A Pride of Brothers: Dylan by Peggy Jaeger

A Pride of Brothers: Dylan by Peggy Jaeger
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Cyber-security specialist Dylan Keane is working undercover to suss out a corporate thief. When he zeroes in on Harper Vale, he thinks he’s found his mole.

Harper has a reputation as a coding savant and an introvert. Dylan’s interest is flattering, but after she’s implicated in the theft of the company’s protected software, she doubts everything he’s told her.

When a series of potentially deadly accidents occur involving Harper, Dylan wonders if she is being set up to take the fall. One thing is certain: the more time they spend together, the more Dylan realizes he’s the one who’s falling—for Harper.

I have been waiting for this book to come out and it was definitely worth the wait. I cancelled a boating trip so I could stay home to read this new book in the Pride of Brothers series. The series is about four brothers who open an investigative company named Brother’s Inc. This particular story is about Dylan.

Dylan has two older and one younger brother. One of the older brothers, Rick, isn’t a biological brother but he’s so much of a brother in every other way, that sharing the same DNA doesn’t matter. I first read Aiden’s story which was book two and I had every intention of reading the first story which was about the brother named Rick. I’m ashamed to admit that I still have not read book one. After reading the third book about Dylan I am more determined to read book one. However, I would be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that I’m curious why I can’t find a book for Josh. Josh is the older brother and the founder of the private investigative firm. He happens to be married to a lady named Kandy, who is a famous chef. All I know is that they met when Josh was hired to protect her. Their romance could be mentioned in book one but since I haven’t read it, I don’t know. I read book two a long time ago that I don’t remember Josh or Kandy in book two. I guess one day I’ll have to sit down and read all three books. Each one can be read as a standalone. Yet, I enjoyed how the characters in book two are brought back in book three.

I’m assuming Dylan’s story is the final book in the series since Josh is married. This makes me sad because I feel like the series just started. Unless the author just writes a book for Josh and in it all the other brothers must be single. I’m probably overthinking this, but I just want to read more about these characters since I’ve grown to love them so much.

I enjoyed Dylan’s story because it was unpredictable, often suspenseful and the romance made me feel gooey. The author’s descriptions throughout the story bring the characters, settings and feelings come to life. I could visualize Dylan’s smile, his physically fit body, his apartment, the car chase, the food they were cooking. Heck, I could smell and taste the food that was prepared. The author’s writing style really makes me want to read the entire book in one sitting. Which I did.

The heroine, Harper, was a character wrapped up multiple times and Dylan had the patience to unwrap her layer by layer. Harper was a diamond in the rough. She just needed someone like Dylan to come along and make her sparkle. Let’s just say that when they were together the chemistry between them was dazzling. I could sense how much they really cared about one another in a heartwarming way.

Okay, I just did a thing. After re-reading my review I realized how invested in these characters I am, so I just went on Amazon and bought the first book in the series. It will arrive by July twenty which just happens to be my twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. If that isn’t enough testimony that others should read this book and the others in this series, then I don’t know what else is.

If you are looking for a wowza book that will leave you feeling a book glow at the end, then I’d recommend Pride of Brothers: Dylan and the others in the series.

Jagged Feathers by Jan Sikes

Jagged Feathers by Jan Sikes
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann.

On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed.

A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks.

Will these two not only survive but find unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?

This can be read as a standalone and is the second book in The White Rune Series.

I read the synopsis and thought that it sounded like a good book to read. I started reading it and was transported into the story right away. The story begins with the hero, Vann, having a PTSD nightmare. My father-in-law is a Vietnam war veteran who suffers from PTSD therefore I’m familiar with the hero’s struggles. I can’t imagine what it’s like for Vann or any veteran to adjust to the civilian world with a missing limb from a war casualty. Vann is written as a sweet character that doesn’t feel worthy of finding his happily ever after. Vann actually hides his prosthesis for fear of being judged as an incomplete person.

There is a sentence in the story that shows up a few times that really resonated with me, “If you can’t find a reason to live, then find a reason not to die.” It’s a very powerful statement. Vann is a character that more than deserves to find peace, love and joy.

