The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

REVIEW:

Kendra Brennan’s debut novel is a great success. Subsequently, she decides to spend time at her grandfather’s secluded, quiet cabin in Hidden Lake, Michigan to complete her second book. She’s got writer’s block stemming from a Disappointed Reader who disapproved of Kendra’s first book, so she’s returned to her childhood summer home at the cabin to retrace events involving her best friend Cami’s brother that happened many years ago and that she chronicled in her novel. Kendra hasn’t spoken to Cami since they had a falling out years ago, so she’s surprised when Cami’s mother, Beth, who’s always been rather cool towards Kendra, writes to her asking if she’s heard from her. Although Kendra has never been close to Beth, she regards Cami’s father, an accomplished author, as a mentor. While they all spend time at Hidden Lake for the summer, secrets will be revealed. And while searching for answers about others, Kendra will discover many things she also didn’t know about herself.

I enjoyed The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. It took me a moment to realize that the narrator, Kendra, was telling the story to her missing friend. Once I figured that out I began to really take in the many elements that kept me engaged. This book possesses an atmospheric tone with its lake, cabins and fishing boats. Each time I picked it up the general outdoor theme immersed my imagination in the stimulating setting.

The characters came to life and I could easily envision each one. I particularly liked how the author portrayed Kendra’s German translator, Andreas. He brought an element of calm, reasonableness and trustworthiness to a cast of characters that had secrets and questionable motives. Ike Fenton, the WW2 vet, was a creative character that I found entertaining. Even the antagonist’s story was told in such a way that I vacillated between revulsion and pity.

The story itself was one that could be a trigger for some. In the Author’s Note at the conclusion of the book, Erin Bartels discloses her personal experience which is reflected in this novel. The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water was a way for her to tell her own story.

Overall, I thought this book was well written. I wanted a little more detail in the end, but aside from that I really enjoyed it.

Thank you, Revell Reads, for a complimentary copy of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. In exchange I have provided my honest review.

Labyrinth of lies by Irene Hannon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

St. Louis County detective Cate Reilly can’t believe she’s agreed to work undercover again. Her trafficking assignment was dreadful enough, but admittedly she’s the best candidate for this current job. An Ivy Hill Academy boarding school student, Stephanie Laurent, age 17, has disappeared. Her boyfriend is missing as well, and Cate has been assigned to go undercover to find out what happened to them. Thankfully, her youthful appearance is an asset to the investigation. At 33, she’s not looking forward to becoming a student again, especially since she’ll be working on the case with her ex, Zeke, who practically abandoned their relationship eight years prior to pursue a career opportunity. Cate was devastated, and collaboration on their assignments at Ivy Hill is more than she bargained for. But illegal activities are taking place at the school, and Cate and Zeke have already been targeted and attacked while trying to crack their individual cases, leading them to believe that Stephanie’s disappearance is likely linked to the school. It won’t be easy keeping up the pretense of teenage student, and pretending not to have feelings for Zeke, but if foul play is involved in Stephanie’s disappearance, Cate is determined to stay the course.

Labyrinth of lies was a page-turner. Suspicious key characters were introduced almost immediately and drew me right into the story. The intrigue and suspense held up until the mystery was solved. Cate’s teenager persona was convincing and fun to observe, along with her attempts to deny interest in her ex. The secondary characters had questionable intentions and kept me guessing as to whether any of them were involved in Stephanie’s disappearance. Ultimately, there was a twist I didn’t see coming that led to a satisfying conclusion.

Labyrinth of Lies was an excellent read that I truly enjoyed. An added bonus was that it was free of any foul language or sexual content. If you like fast moving suspenseful books with a romantic element and characters that will keep you riveted from the first page to the last, then you’ll want to read Labyrinth of Lies. Definitely recommended.

Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of Labyrinth of Lies. My opinions of it are strictly my own.

The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

After losing her job and her boyfriend, Dillon Michaels heads back to the place she’s always known as home, her grandparents’ farm in Oregon where she grew up. Her grandpa lives there alone since her grandma passed away about a year earlier. Deciding that her grandpa could use some help and cheering up, she says goodbye to her roommates and heads to Oregon where she plans to spend quality time with her grandfather while figuring out what she should do with her life. But when she gets there she discovers that her elusive mother has beaten her to it. Dillon’s comfy little room has been taken over by her mom who’s experiencing relationship troubles of her own, and Dillon is relegated to the lumpy couch. This, she decides, will not work. As she contemplates leaving the farm, her grandfather surprises her with an old, rundown camper that Dillon sees as a diamond in the rough that she can fix up and live in while staying on the farm. She’s beginning to feel super excited about fixing up her camper, the handsome hardware store owner, and the progress she’s making on the strained relationship she has with her mother. Things are looking up. But when her ex-boyfriend shows up unexpectedly, proclaiming his undying love at a very inopportune time, could his crazy antics cause Dillon to lose out on the prospect of a new love?

I truly enjoyed The Happy Camper. It didn’t hurt that I love everything associated with RVing and cute little vintage campers. So when I saw this book I knew I had to read it, and I was not disappointed. It contained so much that made my little heart happy—sweet romance, camp trailers, a farm, an adoring grandfather, a contrite mother, a cute set of young twin girls and so much more. I read intently and envisioned one old, neglected camp trailer carefully restored, inside and out, and then meticulously decorated to appease the new owner, who made it into a cozy, cute living space for herself. I could picture the interior with its turquoise and orange accessories and original appliances. It was a vintage camper-lover’s dream book! The pace of the book was even with many sweet scenes that brought a smile to my face. And although it ended a bit abruptly, it contained all the makings for a lovely story that was fun and uplifting.

Thank you, Revell Books, for an ARC of The Happy Camper. All opinions expressed about it are my own.

Have a great weekend everyone! 😊

On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 3.5 stars

Paul Grayson has decided that he needs to unite his family. He feels that his three daughters are somewhat estranged from one another. Not intentionally, but nevertheless they don’t spend enough time together. So he decides to buy the island where he met his wife at camp decades ago, and who is now deceased, in order to bring his children back together again. His daughters think he is suffering from Dementia proposing this scheme and are initially resistant to the thought of helping him get situated on this delapidated island. The project of reconstituting the old Camp Kicking Moose seems immense. But as they all begin assisting and becoming more intimately acquainted with the real assets of the island, its people, each sister will not only help to mend one another, but also themselves in the process.

On a Summer Tide started off strong. It was full of laughs and drew me in, but for some reason the momentum didn’t hold up for me and I was having trouble getting through it. The book flashes back to when the sisters were young; each sister’s part gives us a glimpse into her life and what shaped her into who she is present day. The focus was mainly on the oldest sister, Cam. Those snippets were enlightening but somehow came across to me as haphazardly included. Also, there were a couple of parts in the book that seemed implausible to me and I couldn’t suspend disbelief in order to accept those occurrences as believable. From that point on I truly struggled to finish the book. I enjoyed a few of the characters, including the sisters, but I felt like something was missing, and that the book concluded somewhat abruptly, leaving some untidy loose ends.

Overall, I truly enjoyed parts of the book, but it didn’t keep me glued to its pages.

Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of On a Summer Tide. In exchange I have provided my honest review.