Book Review: Cold Day in the Sun

Cold Day in the Sun – Sara Biren – Amulet Books – Published 12 March 2019

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Synopsis

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.

My thoughts

Cold Day in the Sun is a fun YA, sport-centred novel with a tender heart and a very important message about equality and the strength and determination it takes to stand up for what you want (and there might be some very swoony romance thrown in as well). I absolutely love ice hockey novels. I’ve never played, never even watched a full game and yet there is something about the cold, crisp setting, the devotion of the fans, and the commitment and hard work of the players that makes this game so alluring in YA fiction. Throw in a story about a girl playing on a guy’s sport team and this novel was certain to be an absolute winner.

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Book Review: Together Forever

Together Forever – Jody Hedlund – Orphan Train #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 1 May 2018

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Synopsis

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

My thoughts

Together Forever is the second book in the Orphan Train series. It picks up where book one left off, but this time telling the story of the second-eldest Neumann sister, Marianne. Marianne grieves the loss of her younger sister, who ran away. Marianne blames herself and is determined to do everything she can to find Sophie. Marianne joins the Children’s Aid Society as a placing agent on the Orphan trains, hoping to use their records to find Sophie. On her first journey, Marianne is drawn to her fellow agent, outgoing and charming Drew Brady. But with a romance forbidden between agents and with each of them with a past that is holding them captive, any future between them seems unlikely.

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Book Review: Rise of the Dragons

Rise of the Dragons – Angie Sage – Rise of the Dragons #1 – Scholastic Press – Published 26 February 2019

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Synopsis

Once our world was full of dragons who lived in harmony with humans. But after a group of rogue dragons, the Raptors, tried to take over Earth, all dragons were banished to another realm.

Most humans forgot about the dragons, claiming they never existed. Eleven-year-old Sirin knows the truth — she grew up with stories passed down through the generations. However, when her mother falls ill, even Sirin has trouble believing in magic . . . until she sees a mysterious streak of silver in the night sky.

Sirin becomes the first child to “lock” with a dragon in centuries — forming a deep friendship unlike anything she’s ever imagined. But Sirin learns that not all dragons returned with good intentions, and soon she finds herself at the center of a battle between the dragons who want to protect the humans . . . and those who want to destroy them.

My thoughts

I adored The Magyk series by Angie Sage and it remains a perennial favourite with our library’s young readers, and so I jumped at the chance to read and review the first book in her newest fantasy series, Rise of the Dragons. With the promise of game cards and a matching online game, Rise of the Dragons promised to be an exciting release. The new world Sage has created and her daring plot of intrigue, dragon battles and family bonds is both thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable. It is sure to be a hit with our middle-grade readers. After all, everything is better with dragons.

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Book Review: All Made Up

All Made Up – Kara Isaac – Bellbird Press – Published 28 September 2018

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Synopsis

Everyone thinks Katriona McLeod is living the dream. Her professional career as a make up artist sees her traveling the world working with the stars and she’s got no shortage of men wanting her affection. Only problem is she’s never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she’s ever loved. When she accepts a job on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she’s cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it.

Caleb Murphy couldn’t care less about C-Class celebrity fame or reality TV and he certainly doesn’t believe it could lead him to love. The one thing he does care about is fulfilling his mother’s last wish. Kat’s presence on the show seems to offer up a solution that will make both the network and his mother happy. It might have been almost ten years since they split but he knows he can trust her with his plan. Just as long as he doesn’t fall in love all over again with the woman who will never stay.

My thoughts

I wasn’t sure about reading this book. On one hand I absolutely love Kara Isaac’s books and writing style, so I knew I was sure to love this book. But on the other hand the premise was centred around a finding love reality tv show. No shame to people who like those shows but they are really not my thing. So, with a little trepidation I started All Made Up. And I’m so glad I did. I was captured from the very first page. I have loved Kat since she first appeared in Isaac’s debut Close To You. Strong and determined, Kat is simply lots of fun to be around. But in All Made Up we finally learn that there is so much more to her, so much more to her story, so much heartache. I loved this chance to get to know her and for her to finally get a chance to tell her story and, hopefully, get a happy ending. And that reality TV setting? Well, when your two main characters are reluctant participants, a lot of fun is made at the expense of the other contestants and the drama of the show itself, and there is an endless reel of mishaps and hilarity, the show and the situation it puts Kat and Caleb in is just another facet of All Made Up that is so fantastic and loveable.

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Book Review: The Secrets of Paper and Ink

The Secrets of Paper and Ink – Lindsay Harrel – Thomas Nelson – Published 26 February 2019

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Synopsis

A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

My thoughts

The Secrets of Paper and Ink is a charming story, combing the stories of three very strong women as they face the challenges of love, family, heartbreak, and following their dreams.

