February 2024 In Review

Posted February 29, 2024 by meezcarrie in Christian, contemporary, cozy mystery, historical, month in review, monthly faves, mystery/suspense, nonfiction, romance, women's fiction / 12 Comments

February 2024 in Review

Happy Leap Day! We are just moving through the year, aren’t we? It’s time once again for the monthly post where I look at the books I read and reviewed in that time period. A February 2024 in Review post, if you will pardon the pun. Not surprisingly, I read (and loved) a lot of romantic suspense and mysteries (more mystery than suspense this month though), several historical fiction/romance representing a variety of time periods (including one with fun steampunk vibes) and contemporary fiction/romance, as well as a couple of debut novels and a nonfiction book on mental/soul health care.

All total, in February I read thirty-one books and reviewed twenty-five – not bad for being super sick most of the month! I can’t wait for the rest of Christy Barritt’s True Crime Junkies series to release at which I’ll quickly gobble them up & review the whole series. These are listed in the order I reviewed them, with snippets of my reviews (in case you missed some), and the ones I haven’t reviewed yet will be at the end. It was another great reading month! And I’m excited about what’s coming up in March!!

Clocked Out by Anna St. JohnCLOCKED OUT by Anna St. John // Cozy Mystery

Clocked Out by Anna St. John was my first introduction to Josie Posey and her lovable dog Moe but I quickly felt at home with them and their charming English Village. The plot is creative and original, and the story flows smoothly at an easygoing pace. Combine all of the above with several unpredictable twists, a dash of sweet romance (with a handsome blacksmith – hello, swoon!), and a close knit group of vibrant friends and you’ve got an entertaining story that keeps you invested to the end. Grab your fave hot beverage, find a comfy reading space, and curl up with this fun mystery!

Murder She Wrote Fit For Murder by Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley MoranMURDER SHE WROTE: FIT FOR MURDER by Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran // Cozy Mystery

Author Terrie Farley Moran excels at staying true to the voice and vibe of the original characters and maintaining the timeless nature of Cabot Cove while also creating new people and stories to entertain us. Fit For Murder may start with innocuous neighborly concern for an elderly Cabot Cove resident but it soon moves into some interesting subplots as twisty as the most complex yoga pose. Fans of Murder, She Wrote will be delighted by this return to the world of Jessica Fletcher, whether they’ve been following the books from the beginning or – like me – are just tuning in.

Of Love and Treason by Jamie OgleOF LOVE AND TREASON by Jamie Ogle // Historical Fiction (Early Church era)

Before I read Of Love and Treason, I knew the story of St. Valentine. Now, thanks to Jamie Ogle’s heartfelt writing and thoughtful imaginations, I feel as though I’ve lived it with him. This novel is an achingly beautiful love story, yes. It’s also an education in early Church persecution, one which re-humanizes a real person who has become almost a myth and places us in the middle of a pivotal moment in his life. With her skill in crafting multi-dimensional characters and her engaging writing voice, Ogle has masterfully balanced entertaining the mind and touching the heart. But even more than all of those things, Of Love and Treason paints a beautiful picture of the transforming power of the Gospel, the promise of Life beyond the grave, and the true meaning of Love. I will be thinking about this story for a long time… and especially every Valentine’s Day.

Holy Care for the Whole Self by Laura L. SmithHOLY CARE FOR THE WHOLE SELF by Laura L. Smith // NonFiction, Mental Health ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

There are two things readily apparent right from the start of Holy Care for the Whole Self – author Laura L. Smith loves Jesus & His Word and she loves people. This combination makes the book warmly written and conversationally engaging, and the author’s use of story, research, and Scripture wraps around readers like a comforting embrace as we tackle some emotional themes together. The time given to medical treatment, therapy, and prayer/Scripture gives readers a whole picture of care, and I really appreciated the advice on these pages. This isn’t another fluffy book on self-care or an approach to mental health that purposefully overlooks valuable options; rather it’s a wonderfully helpful – and balanced – resource and encouragement for those who feel like they are all alone in the battle to get the help they need and continue to gain ground.

