Mouse by Heidi Sprouse

Mouse by Heidi Sprouse

Sixteen-year-old Maxine Marmarino is stronger than she looks. She’s grown up Italian to the core in the Big Apple, just her and Dad against the world. He’s been her champion and that’s enough for her—until he dies. Max is cast adrift in the Social Services network of New York City with nothing to her name except what she can fit in a backpack. When she’s shipped upstate, armed with her father’s leather jacket, his army shirt, and an attitude that is much bigger than her, she’ll feel as small as a mouse. Forced to leave everything she’s ever known behind, Max doesn’t know if she can cut it in this strange place with a man she’s never met.Clay Thatcher is titanium tough. It’s been his best friend since he lost his leg in Operation Desert Storm. Life has forced him to be strong, but he’s still not sure he’s strong enough to go on after losing the love of his life. He has no clue what to do with a teenager. His best friend, Ray Marmarino, saved his butt on the other side of the world over twenty years ago. The least he can do is return the favor for his daughter. Clay has a feeling it’s going to be the hardest thing he’s ever done. When the City Mouse is forced to become the Country Mouse with no turning back, Max and Clay will learn a valuable lesson. They might not be able to fix the shattered pieces of their past, but maybe they can build a new beginning. If they are brave enough.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Heidi Sprouse’s books could be made into movies……and her book Mouse could be on the Hallmark or Lifetime Channels.

Mouse is a feel good story with a rough feel to it.  It has a lot of meaning and growth within the story.  Mouse has many levels.  The story focuses on 2 very different people, Clay who is a grown man dealing with his own personal demons and Max who is a 16 year old who has had to grow up quickly and deal with more demons than someone her age should ever have to face.  Clay and Max are brought together because Max’s dad dies of cancer and Clay, his old Army buddy, is the only person in the world that comes close to being a guardian to her.  So Max moves from New York City out to the country to live with Clay.  Clay lives on a farm with his dog and his memories.  His wife Stella died of cancer also and Clay cannot get over losing her.  Clay also is dealing with injuries he suffered from the war…..basically Clay is a miserable person and Max is a deep soul living beyond her age.  These two are brought together and as they adjust to being around each other, getting to know each other and dealing with their demons, they realize that they can help each other become whole again.

When you start reading Mouse you are drawn to both Clay and Max and cannot help but turn the pages to find out how their relationship with grow and if they can both heal inside and out.  Everytime you think that they are going to make it, something happens setting their relationship back into turmoil.  But as we all know nothing worth having comes easy and we know that Clay and Max and their relationship is worth having.

I am a HUGE fan of Sprouse and her books.  She writes so much more that just a story.  Her books and her stories have meaning and love and teach the reader a lot.  Her books stay with the reader forever and grab a place in your heart and stays with you forever.  I for one loved Mouse and wouldn’t be surprised if there was a follow up to this book.  Sprouse not only gave the reader an amazing story but she built a foundation and if she wanted to she could add so many more layers to Clay and Max and their journeys through life.


Review by Missi S.














Audacity on the Water (Adirondack for Ladies #2) by L.R. Smolarek

Audacity on the Water (Adirondack for Ladies #2) by L.R. Smolarek

The adventures begun in Adirondack Audacity continue…
Ellen McCauley Rienz yawns, stretching in the early morning light that spills through the open French doors of her Adirondack Camp. She snuggles deeper into her husband’s embrace, secure in the knowledge that Vic, her first love, her lost love is safe in her bed..and here to stay. Happily ever after, at last…
Until an incessant pounding on the front door jerks her back to reality, and promises made and commitments unfulfilled. 
In a rash moment of enthusiasm, Ellen entered the Adirondack Canoe Classic, neglecting to tell her husband they would be paddling a 90 mile canoe race through the lakes and rivers of the Adirondack Mountains…while on their honeymoon. What was she thinking?
Paddling 90 miles in three days coached by a bombastic East German, stalked by a local thug whistling Moon River and a Harley-Davidson riding housekeeper named Adele are just a few of the complications Ellen faces on this hilarious journey..with a startling conclusion that only Klutz-Ellen can pull off.
Murder, mystery, and mayhem on the “90”. The Adirondack for Ladies Series…titillating novels set in the great outdoors filled with humor, drama and a little bit of sizzle.  (Summary via Goodreads)


Audacity on the Water by L.R. Smolarek is the second book in her Adirondack for Ladies series and it continues to tell the love story of Ellen and Vic….

