It’s Better This Way by Debbie Macomber

Pages: 301

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Published: July 13, 2021

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Source: Audiobook through LIbby from Local Public Library and Hardcover from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Large Print Paperback

My Review: This is not my favorite Debbie Macomber but it is still a good romantic read.

I opted to listen to most of on audiobook although I had the book to read. I think that helped me get more into the story.

The story almost felt too perfect at times but that is what I expect from a romance book. I was able to let myself be lost in another world for a few hours. The narrator was very good and kept me entertained.

From Goodreads: After divorce shatters her family, one woman’s struggle to pick up the pieces finally leads to a new beginning–but is the past truly behind her? #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber explores the powerful intersections of love and family in this poignant novel.

It’s been nearly six years since Julia Jones had her heart broken. After her husband became involved with another woman, she did everything she could to save their marriage, to no avail. Their two daughters continue to stand by Julia in the wake of their father’s behavior–and they’ve had a tough time getting along with the other woman who became their stepmother. Distraught after selling the family home, Julia moved into a condominium complex that offers the warmth and charm of a fresh start. Now, having settled into her new community and sold her successful interior design business, she’s embraced a fulfilling new life, one that doesn’t seem to need a man in it. Her beloved father’s trusty saying is ringing truer than ever: It’s better this way.

But when Julia meets a handsome new resident in the building’s exercise room, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Heath Johnson is a welcome change from the men she’s encountered on the occasional–mostly disastrous–dates her sister has eagerly planned for her over the years. As she and Heath, a divorcé himself, begin to grow close, their friendship blossoms into a love neither of them had expected. However, they soon realize that combining families, even with four adult children, presents inevitable challenges.

When a dramatic revelation threatens the happiness they’ve found, Julia and Heath must reconcile their love for their children with their love for each other. If they can’t, their bright future together may be nothing but a dream. 

The Summer of Lost Letters from Hannah Reynolds

Pages: 384

Publisher: Razorbill

Published: June 15, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover from Local Public Library and Audiobook through Libby from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardcover

My Review: I love books that are about World War 2 and am a sucker for books that deal with found letters. This would have been a book that I would have devoured in my teens so it was no surprise I devoured it now. It was even better that it took place in Nantucket which is a city that I am in love with currently. It was neat to see it from a teenager’s view versus the adult view I normally read.

A great view on WWII from a stateside angle. I could not imagine coming to America as a child knowing no one and realizing you would never see your parents again. I can only imagine how hard it would be to talk about the horrors you saw as a child and the grief you felt.

I would recommend it for older teenagers but with a warning that there is a few adult scenes (or what I think are adult, I realize teenagers now are more grown-up) and some language.

From Goodreads: Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Ruta Sepetys, this sweet, summery romance set in Nantucket follows seventeen-year-old Abby Schoenberg as she uncovers a secret about her grandmother’s life during WWII.

Seventeen-year-old Abby Schoenberg isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer before her senior year. She’s just broken up with her first boyfriend and her friends are all off in different, exciting directions for the next three months. Abby needs a plan–an adventure of her own. Enter: the letters.

They show up one rainy day along with the rest of Abby’s recently deceased grandmother’s possessions. And these aren’t any old letters; they’re love letters. Love letters from a mystery man named Edward. Love letters from a mansion on Nantucket. Abby doesn’t know much about her grandmother’s past. She knows she was born in Germany and moved to the US when she was five, fleeing the Holocaust. But the details are either hazy or nonexistent; and these letters depict a life that is a bit different than the quiet one Abby knows about.

And so, Abby heads to Nantucket for the summer to learn more about her grandmother and the secrets she kept. But when she meets Edward’s handsome grandson, who wants to stop her from investigating, things get complicated. As Abby and Noah grow closer, the mysteries in their families deepen, and they discover that they both have to accept the burdens of their pasts if they want the kinds of futures they’ve always imagined.

Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3) by Linda Castillo

Pages: 302

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Published: June 21, 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Audiobook on the Hoopla App from Local Library and Hardcover from Local Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: A riveting read and audiobook. I love the series for days I have a lot of chores that require an audiobook. The hours fly by. The narrator has a great voice and keeps you engaged.

I am enjoying the slow romantic progress between Kate and Tomasetti. I think we still have a lot to learn about the background of both characters and something big is to be revealed.

The characters feel like friends when you open the book and you as the reader cannot wait to catch up with them.

From Goodreads: Police Chief Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of a horrific tragedy on a peaceful Amish farm.

