Book Review: Now Entering Addamsville

Now Entering Addamsville – Francesca Zappia – Greenwillow Books – Published 1 October 2019

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Synopsis

Zora Novak has been framed.

When someone burns down the home of the school janitor and he dies in the blaze, everyone in Addamsville, Indiana, points a finger at Zora. Never mind that Zora has been on the straight and narrow since her father was thrown in jail. With everyone looking for evidence against her, her only choice is to uncover the identity of the real killer. There’s one big problem—Zora has no leads. No one does. Addamsville has a history of tragedy, and thirty years ago a similar string of fires left several townspeople dead. The arsonist was never caught.

Now, Zora must team up with her cousin Artemis—an annoying self-proclaimed Addamsville historian—to clear her name. But with a popular ghost-hunting television show riling up the townspeople, almost no support from her family and friends, and rumors spinning out of control, things aren’t looking good. Zora will have to read between the lines of Addamsville’s ghost stories before she becomes one herself.

My thoughts

I don’t read a lot of paranormal YA and even fewer ghosts stories, but I added this to my reading pile because it is written by Francesca Zappa. And I’m so glad I did. Take-no-prisoners female lead character (armed with an axe, seriously), a story of intrigue, murder, and mystery, and yes, ghosts, but with a complex storyline and plenty of layers of details about the rules for this paranormal version of a small town with plenty of secrets, all contribute to make Now Entering Addamsville an intense and compelling read.

When the school’s janitor is killed as his house burns down, the town of Addamsville blame Zora Novak. With her father in jail for a failed Ponzi scheme, her mother still missing after she disappeared five years ago and the fire incident that left a field burnt and Zora untouched save for two missing fingers, Zora is the easy target. But Zora knows the truth. She is being framed and the person framing her isn’t a person, it’s a firestarter, a demon-like creature who can inhabit people and set fires at will, and Zora, who inherited her ability to see ghosts from her mother, along with her ghost-sensing cousin, is the only one who can stop it.

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Book Review: On Thin Ice

On Thin Ice – Julie Cross – Juniper Falls #3 – Entangled: Teen – Published 26 February 2019

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Synopsis

Brooke Parker never expected to find herself in the tiny town of Juniper Falls, Minnesota. Of course, she also never expected to lose her dad. Or for her mom to lose herself. Brooke feels like she’s losing it…until she finds Juniper Falls hockey. Juniper Falls girls’ hockey, that is.

Jake Hammond, current prince of Juniper Falls, captain of the hockey team, and player with the best chance of scoring it big, is on top of the world. Until one hazing ritual gone wrong lands him injured, sitting on the sidelines, and―shocking even to him―finding himself enjoying his “punishment” as assistant coach for the girls’ team.

As Jake and Brooke grow closer, he finds the quiet new girl is hiding a persona full of life, ideas, and experiences bigger and broader than anything he’s ever known. But to Jake, hockey’s never just been a game. It’s his whole life. And leveraging the game for a shot at their future might be more than he can give.

My thoughts

On Thin Ice is the romantic and sensational third book in the Juniper Falls series. Ice hockey, scintillating romance, heartbreaking family troubles, strong friendship and a soul searching story about standing up for what’s right, On Thin Ice has all the pieces to create a captivating story which I devoured.

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Book Review: Just Let Go

Just Let Go – Courtney Walsh – Harbor Pointe #2 – Tyndale – Published 5 June 2018

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Synopsis

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out–and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town–and Quinn’s life–possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

My thoughts

Just Let Go is as delightful as its gorgeous cover; a beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness, and starting over, of learning to work for your dreams and learning when to let go.

