An Amish Christmas Wedding (4 Amish Novellas) by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Vannetta Chapman

Pages: 400

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: October 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I enjoy reading the novella anthologies that seem very popular with Amish fiction/romance. Why do you ask? One I get to revisit some of my favorite characters or towns briefly and learn more about side characters. Two I find new to me authors or series that I might not normally gravitate towards. Three I can read a story a night and fall asleep happy.

I tend to suggest these novella anthologies to readers who want to dip their toes into the Amish genre. This selection of novellas will be on my heavily suggested list. Each story is full of love and Christmas cheer. How can you go wrong?

Don’t ask me to pick a favorite as that would not be right. Each story was heartwarming and written well. A perfect book to put you in the Christmas cheer.

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

NetGalley: From bestselling authors of Amish fiction come four delightful stories perfect for celebrating love, joy, and the everyday miracles Christmas brings.

Evergreen Love by Amy Clipston

Ryan Lapp had promised to marry Lorene Bontrager as soon as he was able to build them a house, but the day never came. Ryan moved away. Five years later, Lorene has settled in to her old maid role, and she’s shocked when her younger sister announces her quick engagement to Ryan’s younger brother. As they rush to plan the wedding, Lorene is constantly around the family she almost joined. Worse, she’s forced to face Ryan himself, who has returned to town. As both Ryan and Lorene examine their own feelings, they must decide if they can find grace with each other—and the young people they once were—this Christmas season. There just might still be love in their future.

Holiday of Hope by Kelly Irvin

Henry Lufkin is one of four bachelors who lived in the West Kootenai, Montana, cabins that were destroyed by wildfires. He’s the only one of them who hasn’t since married, but he likes his solitude. Then an old friend asks him to care for his son, and Henry has to share his small cabin and his life with bewildered and rebellious ten-year-old Tommy. When the child encounters trouble at school, Henry reaches out to Tommy’s teacher. Leesa Yoder never expected to find herself single and teaching sixteen young scholars, and she certainly didn’t anticipate an inexperienced bachelor telling her how to do her job. Amid the flying sparks, can Henry and Leesa see that there might be hope and love in this unexpected situation?

Wreathed in Joy by Kathleen Fuller

Mary Wengerd and Jakob Mullet have been best friends since childhood. Pressured by friends and family, they decided to date—with disastrous results. When they break up, their friendship is ruined. A year later, Mary is baking her Englisch friend’s wedding and groom cakes for a Christmas Eve wedding. Mary loves the Christmas season, and had always dreamed of marrying during that time. Now she wonders if she’ll ever marry. After she and Jakob form a tenuous new friendship, Mary breaks her arm. As he steps in to help her with the cakes, Mary is inexplicably and suddenly falling for him. But they’ve already dated, and that ended so horribly. Could it be better this time?

A Christmas Prayer
 by Vannetta Chapman

Widower Micah Miller runs the Amish Tour Company, offering Englischers a glimpse of a simpler life as well as tea at Rachel King’s. Rachel has never married and has recently lost her parents. When Micah comes across an abandoned and injured dog, he gives it to Rachel for company. As Rachel is charmed by the dog and shocked by news of the existence of family she never expected, her heart and mind bend toward the possibilities of change in her life—even toward the possibility of love.

Boston Scream Murder (A Deputy Donut #4) by Ginger Bolton

Pages: 254

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I will admit when I first started this series, I was on the fence if I would like it. I am happy to admit I love this series. Each book amazes me more than the previous one. Boston Scream Murder is my favorite yet. I finished it in one day I was so enthralled by it. You have donuts, murder, a smidge of romance, and kids at Halloween. What more could you ask for?

Be prepared while reading that you will constantly be craving donuts and chocolate bars. It is not fair to set a donut book at Halloween. I am not a fan of Boston Cream but I was craving one mightily.

There would be no issues reading this series out of order if you chose to do so.

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

NetGalley: Halloween in the small town of Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, is the perfect season for Deputy Donut owner Emily Westhill to unmask a killer.

October 31 is just around the corner and Emily Westhill’s Boston cream donuts, carved with a scream, have made an indelible impression on local eccentric Rich Royalson. So much so that he’s ordered three dozen, with no screaming faces and twice the fudge frosting, for his seventieth birthday—a special event in more ways than one. It’s to be held on fog-shrouded Lake Fleekom where, twenty years ago, his wife mysteriously drowned.
But the next day, when Emily arrives with her Boston cream donuts, she stumbles upon Rich’s corpse. The poor guy wanted a unique birthday bash—just not one to the side of his skull. With a guest list of possible perpetrators left at the scene, Emily soon discovers that the Royalson closet is rattling with skeletons. As the fog thickens, motives mount, and the tricks outnumber the treats, Emily fears that Rich may not be the last one in Fallingbrook to go out screaming.

Digging Up the Remains (A Garden Squad Mystery #3) by Julia Henry

Pages: 222

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A great entry in the Garden Squad series.

For the most part, this series feels pretty real. The main character, Lilly, is not afraid to say she doesn’t like someone but does try to be kind. Something we all could strive to be better practicing. I enjoy she is a lady of a certain age but shows that age is only a number.

I want you that reading this series will have you looking at your own backyard and thinking of improvements. If I had Lilly’s backyard and three seasons room I’m not sure I would ever leave the area.

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

NetGalley: A festive fall is in full swing in Goosebush, Massachusetts, but when a snoopy reporter is felled by foul play, it’s up to Lilly and her Garden Squad to spook out a killer . . .

Between hosting a haunted house on her lawn, serving on the town’s 400th Anniversary Planning Committee, and prepping for the Fall Festival’s 10k fundraiser, Lilly’s hands are full. She doesn’t have time for prickly newspaper reporter Tyler Crane, who’s been creeping around town, looking for dirt on Goosebush’s most notable families . . . until he’s found dead on the race route moments before the start.
An unfortunate accident? Or did Tyler unearth a secret that someone in Goosebush is willing to kill to keep? By planting nasty rumors and cultivating fear, Tyler sowed a fair share of ill will during his brief time in town. Weeding through the suspects will be thorny, but Lilly and her Garden Squad are determined to root out the autumnal assassin before the Fall Festival flops . . .

A Death Long Overdue (A Lighthouse Library #7) by Eva Gates

Pages: 297

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: October 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Even with a little bit of paranormal activity, it is a very enjoyable series to read. The characters feel real and so do the storylines. I cannot believe we are already up to book seven. I already know we have a book eight coming according to Amazon. Yay!

There was a little surprise in this book that has me plotting and thinking of what we will see in Lucy’s future. Hmm…

Although this is not a Halloween themed book it is perfect for the season. It can be read as a standalone but I always think reading cozy series in order are the best. I’ll let you be the judge.

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

NetGalley: When her former director is found dead in the water, librarian Lucy Richardson will have to get to the bottom of the mystery before the killer ends her tale.

It’s summertime in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Bertie James’s college class is having their 40th anniversary reunion. The opening night reception is held at the Lighthouse Library and Lucy and her colleagues have assembled an exhibit of library artifacts showing how libraries have changed over the years. After the reception, some of the women take a walk down the boardwalk to the pier, using flashlights to illuminate the dark path, but what’s scarier than the dark is finding the former director of the Lighthouse Library floating lifeless in the water.

Helena Sanchez, the former director, wasn’t much loved and spent the party being rude to almost everyone there. As a result, Lucy finds herself in deep water as she rocks the boat, questioning several suspects. But she’ll have to batten down the hatches and fast before she’s left high and dry…and right in the killer’s crosshairs.

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.