Liza’s Second Chance (An Amish Charm Bakery #1) by Molly Jebber

lizas second chance

Pages: 305 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: January 30, 2018

Rating: 3 out 5 stars

Liza runs the local Amish bakery in 1912 Charm, OH. Her first husband bought the bakery for her in order to make him more money, not out of love. When he unexpectedly died Liza was thankful for a way to make money to live. One day Jacob and his daughter Ellie, wander into the bakery and instantly Liza realizes she may be ready to move on. As Jacob and Liza get to know one other, Ellie, has different plans than her dad. As Liza and Jacob explore their feelings, Ellie is spreading her wings. Will she spread them to far and force her dad and her to move again or will Liza’s strong faith be the tie that binds?

I find it hard to review a book that I just liked and not loved. It is not the author’s fault if the book did not speak to me. I have read many reviews where others loved it. My main issue was it felt rushed. It seemed to jump from one thing to another and ideas where not given a full follow through as I am used to in other Amish novels.

I also did not care for Jacob in his pursuit of Liza. He made it seem all about him and to heck with others thoughts and feelings in his life. I agree Ellie was a little bit of a pill but he needed to take the time to really listen to her and take her feelings into consideration. There was a reason for her acting out. He didn’t really take Liza’s feelings into consideration either. He was all “I am man and I want you so I will have you”. That gets my goat every single time. Look mister it takes two to make a successful marriage and I have thoughts, feelings and concern too!

The ending of the book is the best. It felt more thought out and loving than the first three quarters of the book.

I will more than likely pick up the second book in the series just to see whose story is told. Maybe I just had an off day reading the book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advanced copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

A Dash of Love by Liz Isaacson

a dash of love

Pages: 197 (eBook)

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: December 26, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A cute Valentine read.

Nikki’s lifelong dream is to be a chef in a five star restaurant. Her problem: she is not classically trained at such schools at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She thinks she has found the perfect job to learn from THE chef in Lakeside, Holly Hanson. Nikki becomes her assistant, entering receipts and such, as Holly has agreed to let Nikki cook after hours in the restaurant kitchen. Paul, Holly’s classically trained chef, has a disastrous run in with Nikki on her first day but he soon finds himself smitten. Paul learns of Holly’s generosity in allowing Nikki to cook after hours and becomes suspicious immediately as Holly is known to be quite the opposite. Can Paul figure out what is going on before Holly ruins his chance at love with Nikki?

I am a sucker for Hallmark’s romance and mystery movies. Yes, I admit there is a gooey, smushy side to this reader. Sometimes you just have to read about romance, hearts and flowers. I especially love a good, clean romance after reading a book full of mystery and death. It is like a palate cleanser for me. Hallmark Publishing has found the perfect way to accomplish that in writing books based off their movies. They are short (usually under 200 pages) books and always have a smile at the end.

A Dash of Love was sweet, romantic and heated in that there is a lot of cooking going on between Paul and Nikki. My interest in piqued between Nikki’s Cinnamon Candy Chili (recipe included in the book) and Peanut Butter Root Beer Beef Stew (yes you read that right). My next mission is to find this movie playing and watch it as I would love to see how the sparks fly on the screen.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hallmark Publishing for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

His Amish Teacher (The Amish Bachelors #3) by Patricia Davids

his amish teacher

Pages: 293 (Large Print, Library Binding)

Publisher: Thorndike Press

Published: November 15, 2017 (original publication date)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When I am in the mood for a quick, comforting Amish head I know to head to a Patricia Davids book. I almost never can resist picking up her newest book at store or library.

In His Amish Teacher, we join Lillian Keim and Timothy Bowman of Bowman’s Crossing as they start the treacherous journey from friendship to love. Lillian loves her job teaching more than anything especially since she knows she can never have children of her own due to an illness. Timothy and Lillian have been the best of friends for as long as anyone can remember and their friendship even survived a 6 year separation when Lillian’s family moved to Wisconsin. Timothy feels the underlying fire of love for Lillian but is afraid of ruining their friendship. He decides to take a chance after an uncontrolled fire almost burned the school down with Lillian and 42 of the communities children inside. As Timothy works to put out the fires that are popping up around the community, will he smolder the flames of love for Lillian or let them be set ablaze?

I am a firm believer that if you and your love are friends first you have the best chance of having a forever love. Lillian and Timothy have shared just about everything life has to offer except marriage. They both have a love of learning, books and reading. The both share love of family and community. They are almost able to finish one other’s thoughts. A closeness like theirs doesn’t happen every day. As you read this book you will find yourself believing in the good of others between the love shared between Lillian and Timothy and the outpouring of support for people miles around after a devastating loss to multiple families.

His Amish Teacher is 3rd in a series of 5 but can be read as a stand alone with no issues. I personally have read this series out of order and have had no issues.