The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

A Christmas Engagement: An Amish Romance by Linda Byler

Pages: 240

Publisher: Good Books

Published: September 21, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital and Hardcover

My Review: The author is an active Amish member and writes Amish fiction and romance. Her novels don’t have the finesse of Beverly Lewis or Wanda Brunstetter but they are just as good. They feel authentic.

I read an interesting article the other day that mentioned she writes them long hand and mails the notebooks to her editor. They type them up as is and make very few changes.

A Christmas Engagement is a sweet, quick read. Perfect for a quiet night by the fire with a cup of tea or cocoa to get you in the Christmas spirit.

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

From NetGalley: Bestselling Amish novelist Linda Byler spins a sweet tale of heartache, disappointment, and ultimately hopes fulfilled at Christmastime.

Liz had been in love once, had even been engaged. In fact, the wedding had been planned, the barn cleaned, and the celery was set to be harvested to make the traditional wedding soup. Just two weeks before the day she was to exchange vows with her beloved, he changed his mind, and that was that.

The humiliation was almost as bad as the heartbreak. The whole community had celebrated her engagement, had participated in the wedding planning, had started giving her advice on keeping a home and raising children. When the wedding was canceled, no one knew what to say. She had to bear the pitying looks and awkward glances for many months. She vowed never to be such a fool again, never to trust her heart to a man who could just up and leave her with hardly an explanation. She’d rather be an old maid than go through that again.

Years pass, and Liz has made peace with her life as a single woman, a “leftover blessing” as the Amish say. She can admit to herself that Matthew, the owner of the Amish restaurant at the market where she works, is handsome. And she is aware that he is single. But she reminds herself over and over that it’s not worth feeling anything for the man. He’s her boss and that’s it. So why does she look forward to work so much every day? And why can’t she make her heart beat at a normal pace when he comes near?

Linda Byler is beloved for her skillful story telling and true-to-life descriptions of Amish food, faith, and culture. As an Amish woman herself, she can share details of Amish life that few can replicate. In this charming novel, Byler shares intimate details of day-to-day life in an Amish community while spinning a sweet tale of love and hopes fulfilled at Christmastime.

Partners in Lime (Seaside Café Mystery #6) by Bree Baker

Pages: 336

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Published: August 31, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Mass Market Paperback

My Review: I am horrible when it comes to reading and I know a series is ending. I will drag a book out forever. It too me almost two weeks to read this and it wasn’t because it wasn’t good. I don’t want to leave Everly’s world. I love her tea shop, her aunts, her best friend Amelia and her bookshop, and of course Grady. Oh, how can you not love Grady?

In Partners in Lime, Everly tries to clear her friend Matt of a horrific murder of a previous competitor. At the same time she is helping Amelia’s boyfriend plan a surprise birthday party. Neither is going as planned.

I’ll go ahead and warn you to get a box of tissues for the last ten percent of the book. I found myself bawling in the middle of the night while my hubby slept beside me.

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

From NetGalley: Everly will have to go against the tide to crack this case!

It all seems to be smooth sailing for Everly Swan. The island of Charm, North Carolina is hosting tons of fun summer events, her iced tea shop is a hit, and best of all, she’s finally dating the handsome Detective Grady Hays. But their romantic bubble bursts when tragedy strikes: a surf-pro is found murdered on the beach, killed with a theater prop.

Grady follows the evidence, all of which points to Matt, Everly’s friend and one-time fling. As Grady does his job, so does Everly—her unofficial chef-turned-sleuth-job, that is. She’s determined to clear her friend’s name but the arrival of a fancy new teashop and The Town Charmer, a gossip blog determined to rock the boat, complicates things. As Everly tries to keep rumors at bay and investigate the murder (and her new tea rival), the killer leaves a message in the sand…

Partners in Lime, the sixth book in Bree Baker’s critically acclaimed Seaside Café Mystery series, is sure to make waves among fans of cozy mysteries!

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Pages: 352

Publisher: Balzer and Bray

Published: May 7, 2019

Source: Hardcover from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: A must for all middle school students. A must for families to read together.

I read along as I listened to the audiobook and it was phenomenal. I was able to become immersed into the lives of Jude and her family. I loved the fact that Cincinnati was the city they immigrated to as it is like a second home to me. I was able to picture where she moved.

This book will make you look deep inside yourself as an adult and think how you react to immigrants you see on the street. Are you friendly? Is your face friendly towards them? It will make you think about how the children in our lives pick up on how they think they should act by watching and listening to us.

A book perfect for the current situation happening now.

From Goodreads: Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. 

