A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

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Pages: 208

Publisher: WaterBrook and Multnomah

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: If you enjoyed The Christmas Remedy last Christmas you will enjoy A Christmas Haven. It is filled with friends, family, and romance along with a lot of hope and kindness.

Woodsmall has taken the time to research the Swartzentruber Amish sect and how it differs from Old Order and written a romance that leaves you all smiles.

Ivy’s progression from short-sided adult to one who sees the picture is a beautiful journey.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, WaterBrook and Multnomah, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Old Order Amish Ivy Zook is wrestling with her need to shed her community’s ways so she can grow the business of her dreams: planning parties. As long as she’s stuck living without modernization, she can barely get her business on its feet. But if she leaves too soon, she’d cause trouble for her sister, Holly, who is planning her wedding to Joshua Smucker. All of their plans become twice as complicated when an old car crashes into the storefront of Greene’s Pharmacy, carrying a Swartzentruber (ultra-conservative sect) Amish man, Arlan, and his very ill sister.

The Zooks take in Arlan and Madga, tending to the woman’s illness and Arlan begins helping around the family farm. Ivy and Arlan are on different tracks, one wanting to leave her community and the other to return to his. But both young people are trying to discover what God has in store for their futures and what miracles might lie around the corner this Christmas season.

Morning Star (Maidels of Morning Star #1) by Charlotte Hubbard

Pages: 272

Publisher: Kensington

Published: July 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: When I first started this book I wasn’t sure I was going to like the story. Almost immediately I found myself getting angry at how the woman was being treated. I’ve read enough Amish stories to know that they are a bit old fashioned. As the story progressed I was even angrier but found I couldn’t stop reading. By the end, I was no longer angry only frustrated by some of the views. I will admit I wouldn’t make it as an Amish wife. I’m definitely too outspoken. I’d give Red’s uncle a good swift kick in his rumpus.

This was an excellent read and I’m happy to learn book two is on its way to be released.

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

NetGalley: When five maidels join forces to turn an abandoned barn into an Amish marketplace, the unmarried women have community in mind. But their fledgling enterprise promises to reap surprising rewards for each in turn, including the gift of unexpected love . . .  

For Regina Miller, the new Morning Star Marketplace is a chance to share her secret work with the world—without revealing herself. Old Order Amish forbid the creation of art without purpose, but without a husband, Regina has been free to explore the joy of painting in her attic. Yet when Gabe Flaud’s curiosity leads him to speculate that Regina herself is the painter, the full weight of their community’s judgement falls on her shoulders.  
 
When Gabe stands up to defend Regina, questioning the Order’s restrictions, he reveals his own guilty secret and is shunned along with her. Forced to turn to each other for companionship, the young couple must learn to balance their own needs with their deep faith . . . and a love that will show them all things are possible.  

An Amish Singing (4 Novellas) by Amy Clipston

Pages: 383

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: September 1, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A delightful compilation of 4 short Amish stories all centered around a group of young friends who like to sing church hymns.

My favorite story was Great Is Thy Faithfulness as it reminded me to trust God’s will. I needed that reminder in so many areas of my life currently.

Another novel that I would have no problem letting a higher middle-grade reader read. Very clean as you would expect from Any Clipston.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Zondervan Fiction, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Romance is bound strike a chord when the young people of Bird-in-Hand join together to bring their community the gift of song. 

Hymn of Praise

Sharon Lambert and Jay Smoker have been friends for a long time, but lately Jay has seen Sharon in a new light. They begin spending time together, and Sharon invites Jay to her family’s home to serve dinner and sing traditional hymns for their English guests. When Jay decides that this tramples upon his doctrinal beliefs, can these two dear friends compromise and find love? Or will Jay’s strict views keep them apart?

