Cold Case Killer Profile by Jessica R. Patch

Cold Case Killer Profile by Jessica R. Patch
Quantico Profilers, Book 2
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

The desert can hide many secrets…including murder.

Searching for the perfect morning landscape to paint leads forensic artist Brigitte Linsey straight to a dead body—and a narrow escape from the Sunrise Serial Killer still on the scene. Now she’s become unfinished business and new prey. Working with FBI special agent Duke Jericho could mean putting the murderer away for good. However, it’s just a matter of time before this diabolically clever predator turns his hunters into the hunted…

From Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.

I didn’t realize it was book two of three in the Quantico Profilers series until I finished it. It’s safe to say that it can be read as a standalone.

I’m not new to reading suspense/murder/mystery romances but I can say this was my first inspirational one. Surprisingly, the author made it work. Cold Case Killer Profile really was filled with “Courage, Danger and Faith”.

This is my first Jessica R. Patch book and it’s safe to say that it won’t be my last. I was engaged from the first chapter to the last. I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out who the “Sunrise Serial Killer” was. There were many suspects in my mind. This story was filled with plot twists and unpredictable outcomes.

The heroine, Brigitte was a strong, independent character with some vulnerable moments which were justified.

The hero, Duke, was dream worthy. I loved how he protected Brigitte and was there to save the day. The chemistry between them was sweet. They were attracted to each other, but they were a little bit busy trying to stay alive. Fortunately, they had faith to keep them strong.

This book was an entertaining read. Happy Reading!

Tidings of Joy by Margaret Daley

Tidings of Joy by Margaret Daley
Publisher: Harlequin Love Inspired
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Inspirational, Holiday
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

He came to Sweetwater to repay a debt. Chance Taylor didn’t expect to have feelings for his new landlady, Tanya Bolton. He could see newly widowed Tanya had worked hard to put the pieces of her world back together, caring for her wheelchair-bound daughter and taking a job at the local bank.

Chance’s arrival interrupted Tanya’s routine…and brought unexpected happiness to her life.

But the secret obligation he struggled with meant Chance could lose Tanya—and his chance for a fresh start—forever.

A man with baggage, a woman with different baggage, but a pull that’s undeniable. Oh, and it’s Christmas.

I picked this book up because of the dog on the cover. I won’t lie. I like a good black Labrador book. This one didn’t disappoint. It’s cute and sweet. I liked the characters, and I wanted them to have a happy ending. I also wanted to know if the dog got a happy ending, too. Thankfully, everyone did.

I liked the friendship between Tanya and Chance. They hit it off right away, even when they didn’t realize it. It was cute. It also showed that sometimes the best things are worth waiting for. I liked the side story of Tanya’s daughter coming out of her shell and Chance showing them both they weren’t alone.

If you’re looking for a cute holiday read, then this is the one for you.

Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald

Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald
Publisher: Grove Press
Genre: Inspirational, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.

In Vesper Flights, Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep.

Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing the massive migration of songbirds from the top of the Empire State Building, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife.

By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.

This is a book of essays. People have a tendency to think it is about falcons because MacDonald is a falconer and also has written previous books about hawks and falcons. These essays are more than an observance of nature. They are also a description of one’s walk of life. Not all of the settings are out on the edge of a cliff. Some are experiences in our humdrum days of life, and some are very ethereal.

Vesper Flights did have trouble holding my attention but in looking back, I think this is a book one has to read at the right time. Sometimes essays can seem disjunct to me, like short stories in a sense. But I don’t think this book is meant to be looked upon as I did. It’s spiritual, it’s relaxing, and it’s calm. I am a very black and white thinker, so I don’t often look for meaning or inspiration as MacDonald does. I was brought up as a sort of “buck up” person, and this is not that kind of book. It’s a soul-searching, beautifully written book of essays about nature and about life.

Island Charm by Audrey Wick

Island Charm by Audrey Wick
Publisher: White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Mistflower

An imposter in paradise

When Anna Worthington’s twin sister gets jilted by her fiancé, Anna steps in with a plan for a girls’ Key West getaway instead of a honeymoon trip. Yet when her twin has her own crisis of commitment and doesn’t board the plane, Anna finds herself on a romantic getaway that she’s forced to navigate alone.

A vacation romance with an expiration date

Gunnar Lockhart, whose specialty is island tourism, is the perfect match for helping Anna complete her vacation bucket list, but time together forges a connection more personal than either anticipate. As they make island memories, Anna has to untangle her mixed emotions. Are her feelings toward Gunnar real? Or like her sister’s wedding day, has this connection been doomed from the start?