In Adirondack Audacity, the first book in the series, you are introduced to Ellen and Vic as teenagers working as counselors at a summer camp in the Adirondacks.  It was a romantic love story of two lovers when they were at their most innocent, vulnerable stages.  You couldn’t help but feel the depth of their love and commitment for each other only to have it destroyed by their parents.  However, at the end of the book, Ellen and Vic were reunited and their love was as strong as that summer all those years ago.

In Audacity on the Water we continue their story as a newlywed couple on their honeymoon…..

Ellen and Vic have a beautiful house in the Adirondacks overlooking a lake.  Recently married all they want to do is enjoy each other’s company.  However, Ellen thought it would be a great idea for them to compete in The Adirondack Canoe Classic which is a 90 mile, 3 day canoe event.  And to get them ready Ellen hired a very strict coach to get them in shape for the competition.

As they train and then compete, you feel like you are sitting in the middle of the canoe.  You can’t help but feel their love and devotion to each other and long for a commitment like they share.

And the fun doesn’t end at the finish line….. As Ellen and Vic are still sore from competing in the race and are celebrating with the family, they are confronted by the police and accused of murdering the gentleman they hired as their coach.

As they answer questions and finally convince the authorities that they had nothing to do with the murder, they are finally filled in on the whole story…..and boy is it a doozie !!!

Audacity on the Water is a love story with some very interesting twists…..

Adirondack Audacity and Audacity on the Water will capture the readers attention and one cannot help but fall in love with Ellen and Vic and their stories.  I cannot wait to open up Audacity of an Adirondack Summer, the third book in Smolarek’s Adirondack for Ladies series…..You get a feeling of coming home……


Review by Missi S.







PARABELLUM: When you live in Peace, prepare for War by Jack Nanuq

PARABELLUM: When you live in Peace, prepare for War by Jack Nanuq

How does a POW become a spy? And why? And what the hell is a GALCO? These are only a few of the questions Carson Nowak needs answers to. 

CARSON NOWAK is a CIA contractor like none you’ve ever met before. Carson is tasked with retrieving a trunk full of documents. The order comes not from the Agency or even the President, but a higher authority; his nana. In addition to the documents the trunk also contains a war relic tied to a mysterious death just before D-Day. Tracing the provenance of this relic triggers a chain of events that not only unlocks Carson’s family history but garners the interest of a South American hit squad. Carson must navigate the challenges of protecting his family, maintaining his business, ensuring the safety of a young refugee developing a revolutionary weapons system, and deal with an infuriating curmudgeon. Along the way he falls in love. To navigate these challenges, he enlists the help of a pencil-thin code breaker, a claustrophobic corpsman and a Haitian nurse. 

PARABELLUM, the novel, is spy/mystery/thriller novel set in Upstate NY, with flashbacks to both World War I and World War II. 

PARABELLUM, the word, is a Latin term which loosely translates to “When you live in peace, Prepare for war”. 

The writing style is a mash-up of C.J. Box meets Daniel Silva, meets John le Carre.   (Summary via Goodreads)


One thing that I love about reading a book by a local author who writes a story that relates to things and places in your area is the feeling that you get.  You really get a sense of really being there !!    And in Parabellum : When you live in Peace, prepare for War author Jack Nanuq takes the reader through the sights and sounds of Albany, New York and the surrounding areas.

Not only did I enjoy reading and knowing the area Nanuq was writing about, I was instantly drawn into the lives of Carson and his great-grandmother, Nana.  I loved the way Nanuq would write about Carson and Nana in one chapter and then whisk the reader back in time to when Nana was young in the next chapter.  The reader cannot help but fall in love with Nana and appreciate the hard times that she went through and what she had to do to survive.  And then to turn the page and read about Carson and everything that he is learning about Nana and seeing that he will do whatever it takes to protect Nana and everyone close to him.

There are a few different stories being told in Parabellum and one cannot help but be drawn into them all.  You cannot help but feel like you are sitting right there with all involved and holding your breath quite a few times throughout it.  You may even find yourself shedding a tear or two……

When I get to the end of the book and it says to turn the page and read a portion of the next book in the series, I usually don’t do it.  I don’t want to be teased, I feel that I am strong and can wait until the book is published.  HOWEVER that was NOT the case with this story…. I wanted more so I read the few pages that Nanuq teased the reader with.  And boy I cannot wait for more of Carson and Liza……I know it will be a page turner !!!