Embers in the London Sky by Sarah SundinEMBERS IN THE LONDON SKY by Sarah Sundin // Romantic Historical Fiction (WW2 era)

If you’ve never read a book by Sarah Sundin, then Embers in the London Sky is the perfect place to start. But then do go back and catch up on her backlist because she’s one of the best when it comes to compelling stories that combine history, romance, and a little intrigue and/or mystery as well. Set during the Blitz, this novel follows two layered characters as they each search for answers to several questions – where is Aleida’s son? will Hugh get to keep the career he loves? will anyone speak up for the refugee children? who is behind all these murders? and (my favorite) can there be a happily-ever-after for the two of them? Along the way, we also meet a gaggle of vibrant supporting characters who breathe even more life into the story… including a cantankerously-endearing cat named Lennox. I found each of the subplots and characters intriguing, and I appreciated the subtle faith thread, too. Such a good read!

Fatal Witness by Patricia BradleyFATAL WITNESS by Patricia Bradley // Romantic Suspense

A decades-old mystery. A missing granddaughter. A determined (and delightfully sassy) grandma. A town full of suspects. A budding romance. Danger at every turn. Patricia Bradley delivers all this and more in Fatal Witness – an intense & entertaining journey from start to finish. I enjoyed all of the above, as well as the gentle faith thread which supports the plot and characters in a way that feels natural to both. The layered characters leapt off the page and into my heart (especially Mae), and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book! Fans of Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon, and Terri Blackstock will love Patricia Bradley too – and this Pearl River series is a great time to start reading her books if you haven’t already!

While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth CamdenWHILE THE CITY SLEEPS by Elizabeth Camden // Historical Romance (Progressive era)

Bomb Squads. The Mafia. The New York Times. The subway. Times Square. No, this isn’t a new episode of Law and Order but rather a compelling historical romance that gives us an ‘owl’s-eye view’ (if you know, you know) of a familiar city over 100 years ago. I loved seeing these institutions as they were back then, via the magic of Elizabeth Camden’s talented storytelling, and found myself amazed at how long they’ve been an active part of New York City life. While the City Sleeps takes these fascinating pockets of history and weaves them into a timeless romance between two vibrant characters who readily claimed a place in my heart. The road to happily-ever-after is certainly not a smooth one for Katherine and Jonathan, but it’s so worth it in the end – and some super-swoony kisses help too! Another richly written tale from the master of progressive-era fiction. I can’t wait to see which woman of Midtown is featured next!

The Irish Matchmaker by Jennifer DeibelTHE IRISH MATCHMAKER by Jennifer Deibel // Historical Romance (1900s Ireland)

The Irish Matchmaker by Jennifer Deibel is lovely and charming and sweet, and its layered characters will settle right into your heart… even the cows. What a delightful setting for a novel, too – a quaint Irish village known for its annual matchmaking festival (and what fun that would be to observe!). Beautiful faith lessons are integrated naturally into the story, developing the characters even further without distracting from the plot. And ohhhh the romance is so swoony and edifying and I’ve been living in a happy little glow since I closed the last page. A must-read for fans of Laura Frantz and Lori Benton – with an Irish twist!

Much Ado About Romance by Susan Page Davis, Shannon Sue Dunlap & Linda FulkersonMUCH ADO ABOUT ROMANCE by Susan Page Davis, Shannon Sue Dunlap, Linda Fulkerson // Contemporary Romance collection

Much Ado About Romance by Susan Page Davis, Shannon Sue Dunlap, and Linda Fulkerson delivers three entertaining romances with varying doses of humor and swoon. Drawing from Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, these three talented authors each bring their own spin and style to the classic tales, making them easy to enjoy even if the reader isn’t familiar with the original work. Delightful characters, laugh-out-loud moments, compelling faith themes, and sweet stories of falling in love await you in this collection – don’t miss it!

