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Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Skies of Ash by Rachel Howzell Hall

Skies of AshThis is the second book with Homicide detective Lou Norton and her partner Colin.

When Norton and Colin are called out to a fire, which has killed a mother and her two children, they must determine if it’s a murder suicide or did someone else cause this deadly fire?

Their investigation takes them all over the place with many potential suspects, including the husband and the couples’ best friends.

At the same time, Lou is dealing with the hurt of a cheating husband and her marriage is on the rocks. Can Lou keep it together long enough to close this case? Will they ever figure out the truth of what happened that night?

This book had just enough twists and turns to keep me guessing all the way to the end. I look forward to more books by this author.

– Tina

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The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac

The Boys of Fire and AshThis book is set in a very scary and different world than we know. It follows the lives of the Ikkuma Brothers. These boys are abandoned at birth in the Ikkuma volcanic pits by mothers that don’t want male children. They take care of each other and have become brothers by fate.  The Bigger boys get assigned a baby and he takes on the role of raising the baby, teaching him and making sure he is fed and healthy. When a big brother becomes a man at the age of 16, he leaves the pits and makes room for a new little brother.  No big brother has ever come back after he has departed on his leaving day, until now.

Near death and being chased by huge angry beasts, Blaze returns and offers no explanation for his mysterious arrival. Blaze brings with him trouble the boys have never seen. The monsters kill one little brother and take another one to be sacrificed to their god. Little brothers die all the time but not like this. Big Brothers are obligated to take care of little ones, so they follow the beasts in the hopes of a rescue. Blaze and a few big brothers chase the beasts and leave the pit embarking on a journey that has never been attempted before. And hopefully will never happen again.

This book is about emotional and physical discovery. I found it fascinating to read and enjoyed the development of the story. It leaves you on the edge of your seat!

– Renee

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The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

The Daylight MarriageMissing spouses are a common theme in many novels and have resulted in some of our biggest literary sensations, such as Gone Girl and Where’d you go, Bernadette. Heidi Pitlor’s spin on the subject is a highly comparable psychological thriller that is no less riveting.

To the outside world, Hannah and Lovell Hall seem to have the perfect marriage. But after 20 years their love for each other is slowly fading and it all comes to a screeching halt one night after a terrible fight. The next morning Hannah turns up missing and in the blink of an eye Lovell’s world is turned upside down.

During Hannah’s absence we are taken inside the Hall’s marriage. Told from both points of view, we learn how each spouse felt about their relationship and their attempts to make sense of how and when things started to fall apart. Polar opposites who were initially attracted to each other sadly realize that when the rose-colored glasses come off, a rapid unraveling of a promising future soon follows.

Filled with moments of quiet desperate and contemplation, combined with the everyday experiences we all face, this novel will slowly draw you in and keep you turning its pages until the very end.

– Susan

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Seaborne #1: The Lost Prince by Matt Myklusch

Seaborne the Lost PrinceThrown in a cage and to the sharks by the evil pirate king known as One-Eyed Jack, Dean Seaborne pleads for a second chance.  Having a purpose for Seaborne, One-Eyed Jack sends him to spy on rival pirate, Gentleman Jim Harper, who is suspected of withholding some of the booty that is to go to Jack.  He also wants Seaborne to make his way to the mysterious island of Zenhala to investigate the reports of gold and treasure.

Taken aboard Harper’s ship, Seaborne discovers the information he came for but suddenly the ship gets hit with cannon fire and sinks.  Adrift in their lifeboats, Captain Harper and his pirates are rescued by Verrick, a seeker of the lost prince.  Upon their arrival on the island of Zenhala, Dean Seaborne finds the inhabitants think that he is the lost prince who went missing 13 years ago. Here, he is forced to endure intense rituals that will test his manhood and possible princehood.

Will Seaborne be able to complete his mission?  Is he really the lost prince?  You won’t be sorry you picked up this book to find out.  I highly recommend this fast paced and engaging read.

– Amanda

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Valiant by Sarah McGuire

ValiantAt the start of this book, 17-year-old Saville Gramton is traveling with her father for a fresh start in a new town. Saville would much rather have stayed home and sing at her mother’s graveside than travel with her unloving father who has uprooted the family because he can’t get along with anyone. He is a tailor by trade and they are on their way to the capital city of Reggen. There, her father has high hopes to become the king’s tailor and, since no one else can work with him, Saville is expected to assist her father in the family business. To say she is resentful of this is an understatement. But when her father suddenly becomes ill, she must proceed with his plans in order to survive – even going so far as disguising herself as a boy to become the clothes maker to the king.

Saville is strong willed, smart and brave which are traits she’ll need when facing an army of evil giants that are heading toward Reggen. She outsmarts the giants and tricks them into leaving while earning the praise and respect of the city. When she tells the king that she’s not the boy they thought, he’s not happy about the scandal their new champion would cause. Saville is aided by Lord Verras who may have more than just a passing interest in keeping her out of the dungeon. It’s a good thing because Saville has discovered there’s more than meets the eye with the giants as they are being led by an invincible Duke who’s bent on taking over the kingdom.

