Some memories are better left forgotten.
Darby and Morgan haven’t spoken for two years, and their friend group has splintered. But when the body of their former science teacher is found in the marsh where they attended camp that summer, they realize they have more questions than answers . . . and even fewer memories.
No one remembers—or no one is talking.
The group of reunited friends suspects that a murderer is stalking the coastal highway 30A, and they are desperate to recover their memories as quickly as possible . . . before their history they can’t remember repeats itself.
Everyone has a secret.
As tensions rise and time runs out, Darby and Morgan begin to wonder if they can believe one another . . . or if they can even trust themselves.
OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Look out, we have a new favorite book coming through.
This book is brilliant. It channels the vibes perfectly. The setting is so vivid and real, I could picture it immediately even though I live in the country of Indiana and have never been to Florida ever in my life.
The book expertly gives us a group of flawed teens who make huge mistakes and bad choices. Teens that anyone, any age can relate to, because we’ve all made huge mistakes and bad choices. It has a beautiful message hidden in the dark waters, reminding us all that no matter what we’ve done or been done to us, we get to choose where we go from here.
But the real killer here is the plot. (Yep. I just made that joke.)
When I told my sister the premise of the book, she teasingly guessed what the twist would be. I laughed and said, no, that was way too out there, that couldn’t be the answer.
I didn’t see the twist or the culprit coming from ANYWHERE. This is the sort of book that made me want to immediately read it again to figure out what I missed.
Honestly, from the prose to the plot to the characters, this is the kind of book I aspire to write. I definitely will be returning to it again and again, not just to read, but also to study and learn from. It’s that good.
And much to my despair, her next book, which looks equally amazing, doesn’t come out until September.
This book does have two instances of mild language, along with several words of that weird sort that aren’t language but aren’t really polite either. While I whited out the two language instances, none of the other words were enough to worry me.
The teens in this book do make some poor choices, for both good and bad reasons, and sometimes get away with it. I never got the vibe that the story was saying “well, they were solving a murder, so it’s okay” but some readers may want to be aware of the lack of consequences portrayed.
The Summer We Forgot is exactly the opposite. You can’t forget this book, even if you tried. And why would you want to?
Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.
Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.
But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.
Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?
Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.
First off, THOSE COVERS. That's worth getting the whole series just to line them all up and see the big picture.
This book has one of the most realistic and detailed representations of PTSD I’ve ever read. (Disclaimer: I do not have PTSD or know someone who does, so I don’t have first-hand experience.) Dylan was presented as a strong character even though he happened to have this struggle, but the struggle was also portrayed in a real-to-life and sympathetic way. These are the kinds of representations I aspire to.
Casey was actually smart. Strong female characters with both compassion and smarts are sorely lacking. You either have to settle for one of the other. Casey wasn’t just blindly running into situations and doing stupid things. She was thinking through her options, making plans, and pulling it off–while also caring for other people and usually saving them. XD
I could. Not. Put. These Books. Down. It’s a good thing I had all three on my hands! What did people do when only the first one was out? Yikes! They never slow down. I seriously struggled to put them down when I needed to go do other things. Perfect pacing, without sacrificing either action or reaction times. The characters had time to fight and to think. And so many twists! When I thought I had it all figured out, another layer or twist was thrown into the works and I was like, “OH NO THIS JUST COMPLICATES EVERYTHING”.
If I Run isn’t one to miss. Just make sure you have the entire trilogy on hand. ;)
All Is Calm
It’s going to be an unexpectedly romantic Christmas at Bluebird Ranch.
Brendan Waddell has always considered Bluebird Ranch a little piece of heaven: an idyllic ranch that pairs abused children with abused horses, run by one of his Marine buddies. Now, it seems just the place to spend Christmas recovering from an on-the-job injury.
Lauren Everman first came to the ranch as a foster kid, but now knows it’s the perfect hideout. As the witness to a murder, Lauren needs somewhere to lie low. Her beauty immediately catches Brendan’s attention—but so does her secretive behavior. This Special Ops Intel man knows a woman on the run when he sees one. Can he trust her, or is she putting the ranch at risk? One thing is certain: he’s going to do everything he can to keep her safe so he can see what magic Christmas brings.