Patricia Davids Amish series (all of them) are good clean reads suitable for anyone teenager and older.

Endangered Species (Anna Pigeon #5) by Nevada Barr

endangered species.jpg

Pages: 305 (paperback)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing

Published: March 1997 (original published date)

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

In the fifth installment of the Anna Pigeon series we join park ranger, Anna, as she works on Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast. While she is patrolling the area with another ranger they see smoke. Cumberland Island is dried timber and vegetation just waiting to go up in seconds. As they race to the source they find a drug interdiction plane has crashed killing both pilot and passenger. They soon learn the passenger is not the passenger that was to be in the plane. Join Anna and her fellow rangers as they unravel this mystery on an island that does not take too kindly to outsiders interfering.

I am a fan of the Anna Pigeon series as the books are based in true national parks. Some I have heard of and many I have not. I get to visit and learn of parks I may never get to visit in real life.

I liked this book but there were a lot of scenes that just felt like filler to me and did not add mush to the story line. I really enjoyed the scenes that discussed the sea turtles and wished they had played more of a role.

Anna Pigeon, the main character, is a strong woman who has had a rough past. Every now and then you will see cracks in her armor but she quickly seals them up. Her current love interest, Frederick, is in the story off and on and well, let’s just say he is a jerk. Read it and see if you agree.

This is one series I plan on getting caught up on in 2018.

My Turtle Journal by Teresa Westing

my turtle journal

Pages: 93 (eBook)

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Published: November 15, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I grew up with box turtles as pets. We usually found them on the side of a busy road. My all time favorite one was Junkyard (found in a junkyard) and he was so much like Buttons. He loved for me to pet his head, he ate out of my hand and loved for me to talk to him. He would do a happy turtle dance when he saw me.

Reading My Turtle Journal made me think of him so much. I was disappointed with a scene towards the end. I was very teary eyed. This book would be good for third grade and above but younger than that might be a little disturbing to them towards the end. As a reader you might want to skip that part if you share the story with younger kids.

A great story to teach kids how to care for a turtle and help them understand their hard shell can protect them but they can still get hurt.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dog Ear Publishing for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

Amish Sweethearts (Four Novellas) by Amy Clipston

amish sweethearts

Pages: 384 (eBook)

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: January 9, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One thing is for sure and certain, you cannot go wrong picking up a book of Amish novellas to read during a winter storm and when it is a book full of Amy Clipston novellas it is wunderbar (wonderful)! I found myself falling in love over and over again when reading the novellas in Amish Sweethearts.

Love and Buggy Rides is a story about Janie and Jonathan who work together at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides. One day while Janie is eating lunch she witnesses an accident while Jonathan is driving a buggy full of tourists. Janie is drawn to helping Jonathan in the aftermath but is afraid to go against her father. Will their new friendship survive or will another tragedy tear them apart?

A Home for Lindsay is a novella with characters from the Kauffman Amish Bakery series (one I need to move up my TBR pile). Matthew has been building a home for his beloved, Lindsay, on his sister’s farm and is looking forward to being married to Lindsay in six short months. Everything comes to a screeching halt when Matthew learns of his sister and brother-in-law’s pending bankruptcy. Matthew becomes fearful of not being able to provide for his future wife. Will Matthew share the terrible news with Lindsey or run away leaving her heartbroken?

Where the Heart Is shares the love story of Tobias and Mariella (a beautiful and unusual name). Tobias has returned from his time in an alcohol rehab in Florida and is ready to make amends with his community and family, especially his Dat (dad). He returns in time for his little sister’s wedding. Mariella is one of the wedding party and has been helping her best friend get everything ready for the wedding. Sparks start flying as Mariella and Tobias find themselves together over and over again.

Love Birds is one of my favorite Amish novellas. For some reason I find myself reading this novella over and over again. I has previously read it when I read An Amish Market. This story definitely fills you with the warm and fuzzies when you finish. I’m in love with how the Amish community takes care of each other in a time of need. This novella focuses on the romance blooming between Ellie and Lloyd but throughout the reader learns how the Amish help one another.

If you love to read Amish stories, ask your sweetheart for this book for Valentine’s Day. You won’t be sorry.

Thank you to NetGalley and Zondervan for a copy to read in exchange for a review based on my own honest thoughts.

The View from Rainshadow Bay (Lavender Tides #1) by Colleen Coble

the view from rainshadow bay.jpg

Pages: 336 (eBook)

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: January 23, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a great way to start off my romantic suspense reading for 2018. I could not figure out who the bad guys were until they were revealed. I love that!

