Amish Outsider by Marta Perry

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Published: June 18, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In the wake of his estranged wife’s murder, widower Michael Forster returns to the Amish community he’d left as a teen. He wants a fresh start for himself and his daughter, Allie, away from those who still believe he’s guilty. In River Haven, a quieter life seems possible. If only Allie’s Amish schoolteacher, Catherine Brandt, was easier to ignore.

A problem solver by nature, Cathy can tell Allie’s withdrawn demeanor isn’t due to shyness. But getting through to Allie also means breaching her father’s hardened defenses. What starts as persistence soon grows into an attraction neither Cathy nor Michael saw coming. When the past suddenly threatens both his daughter and the woman he loves, Michael must risk everything to save them.

My Review: It has been a bit since I’ve read Marta Perry and An Amish Outsider made me wonder why? I was riveted the entire time and was blown away when the killer was revealed.

An Amish Outsider is the perfect read for fans of Amish mysteries, romances, and fiction. You have a little of everything in this gem of a read.

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

The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

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Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

I received a complimentary copy from Random House Children’s through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Amish Cookie Club by Sarah Price

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Edna’s friend, Verna Bontrager, has a problem. Her outspoken twenty-year-old daughter, Myrna, has been fired from her job. Again. Myrna’s family really needs her to chip in, but she’s clearly unsuited to customer service—not to mention that her sharp tongue scares away any boy who might come courting. But Edna has an idea—and his name is Ezekiel Riehl.

A widower with four young children, Ezekiel needs help. His house and his brood are a mess; his demeanor is gruff. It’s no surprise Myrna takes an immediate dislike to him. Yet she has no choice but to take on the challenge—and soon she starts to create order out of chaos. In fact, the kids begin to depend on Myrna—and so does Ezekiel. The truth is, she’s fallen in love with him. But if he’s to prove he’s not looking for a marriage of convenience, he’ll have to convince her of what’s in his heart . . .

My Review: A fun book full of emotions and lessons. I always say the book I just finished is my favorite by Sarah Price but this one truly is. I would not have thought that when I first started reading, The Amish Cookie Club. I struggled liking Myrna and wanted to reach in and yell at her to GROW UP. I found her so childish but oh what a wonderful change she made when she started working for Ezekiel. Price did a most excellent job in showing us how it is true if you don’t focus on yourself and your unhappiness and turn the focus on others you will find you are happier and more fulfilled.

You will not want to put the book down once you start and it reads so flawlessly you will possibly finish in one day. Just beware you will be sad to leave the cookie club so soon and the next installment is not due until later this year.

Recipes are included and I already want to bake the famous sugar cookies.

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

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

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

Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson

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Pages: 207

Publisher: Moody Publishers

Published: September 16, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon: The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through miles of rolling Virginia mountains. It’s a route made famous by natural beauty and the simple rhythms of rural life.

And it’s in this setting that Hannah Anderson began her exploration of what it means to pursue a life of peace and humility. Fighting back her own sense of restlessness and anxiety, she finds herself immersed in the world outside, discovering a classroom full of forsythia, milkweed, and a failed herb garden. Lessons about soil preparation, sour mulch, and grapevine blights reveal the truth about our dependence on God, finding rest, and fighting discontentment.

Humble Roots is part theology of incarnation and part stroll through the fields and forest. Anchored in the teaching of Jesus, Anderson explores how cultivating humility—not scheduling, strict boundaries, or increased productivity—leads to peace. “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus invites us, “and you will find rest for your souls.”
So come. Learn humility from the lilies of the field and from the One who is humility Himself. Remember who you are and Who you are not, and rediscover the rest that comes from belonging to Him.

My review: This book helped me find joy in life after the death of my Papaw by making me relieve sweet memories from childhood. Sitting in the yard breaking green beans, learning how to properly plant as I got older and how to find God in everything.

My papaw was a true Southern Baptist and did not let a day go by without reading his bible. He read it faithfully until he slipped into unconsciousness the week before he passed. I have always admired his belief and have to go realize after reading Humble Roots, he was humble in everything he did. He was truly humble.

Humble Roots will be a book I treasure.

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

The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Sanders Mystery #2) by Judi Lynn

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Pages: 268

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 23, 2013

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing . . .

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

My review:

What I like: I love the mystery that runs through each book in the series. The mystery is very interesting and both books have kept me guessing almost to the end.

I enjoy the animals featured and was very pleased to see Jazzi get the kittens from the little boy and not go to a pet store. I imagine those kittens are going to give George the Pug a run for his money shortly.

What I don’t like: Ansel’s insecurity with Jazzi is very disturbing almost to the point of being controlling. Yes, they’ve known each other a while but only been dating two months and already he is pressuring her to let him put a ring on it. A comment is made almost every day. I am tired of reading how handsome he is. We get it, he is the perfect Nordic God. How he acted while away at his family was sickening. Where is the trust he says he has in Jazzi? He is not showing it.

There is a lot of beer drinking while working. Every time they take a break, it’s “Let’s go have a beer.” Maybe they should drink some water every now and then.

The lead detective asking Jazzi for help in notifying next of kin was very far fetched for me. Seemed absurd. Yes, I realize this is fiction but it made the story hard to believe. No police officer that I know would be asking a civilian to help him break the news to the next of kin that someone has died.

I would not give this to a young teenager to read as there are adult situations (no details but heavily implied), drinking and the controlling behavior of Ansel.

I like the Jazzi Sanders Mystery series but it is not my favorite. I will continue to read the series.

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

Mending Fences (The Deacon’s Family Book #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 330

Publisher: Revell

Published: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 stars

Oh my soul what a powerfully moving book.

NetGalley:
Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.

Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he’s hurt–a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn’t so simple. It’s gut-wrenching.

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke’s clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers’ favorite characters.

My Review:
It has been a few months since I have read a book that totally took me off guard and blew my socks off. This book definitely did that. I am not even sure where to start with this book review.

In today’s world addiction is so prevalent. Almost every family has dealt with it through a spouse, child or other close family members. The effects tear families and communities apart. I deal with it more than I would like in the classroom. Nothing is more heartbreaking than a precious 5-year old kindergartener coming up to you and saying my mommy had to have NARCAN last night. Thankfully I have never had a personal addiction problem and I will be the first to tell you that I do not understand it. Fisher did an excellent job in showing addiction from the person with the addiction. I appreciated it that she also made sure to make that person accountable.

I also love the lesson of you never know how your (bad) actions can affect another and the rest of their life. You may think you are pulling a harmless prank but in reality, you could be taking something very important from that person. Something I need to strive towards is forgiveness. That is a downfall of mine. I don’t forgive easily not do I forget.

Towards the end is a shocking revelation that will floor you. I actually had to stop reading to process it. No, I am not giving you any hints as I want you to experience the shock I did.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Nipped in the Bud (An Orchard Mystery # 12) by Sheila Connolly

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Pages: 212

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: October 29, 2018

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Newlyweds Meg and Seth are having trouble staying busy during their slow season. Well, that is until finding a dead body behind their house. When things start getting secretive between the different police departments involved both Meg and Seth can’t stay out of the investigation.

This is the first book in the series that I have read. I have several to read but have not done so. The reviews for this series are exceptional up until this one. The reviews range from “meh” to “love”. I am in the middle. There was a lot of talking and not much action. I am used to more action in my cozy mysteries. I felt like a was reading a book that had to be written.

Based on reviews for earlier books in the series I do plan on reading the series from the beginning. I hope I am not disappointed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Beyond the Page Publishing through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.