The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The sisters of summit ave

NetGalley:

From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars but I was not thrilled with the style of writing. The story jumps from past to present and between the sisters and Dorothy. Normally that does not bother me but in this book, I thought it took the punch of the story away. I would get really invested in the current storyline and then, bam, it would switch.

I knew going in, this was a work of fiction but I really thought I’d get to the end and be told it was loosely based on a true story. Alas, that did not occur. I have found myself reading what I can on the creation of Betty Crocker.

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

Death by Dumpling (Noodle House #1) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 331

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

My Review:

I finally read book one of this delectable series. Vivien Chien is a true delight to the culinary cozy mystery world. I have devoured every book like a starving reader.

In Death by Dumpling we meet Lana, learn how she started her hobby of amateur sleuthing, and how her relationship with Detective Trudeau began. Chien gives her characters depth from the beginning. I like that Lana is strong but still has reservations and questions where her life is at this moment in time. It makes Lana as it is human nature to be reserved after a tough breakup. The fact that she does not let it knock her down completely is a sign she has inner strength. Inner strength she needs to deal with the murders she runs into.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but as always you get more from the series read in order. Cozy mystery lovers who love culinary series will be a fan of this series. Hurry by the first four books in the series as a gift for the reader in your life.

Red Dove, Listen to the Wind by Sonia Antaki

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Pages: 232

Publisher: One Elm Books

Published: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Abandoned by her white father, thirteen-year-old Red Dove faces another lean winter with her Lakota family on the Great Plains. Willful and proud, she is presented with a stark choice: leave her people to live in the white world, or stay and watch them starve. Red Dove begins a journey to find her place in the world and discovers that her greatest power comes from within herself.

My Review:

A very moving middle-grade book. You will not want to put down once you are near 50% done.

Red Dove is geared to middle-grade readers but I find it may be difficult for them to read and understand on their own. It speaks of the horrible way our ancestors treated the Indians as we populated the country by moving West. Some kids may find the ruthless killing discussed a trigger for harsh emotions.

I would love to see this incorporated in a 5th-grade classroom using many of the subjects. History (Sitting Bull and Custer), Reading, Science (the herbs Indians relied on), Art and Music. There is much to be learned from this book and lessons we can apply today on how to treat others fairly.

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

Listening to Love (Amish Journey’s #2) by Beth Wiseman

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Pages: 321

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Listening to Love Amish Journeys #2)

NetGalley:

He’s Amish. She’s Englisch. They are best friends, despite what the gossips say. But could the rumor mill know more than they do?

Englischer Natalie Collins looks forward to Friday night suppers at Levi and Mary Shetler’s house every week: delicious food, wonderful conversation with her Amish friends, and, best of all, the presence of Levi’s older brother Lucas. Natalie and Lucas have become best friends despite their different backgrounds. They share a love of books, and he is teaching her about God in a way that she can understand.

But the closer they become, the more opinions everyone seems to have. Levi and Mary, Lucas’s family, and even Natalie’s mother—whose own life is a mess at the moment—have concerns about their relationship. Why can’t everyone understand that it’s possible to just be friends? Besides, they couldn’t be together even if they wanted to be. Lucas would never leave the Amish faith, and Natalie is Englisch and pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine.

But when a terrifying accident happens, Natalie and Lucas are forced to confront their true feelings and decide if they can stay true to themselves and each other.

My Review:

Wow, this book took a twist I NEVER expected. It was already a great book but the twist made it unforgettable.

A great example of forgiveness, humility and overcoming the many obstacles in life.

Levi and Natalie’s story will stay with me for a long time. Two vastly different worlds and they still became friends and so much more.

The Amish Journey’s series is a keeper for book collectors. You will want to revisit again and again.

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

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales by Some of Christian Fiction’s Most Poplar Mystery and Suspense Authors

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Pages: 911

Published: August 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales of Suspense

Amazon:
Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before-published tales of Christian suspense from today’s most popular mystery and suspense authors.
Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

My Review:

I enjoyed most of the stories but there were a few I didn’t. The ones I did not enjoy were stories I wouldn’t normally read. They were good just not my cup of tea.

My favorites: Vannetta Chapman (takes place in Shipshewana and involves an Amish man and a lady FBI agent), Christy Barritt (part of her Lantern Beach series, which I have put on my TBR list) and Rachel J. Good (Amish Twins – one good and one very bad seed. I’m still shivering at the thought of being confused with an identical twin).

I have found several new to me authors that I will be looking to read in the future.

This is the perfect book for the person who likes to read but has a busy schedule. You can read a story in one sitting and not worry about stopping in the middle of a book and forgetting what is happening by the time you get back to it.

A Stitch in Time (A Needlecraft Mystyery #3) by Monica Ferris

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Pages: 260

Publisher: Berkley

Published: July 1, 2000

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

When a damaged tapestry is discovered in a small-town church closet, needleworkers join to stitch together the clues which lead to a crafty crime.

My Review:

I’ll admit when I started the first book in the series, Crewel World, I was not sure this series would be for me. My mind was quickly changed and I am a huge fan of this series. In fact, I have been trying to find the books I am missing when I visit used bookstores.