All Is Bright
A romantic Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn gives Delilah’s unique gifts a chance to shine. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say “I do”?
As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friend, Elin Summerall. But when Delilah’s car is forced off the road and into the ocean, she finally has to admit that the strange phone calls she’s been receiving lately may be more than just pranks.
Sheriff Tom Bourne has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he’s determined to protect her. He hopes to win her heart by giving her the surprise gift of a lifetime . . . but first he has to make sure nothing happens to her before Christmas Day.
It’s the season of miracles. But will both Elin and Delilah get the ones they need this holiday season?
All is Calm
It’s hard to get a whole mystery into one novella. It felt like it moved a little fast to me, but that had nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with the amount of words she had to do it with. Lauren and Tonya’s relationship was very intriguing. And the villain blew me away—I could have never guessed.
However, on the romance side, everything seemed to happen a bit fast to be entirely plausible. I mean, Brendan hadn’t even met this girl before, and he knows she’s suspected of murder. So he falls in love with her within a couple days? Decides to believe her within a couple hours? It was probably condensed so it fit in the novella, but still had me a little unconvinced.
There really isn’t that much to do with Christmas in this novel. I guess I was just expecting something that really had Christmas vibes, instead of just a novel that happens to occur at Christmas.
One final note—if you haven’t read the Bluebird Ranch series, you may be lost on some connections. For instance, I thought the person who wound up being the villain (an original character to the novella) was just another random callback to the series until I reached the end.
All is Bright
As with All is Calm, it moved a bit fast simply due to the fact that it was a short story. The relationship in this one felt more natural, since Delilah and Tom had known each other for a while before the story opened. It didn’t feel as rushed or forced. While the villain wasn’t quite as out of the blue as the first one, it did make perfect sense and provided for a wild ride. It has a few more Christmas vibes than the first, but again, it seems more like a story that happens to occur around Christmas. If the setting had been moved to summer, not much would have changed. As with the first, if you haven’t read the Hope Beach series, you may be a little lost like I was.
All is Calm, All is Bright features two sweet novellas, that, while they probably won’t blow you away, still make for a perfect read under the Christmas lights, especially for fans of her earlier novels.
Butterflies are great and all, but Butterfly Palace takes it a little too far.
See, the owner of the house is obsessed with butterflies. Huge collections of the things. Some of them flying and flapping around. Some of them . . . not.
The only thing he’s more obsessed with is his political aspirations. Unfortunately, it seems like there are quite a few other people obsessed with those aspirations as well.
Not to mention the Servant Girl Killer whose path keeps swerving towards Butterfly Palace.
Yes. Welcome to Butterfly Palace.
The setting of Butterfly Palace was so intriguing—equally gorgeous and eerie. There were so many plots going on and so many suspects running around that I had no idea what to expect. Then the ending came and smacked me out of nowhere.
The theme was especially beautiful, and woven in so neatly. I loved how it connected back to the butterflies. I also loved Drew’s journey to overcome revenge against the man he thought killed his father.
It was interesting reading about the Secret Service at that time—it’s a subject I haven’t seen pop up in too many historical fiction books.
At first I didn’t like Belle at all. But her character arc drew me in and kept me guessing until I was able to applaud her in some of the final scenes. I felt like she didn’t get as much closure in the resolution and would have liked to see a bit more of what her world looked like after the fact.
Butterfly Palace may not be a place you’d stay in real life. But within the pages of a book?
Imagine investigating your sister’s murder . . . under a fake name.
Yep, that’s exactly what Olivia Stewart is doing. She suspects her sister’s fiancé killed her, so she can’t exactly go barging in, announce her last name is Stewart, and demand to know what happened. No, she has to be more . . . stealthy.
Because being thrown off the boat to Mercy Falls by a mysterious assailant is stealthy. Because being saved by her sister’s fiancé, Harrison, is stealthy. Because falling in love with him is stealthy.
