Emma’s Amish Faith Tested (The Amish Women of Lawrence County #1)by Tracy Fredrychowski

Pages: 356

Publisher: The Tracer Group, LLC

Published: November 16, 2021

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Source: Digital Copy from Author

Available Formats: Digital and Paperback

My Review: I enjoy books that make me think on a personal level and this one did just that.

Emma is a young Amish mom-to-be who experiences the unthinkable. At war with herself, her husband, and the Old Order church she agrees to go visit her English turned Amish mom for healing. On her way home, she makes the decision that changes her life forever.

This was a much different Amish read for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very heavy on the religious aspect. Much talk of going out and spreading God’s word as the Bible instructs. It also teaches us that all marriages will have difficulties but we must listen to each other and find ways to compromise and work together. We need more of that instead of the easy out of divorce as the first thought.

I have previously read a short story/novella by the author but this was my first full-length book. I am already checking to see if my library carries her previously published books.

I received a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From Amazon: Her trust in the Lord has been tested beyond all strength. Can this grieving believer reclaim the way back to enlightenment?

Emma Yoder is struggling to cope. While the young Amish mother is devastated after her only child dies in the womb, she and her husband gain little comfort from the Old Order’s rigid ways. And whispers among her people lead her to suspect the truth has been concealed from her for years.

Still fighting internally to forgive God for her tragedy, Emma sets out on a journey to discover the deep healing she craves. But her discovery of a newfound secret love of Jesus’s teachings puts her at direct odds with the traditions of her community.

Can this woman of conviction find the courage to seek grace from the Almighty?

Emma’s Amish Faith Tested is the inspirational first book in The Amish Women of Lawrence County series of women’s fiction novels. If you like spiritual explorations, real-life challenges of emotional bravery, and basking in God’s light, then you’ll adore Tracy Fredrychowski’s exploration of hope.

An Amish Quilting Bee by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Shelley Shepard Gray

Pages: 336

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: December 7, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Paperback

My Review: A cozy comfort read that will make you want to wrap in a quilt of your own with a hot mug of tea.

Patchwork Promises – A sweet story beginning with much sadness and ending with happiness. A story to show how far we will go for those we love.

A Common Thread – A story that shows us a leopard can change its spots when it comes from the heart. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Stitched Together – Love deserves a second chance and we must be willing to bend and grow as it develops.

NetGalley: Three charming stories of cozy quilting circles and budding romance

 Patchwork Promises by Amy Clipston 

When Colin Zook and his beloved grandmother lose everything in a fire, their greatest loss is a beloved family heirloom quilt that helped keep her dementia at bay. When Joanne Lapp hears about the loss, she decides to re-create the quilt. Colin soon feels himself developing feelings for her, but he’s held back by the knowledge that a future with him would involve care of his grandmother and his farm. Will Joanne look past his list of responsibilities and see him for who he truly is?

A Common Thread by Kathleen Fuller 

Susie Glick returns from a shopping trip laden with beautiful fabric for her quilting group. On the bus ride, Alex Lehman—her crush from three years ago—sits next to her. Alex left Middlefield to explore the country, and now he’s back and ready to join the church. Susie was just a kid when he left, but now she’s a woman—and she definitely has his interest. The women in her quilting circle aren’t as excited about Alex’s return, assuming that he’ll leave again in search of adventure. Susie is convinced they’re wrong, but just as they start dating, Alex tells Susie he has to leave. He says he’ll return, but Susie must decide whether or not she can trust the man she fears has captured her heart.

Stitched Together by Shelley Shepard Gray 

Rosie’s joy is her yearly project for the Pinecraft Mennonite Quilt Sale, and she dreams of being the top earner. But she’s worried that she’s bitten off more than she can chew with her latest entry. To make things even more confusing, after coming to terms with her single state, she’s recently formed a friendship with Tim Christner. He’s only in town for a month, but he has Rosie wondering if she’s found love at last. Now all she has to do is figure out how to get the quilt done so she can concentrate on him. But with her once very organized life in total disarray, everything comes to a head just before the sale. Rosie is forced to reexamine her priorities before she loses not only her place in the quilt show but everything else she’s ever wanted.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder (A Catering Hall Mystery #3) by Maria DiRico

Pages: 304

Publisher; Kensington

Published: October 26, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Paperback

My Review: This series is so fun to read. I love “the family”, Nonna and her cronies, and the setting. You never know what you are going to get into when you open the book but you are guaranteed a good time.