The heroine, Nakina, certainly didn’t bring solace into Vann’s life when they met. Nakina brought the suspense/mystery elements. Nakina was very lucky that Vann was in town that particular day for them to have that chance encounter. She couldn’t have asked for a better person to run into when Vann approached her. A unique characteristic pertaining to Nakina is her ability to feel and see things. She’s a psychic learning to fine tune her gift. I was intrigued by the rune stone.

Nakina and Vann’s romance journey kept me on the edge of my seat as they both pursued refuge in each other as they ran for their lives from hired killers. I felt their love story evolved at a sensual pace that was heartwarming and uplifting. Nakina and Vann filled each other’s void spots making them complete each other.

I did experience a hiccup that pulled me away from the story. There is a moment where it appears the danger was resolved. I kept thinking that was impossible. I was waiting for the shoe to drop. When I only had a few more pages left I started to relax thinking, well, I guess that was the end of the danger. I felt an anti-climax. Without giving spoilers, let’s just say that the shoe did drop. For me I felt the timing was off. The next page is titled two weeks later and then we have another titled two weeks later that concludes with an epilogue. I should have had a book glow since I love epilogues. Somehow the reality of the situation versus the ending, it didn’t jive with the rest of the story.

Overall, I did enjoy this romance book. I especially loved Vann’s dog, Champion. There is a scene involving Champion that pulled at my heartstrings. As a dog owner I was very concerned during this part of the book. Fortunately this plot thread was written well. I felt the cast of characters were well developed and relatable. I got to know Vann’s neighbors and Nakina’s sister. Everyone played an important role in the narrative.

In conclusion, Jagged Feathers was entertaining. I think we all could benefit from opening our eyes and seeing nature’s natural beauty and feeling the healing of nature when we learn to rest such as Vann and Nakina did. This story brings about solace and hope.

The Arrangement by Joan Wolf

The Arrangement by Joan Wolf
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
Genre: Romance, Historical
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Mistflower

Dear Reader:

I am afraid I am about to do something exceedingly shocking.

My adventure began when I came to the Earl of Savile’s castle for the reading of George Devane’s will, of which the earl is the executor. I had every intention of refusing George’s blood money, but he foiled me by leaving it to my young son, Nicky. Because I am a young widow, this bequest has subjected me to a great deal of unpleasant gossip.

Now I find that I am in the power of the most exciting man I have ever met, a man whose very presence makes me weak, a man who could very well be my ruination.

Remember me in your prayers, as I shall need them.

(Mrs.) Gail Saunders

If I had to choose four words to describe this book then I’d choose: unpredictable, amazing, satisfying, and unforgettable.

I chose unpredictable because I was surprised twice. I honestly never saw the plot twists coming. My jaw hit the floor. I loved the unexpected wow factor. I chose amazing because this story was well-written. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The cast of characters were well-developed and relatable, including the ones that added conflict. I felt like I was a fly on the wall inside the story, witnessing it in real life. I chose satisfying because it hit all my feel-good spots from beginning to end. I chose unforgettable because I had to put the book down a few times, and I never forgot what I last read when I picked it back up. I was thinking about the story when I was away from it, feeling eager to get back to it. I was borderline obsessed with this story. Now that it’s over I feel like I want to re-read it again. It’s definitely going on my keeper shelf.

I loved how the synopsis was a letter to the reader from the heroine, Gail Saunders. I’ve never seen that before. The story starts right away with the hero, Raoul, meeting Gail. Immediately I was hooked and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The first three chapters were hilarious. Gail is a strong willed, smart, and brave woman. Raoul is loyal, generous, and really easy to love unconditionally. He’s going on my book boyfriend list. Together they make a great team. I could feel their attraction to one another. They made me laugh out loud a few times. I admit they pulled at my heartstrings.

Every thread in the story was tied up nicely leaving me with a definite book glow. I could say more but I don’t want to accidentally give any spoilers. This novel is like a layered cake. Each layer is delicious. However, taken as a whole, it’s mouthwatering.

I strongly urge others to take the time to read this book. I feel it’s worth it.

