March 2024 In Review

Posted March 31, 2024 by meezcarrie in Book Review, Christian, clean, contemporary, cozy mystery, historical, middle grade, month in review, multi-timeline, mystery/suspense, romance / 8 Comments

March 2024 in Review

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are having a blessed & worshipful Easter weekend. The end of the month means it’s time for my March 2024 in Review post where I look at the books I read and reviewed this past month. I read a lot of mysteries this month, a few romantic suspense (or suspenseful romances), several historical fiction/romance and contemporary fiction/romance, as well as a couple of dual timeline novels and middle grade novels.

All total, in March 2024 I read twenty-seven books and reviewed twenty-five! 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 April, though I need to get some more romantic suspense titles on my schedule as April looks heavy on contemporary & historical romances. (Nothing wrong with that, but I gotta have me a romantic suspense fix too!)

Double Scoop of Murder by Lena GregoryDOUBLE SCOOP OF MURDER by Lena Gregory // Cozy Mystery

Laughter, ice cream, coffee, treasure, family, friends, romance, and murder. You might think at first glance that one of these things is not like the other, but you would be wrong because when master author Lena Gregory is at the helm, all the threads come together perfectly. Double Scoop of Murder is highly entertaining, lots of fun, and the perfect mystery to curl up with this weekend! The quirky characters are intrinsically likable and feel like they could be our own neighbors, certainly people I’d want to hang out with in real life if they actually existed… and, you know, if murder didn’t follow them around. Can’t wait for my next visit to the Coffee and Cream Cafe!

The Berlin Letters by Katherine ReayTHE BERLIN LETTERS by Katherine Reay // Cold War Dual Timeline Fiction

Code breaking, hidden letters, mysterious pasts, the CIA, newspaper reporters, covert missions, snitches, secrets upon secrets… And family. And friends. And a subtle reminder that God never wastes a single thing in our lives. I loved The Berlin Letters from cover to cover and could not put it down! The characters are so well-layered, the history so compelling, and the writing voice so engaging that I’m confident you will quickly become immersed in it as well. The espionage elements fascinated me (I’ve secretly wanted to work for the CIA since my very first episode of Scarecrow & Mrs King haha), and I learned things that I wasn’t taught in school about the Berlin Wall. All while being thoroughly entertained and drawn to a story so far from my own and yet the emotions remained completely relatable at the same time. I’ve loved everything Katherine Reay writes but I have especially loved her Cold War novels and I hope there are more to come!

Carolina Connections by Regina Rudd MerrickCAROLINA CONNECTIONS by Regina Rudd Merrick // Contemporary Romance Novellas

Carolina Connections by Regina Rudd Merrick gives readers a lovely taste of her series, A Southern Breeze, with two entertaining stories and sweet-and-swoony romances. The coastal South Carolina setting fits in well with the themes and characters, and both novellas work perfectly well as standalones while still whetting your appetite for the rest of the series. I so enjoyed meeting Chelsea & Marc in “Pawleys Aisle” and Taylor & Ian in “Mr. Sandman” as well as the supporting characters who add lots of heart. If you’d like to escape to the beach for a couple of hours with stories that will make you smile, then Carolina Connections is a great reading choice!

One Last Shot by Susan May WarrenONE LAST SHOT by Susan May Warren // Contemporary Adventure Romance

One Last Shot by Susan May Warren takes readers on an intense adventure that only Alaska can deliver, keeping me on the edge of my seat and thoroughly entertained. Parachutes that fail, vans that land in rushing rivers, bridal parties that go missing in a blizzard… each heart-racing new rescue had me glued to the page, and the author’s stellar storytelling made me feel like I was on that chopper, in the midst of the danger, too. While most of the suspense in this novel is adventure-related, there are a couple of possible murderers on the loose that raise those stakes – and our pulses – even further. The faith message in One Last Shot is so beautifully done, the plot riveting, the characters layered and engaging. I loved my introduction to the Alaska Air One Rescue team, and I look forward to spending more time with them over the course of this series. It was also fun to see characters from the author’s Sky King Ranch and Wild Montana Rescue series again.

Drive You Crazy by Jessica KateDRIVE YOU CRAZY by Jessica Kate // Contemporary Romance

If you love grumpy-sunshine romances with a side of ‘enemies-to-more’, Gilmore Girls, faith, and great banter, then you absolutely need to read Drive You Crazy by Jessica Kate! Justin and Ashley are both layered characters who made me smile just about any time they shared a scene, and if I wasn’t grinning like a fool (or shedding a few tears) I was swooning over their chemistry. I loved each of them individually too but they are so delightful together. Such a fun and meaningful story – and I loved the epilogue!!

