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.

Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston

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Pages: 386

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: January 8, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A sweet collection of 4 stories spun-off from Amy Clipston’s The Christmas Cat. I heavily suggest you read that novella first because it sets the background and tone for these four wonderful love stories.

Spring Is in the Air is about Katie Ann. She feels as if she losing her best friend and bother as they both find love with each other. Will Katie Ann find love as she learns to accept the changes life has to offer?

Home by Summer finds Clara learning what it means to love someone enough to let them find their own way back.

The Fruits of Fall is a heart-aching story about Tena. She finds herself afraid of Englishers after a terrible experience in her life. When a homeless man wanders up and asks for him she learns to face her fear head-on with the love and patience from Wayne.

Winter Blessings is the story of Ephraim and Mandy. When life starts throwing curve balls will their love be strong enough to withstand them?

I am a fan of Amy Clipston and Amish stories and Seasons of An Amish Garden did not disappoint. You will find yourself cheering on the couples as they learn about love and the work it takes for it to grow.

Perfect for any time of year read but get it now to ease yourself into 2019 with some love and happiness.

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

Death and Daisies (A Magical Garden #2) by Amanda Flower

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Pages: 248 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 13, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fiona is putting the finishing touches on her Climbing Rose Flower Shop and working on making Duncreigan her own cottage. Her baby sister has flown over from Nashville to “find herself” after college. Fiona is also learning that not everyone in town is welcoming her with open arms. Minister MacCullen thinks she is trouble like her godfather and wants nothing to do with her or her business. After one of worst storms to hit the area in decades the minister is found washed up on the beach. Will Fiona’s new love, Chief Inspector Craig, suspect her once again?

In book two of the Magic Garden Mystery series we seem to jump right back in to Fiona’s life. I love when you can open a book and feel like you never left. Just as the first book, it was a fast-paced read that you do not want to put down. Fiona is still strong and a take no prisoners kind of gal. My judgment is still out on the addition of her sister Isla. She adds to the story but she can be whiny to the point I want her to go back to Nashville.

There is some magic in the book with the garden and Fiona being able to see visions but the magic is more background. It doesn’t overshadow the mystery.

I would definitely suggest you read this series in order so you don’t ruin the surprises each book offers.

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

The Diva Cooks Up a Storm (A Domestic Diva Mystery #11) by Krista Davis

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Pages: 352 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: May 29, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sophie and her best friend Nina are excited to spend their vacation on the beach but before they can leave they attend the trend of an underground dinner. The next day one of the diners is found dead. What or who had it in for him?

I absolutely adore this series. Sophie is your quintessential girl next door that everyone wants to be around. She not only can cook yummy dishes she also has a knack for solving the latest murder around town. Her ex-husband lives down the street and they share custody of Daisy, the most lovable dog ever and get this, Sophie and Mars get along. At times it makes you wonder if a certain someone was out of the picture would they get back together.

When you read a Diva book not only are you solving murders you are also learning so much about decorating, baking, cooking and general etiquette. I find that so very fun. It’s like reading Ann Landers all over again.

While each book can be read as a stand alone I suggest to get the full experience you read them in order. So far there are eleven books:
1. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme
2. The Diva Takes the Cake
3. The Diva Paints the Town
4. The Diva Cooks a Goose
5. The Diva Haunts the House
6. The Diva Digs Up the Dirt
7. The Diva Frosts a Cupcake
8. The Diva Wraps it Up
9. The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss
10. The Diva Serves High Tea
11. The Diva Cooks Up a Storm

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Flowers and Foul Play (A Magic Garden Mystery #1) by Amanda Flower

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Pages: 320 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: May 8, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fiona left Nashville, TN behind and all the memories, good and bad, of her rotten ex-fiancé. Her godfather left her his cottage in Scotland and she travels there to see what life has in store. Finding a dead body in the cottage garden within an hour of arrival is not what she was expecting. Fingers point to her because she is not Scottish but as clues start being pieced together the list of suspects is long and intriguing.

I adored this book! Fiona is one of the best female sleuths out there in cozy mysteries. She pulls herself up by her bootstraps and keeps on trucking. After being jilted by her fiancé for the cake decorator she flies by herself to Scotland, rents a car, drives and finds a dead body and she still does not run home and hide. Instead she starts investigating not knowing anyone in her new home. I am not sure I would have been brave enough to travel to a foreign country by myself much less investigate a murder on my own. She is caring, loving and genuine. You will find yourself a little in awe of her.

I am so excited for this new series. I usually do not read cozy mysteries set outside of the USA as I find them sometimes filled with too much detail explaining the customs and beliefs of the country it takes place in but Amanda Flower puts just the right amount of detail in the story not to be overwhelming. I am enchanted with the beauty she describes of the countryside in Scotland.

Magic is touched upon lightly throughout the book and makes it very interesting to see how it will unfold. I love the idea of a garden that blooms and rejuvenates on its own. Can you imagine watching such beauty unfold?

I don’t think you will be able to put this down once you start. I am interested to hear your thoughts once you grab a copy and lose yourself in the beauty of Scotland.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.