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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Book Review: The Disasters

The Disasters – M.K. England – HarperTeen – Published 18 December 2018

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Synopsis

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

My thoughts

Well, that was a whole bunch of fun. With spaceship chases, a plot to wipe out the population of both Earth and all the new colonised planets, grand theft spaceship, diverse characters, humour, advanced tech, and plenty of space-y action, The Disasters is a fun and thrilling new YA sci-fi. It will entice fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and thrill sci-fi readers.

Nax is being kicked out of The Academy. He and three others have failed in their dream to use the Academy space program to launch themselves to a new life on a planet or spaceship in a different solar system. But as their shuttle is about to leave the Academy on Ellis Station, they witness the attack and brutal murder of all the occupants of the station. Making a daring escape on the shuttle, these four rejects suddenly find themselves as the only people aware of the plot to wipe out Earth, and the only ones who can stop it.

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Book Review: Navigating The Stars

Navigating the Stars – Maria V. Snyder – Sentinels of the Galaxy #1 – Harlequin – Published 19 November 2018

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Synopsis

Year 2471. A new discovery. Those three words thrill my parents – the galaxy’s leading archaeologists – but for me, it means another time jump to a different planet. One so big, my friends will be older than my dad when we arrive. And I’ll still be seventeen. Thanks, Einstein. I really can’t blame Einstein, though. No one expected to find life-sized terracotta warriors buried on other planets. So off we go to investigate, traveling through space and time. With my social life in ruins, I fill my days illegally worming into the quantum net – the invention that allows us to travel in space. Of course the only person close to my age is a hot-but-pain-in-the-neck security officer who threatens to throw me into the brig. But when one of the warrior planets goes silent, we have bigger problems on our hands. The planet’s entire population might be dead. And now my worming skills, along with a translation of an ancient alien artefact, might be the key to finding out why. But my attempts to uncover the truth lead to the discovery of a deadly new alien phenomenon, and also alert those who wish to keep it quiet. The galaxy is in real danger and time is not on our side…

My thoughts

I am a huge fan of Synder’s Ixia Chronicles and her Outside In series, so when I heard she was writing a new sci-fi novel I knew I just had to read it. I am so glad that HarperCollins Australia went ahead with publishing – yay Australia! Navigating the Stars is full of adventure, awesome advanced technology, romance, archaeology, hacking, code breaking and trouble-making. With Synder’s signature writing style and touch of humour and banter, Navigating the Stars is sure to thrill all her devoted fans and entice many new readers to join the ranks of her followers.

Lyra lives on planet Xinji – one of hundreds found after the discovery of the quantum net and the ability to crinkle time, moving tens of years through space in a matter of days. Her parents are archaeologists working to uncover the mystery of the thousands of Chinese Terracotta Warriors buried on planets spread throughout the Milky Way. But when a new planet is discovered, it means Lyra is forced to follow her parents deeper into space, leaving behind her friends and her planned future. But big discoveries await and this time Lyra will find herself right in the middle of the big and dangerous discoveries.

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Book Review: Things Left Unsaid

Things Left Unsaid – Courtney Walsh – Waterfall Press – Published 30 October 2018

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Synopsis

Lyndie St. James is thrilled that her best friend, Elle, is getting married but unprepared for the emotional storm of the wedding week and returning to her childhood summer home of Sweethaven. The idyllic cottage community harbors some of her best—and worst—memories. It’s not only the tragic death of her childhood friend Cassie that has haunted her for ten years, it’s the other secrets she’s buried that have kept her from moving on.

But Lyndie isn’t the only one with secrets.

Cassie’s mother, father and brother, still struggling with the loss, have been drifting further and further apart. And Elle herself, the last to see Cassie alive, carries an impossible burden of guilt. Now reunited, each of them has a choice: to reveal the truths of that night or continue to live in its shadow. That means embarking on a personal journey of the heart—to escape the darkness and all its regrets and to finally come to terms with the past and, especially, with each other.