A Love Discovered by Tracie PetersonA LOVE DISCOVERED by Tracie Peterson // Historical Western Romance

A Love Discovered by Tracie Peterson begins her newest series with characters that readers will quickly embrace, including a fledgling little family born of need, based on friendship, and tested by life. We grieve with them over shared losses, we rejoice with them over God’s provision, we cringe with them over the harsh reality of life in Cheyenne, we wrestle with them over fears and frustrations, and we smile with them as love comes softly into their union. (And oh my word, I’ve never wanted so badly to purse whomp a fictional pastor – in fact I believe this is the first time lol – but he really needed it.) Edward and Marybeth are both layered and relatable protagonists whom I immediately liked, along with the friends they made in Cheyenne. I’m looking forward to reading Melody’s story next, and I’m curious as to which (or none) of the other females we met in book one will be the subject of book three. In short, A Love Discovered is a lovely reading choice for fans of Mary Connealy and Janette Oke!

In The Shadows of Sacrifice by Heather TabersIN THE SHADOWS OF SACRIFICE by Heather Tabers // Historical Romance Short Story ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

In the Shadows of Sacrifice by Heather Tabers may be a short story but it’s packed with well-developed layers and vibrant characters. Louisa and Dude are delightful to follow through this story, and I also came to really appreciate Louisa’s brother & sister-in-law too. The way this story ends, while satisfying, also has me wondering where they all might go from here. I would love to read more about these characters and would welcome a full length featuring them again, as well as maybe more of Louisa’s family. And the best part of In the Shadows of Sacrifice? It’s FREE!

The Wilderness Trap by Jodi LintonTHE WILDERNESS TRAP by Jodi Linton // Cozy Mystery

The Wilderness Trap by Jodi Linton combines engaging characters with puzzling mysteries in a quick but enjoyable read. Some of the plot elements could have been developed a little more, had the story been just a bit longer, but overall I thought it was paced well and I had fun reading it. I enjoyed meeting Andie and her crew on these pages, and I had no problems orienting myself to the series despite not having read the previous books. If you enjoy likable amateur sleuths and entertaining plots, then you’ll want to check out The Wilderness Trap and the rest of the Southwest Exposure Mysteries by Jodi Linton!

Phooey Kerflooey by Kristen Joy WilksPHOOEY KERFLOOEY by Kristen Joy Wilks // Middle Grade Fiction

Phooey Kerflooey showcases a comedy of errors involving a holy terror of a squirrel, an injury-prone daredevil, and an endearing scaredy cat of a dog … and one boy’s impossible quest to correct them all in his own ability & strength. Until an important Bible verse and that same dog teach him a valuable lesson about peace. Author Kristen Joy Wilks knows how to write a story that middle grade readers will find hilarious, entertaining, and meaningful and that parents will love for all those reasons plus the spiritual lessons it teaches and discussions it can prompt. I adored Marcus and Conner and Nia – and Phooey! – and I hope there are more adventures to be had with them in the future. A fun and insightful read for boys and girls and the adults who love them!

If the Boot Fits by Karen WitemeyerIF THE BOOT FITS by Karen Witemeyer // Historical Western Romance

If the Boot Fits by Karen Witemeyer is a creative take on a familiar tale and a delightfully entertaining story all on its own. I loved the way the author incorporated classic elements of Cinderella into a historical western romance with layered characters and unique plot turns that made it just plain fun to read. Both Asher and Samantha are wonderful characters and their romance was full of the author’s trademark wit and warmth. Whether you enjoy the Cinderella fairy tale or not, you will love the relationships, the twists, the suspense, and the message of If the Boot Fits! Such a sweet story!

Never Fall Again by Lynn H. BlackburnNEVER FALL AGAIN by Lynn H. Blackburn // Contemporary Suspenseful Romance ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

My first trip to Gossamer Falls, on the pages of Never Fall Again by Lynn H. Blackburn, is one that will have me coming back to visit again and again. I loved the main & supporting characters so much that I can’t quit smiling about them, the romance between Cal & Landry is all kinds of swoony, and the suspense (though it doesn’t ramp up until the last few chapters) is riveting. Blackburn brilliantly sets up the rest of the series by giving us hints of romantic tension & complicated histories for several of Cal’s extended family, and I can’t wait to see where these relationships go next. This will easily be one of my fave reads of 2024, and I highly recommend it for your next read, too!

Set in Stone book reviewSET IN STONE by Kimberley Woodhouse // Historical Suspenseful Romance

In Set in Stone, Kimberley Woodhouse takes us to the height of the Bone Wars and puts us right in the middle of a high-stakes competition between rival digs. Readers will quickly become invested in Martha’s backstory and her present quest for a significant dinosaur skeleton, and they will of course fall in love with Jacob as she does. Drama abounds between the two digs, but it’s the truly complex villain that will keep you on the edge of your seat and biting your nails! A sweet romance (though I wish there had been a little more kissing haha #shallow), a touching faith journey, and some shocking twists round out the mix, and I already cannot wait for the next book!