Chasing the Horizon by Mary ConnealyCHASING THE HORIZON by Mary Connealy // Western Historical Romance

Chasing the Horizon by Mary Connealy is a delightful western frontier adventure! The plucky heroine and swoony hero are a good match, and their romance is sweet and straightforward. But it’s the hodgepodge of uniquely-layered supporting characters and the ever-present dangers from without (Beth’s father) and within (the Oregon Trail) that had me glued to the pages this time around. After all, we aren’t that far removed from the days when it was oh-so-easy to have an uncooperative relative (like a wife who spoke out against slavery and wouldn’t give her husband access to her trust fund) committed to an insane asylum based solely on your say-so, and I found that element of the plot quite intriguing. I can’t wait to learn more about Kat’s story in book two, and I’m just as eager to see what happens with several enemies that are still at large. An entertaining read from start to finish and a great series starter that has me impatiently waiting for Toward the Dawn‘s release in June!

One Final Target by Janice CantoreONE FINAL TARGET by Janice Cantore // Romantic Suspense

One Final Target is one of my new favorites by Janice Cantore. The suspense thread kept me on the edge of my seat, the gentle romance made me happy, and the exploration of the goodness of God in the ‘badness’ of life rang true for my own journey. The author’s experience in the law enforcement field gives her novels depth and detail when it comes to police procedure, and One Final Target is no exception. I learned new things, gained new perspectives, and enjoyed myself all at the same time. An entertaining romantic suspense with meaning and insight.

Once Upon a Murder by Samantha LarsenONCE UPON A MURDER by Samantha Larsen // Historical Cozy Mystery (Regency era)

Take one unique amateur sleuth, a complicated bookseller, an adorable little boy, a powerful Duchess, a villainous victim, and a town full of suspects. Mix them into the Georgian era of British history and raise the personal stakes, and you’ve got an entertaining mystery that is more complex than it first appears. In Once Upon a Murder, author Samantha Larsen also explores deeper and important layers such as racism, assault, infidelity, and abuse, though the out-of-place (at least to me) focus on bodily functions was distracting. While I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I did the first one, I nevertheless stayed engaged in the mystery from start to finish.

Rocky Road by Becky WadeROCKY ROAD by Becky Wade // Contemporary Romance ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

I absolutely adored Rocky Road by Becky Wade – from the hilarious meet-cute to the sweet epilogue and everything in between. Watching impulsive Gemma and by-the-book Jude get to know one another in the ‘safety’ of the undercover ruse … and then fall in love gradually but also all at once… is truly a reader’s delight and engaged all my emotions. True to form, however, Wade takes us beyond the romance to gentle explorations of deep faith issues and complex family dynamics that give the characters defined, vibrant and relatable layers and makes the story itself one that will linger long in your heart. Another must-read from a master of the genre!

Dysfunction Junction by Robin W. PearsonDYSFUNCTION JUNCTION by Robin W. Pearson // Women’s Fiction

With eloquent prose and poignant insight, author Robin W. Pearson walks her vibrant characters through the intersection of brokenness and healing in her latest compelling novel, Dysfunction Junction. The depth and sensitivity with which the author tactfully grapples with tough issues of neglect, addiction, and abuse ensures that every page radiates grace, pointing to the restoration and wholeness that only Jesus can bring when a wounded heart is willing to do the work. Frankie, Annabelle, and Charlotte leapt straight into my heart, and I was solidly invested in each character. A moving novel in every way, made all the more enjoyable by Pearson’s warm writing voice, smooth pacing, and snappy dialogue.

Murder Under a Honey Moon by Abigail KeamMURDER UNDER A HONEY MOON by Abigail Keam // Historical Cozy Mystery (1930s)

Set sail on the high seas with Mona Moon and her new husband, but hold on tight to a life preserver because it’s definitely not a smooth voyage. Intriguing historical figures join the journey, making for colorful companions and representing the tone of the era well. Mona continues to delight as a strong personality with a big heart, her penchant for solving crimes adding further dimension to her character and keeping the story moving forward at its easy pace. I enjoyed this variation on Christie’s locked room mystery trope, and I look forward to whatever adventure Mona and Robert find themselves embroiled in next.

