The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The sisters of summit ave

NetGalley:

From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars but I was not thrilled with the style of writing. The story jumps from past to present and between the sisters and Dorothy. Normally that does not bother me but in this book, I thought it took the punch of the story away. I would get really invested in the current storyline and then, bam, it would switch.

I knew going in, this was a work of fiction but I really thought I’d get to the end and be told it was loosely based on a true story. Alas, that did not occur. I have found myself reading what I can on the creation of Betty Crocker.

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.

Listening to Love (Amish Journey’s #2) by Beth Wiseman

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Pages: 321

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Listening to Love Amish Journeys #2)

NetGalley:

He’s Amish. She’s Englisch. They are best friends, despite what the gossips say. But could the rumor mill know more than they do?

Englischer Natalie Collins looks forward to Friday night suppers at Levi and Mary Shetler’s house every week: delicious food, wonderful conversation with her Amish friends, and, best of all, the presence of Levi’s older brother Lucas. Natalie and Lucas have become best friends despite their different backgrounds. They share a love of books, and he is teaching her about God in a way that she can understand.

But the closer they become, the more opinions everyone seems to have. Levi and Mary, Lucas’s family, and even Natalie’s mother—whose own life is a mess at the moment—have concerns about their relationship. Why can’t everyone understand that it’s possible to just be friends? Besides, they couldn’t be together even if they wanted to be. Lucas would never leave the Amish faith, and Natalie is Englisch and pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine.

But when a terrifying accident happens, Natalie and Lucas are forced to confront their true feelings and decide if they can stay true to themselves and each other.

My Review:

Wow, this book took a twist I NEVER expected. It was already a great book but the twist made it unforgettable.

A great example of forgiveness, humility and overcoming the many obstacles in life.

Levi and Natalie’s story will stay with me for a long time. Two vastly different worlds and they still became friends and so much more.

The Amish Journey’s series is a keeper for book collectors. You will want to revisit again and again.

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

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales by Some of Christian Fiction’s Most Poplar Mystery and Suspense Authors

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Pages: 911

Published: August 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales of Suspense

Amazon:
Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before-published tales of Christian suspense from today’s most popular mystery and suspense authors.
Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

My Review:

I enjoyed most of the stories but there were a few I didn’t. The ones I did not enjoy were stories I wouldn’t normally read. They were good just not my cup of tea.

My favorites: Vannetta Chapman (takes place in Shipshewana and involves an Amish man and a lady FBI agent), Christy Barritt (part of her Lantern Beach series, which I have put on my TBR list) and Rachel J. Good (Amish Twins – one good and one very bad seed. I’m still shivering at the thought of being confused with an identical twin).

I have found several new to me authors that I will be looking to read in the future.

This is the perfect book for the person who likes to read but has a busy schedule. You can read a story in one sitting and not worry about stopping in the middle of a book and forgetting what is happening by the time you get back to it.

Strangled Eggs and Ham (A Country Store Mystery #6) by Maddie Day

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders for her expanding clientele at Pans ‘N Pancakes, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat in South Lick, Indiana. Real-estate developer Fiona Closs plans to build a towering luxury resort at one of the most scenic hilltops in Brown County, and not everyone can see the sunny side of the imposing proposition—including Robbie’s furious Aunt Adele, who doesn’t waste a minute concocting protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next . . .

My Review:

I alternated between reading and listening to the audiobook for this addition to the series. I much prefer to read the books than listen as I am not a fan of the narrator on the audiobook. She makes Robbie sound a lot older than she is and it kept throwing me off as I thought Aunt Vera was talking.

Book six is a strong addition to the series. Plenty of red-herrings to keep you guessing who the murderer could be. You can read each book as a standalone with no problems. Day does such a good job of describing the area around Bloomington, Indiana that you can’t help wish you could drop in and visit with Robbie and eat some pancakes at Pans-n-Pancakes.

A clean read in that there is no foul language, sexual situations or overly grisly murder scenes.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, 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 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.

A Perfect Amish Match (Indiana Brides #3) by Vannetta Chapman

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Pages: 217

Publisher: Love Inspired

Published: April 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazon:  After three failed relationships, Amish bachelor Noah Graber would rather disappoint his parents than try again. But when matchmaker Olivia Mae Miller agrees to provide courting lessons, Noah’s perfect match becomes clear—it’s Olivia Mae herself! With ailing grandparents at home, she hadn’t planned on love or marriage. Might a future with Noah be everything she’s been missing?

My review: As soon as I realized Olivia Mae was caring for her grandparents who are experiencing mental deficiencies due to age my heart was lost. Her unconditional love is something I think we all strive for. We could all learn a thing or two about patience and being kinder from Olivia Mae. Noah is no slouch either.

A Perfect Amish Match is a book I will revisit again and again. I usually gobble up Love Inspired and Vannetta Chapman books in 24 hours of starting them. I purposely made myself take it slower with this book and I’m so glad I did.

A Perfect Amish Match is the perfect book for the teenage girl in your life. Clean romance, clean language throughout. It would also make the perfect Easter or Mother’s Day gift for the women in your life.

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

An Amish Reunion by Amy Clipston; Beth Wiseman; Kathleen Fuller andKelly Irvin

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Pages: 399

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: April 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Net Galley:

Their True Home by Amy Clipston

When Marlene Bawell moved from Bird-in-Hand ten years ago, she was in the deepest of mourning for her mother. Now her family has moved back so her father can seek employment after being laid off. To help save money, Marlene works at the hardware store owned by Rudy Swarey’s father. She knew Rudy growing up and had a secret crush on him, though he never seemed to notice her. But just as a friendship between them begins to blossom, her life is once again turned upside down. Will Marlene ever have a chance to find her own true home?
A Reunion of Hearts by Beth Wiseman

Ruth and Gideon Beiler experienced one of life’s most tragic events. Unable to get past their grief, the couple abandoned their Amish faith and went in different directions, though neither could bear to formally dissolve the marriage. When their loved ones reach out to them to come home for a family reunion, Ruth has reason to believe that Gideon won’t be there. Gideon also thinks that Ruth has declined the invitation. Family and friends are rooting for them to reunite, but will it all be enough for Ruth and Gideon to get past their grief and recapture a time when they were in love and had a bright future ahead of them?

