Spotlight: I’ve Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark

I’ve Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark releases on April 3rd. My birthday is the 4th. See the connection? Best birthday present ever!

Doesn’t the title sound deliciously creepy and sinister? The suspense and mystery fan in me is itching to read this book.

About the Story:

After a party when her parents are away, eighteen-year-old Kerry Dowling is found fully dressed at the bottom of the family pool.

The immediate suspect is her boyfriend who had a bitter argument with her at the party. Then there is a twenty-year-old neighbor who was angry because she didn’t invite him to the party.

Or is there someone else who has not yet been seen on the radar?

Kerry’s older sister Aline, a twenty-eight-year-old guidance counselor, is determined to assist the Prosecutor’s Office in learning the truth. She does not realize that now she is putting her own life in danger…

About the Author:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark has written thirty-seven suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels, and also wrote The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and Every Breath You Take with bestselling author Alafair Burke. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.

Connect with Mary on her website or Facebook.

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The Pioneer Woman Cooks — Come and Get It! by Ree Drummond

Genre: Cookbook
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
Publication Date: October 2017

I love The Pioneer Woman! She has become one of my main sources for mouth-watering meals. As a friend so eloquently stated once, Ree Drummond’s books are as much about stories as they are food. She welcomes her readers to catch a glimpse of life on a working cattle ranch. If you’re wondering, it is possible to stay up way too late reading a cookbook.

Come and Get It! brims with “simple, scrumptious recipes for crazy busy lives.” Drummond offers an array of dishes that range from make-ahead, to freezer-friendly, to super-quick because everyone has to eat no matter how busy life becomes. Drummond does not disappoint with her latest release. I’ve already made several of the recipes more than once to high-praise from friends and family.

BROCCOLI CHEESE POTATOES — Without a doubt, this one will perch among my favorites from this book. The broccoli cheese sauce with crispy onions is the perfect topping for your baked potatoes. Prepare to lather it on!

HAMBURGER STEAKS WITH MUSHROOM GRAVY — Love and marriage, love and marriage go together like beef and mushrooms. You can’t have one without the other. Okay, that’s not exactly how the Frank Sinatra song goes, but this I tell you, beef and mushrooms were made for each other and this recipe brings them together in a tasty union.

*SLOW COOKER BBQ CHICKEN — I love chicken and I love BBQ sauce. This recipe is pure goodness and sheer torture combined. Just wait until the sweet and tangy aroma starts to fill your house. As it slowly cooks, waiting to dive in will prove excruciating, but oh so worth it.

*SLOW COOKER BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP — Soups have a way of hitting the spot when cold weather settles in. The broccoli, cauliflower, and cheese combo is one of my favorites. I followed Drummond’s advice from the Change Things Up Section! and added the cauliflower as well. If you’re like me and enjoy a chunkier soup, don’t substitute it for half the broccoli. Just add the full amount of both!

STEAK AND BELL PEPPER SHEET PAN SUPPER— As the entry indicates, this dish is super quick to put together, but you still feel like you’re serving your family a first-class meal — and that’s because you are! Though this one serves two, it can be easily doubled, tripled, even quadrupled with very little extra work — a must in our home when we easily sit 5-8 people around the table every day.

SKILLET APPLE CRISP — Apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon — need I say more? If you’re hoping for leftovers, one batch might not be enough. It’s that good!

This is only a peek at the deliciousness that awaits between the pages of Come and Get It! Since the cookbook focuses on quick prep and time-saving shortcuts, Drummond utilizes a lot of store-bought sauces, pre-made doughs and crusts, and frozen veggies and fruits. Those who prefer a more from- scratch approach or who live overseas, like me, and don’t have easy access to some of the items, rest assured, these recipes remain perfectly doable. You’ll simply have to factor in longer prep/cook time, something that hasn’t mitigated my enjoyment of this book in the least.

Among other things, Drummond also includes a section of pantry, freezer, and fridge staples she always keeps on hand, as well as a universal conversion chart that I, for one, find especially helpful.

I enthusiastically recommend Come and Get It! to The Pioneer Woman’s fans and anyone who enjoys simple recipes that evoke family and home.

*I don’t have a slow cooker, but these recipes also come together easily on the stovetop requiring only minor adjustments.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.

Free Friday: The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

The Inheritance (Secrets of the Shetlands #1) by Michael Phillips

The death of the clan patriarch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed MacGregor Tulloch’s heir to be his grand-nephew David, a local favorite, but when it is discovered that MacGregor left no will, David’s grasping cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island’s land. And while Hardy doesn’t enjoy much popular support, he has the backing of a shadowy group of North Sea oil investors. The courts have frozen the estate’s assets while the competing claims are investigated, leaving many of the residents in financial limbo. The future of the island–and its traditional way of life–hangs in the balance.

Loni Ford is enjoying her rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, DC. Yet in spite of her outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her paternal grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

**Disclaimer: Unfortunately, time doesn’t allow me to read every book I share on Free Friday, so I can’t guarantee they’ll all be good. But I’ll do my best to find authors/books I know, know of, or sound good. If I have read it, I’ll make sure to include the link to my review as well.

