Category Archives: Rated B+

Teen Tuesday Review: The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer

Title: The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 297 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


Two half-siblings who have never met embark on a search together for the Iranian immigrant and U.S. Army veteran father they never knew.

Samira Murphy will do anything to keep her fractured family from falling apart, including caring for her widowed grandmother and getting her older brother into recovery for alcohol addiction. With attendance at her dream college on the line, she takes a long shot DNA test to find the support she so desperately needs from a father she hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Henry Owen is torn between his well-meaning but unreliable bio-mom and his overly strict aunt and uncle, who stepped in to raise him but don’t seem to see him for who he is. Looking to forge a stronger connection to his own identity, he takes a DNA test to find the one person who might love him for exactly who he is—the biological father he never knew.

Instead of a DNA match with their father, Samira and Henry are matched with each other. They begin to search for their father together and slowly unravel the difficult truth of their shared past, forming a connection that only siblings can have and recovering precious parts of their past that have been lost. Brimming with emotional resonance, Susan Azim Boyer’s The Search for Us beautifully renders what it means to find your place in the world through the deep and abiding power of family.


The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer is a thoughtfully written young adult novel.

Half-siblings Samira Murphy and Henry Owen find each other through DNA testing and theis lives could not be more different. Samira’s family barely scraps by and she shoulders burdens she should not be expected to bear. Henry family dynamics are complicated and he is growing increasingly unhappy with parental expectations. After learning of each other’s existence, Samira and Henry decide to find the father whose absence is felt in very different ways.

The Search for Us is a very compelling young adult novel with a refreshingly unique plot. Each of the characters are vibrantly drawn and quite endearing. The storyline is well-written and tackles heartrending, socially relevant issues. The various settings and characters spring vividly to life. The chapters alternate between Samira’s and Henry’s perspectives and this provides thought-provoking insight into their respective lives.  Susan Azim Boyer deftly handles sensitive subject matter and brings this engaging young adult novel to a heartwarming conclusion.

Comments Off on Teen Tuesday Review: The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer

Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Rated B+, Review, Susan Azim Boyer, The Search for Us, Wednesday Books, Young Adult

Review: Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee

Title: Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Historical (40s, 70s), Christian Fiction
Length: 339 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through LibraryThing


Forever within the memories of my heart.

Always remember, you are perfectly loved.

Bertie Jenkins has spent forty years serving as a midwife for her community in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Out of all the mothers she’s tended, none affects her more than the young teenager who shows up on her doorstep, injured, afraid, and expecting, one warm June day in 1943. As Bertie and her four sisters tenderly nurture Songbird back to health, the bond between the childless midwife and the motherless teen grows strong. But soon Songbird is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that will tear this little family apart.

Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past.

For fans of historical and Southern fiction comes a poignant story of love and sacrifice set in the heart of Appalachia, from award-winning author Michelle Shocklee.
Full-length Christian historical fiction
Standalone novel
Book length: approximately 94,000 words
Includes discussion questions for book groups


Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee is a heartwarming novel that delves into adoption and the meaning of family.

The Jenkins’ sisters are very kind-hearted and willing to care for the stranger than turns up at their home. They also have a strong faith that extends to explaining Bible verses to anyone who is open to the word of God. Teenager Songbird is selfless as she makes a heart-wrenching decision about her baby.

Thirty years later, a rising country star’s entire world is turned upside down by his mom’s shocking revelation. After struggling with anger, depression and questions about his identity, he asks for assistance from a midwife who is an adoption advocate. Working together, they uncover the stunning truth about his past.

Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee is an emotionally compelling of hope and faith. The characters are incredibly well-drawn and quite appealing (except a couple of notable people). The storyline is engaging with the chapters alternating between events in 1943 and 1973. Michelle Shocklee brings this moving novel to a sweet conclusion.