Shop on the Corner by Lin SteppSHOP ON THE CORNER by Lin Stepp // Contemporary Romance

Shop on the Corner by Lin Stepp is a sweet love story with engaging characters and a picturesque setting. The author has perfectly captured the mountain town vibes and interpersonal dynamics of the Smokies, and readers will care very much about Laura and her journey. I enjoyed watching her blossom and thrive in Waynesville, including her romance with Mitchell, and I held my breath a time or two when the past threatens that newfound peace. It’s a dialogue-heavy story, so it tends to tell more than it shows and not all of the conversation serves to move the pace forward. All in all, though, this is a charming story that invites you to come sit on the front porch for a spell, feel the mountain breezes, smell the pine trees & azaleas, and fall in love with the characters.

Peril in Pink by Sydney LeighPERIL IN PINK by Sydney Leigh // Cozy Mystery

Peril in Pink by Sydney Leigh is fun and snappy and full of heart. The posh B&B setting brings some California vibes to New York, and it attracts a bevy of eccentric characters who make great suspects in the well-plotted mystery. The author’s writing voice sparkles with wit and talent, instantly drawing readers in and keeping them charmed by the smart dialogue and engaging narrative. I loved the characters, especially Jess & Kat (and hunky detective James) and I look forward to reading more books in this series.

Kilned at the Ceramic Shop by Donna ClancyKILNED AT THE CERAMIC SHOP by Donna Clancy // Cozy Mystery

Kilned at the Ceramic Shop by Donna Clancy kicks off a brand new cozy mystery series with small town vibes, delightfully feisty senior citizens, and an investigation that gets very personal for our heroine. It sets up the community and relationship arcs nicely for the rest of the series, and the mystery took some turns I wasn’t expecting. While the writing style didn’t work for me personally and kept me from truly investing in the characters, reviews of this book show that only a couple of other readers had the same issues. So if the description of the book or something in my review intrigues you about Kilned at the Ceramic Shop, do go ahead and give it a try!

More Than Grit by Gretchen A. CarlsonMORE THAN GRIT by Gretchen A. Carlson // Middle Grade Historical Fiction

In More Than Grit, Gretchen A. Carlson seamlessly combines fiction and fact with heartfelt characters and tender faith lessons to engage all your emotions. The story’s compelling layers don’t shy away from the hardships of rural life in the late 1930s, or the common struggles of life and faith that we still face today. At the same time, it crescendos with hope, resiliency, and the reminder of God’s faithfulness even when life is hard. More Than Grit might be officially listed as a novel for tweens & teens, but this adult was so charmed & touched by it, too. Knowing that it’s based on a true story in the author’s family history made it even more meaningful to me. I loved the whole thing, from my first encounter with Sissy to the author’s note at the end. Get this for a tween/teen in your life, but get a copy for yourself too because it’s enjoyable from ages 11-111!

A NOBLE SCHEME by Roseanna M. White // Historical Romance ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

A Noble Scheme by Roseanna M. White is compelling and poignant, immersing you right away in a story that will grab hold of your heart and not let go. Fair warning, your emotions will be put through the wringer as White tenderly explores the rawness of grief and loss, broken relationships, and anger at God and knits it all together into a beautiful hope-filled, grace-filled masterpiece. But she also gives her readers breathing space by skillfully placing moments of humor (particularly when Yates is involved) and intrigue, not to mention the swoony romance that simmers to perfection. I loved that we got so much great page time with Marigold, Yates, and Merritt too, and I am positively giddy for Yates’ story next! (Don’t tell the others but I think he’s my favorite lol)

Battered and Buried by Lena GregoryBATTERED AND BURIED by Lena Gregory // Cozy Mystery

Pull up a stool and join the All-Day Breakfast Cafe for a clever mystery that’s very personal to Gia and the family she’s built for herself in Boggy Creek. I absolutely loved being back with these charming characters who feel like dear friends and it was fun to tag along as they attempt to save their friend from being framed for murder. The author’s writing voice is warm and engaging, as always, and I read this in one sitting because I didn’t want to put it down. Battered and Buried by Lena Gregory is perfect for fans of Maddie Day, Lynn Cahoon, and Gayle Leeson!

One Dead, Two to Go by Elena HartwellONE DEAD TWO TO GO by Elena Hartwell // Private Eye Mystery

One Dead, Two to Go by Elena Hartwell is fun and snappy and well-plotted, and its delightful characters are diverse and vividly-drawn. I felt like I was right in the middle of the unpredictable investigation and I loved every minute of it. Eddie and Chava are characters I would hang out with in a heartbeat, though I have a feeling I’d laugh the whole time at their goodnatured bickering … because I certainly did while reading it. What an entertaining introduction to a series that promises to earn a place among my favorites!