Review by Missi S.



Adirondack Audacity (Adirondack for Ladies #1) by L.R. Smolarek

Adirondack Audacity (Adirondack for Ladies #1) by L.R. Smolarek

What happens when Lucille Ball runs smack dab into Marilyn Monroe; meet Ellen McCauley. Ellen wants to escape her demons, namely a step-mother named Helen, and her reputation as the school klutz. A fall down the stairs, in front of the entire varsity football team…while wearing pink polka-a-dot underwear, earns her the nickname “Dots.” And that’s just the beginning. So when a job as nature counselor at Camp High Point in the Adirondack Mountains comes up, it spells escape for Ellen.

Her hopes for an idyllic Adirondack summer do not include Vicente Rienz, the camp lifeguard, known to his friends as Vic. Born to an American mother, but a Spanish grandee by birthright of his Mexican father, he is all male, in denim and leather, aloof, arrogant, and very competent at……..everything. Ellen hates him on sight, until the sparks between them ignite into a passion not to be denied. A summer under the stars leads to unforeseen consequences and separation.

What began as a teenage romance is rekindled when Ellen and Vic reunite as adults. Seeking answers to the past, they return to the Adirondacks in a quest that turns dangerous for a dramatic conclusion.

Adirondack Audacity serves up the titillating flavors of life: romance, drama, hilarious hijinks, a little bit sexy and always fun.

Finally the “beach” read comes to the mountains. So grab a glass of wine, curl up in an Adirondack chair …and indulge! Did someone say…… Thirty Shades of Balsam?  (Summary via Goodreads).


OMG !!!! I could NOT put down Adirondack Audacity.  As soon as you start reading this book, you are captivated by the characters and their story.

You are pulled into the separate lives of Ellen and Vic and then once they meet at camp, you are drawn to them as a couple.  You will love getting to know them as well as their camp co-workers….you will feel like you are right there with them all.  And then as Ellen and Vic begin their relationship, you are drawn to them as their love deepens.  You will feel like you are experiencing the young love they share.

L.R. Smolarek has an amazing talent in grabbing the reader and keeping that hold on you from the first word until the last sentence and that longing for more will stay with you.  But don’t fear there is more to their story in the next book Audacity on the Water…..

If you are a fan of Heidi Sprouse you will definitely love Adirondack Audacity.  The love these two authors have for the Adirondacks, the outdoors and love in generally is captures so realistically, you feel like you are sitting on a dock overlooking clear waters and mountains…… I highly recommend taking the journey.


Review by Missi S.









Deserted on Lake Desolation (The Lost in the Adirondacks Series Book 4) by Heidi Sprouse

Deserted on Lake Desolation (The Lost in the Adirondacks Series Book 4) by Heidi Sprouse

Something is wrong with Officer Jim Pedersen. He isn’t eating. He isn’t sleeping. His easygoing nature has vanished, replaced by a brooding, irritable mood that won’t go away like a dark cloud hovering over his head. No one understands what is going on. Is it gambling? Money troubles? Problems at work? Another woman? 
They haven’t seen the mysterious mailers that have arrived at work. They haven’t seen the disturbing pictures. Read the threats. Been shaken to the core with fear that sends ice running through the policeman’s veins. 

Day by day, the man everyone knows is disappearing. Will his best friend, conservation officer Graham Scott, figure out what’s wrong before Jim vanishes without a trace?  (Summary via Goodreads)


I am ALWAYS amazed when I read a book when I think about the talent of the author but when I read Deserted on Lake Desolation by Heidi Sprouse it was so much more than amazement !!  Talent doesn’t even begin to describe it !!  I cannot wrap my head around the thinking that went into this story !!  And Deserted on Lake Desolation is the fourth book in the Lost in the Adirondacks series but it stands alone in comparison to the others.

Nothing prepares you for what is in store for the reader when you begin the journey into this book.  As with the first four, the reader is taken on a journey through the Adirondacks and its mountains……and you hang out with some amazing people and become a part of their inner circle.  You feel the love, devotion and strength of these people and you understand their commitment to each other and their surroundings.  You will feel like you know the trails as well as Graham and Jim do, you will feel the love and fear that the two men have towards their families and each other.  You will understand that there is nothing that they would not do for each other and their families.