Comments Off on Review: Appalachian Song by Michelle Shocklee

Filed under Appalachian Song, Christian, Historical (40s), Historical (70s), Michelle Shocklee, Rated B+, Review, Tyndale House Publishers

Review: Deadlock by James Byrne

Title: Deadlock by James Byrne
Dez Limerick Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 359 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


In this sequel to the highly praised The Gatekeeper, Dez Limerick, one of the best new thriller heroes returns.

Desmond Aloysius Limerick (“Dez” to his friends and close personal enemies) is a man with a shadowy past, certain useful hard-won skills, and, if one digs deep enough, a reputation as a good man to have at your back. Now retired from his previous life, Dez is just a bloke with a winning smile, a bass guitar, and bullet wounds that paint a road map of past lives.

Jaleh Swann, a business journalist hot on the trail of an auditor who was mugged and killed, lands in the hospital just one day after her Portland apartment is ransacked. When Jaleh’s sister, Raziah, reaches out to an old friend for help, Dez has no choice but to answer. The Swann sisters have been pulled into a dizzying web of cover-ups and danger. At the center lies an insidious Oregon-based tech corporation, Clockjack, which has enough money and hired guns to silence just about anyone—including this rag-tag trio. Luckily, Dez’s speciality is not just to open doors, but keep them open—and protect those working to expose Clockjack’s secrets.

More stands in the way of the truth than just one corporation. When hired thugs come to the finish the job and attack the Swann sisters at the hospital, Dez does what he does best. Now, the two captured men (and the corpse Dez left behind) attract the attention of not just Clockjack, but of the Portland police, the D.E.A, and the U.S. Marshalls. Dez and the Swann sisters are on the run from powers beyond their control and means. Outnumbered, under resourced and outgunned, Dez must use all his skills to keep his friends safe and stand up to corporate conniving. After all, the one thing Clockjack didn’t count on? A good man with a simple job to do.


Deadlock by James Byrne is an edge of the seat, suspense-laden thriller.

Dez Limerick is unique, likeable, and very easy to under estimate. He is charming but deadly and fiercely loyal with a strong moral compass. But Dez will do whatever it takes to protect his friends and by extension, their family.

When his friend, singer Raziah Swann, asks him to protect her sister, Laleh, Dez moves quickly to help them.  In order to ensure the sisters’ safety, he must figure out why Laleh has become a target. His quest for answers takes him to Clockjack Solutions, a tech company that, on the surface, seems on the up and up. However, appearances can be deceiving and Dez comes up against ruthless people who will do anything and everything to protect their shocking plans.

Deadlock is an adrenaline-filled mystery that moves at a blistering pace. Dez is a larger-than-life hero that is very easy root for. The storyline is well-developed with breath-taking twists and turns. With a jaw-dropping epilogue, James Byrne brings this second installment in the Dez Limerick series to a very intriguing conclusion.

Comments Off on Review: Deadlock by James Byrne

Filed under Contemporary, Deadlock, Dez Limerick Series, Jack Byrne, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Thriller

Review: Home for the Challah Days by Jennifer Wilck

Title: Home for the Challah Days by Jennifer Wilck
Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah Book One
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 293 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author



Turning the bitterness of the past…

Into a sweet future!

When big-city advocate Sarah Abrams returns home for the High Holy Days, she’s got a lot on her mind—especially whether to marry her perfect-on-paper boyfriend. The last person she wants to encounter is Aaron Isaacson, her first love and the one who broke her heart. But after Aaron and Sarah join forces to fight an act of hate, it’s clear that their deep connection never abated. If only they could forgive one another for the past…in time for a sweet new start!

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

Holidays, Heart and Chutzpah

Book 1: Home for the Challah Days


Home for the Challah Days by Jennifer Wilck is a charming romance that also features topical issues.

Sarah Abrams and Aaron Isaacson are former sweethearts whose lives went in separate ways. After college, Aaron returned home to take over the family deli while Sarah moved to DC to turn her dream into reality. After a ten-year separation, Sarah returns to her hometown for a couple of weeks to mull over a possible life-altering decision.

