‘Things You Save in a Fire’ by Katherine Center begins with a spark and ends in an inferno

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“Things You Save in a Fire” by Katherine Center isn’t literally about things you would save in a fire. The main character, firefighter Cassie Hanwell, was born to be a firefighter. She’s a fascinating and complex character. When there’s an emergency, she gets calm and knows exactly what to do. She’s the one you want to be with when danger threatens. But in her own life, she’s helpless to get things on track.

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‘Betrayal in Time’ by Julie McElwain is a wonderful mystery/scifi/historical fiction novel

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“Betrayal in Time” by Julie McElwain is the fourth novel in which Kendra Donovan, a 21st century FBI agent, is unwittingly sent to the past while trying to avenge the deaths of  most of her team. Her goal is to kill the culprit in England. When someone beats her to the kill, she escapes up a staircase and ends up in 1815, in England.

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‘Spin the Dawn’ by Elizabeth Lim is an engrossing fantasy about a young girl whose ambition proves world-changing

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In a fictional world reminiscent of ancient China, Elizabeth Lim creates “Spin the Dawn,” the story of Maia, daughter of a tailor who is as skilled as any tailor but who is barred from the profession because of her gender. Her father has lost his ambition since the death of Maia’s mother, and two of her brothers were killed in the Emperor’s war. Now, it’s just Maia supporting the family.

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‘The Summer Country’ by Lauren Willig is an ambitious tale of prejudice and plantations in Barbados during Victorian times

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“The Summer Country” by Lauren Willig refers to the island of Barbados, where it is summer all year long. The story is about three women, and from the beginning it alternates between 1812 and 1854. The story begins in 1854, when Emily Dawson and her cousin Adam travel to Barbados for different reasons. Adam is representing the family business now that his grandfather, Jonathan Fenty, has died, while Emily is traveling to visit Peverills, the sugar cane plantation that her grandfather left her in his will.

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‘Mrs. Everything’ by Jennifer Weiner is a fascinating study of sisters

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“Mrs. Everything” might be Jennifer Weiner’s most ambitious novel yet. She takes readers into the lives of two sisters, Jo and Bethie, who grow up during the 50s. Readers watch Jo and Bethie as the Kaufman family buys their first house in a suburb of Detroit. Readers with at least one sister will nod as the story shows girls who are very different in terms of personality and temperament, but who love each other — much of the time.

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‘The Yankee Widow’ by Linda Lael Miller is a fabulous historical fiction novel filled with ordinary people who do extraordinary things

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“The Yankee Widow” by Linda Lael Miller takes place during the Civil War and takes readers right through the Battle of Gettysburg in all its horror and death. Caroline Hammond, the main character, becomes a widow at the start of the story when her husband, young Jacob, dies after becoming grievously injured at the Battle of Chancellorsville. She travels to Washington City, as it was known then, and finds him at the point of death.

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‘Queen Bee’ by Dorothea Benton Frank

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This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.

“Queen Bee” by Dorothea Benton Frank is filled with quirky characters, magical bees, and at the center, a woman who is trying to figure out where she belongs. Holly McNee Jensen has always felt like the odd woman out. Her mother, lovingly — and not-so-lovingly — referred to as Queen Bee, adores Holly’s older sister Leslie. Holly always seems to do things wrong.

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‘Under the Table’ by Stephanie Evanovich another sweet yet torrid romance

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“Under the Table” by Stephanie Evanovich is first and foremost a romance. But there’s much more to this novel that by turn enchants, infuriates, and charms the reader. Zoey leaves an abusive husband to flee to New York City and live with her sister, Ruth. Ruth grinds out a 9 to 5 job during the week and lives to have fun on weekends. That’s not quite Zoey’s style. She’s left her deadbeat husband for a year trial separation, and she’s working hard on weekends to build up her fledgling catering business.

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‘Swimming for Sunlight’ by Allie Larkin is about love and loss and living in spite of it all (and there’s a dog)

swimming for sunlight

“Swimming for Sunlight” by Allie Larkin has it all — but mostly it has a main character who has experienced it all, and in her case that’s not a good thing. Katie has experienced much loss. Her father died when she was young. Even worse was how it happened; he died when he was swimming with her to the dock by their lake home, and Katie tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him. After her father was gone, her mother relinquished all motherly duties to Katie’s grandmother and eventually just left. Katie was raised by her grandmother, Nan, in Florida.

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‘When We Left Cuba’ by Chanel Cleeton is a beautiful historical fiction espionage romance

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“When We Left Cuba” by Chanel Cleeton is the gripping story of Beatriz Perez, daughter to a sugar baron in Cuba whose family fled when Castro’s army took over the island paradise. Living a grand but reduced lifestyle in Palm Beach, Beatriz’ mother is constantly scheming for her daughters to marry well and restore the family name and fortune.

But Beatriz has other ideas. Her twin brother was killed during the Revolution, and she is determined to get revenge. She hates Castro passionately and abhors the idea that she will follow her mother’s wishes — marry, have children, and never live life fully. She wants to take a different path. Continue reading

‘The Girl He Used to Know’ by Tracey Garvis Graves is lovely and thought-provoking

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With the title “The Girl He Used to Know,” author Tracey Garvis Graves doesn’t give the reader a hint about what to expect. The reader won’t expect two main characters who are compelling and who will be indelibly etched on their minds. They won’t expect a love story between two people who in some ways are worlds apart, yet who just might be destined for each other. They won’t expect a story that hooks the reader from the start, but just keeps getting better and better until the final 40 pages, at which point it’s simply impossible to put the book down. Continue reading