Book 3 shows us how small our world really is and how we all know someone who knows someone. You may not see the connection right away but it is there. I was reminded of that this past weekend in my own life. A connection was made that was shocking. No murder was involved in my real-life situation but Mia was not able to say the same.

Even though this is book 3 you can pick it up with any book. I suggest you read this for the current holiday season. I don’t think you will be disappointed. We have decorating wars, crazy nativity scenes, and lots of Christmas murder. Take time to look at the cover of the book and enjoy all the interesting Christmas decorations.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder…

Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.
 
Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party…

To the Tome of Murder (Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery #7) by Lauren Elliott

Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington]

Published: October 26, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats, Digital, Audio, and Mass Market Paperback

My Review: I am amazed at how this series is progressing. Each book is better and better. I will admit when I finished the first book I did not like Addie. She got on my nerves but now I love her. She is working through her grief and her past and learning to love and trust again. She is making friends and looks for the good in everyone she meets.

I still do not like Simon though. There is just something about him that turns me off as being perfect for Addie. I am still not sure Mark is perfect either. I think I like her single.

Book 7 takes place around Thanksgiving and is filled with love, thankfulness, and murder. Murder is always on the menu. Interesting ending. I am ready for more.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Three weeks before Thanksgiving, bookshop owner Addie Greyborne already has a full plate—and a killer on her case…
 
Addie’s determined to turn a seemingly ordinary November in coastal Greyborne Harbor into one for the books. The windows of her shop display carefully curated works by American writers, including a rare selection of traditional holiday recipes from the influential 19th-century publication Godey’s Ladies Magazine. And then there’s the town’s Civil War-era themed cooking and baking competition, with a hefty cash prize and free publicity going to the winning dish…
 
But when she finds her cousin’s boyfriend murdered, a stunned Addie reluctantly realizes she may be the only person who can blow the cover off a grisly crime. With so many unanswered questions surrounding the victim’s death, Addie must figure out the strange connection between a mysterious vintage briefcase, the disappearance of a first edition copy of Sarah Josepha Hale’s famous nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and a dangerously well-read culprit…

The Wish by Nicholas Sparks

Pages: 387

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Published: September 28, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover from Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: It has been a few books of NS since I had the same feeling as I did when I first read The Notebook and The Wish finally delivered. A feeling of all-encompassing love filled with heartbreak.

I unashamedly cried at the end of this book. I closed it gently with a sense of love and happiness.

Read with tissues on hand and be prepared to not be able to put the book down.

Goodreads: 1996 was the year that changed everything for Maggie Dawes. Sent away at sixteen to live with an aunt she barely knew in Ocracoke, a remote village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, she could think only of the friends and family she left behind . . . until she meets Bryce Trickett, one of the few teenagers on the island. Handsome, genuine, and newly admitted to West Point, Bryce gradually shows her how much there is to love about the wind-swept beach town—and introduces her to photography, a passion that will define the rest of her life.

By 2019, Maggie is a renowned travel photographer. She splits her time between running a successful gallery in New York and photographing remote locations around the world. But this year she is unexpectedly grounded over Christmas, struggling to come to terms with a sobering medical diagnosis. Increasingly dependent on a young assistant, she finds herself becoming close to him.

As they count down the last days of the season together, she begins to tell him the story of another Christmas, decades earlier—and the love that set her on a course she never could have imagined.

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

Pages: 400

Publisher: Park Row

Published: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: If you are on the fence about online dating I would suggest NOT reading this book. Wowzers, a tad scary.

I was hooked through the entire book and couldn’t wait for the conclusion. It would have been a five-star read but the imaginary friend aspect throughout kind of threw me off.

This is the second Lisa Unger book I have read and I see more in my future.

Goodreads: Secrets, obsession and vengeance converge in this riveting thriller about an online dating match turned deadly cat-and-mouse game, from the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions on the 7:45.

Think twice before you swipe.

She met him through a dating app. An intriguing picture on a screen, a date at a downtown bar. What she thought might be just a quick hookup quickly became much more. She fell for him—hard. It happens sometimes, a powerful connection with a perfect stranger takes you by surprise. Could it be love?