Amazing Grace

Dave Esh is broken with guilt after a recent tragedy. When Alice Blank, an acquaintance from school and youth group, invites him to join an informal singing group that performs for community members in need, Dave doubts he will enjoy himself—let alone find peace. Will Alice’s friendship help Dave learn how to forgive himself the way God already has? 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Darlene Bender’s mother has been battling cancer, and Darlene can’t understand why God would allow someone so wonderful to go through such a terrible time. She finds strength in her singing group and friends, and when Andrew Detweiler senses that Darlene needs a confidant, he approaches and befriends her. As love blossoms between them, Darlene might soon realize that God was with her all along.

O Holy Night

Elaine Lantz and her parents have just moved to town from New Wilmington. After leaving behind some painful events and a group of deceitful friends, Elaine worries she’ll never be able to trust again. But the young people of Bird-in-Hand don’t give up, and Calvin King takes it upon himself to make Elaine feel welcome. Perhaps friendship and love await Elaine in her new hometown. 

From Beer to Eternity (Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon #1) by Sherry Harris

Pages: 241

Publisher: Kensington

Published: July 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: An excellent start to a new cozy mystery series. I fell in love immediately with the setting. I spent many a vacation in the Emerald Coast of Florida. Since traveling is limited currently this was the perfect staycation book. Beautiful scenery amidst the murder.

Many interesting characters that will build the series with their stories. I’m interested to learn more Vivi, Rhett and Joaquin. Plus many others.

I’m not much of a drinker but I think it would have been interesting to have some of the drink recipes included.

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

NetGalley: MURDER ON TAP
 
With Chicago winters in the rearview mirror, Chloe Jackson is making good on a promise: help her late friend’s grandmother run the Sea Glass Saloon in the Florida Panhandle. To Chloe’s surprise, feisty Vivi Slidell isn’t the frail retiree Chloe expects. Nor is Emerald Cove. It’s less a sleepy fishing village than a panhandle hotspot overrun with land developers and tourists. But it’s a Sea Glass regular who’s mysteriously crossed the cranky Vivi. When their bitter argument comes to a head and he’s found dead behind the bar, guess who’s the number one suspect?
 
In trying to clear Vivi’s name, Chloe discovers the old woman isn’t the only one in Emerald Cove with secrets. Under the laidback attitude, sparkling white beaches, and small town ways something terrible is brewing. And the sure way a killer can keep those secrets bottled up is to finish off one murder with a double shot: aimed at Chloe and Vivi.

An Appalachian Summer by Ann H. Gabhart

Pages: 346

Publisher: Revell

Published: June 30,2020

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

My Review: A Perfect read for fans of historical fiction.

I was drawn to this book for several reasons besides the gorgeous cover. One I’m a fan of Ann Gabhart. I’ve met her and she is one of the nicest writers. Two, the book starts out in Louisville, KY. I love reading about my hometown of the past. Three, I was interested in learning the Frontier Nursing Service. I was not disappointed. I found myself turning pages late into the night.

A clean, Christian read for most all ages. I would have no issues giving this to older middle grade readers.

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

NetGalley: In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson’s parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they’ve picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life she’s used to. The only problem? This is not the man–or the life–she really wants.

When Piper gets the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage. The work is taxing, the scenery jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open up a whole new world to her. The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips from her grasp. But something much more precious–true love–is drawing ever closer.

Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart invites you into the storied hills of Eastern Kentucky to discover what happens when one intrepid young woman steps away from the restrictive past into a beautiful, wide-open future.

A Sprinkling of Murder (A Fairy Garden Mystery #1) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Pages: 297

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 30, 2020

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I admit I am not a fairy believer but I love to read about them. A Sprinkling of Murder is a fun read filled with fairy magic and of course murder. After all it is a cozy mystery. I appreciate that there was no love triangle and was a clean read language wise.

It has sparked my interest in creating a fairy garden for my front porch. I believe it would be relaxing to look at and dream.

There are many yummy recipes included and several are gluten-free. I love minestrone soup and will definitely be trying this recipe once the weather turns cooler.

Book two is scheduled to be released in the Summer of 2021.

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

NetGalley: Fairy garden store owner Courtney Kelly believes in inviting magic into your life. But when uninvited trouble enters her shop, she’ll need more than a sprinkling of her imagination to solve a murder . . .