Shauna is trying to make a life for herself and her 5 year old son after her husband dies while on a rock climbing adventure with his best friend Zach. Zach has never been able to forgive himself for the death of Jack. One day while Shauna was visiting a family friend he gives her a box and told her to give it to his estranged wife for safekeeping. As she is driving away the house explodes killing her friend. Shauna realizes it was no ordinary explosion and that the mysterious box and its contents have something to do with the explosion. Shauna enlists the help of Zack even though she blames him for her husbands death. Can Shauna and Zach figure out why the box is so important before others are killed or worse them?

You will be on the edge of your seat reading The View from Rainshadow Bay. There are several mysteries tied into the main mystery and your mind will be continuing to think about what is happening next. I caught myself several times still reading at 3am as I could not put the book down. The characters are well thought out and every action and reaction is true life.

I cannot wait for the second book in the series to be released this July.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for an advanced copy in exchange for a review based on my own thoughts and opinions.

An Amish Family Christmas (A Charmed Amish Life #4) By Shelley Shepard Gray

an amish family christmas.jpg

Pages: 320 (Large Print Library Binding Hardback)

Publisher: Center Point Large Print

Published: December 1, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Levi Kinsinger has had the hardest time of all the Kinsinger’s coming to terms with his father’s death at the family lumber mill. He has just recently returned from Florida after working construction down there for a short time. He has moved from the family home to Jupiter Street to have some quiet and space from his family.

Julia Kemps lives with her young daughter across the street from Levi but has kept to herself for various reasons. Levi needs someone to help clean his house before his family comes to visit and Julia needs extra money to get a doll her daughter wants. What Levi doesn’t realize is he is about to lose his heart. Can he trust Julia or is she keeping a secret from him that will destroy their friendship?

Julia’s daughter, Penny, will steal your heart like she stole Levi’s. Her character was so charming you expected to look up from your book and see her standing in front of you with her cute smile and teddy bear.

This was my favorite book of all “A Charmed Amish Life” series. I think it is because every story line was tied up by the end of the book. Each book can be read as a stand alone but you will have a few questions if you read out of order. These books are short enough that one can read a book a weekend. I suggest starting from the first one and not stopping until you have read all four.

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

the girls in the picture

Pages: 448

Publisher: Random House Publishers (Delacorte Press)

Published: January 16, 2018

Rating 3.5 stars.

Mary Pickford started as a silent “flicker” actress and continued acting when “talkers” were introduced. She made her stardom as portraying the “little girl with the curls.” One day early in her career a young woman from San Francisco, Marion Frances, entered her acting trailer and life for both changed drastically. Marion wanted to be behind the camera and Mary wanted to be in front. This allowed Marion to write the screenplays that Mary could act in. We follow their lives as they intertwine and separate over the years of 1914 to 1969.

I was very excited to get an advanced copy to read as I did not know much about Mary Pickford, other than she was an actress and I had never heard of Marion Frances (who I think was the real star of the two). While I think this book is very interesting, it has many parts that just seemed to lack excitement and drug on for way too long. I would be reading and really into it and then I would hit a section that I had to force myself to get through. This is my main reason for a 3.5 rating and not a 4.

It is extremely interesting that there is a section that Marion talks about the sexual harassment she experienced in Hollywood and while she was a correspondent during World War One. With the movement going on the last couple of weeks regarding sexual harassment I find myself believing that Marion would have been one of the first to speak out in favor of equality and women telling their stories.

If you are an avid Hollywood fan and want to learn about how it got started this is a great historical fiction based on real people. Ms. Benjamin did an excellent job researching each character and keeping as much as she could true to fact.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for a review in my own honest words.

A Sister’s Wish (The Charmed Amish Life #3) by Shelley Shepard Gray

a sisters wish

Pages: 243 (Paperback)

Publisher: P.S. a trademark of HarperCollins

Published: September 27, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amelia Kinsinger has had her eye and heart on Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. The trouble is her family doesn’t think he is good enough for her because of the time he spent away from the Amish after he ran away from an abusive home. Her family also thinks she is still a child that they need to protect even though she is in her young twenties. When Simon discovers Amelia hurt in the family barn he is determined to take care and never leave her side from that moment on. Will the Kinsinger family see that Simon has left his past behind and let love blossom between him and Amelia?

Amelia has been my favorite character throughout this series so far. I was happy to see that book three was about her. She is very soft spoken but full of gumption. Who else but Amelia would convince her family to keep her pet goat that has eaten everything but the house and barn? She has a spunkiness that comes out when she gets riled enough.

Simon is the character that we all wish was true in real life. He has taken his rough childhood and his misfortunate young adulthood and turned the bad into something good. He has learned how not to treat his own future “kinner” (kids) one day and to take his knowledge and try to help those who find themselves in the same situation. I like to believe that people can really change when it comes to drugs and alcohol but I have yet to see that in real life.

There is one more book in this series and I am excited to read Levi Kinsinger’s story.