"A Sparrow Falls" by Vicki Olsen

 





 A story that took place in the 1950s on a farm that broke my heart. Sarah's introduction to the evils of the world fell at the hands of her older brother, and then her father. I wasn't sure how much more I could read about this poor girl's misery, and I couldn't believe the family had shunned the brother, but the father then committed even more horrible acts. The reader was led to suspect that Sarah's mother knew what her father had done and simply accepted it. It completely outraged me on her behalf, but at points, I felt annoyed with Sarah even after all she'd suffered - she wasn't an entirely sympathetic character. The author weaved more abuse tempered by small flashes of reprieves where Sarah found bits of happiness, until the conclusion where Sarah's life moved in a new direction. 
 A large portion of this story had to do with faith, and during the telling, Sarah couldn't handle things that happened, certain losses, and she turned away from God because of her anger. As she navigated her pain over the years, her gradual change of perspective inspired me.
 There were plenty of characters to dislike in this story; the brother, the father, the boys from town, the nasty girls. There were some to pity, Sarah's mother- although I couldn't decide if I wanted to pity her or hate her, Sarah's brother, Kenny, and poor Charlie Weeks. My favorite character was wise Cotton, the farmhand. Most were well-painted depictions, so I felt I knew the people, and the descriptions put me in the middle of the story. It felt like it could have been based on a true story. I would probably read the next book to determine if she takes control of her power and improves her life.

"See You Soon" by NC Marshall

 



There were things I liked about "See You Soon." The Prologue set up the reader to believe things would turn out a certain way for the main character, but when the scene played out in the context of the story, it threw a spin on it, and I didn't know what was happening. I enjoyed the disappearance of a long-lost friend who cried out for help and how that setup played out. I liked how the villain's identity remained withheld until the end. However, I was not fond of the antagonist's thoughts scattered through the book, seemingly like journal entries, and one stint from their viewpoint came up while Emma read her missing friend's diary. That confused. Ali's diary was on a hidden thumb drive taped to the back of a furniture drawer as though it held something essential; I felt that was strange. It revealed a small piece of Ali's life, but nothing that advanced the plot. Multiple viewpoints expressed near the end of the story felt like a lazy way to dump all the information required to solve the mystery. If we had seen these people doing the things we were "told" they did, gradually throughout the story, it would have built the suspense and added enjoyment and understanding to the tale. The author had me convinced one person was guilty through most of the book (although the circumstances that caused the main character to believe it was him weren't strong enough in my opinion) and surprised me that it wasn't the case, but the big reveal of the mastermind fell flat because I hadn't remembered who the actual character was. They weren't fleshed out enough to seem significant. The reasons behind their actions also didn't ring true because the reader wasn't allowed to know them or get inside their mind. Although I liked many aspects of it and think it had the potential to be a great story, I'm not sure I'd go as far as recommending it.



"In Her Shadow" by Mark Edwards

 







Mark Edwards has become one of my new favorites. I find myself looking for another of his books to add to my TBR as soon as I finish one. "In Her Shadow" didn't disappoint. Jessica's sister's death - long-ago ruled an accident- suddenly crept back into the forefront of her mind because her young daughter claimed her dead auntie spoke to her. Was it the girl's imagination? Had Isabel actually returned to tell them something about her death- it wasn't an accident? Strange happenings around the house convinced Jessica's mother, Mo they were susceptible to the paranormal, and Isabel's death must have been murder. After all, they'd been haunted before when Jessica and Isabel were children. Mo stubbornly thought Isabel's husband, Darpak must have killed her because Darpak and Isabel kept secrets in their marriage. It turned out that a lot of people kept secrets, some bigger than Olivia's secret relationship with Isabel's ghost.
This story boasted extremely well-written characters, especially Olivia, Jessica's four-year-old daughter with a knack for predicting the future and handling the return of her aunt that she'd never met.
A line of suspects paraded within Jessica's suspicions, but the author never committed to Isabel's death being a murder. I had to ride the tidal wave until he revealed all the secrets in the perfect timing to figure out what had happened to Isabel, and if she'd truly come back to her loved ones. I strongly recommend this book!




"The Bone Jar" by S W Kane

 






THE BONE JAR jumps right into a disturbing death- an elderly woman found dead in an abandoned asylum. As far as they can gather, the lady is near a saint. She volunteers in a care home after a long nursing career. A real who-done-it, why would anybody want to hurt this woman? Why did she go to the old asylum? Or did someone kill her and dump her body there? Near the body, a cell phone leads to another dead person. Did he have anything to do with her death? Or was he a witness? The web is intricate in this story, and the characters are complex. A fascinating setting, the asylum holds so many secrets. The players aren't always who you think they are. There are many twists in store, and the ending proved to be a nail-biter. The person least likely to be a hero pulls it together. I enjoyed this book! 

