Monthly Archives: January 2021

Book Review: The Newcomer

by Mary Kay Andrews

Letty and her sister were basically on their own as kids. Letty was determined to make her way in the world by working hard and taking care of her younger sister Tonya. Unfortunately, Tonya makes bad choices in love and life. The best thing to happen to her is the birth of her daughter, Maya. The four-year-old has even brought the sisters together again after their lives took different paths. Even though Evan, the man Letty previously dated, is the father of Maya, Tonya tries her best to keep her daughter away from him. Both sisters are happy to be together again.

Their reunion is short lived. Tonya is found dead, murdered in the luxury apartment bought by Evan before she can get out of the city with her daughter. Letty is the prime suspect and she is on the run with Maya. Her sister’s mistakes and lies have cast doubt about many things in her life, but not her need to leave New York to keep her ex-boyfriend away from his daughter. Letty leaves with her niece, taking the go bag her sister wisely had stashed in her closet and little else.

In the bag was the name of a small resort in Florida, Murmuring Surf, so Letty heads there. Finding a safe haven, she begins working for the owner to earn her keep. Always wary of Evan finding her and Maya, she shies away from almost everyone. Especially Joe, the owner’s son who is also a cop. Surely, he has seen the APB sent to all law enforcement agencies when a suspected killer and kidnapper is on the loose. Safe for now, Letty adjusts to life in Florida, but will she have to run again soon? Will Evan, with all of his resources find her and Maya? Letty fears for the worst.

The Newcomber is an interesting, well plotted novel. Finding out who the killer is in the last few chapters is well played. The characters are diverse and real. Ms. Andrews not only created realistic, well rounded main characters, but the bit players are fun to meet. Especially the residents of the Murmuring Surf. They are quirky, cranky and could be people you have encountered. Picture some grumpy old men fighting over parking spots.

I really enjoyed this book. It is not part of a series. Ms. Andrews is a prolific writer. She has written several best-selling books under the pen name Mary Kay Andrews since 2002 as well as being nominated for many literary awards. I have read several of her books, including The High Tide Club and Blue Christmas. She is the master of telling a great story with a side of romance.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: No More Words

By Kerry Lonsdale

Olivia’s life is a hot mess. She just broke up with her boyfriend and Josh, her fourteen-year-old nephew that she has never met, just turned up at her door. Her sister Lily, Josh’s mom, left home when she was sixteen and pregnant and hasn’t had any contact with her family since that day. Josh cannot tell Olivia where his mother is due to a head injury that robbed him of his speech. The only thing he can tell her is that Lily is gone.

So begins Olivia’s journey into the past to find out what really happened the day Lily left and more importantly find out where she is now.  First, she has to find out who her sister has become, the name she is going by and where she and Josh have been living. Is she injured or heaven forbid dead? Olivia must face the demons of her family’s past in order to reconcile the future and find Lily. Each member of her family has secrets and some of them are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them hidden.

This multilayered novel is easy to read yet surprisingly intricate. The plot is fast-paced and depth of the characters, even those on the periphery, came to life in the story. I literally read late into the night because I had to know what was going to happen. Ms. Lonsdale takes the reader into the character’s childhood years and then skillfully brings the story back to present day, rounding out each one so that the reader knows them intimately. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I highly recommend it.

This is the third book by Ms. Lonsdale that I have read. Each of them has been different, but all of them are written with the same depth of plot and painstakingly realistic characters that readers love. If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, you will love all of Kerry Lonsdale’s books. No More Words has left me speechless – other than to say it has to be added to your reading list.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman #NoMoreWords #TeamNoMore

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Express Yourself – Joyful Journaling for Kids

By Christine Boucher

Design by Suzanne Good Hazard

Express Yourself! is a wonderful way for children to journal. The intro explains that you can start on any page, make it your own and even encourages your child to cross out things that don’t relate to them and replace those items with things that do. Your child is also encouraged to ask an adult or a good friend to explain things they do not understand. The list of things besides your child’s imagination and thoughts that they will need are most likely in your child’s room right now. They include something to write with (crayons, makers, etc.), stickers, photos and/or pictures from magazines, ticket stubs, awards and any other things that will inspire or remind them of memories.

The chapters are fun and interesting. Starting with “Joyful Jots” – one positive word answers to words like playgrounds, fall, art class and homework. Each chapter is color coded and has at least one inspirational quote. A few of my favorites are: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein and “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”-Willie Nelson.

I highly recommend this book for children old enough to read and write. It is a springboard for discussion with his or her parents when sharing thoughts and asking questions that may arise.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Undercover Kitty: A Second Chance Cat Mystery – A Purr-fect Cozy Mystery

by Sofie Ryan

Something is fishy at the American Cat Fancier (AFA) shows and it isn’t the sardine crackers the contestants love to munch. Enter an eclectic detective agency named Charlotte’s Angels – just Angels for short – to sort out what is going on. The detectives are a mix of senior citizens, Sarah who owns a delightful resale shop and a troubled teen who lives with one of the members. And of course, Elvis, Sarah’s rescue cat. Yes, he is named after the Rock and Roll icon, but is also legend in the Angel’s as well as his own opinion.

Rose, the head of the Angels convinces Sarah to enter Elvis in the AFA Show as an undercover agent. They need to find out who is behind the sabotage that has turned up lately at the shows. Unfortunately, things have escalated. When one of the owners is found dead, everyone assumes it is a horrible accident. But the Angels soon realize it is murder. Will they find the person that is responsible before another feline or human is hurt or killed? The Angels are determined to crack the case.

Undercover Kitty is the purr-fect cozy mystery. Elvis is adorably aloof yet loveable and smart. The group of amateur sleuths are fun to meet and determined to solve the case. There is a bit of romance for a few of the characters as well as a strong bond of friendship within the group of friends and felines.

Cozy and cat lovers will really enjoy this fast-paced mystery. Sofie Ryan is a well-deserved New York Times Bestselling Author. Undercover Kitty is the eighth book in her Second Chance Cat Mystery. She is also the bestselling author of the Magical Cats series – also cozy mysteries.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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