Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas

amazing

Pages: 224

Publisher: Random House Children’s (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

Published: April 14, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A moving story involving PTSD, war, poverty, death, and love. A book for middle-grade readers and adults. It will open the eyes of adults to the questions and emotions children experience when facing death. Everything may look fine on the outside but inside there are questioning everything from could they have done something different to prevent it from why did it happen.

I can see many of the kids I work with connecting with this book on many levels. Unfortunately so many have lost a parent to death. Hopefully, this book will show them questioning the whys and hows is ok but that it is also ok to cry and talk with others about what they are experiencing. Everyone experiences death differently.

I am interested in other works by this author.

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

NetGalley: A poignant story of a boy picking up the pieces of his life after the unexpected death of his father, and the loyalty, concern, and friendship he finds in his small-town community.

Justin doesn’t know anything these days. Like how to walk down the halls without getting stared at. Or what to say to Jenni. Or how Phuc is already a physics genius in seventh grade. Or why Benny H. wanders around Wicapi talking to old ghosts. He doesn’t know why his mom suddenly loves church or if his older brother, Murphy, will ever play baseball again. Or if the North Stars have a shot at the playoffs. Justin doesn’t know how people can act like everything’s fine when it’s so obviously not. And most of all, he doesn’t know what really happened the night his dad died on the train tracks. And that sucks.

But life goes on. And as it does, Justin discovers that some things are just unknowable. He learns that time and space and memory are grander and weirder than he ever thought, and that small moments can hold big things, if you’re paying attention. Just like his math teacher said, even when you think you have all the information, there will be more. There is always more.

Set during the Gulf War era, Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened is a story about learning to go on after loss, told with a warmth that could thaw the coldest Minnesota lake.

The Book Charmer (Dove Pond #1) by Karen Hawkins

charmer

Pages: 369

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: July 30, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am ashamed to admit I have had this on my NetGalley account for almost a year. The excerpt was intriguing but it seemed every time I started to read the book I lost interest. It is personal. I have a parent who is showing signs of dementia and I had a hard time reading about Mama G. Finally during this time of social distancing I opened up the book and was entranced. It was still hard to read regarding dementia but it actually helped me process what I am going through.

The book is filled with a little magic, a little romance and a lot of agapae love. You find yourself believing things will be alright in the grand scheme of things. Faith in yourself and others will get you through most anything.

I agree with a few other reviews I’ve read that the ending felt rushed but that was ok. It is kind of like real life in that we have months that are filled to capacity with things and other months that are not.

I am ready to read the next book in the series which I believe may be coming out this summer.

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

NetGalley: New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.

An Unlikely Amish Match (Indiana Amish Brides #5) by Vannetta Chapman

unlikely

Pages: 218

Publisher: Love Inspired (Harlequin)

Published: February 1, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed reading book five in the Indiana Amish Bride series. The story between Susannah and Micah is a bit different than your typical Amish romance stories. Why do you ask? Susannah is recovering from cancer and feels she will never fulfill and Amish man’s dreams of a large family. She has let that color her view of her future and at 25 years old feels like an old maid. Micah is straddling the fence between the Englisch world and his Amish upbringing. At 25 years old he wants to be Amish but at the same time cannot find his footing in the Amish world. He thinks outside the box and sometimes that goes against the stricter views of the Ordung. When they team up together they realize they bring out the best in each other.

An Unlikely Amish Match left me full of smiles. Vannetta Chapman has written another beautiful love story that is sure to bring happiness to anyone who reads her newest romance.

Goodreads: Is she about to fall for trouble?

She could never love an Amish rebel…Or could she?

Susannah Beiler is determined to protect the other young marriageable Amish women from falling for the new bad boy in town…by pretending to date Micah Fisher herself! Their deal is simple: she’ll keep him company if he stays away from her friends. But she doesn’t count on finding out there’s more to Micah than his reputation…

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.

Coconut Layer Cake Murder (Hannah Swenson #25) by Joanne Fluke

coconut

Pages: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Oh my, I do need to get caught up on this series. The last book I read was #8 and I knew she got married but have no idea how things got so crazy. I am so impressed with how mature Hannah’s sister, Michelle, has become.

I enjoyed this book as I liked it was a simple murder but took a bit to figure out. We saw the murder and investigation through Hannah’s eyes as well as others. About the same time it dawned on Hannah who the killer was, it did to me as well. That made for great reading for me.

The love triangle still appears to be there but was no way distracting. You just understand that there are two men who really care and love Hannah. I’m not much on love triangles in my stories but I come to expect it in the Hannah Swenson series. My favorite pick is still Norman. Unfortunate name but a great guy. He seems genuine and that is what Hannah needs.

You can read this as a standalone but it will get you thinking about what you have missed. You will find yourself running out and buying 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.

NetGalley: Bakery owner Hannah Swensen is leaving Lake Eden to help a friend in sunny California. But an unexpected phone call swiftly brings her back to a cold Minnesota winter . . . and murder . . .

When Hannah learns that her sister Michelle’s boyfriend, Detective Lonnie Murphy, is the prime suspect in a murder case, she goes straight from a movie studio sound stage to the Los Angeles airport.