Grady is a professional skier, Olympian, and, according to the world, a wash-up bound for forced retirement. A self-imposed road trip leads Grady to Harbor Pointe, where a judgmental comment leads to a fist-fight, which leads to Grady being sentenced to weeks of community service and being stuck in the infuriatingly small town. As soon as she sets eyes on Grady Benson, Quinn Collins knows he is bad news. They come from different worlds – while he was off living the high life and has no qualms putting holes in the walls of diners, she has lived her whole life in Harbor Pointe, working towards her dream of owning her own flower shop, creating the best design for the upcoming Winter Carnival, and entering her designs into the Floral Expo. She is on the verge of realising that dream and the last thing she needs is to babysit the egotistical skier for the duration of his community service. But there is more to Grady than is reported in the tabloids, and Quinn is holding onto her own hurts. Can the two learn to work together?

Just Let Go was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it was everything I expected it to be. After reading Just Look Up and loving it, I was excited to read this second novel in the Harbor Pointe series. Each of the two books can be read as standalones, with complete story lines, a few character crossovers, and the same delightful, small-town setting. Just Let Go is a complicated and layered story of relationships, dreams, and the faith needed to overcome the hurts of the past.

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Book Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns

Dress Codes for Small Towns – Courtney C. Stevens – HarperTeen – Published 22 August 2017

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Synopsis

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

My thoughts

There was one reason I chose to pick up this book – it was written by Courtney C. Stevens. I have been hugely impressed with her books so far, I love sharing them with our readers and our readers love reading her books.

Dress Codes For Small Towns is a magnificent book. It is so heartfelt, honest, and true to itself, just like its main character. And Billie truly is the star of this show. It is her story and she won over my heart almost instantly.

Billie McCaffrey is the preacher’s daughter in a small town in Western Kentucky most famous for its harvest festival and annual Corn Dolly competition. Despite the many rude comments and judgemental looks, Billie dresses and acts in a way that is true to who she is. An artist. An adventurer. A member of the Hexagon, her group of friends who she has collected over the years. But as her feelings for two of her best friends grow and change into something unexpected and her relationship with another friend brings new experiences and freedom into her life, who Billie is and what she thinks about herself collides with her father’s (and the town’s), expectations.

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Book Review: Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On – Melissa Tagg – Walker Family #3 – Larkspur Press – Published 27 September 2016

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Synopsis

Beckett Walker hasn’t stepped foot in Maple Valley in years. There’s no getting past the painful memories, and there’s every chance he’ll be arrested as soon as he shows his face. Which is exactly what happens when he finally returns. Suddenly his dream of adventure as a military lawyer comes skidding to a halt.

Horticulturist Kit Danby has spent too much time missing home and her childhood best friend–Beckett Walker. Now she might have a shot at reclaiming both. After years of living abroad, she returns to run her family’s apple orchard. She has one season to turn a profit and impress the father she barely knows. But she can’t do it alone.

It should be simple: Beckett needs community service hours. Kit needs a helping hand. But there’s more at stake than either of them planned. With a tangled past and futures that look nothing alike, they’ll have to find a way to weather the storms of the present . . . or risk losing everything.

My thoughts

Once again Melissa Tagg has delivered with an achingly beautiful story of family (crazy, big, loud, loveable family), friendship (childhood best friends falling in love – my favourite kind of friendship), and life, love, laughter and tears. I wanted to both savour this book and devour it.

It’s lovely to return once again to Maple Valley and the Walker family. I loved catching up with Logan, Amelia and Charlie, Kate and Colton, Seth and Ava, Raegan, Megan, Case and all the familiar faces of Maple Valley. But it is Beckett Walker who is the star of this story. Beckett has been absent from Maple Valley for six years. He left one night six years ago when the hurt of his life had tangled around him and he just needed to get out. Since then he attended college and has been working as a lawyer in Boston, but a chance to become a JAG officer has him finally returning to Maple Valley, where he knows he must face his past (including the criminal arrest warrant waiting for him), his family and his childhood best-friend, Kit Danby.

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Book Review: Game On

game-on

Game On – Michelle Smith – Lewis Creek #2 – Bloomsbury Spark – Published 16 August 2016

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Synopsis

As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.

Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months—for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.

In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.

My thoughts

Sport and romance combine in this fun story of second chances and starting over.

