What I Read in September // Part One

One of my goals for September was to read four books. I didn’t read any non-fiction like I intended to, but I did end up doubling my goal and reading eight books! I wanted to write a recap and quick review of all the books I read, but I’m going to split them into two posts so I don’t overload you with one long post (although this one may still be a little long 😉 ). Here are the first four books I read in September.

What I Read in September, Part One || Grace to Grow Blog

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

Plot: Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

My thoughts: This was a good ending to the Summer Harbor series. It was nice to catch up with the characters from the previous two books and finally find out the answer to the “Paige and Riley” question that had been hinted at in the other books. The characters and the story are well-developed, and your heart aches for Riley as he struggles with the aftereffects of his time in Afghanistan. It was a little more predictable than the other books in the series, but it’s still an enjoyable read.

Sins of the Past by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason

Plot: In Dee Henderson’s “Missing,” a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident, and a race against the clock begins.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with “Shadowed,” introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector.

Lynette Eason’s “Blackout” delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found–but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her?

My thoughts: Usually I’m not crazy about novellas, because there usually isn’t enough time to develop the story well. This book proved me wrong, though! I bought it primarily because I like everything by Dee Henderson, and I wanted to find out what happened in the prequel to Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series. Dee Henderson’s “Missing” was written in her typical style, including well thought out details and fascinating plot twists. It provided a good set-up for a new series, too! Dani Pettrey’s “Shadowed” kept me turning pages too, with an intriguing plot and a sweet romance. “Blackout” by Lynette Eason seemed a little far-fetched to me, but still worth the read.

Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello

Plot: When nobody talks… the stones cry out.

In the searing heat of a Virginia summer, two men plummet from a roof top to th sidewalk below. The victims are a white police officer and a young black man with a troubled past. Hundreds of people were at the scene, and yet nobody saw what happened. But when FBI agent Raleigh Harmon is assigned the case, she realizes they’re just not talking.

The Bureau wants a quick verdict, with or without the truth. And with tight-lipped witnesses, Raleigh has to rely on her training in forensic geology to uncover the facts. Working through her connections among the city’s most powerful families, along with trolling Richmond’s underbelly, Raleigh wants to see justice prevail. But can she solve the case before the city’s growing unrest rages out of control? And will her choices bring down everyone involved—including herself?

The first Sibella Giorello book I read was the fifth one in the Raleigh Harmon series, The Mountains Bow Down, when the Kindle version was on sale this summer. When I saw that this first book in the series was free on Kindle, I downloaded it right away! The plot is very relevant to current events, and I love the main character, Raleigh. She has a lot of trouble in her past and present that she has to deal with, but she still manages to be one of the most tenacious agents in the FBI. She refuses to give up on justice, even when she’s up against numerous forces trying to stop her. She’s a complex and relatable character; you can’t help but root for her. The focus on geology in crime-solving is fascinating, too; it’s not something that’s glamorous enough to be put on TV very often, but it brings a realistic dimension to the book. If you like suspense and mystery, or just Christian fiction in general, give this book a try!

Priceless by Joel Smallbone and Luke Smallbone with Nancy Rue

Plot: James Stevens was, at one time, a good man with a great life. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash — no questions asked. When he discovers what he is delivering is actually a who, the questions in his mind begin haunting him mercilessly. James becomes an unlikely hero who must fight to save the lives of two young women and finds himself falling in love with one of them.

Can love, strength, and faith redefine his past and change the course of his future?

My thoughts: This book is based on the movie by the same name, produced by and featuring the Smallbone brothers of the band for KING & COUNTRY (they have a song out called Priceless too!), that is coming out in theaters this weekend. It’s a really intense book that deals with several difficult topics: death, drugs, jail, custody issues, and human trafficking. They handle these topics well though, and while it’s not appropriate for children, it’s not overly graphic or disturbing. It really sheds light on the issue of human trafficking and how girls can get into that situation, and you really feel for James, the main character, as he faces many difficult choices and opportunities to do the right thing. This is a well-written, thought-provoking book, and I’m sure the movie will be just as good.

What books have you read lately? Look for part 2 of my September reads later this week!

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