South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

buttonwood

Pages: 330

Publisher: Forge Books

Published: July 21, 2020

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

My Review: Have you ever read a book that left you feeling peaceful and happy but at the same time angry for the injustice a character received? South of the Buttonwood Tree has left me with those feelings.

There is so much I want to say but I don’t want to ruin a moment of this book by giving too much away. Webber had my attention captivated from the beginning. I made myself slow down in reading so i wouldn’t miss a thing by reading too fast.

The moral of the story is perfect right now. Don’t judge others as you probably don’t know the whole story. Plus a little love and compassion can go a long way in helping someone.

The book is full of magical realism which if you follow my book blog I’m not normally a fan of but when it is done right I love it. This is the second magical realism book this month for me and both have been very good.

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

NetGalley: USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber’s South of the Buttonwood Tree is a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm.

Blue Bishop has a knack for finding lost things. While growing up in charming small-town Buttonwood, Alabama, she’s happened across lost wallets, jewelry, pets, her wandering neighbor, and sometimes, trouble. No one is more surprised than Blue, however, when she comes across an abandoned newborn baby in the woods, just south of a very special buttonwood tree.

Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton is at a crossroads. She has always tried so hard to do the right thing, but her own mother would disown her if she ever learned half of Sarah Grace’s secrets.

The unexpected discovery of the newborn baby girl will alter Blue’s and Sarah Grace’s lives forever. Both women must fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love. In doing so, they uncover long-held secrets that reveal exactly who they really are—and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of family.

The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Down on Mischief Farm by Hilarie Burton Morgan

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Pages: 257

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: May 5, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I purely picked this book on Netgalley because I loved watching Hilarie on One Tree Hill. I knew a little about her life on the farm from Instagram but was blown away by how down to earth she really is. I wish I had half the talent in renovating and gardening as she does. I admire her grit and determination to be the best mom, wife, friend she can be.

I applaud her for how she tackled her #metoo story in the book and how she has not let that overshadow her life. Instead, she gathered all her strength and courage and made her life what she wanted.

Anyone who reads this fast-paced memoir will learn something about themselves or how to face a difficult situation.

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

NetGalley: New York Times Bestseller

The beloved actress and star of One Tree Hill, White Collar, and Lethal Weapon, Hilarie Burton Morgan, tells the story of leaving Hollywood for a radically different kind of life in upstate New York with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan—a celebration of community, family, and the value of hard work in small-town America.

While Hilarie Burton Morgan’s hectic lifestyle as an actress in New York and Los Angeles gave her a comfortable life, it did not fulfill her spiritually or emotionally. After the birth of their first son, she and her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the star of The Walking Dead, decided to make a major change: they bought a working farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and began a new chapter in their lives.

The Rural Diaries chronicles her inspiring story of farm life: chopping wood, making dandelion wine, building chicken coops. Burton looks back at her transition from urban to country living—discovering how to manage a farm while raising her son and making friends with her new neighbors. She mixes charming stories of learning to raise alpacas and buying and revitalizing the town’s beloved candy store, Samuel’s Sweet Shop, with raw observations on the ups and downs of marriage and her struggles with secondary infertility. Burton also includes delicious recipes that can be made with fresh ingredients at home, as well as home renovation and gardening tips.

Burton’s charisma, wide-eyed attitude, and fortitude—both internal and physical—propels this moving story of transformation and self-discovery. The Rural Diaries honors the values and lifestyle of small-town America and offers inspiration for anyone longing to embark on their own unconventional journey.

The Diva Spices It Up (Domestic Diva #13) by Krista Davis

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Pages: 270

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Another delicious mystery with our favorite domestic diva. Book 13 is filled with lots of murder, intrigue, and food.

I’m always worried about a series after ten books as I’m afraid things will get repetitive and stagnant but I have yet to feel that way about this series. I enjoy how Davis grows all her characters whether they are the main character or secondary characters. I keep hoping Sophie and Mars work out their differences and find the path back to love. This book gave me hope that maybe we are testing that path. Only the author knows.

This book includes many yummy fall recipes that I am already bookmarking to try as soon as it cools. The idea of drinking pumpkin spice latte or eating pumpkin soup when the heat index is above 105 degrees makes me melt. The pumpkin bundt cake sound absolutely divine. Oh boy, do I have my tummy growling in anticipation.

The Diva Spices It Up is available now at your favorite retailer and hopefully (open) library.