Cornbread and Poppy by Matthew Cordell

Cornbread and Poppy by Matthew Cordell
Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s (6-8 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Cornbread LOVES planning. Poppy does not. Cornbread ADORES preparing. Poppy does not. Cornbread IS ready for winter. Poppy…is not. But Cornbread and Poppy are the best of friends, so when Poppy is left without any food for the long winter, Cornbread volunteers to help her out. Their search leads them up, up, up Holler Mountain, where these mice might find a new friend…and an old one. Celebrating both partnership and the value of what makes us individuals, young readers will find this classic odd-couple irresistible as they encounter relatable issues with humor and heart.

I am a nanny of a six-year-old girl who is going into first grade and we chose this book from the state reading list. We unknowingly saved the best for last. Cornbread and Poppy is a must read.

I’m not sure who loved this story more, me or the little girl that I read it to. This book is about procrastination. Something we all do at one point or another in our life. My son’s procrastination is the bane of my existence. We have a new saying in the house now thanks to this story. “Be a Cornbread not a Poppy!”.

Cornbread likes to be organized and prepared aka a “prepper”. In this situation it’s about having enough food to survive the winter. Poppy is a major procrastinator. She’ll do it “later”. Well, of course winter comes and Poppy isn’t prepared. What will she do? I’m all about natural consequences. It was her responsibility to prepare. I’m not sure I’d help her. Fortunately for Poppy, Cornbread is a good friend. He helps her to find food so she doesn’t starve. Where they found the food was the entertaining part of the story.

This story is a wonderful example of friendship, bravery, and humor. The ending had me groaning out loud and the little girl with me laughing out loud. She was quick to say, “Read it again!”. Oh, I read it several times before we returned it to the library. I think the little girl mostly enjoyed my reaction over Poppy. Of all the irresponsible things to do in life, procrastinating is the worst. I’m proud to be a cornbread.

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
Illustrator: Christopher Denise
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

A determined Owl builds strength and confidence in this medieval picture book about the real mettle of a hero: wits, humor, and heart.

Since the day he hatched, Owl dreamed of becoming a real knight. He may not be the biggest or the strongest, but his sharp nocturnal instincts can help protect the castle, especially since many knights have recently gone missing. While holding guard during Knight Night Watch, Owl is faced with the ultimate trial—a frightening intruder. It’s a daunting duel by any measure. But what Owl lacks in size, he makes up for in good ideas.

Full of wordplay and optimism, this surprising display of bravery proves that cleverness (and friendship) can rule over brawn.

I borrowed this book from the library and read it to the six-year-old girl that I nanny for. We do not want to return this book because it was that good. Of course, we will but first we will read it another fifty times.

I appreciate how the synopsis for this story shared just enough of the plot to capture my interest yet left a few surprises for us to discover. Such as how some of the knights were recently missing. I never would have guessed the reason behind how they went missing.

We enjoyed the suspense when the frightening intruder comes on scene. The illustrations really added to the suspense.

The main character is an owl who dreamed of becoming a real knight. He may be small, but he had some big ideas to save the day from the frightening intruder.

The story ends with a positive message for young readers about bravery, cleverness, determination and friendships.

I thought it was cute when the story shows a picture of the owl sleeping and it says, “And he had a habit of nodding off during the day.” That launched a conversation about animals being nocturnal.

If you need a little optimism, then this book serves up a good dose. This was a great summer 2023 read!

Rebel Heart by Dani Petrone

Rebel Heart by Dani Petrone
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Mistflower

Rebecca Prentice has always been the obedient daughter of a political figure. It’s hard being perfect―and boring. It’s time for a change. So, when her girlfriends plan to check out local bars using different personas, Rebecca calls herself Reb and goes looking for fun. But when she meets a bad-boy musician in a biker bar, she gets a lot more than she bargained for.

Mick has a secret. He doesn’t live on the wild side. However, if that’s what it takes to keep the beautiful and exciting Reb in his life, this straight-arrow tax attorney is ready to take her on the ride of her life.

But what happens when the truth comes out?

The synopsis is straight forward. My interest was sparked after I read it so if it intrigues you then try reading it for yourself. This romance was a fun read full of miscommunications, misunderstandings, and a few left-out details between the hero and the leading lady. I was pleased with the writing style because all too often romance stories with these types of conflicts can make me want to bang my head against the wall but not in this book. I was able to read this story pretty fast thanks to the character development, smooth pace and contemporary setting.

