The More the Merrier by Linda Byler

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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

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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.

An Amish Second Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Patricia Johns and Virginia Wise

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

For the Amish, the day after Christmas is for family, feasting, and exchanging simple gifts. And for three different couples, it will bring another precious chance for love . . .

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish nanny Hannah Eicher never thought she’d ever see Rob Prince again. There was no way a relationship between her and the handsome English fireman could overcome her family’s objections—and their personal differences. But when he saves her from a sudden blaze, Hannah longs to see if they can turn holiday hope into a lifetime of happiness . . .

HIS AMISH ANGEL * Patricia Johns
She’s too outspoken to be a proper Amish wife. So as advice columnist “Miss Amish,” Maggie Lapp helps Amish and English with their romantic problems. But when her tradition-minded former fiancé accidentally reveals her secret, Maggie will need more than a miracle to make things right—and find a perfect love for all the Christmases to come . . .

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS * Virginia Wise
Rachel Miller won’t let her disability keep her from selling heirloom plants and proving she can be independent. She certainly doesn’t need reckless Joseph Webber working at her greenhouse to pay off a disastrous Rumspringa stunt. But she and Joseph have more in common than they think—and their surprising holiday partnership might just blossom into forever joy . . .

My Review:

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
Shelley Shepard Gray

I was so happy to finally get the rest of the story between Hannah and Rob. It will make you smile and cheer out loud.

HIS AMISH ANGEL
Patricia Johns

My favorite sentence in the entire book, “married people realize what they have to lose and it is only then that they choose to bend for each other.” I find this beautiful and so true.

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS
Virginia Wise

A good reminder that sometimes the time we speak in and our actions are not always how we truly feel. A harsh tone may be covering a lot of pain. This is my first Virginia Wise book and won’t be my last.

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

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

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Pages: 337

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone—after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.
So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

My Review:

Wow, Coble has made me think twice about doing a DNA test to see my ancestry. I never thought about it being used maliciously. I’m a little scared now.

The mystery is a page-turner and interesting. I appreciate how Coble keeps the romance and the language clean.

There are many characters and some may find that a tad confusing but if you think about it when half-siblings come into play families get large very quickly. I would have loved to know more about Annabelle and Harper’s newfound sisterhood. Maybe someday we will see them in a future book as side characters.

If you are looking for a good mystery with family at the core Strands of Truth is a perfect read.

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

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

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Pages: 162

Publisher: Revell

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn’t always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, “Where’s the snow?” Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista’s Christmas spirit before the big day?

My Review:

A sweet quick Christmas read filled with hope, warmth, and love. The perfect book to sit by a warm fire with a cup of peppermint cocoa and lose yourself in the joys of Winter Hill.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Revell, 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.

The Healing Jar (Prayer Jars #3) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: August 1, 2019

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

NetGalley:

What if you have waited to find love only to be rejected when it finally comes?

Lenore Lapp is an Amish schoolteacher in her late twenties still living at home with her parents and grandparents. She thought love had passed her by until she meets Jesse Smucker, a widower with a baby daughter. She quickly falls in love with them both and accepts Jesse’s proposal of marriage, but Jesse breaks off their engagement when he realizes he can’t marry only for convenience.

Resigned to living single, Lenore throws herself into caring for her elders. While working in her grandmother’s garden, she digs up an old jar. Will Lenore find healing for her broken heart and solve long-buried family secrets by reading the note contained inside?

My Review:

Let me start with that I enjoy reading Wanda Brunstetter books and I have struggled with giving this 3.5 stars. My reasoning is I felt disappointment while reading. In some ways, the prayer jar story seemed like a second thought. Almost like, oh I need to include the jars in the story. Also, the story seemed to drag along slowly. The ending was beautiful and I’m glad everything worked out.

Is it worth your time to read? Yes! Especially if you have read the previous two books in the series. You can read this as a standalone and I think you will be just fine.

I would recommend to others. My 3.5 stars are my opinion and should not be used in your decision to read the book or not. I will continue to read her books. In fact, I have three waiting in the wings.

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.

The Loyal One (The Walnut Creek series #2) by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Pages: 282

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

When Katie Steury hires her old friend Harley Lambright to remodel her rundown old house into a charming bed and breakfast, she does so with trepidation. Though they are longtime friends, they’ve always had a rocky relationship, thanks to her being partly responsible for his most recent breakup. But while they may not always get along, she needs someone to trust with her secrets, and Harley is nothing if not trustworthy and loyal.

Katie has always reminded Harley of a bright hummingbird—she is small and flighty, moves a mile a minute, and she possesses a very sharp beak. He’s hesitant to accept the job because of his history with Katie. But when he realizes that Katie’s been hiding her mother’s hoarding, he agrees to help her because it’s clear she needs someone on her side.

Both soon discover that clearing the debris in one old house also means they have to do some clean-up in their lives, forcing them to reevaluate their past and their future. This somewhat painful process reveals that Katie isn’t the only one with secrets. As the house gets a second chance, so, too, does their relationship. Now all they have to do is open their hearts—and hope and pray that their new bond will also stand the test of time.

My Review:

The Loyal One is my favorite of The Walnut Creem series. Katie’s story is filled with love and caring for others.

You cannot help but be moved by Katie’s story. I could not imagine having to live the way she did since her father died. Knowing you could not invite friends over afraid of what they would think and say to others. Even as an adult she had a hard time sharing with her closet friends what had been going on with her mother’s hoarding. The Eight showed us what it means to love someone unconditionally and when together there is nothing you cannot overcome.

The Loyal One had made me look at the “things” in my life and say, “Can I live without that?” There are many things that I can.

Each book in The Walnut Creek series can be read as a standalone but I would hope you would read from the beginning to get the feel of the characters.

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

Blessed by Sherry Robinson

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

A STORY OF HOPE AND THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
Grayson Armstrong’s vision for a dying church has everyone in small-town Mercy, Kentucky, talking. The truth is everyone has been talking about Grayson ever since this dark-haired twenty-eight-year-old preacher with shoulder-length hair and an ill-fitting suit drove into town twelve years before in his silver convertible with his pretty wife and two rambunctious boys. It’s his untimely death, though, that has everyone trying to understand who they thought he was.

This vivid, poignant, and heartbreaking story is told by multiple characters whose paths intersect with Grayson: a homeless Vietnam veteran haunted by demons of war; the local diner’s young waitress grappling with her family’s dark history; aggrieved and supportive congregants and townspeople confronting change and the power of love and hate; and Grayson’s wife and his coming-of-age gay son, struggling to understand their own feelings about Grayson.

During a time when communities and countries are split apart, Robinson’s calming prose and timely story encourage us to put aside our fears, hate, and biases and to open our hearts and challenge our perceptions. Blessed is ultimately a story of hope and of the power of forgiveness.

My Review:

A deeply moving novel that makes you look into your soul and analyze your beliefs. You will be forced to think about how you treat others, not just those close around you but everyone you come in contact within your life. You will be forced to ask yourself, “Are you following God’s word?” and “Would God be proud of you?”

I expect this book will be with me for a long time and will jump into my thoughts when I least expect it. The question you need to ask yourself is, “What do you think being BLESSED means?”

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher, Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.