Rebuilding Joy by Regina Rudd MerrickREBUILDING JOY by Regina Rudd Merrick // Contemporary Romance

In Rebuilding Joy, Regina Rudd Merrick weaves an entertaining romance with charming characters (including lots of time with Lisa and Nick if you’ve read Heart Restoration) and well-crafted suspense. I really enjoyed getting to know the Reno family and their friends, and I was so caught up in watching Darcy & Del dance around each other that I was – pleasantly – taken by surprise more than once in the tunnel case. Including how it all turns out. I didn’t want to put this story down (so I didn’t) and I’m eager for more visits to Clementville and the Renos!

Ill-Fated Fortune by Jennifer J. ChowILL-FATED FORTUNE by Jennifer J. Chow // Cozy Mystery

Ill-Fated Fortune by Jennifer J. Chow is a delightful blend of magical realism and cozy mystery with engaging (and diverse) characters and a layered plot. I really enjoyed Felicity and her best friend Kelvin and their dynamics, and I loved the relationship she has with her mom. The shifting magic at the bakery takes center stage almost as much as the mystery, which helps develop the characters even further, and the laid-back pace of the story makes for a relaxing read, if a bit slow in the middle. I had suspicions about whodunit but wasn’t completely sure until the reveal. A fun read, great characters, and yummy plot!

One Wrong Move by Dani PettreyONE WRONG MOVE by Dani Pettrey // Romantic Suspense

Swoony romance. High-stakes suspense. Compelling characters. Dani Pettrey’s newest novel One Wrong Move has all the right moves when it comes to an engaging story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Meaningful explorations of redemption and forgiveness occur naturally within the plot, adding to the character layers without feeling forced or distracting from the story. I was already excited about this series but reading One Wrong Move made me even more eager for the books to come – I can’t wait to catch up with the characters again and see what else Pettrey has up her sleeve for them to investigate.

Moonlight and Mastery by Karen MalleyMOONLIGHT AND MYSTERY by Karen Malley // Contemporary Romance

Moonlight and Mystery by Karen Malley is an entertaining contemporary romance with layered and likable characters, a story that also refreshingly presents the gospel without being preachy or inauthentic. I loved the characters – both main and supporting – and look forward to spending time with them in future books in this series, too. Watching Jason and Beth become friends (who are attracted to each other but not acting on it for various reasons) and then eventually allow themselves to express their feelings was so sweet, and I think these two will make you smile just like they did for me. The pace is smooth and relaxed, and it’s a great book to curl up with for a few hours. Fans of Toni Shiloh and Carolyn Miller will enjoy this series too!

Birds Alive by Jen DodrillBIRDS ALIVE! by Jen Dodrill // Cozy Mystery

Birds Alive! is more than just an entertaining cozy mystery – though it is certainly that. It’s also the story of an empty nester on the brink of a new chapter or two, inspiring readers that it’s never too late to redefine yourself. The characters are engaging, with sweet moments of family & friendship as well as humor, romance and faith. Author Jen Dodrill sets up the mystery well, and the dangerous attention that Peg’s sleuthing attracts makes it a mystery that readers will stay invested in to the end. A charming start to a new series, perfect for fans of V.M. Burns, Lena Gregory, or Lynn Cahoon.

Murder in Masquerade by Mary WintersMURDER IN MASQUERADE by Mary Winters // Historical Cozy Mystery (Victorian era)

Mary Winters continues to deliver a clever and entertaining Victorian mystery in the Lady of Letters Mysteries’ sophomore novel, Murder in Masquerade. Vibrant characters, a well-plotted murder investigation, witty humor, and even some delicious dashes of romance had me wishing to stay in this world indefinitely, not wanting the story to end. I once again loved the Lady Agony column that begins each chapter, and I was positively gleeful about the swoony chemistry that keeps growing stronger between Simon and Amelia. (I want to know if this author writes romance under a pen name because if so I want to read it!) Already eager for future books and another chance to hang out with these great characters!