Back in frigid Minnesota, she discovers that proving Lonnie’s innocence will be harder than figuring out what went wrong with a recipe. Lonnie remembers only parts of the night he went out to a local bar and ended up driving a very impaired woman home. He knows he helped her to her bedroom, but he doesn’t recall anything else until he woke up on her couch the following morning. When he went to the bedroom to check on her, he was shocked to discover she was dead.

Hannah doesn’t know what to believe—only that exonerating a suspect who can’t remember is almost impossible, especially since Lonnie’s brother, Detective Rick Murphy, and Lonnie’s partner, Chief Detective Mike Kingston, have been taken off the case. Before everything comes crashing down on Lonnie like a heaping slice of coconut layer cake, it’ll be up to Hannah to rack up enough clues to toast a flaky killer . . .

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

front

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.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

dream

Pages: 381

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I tried reading this when it came out but never could get past the first few chapters. Every time I went to the library the cover kept pulling me towards it saying open me and read. Finally the other day I succumbed to the call and brought it home. I fell instantly in love with Carly’s story and hated to stop to be an adult and take care of my family.

Personally, I don’t believe in the time travel theory and that there are portals all around us but as I was reading The Dream Daughter I found myself thinking what if you could? Would you be brave enough to do as Carly did to save your child?

I highly recommend The Dream Daughter.

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: From bestselling author, Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel.

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

Two Steps Forward (The Deacon’s Family #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

two

Pages: 319

Publisher: Revell

Published: February 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am so sad this is the conclusion to the Deacon’s Family. I have become a fan of Luke Schrock and I’ll be the first to admit that I could not stand him when I first started reading about him. Self-centered little jerk is what he was but he is proof that people can change. I thought pretty much the same of Jimmy Fisher but he did have a grumpy mom and that would make anyone have a hard heart.

I found I was unable to put this book down as I have all the others. Once you delve into Stoney Ridge you don’t want to leave. The real world is put on hold and you are transported to a community with problems just like ours but you know things will eventually work out.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but I heavily suggest reading in order. Reading in order allows you to be more invested with the characters.

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

NetGalley: Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

Amish Country Undercover by Katy Lee

amish

Pages: 224

Publisher: Harlequin – Romance (US & Canada)

Published: February 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A fast-paced edge of your seat read. As many of you already know I am a huge fan of Amish fiction and Love Inspired has done a great job in adding some adventure to the typical Amish fiction.

I especially liked Amish Country Undercover as it took place in my home state of Kentucky. Grace has spunkiness that at times pushes the limits of her faith but she needs it to keep her family together.

This is the perfect read for any romance reader out there who also likes adventure.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Harlequin – Romance (US & Canada), through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Secrets, sabotage and small-town danger.

Someone wants an Amish woman dead.

Taking the reins of her father’s Amish horse-trading business, Grace Miller’s prepared for backlash over breaking community norms—but not for sabotage. Now someone’s willing to do anything it takes to make sure she fails, and it’s undercover FBI agent Jack Kaufman’s mission to stop them. But can Jack face his own Amish past long enough to shield Grace from a killer?

Stitches in Time (The Deacon’s Family #2) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

stitches

Pages: 330

Publisher: Revell

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania has to be one of the most interesting towns to live in as there is never a dull moment. For this visit we had a surprise deacon election, a need for foster parents and a trampoline terrorizing sheep just to name a few.

Woods went in a direction that I’ve not seen before in Amish fiction and maybe that is because I’ve not read enough yet. She incorporated a group of African American foster children. I loved it as it promoted positive love among races. I’m not saying that to start a race\discrimination discussion. I’m saying because this is what we need for our future. Families want children to live no matter skin color, country of origin or difference in religious background. Kids just want to be wanted and loved.

The premise of the story is We all have dropped stitches in our life like dear of trusting others and we need someone to be out stitch in time to fix our dropped stitch. I found the imagery of knitting and not leaving a dropped stitch as it would cause a hole very fitting and beautiful. If we don’t go back and mend our dropped stitches in life we can’t be our best. I know I have dropped stitches I need to fix. I think we all do.

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

NetGalley: Detachment had worked well as a life strategy for horse trainer Sam Schrock. Until he met Mollie Graber . . .

New to Stoney Ridge, schoolteacher Mollie has come to town for a fresh start. Aware of how fleeting and fragile life is, she wants to live it boldly and bravely. When Luke Schrock, new to his role as deacon, asks the church to take in foster girls from a group home, she’s the first to raise her hand. The power of love, she believes, can pick up the dropped stitches in a child’s heart and knit them back together.

Mollie envisions sleepovers and pillow fights. What the 11-year-old twins bring to her home is anything but. Visits from the sheriff at midnight. Phone calls from the school truancy officer. And then the most humiliating moment of all: the girls accuse Mollie of drug addiction.

There’s only one thing that breaks through the girls’ hardshell–an interest in horses. Reluctantly and skeptically, Sam Schrock gets drawn into Mollie’s chaotic life. What he didn’t expect was for love to knit together the dropped stitches in his own heart . . . just in time.

Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the little Amish church of Stoney Ridge for a touching story of the power of love.