A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

haven.png

Pages: 208

Publisher: WaterBrook and Multnomah

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: If you enjoyed The Christmas Remedy last Christmas you will enjoy A Christmas Haven. It is filled with friends, family, and romance along with a lot of hope and kindness.

Woodsmall has taken the time to research the Swartzentruber Amish sect and how it differs from Old Order and written a romance that leaves you all smiles.

Ivy’s progression from short-sided adult to one who sees the picture is a beautiful journey.

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

NetGalley: Old Order Amish Ivy Zook is wrestling with her need to shed her community’s ways so she can grow the business of her dreams: planning parties. As long as she’s stuck living without modernization, she can barely get her business on its feet. But if she leaves too soon, she’d cause trouble for her sister, Holly, who is planning her wedding to Joshua Smucker. All of their plans become twice as complicated when an old car crashes into the storefront of Greene’s Pharmacy, carrying a Swartzentruber (ultra-conservative sect) Amish man, Arlan, and his very ill sister.

The Zooks take in Arlan and Madga, tending to the woman’s illness and Arlan begins helping around the family farm. Ivy and Arlan are on different tracks, one wanting to leave her community and the other to return to his. But both young people are trying to discover what God has in store for their futures and what miracles might lie around the corner this Christmas season.

Friend or Fiction by Abby Cooper

friend.png

Pages: 272

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Published: October 8, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I can see this book becoming a popular book club read among the middle-grade readers. When reading you feel like you are Jade and feel her emotions so deeply. What she is going through is so common among our children. A sick parent and the life they know is turned upside down.

The magical realism that is part of the plot is used nicely. It didn’t make me cringe as some do. Middle graders will love it. I think my fourth-grade cousin will love this book.

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

NetGalley: One creative middle-schooler discovers that the best friend a girl can have is the one she makes herself in this charming magical realism read.

Jade’s life hasn’t exactly been normal lately, especially since her dad’s cancer diagnosis. Jade wishes her family could leave their no-name town in Colorado already–everybody else does sooner rather than later, including every best friend Jade’s ever had. So she makes one up. In the pages of her notebook, she writes all about Zoe–the most amazing best friend anyone could dream of.

But when pretend Zoe appears in real life thanks to a magical experiment gone right, Jade isn’t so sure if she likes sharing her imaginary friend with the real world. To keep her best friend (and even make some new ones), Jade learns how to cope with jealousy, that friends should let friends be true to themselves, and that may be the perfect best friend doesn’t exist after all.

Murder in the First Edition (A Beyond the Page Bookstore) by Lauren Elliott

edition

Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: My third visit to Greyborne Harbor was the best. I felt more connected to the characters and the story moved along nicely.

The Beyond The Page Bookstore Mysteries feel like a meatier read than other cozies. I appreciate the fact they are everything a cozy should be: gorgeous covers, clean of foul language, no sex scenes and set in a cute town.

I’ve read a lot of negative reviews about the main character Addie. Most feel she is playing with Simon and Marc’s emotions and I see where they are coming from but I don’t agree. I believe she is still in mourning for David and isn’t sure how to move forward. She’s trying but finds it even harder with David’s father in town. We get the feeling that Addie is ready to move on more than ever by the end.

I look forward to continuing this series.

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

NetGalley: Addie Greyborne is preparing for the holidays at her bookstore in seaside New England—but a winter storm is coming, in more ways than one . . .

Addie’s getting into the spirit for the upcoming Charity Auction—especially since she’s got an 1843 copy of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to donate. Her former colleagues at the Boston Public Library have confirmed that its worth runs toward the high five figures, which should help with the new pediatric wing. Her mood darkens, though, when a visitor from the past appears—Jonathan Hemingway, the father of her late fiancé. His presence stirs up sad memories for Addie, but also has her fuming when Jonathan, true to his womanizing ways, runs off for a lunchtime liaison with Teresa Lang, who’s in charge of the auction.

Soon after, Addie heads to Teresa’s office at the hospital—and finds the poor woman’s dead body. What she doesn’t find is her valuable first edition. What sort of Scrooge would steal from sick children and commit murder in the process? As a Nor’easter bears down and a mystery emerges about Jonathan’s past, Addie must find out if she can appraise people’s motives and characters as well as she can appraise rare books . . .