Will the courageous tailor girl be able to save those she loves and conquer evil? We’ll see …

– Mark

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Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Death DateHow would you imagine living your life if you knew the day of your death?  For Denton Little, a 17-year-old high school senior, that day is tomorrow.

This story takes place in a world much like ours with one glaring exception – everyone is told the exact day they are going to die.  The day before his deathdate, Denton wakes up in his best friend’s sister’s bed.  He’s hung over and can’t remember what happened.  Things are not starting the way he planned as Denton heads home to prepare for his funeral.

The rest of the day continues to be just as strange as the morning.  Denton’s life has become overwhelming and has been filled with mysterious questions in the past few hours.  Running out of time, will he find the answers he’s looking for or will his deathdate arrive too soon?

Witty, entertaining, and fresh, debut author Lance Rubin knocks this one out of the park.

– Amanda

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The Fearless by Emma Pass

The FearlessAuthor Emma Pass has created a world where the worst possible outcome to a potential “World War” has happened. The governments of various world leaders created a drug to minimize the effects of PTSD in our soldiers  and it worked but it also diminished their capacity to feel other feelings as well. They are essentially mindless killing machines. This drug is sold to our enemies and everyone now has some form of their very own “Fearless” soldier. War erupts and mass invasions occur, thus ending life as we know it.

Years after our world has ended, small isolated groups of people that were able to survive the initial wave of invasion continue to live as best as they can.  Cass is a young woman living in one of these groups on an isolated island. Her baby brother was taken by the fearless on the same day a stowaway named Myo is discovered. She is faced with the choice to follow the rules of survival and write her brother off as dead or rescue the only family she has left.  She chooses to rescue him and leave her semi-safe island behind and venture out into the world. Accompanied by Myo, she begins her dangerous search for her brother.

This was a well written and exciting book. You follow Cass and Myo on their journey to rescue her brother and go through many obstacles along the way.  Their relationship develops into something more than friendship and you fall in love with their story.

I look forward to a sequel!

– Renee

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes is a beautiful narrative following the life of a Scholar girl named Laia and a Martial boy named Elias. In their world, the Martials have invaded and taken over Laia’s people, the Scholars, and enslaved them. The Martials rule with an iron fist and tolerate no resistance. Her story begins in the middle of a war that she doesn’t know is raging between the resistance and the Martials.

Fearing raids and punishment for any tiny infraction, the Scholars tend to their daily chores as best as they can and Laia’s family is no different. That is until one day Laia discovers that her brother may be helping the resistance. That day her entire life changes. Her home is raided, her family is murdered and her brother is captured. Stranded and alone, she has no choice but to join the resistance that betrayed her and go on a suicide mission to rescue her brother.

Once on her mission she meets up with Elias and he shows her that not all Martials are the same. Their upbringing and lifestyles are vastly different and yet they are drawn to each other, bonded by similar love and loss.

This is a beautiful and exciting story and I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

– Renee

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You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie

You Can Trust MeLivy Jackson is a stay at home mom with a hormonal tween and a doting son.

She and the kids head out to her best friend Julia’s house for lunch and are devastated to discover that Julia is dead, an apparent suicide. Livy refuses to believe that her best friend would ever kill herself, but her attempts to convince anyone else of that are fruitless.

Soon after, Livy meets Julia’s secret boyfriend, who also refuses to believe that she killed herself. Together they start to investigate Julia’s last days. Julia’s diary leads them on a chase looking for a killer who is so much closer than they realize. Too late, they discover how much danger they are in and that they may be the next victims.

This was a twisted suspenseful thriller and I really enjoyed it.

– Tina

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A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen

A Fine RomanceI love romance.  I don’t love nonfiction.  This story is both, so it’s a flip of a coin as to whether or not I’ll enjoy it.  Following up on her previous memoir, Knock Wood, Candice delves into motherhood, marriage, her career, loss, and more.

The book opens with her pregnancy and birth of her daughter.  It’s a sweet little chapter that brought tears to my eyes.  She then goes on to describe her meeting and falling in love with French film director, Louis Malle.  You learn of their travels, falling into married life, and their struggles.  Although they lead an unconventional marriage; they barely lived together as they each pursued their own professional interests in different countries; they made it work.

At the age of 39, Candice conceived and gave birth to her first and only child, Chloe.  She tells of her pregnancy and life with a new baby.  We learn how she became Murphy Brown and managed to excel at it for 10 years, with a child in tow.

We learn Louis survived lymphoma, open heart surgery and pneumonia to turn around and find out that he had PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy).  She opens up about the experience, the struggles, and what helped to keep her grounded.  He succumbed to his illness at the age of 63 on Thanksgiving Day of 1995.

Candice walks us through the aftermath of losing Louie and then her courtship and marriage to Marshall Rose.  To round out the book, she shares with us her stint in ICU, the death of her mother, weight gain, and her daughter’s engagement.

In conclusion, this was a very heartfelt memoir.  More than once I found tears threatening to roll down my cheek.  A fine read.

  • Amanda

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