Since childhood, Courtney has loved fairies. After her mother died when Courtney was ten, she lost touch with that feeling of magic. A year ago, at age twenty-nine, she rediscovered it when she left her father’s landscaping business to spread her wings and start a fairy garden business and teashop in beautiful Carmel, California. At Open Your Imagination, she teaches garden design and sells everything from fairy figurines to tinkling wind chimes. Now she’s starting a book club tea.
 
But the light of the magical world she’s created inside her shop is darkened one night when she discovers neighboring dog-grooming business owner Mick Watkins dead beside her patio fountain. To make matters worse, the police suspect Courtney of the crime. To clear her name and find the real killer, Courtney will have to wing it. But she’s about to get a little help from an unexpected source . . .

His Pretend Amish Bride (Unexpected Amish Blessings #2) by Rachel J. Good

Pages: 317

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 30, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This book had it all for me: a strong female character (most of the time), special needs children, and animals. A unique animal to the Pennsylvania Dutch country at that…Camels!

This was a quick read for me and maybe it was because I found it so interesting on the camel milk and autism spectrum.

A clean romance for teenagers and above to read. For those that enjoy Christian reads but not a lot of preaching and bible verses this is for you.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. Any opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: In a small Amish town like picturesque Lancaster, Pennsylvania, one solution to an indiscretion is to make a good marriage. Or perhaps, fake a respectable engagement . . .

Priscilla Ebersol has a fulfilling life teaching special needs children—until her boyfriend’s humiliating betrayal ruins her reputation and threatens her job. Ostracized for something she didn’t do, Priscilla throws herself into a project on the benefits of camel’s milk for autism. Her research leads her to a fledgling local camel farm, where she discovers far more than she bargained for . . .
 
When a pushy Englisch company shows interest in shy, handsome Gabriel Kauffman’s camel farm, he struggles to get out of a sticky negotiation. Lovely, well-spoken Priscilla appears at the perfect moment, and defends Gabe’s business so well that she is mistaken for his wife. It’s a ruse the two quietly continue, all the while secretly wishing it could be true. But though their bond deepens, Priscilla’s heart is still wounded, and Gabe battles with a troubling secret. And when a misunderstanding comes between them, it will take faith, honesty, and trust in the future to overcome the past—and allow their partnership to blossom into something more . . .

A Call for Kelp (Seaside Mystery #4) by Bree Baker

Pages: 352

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Published: May 26, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This is a fun series to read especially when you are craving beach time. The sleuth, Everly, likes to be independent but knows how important friends and family can be to a balanced life. Her aunts provide entertainment throughout each book.

A Call for Kelp is book 4 in the Seaside Mystery series and we are starting to get more into her heritage which I find very interesting. I hope we continue to see the “magic” recipes as we did in this book. We have been given her rum cake recipe in the back and I am planning on fixing for Labor Day for my family.

The romance is very secondary and light throughout each book. It gives realness to the plot without dragging it down.

Fans of cozy mysteries need to swim, run, or power walk to your nearest book dealer (whether it be store or library) and get started on this series. I admit I read book three first and then went back and read the first two. While I was ok in following the storyline I recommend starting from the beginning.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, through NetGalley. Any opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: It’s sink or swim for Everly with her most bizarre case yet!

Everly Swan is busy as a bee running her beachside iced tea shop, and the small island of Charm, North Carolina is abuzz-Mitzi Calgon, an iconic Hollywood actress, is in town! Everly’s great-aunts are making a documentary about beekeeping and Mira has agreed to help. But when the actress turns up dead, reporters and fans swarm the island, muddying the water and disrupting the peaceful lives of the townspeople.

Everly’s never been good at minding her own beeswax, so she starts following her own leads and combing through the evidence. Then there’s the mystery of Detective Hays-ever since their kiss under the mistletoe, he’s been acting distant. And he’s annoyingly determined to keep Everly away from the case. But when she receives a cryptic warning to “Bee Careful”, Everly realizes that she’s gotten herself into a really sticky situation…

The fourth book in Bree Baker’s Seaside Café Mystery series, readers of Joanne Fluke and Kate Carlisle will love A Call for Kelp!