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: She’s a young Martha Stewart…in Old Town Virginia!
New York Times bestselling author Krista Davis delights with the 13th in her enormously popular and completely charming Domestic Diva Mystery series. When a celebrity ghostwriter dies on the job, it’s up to Sophie Winston, Old Town, Virginia’s favorite entertaining expert, and sporadic sleuth, to whip up an impromptu investigation…

Sophie never considered ghostwriting as a side gig, until former actress and aspiring lifestyle guru, Tilly Stratford, trophy wife of Wesley Winthrope, needs someone to write her celebrity cookbook. Sophie agrees, hoping she’ll earn enough bread on this assignment to finish her bathroom renovations. But as it turns out, Sophie isn’t the first foodie to get a taste for recipe ghostwriting, and if the marginalia is any indication, this project could be a killer…

Wesley claims professional ghostwriter, Abby Bergeron, suddenly abandoned Tilly’s cookbook with no warning. But Sophie quickly discovers that Abby may be more ghost than writer now…and her disappearance was no accident. So Sophie cracks open a fresh investigation but sifting the seasoned murderer from this sampling of salty suspects won’t be easy. Will Sophie savor another case closed or will the culprit simply melt away?

Promises of Tomorrow (Walnut Creek 4.5) by Shelley Shepard Gray

promises

Pages: 100

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: July 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A perfect ending to a beautifully written series that touches on topics that will make you take stock of your life.

Without giving anything away, you know by the end of the novella that the Eight will be ok. Each book and novella is written as standalone reads but I heavily suggest you start with Friends to the End and read in order. You will get so much more out of the books. I have needed tissues with every story but that is good for me as it means that it was a memorable read for me.

Beth’s story touches on the thoughts I had in the early dating stages of my husband. If something tragic happens early on, how do you grieve? Sometimes you know from the beginning that you have found your person. I wanted to reach into the novella and comfort Beth with lots of hugs.

A quick read for an afternoon but one that stays with you long after.

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

NetGalley: Two years have passed since their friend Andy’s death, and the Eight is still struggling to cope with their loss. In an attempt to give the group some time to reconnect with one another, remember their friend, and reflect on the last two years, Marie decides that a relaxing couple’s getaway is just what they need before the craziness of the holiday season begins. When their large cabin in the woods turns out to be more rundown than rustic, though, Marie fears that she’s ruined everything, but at least, she thinks, the trip can’t get any worse—that is, until a lost English girl named Beth appears at the cabin. And with such heavy snow, the Eight is forced to take her in for the next twenty-four hours.

Although Marie feels as if all her planning and good intentions were for nothing, she has no idea that Beth will give the group a gift they didn’t know they needed: the reminder that life may not always be fair and sometimes it’s painful, but there’s always another day.

With Shelley Shepard Gray’s signature “thought-provoking, emotional” (Patricia Davids, USA TODAY bestselling author) prose, Promises of Tomorrow is a moving story of love, friendship, and faith.

The Trustworthy One (Walnut Creek #4) by Shelley Shepard Gray

trustworthy

Pages: 302

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: May 5, 2020

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

My Review: I say each book in my series is my favorite and it is true. The series gets better and better. Kendra’s story was so real and filled with love from all aspects. I have laughed, cried, and swooned while reading.

The hardest part of the book for me to get past was the cover. After reading I am not sure if I would have used that cover considering Kendra owns a shop filled with yarn and other household notions and Nate owns a hardware store. Not that a book cover is what makes the book.

The Trustworthy One is filled with love and friendships but it also discusses hard stuff like drug addiction and abuse.

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

NetGalley: New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray returns to the charming and evocative Walnut Creek Series with an unforgettable novel following one broken young woman whose search for peace leads her back to her hometown, where she rediscovers her faith and reconnects with those she loves most.

Kendra Troyer always knew she would leave Walnut Creek the first chance she got. When she was accepted into design school, she tried her best not to look back at the four siblings she was abandoning, but ahead to Columbus, where she was determined to stay—far away from her abusive home and far away from Nate Miller, the boy she vowed to despise for the rest of her life.

Though she suffered through dark times in Columbus, Kendra found her faith in the Lord again, and years later, when she learned one of her good friends had died, she realized it was time to go home to those she left behind.

Back in Walnut Creek, Kendra has a life she never could have imagined: her own design shop, a pretty little house, and a tight-knit group of friends. After she settles down, though, unexpected visitors come knocking and dark memories begin to resurface. Complicating things even further is the ever-present Nate Miller, who now owns the hardware store two doors down and whose very presence stirs in Kendra a fierce need to turn away and hide from her past. But Nate is persistent in setting things right between them.

As Kendra tries to come to terms with the anger she holds from her childhood, will she be able to open her heart to forgiveness and find the comfort she has always longed for in Walnut Creek?

The Crow’s Call (Amish Greenhouse Mystery #1) by Wanda Brunstetter

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc./Shiloh Run Press

Published: March 1, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

This was a hard but therapeutic read for me since I just recently lost my mom. The Crow’s Call centers around a family who lost three members in one night to a tragic accident. I could not fathom as I am having a hard time with just one.