My thoughts

Things Left Unsaid is a poignant story of terrible tragedies and regret, of love and forgiveness and grace. At first a little slow and confusing, Things Left Unsaid quickly wormed its way into my heart and captured my attention. It’s the perfect book for readers who enjoy touching stories of loss, grief, second chances, romance, family, forgiveness and love.

Lyndie left Sweethaven after the death of her best friend Cassie and vowed to never return. But with her friend Elle’s wedding taking place in the town they once called their summer home and the ten-year anniversary of Cassie’s death coinciding on the same weekend, Lyndie has no choice but return to the place that took so much from her. Returning to Sweethaven also means coming face-to-face with Cassie’s brother Tucker, the man Lyndie has tried so hard to forget.

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Book Review: Wait For Me

Wait For Me – Susan May Warren – Montana Rescue #6 – Revell – Published 6 November 2018

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Synopsis

Pete Brooks can’t believe he’s waited an entire year for Jess Tagg to return to Montana, only to have her break his heart by getting engaged to her ex-fiancé. Worse, a series of mistakes on the job have cost lives, and Pete isn’t sure he wants to continue to work in Search and Rescue. Maybe if he can just get over Jess, he can figure out how to move forward.

EMT Jess Tagg has returned to Montana to finally give her heart to Pete, but it seems he’s no longer interested. When a terrible fight between them sparks an impulsive decision, she finds herself crashed on the side of a highway along with Esme Shaw. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, she and Esme are taken captive and into the untamed Montana wilderness—with murderous intent.

Now Pete and the other PEAK Rescue Team members are in a race against time, the elements, and the actions of a vengeful man. Pete will have to use everything he’s learned to find Jess and Esme—and pray that his past mistakes don’t cost him the life of the woman he can’t stop loving.

My thoughts

With Wait For Me, Susan May Warren brings her stunning romantic suspense series Montana Rescue to a close. Wait For Me is the sixth and final book in a series that has given readers so many tense life-and-death situations, challenges, and stories of resilience, survival, faith, second chances and, of course, love. Bringing the series full circle, Wait For Me finally gives readers the long-awaited story of Pete and Jess – characters whose complicated relationship has been spread throughout the series – as well as a conclusion to the mystery surrounding the disappearance and recent return of Esme Shaw. It is thrilling, romantic, deeply layered and everything I have come to expect from Warren.

Pete Brooks promised Jess Tagg, aka Selene Taggert, that he would wait for her. But after a year of silence, broken promises to return and news that she is engaged to someone else, Pete knows that it might be time to move on. When Jess makes a surprise return to Montana neither she nor Pete know how to deal with their complicated emotions and tangled story. But when Jess, Esme Shaw and Esme’s date Ned Marshall are run off the road and kidnapped, Pete will stop at nothing to rescue Jess- no matter what the future holds for them.

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Book Review: Four Three Two One

Four Three Two One – Courtney Stevens – HarperTeen – Published 13 November 2018

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Synopsis

Golden “Go” Jennings wasn’t supposed to be on Bus 21 the day it blew up in New York City. Neither was her boyfriend, Chandler. But they were. And so was Rudy, a cute stranger whom Go shared a connection with the night before. And Caroline, a girl whose silence ended up costing nineteen people their lives.

Though it’s been a year since the bombing, Go isn’t any closer to getting over what happened. Since Chan shuts down every time Go brings that day up, she decides to reach out to Rudy. Just like that, the two fall right back into their easy, deep connection. Facing the past head-on with Rudy has opened up a small window of healing Go never thought was possible. So she makes an impulsive decision: Round up the rest of the survivors and head to New York City. There they will board an art installation made of the charred remnants of Bus 21.

But things are never easy when it comes to rehashing the past. Uniting the four stirs up conflicting feelings of anger and forgiveness and shows them that, although they all survived, they may still need saving.

