seal the deal” in her relationship with Conor Moloney. She has baggage from her previous abusive husband. He has a teenage son who seems to despise Aoife. Add to this tumultuous existence a demand by the sister of a man who stands accused of having killed his family in cold blood; Aoife finds herself enmeshed in the investigation. Which doesn’t make Conor happy at all.

The Silent Speak is the first time I’ve encountered Val Collins‘ work. She weaves her tale well and peppers enough nuggets of previous books in the series that though I started at number three, I felt the characters were clear and engaging. A great story and skillfully written, I happily recommend this book!

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the author via BookSirens, with no obligation to review. The opinions herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

Preserved – Fiona Sherlock

Five stars

A new-to-me author with a great fun read!

Right upfront with full-disclosure, I admit that I am predisposed to love books set in Ireland.  Pair that with a good whodunnit, old-fashioned detective story and you’ve got me!

January Quail is a journalist who writes about antiquities.  When a “bog body” is found in Ardee, January is dispatched to get the goods.  What she gets is a mystery, when it’s quickly discovered that this is no 1,000 year-old corpse, though it’s been staged as one.  Can she find out the truth when even the Gardai seem uninclined?

Sherlock [what a great name for a mystery writer!] pulls it all together with red herrings, more dead bodies, and a secret so old it would never have been unearthed otherwise.  Preserved is a fun read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Highly recommend!!!

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the author via BookSirens, with no obligation to review.  The opinions herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

To Heal a Heart – Jana Richards

The Masonville series, Book Two

Five of five stars

Another heartwarming read from a new-to-me author!

We meet one of the main characters as he finds himself drawn to rescuing a horse otherwise headed for dogfood.  We meet the other when she comes across him and the horse as they are walking toward home, and berates him for how badly the poor horse has been neglected.  The inevitable crash boom happens as two major forces – both with chips on their shoulders and secrets to hide – collide.

Garrett and Jessica have scars and secrets that they each feel no one else could possibly understand.  Richards plies her craft expertly here as she drags them both kicking and screaming to the realization that nothing is ever insurmountable.

In To Heal a Heart we find a rich tapestry of pain, regret, and heartache.  But she tempers it well with hope, and ultimately love.  Richards’ characters are multifaceted and endearing, the kind of people you’d want as neighbours and friends.  And in their stories, there is loss, but also healing.

I loved this story; from the beautifully described country to the delicately handled issues, this was another book I was sad to see the end of.  I will be picking up more by this author!

Get your copy here:  https://www.amazon.com/Heal-Heart-Masonville-Book-ebook/dp/B0875SLGK6/

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the author through the 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

Path of Treasures – Gail Meath

Five of five stars

Another new-to-me author, in a genre that isn’t really my norm; but it packed a mystery that was a little different than most.

Meath draws in the threads of many different stories – some seemingly unrelated – and weaves them into a story that is compelling, enthralling, and most of all unputdownable.

In the first pages we meet Wolfe, Cole, and a railroad baron who is bent on vengeance.  The book almost didn’t hold me at this point.  Until we meet Sam and Streeter, and Sara.  And we find out Wolfe and his colleague are not what we first thought.  The story takes on a life of its own and this is where Meath takes Path of Treasures on its own treasure hunt.

There’s much more to this narrative than what the hapless reader might first surmise.  A skillful blend of intrigue, deceit, hidden agendas, and greed that all combine to make this among my favourite reads of the Winter Games this year.  I’m sure you will too; I highly recommend it and will be searching out more by Meath myself.

Find your copy of treasure here:  https://www.amazon.com/PATH-TREASURES-Gail-Meath-ebook/dp/B08MCGR578/

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book from the author through the 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions expressed herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

The Accidental Heiress – CJ Fosdick

Five of five stars

While this is the third of a series, I had no problem at all reading it without having read the first two – though I will go back and read them.

Fosdick tells an engaging and intriguing tale that spans through the present day – and well into the past.  I had no trouble keeping straight who was who – whether in the past or the present – and becoming totally immersed in the stories she tells.  This is an author with a clear love for her characters that is evident in how well she draws them, and how sympathetic they all are to the reader.

The Accidental Heiress is – in part – the story of Jess and Robbie.  Time travellers who found each other by chance and married, in the present day; they are finally on their much delayed honeymoon in Ireland, Robbie’s home of more than a century before.