A Lady's Guide to Marvels and Misadventure by Angela BellA LADY’S GUIDE TO MARVELS AND MISADVENTURE by Angela Bell // Historical Romance (Victorian era)

A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventure by Angela Bell is such a delightfully unexpected historical romance! With its eccentric characters (of the 2 and 4 legged variety), steampunk vibes, Victorian time period, European scavenger hunt, sweet romance, dash of danger, meaningful themes, and nods to The Nutcracker, Around the World in 80 Days, and even Heidi, it entertains as well as inspires. The reminder that we are in God’s hands, that He wants to bear our burdens, that He wants us to enjoy life and all that He has created – including love – touched my heart more than once over the course of the novel. I laughed, I swooned, I nearly pulled out my hair… and I enjoyed it all! A great choice for fans of Jen Turano, Jules Verne, and Morgan L. Busse!

The Rare Jewel of Everleigh Wheaton by Susan L TuttleTHE RARE JEWEL OF EVERLEIGH WHEATON by Susan L. Tuttle // Romantic Women’s Fiction ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

I thoroughly enjoyed The Rare Jewel of Everleigh Wheaton by Susan L. Tuttle from beginning to end! This was such an entertaining read that quickly had me invested in the beautifully-layered characters and loving the Anastasia & Charlie’s Angels vibes, too. Romance, mystery, history, and an international treasure hunt kept me turning the pages, my own puzzle-loving mind whirring with possible outcomes. Tuttle masterfully uses each of those separate elements to propel the story forward at an even pace, revealing the broader picture a little at a time until everything comes together just perfectly. I am already eager for book two, more time with these characters, and the next treasure hunt!

The Snow Job by Dianne AscroftTHE SNOW JOB by Dianne Ascroft // Cozy Mystery

The Snow Job by Dianne Ascroft is an easygoing cozy mystery that combines several engaging elements, including Scottish celebrations that this American enjoyed learning about. I appreciated the town dynamics and variety of supporting characters, including a Dutch neighbor (whom I adored) and a Mennonite waitress, and I thought the characters were likable and the sleuthing was well-plotted. My favorite part of the book is the personalities that the author gave the pets in this story – as well as Lois’s resident goat ghost – and the role they played in the mystery from start to finish. While the book got off to a slow start for me and occasionally lagged in the pacing, overall I enjoyed my first visit to Fenwater and this series.

Trapped in Yosemite by Dana MentinkTRAPPED IN YOSEMITE by Dana Mentink // Romantic Suspense

Trapped in Yosemite is an intense fight for survival, a touching faith journey, and a sweet second-chance romance all wrapped up in vibrant characters of both the four and two legged varieties. I melted over both of our heroes – Von and Bear – and their interactions with adorable baby Hannah, and I admired Stella’s strength even in her vulnerability. The characters in this captivating story can’t let their guard down until the very end, and neither can readers and I loved every minute of it. I didn’t want to put it down! This is Dana Mentink at her best!

february 2024 reads I haven’t had time to review yet

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What about you? What were some great books you read in February 2024? Which of my February 2024 in Review titles have you read?

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12 responses to “February 2024 In Review

  1. Gloria A

    Wow! I’m impressed, Carrie! I read Rocky Road and Fatal Witness and have my eyes on Trapped in Yosemite as well as couple of the others.

  2. Love this! I’ve read Fatal Witness (Just when I think I’ve read the best Patricia Bradley book out there, here’s another!) and Much Ado about Romance (I was blessed to be an editor on that one!), and I know a little about Rebuilding Joy … but you mentioned several that have been on my radar for a while- mainly ROCKY ROAD!!!! Can’t wait to get my hands on that one! Thanks for your reviews and recommendations!

  3. Wow. More than a book a day! Do you do anything else besides read?? LOL I have Pettrey’s staring at me every single day on my tbr, and I listened to Ogle’s on audio. Really enjoyed it!! I also listened to Wade’s first scandal book in February. I’m about midway with my thoughts on that one. I don’t generally read much edgy fiction but Wade sure knows how to weave a story that keeps me clinging to every word.

  4. Teri DiVincenzo

    I read both Rocky Road and The Irish Matchmaker on your list…several others I have on my TBR but February was a slow reading month for me as hubby and I were both in recovery.

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