Audrey Wick’s writing style is charming. She has a way of bringing her stories to life. This story takes place mostly in Key West which I’ve been to a few times. I can testify to the magic and lifestyle of the Keys. I live in Florida and the Keys is its own entity. While reading this story I felt like Audrey Wick captured the distinction of Key West.

I consider a romance book to be a work of art. I don’t have the skills to write a book, but I thoroughly enjoy reading them. There could not be a more appropriate or better title for this book, Island Charm. As I write this review, I’m thinking deeply and carefully about Island Charm’s subject matter. I feel it necessary to share with you the definition of charm. “Charm (noun) is the power or quality of giving delight or arousing admiration. (Verb) delight greatly”. This leads me directly to the hero.
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The above definition of charm can be applied to the hero, Gunner. He was definitely filled with charm. What do I mean? I mean that Gunner was friendly and pleasant to those that he came in contact with. He made it impossible for anyone to not like him. Gunner loved giving back to his community and working at an information booth in the Keys was one way he could do that. I would go as far to say that Gunner had a special and unique charm that set him apart from other men.

I could completely see how the heroine, Anna, was captivated by Gunner’s appealing features, mannerisms and characteristics. I for one fell for his compassionate heart. Gunner’s interaction with an elderly man name named Jack demonstrated Gunner’s desire to serve others.

The heroine is a kind soul as well. Anna’s love for her sister and family is heartwarming and inspirational.

The romance between Anna and Gunner is sweet and inspiring. Not only was I entertained but I was encouraged as well. Anna and Gunner were both going through the struggle of living through the consequences of somebody else’s choices. I think that is the reality of life for many people. I know my life has been impacted by circumstances that I have had no control over. This story gave me hope.

My interest was captured from page one, and I was engaged in the plot and romance until the last page. The story’s pace flowed smoothly and flawlessly. I found only one bone to pick, that being the fact that Gunner and Anna never exchanged phone numbers. In this day and age of texting, I found that glaringly odd, however that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

I always appreciate a book that ends with an epilogue. After the epilogue, Island Charm surprised me with a “Devotional Moment” and a cooking recipe that was relevant to the story. I didn’t realize that White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group was known for writing inspirational stories. I’ll have to look into that further. The subject matter in this story all makes sense now. My Christian mother and sister would appreciate this uplifting romance story. You don’t have to be a Godly person to read and enjoy this romance but those who are, will have an additional reason to appreciate this book.

This is not my first Audrey Wick story, and it won’t be my last. I searched the internet and couldn’t find anything mentioning a next book in the series. I would greatly appreciate a book two that found a happily ever after for Anna’s sister, Brie. I would totally read that.

I definitely would encourage romance readers, including all my friends and family, to check out Island Charm, especially if they are looking for a relaxing beach read. I would absolutely pack this book in my beach or pool bag and read it again.

Happiness Is Listening to Your Dog Snore – Humorous and Inspirational Dog Quotes to Celebrate Our Canine Friends by Sandra Murphy

Happiness Is Listening to Your Dog Snore – Humorous and Inspirational Dog Quotes to Celebrate Our Canine Friends by Sandra Murphy
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspirational, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

From Afghans and Akitas to Yakutians and Yorkies, and everything in between, there’s a very special connection between dogs and their owners. Our four-legged friends put smiles on our faces, comfort us when we’re down and make us laugh with their antics. They aren’t just “man’s best friend” but a terrific companion to women, children and anyone in need of the perfect companion.

Bestselling author and editor Sandra Murphy (Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the 60s, From Hay to Eternity) has compiled a collection of quotes celebrating canines; our furry friends who bring so much joy to our lives. Some quotes will be familiar, many will be new, but all remind us how wonderful it is to have dogs in our lives.

Dogs make the world a better place.

One of the things I liked the most about this collection was the way the author separated all of the quotes out in various sections. The first portion was dedicated to humorous quotes, while later ones included themes that ranged from inspirational to what the author’s peers at Untreed Reads thought about dogs. It was nice to know what to expect from each section before I read it, and it also made it easy to flip ahead or back to a specific theme if needed.

As much as I enjoyed reading these quotes, there were times when I found them repetitive. The same themes and ideas were repeated over and over again in the various sections. It would have been nice to have a wider range of thoughts on the topic as dogs are creatures almost everyone loves. Had this been the case, I would have happily gone with a much higher rating as the concept itself was well worth checking out.

Some of my favorite sections were the ones that pondered what the world might look like through canine eyes. For example, one quote discussed whether the writer’s dog might have given them a name and, if so, what that name might be. That was exactly the sort of content I was hoping to read about! It’s fascinating to gaze into the eyes of a dog and try to figure out what they’re thinking about.