Sarah is very goal-oriented with a life plan firmly in her mind. An unexpected question sends her into a bit of a tailspin so she decides a vacation at home will assist her with her choice. This becomes a turning point as her tunnel vision about her life begins to widen and distance provides her with much needed clarity.

Aaron is very dedicated to his family and he is nursing a ten-year pain that makes it difficult for him to be around Sarah. He impetuously lashes out in anger as circumstances begin to occur outside of his control. Aaron can be very rigid and he does not communicate as well as he could.

The sparks definitely fly between Sarah and Aaron. But she has not been completely forthcoming about certain aspects of her personal life. When unexpected events occur within their community, she begins to see that her current path might not be her only choice.

Home for the Challah Days is a delightful romance with vibrantly drawn characters and a close-knit community. Sarah and Aaron undergo tremendous growth when they realize their goals and dreams change over time. Their small town is diverse and helpful in times of need. Unexpected societal situations explore out of the ordinary solutions when shocking incidents occur.  Jennifer Wilck brings this marvelous romance to a realistic and heartfelt conclusion. Highly recommend!

Comments Off on Review: Home for the Challah Days by Jennifer Wilck

Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin Special Edition, Holidays Heart and Chutzpah Series, Home for the Challah Days, Jennifer Wilck, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: I Did It For You by Amy Engel

Title: I Did It For You by Amy Engel
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


A twisty thriller from the beloved author of The Familiar Dark, in which a woman returns to the town where her sister was murdered and finds a presumed copycat on the loose

It’s been fourteen years since Greer Dunning’s older sister, Eliza, was murdered, and Greer’s family has never been the same. And now there’s been a similar killing in Greer’s small Kansas hometown. A copycat, according to the authorities, but Greer is convinced there is more to the story. That Eliza’s murderer had help all those years ago.

So Greer returns home after more than a decade away, desperate to answer the questions that have haunted her for years. And in her drive to uncover the truth, she forms a bond with the unlikeliest of allies. One that puts her in grave danger, as almost everyone in her small town becomes a suspect.

At once a riveting mystery and a deep exploration of guilt, loss, and the ways in which a violent murder transforms both the family of the victim and the family of the killer, I Did It For You will keep readers captivated through the very last page.


I Did It For You by Amy Engel is a compelling mystery about copycat murders.

After learning about the new murders, Greer Dunning returns to her small hometown in Kansas. She immediately reconnects with her childhood friends Ryan and Cassie. But Greer does not make much headway in trying to repair her fractured relationship with her parents. She also pairs up with an unlikely person as she tries to find the connection between her sister Eliza’s and the present day murders.

With plenty of tension, this atmospheric mystery is fast-paced with well-drawn characters. Greer remains haunted by her sister’s death and being home provides her the opportunity to search for answers. Despite the murders, she is a little reckless and takes unnecessary risks. Greer also unearths stunning secrets that leave her wondering whom she can trust. The shocking dénouement is full of unexpected twists and turns. The conclusion of this suspense-laden mystery is somewhat bittersweet.

Comments Off on Review: I Did It For You by Amy Engel

Filed under Amy Engel, Dutton, I Did It for You, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Mystery Monday Review: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

Title: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Supernatural, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 447 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death—but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules…

Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.

After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: This place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: They wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: Close your curtains at night.

High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?

Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow’s brother, Harper, comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth—that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined—he is determined to blow the whole thing open.


Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano is a suspenseful debut.

Harper’s search for his missing sister Willow on isolated Clifford Island drives this fast-paced mystery. Clifford Island’s small population is not exactly helpful as Harper tries to not only find Willow but understand what drew her there in the first place. The cast of eclectic islanders do not want visitors and they do not have an online footprint. The storyline is cleverly written with the chapters alternating between text messages, interviews, Willow’s letters, and various characters’ perspectives.

A deliciously eerie mystery with supernatural elements and a chilling conclusion.

Comments Off on Mystery Monday Review: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

Filed under Dead Eleven, Dutton, Jimmy Juliano, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, Suspense