Mayhem in Circulation by Leah DobrinskaMAYHEM IN CIRCULATION by Leah Dobrinska // Cozy Mystery

Mayhem in Circulation by Leah Dobrinska is a wholly entertaining read in a charming setting with layered characters and a complex mystery to solve. The author’s warm and witty writing voice is matched in Greta’s engaging personality, and readers will love tagging along for the well-plotted investigation. Especially when swoony Detective McHenry tags along too. (Just when I thought he couldn’t get any cuter, he goes and blushes a little and flirts a little and reveals a surprising reading preference that endeared him to me for life.) I really enjoy the community of Larkspur and look forward to more visits in the hopefully-near future!

Falling for Alaska by Belle CalhouneFALLING FOR ALASKA by Belle Calhoune // Contemporary Romance

Falling for Alaska may kick off a brand new series and story world for this author, but thanks to Belle Calhoune’s solid sense of place and character development skills you feel right at home from the very beginning. The necessary establishing details and character backstories are woven seamlessly into the engaging narrative, making us care immediately about these Stone brothers, their feisty grandmother, True and her little brother Jaylen, and a host of other supporting characters – all without bogging the reader down with information dumps that slow down some series starters. I very much enjoyed the author’s writing voice, the swoonilicious romance, and all of the delightful & diverse characters, making me eager to continue the series and see who gets to fall in love next!

The Lady with the Dark Hair by Erin BartelsTHE LADY WITH THE DARK HAIR by Erin Bartels // Dual Timeline Fiction

There is so much I want to gush about when it comes to The Lady with the Dark Hair by Erin Bartels… the treatment of mental health, the real-life historical artists we encounter, the family/art history mystery that connects the timelines. the vibrant settings, the timeless theme of finding one’s place & purpose in the world. Suffice it to say that I was thoroughly captivated by this story, as much a work of art as the pieces hanging in Esther’s museum and her house. Bartels’ writing is impeccable, her characters are full of life, and her mastery of both timelines is seamless. I was completely satisfied with the ending but I also want to know the ‘rest’ of the story – what happens after we leave Viviana and Esther for the final time on these pages – and I would gobble up a sequel! Perfect for fans of Melanie Dobson and Kate Morton!

Cold Case Target by Jessica R. PatchCOLD CASE TARGET by Jessica R. Patch // Romantic Suspense ⭐ 5 stars ⭐

Cold Case Target by Jessica R. Patch delivers pulse-racing suspense, sweet romance, and meaningful faith themes in a story that simultaneously entertains and inspires. Readers will be deeply invested in Beau and Sissy, not only in their race to stay alive and stop the culprit from killing again but also in their second chance romance and their healing hearts. Patch deftly explores grief and forgiveness with a tender touch, and without detracting from the romantic suspense threads or weighing down the story. The Spencer family dynamic is once again delightful, and I look forward to more time spent with these charming and layered characters as the series continues.

The Secret Ingredient to Murder by Terry AmbroseTHE SECRET INGREDIENT TO MURDER by Terry Ambrose // Cozy Mystery

The Secret Ingredient to Murder by Terry Ambrose combines a quaint setting with appealing protagonists, folds in a well-plotted mystery, and smoothly blends the red herrings with the valid clues to deliver a story you’ll enjoy from beginning to end. A host of plausible suspects kept me guessing and, despite a bit of continuity confusion over one part of the plot, I thought the story flowed well and stayed engaging. My favorite aspect of this book is the warm family unit that the Atwoods have cultivated – it was refreshing to see the love and respect and concern that they each had for one another as well as the way they encouraged each other to be themselves. A nice choice for fans of Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and Ellery Adams.

For Better or For Granted by Amy R. AnguishFOR BETTER OR FOR GRANTED by Amy R. Anguish // Contemporary Romantic Women’s Fiction

For Better or For Granted by Amy R. Anguish is a refreshing and relatable novel that focuses on a marriage that has lost its way, not through any major betrayal or incident but through all the normal, everyday, ‘there but for the grace of God’ things that every couple deals with. I loved Genevieve and Scott as characters, their personalities enjoyable on the page, the kind of people I’d want to be ‘couple friends’ with in real life. Their relatable emotions gave me much to think about, and I appreciated that the author gave validation to their frustrations without excusing either of them from doing the work to fix their marriage. A story of hope and restoration, and a valuable reminder this Easter that Jesus is still in the business of resurrection.

March 2024 reads I haven’t reviewed yet

affiliate links used

The Gardins of Edin by Rosey Lee 

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

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8 responses to “March 2024 In Review

  1. Sandy Avery

    I read and loved The Berlin Letters, One Last Shot, If The Boot Fits, and A Noble Scheme. Others I loved reading this month were My Lucky Charm, All My Secrets, Love Unscripted, and A Lady’s Guide to Marvels and Misadventures. All in all March was a good month!

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