The Body in the Gravel (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery #3) by Judi Lynn

body

Pages: 274

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: My favorite visit to River Bluffs.

When I first started the series I was not a big fan but liked it enough to stuck with it. I’m so glad I did. I’m loving it and finding myself eagerly awaiting the next installment.

I love the closeness of Jazzi’s family and Ansel has finally gone from feeling like a controlling man to one who just loves his woman with everything he’s got. The more you get to know Ansel’s family the more you realize how lucky he is to have moved to River Bluffs.

There is the illusion of sex but nothing descriptive so I consider a clean read. No paranormal activity for those who are opposed. Recipes are usually included as Jazzi likes to cook as well as flip houses. No foul language that I can think of.

Each book can be read as a stand-alone but I always suggest reading in order.

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

NetGalley: Even in a lovely town like River Bluffs, Indiana, flipping houses can be a challenge. Especially when there’s the proverbial skeleton in the closet—and a literal corpse in the driveway . . .

House-flipper Jazzi Zanders has her work cut out for her. Her latest flip, which she co-purchased with her fiancée Ansel and cousin Jerod, is a three-story fixer-upper that’s more of a droopy-downer. One corner of the house is sinking and needs to be jacked up with a new cement foundation. That costs money. And causes headaches. And creates a work environment that’s not only hostile, but it’s also downright deadly . . .

Jazzi knows it’s a tough job. Which is why she hired Darby to lay the cement. But when Darby gets into a fiery argument with the furnace man—and then never shows up to lay gravel for the driveway—Jazzi starts to wonder if the rumors about Darby are true. Did he kill his wife and son and bury them in the yard as some folks claim? When Darby’s dead body comes pouring out of a gravel truck, murder upstages the real estate market as her biggest concern . . .

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker (Indiana Amish Brides #4) by Vannetta Chapman

amish

Pages: 224

Publisher: Love Inspired

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A pleasant romantic read that will guarantee to make your heart and soul feel good.

This is the fourth book in Chapman’s Indiana Bride series but you can read each as a stand-alone with no issues.

The story of Annie and Levi teaches is that God knows what is best and will lead us in the right direction when the time is right.

As always, Chapman uses the right amount of religion without being overbearing. I appreciate the clean romance of her romance novels.

Hurry and pick up your copy today. It’s never too early to get in the Christmas spirit.

Bookbub: Annie has a thriving wedding business in her Amish community, creating happily ever afters. When cowboy Levi tries to convince her father to move to Texas, she figures she can stop his plans by finding Levi a bride — but might his perfect match be her? From a Carol Award–winning author!

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

lucy

Pages: 306

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: August 6.2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Once I started this book I couldn’t put it down. It moves with the speed of a runaway locomotive.

You will be appalled at how supposed doctors and nurses treated the little HUMAN beings they were entrusted to care for and love. I can’t wrap my head around how a nurse with children of her own could watch a child drink water out of a toilet and say, “Oh, she’s just being difficult.” Seriously?!?!?!

Whether you understand the precious world of special needs or not you will understand the horrors experienced at Willowridge. I would have kidnapped my child and did exactly what Ginny did. Do I understand why she let her father-in-law and husband make the initial decision to begin with? No, but I was raised in a different time with parents who taught me to stand up for myself and make my own decisions.

Keeping Lucy is a work of fiction based on a true story that will have you cheering Ginny all the while making you think about “what would I do.”

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

NetGalley: The heartbreaking and uplifting story, inspired by incredible true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter.

Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.

But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.

The Brides of the Big Valley: 3 Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community by Wanda Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter and Richelle Brunstetter

valley.png

Pages: 450

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: June 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This collection of three stories set in Pennsylvania was a quick but great read. I enjoyed that each story focused on the different “toppers” in the Amish community.

My favorite story was Deanna’s Determination. You have a widowed mom with a son with Downs Syndrome who is trying to create a life for both of them. There are so many misconceptions regarding special needs children and in this story, we get to see their loving and curious side. No different than other children their age. Beautiful!

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

NetGalley: In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.

Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth and Rebellious Hope by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

where

Pages: 226

Publisher: Moody Publishers

Published: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Katherine Clark was just an average wife and mother with two young children when she was in a tragic playground accident in late May 2009. A little boy playing on the jungle gym jumped and landed on Kate’s head, knocking her over and snapping her neck. Kate was paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors diagnosed her with quadriplegia and said she would never walk again.