I smiled as I read Happiness Is Listening to Your Dog Snore.

Passionate for Justice by Catherine Meeks and Nibs Stroupe

Passionate for Justice: Ida B. Wells as Prophet for Our Time by Catherine Meeks and Nibs Stroupe
Publisher: Church Publishing
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction, Contemporary, Inspirational
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Ida B. Wells was a powerful churchwoman and witness for justice and equity from 1878–1931. Born enslaved, her witness flowed through the struggles for justice in her lifetime, especially in the intersections of African Americans, women, and those who were poor. Her life is a profound witness for faith-based work of visionary power, resistance, and resilience for today’s world, when the forces of injustice stand in opposition to progress.

These are exciting and dangerous times. Boundaries that previously seemed impenetrable are now being crossed. This book is a guide for the current state of affairs in American culture, enlivened by the historical perspective of Wells’ search for justice.

The authors are an African-American woman and a child of white supremacy. Both have dedicated themselves to working, writing, and developing ministries oriented toward justice, equity, and mercy. This book can be used in all settings, but most especially in churches (pastors and other church leaders, study groups), seminaries, and universities.

Ida B Wells, an unsung hero for our times.

I hadn’t read anything about Ida B Wells and when I saw this book, I picked it up. I’m glad I did. I knew nothing about this trailblazing woman and I should’ve. She was a strong woman, a forthright person and a force to be reckoned with. She’s a hero of women’s rights, of human rights and shows how to keep going no matter what. She witnessed some of the most awful things in history, but kept her head up.

There is a thread of discussion on race relations in this book as well as the upbringings of the authors, who weren’t alive during Wells’s time. This book requires the reader to think and consider their own upbringing in light of the world issues. This isn’t an easy book to read, but it’s worth the time.

If you’re looking for a book that’s thought-provoking, then this is the one for you.

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember by Fred Rogers
Publisher: Hachette
Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspirational
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A timeless collection of wisdom on love, friendship, respect, individuality, and honesty from the beloved PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

There are few personalities who evoke such universal feelings of warmth as Fred Rogers. An enduring presence in American homes for over 30 years, his plainspoken wisdom continues to guide and comfort many. The World According to Mister Rogers distills the legacy and singular worldview of this beloved American figure. An inspiring collection of stories, anecdotes, and insights–with sections devoted to love, friendship, respect, individuality, and honesty, The World According to Mister Rogers reminds us that there is much more in life that unites us than divides us.
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Culled from Fred Rogers’ speeches, program transcripts, books, letters, and interviews, along with some of his never-before-published writings, The World According to Mister Rogers is a testament to the legacy of a man who served and continues to serve as a role model to millions.

Sometimes a book that’s uplifting is just what the neighbor ordered.

This book is by Fred Rogers, AKA Mister Rogers, and his wife, Joanne. I have to admit that because this book was published after Mr. Rogers passed. His wife helped compile his words into a cute book meant to uplift whoever reads it. It really does.

There are tidbits from how he grew up, how he learned to be kind and how he kept a positive attitude throughout his life. I liked how he reminds everyone that emotions and feelings are valid. Don’t try to stuff your feelings in, but let them out and talk about them. It might seem like platitudes, but in this period of time, it’s nice to read something that makes the heart happy. Plus, reading his words reminded me of being a kid and looking forward to watching the show.

If you’re looking for something that will make you happy and might even get you thinking, then this is the book for you.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hess

Siddhartha by Hermann Hess
Publisher: New Directions
Genre: Non-fiction, inspirational
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

This classic novel of self-discovery has inspired generations of seekers. With parallels to the enlightenment of the Buddha, Hesse’s Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmn’s quest for the ultimate reality. His quest takes him from the extremes of indulgent sensuality to the rigors of ascetism and self-denial. At last he learns that wisdom cannot be taught–it must come from one’s own experience and inner struggle. Steeped in the tenets of both psychoanalysis and Eastern mysticism, Siddhartha presents a strikingly original view of man and culture, and the arduous process of self-discovery that leads to reconciliation, harmony and peace. Considered to be a classic of 20th-century fiction, Hesse’s most celebrated work reflects his lifelong studies of Oriental myth and religion.

This philosophical book deals with a man’s journey of finding himself, written in novel form. It was written in the early 1920s, published in the U.S. in the 1950s and became a story with influence in the sixties.
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Siddhartha wants to know the meaning of life, of his (everyone’s) existence, and he goes out there experimenting with different ways of life. Early on, he joins a group of those who turn away from society and abstain from all the things that make life comfortable. He learns some things and makes a stop toward his spiritual progress, but something is still missing.