But then, just as things were getting real, he stood her up. Then he disappeared—profiles deleted, phone disconnected. She was ghosted.

Maybe it was her fault. She shared too much, too fast. But isn’t that always what women think—that they’re the ones to blame? Soon she learns there were others. Girls who thought they were in love. Girls who later went missing. She had been looking for a connection, but now she’s looking for answers. Chasing a digital trail into his dark past—and hers—she finds herself on a dangerous hunt. And she’s not sure whether she’s the predator—or the prey.

Allergic: A Graphic Novel by Megan Wagner Lloyd (Michelle Mee Nutter – Illustrator)

Pages: 240

Publisher: Graphix

Published: March 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

Available Formats: Digital, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: The perfect graphic novel to read with your children when thinking about pet ownership and how to handle disappointment if not able to have a pet.

I found the portrayal of Maggie spot on for her age.

A clean, sweet read that I cannot wait to share with my students.

Goodreads: A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet!

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy to call her own is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!

Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet? With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd uses inspiration from her own experiences with allergies to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristen Harmel

Pages: 356

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: July 6, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Books and Overdrive Audiobook (through Public Library)

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: I started reading this book but found myself not as interested as I expected. Before giving up I decided to try the audiobook and I am glad I did. I found it much more engrossing. The narrator was excellent in character voices, the foreign language, and capturing the feelings of fear.

Just when you think there cannot be an untouched way to show the horrors and heroism of World War Two there comes a book that makes the reader gasp in surprise.

Goodreads: The New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel.

We Are the Brennans by Tracy Lange

Pages: 274

Publisher: Celadon Books

Published: August 3, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: An engrossing family drama you will not want to put down.

We are introduced to the Brennans, an American Irish family, when Sunday, the lone girl, has an accident that requires one of her brothers to visit her in California. She returns to her family home on the East coast and must face her past which has a detrimental secret that changed everyone’s lives.

This is a strong debut novel. You can tell the author wrote what she knows (large family) and was not afraid to touch family taboo subjects (DUIs, sexual assaults, unplanned pregnancies, marital strife).

No detailed sex scenes and if there was foul language it was so minor I do not remember it. A fast read that kept me interested from beginning to end.

Goodreads: When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.

Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together.

The Body in the Beauty Parlor (A Jazzi Zanders #6 by Judi Lynn

Pages: 204

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Published: March 2, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hoopla (Public Library App) Audiobook

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Paperback

My Review: Wow, there was so much going on in this book and it kept my interest from beginning to end. I finished in less than 24 hours as I was hooked.

I opted to listen to the audiobook through my library’s Hoopla app and was not disappointed. The narrator was wonderful. Perfect accent for Indiana and read all parts with the correct tone.

I found it very interesting that the last several books have focused on babies and Jazzi keeps saying “in the future.” Hmm…could it happen sooner than later? I’m all for it as long as Jazzi keeps being represented as a strong woman with a career. I wish I had even half her talent as a remodeler.

Book six takes place around Easter and has two main murders and a cold case. The author did great in connecting them in different ways.

A quick entertaining read for cozy mystery lovers.

Goodreads: In addition to her house-flipping talents, Jazzi Zanders is breaking ground as a sleuth. But she’s going to need every tool at her disposal to solve two crimes . . .

In their hair salon, Jazzi’s sister Olivia and mother are savvy businesswomen whose creativity brings fashion and flair to the folks of Rivers Bluff, Indiana. So when their newest hairstylist Misty is caught scamming clients’ debit cards and selling beauty products during off hours to pocket the profits, Olivia fires her. But Misty retaliates by hitting back with a defamation lawsuit—which she is more than happy to drop if Olivia pays her ten grand.

But neither blackmail nor courtroom fees are accrued after Misty’s body is discovered in the salon with Olivia’s scissors stuck in her chest. Olivia may be the number one suspect, but her murdered employee had a reputation for making enemies.

Then Jazzi’s ex Chad appears, asking for help with his marital strife. This already awkward situation worsens when Chad’s wife vanishes and the police investigate him. Now, it’s up to Jazzi to clear both her sister’s and ex’s names while the killer—or killers—could be a mere hair breadth’s away . . .