"Girls of Glass" by Brianna Labuskes

 






This book had my interest as it began, but it started jumping back and forth and around in time so much that it confused. The characters weren't very likeable or relatable. They all seemed to have the same voice. The descriptions were long and overshadowed the content. For example, when Alice met Charlotte in a diner, I wanted to know why. I didn't want to read long, detailed paragraphs describing the waitress, the cook, the guy at the counter... None of these things mattered at all to the story. The book could have been much shorter. For so many words, too many things were left to your guess. The truth veiled by a sheer curtain that was never removed to give you a clear understanding. The ending plot twist could have been ingenious, but instead rang convoluted, disappointing, and left me liking the detective even less. 


"Never Look Back" by Mary Burton

 




Melina had a tough childhood, no doubt, but should she be grateful to the woman who dumped her on the side of the road? After all, she could have been tied into those circumstances with the drifter criminal forever, but instead she landed in a loving home with doting parents. It all lends credibility to her career in law enforcement following in her adopted father's footsteps. 

While helping her friend who runs a mission locate missing prostitutes she stumbles upon a serial killer and narrowly escapes his clutches. This introduces Jerrod, an FBI agent who has hunted this killer for many years.

 When another little girl who resembles Melina gets left in a car wreck, it pries open Melina's past and reveals some genetic truths that are horrifying. It also leads to a second serial killer. 

I liked this book. The only problem was that the story about the first serial killer was dropped for so long while they moved on to the second one that I found it jolting returning to the first killer. 

Overall, it was a satisfying thriller with multiple storylines and connections between the key characters. The romantic angle was a bit muted, but I was glad the two found comfort in each other when they had so much darkness in their lives. I prefer the suspense and thriller over the romance genre, so it didn't make much of a difference to me. I found myself exclaiming out loud a few times near the end. Definitely worth a read.


"Killing Faith" by B.J. Woster





I had high hopes for this story based on the cover and description but found too many things happening that I just couldn't believe. Melissa's superior sends her to another country alone without any back up from that country's police department to bring down a criminal that no law enforcement agency has been able to ensnare. She has absolutely no idea what she's doing. She's dragging around a priest who's as helpless as she is. They meet the priest's twin brother, and they float around trying to outsmart the bad guys. Throughout the entire book, the priest moans about not wanting to be a priest anymore, but never explains well enough why or if he will do something else. The ending was the most unbelievable of all. I don't want to give details that will spoil the book for others, but, really? This is how the notoriously vicious bad guys are brought to justice? Two senior citizens? The story wasn't for me. 



"Trust No One" by Debra Webb

 Trust No One (Devlin & Falco Book 1) by [Debra Webb]



Wow! This book has so many secrets, lies, and mysteries. Highly entertaining, it kept me turning the pages and wanting to return to the story as soon as possible. Sometimes it seemed a little overwhelming, though, trying to keep up with who did what. At first, I thought Sela's point of view could have been left out because I felt it gave away the ending too quickly, but kudos to the author for misleading the reader in that as well.  The conclusion satisfied, a sort of justice served equally to all bad guys who participated in a crime that triggered the murder of Mr. Abott and his mother-in-law. But would this work? Would the mastermind get away with it? Read it and find out!
I will look forward to reading future books featuring Detectives Devlin and Falco. 


"Satin and Cinders" by Jan Sikes

 Satin & Cinders by [Jan Sikes]



This extremely short story is heart-warming and tells a tale of devotion. After many years of longing and admiring her from afar, a Stallion risks giving up his freedom in order to experience the comforts of the barn and the companionship of Satin. Well-told, it offers a peek into the heart and mind of majestic animals.


"Garnet's Love Story" by P. L. Van Bibber

 Garnet's Love Story: Book One Of Pearlene's Gems Series by [P. L. Van Bibber]





The idea behind the plot of the story was good, and the message endearing. I liked the adoption of the girls and their names. However, the writing needed proofing. Two main characters' points of view shared in the same paragraphs/chapters confused. The interactions, conversations, and dialogues between all characters were formal and awkward. The "misunderstanding" that kept them apart for a year didn't ring true when the office busybody discussed all personal things and wanted them to be together but didn't mention the man's history? Characters could have been fleshed out more. I wouldn't know the difference between any of the many sisters, besides the stated facts of different professions. The relationship between the main characters went from cold to instantly in love. Again, it had promise, but it needed a bit more to be a four-star read, in my opinion.