Book 3 takes place during the Christmas season and is not your typical murder mystery. Why? Well, we do not have a murder but an attempted murder on Betsy herself. I loved the fact that it took place at Christmas with LOTS of snow while I have been sweltering in a heatwave with no rain until last night. I actually felt cooler while reading as Monica Ferris does a great job with her descriptions.

If you are leery about the book being too religious since it centers around a religious tapestry found in a church you have no worries. Religion is not a focal point. You do learn about saints and attributes but I found that very interesting. Especially the fact that symbols may represent more than one saint.

A free needlepoint pattern for a snowflake is included at the end of the book.

I don’t give 5 stars too often but A Stitch in Time felt very worthy of the perfect rating.

Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures by Elika Ansari

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Pages: 162

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Published: June 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

When the underwater animals of Seacity pond learn that their home is in danger, they decide to investigate further by doing something no one has ever done before – go up to land to seek the answers they need. An unlikely team of two royal turtles, a genius goldfish and a timorous frog are then assembled to embark on a series of adventures. Whether they are racing the fastest tortoise on earth, falling in love with traveling mice theatre, or bringing peace to warring ant colonies, each unique experience is taking the group of friends closer to the heart of what is really going on. But will they make it back in time to save Seacity before the Winter’s Slumber?

My Review:

Honestly, I picked this book for the cover. I LOVE turtles. Turtles have been my favorite animal for as long as I can remember.

Seacity Rising is full of adventure, educational and a very enjoyable read for middle-grade readers. Kids will love the descriptions of the animals and their habitats. Parents will love how the author uses words to make kids think and stretches their brains. If I had a regular classroom I would definitely be using this book with my science lessons to teach about animals, their habitats and how we treat our earth affects so much more than us humans.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, Black Rose Writing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Buried in the Stacks (A Haunted Library #3) by Allison Brook

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Pages: 325

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?

In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

My Review:

This series has grown on me to the point I’m finding myself impatient for the next one.

Carrie has come into her own and grown-up quickly. She finds herself with a job she loves, a comforting home, an extended family she adores and a hunky boyfriend. She has allowed herself to get involved with the community by agreeing to be the library liaison for the Haven House, a day home being built for the homeless in the area. At first, she is not too excited but things pick up when she realizes there is a connection between the Haven House and the death of a co-worker.

Buried in the Stacks will keep your interest for many hours of reading. It is a clean read with no foul language and no gruesome, detailed death scenes. You may read as a standalone but I think you will find it much better if you read the series in order.

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

A Down Home Christmas by Liz Talley

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Pages: 302

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: July 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Country music star Kris Trabeau heads to Charming, Mississippi, to convince his aging aunt to sell her farm and move into a nice retirement community. She’s not having it, and she enlists her neighbor Tory Odom to help her remind Kris why the farm means so much…especially at Christmas.
After being dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Tory’s not feeling the holiday spirit. Still, she agrees to co-chair a children’s concert and silent auction to benefit the after-school center where she volunteers. As Kris helps her with the concert and spends time with the kids, the attraction between them becomes harder and harder to ignore. Can he trade spotlights and city lights for the place where the music began?

My Review:

A fun, entertaining Christmas read filled with love and the importance of family. Be prepared to laugh within the first five minutes of reading. Hint: Chickens and sweaters. I love Christmas books that feel real and A Down Home Christmas gives you that feeling right from the first page.

For fans of fruitcake, you will love the recipe for Jingle Bell Fruitcake Cookies included at the end.

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

NetGalley:

Jessica Sterling’s candlelight-themed nuptials promises to be the perfect kick-off to the summer’s first official holiday weekend. Stella’s thrilled to have been chosen to provide the decorative centerpiece for the wedding ceremony: a two-foot-tall scented unity candle—a symbol of the happy couple’s love. But it looks like the bride-to-be’s uncle won’t be walking his niece down the aisle after he’s found dead. The murder weapon is Stella’s seemingly indestructible candle, now split in two.

When a beloved local bartender is arrested, Stella’s sure a visiting police captain running the case made a rush to justice. With superstitious brides-to-be canceling orders and sales waxing and waning at her store, the Wick & Flame owner decides to do some sleuthing of her own. Abetted by a charming reporter and challenged by the town’s sexiest cop, Stella’s determined to shine a light on the truth and uncover a killer who’s snuffing out her own flame.

My Review:

Nantucket is on my bucket list of places to visit so anytime I can read a book set there I jump. Murder’s, No Votive Confidence is a great addition to the Nantucket setting. I was pleased the author went to the roots of Nantucket and had Stella own and operate a candle store.

I am looking forward to the next installment in The Nantucket Candle Making series. I’m interested in seeing how Stella’s love life progresses. Andy, in my opinion, is not out of the running. The jury is still out if I like Peter.

If you are looking for a new series with a different cozy setting than small-town landlocked America and a theme different from culinary then I suggest you grab this book. It is a fast-paced read that has no problems holding your interest.

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