My thoughts

Take an author who is excellent at writing powerful stories about heartbreaking situations. Add a plot line about a bombing, abusive relationships, recovery journeys and the power of human togetherness. Drop in five character: four survivors and one along for the ride. Stir together and shake a little. With that recipe it’s no wonder that Four Three Two One is an incredibly powerful and emotive story of surviving, overcoming insurmountable odds, and forgiving yourself.

Golden Jennings is one of four survivors of a bus bombing. While she is eager to unpack the emotions and fallout from that fateful day in New York, her boyfriend, another survivor, won’t mention it at all. When one of the attending paramedics reconstructs the bus and creates a memorial for those who died in the blast, Golden decides to make the trip to New York again. With a new-found friend and the two other survivors, Golden begins a journey towards making new memories, facing old ones and maybe even find some form of healing.

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Book Review: The Geography of Lost Things

The Geography of Lost Things – Jessica Brody – Simon Pulse – Published 2 October 2018

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Synopsis

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.

My thoughts

The Geography of Lost Things is a fun road trip novel about learning to forgive and starting over. Jessica Brody weaves together a compelling story of second-chance romance and father-daughter relationships, family financial difficulties and learning to see again the value in little things.

Ali has just days until the bank will reclaim her family home and she and her mother must find somewhere else to live. Years of paying the debts of her flaky father, of learning that his promises can’t be trusted and knowing he will never come home have made Ali angry for everything she has lost. So, when a knock on the door reveals her father has left her his most prized possession – a 1968 Firebird convertible – Ali is quick to list it for sale, hoping the money can save her home. The only problem is the buyer is miles away and she can’t drive stick. Her ex-boyfriend Nico can, though, and when he wiggles his way into her road trip Ali is sure it’s going to be a disaster. What will a car, miles of road, too many secrets, lies and broken dreams to count and a possibility of a redo bring?

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Book Review: The Reluctant Warrior

The Reluctant Warrior – Mary Connealy – High Sierra Sweethearts #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 2 October 2018

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Synopsis

Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.

When danger descends on the cabin where they’re huddled, Cam is hurt trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to help him win back their affection–and in the process he might just win her heart as well.

My thoughts

The Reluctant Warrior returns readers to the story and characters first discovered in The Accidental Guardian. The Reluctant Warrior is the second book in the High Sierra Sweethearts series and it is a series I have come to really enjoy. With the harsh but glorious surrounds of the Sierra Nevada Mountains as backdrop, these stories combine sweet romance that develops out of the toughest situations and tense thrills and heart-pounding suspense as the characters fight for their lives and for justice.

Cameron Scott, now retired from the Union army, only wishes to retrieve his daughter and nephew and take them to his new home – a parcel of land marked to become a thriving ranch. But the children are terrified of him and instead cling to the woman who has cared for them in the past months. When a determined killer once again trains his sights on the small group huddled together in the wild winter, Cam must extend his time with the annoying Gwen Harkness. Yet the threat of danger and the chance to get to know and love his children give him an opportunity to learn more about Gwen, and Cam finds she just might be the answer to his troubles.

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Book Review: A Heart in a Body in the World

A Heart in the Body in the World – Deb Caletti – Simon Pulse – Published 18 September 2018

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Synopsis

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

My thoughts

Achingly poignant and beautifully written, A Heart in a Body in the World is a book that everyone, man, woman and teen, must read. I truly do not have words adequate enough to describe both the importance and the beauty of this incredible story. It brought me to tears (multiple times), it had me on the edge of my seat, it had me raging at the world, and it had me smiling in hope and joy and hoping that maybe, just maybe, through stories such as these of strong, brave men and women, we can make a difference.

After everything that happened, everything that has been taken from her, Annabelle isn’t sure what to do. What can she do? So she runs. One night just takes off and starts running. She doesn’t have a plan, doesn’t expect her younger brother to create a route for her from Washington State to Washington DC. Doesn’t expect her mother to agree. Doesn’t expect her Grandpa Ed to travel with her in his RV as her support team. She also never expected to become an unwitting activist with a message to share. All Annabelle knows to do is to put one foot in front of the other – because after you’ve lost everything, what else can you do.

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