This terrifying prognosis could have been the end of the story. But instead, God chose to work a profound miracle in Kate’s life and in the life of her family.

Where I End tells the incredible story. Kate describes how God’s presence carried her through the trying journey of re-learning to walk, both physically and spiritually. Throughout, she shares the deep theological truths that sustained her as she and her family traveled this difficult road.

My Review:

An emotional read that leaves you gasping for air.

I admire Katherine’s faith not only in God but in her marriage and friends. How many of us could say that if we suffered a tragedy in our life even as half as devasting as Katherine did that our family and friends would be as steady and loving? Put the shoe on the other foot and think about how you would react if something happened to your spouse and life as you know it is changed forever?

I appreciate that Katherine did not solely focus on how the accident affected her she talked about her family and friends especially her young children. I think a lot of times the children get lost in the craziness after a tragedy and so many like to believe that “children are resilient and will be fine” when in fact they have no idea how to process their feelings and fears. Katherine does not shy sway in sharing how her son felt like he was “far from God.” How many times in our lives have we felt this way and do not admit that fear to those closet to us because of fear of rejection?

Where I End is a book to read if you are “far from God” and need hope and encouragement to find your way back or if you or a loved one is suffering from a life-altering illness or injury and need hope you will come out on the other side.

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

The More the Merrier by Linda Byler

more

Pages: 200

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: A Heartwarming Christmas Romance Set During the Great Depression

It’s 1931, and times are tough for the Miller family, who are raising eight children in the midst of the Great Depression. When Eli Miller passes away unexpectedly, and then a fire destroys their barn, Annie has no idea how she’ll make ends meet. The Amish community rallies around her and the children, as is their custom, but as days turn into weeks and then into months, Annie’s friends and neighbors return to their own routines and seem to expect Annie to do the same. Annie knows she needs to stay strong for the children and figure out a way to keep everyone warm and clothed and fed, but she is heartbroken and exhausted. She reminds herself that God will provide, but every day feels like an uphill battle.

When Annie receives a letter from a widower with six children of his own, she tries to put it out of her mind. Her critical mother reminds her that it’s too soon to start a new friendship with a man, and warns her that blending a family will be complicated. In the weeks and months to follow, Annie must learn to make her own decisions—and accept the consequences, good and bad—face her past, and embark on a new journey that will transform her and her large, complicated family. When life seems especially complicated one summer, she finds herself saying that by Christmas everything will start to come together, but she has no idea the challenges—and ultimately blessings—headed her way.

My review: My dad was born in the depression and the stories he tells of growing up with little to nothing is heartbreaking but the love his family had was beautiful. Annie’s story is one of heartache and despair but also one of resilience and love.

This is a beautiful Christmas read that is worthy to read no matter the season. An Amish love story from a real Amish author.

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

All He’ll Ever Need (A Little Child Shall Lead Them #1) by Loree Lough

all.png

Pages: 288

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Among the New-new Order Amish of Oakland, Maryland, children bring precious hope, joy—and sometimes an unexpected second chance at love . . .

For Amish widower Phillip Baker, providing for his family in the wake of his wife’s death means backbreaking work and renewed dedication to his faith. Still, his strength can’t help him relate to his little son’s struggles. It seems a godsend when new doctor Emily White is able to treat Gabe’s shyness and fear even as she helps heal him. But no matter how strongly Phillip is drawn to the caring Englisher from the city, their differences may be too great to overcome . . .

Reeling from her own tragic loss, Emily keeps loneliness at bay through her clinic work. Somehow, though, Gabe and his gentle, sad-eyed father are making her want to risk opening her heart again. But can she find acceptance in their Plain world—and a way to turn their separate lives into a family forever? . . .

My Review: Amish romance is one of my favorite genres. I like it because I’m guaranteed a clean romance with unnecessary sex scenes and crude language.

Loree Lough has delivered that in the first in a new series. Emily and Phillip’s story is one of heartache, loss, and hope. A story that makes you cry and smile.

My only issue with it was I felt the romance was rushed into way too soon. I wish it had taken more time to develop. Does it hurt the story? No. Does it make me like the story any less? No.

I love the premise behind this series of “a little child shall lead them.” I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

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