It is very different from Brunstetter’s usual romantic fiction in that we have a mystery that runs throughout and will continue in the second book, The Mockingbird’s Song. Even after a few days of finishing the novel I am still trying to figure the mystery. I like that as it keeps me thinking about the book until the next release.

While reading I saw some of the grieving processes I am experiencing and it made me realize it is ok. Grief is different for all. You grieve on your time and no one else’s.

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

NetGalley: Mysterious Events Plague a Greenhouse in Pennsylvania’s Amish Country

When Vernon King, his son, and son-in-law are involved in a terrible accident, three women are left to cope with their deaths, as they become the sole providers of the family they have left. The women’s only income must come from the family greenhouse, but someone seems to be trying to force them out of business.

Amy King has just lost her father and brother, and her mother needs her to help run the family’s greenhouse. It doesn’t seem fair to ask her to leave a job she loves, when there is still a sister and brother to help. But Sylvia is also grieving for her husband while left to raise three children, and Henry, just out of school, is saddled with all the jobs his father and older brother used to do. As Amy assumes her new role, she also asks Jared Riehl to put their courtship on hold. When things become even more stressful at the greenhouse, will Amy crumble under the pressure?

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery #1) by Maria DiRico

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 almost 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Mia with her mob family and Italian grandma is just the medicine I needed during this crazy time. I laughed so often my husband had to ask what I was reading. The look on his face when I said a cozy mystery. He knows enough about cozy mysteries to know murders occur. He may be worried about me laughing at murder. I will correct him one day that I wasn’t laughing at murder. One day…

This was a great start to a new series. I almost did not request from NetGalley until a read a review from another reviewer and he raved about the book. If you need laughs but still want to read your cozies then this is the book for you. Mia’s grandma is a doll. I want to dive into the book and sample her cooking.

A bonus: recipes provided in the back. Not all Italian either there are some yummy Greek ones as well. If I have the ingredients I might be trying a few.

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: After her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .

Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal

mermaids

Pages: 348

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: My friend recommended this book and I am so glad she did. It was excellent. A very strong drama with a lot of heartaches. Beautifully written. Strong female characters.

Goodreads: Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.
Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

Finding Home (The Baxter Children #2) by Karen Kingsbury

home

Pages: 320

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I’m a fan of Kingsbury’s Baxter Family series even though I have not nearly read enough of them. It is definitely a series I like to savor and take my time to read. I was very excited last year to read about the creation of a new series centering around the Baxter children. I am happy to say that book two was just as good as the first.

I find it refreshing to read a children’s book that highlights kids using their imagination during playtime. Being a teacher, I am saddened how many children cannot free-write stories using their imagination because they do not know how to imagine. I constantly hear stories from my littles telling me that they go home and watch hours of endless TV, Youtube or play video games that are far too adult for them. So many rarely go outside and pretend they are on an island made of lava and find ways to escape.

I love how Finding Home teaches right from wrong and being humble. No matter the age of the reader (child or adult) I think we all could learn from it. Even a gentle reminder. Being humble is a wonderful trait but one of the hardest in today’s society.

Finding Home is a great read-aloud for families.

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

NetGalley: Summer is over and Dad begins his important position at an Indiana hospital. Like it or not, Bloomington is the Baxter Family’s new home. As school starts, everyone finds reasons to be excited about the move. Everyone that is except Ashley. Ashley desperately misses the home and friends she left behind. As she realizes her siblings have their struggles, too, she can’t help but wonder if unlikely friends can be the best friends of all? And could time and love from her family be enough to make a house feel like home?

In the second book in the Baxter Family Children series, #1 New York Times bestselling Karen Kingsbury and Tyler Russell tell the funny and poignant tale of the Baxter children finding home!

Amish Front Porch Stories: 18 Tales of Simple Faith and Wisdom by Wanda, Jean and Richelle Brunstetter

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: November 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This book left me contented and inspired to be more understanding of those around me. My plan was to read a story a day but once I started reading I could not put it down. A few stories left me wanting more just because I fell in love with the characters. My favorite was how each chapter ended in a bible verse.

I look forward to buying this book as a gift for several readers in my life.

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: Come and sit a while as you enjoy 18 fictional short stories of love, joy, and the peace found in Amish country.

Amish Country is known for an atmosphere of peace and quiet, perfect for front-porch sitting with a good book. Join New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, as they share 18 heartwarming stories from Amish Country. These fictional short stories include journeys we can all relate to as we seek how to live led by love, joy, peace, patience, and other Fruits of the Spirit. Meet Anna, who struggles to show love to a cantankerous neighbor; Laura, who endures infertility; Nora, whose pride threatens to consume her life; and other women who walk in their faith each day.