Even though there is always turmoil and fear within this series, and Deserted on Lake Desolation has that tenfold, you will always have HOPE as you read each word and turn the page……  I will admit reading each word was extremely hard for me as I wanted to get to the end quickly to make sure all I have grown to love were safe and skipping to the end has never been an option for me but it was tested during the reading of this book.

I highly encourage you to read Deserted on Lake Desolation along with the others in the Lost on the Adirondack series and as hard as it will be I recommend reading every single word ….. you don’t want to miss any of it !!!

Review by Missi S.


Rosie and Her Ragamuffin Sam by Heidi Sprouse

Rosie and Her Ragamuffin Sam by Heidi Sprouse

Andie Rose Lane treats herself to a Columbus Day weekend getaway in New York City. Little did she know that a pair of red shoes from a thrift store would transport her into the 1940’s. In the midst of the Depression and World War II, she’ll discover her roots are tied in with those amazing shoes. They’ll carry her into the middle of her great grandmother’s love story. Find out about Rosie and Her Ragamuffin Sam.  (Summary via Amazon)


Rosie and her Ragamuffin Sam is a feel good story……in that it will make you feel really good !!!  Heidi Sprouse has such a way with love and relaying it in her words that you fall in love instantly !!  Not only does she capture your heart, she also captures your imagination.  Once you start reading the story you are lost with Andie as she dreams and hears stories of her great grandparents and the love they shared.

Imagine buying a pair of used shoes in a secondhand store and then having vivid dreams, good dreams that stay with you and make you want to know more.  And then to find out that those shoes tie you to your great grandparents and the dreams are actually true to their love and life.  And then you visit your great aunts and they continue telling you wonderful stories of that love and devotion…….

Rosie and her Ragamuffin Sam is exactly the kind of story the world needs….. a story to remind everyone that love is out there….. devotion is out there……kindness can be everywhere.  We just have to take a minute and look around.  Sprouse reminds us that we make our own memories and there is nothing wrong with those memories being filled with love and hope !!!!


Review by Missi S.





Burning Cold (Cara Walden Mystery #2) by Lisa Lieberman

Burning Cold (Cara Walden Mystery #2) by Lisa Lieberman

Budapest: 1956. Newlywed Cara Walden’s brother Zoltán has disappeared in the middle of the Hungarian revolution, harboring a deadly wartime secret. Will Cara or the Soviets find him first?

Cutting short her honeymoon in Paris to rescue a sibling she’s never met was not Cara’s idea, but her husband Jakub has a reckless streak, and she is too much in love to question his judgment. Together with her older brother Gray, they venture behind the Iron Curtain, seeking clues to Zoltán’s whereabouts among his circle of fellow dissidents, all victims of the recently overthrown Communist regime. One of them betrayed him, and Cara realizes that the investigation has put every person they’ve met at risk. Inadvertently, they’ve also unmasked a Russian spy, who is now tailing them in the hope that they will lead him to Zoltán.

The noir film of Graham Greene’s The Third Man inspires Lisa Lieberman’s historical thriller. Burning Cold features a compelling female protagonist who comes to know her own strength in the course of her adventures.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Again as I read another of Lisa Lieberman’s books, I was seeing the story unfold in black and white.  When I read All the Wrong Places, the first book in the Cara Walden Mystery series, I was so engrossed in the story that it took me back….and I saw the world in black and white.  And Burning Cold had that same effect on me….again I was engrossed in Cara’s life and the story taking her, her brother Gray, and her new husband, Jakub, to another area surrounded by war, fighting, and secrets.

Burning Cold takes them to Budapest where they hope to find and rescue a brother they have just found out about.  Once in Budapest they also find out that their brother, Zoltan, is married and has a daughter.  Unfortunately it isn’t a happy family reunion when they finally meet up with Zoltan and they struggle to convince him to leave the area and go with them where he and his family will be safe.  Throughout their travels and everything that they are faced with, Cara remains positive and cannot help but daydream about the happily ever after that will occur when they finally do get everyone home.

Lieberman opens the readers eyes to the terror and the turmoil that surrounds Cara and her family …. you see the love Cara and Jakub share as well as the devotion to family as they try to find Zoltan and bring him and his family to safety.  You witness the connection that the brothers, Gray and Zoltan, share even if it is war related.  And as with All the Wrong Places, you are left with a better understanding and appreciation of the world around you.


Review by Missi S.