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Book Review: The Blood Spell

The Blood Spell – C.J. Redwing – Ravenspire #4 – Balzer+Bray – Published 12 February 2019

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Synopsis

Blue de la Cour has her life planned: hide the magic in her blood and continue trying to turn metal into gold so she can help her city’s homeless. But when her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her—and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan.

Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata, is walking a thin line between political success and devastating violence. Newly returned from boarding school, he must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal—but escalating tension among the families makes the search nearly impossible. He’s surprised to discover that the one person who makes him feel like he can breathe is Blue, the girl who once ruined all his best adventures.

When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together to find the truth. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts. When romance is forbidden and evil is rising, can Blue save those she loves, even if it costs her everything?

My thoughts

The Blood Spell is the fourth book in C.J. Redwine’s series of fairytale retellings. As she has with each of the three previous instalments, The Blood Spell is a wonderful fantasy novel in its own right with threads of the familiar fairytale cleverly woven through the plot to create a unique and thrilling tale.

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Book Review: Code of Valor

Code of Valor – Lynette Eason – Blue Justice #3 – Revell – Published 1 January 2019

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Synopsis

What Detective Brady St. John really needs is a relaxing vacation. Unfortunately, just as the sun is setting on his second day at a friend’s cabin on Lake Henley, he hears a scream and races to rescue a woman from her would-be killer. When the killer escapes only to return to finish the job, Brady vows to utilize all of his many resources to keep her safe–and catch those who would see her dead.

Financial crimes investigator Emily Chastain doesn’t trust many people. And even though she let the detective who saved her life in on a few pertinent facts about why she was being attacked, there are some things you just don’t share with a stranger. Little does she suspect that the secret she is keeping just might get them both killed.

My thoughts

Code of Valor is the third book in the Blue Justice series which follows the St John family. Code of Valor has the same blend of action, suspense, romance and strong family dynamics as books one and two, giving readers plenty of thrills as the characters fight for their lives.

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Book Review: Mind Games

Mind Games – Nancy Mehl – Kaely Quinn Profiler #1 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 4 December 2018

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Synopsis

Kaely Quinn’s talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she’s demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, the reporter’s ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem’s predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else–including Kaely herself–is killed.

My thoughts

Mind Games is the first thrilling book in a new series that follows FBI profiler Kaely Quinn. Mind Games is a tantalising mix of suspense, solid detective work and a unique and interesting twist that Kaely’s individual talents bring to the story. I found the hunt for the serial killer intriguing but it was Kaely’s personal journey that kept me glued to the pages.

Kaely Quinn’s unique methods as a behaviour analyst and her past as the daughter of a serial killer has made her career with the FBI challenging. But despite a recent relocation and few friends within the Bureau, there is no doubting Kaely’s ability to close cases. When a letter is received hinting at the start of a killing spree that will end with Kaely’s death, it will take everything Kaely and her newly assigned partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, have to stop the killer.

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Book Review: What You Hide

What You Hide – Natalie D. Richards – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 4 December 2018

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Synopsis

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

My thoughts

What You Hide is one part contemporary, the other part mystery thriller. It is a touching and thought-provoking story of family breakdown and youth homelessness, a coming of age story and a love story rolled into one.

When Mallory’s pregnant mother changes her mind about leaving her controlling and demanding husband (Malloy’s stepfather), Mallory makes the decision to leave by herself. This new plan means that she has nowhere to go. Enrolled in online school, she spends her days at the library and, once her welcome wears out her friend’s home, her nights too. It’s at the library that she meets Spencer. Seemingly living a perfect life, Spencer reveals he is working at the library to serve out his community service sentence and that he is struggling with decisions about the future. But then a body is found in the library and signs show that Mallory isn’t the only one hiding in the library.

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Book Review: Who I Am With You

Who I Am With You – Robin Lee Hatcher – Thomas Nelson – Published 11 December 2018

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Synopsis

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination. 

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have wronged them, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

My thoughts

Who I Am With You is a charming and touching story of forgiveness and recovering from great loss. It’s about love and family and commitment and finding a beautiful connection with someone. Thoroughly enjoyable, it’s guaranteed to bring a tender smile to your face.

It has only been a few months since the tragic death of her daughter and husband, but Jessica’s family was falling apart long before that fateful car accident. Now a few months pregnant, Jessica has isolated herself from her friends, running her art and design business from home, until Ridley Chesterfield moves into the house next door. Ridley, too, had has his life shaken when his reputation was tarnished across national media. Ridley and Jessica find common ground and they start to develop a sweet friendship that helps them each rebuild faith in themselves, God and the people around them. But as their feelings grow, neither is sure if the timing is right for something more than friendship.

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