First off, may I just say that cover is GORGEOUS.
This is actually the third installment in Colleen Coble’s Mercy Falls series. The library didn't have the second installment, so I will have to track it down elsewhere. (I reviewed the first installment here:https://racheljleitch.weebly.com/rachels-reads/the-lightkeepers-daughter-by-colleen-coble) Of the two, I enjoyed the first installment more—perhaps it was the utter lack of drama. Still, Olivia’s greater inclination towards drama did keep it interesting.
As did her grief for her sister. It was brilliantly portrayed and an element that not only drew me into the story, but that I believe would touch many readers going through their own grief.
I did have to question Harrison a little bit . . . I mean, he suspected his fiancé was murdered and he didn’t ask the girl he fell in love with her first name? He just rolled with it? On the other hand, it kept things so humorous and intriguing, though . . .
It was Eugene’s character that got me, though. I thought he was a very well-developed side character anyways, but the developments in the climax left me reeling and desperately hoping he wasn’t evil. I was very pleased with his ending, and would love to see a future book involving him.
The Lightkeeper’s Ball might just be one you want to attend.
The title is actually very misleading because, well, Addie is not the lightkeeper’s daughter. Turns out she’s the daughter of the extremely wealthy and influential Lawrence Eaton, lost in a shipwreck that many people believe might have been a deliberate attack on his wife.
But of course, she can’t tell him all that right off the bat, so she’s merely serving as a governess to his nephew, Edward. However, Edward’s widowed father senses there’s far more going on than either of them know.
He would be correct.
First off, I love how un-dramatic both Addie and John are. Neither one of them beat around the bush. When the dramatic reveal scene comes where John overhears Addie speaking with the one person who knows her true identity, he flat out asks her what she’s hiding. And Addie flat out admits the truth.
Aah. Refreshing. The lack of melodrama was what this book brilliant.
There were so many layers to the mystery, and even though I had my suspects (and there were MANY suspects, by one point, I was like “It could have been LITERALLY ANYONE”), I couldn’t have imagined how it turned out ahead of time.
So if Addie isn’t the lightkeeper’s daughter, who is she, really? You’ll just have to read to find out.
Lydia has disappeared.
She was just at Piper’s house, explaining how she didn’t want to go to the Mayo Clinic for months, for the seizures that she knows nothing about. She was just waving goodbye.
And within minutes, she disappeared.
Worse yet, everyone on Astor Street seems to have given her up.
Not Piper Sail. She’ll do anything to get her best friend back. And that includes starting an amateur investigation, talking an intriguing detective into the case, and venturing into some of Chicago’s high-crime neighborhoods in search of her.
But this is 1924 Chicago. And what she may find about everyone she trusts . . . and herself . . . well, that could make her lose it all.
Wow. I could not put this book down. The mystery drew me in from page one. I had no idea what anyone was up to and the actual culprit took me completely by surprise, while also having enough clues that I couldn’t believe I didn’t see it (along with a few other well-placed twists and turns)! The author did a fantastic job planting just enough false clues to distract me from the obvious ones pointing to the culprit.
Second, this is a beautiful book about grief and change. It may sound weird to say this, but it actually hit me a little like the portrayal of grief in Big Hero 6. It’s so realistically done, just showing how it really feels, how it really looks like to a teen to lose someone important to you. We need more books like this.
As it does all this, it taps on strong Christian themes--but never did I feel like it was overdone or preachy. Just a brief mention here or there that beautifully proved its point.
I’m not a huge romance person, and the romance was just sweet enough to keep me interested. Plus, Piper actually had options. There for a while, I wasn’t sure who was going to be the romantic interest!
Also, Piper is actually SMART. This is becoming less and less prevalent in female characters—they’re all becoming overwrought and emotional character. I appreciate Piper’s strong but feminine character, and the fact that she thinks about things. (I’m going into one of Chicago’s most dangerous gang territories? Hmm, I might want to bring a detective with me.)