The heroine, Rebecca aka Reb, was entertaining when she was with her group of friends. They were relatable and well-developed characters. I’d love to read a book for each of Reb’s friends. They were kind, supportive and loyal friends. Reb is lucky to have caring parents as well. It was easy for me to like Rebecca and want to see her happily ever after.

The hero, Mick. Ooh la la. He was dreamy. When Mick and Reb got together, I had to lower the Air Conditioner. They were immediately attracted to each other, and their romance was sensual throughout the story.

There were a few interesting plot threads that came along that kept me turning the pages. One in particular had me feeling like Mick was a real hero as he saved Reb from danger. I think that is when Reb and I fell in love with him.

It was nice to read a story where the leading couple didn’t have any issues within themselves that had to be resolved before they could open their hearts to each other. It was a nice change of pace to only have misunderstandings and miscommunications to hurdle over.

I recommend bringing this book to the beach or pool while drinking a yummy cocktail. I hope you enjoy Rebel Heart as much as I did.

Big Truck Little Island by Chris Van Dusen

Big Truck Little Island by Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Fiction, Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

That big truck is stuck! How will the island residents get where they’re going? A tale of community and ingenuity from the celebrated Chris Van Dusen, inspired by a true story.

When a big truck and its big load get stuck on a narrow road, traffic on the little island comes to a halt. Some cars need to go south and some have to travel north. How will Meg get to her swim meet? What about Barry’s ballet class? Luckily, the kidscome up with an ingenious solution: why not just swap cars? Inspired by an incident that happened on Vinalhaven, Maine, Chris Van Dusen tells a fun tale of resourcefulness and community through clever, rhyming wordplay and whimsical illustrations, sprinkled with plenty of cars and trucks for transportation-loving readers.

I was looking forward to reading this story because it is based on a true story that happened in the state of Maine. I spent many summers camping in Maine in my younger years and therefore I appreciated the artwork on the pages created by the illustrator. The attention to detail with bright colors were a delight on each page.

The story is about how a big truck and its big load get stuck on a narrow road blocking traffic going both directions. The occupants in the cars that were stuck in the traffic got out of their cars to communicate with each other. Exemplifying a sense of community and teamwork.

You see, each person had to be somewhere, and they were all stuck, the solution they came up with didn’t even cross my mind. It was quite brilliant.

This was a clever rhyming read-aloud story that held the interest of the six-year-old girl that I nanny for. She enjoyed this story so much that she requested me to read it several times.

If you are looking for a fun story to read to your child, this summer then I’d recommend this one.

Bug on the Rug by Sophia Gholz

Bug on the Rug by Sophia Gholz
Illustrator: Susan Batori
Publisher: Sleeping Bear
Genre: Fiction, Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Pug is snug on his rug. But what happens when along comes BUG?! With a claim to the rug?! The two engage in a hysterical, rhyming battle of wits and strength until Slug asks the necessary questions and helps them find common ground. Rhyming is an important developmental reading skill. It teaches phonics (decodable text) and helps young readers infer content. This is a fun story to build those skills–and is an epic read aloud!

I am a nanny of a six-year-old girl who is going into first grade this Fall. Of all the book covers to choose from and she chose Bug on the Rug. I must admit that I love the cover as well. The pug’s face is priceless.

This is a rhyming read-aloud story that is absolutely hilarious and heartwarming. Pug is snug on his rug when a bug comes along. The bug comes along to claim a piece of the rug. The two begin a battle over who owns the rug. In the midst of the battle a slug comes along and helps the two through conflict resolution. Where and why the bug comes along on his rug is the ‘oh bless his heart’ part of the story.

The little girl that I nanny for, and I loved this story. We read it a multitude of times and laughed out loud every single time. As an adult I enjoyed the happily ever after between two unlikely friends.

Happy Summer Reading 2023!

Once Upon a Kiss by Selena Robins

Once Upon a Kiss by Selena Robins
Publisher: Self- Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

A survivor. A corporate shark. And a case of mistaken identity to warm the heart.