Eric finally has the starting position as pitcher on the baseball team. And that means a whole lot more pressure and more people watching his every move. So getting arrested for hitting one of his teammates isn’t going to improve his popularity with the townspeople. Bri knows its time to end things with her boyfriend. But she doesn’t need her neighbour and old friend Eric fighting with her ex for her. She surprises herself when she stands up for Eric, offering his coach an out instead of Eric getting kicked off the team. Even if it means spending a whole lot more time with Eric.

I love boy/girl-next-door love stories, especially ones about friends. Bri and Eric haven’t spent much time together since they were kids, so it’s fun watching them reconnect, especially as they share with each other everything that is going on in their lives.

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Book Review: Betting On Hope

Betting On Hope

Betting On Hope – Debra Clopton – Four of Hearts Ranch #1 – Thomas Nelson – Published 24 February 2015

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Synopsis

Advice columnist Maggie Hope never dreamed she d be shaking hands with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan over a high-stakes bet, especially one that involves horses. And saddles. And everything else a city girl like Maggie feels uncomfortable around. But after filling in for a coworker and interviewing the handsome cowboy, she finds herself doing just that. Anything to save her advice column.

Despite Maggie s two left feet, Tru is bound and determined to bring out her inner cowgirl by teaching her to ride a cutting horse, trained to separate cattle from the rest of the herd. While her riding improves, their attraction intensifi es, but Tru knows he can never let her into his heart for her own good.

In Wishing Springs, a community full of meddling but well-meaning townsfolk, Maggie discovers the home she s always longed for. But she s holding something back a secret that could destroy her reputation and any future she s ever hoped for with the cowboy she mightust love.

My thoughts

This book has all the makings of a great western romance, with a handsome cowboy, city girl thrust into the country with only said cowboy to save her from being eaten alive by horses, multiple secondary characters who bring interest and depth to the story, and backstories of hardship and resilience, as well as all the crazy fun that comes with a small-town country setting.  Continue reading

Book Review: Last Chance Hero

Last Chance Hero

Last Chance Hero – Cathleen Armstrong – A Place to Call Home #4 – Revell – Published 15 September 2015

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Synopsis

The inhabitants of Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica McLeod has opened an office right on Main Street. Andy Ryan, the best athlete the little town ever produced, has ended his short career in the NFL and has come home to coach the mighty Pumas of Last Chance High. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot when she admits that she’s never seen a football game, isn’t really interested in doing so, and, in fact, doesn’t know a first down from a home run. Meanwhile, Coach Ryan is discovering that it’s not easy to balance atop the pedestal the town has put him on. When this unlikely pair is drawn together over the future of a young player–whose gifts may lie in the laboratory rather than on the football field–they begin to wonder if they might have a future together as well.

My thoughts

In Last Chance Hero readers are returned to the little New Mexico town of Last Chance, where the chilli is hot and football is everything. This was a fun and sweet contemporary romance.

Last Chance is everything Dr. Jess McLeod dreamed when she decided she wanted to open her own medical practice in a small town. She just wasn’t quite prepared for the everyone-knows-everyone reality of small-town life, nor how a non-football-loving, non-chilli-eating Californian female doctor would stand out like a sore thumb. But Jess isn’t the only new face in town. Andy Ryan, Last Chance native and local boy made good, has finished with his NFL career and has returned to coach the high school football team. Despite their obvious differences (namely indifference/love toward football), Jess and Andy form a fast friendship, but aren’t sure if they have what it takes to move their relationship to the next level or if their differences will keep them apart. 

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Book Review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

The Incredibly Adventures of Cinnamon Girl – Melissa Keil – Hardie Grant Egmont – Published September 2014

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Synopsis

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared. And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails. And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving. Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

My thoughts

This story starts with a house and two boys – but it’s not what you think. With that line in the opening chapter, along with the use of the word foetusi, I knew this was going to be an epic book. The many references to freshly baked bread and cakes probably helped build the love (and the hunger). And it’s really not what you think. It’s way cooler. It took me a little while to get into the swing of this story, but once I did I really enjoyed it.  Continue reading