Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

Pages: 315

Publisher: Harlequin

Published: October 6, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Wow, this book kept me on my toes. There were so many twists and turns that I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. It was an excellent ride though. I’m still a little dizzy from the ending.

Each chapter is told from different characters but was very easy to keep straight. I enjoyed the different points of view. Without giving anything away, the different points of view allow you to feel compassion for characters you might not normally feel compassion towards.

This was my first Lisa Unger book and it won’t be my last.

If you like thrillers, suspense, domestic thrillers then this is the book for you. Once you start you will be hard-pressed to stop until you turn the last page.

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

NetGalley: Be careful to whom you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a TrainConfessions on the 7:45 is a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.

The Stone Wall by Beverly Lewis

Pages: 353

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: September 9, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: The Stone Wall is one of Beverly Lewis’s best yet. Lewis was my first Amish genre writer to read and I’ve never been disappointed. 

Anna is a character filled with love for all those around her. Especially for her Alzheimers stricken grandmother. I can only dream of having the patience and understanding that Anna portrays not only with her grandmother but with little mute Emmie. Speaking of Emmie she will steal your heart.

I found the story calming during my current life of anxiety and stress filled days. I see it becoming one of the rare books I will reread many times.

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

NetGalley: Anna is eager to begin a new chapter in her life as a Lancaster County tour guide in the picturesque area where her Plain grandmother once stayed. Anna wishes she could talk with her grandmother about those long-ago days, but the elderly woman suffers from Alzheimer’s, and beyond a vague hint about an old stone wall, much about that time is a mystery. Thankfully, Martin Nolt, a handsome Mennonite, takes the young Beachy Amish woman under his wing for her training, familiarizing her with the many local highlights, including Peaceful Meadows Horse Retreat, which serves children with special needs. The retreat’s mission so inspires Anna that she returns to volunteer, and she quickly strikes up a friendship with Gabe Allgyer, the young Amish widower who manages it. 

As Anna grows closer to both Martin and Gabe, she finds herself faced with a difficult choice–one in potential conflict with the expectations of her parents. Will Anna find true love and the truth about her grandmother’s past in Lancaster County? Or will she find only heartbreak? 

The Body from the Past (Jazzy Zanders #5) by Judi Lynn

Pages: 204

Publisher: Lyrical Underground

Published: September 22, 2020

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: The Body in the Past is filled with Halloween excitement and a house with a sad past to add to the spookiness. I figured out the killer pretty early on but not the why. I enjoyed being thrown off the trail a few times.

George, the pug, still steals the show. He is one spoiled dog that is loved by all.

A quick but enjoyable read. It can be read as a standalone with no issues.

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

NetGalley: Jazzi Zanders, along with her cousin Jerod and her husband Ansel, is starting work on their new fixer-upper, a house that reminds her of an English manor in the small college town of Merlot, Indiana.  It was originally owned by members of a prestigious family that passed it down through the generations until they sold it suddenly and moved away.  Jazzi and the guys walked through most of the house when they inspected it for structure issues before they bought it but only looked at a few of the bedrooms upstairs.  When they get possession of it and do a more thorough walk-through, Jazzi discovers the fifth bedroom hasn’t been touched in years.  Its walls are still pink.  Dust covers the pink canopy bed and clothes still hang in its closet.  And there’s a hope chest.  When they open it, it’s full of a young woman’s treasures—class pictures from grade school, ribbons and trophies, yearbooks and journals.

Jazzi calls the original owners to ask if they’d like the memories before they remove them, but Lorraine Hodgkill tells her the hope chest’s contents will only revive a painful memory and asks Jazzi to never call her again.  Jazzi can’t make herself trash a young girl’s thoughts and dreams, so takes the chest home to look through it.  And discovers that Jessica Hodgkill was pushed off her home’s balcony and killed in the middle of her high school graduation party.  No one was ever blamed for her murder.

Jazzi would leave it at that, except that her best friend’s husband grew up in Merlot, and people suspected him of killing Jessica.  Every time he returns home to visit his parents and family, people point and whisper.  He asks Jazzi to look into Jessica’s death to prove he was innocent.  Jazzi’s not sure how much she can help but agrees.  She discovers there were more than a few people who didn’t wish Jessica well, including her own father, the Hodgkills’ next door neighbor, and two of her classmates.  To complicate matters, in the midst of renovating and investigating, Ansel is finishing their cottage’s basement to make a playroom.  And he invites all of Jazzi’s family and friends to a Halloween party…

Deadly Drama (Britton Bay #4) by Jody Holford

Pages: 178

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A fun series that gets better with each book. All who follow me know I am not a huge fan of romance in my cozy mysteries but Holford does a great job at putting just enough but not overshadowing the story.

I missed the clues on the murderer and was shocked when revealed. That makes it a solid 4 stars for me.

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

NetGalley: Newspaper editor and amateur sleuth Molly Owens takes center stage when it’s curtains for a theater director . . .
Living in the beautiful coastal town of Britton Bay, Oregon, seems like the perfect fit for Molly. She enjoys her work as editor-in-chief of the Britton Bay Bulletin, loves her boyfriend Sam, and feels at home in the adorable cottage in the back of his mother’s bed and breakfast.
This spring Britton Bay is staging its first-ever community theater production. The show—featuring local residents—is the talk of the town, but tongues are really wagging over the director. It turns out former soap opera actress Magnolia Sweet is anything but; nothing’s worse than a has-been on a power trip, and steely Magnolia routinely chews out her amateur cast.
Still, it’s a shock to all when she’s found murdered in the theater. Now it’s open call for suspects, as Molly steps in to shine a spotlight on a killer waiting in the wings. But will this be her final act?

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.

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 . . .