A Chance to Remember by Kathleen Fuller

Cevilla Schlabach, Birch Creek’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is surprised when Richard, a man from her Englisch past, arrives in Birch Creek for a visit. While he and Cevilla take several walks down memory lane, they wonder what the future holds for them at this stage of life—friendship, or the possibility of something else?

Mended Hearts by Kelly Irvin

At eighteen Hannah Kauffman made a terrible mistake. Her parents and members of her Jamesport Amish community say they’ve forgiven her. But she feels their eyes following her everywhere she goes with eighteen-month-old Evie. Thaddeus, Evie’s father, escaped this fate by running away from Jamesport. Now that Thaddeus is gone, Hannah’s old friend Phillip is stepping up to be by her side. He has waited patiently for Hannah to realize just how much he cares for her. But when Thaddeus returns after two years, Hannah can’t deny the love she feels for him. Does the fact that Phillip has waited patiently for her all this time mean that she owes him something? Can she trust either one of them? Can she trust herself? She has repented and been forgiven by the One who is most important—her heavenly Father. But is she willing to risk making more mistakes by opening herself up to love?

My Review:

A wonderful collection of Amish novellas that show you even in the darkest times there is a silver lining but it just may not be the one you were anticipating.

If you have never read Amish fiction/romance and want to give it a try this a great collection to start with. Each novella is short enough to read in a couple of hours. You do not have to worry about letting your teenage daughter read as all are clean romance and language-wise.

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

Two Weeks (The Baxter Family #5) by Karen Kingsbury

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Howard Books

Published: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:
Cole Blake, son of Landon and Ashley Baxter Blake, is months away from going off to college and taking the first steps towards his dream—a career in medicine. But as he starts his final semester of high school he meets Elise, a mysterious new girl who captures his attention—and heart—from day one.

Elise has her heart set on mending her wild ways and rediscovering the good girl she used to be. But not long after the semester starts, she discovers she’s pregnant. Eighteen and alone, she shares her secret with Cole. Undaunted by the news, and in love for the first time in his life, Cole is determined to support Elise—even if it means skipping college, marrying her, and raising another man’s baby.

When Elise decides to place her baby up for adoption, she is matched with Aaron and Lucy Williams, who moved to Bloomington, Indiana to escape seven painful years of infertility.

But as Elise’s due date draws near, she becomes focused on one truth: she has two weeks to change her mind about the adoption. With Cole keeping vigil and Lucy and Aaron waiting to welcome their new baby, Elise makes an unexpected decision—one that changes everyone’s plans.

Tender and deeply moving, Two Weeks is a story about love, faith, and what it really means to be a family.

My Review:
This book hit me right in the feels. Even 24 hours after finishing I’m still feeling the effects.

How easy this could be about any teenage girl right now? Previously in a bad relationship with a terrible guy who gets away with the unthinkable. Does she have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption or keep the baby and forgo all her dreams? I couldn’t imagine making that decision. My heart aches for Elise.

I could relate to Lucy in some ways as never being able to have a child of my own. Luckily I was able to be a mom when I married my husband. His son became my son as well. Two Weeks made me look into myself and question if I could have been strong enough to go through so many failed adoption attempts. It might have shaken my belief in God like it did Lucy’s.

There is a third storyline in Two Weeks not mentioned on the book jacket that will have you reaching for the tissues and once again questioning why.

Take your time reading Two Weeks and soak up the amazing work of God in our daily lives.

This is book 5 in The Baxter Family and if you’ve read all the Baxter books or this is your first you can jump right in with no hesitation.

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

Hearts in Harmony (An Amish Journey #1) by Beth Wiseman

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:
Musical prodigy Levi Shetler hasn’t touched a piano since he secretly played one years ago. His strict Amish community forbids instruments or the singing of any music not in their approved songbook. Levi asks God often why music tempts him when playing an instrument isn’t allowed in his world.

One person knows Levi’s talents: Mary Hershberger, the girl who promised years ago to keep his secret. Mary comes from a more liberal district than Levi, but she’s facing family troubles of her own. The mutual care for an aging Englischer, Adeline, reunites Mary and Levi as young adults. They realize that, despite their differences, they have a shared love of music—and a shared confusion about whether their talents are God-given gifts or temptations luring them into the Englisch world.

The couple realizes they must compromise or part ways, but a tragic accident shakes their decision. Both Mary and Levi will need to reconcile what they love with what their hearts say is right—because even as their passion for music brings them together, it could be what tears them apart.

My review:
Box of Tissues warning. You will need them almost from the beginning. This book is beautiful; the love flowing throughout (not just romantic love) makes you believe in the good in the world amidst so much hate we hear constantly on the news. I did not want to put this book down. I found myself reading every little chance I got. Adeline, Mary, Levi, and Natalie felt like friends I had had for life.

Hearts in Harmony is about so much more than the love of forbidden music. It is about doing what is right and loving others for who they are not what they can give or provide you. Mary, Levi, and Natalie show us that being selfless and helping those who need it is what life is about. You can have all the money and possessions on the world but without love you have nothing.

I have already noted in my calendar when the second book releases (September 2019) and am anxiously awaiting to read it.

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