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

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Pages: 294

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I have had Bethlehem on my NetGalley list since early 2019. I have tried multiple times to read it but I would lose interest very quickly. I finally took the time to read and listen to the audiobook this summer. I liked it but it was not a favorite.

The first half of the book is character development and there are a lot of characters. Almost too many. I would get very lost very easily and have to go back and look at my notes on who was who and how they fitted in the family.

I love reading books that go back and forth between current and past and I pride myself on being able to keep everything straight but I could not with Bethlehem. I think I would have preferred to have a two-book series with book one in the past and book two the present.

If you like family sagas this is a great read to fulfill that like but be prepared there are a lot of characters and the book does not pick up until the second half.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: With the atmospheric storytelling of Kate Morton and Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.

A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her deteriorating marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.

Bethlehem is a multigenerational saga that weaves together the lives of two prominent families during the historic steel boom era of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Inspired by the true titans of the industry, Bethlehem is a mystery, a love story, and a tragedy. It is a story of temptation and regret; a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them; a story of forgiveness. It is the tale of two complex women: the dynamic and beautiful Susannah Parrish Collier and her daughter-in-law, the outsider Joanna Rafferty Collier. Thrown together in the name of family, they will unravel mysteries long hidden and complex that have threatened to tear apart a dynasty.

On a Coastal Breeze (Three Sister Island #2) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 311

Publisher: Revell

Published: May 5, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: On a Coastal Breeze is the second book in the Three Sisters Island trilogy and is every bit as good as the first, In a Summer Tide. Where book one focused mainly on Cam, the eldest sister, this book focuses on Maddie, the middle sister. I found her insight on grieving the death of a mom and how to control anxiety perfect timing. Between the death of my mom and the coronavirus, I have felt more anxiety in my life than I ever have, and hate that feeling.

I’m still not a fan of the youngest sister, Blaine, as she continues to be selfish and very childish. I’m interested to see what book three brings in the way of her story.

A delicious recipe for homemade granola has been included at the conclusion of the book.

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

NetGalley: For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not one.

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

Shredding the Evidence (Cookbook Nook Mystery #8) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 228

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: April 21, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I started this series with book 6 and have had no issues feeling connected to the characters and understanding how they intertwine. Of all the characters, Cinnamon the police chief has become my favorite. She is one spunky chief and compliments Jenna really well.

Every time I read this series I have the urge to buy cookbooks (I REALLY do not need any more) and cook all day long. There are many yummy recipes included in the back of the book and I am ready to try a few of them out. The crab cake bites sound divine.

I am on the fence in regards to Jenna’s fiance. I still feel something is off with him. Maybe if I go back and read the books I missed I will get a better feeling on him.

The murder seems like it has been plucked from a real headline. I could imagine this murder really happening.

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

NetGalley: The Agatha Award-winning author of Sifting Through Clues returns to the Cookbook Nook, where a combative food reporter gets her just deserts . . .

The denizens of Crystal Cove are salivating over the upcoming Food Bowl Week when local chefs offer some of their best and most imaginative creations in bite-size portions all over town. Bookstore proprietor Jenna Hart is hungry to sample as many of the delicacies as she can, but when she stumbles onto the dead body of a local food reporter and learns that her best friend’s husband is the primary suspect, she’ll have to summon the appetite for a side dish of sleuthing to prove his innocence.

Jenna knows the ambitious and aggressive reporter, who was strangled at a fitness center with her shredded restaurant reviews scattered around her, left behind a long list of potential suspects. As she begins piecing together the scant clues, she uncovers illicit ties between the victim and a local newspaper owner, a spurned would-be lover, and a host of disgruntled restaurant owners, not a bit torn up by the critical reporter’s demise. And with a solution so close she can almost taste it, Jenna turns up the heat on the culprit, realizing too late that she’s the next course on the murderer’s menu . . .