Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer

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Pages: 258

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

What do A Christmas Carol and Let it Snow have in common? Cold weather, a precocious child and Scrooge! If you like to read books about a curmudgeonly old man being softened up then this is the book for you.

Let it Snow could easily be read in a weekend but I made this my guilty pleasure after long days of teaching so I took a bit longer. Every night as I closed the book I found myself smiling. The precocious little girl, Wink, is a delight. We all need a Wink in our life at one point. Viewing life through her eyes is a blessing.

There are allusions to adult relations but nothing in detail so I consider a clean read. No foul language except for maybe a “hell” or two so again a clean read. A Christmas book for the collection.

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

NetGalley:

A Nantucket shopkeeper discovers that Christmas is the perfect occasion to make unexpected friendships . . . to warm the coldest of hearts—and maybe even find love.

Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, unpacking last-minute shipments and decorating for her loyal Christmas shoppers. But when her Scrooge of a landlord, Oscar Bittlesman, raises her rent, it seems nearly impossible for Christina to continue business on the wharf.

Even so, Christina hopes there is a warm heart underneath Oscar’s steely exterior. When she bonds with Wink, his sweet, young granddaughter who frequents the shop, it becomes clear that perhaps he isn’t so cold after all. And with the help of Wink’s uncle, who happens to be a charming and very handsome bachelor, this may be the best Christmas any of them could have ever imagined. Nancy Thayer’s enchanting Nantucket setting provides the perfect backdrop for this holiday love story.

 

A Precious Gift (Walnut Creek 2.5) by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Pages: 107

Publisher: Gallery, Pocket Books

Published: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My review: A sweet story to tide us over until the next full-length novel release in January 2020 in the Walnut Creek series.

I had grown very interested in Kyle and Gabby’s story from the other novels and was happy to see Shelley had written their story. Although not a Christmas book it is sure to warm the coldest hearts this holiday season. It will give you hope that love can overcome just about any obstacle. A little faith can make the hardest times in life a bit easier.

Although A Precious Gift is a novella between the second and third books of the series you can read it as a stand-alone. All the books in the series can.

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.

NetGalley: In this return to the heartwarming series about “friendship, love, and truth” (Rachel Hauck, New York Times bestselling author), Kyle Lambright has fallen hard for Gabrielle Allison Ferrara. After all, she’s beautiful, smart, and kind. There’s just one problem—his Amish family will never allow him to date an Englischer. Can Kyle break with tradition for true love, or will he stay with his family?

A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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!

What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr

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Pages: 304

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: September 17, 2019

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My Review: Honestly I was a bit confused through the entire book until the end and I’m still not 100% sure I understand the ending. I think that was probably the intent since the story is of an elderly lady put in a memory care unit against what she believes her will.

I love the Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr but I did not love this book. Personally, I won’t be jumping at the chance to recommend but if it sounds interesting to you please give it a read. It could be the next best book for you.

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.

Bookbub: In New York Times bestselling author Nevada Barr’s gripping standalone, a grandmother in her sixties emerges from a mental fog to find she’s trapped in her worst nightmare

Rose Dennis wakes up in a hospital gown, her brain in a fog, only to discover that she’s been committed to an Alzheimer’s Unit in a nursing home. With no memory of how she ended up in this position, Rose is sure that something is very wrong. When she overhears one of the administrators saying about her that she’s “not making it through the week,” Rose is convinced that if she’s to survive, she has to get out of the nursing home. She avoids taking her medication, putting on a show for the aides, then stages her escape.

The only problem is–how does she convince anyone that she’s not actually demented? Her relatives were the ones to commit her, all the legal papers were drawn up, the authorities are on the side of the nursing home, and even she isn’t sure she sounds completely sane. But any lingering doubt Rose herself might have had is erased when a would-be killer shows up in her house in the middle of the night. Now Rose knows that someone is determined to get rid of her.

With the help of her computer hacker/recluse sister Marion, thirteen-year old granddaughter Mel, and Mel’s friend Royal, Rose begins to gather her strength and fight back–to find out who is after her and take back control of her own life. But someone out there is still determined to kill Rose, and they’re holding all the cards.

 

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

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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

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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

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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.