The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis

Pages: 336

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: April 4, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Personal Kindle Collection

Available Sources: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: A great read that we can all relate to especially the younger readers. Sallie is trying to figure out who she is and the direction she wants to take in life. She has a wanderlust for travel and a love of reading to learn as much as she can. She has put off joining the church for as long as she can. Will her last summer of freedom be enough?

A clean read that can be shared with the teenage reader in your life. Discussion of God and religion is prevalent but adds to the story.

From Goodreads: When a well-to-do family asks Sallie Riehl to be their daughter’s nanny for the summer at their Cape May, New Jersey, vacation home, she jumps at the chance to broaden her horizons beyond the Lancaster County Amish community where she grew up. Curious by nature, Sallie loves reading and learning, and she fears that her chances of making a good match with an Amish farmer will be hampered because of it.

Though she loves taking care of nine-year-old Autumn Weaver during the week, Sallie has free time on the weekends to enjoy the shore. It is there that she meets Edward Kreider, a young marine biology student who talks freely about all he’s learning and asks about her interests, unlike the guys she grew up with. Sallie wonders if this is the kind of relationship she’s been longing for. Then again, Ed isn’t from her community–and he’s Mennonite, not Amish.

Sallie is afraid of what her parents would think about her new friendship. But that’s not all she’s fearful of. When unexpected danger threatens Autumn, Sallie will have to put her fears aside. Will this be a summer to remember, or one to forget? 

Dial A for Aunties (Aunties #1) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Pages: 299

Publisher: Berkley

Published: April 27, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Large Print Hardcover from Local Public Library

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: Is it appropriate to be laughing hysterically while reading a book about a family covering up a murder?

I listened to the audiobook and read when I was able. It was the perfect book to make the chores go much quicker. The narrator was very good. The perfect dialect on all characters.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto is a total “Instagram made me do it read.”

From Goodreads: What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family?

You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue!

When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!“—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.

But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend? 

Along a Storied Trail by Ann H. Gabhart

Pages: 368

Publisher: Revell Company

Published: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Hardcover Public Library Book

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: What a book. Hours after finishing I am still thinking about it.

The characters were engaging and felt like real people I could go out and talk to. There were so many sayings that reminded me of my mama and grandparents that I had to stop and take a breath and look around. It felt like they were right next to me.

As other reviewers have mentioned, there have been many books in the last few years centered around packhorse librarians but this story was fresh. Not as dark and twisty as some.

Gabhart has a way of drawing the reader in with her characters that you lose all sense of time and location. I even listened to the audiobook and the narrator was enchanting.

A clean read with no language, sex, or violence.

From Goodreads: Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn’t mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in her books. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it–or is the perfect man actually closer than she thinks?

Perdita Sweet has called these mountains home for so long she’s nearly as rocky as the soil around her small cabin. Long ago she thought she could love, but when the object of her affection up and married someone else, she stopped giving too much of herself away to others.

As is so often the case, it’s easier to see what’s best for others than to see what’s best for oneself, and Perdita knows who Tansy should choose. But why would anyone listen to the romantic advice of an old spinster?

Saddle up for a heartfelt story of love–love of family, love of place, and the love of a lifetime–from bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart. 

Mint Condition Murder (Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries Book 9) by Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs

Pages: 237

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: April 20, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital Only

My Review: I’m sad as I have officially read every Ellery Adams book currently in print. For nine years I have been reading her books and have loved knowing there were more. Now I must (im)patiently wait for a new one.

I love Molly’s character and learning about antiques and collectibles. This story was very interesting and learning it was loosely based on a true story from the co-author, Parker Riggs. Could you imagine finding rare coins in your house as you renovate?

I’m wondering if there will be additional books to this series as the ending seemed so final. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

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

From NetGalley: A new book in the Antiques & Collectibles mystery series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs!

In the world of antiques and collectibles, it helps to have a sharp eye for quality, a good ear for gossip, and a nose for murder.

When the female antiques dealer she was meant to interview turns up dead, Collector’s Weekly reporter Molly Appleby can’t help but wonder why anyone would kill a woman so new to the area. Before she can spend much time pondering means or motive, Molly discovers that the father she never knew is keen on a reconciliation. And while it seems unlikely that his sudden interest and the death of the dealer are connected, Molly soon learns otherwise.

As she begins digging into the past of the victim, Molly realizes that the woman was not at all what she seemed. Not only did she possess a stash of rare coins linked to an unsolved murder, but she also engaged in illicit affairs with multiple married men. With suspects galore and a reunion with her long-lost father looming, Molly will have to uncover crimes both old and new before the secrets that refuse to stay buried turn fatal . . .