Hell on a stick. Is thirty-three too young to lose your mind? Sabrina Monroe is a survivor, but this epic streak of bad luck has worn her thin. Lately, she swears she’s seeing and hearing things.

With everything on her plate, she doesn’t have time to riddle out these oddball, mystical happenings. Corporate vultures are circling Maple Manor, the inn that’s been in her family for generations. And her new handyman looks like he’s better suited for the cover of GQ than Popular Mechanics.

Jason O’Neil can barely tell a Phillips from a flathead, but when Maple Manor’s stubbornly sale-resistant owner mistakes him for the new Mr. Fixit, he doesn’t hesitate to trade his Guccis for work boots. It’s the perfect chance to bag the lush mountain property for his company’s next five-star golf course. What could possibly go wrong?

He quickly discovers that not only is Sabrina no pushover, but he’s also enjoying the push and pull between them way more than he should. And when a new threat emerges, Jason finds himself risking everything to follow his heart—and convince Sabrina he’s her ally.

This was a captivating romance from beginning to end with all the ingredients necessary to be produced into a movie. I finished reading at one AM and should have been exhausted but I’m wide awake, filled with the desire to continue reading except Sabrina and Jason’s love story already has reached their HEA. I’m still on cloud nine so it’s the perfect time to write a review, reliving what I enjoyed most about this novel.

The heroine, Sabrina, is an exceptionally strong character considering all that she has endured in her lifetime. She has tried hard not to let her past define her future. Her wit and sense of humor made her an endearing leading character to me.

The hero, Jason, is as charming as could be. He has the looks, the career and the qualities of a gentleman that made me swoon just imagining being in the same room as him. Jason has his own baggage of issues to contend with before he could open up his heart to love.

Together, Jason and Sabrina’s journey to love made me experience a mix of feelings ranging from sad to laughing out loud, to feeling all gushy inside. It was the perfect combination resulting in a book glow. The author did a wonderful job creating relatable characters that came to life on the page for the reader to resonate with.

A few characters were purposefully undesirable which enhanced the plot throughout the story by creating a tense atmosphere causing me to be concerned for the hero and heroine. I enjoyed that bit of drama. This story sure did have some unpredictable twists that gave me a few surprises. I appreciated how the author took her time to tie up all loose ends in the story, leaving me with a satisfied smile on my face.

I was fond of the location where this story took place since I have been to Vermont on many occasions. I enjoyed reading the detailed scene descriptions written throughout the story. It made me feel more connected to the story.

Once upon a Kiss has the magical touch I look for in a book that leaves me wanting to read it again. I fully encourage others to read this heartwarming story.

Not That Pet! By Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Not That Pet! By Smriti Prasadam-Halls
Illustrator: Rosalind Beardshaw
Publisher: Candlewick Press, a Walker Books imprint
Genre: Contemporary, Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

It’s time to get a pet! Will Mabel find the perfect one for her family?

Hooray! Mabel and her family are getting a pet! There’s no time to lose! But which kind of animal should they choose? Not the snake – it’s too scary. The elephant’s too big. The worms are too wriggly and the hyena too giggly. Then Mabel has the perfect idea. But will her family agree? A laugh-out-loud rhyming story about finding the perfect pet – with plenty of hilarious twists along the way.

The third book we chose to read for our summer reading program was Not That Pet! I am a nanny of a six-year-old girl going into first grade. It’s fun seeing a child’s eyes light up when a book or story engages their imagination. This story was another hit.

This was an entertaining read! This is a rhyming read-aloud story that had us both giggling from the beginning of the story to the end. The main character, Mabel, is allowed to pick the family pet. She is determined to find the perfect pet. Her choices had us groaning, ‘oh nooo’ while shaking our heads and laughing out loud. We couldn’t read fast enough to see Mabel’s next choice. Her final decision was unpredictable. We couldn’t believe the final choice was a…. well, you’ll just have to read the story yourself to find out.

The illustrations themselves had us smirking. We took the time to really look at the pages and discovered small details that really added to the enjoyment of the story. We read this story several times which is an indicator that this book is a keeper.

Enjoy reading Summer 2023!