Interestingly, he goes out into the real world with nothing but the clothes on his back. He’s intelligent and works his way up in the world, finally becoming a man of means. He even has a beautiful lover. By the time his hair turns gray, he decides he has more to learn and gives it all up. He goes to lead a simple life with a man, the ferryman of the very important river.

The ferryman is spiritually advanced, and Siddhartha learns a thing or two from him. This story is rich in literary figures of speech such as metaphors, similes and the like. It is beautifully written, and its symbolism gives readers much to ponder. The river is itself a character, and as Siddhartha finds himself, the river comes into play.

It is a short book that allows readers to get inside the story. Entertaining, it is also filled with profound meaning. Even though Buddhism is the faith of choice here, the book has much to say to anyone.

The Menu by Steven Manchester

The Menu by Steven Manchester
Publisher: Luna Bella Press
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Blessed with a high emotional IQ, Phinn Reed enters the world with the promise of finding his soul mate. With heaven’s memories erased, his romantic quest teaches him that the heart often sees clearer than the eyes—and that not everyone has ordered the same items from The Menu. Evidence that love stories come in many different forms, The Menu is a spiritual journey involving more than just a man and a woman; it is a modern-day tale that reaches far beyond the boundaries of reason.

Can you find exactly what you want without ordering the perfect thing from the menu?

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This book does deal with abortion, so it might be a trigger for some readers. It’s inspirational in that the character of Phinn talks to his version of god while going along his way, but it’s also a bit of a fantasy story in that he’s allowed to order what he thinks he wants for a love story.

I liked that the characters aren’t perfect and I appreciated that they can’t always get what they want. It made me wonder while I read what I might have chosen had I the opportunity to pick from a menu. So in that respect, it does make one think.

This book isn’t what I’d normally pick for my reading. I like a distinctive line with the romance. The injected spirituality and religion is good, but not my cuppa. I also had a bit of an issue with this being listed as inspirational when there is discussion of romantic relations. I won’t give away spoilers, but this isn’t a sweet book. It’s more of a sensual story and might not be for some readers wanting purely sweet romance.

If you’re looking for a book that makes you think and look at the life, mostly your choices, a little differently, then this might be the book for you. Check it out.

A Week at Surfside Beach by Pierce Koslosky Jr.

A Week at Surfside Beach by Pierce Koslosky Jr.
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Thousands of families and individuals are attracted to the South Carolina coast each year, renting houses up and down the beach throughout the seasons. They bring their lives with them when they come to this magical place. In A Week at Surfside Beach, author Pierce Koslosky Jr. has crafted sixteen poignant short stories that paint a vivid portrait of the beach’s diverse, temporary inhabitants: those people attracted to a landscape both beautiful and overwhelming in its ability to force introspection and change. Set over the course of a single rental season that ends at Christmas, the book’s unrelated characters all have their stays in the blue beach house, yet each story has a distinct message at its core. Readers will follow people in every stage of life—from a six-year-old entering the imaginary world of crabs to an escapee from a retirement home—and witness their varied individual experiences. These are stories of hope and redemption, connection and detachment, and lessons taught and learned. Both original and contemplative, heartbreaking and inspirational, A Week at Surfside Beach brings together a collection of tales with seemingly ordinary, simple, and familiar details—yet underneath their calm, relatable surfaces exist the uncomfortable, extraordinary complexities of life.

A week at the beach can be far more than a simple summer getaway.
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In “June 6–June 13: The Inflatable Dragon,” an elderly man named John booked a week at the beach house in order to get away from his adult children who were trying to force him to move into a nursing home. While he was there, he met someone who needed exactly what he had to offer. They were two people who on the surface seemed to have nothing in common but who turned out to understand each other much more deeply than they would have guessed. I was pretty pleased by the process of them developing their friendship and discussing their problems.

There were some cases in which I wish the characters had stronger resolutions to their conflicts. Obviously, not everything can be solved in the few short days to a week that the audience has with each protagonist, but I do wish more had been done with three-year-old Lucy’s disappearance in “June 27–July 4: Lucy.” She was able to wander off because her parents were having an argument about something they’d fought about many times before. There was so much more room here for character development, from the parents’ stubbornness to a much deeper exploration of what happened to this little girl and why the police reacted the way that they did to the conclusion to the case.

Dan and his family watched at home in horror as a hurricane threatened to destroy the beach house they’d been visiting every summer for many years in “September 26—October 3: As Seen from a Safe Place.” Seeing them revisit old, happy memories about their previous trips there only made me more curious to see if their vacation spot would survive the storm and if their family could gather together there again. I felt invested in them and couldn’t stop hoping they’d have a happy ending.

A Week at Surfside Beach was a lovely summer read for anyone looking for something lighthearted.