The Accidental Heiress is also a story of social justice and much needed change.  In its recapping of events of the past – its way of explaining present day confusions – it addresses the situations that often brought unimaginable results to many who felt helpless to counter their circumstances.

Jess and Robbie have a love that spans centuries, but their story is ageless.  From the crash into the Shannon on the last leg of their journey to honeymoon, to the journey home again, I could not bring myself to leave them until I knew all of what happened.  I’m sure you’ll feel the same way as well.  I highly recommend this author, and this series.

The first of this series is found here:  https://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Wife-Cj-Fosdick-ebook/dp/B00TMW2ZCI/

Or if you fancy just reading Book Three, find it here:  https://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Heiress-Book-ebook/dp/B08NZ329XP/

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the author through the 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions expressed herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

Fatal Limit – Inge-Lise Goss

Five of five stars

Goss gets right into the story on the very first page; she keeps it fast-paced and full of tantalizing tidbits right to the very last page.  This is a story that has you developing – and dropping – theories and villains with each new chapter; an engagement that is palpable.  It’s clear that Goss in her element in this genre.

Fatal Limit’s heroine is a private investigator named Dora.  Her boyfriend is a homicide detective.  How the two handle their sometimes entangled cases is part of what makes the narrative work, and keeps it intriguing.  I give credit to him that he listens to her and soon sees the truth and what she sees.  He doesn’t just slough off her insights and that’s refreshing.  It shows he’s a smart man too.

Sheila’s murder is no exception.  With all the “experts” saying it was an unfortunate accident, Dora – and her best friend and Sheila’s niece Maddie – are convinced there is far more to this.  The fact that Dora was waiting for Sheila when it happened and saw it, goes even further to convince her that this is her case to solve.

Well written, with characters that are so well drawn as to almost be real, Goss is masterful and keeping the suspense flowing.  A truly great read that I highly recommend; I’ll be looking for more from this new-to-me author.

Grab your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Fatal-Limit-Inge-Lise-Goss-ebook/dp/B0819654BR/

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the author through the 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and are given freely.]

Find Her – Chris Patchell

Her Silent Shadow: A Gripping Psychological Suspense Collection

Find Her – five of five stars

If the other books in this collection are like Find Her, then this is a collection that’s not to be missed, I’m looking forward to reading the others in this boxed set!

I’ve never read anything by Chris Patchell before; an oversight that will soon be corrected.  Find Her has all the earmarks of a top-notch psychological thriller.  The peek into the mind of the perpetrator, the challenges that the Investigators face – some of which have nothing to do with the case.  The resultant tapestry that emerges from the skillful weaving of the various threads in this piece brings forth a narrative that really couldn’t be any less shocking while at the same time being supremely fitting.

Patchell draws her characters with a sympathy and understanding that draws you in and keeps you engaged throughout.  Find Her is a page-turner.  Another book that kept me awake till it was done. 

Pick the collection up here:  https://www.amazon.com/Her-Silent-Shadow-Psychological-Collection-ebook/dp/B08PMHLYZH/

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of Find Her from the author through the 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions contained herein are entirely my own and are given freely.]

Mrs. Spinney’s Secret – M S Spencer

Five of five stars

What a treat to find a new-to-me author who combines mystery and intrigue with a bit of history and a good dollop of humour too.  Mrs. Spinney’s Secret takes place in the present but many of the threads of its mystery go back to the American Revolution.  And what better setting than Maine?  Picturesque small towns, the citizens of which know everything there is to know about their neighbours – and intend to find out everything there is to know about “foreigners” too.  Especially when those foreigners are “Hollywood types”.

Though Cassidy Beauvoir – chair of the Overseer Committee, and owner of the local bookstore – exhorts council not to agree to let that movie crew work in their small town, members with stars in their eyes overrule her; and soon find out they should have listened.

While Secret is full of red herrings, and unexpected twists, Spencer injects chuckles into the narrative as well.  The usual suspects of town blowhards and busybodies intermingling with the stars lead to a good few chuckles while at the same time handing out unexpected surprises.  People are being killed, ghosts are firing guns and slamming trap doors, and it just might be that history is not recorded too accurately.

An enjoyable read, I started Mrs. Spinney’s Secret just after dinner and I didn’t not put it down till it was done.  I highly recommend it!

Pick up your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Spinneys-Secret-M-Spencer-ebook/dp/B08P886V99/

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book from the author through 2021 Winter Games Reader Challenge, with no obligation to review.  The opinions contained herein are entirely my own and given freely.]