There’s no mystery about whether this book should wind up on your shelf or not. It would be a resounding yes.
Her name is Misty Wayfair, and she is a ghost.
She's been terrorizing the not-so-pleasant Pleasant Valley for years--most specifically the Coyle family. Could it have something to do with that old asylum out in the woods? Two different women, years and cultures apart but not so different at all, are about to come face-to-face with her and the truth about themselves.
Misty Wayfair is a ghost story. As someone who's not into ghost stories, I found this one particularly intriguing. Two heroines both searching for their identity, one battling abandonment, one battling anxiety. Love interests who aren't the handsome-on-top-of-everything-else type. A chilling villain (most especially in the historical sections) and an out-of-nowhere climax.
But the two things that caught me most about The Curse of Misty Wayfair? One: the sensitive looks at topics such as depression, anxiety, and especially her inclusion of an autistic character. Jaime Jo Wright portrays them all realistically and in an understanding manner, which is rare. As someone with hands-on experience with autism, I appreciated and was impressed by Emma's presence in the book.
The second thing was the strong themes of identity. This is a book that does not back down from probing who the heroes really are, who the villains really are, and who the reader really is. It doesn't shy away from the only One Who can give us our identity either, also becoming a rarity in books.
But who is Misty Wayfair, really? You'll have to read it to find out.
Someone knows everything about Gossamer Grove. Everything.
And not just where you can get the best burger, or all the tourist attractions, or the best place to stay the night. Someone knows all Gossamer Grove's secrets. Everything that the residents have tried to keep hidden.
And they are punishing accordingly.
The message of this book surprised me, and the creativity used to bring out the message even more. Sure, it may look like a dark suspense novel. But it's actually a story about grace--and what grace is not. In its own unique way, The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond gives us both.
The characters and their weaknesses (particularly the women) might be annoying to some. I found their weaknesses realistic, but not overpowering. And the fact that they can overpower their weaknesses when needed solves that.
The novel goes back and forth between past secrets and present secrets. The connections between the two plots, between the two main characters are intriguing. But when it comes to endings, the past takes the prize. There just didn't seem to be a lot of evidence leading up to the present ending, whereas with the past scenario I could look back and go, "Oh, now I see it."
While the past gets the ending, what it did not get was the romantic interest. I'm really not huge on romantic interests anyway, but I actually found the romantic interest in this book a little on the weird and creepy side. (Not creepy as in evil creepy, just creepy as in ack creepy.)
With all that in mind, a visit to Gossamer Grove might not be a terrible idea after all.
So maybe Imogene Grayson is obsessed.
So maybe she has a dollhouse in which she's recreated the scene of her sister's murder in minute detail. So maybe she took a job at an ammunition plant just to try and snatch a clue as to what happened. And so maybe she completely lied about that broken hip thing to get her granddaughter Aggie to come with her.
So maybe she's obsessed. So what?
The things to praise about this book as as multiple as the echoes among the stones themselves. Imogene's devotion to her sister is touching--albeit in a creepy sort of way. The images in the book are crackling--the dollhouse, for instance. I am usually largely unaffected by creep, but that image spiked a shiver down my spine and back up again. And made me turn the page. The small Wisconsin town of Mill Creek comes to life in all its small-towniness--which is largely made up of the quirky characters within.
The ending may seem broken, imperfect, cracked like the stones Aggie and Collin try to restore at the graveyard. But there is a bittersweet echo that ripples back--an echo that speaks of a well-thought out ending. So maybe it's perfect after all? Right up to the last page, Jaime Jo Wright keeps you guessing. And right up to the last page, the message echoes strong, like a voice just over your shoulder--a strong message of letting go . . . and hanging on. Jaime Jo Wright certainly doesn't shy away from talking about God in unique, creative ways.
The one piece of advice I do have is to PAY. ATTENTION. Due to this novel switching from the 1940's and the present-day, it's easy to lose track of your players and the clues you've gathered.
Listen? Do you hear the echoes among the stones? No? Just open the book and pay attention. I think you'll like what you hear.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!