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Bling! Romance
Publication Date: May 2017

Ana Brassfield knows she’ll never be a prima ballerina. Instead, she focuses on goals within her reach, like dancing at the Metropolitan Opera House and her pending wedding to landscape architect, Peter Engberg. When renowned German dancer Claus Gert, the man who shattered her heart years earlier, arrives in Georgia determined to win her back, her carefully laid-out plans crumble. Especially after Peter, witnesses a kiss between Ana and Claus.

Her engagement now broken, Ana moves to Germany to live with Claus and hopefully salvage her remaining dream — dancing at the Met. Burdened by the memory of Claus’ late wife, her still burning feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company could prove to be Ana’s undoing as she begins to discover that achieving everything she dreamed of might not provide the happiness she longs for.

In A Season to Dance, Patricia Beal pens a story of forgiveness and second chances that left me extremely conflicted. The author possesses a unique and captivating voice that keeps the reader flipping pages. Beal brings the ballet scenes to life in an exquisite manner that has everyone who ever dreamed of being a ballerina living vicariously through Ana. The vivid setting, which isn’t limited to one city or continent, comes to life like a colorful set that invites the reader to step in and experience it for him/herself. I just wish I could have liked the characters.

Ana comes across as selfish and wishy-washy. The way she flitted back and forth between Peter and Claus had me questioning the sincerity of her feelings. She would drop one and pick up the other within 24 hours, making it look more like fear of being alone than real love. Sadly, the men weren’t any better. While Peter’s decision to break off the engagement after observing the kiss between his fiancée and Claus made sense, his consequent actions should have been a major red flag for Ana. Marriage to a man who responds the way he did to being hurt, is only going to bring more pain and trouble in the long run. As far as Claus, I don’t want to give away spoilers, but he proved equally disappointing. This novel is one of those rare times I would have preferred no romantic pairing in the end. Ana needed to find herself first — without a man.

The faith thread also lacked strength. It felt like something Ana picked up simply because it fell in her lap multiple times rather than a sincere interest and belief. Even by the end, her faith only appeared when convenient around her busy life and not as a priority. This being said, I liked the conversation between Ana and a woman on a bench because the author didn’t shrink from asking some tough questions — ones that many, if not all of us, have struggled with at one point or another.

Ultimately, if you love ballet and want a read that offers memorable settings and a fresh voice, A Season to Dance could be just the ticket. However, if you’re looking for an inspiring romance, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant To Read In 2017

No matter how many books I read, the list of ones I don’t get to is even longer. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, I will share ten books I wanted to read in 2017, but didn’t. Thankfully, I still can in 2018.

(1) If I’m Found (If I Run #2) by Terri Blackstock

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormentors. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

(2) Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or redemption.

(3) The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan she grew up with as a missionary kid, and finally her hopes are coming true. But shortly after she returns to the desert from her college years in the U.S., she discovers her parents have received threats from their Muslim neighbors. As the danger escalates, Hannah finds she’s in the middle of a battle no one seems to understand. She must decide to what lengths she’ll go to stay faithful to the mission to which God has called her. Even if it costs her everything.

As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravishes the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, locals believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, Hannah, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep them safe—even if the only solution can be found within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, Christianity is outlawed, and foreigners are mistrusted, will their union heal wounds or inflict the final fatal blow?

(4) Out of Darkness by Erynn Newman

Bride and a widow in the same day, Elisabeth’s prayers are about to be answered . . . if the CIA, international arms dealers, and her best friend don’t stand in the way.

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life—until a bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare.

As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew—his best friend and CIA partner—he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.

Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go.

Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still Elisabeth’s husband, and she is determined to build something new and not allow her relationship with Gabe to come between them.

When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives—one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.

(5) A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Despite her training as a master violinist, Rebekah Carrington was denied entry into the Nashville Philharmonic by young conductor Nathaniel Whitcomb, who bowed to public opinion. Now, with a reluctant muse and a recurring pain in his head, he needs her help to finish his symphony. But how can he win back her trust when he’s robbed her of her dream?

(6) Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

(7) The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

(8) The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–
including her own–are lost?

(9) Never Forget (Beacons of Hope #5) by Jody Hedlund

Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island
June 1880

Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?

Abbie Watson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.

Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past.

Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse.

The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband?

(10) The Engagement Plot by Krista Phillips

Six months ago, William stole Hanna’s heart and shattered it in front of millions of people on a reality TV dating show. And now the big-wig CEO is back on Hanna’s home turf in Minnesota and wants her to forgive him? Fat chance of that. But life is swirling around faster than snow in a blizzard, and despite her objections, teaming up with William seems like the only option to rescue her reputation.

William has never regretted anything more than the day he gave that ill-fated interview for the reality show, The Price of Love. But while he can’t change the past, he’s determined to fix the future. He just needs to convince Hanna to forgive him—and pretend to be engaged with him. Simple, right?

When the media erupts with even worse accusations, teaming up and pretending to be engaged seems to be the only way to salvage their reputations.  Despite the media frenzy that swirls around them, an attraction neither of them can fight off begins to surface. Could this love run deeper than a scandal, or will old wounds tear them apart once and for all?  When all seems lost, it’s only with help from above that Hanna and Will may find their happily-ever-after.

What book(s) did you mean to read in 2017 but didn’t?