An Amish Christmas Kitchen (3 Novellas) by Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler and Kate Lloyd

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: September 19, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

An Amish Family Christmas is a great story to show how gossip is usually incorrect and hurts those involved. Sometimes the hurt can be mended but not always.

An Amish Christmas Recipe Box is a fast-moving love story filled with sweetness to get you in the mood for Christmas baking.

An Unexpected Christmas Gift was a surprising story of how even in close-knit families we don’t always know everything.

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

NetGalley: As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen.

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman’s unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.

Christmas Sweets by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 29, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am a huge fan of the Hannah Swensen series and had not read The Twelve Desserts of Christmas. A cute novella that makes you love Hannah even more. Of course, it is filled with plenty of yummy recipes!

I fell in love with Jaine and Prozac (yes that really is her cat’s name). I have added this series to the TBR list that is already full but I laughed my way through Nightmare on Elf Street. Just imagine a cat running through the mall with a corn dog in her mouth all the whole wearing antlers.

The Christmas Thief was my first Leslie Meier book and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but by the end I did. Very interested in this series now.

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: Gathered in one volume for the very first time, here are three yuletide tales of mystery, murder, and romance, featuring your favorite sleuths . . .

THE TWELVE DESSERTS OF CHRISTMAS by JOANNE FLUKE
It’s the perfect mix of naughty and nice when two lovestruck boarding school teachers watch six kids over Christmas break. But when someone wants the cozy couple’s romance to burn out faster than a scorched fruitcake, it’s Hannah Swensen to the rescue, armed with her sleuthing skills—and twelve deliciously festive recipes . . .

NIGHTMARE ON ELF STREET by LAURA LEVINE
Aside from the mortifying costume, how bad can a gig as a mall Santa’s elf be? Jaine Austen finds out when she’s teamed up with the Santa from Hell. But things go from bad to worse when he’s found murdered on the job—and Jaine is a suspect. Now all she wants for Christmas is to find the real killer . . .

THE CHRISTMAS THIEF by LESLIE MEIER
Elizabeth Stone is ready for a white Christmas in Tinker’s Cove, Maine—until a fancy Yule ball at the Florida hotel where she works dumps snow on her plans. The sponsor’s jewels have gone missing and the police are asking about her ties to a cute mystery guest. Good thing Elizabeth’s mother, Lucy Stone, flew down to surprise her. ʼTis the season for a little investigating . . .

Includes Luscious Holiday Recipes!

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?

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.

A Wedding on the Beach by Holly Chamberlin

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Pages: 448

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 3 stars

NetGalley:

A summer wedding, a college reunion, a gorgeous Maine beach house—it’s the ideal setting for bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s captivating novel about the connections that shape us, sometimes break our hearts, and forever change our lives . . .

Bess Culpepper has long been sure of two things—that her group of college friends would stay close, and that love is worth the wait. At forty-two, she’s found the right man, and she’s celebrating her upcoming wedding by inviting her best friends to beautiful Kennebunkport.

Bess has always been at the helm of these reunions, herding everyone together despite distance and outside commitments. As usual, Marta and Mike journey from their home near New York City, while Chuck and his husband, Dean, travel from Los Angeles. But Allison, half of a devoted couple since college, is making the trip from Chicago without her husband, Chris. None of the others knows the reason for their impending divorce. There are other tensions too. The usually level-headed Marta is conspicuously on edge, and Chuck reveals devastating personal news.

As reality encroaches on her dreams of the perfect gathering, Bess begins to second guess her assumptions about friendship and fidelity. If relationships like these, nurtured over decades, can flounder, how can any couple stay committed? Is it possible to truly know the ones we love—or even to predict where one’s own path will lead?

My Review:

I hate rating books below 4 stars but I could not rate this book any higher.

Major reasons why I was not thrilled with the book:

  1. It was never-ending. I felt like it went on and on and I was reading every single minute of their lives.
  2. For Bess, to be in her early 40’s she sure was whiney and self-centered. I understand it is all about the bride but this went overboard. She acted like everyone had to run their lives by her or it was poor pitiful left out me.

I normally like Holly Chamberlin’s books and plan on reading more. Give this a whirl if you love summer beach weddings, you may find it a favorite.

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

All He’ll Ever Need (A Little Child Shall Lead Them #1) by Loree Lough

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Among the New-new Order Amish of Oakland, Maryland, children bring precious hope, joy—and sometimes an unexpected second chance at love . . .

For Amish widower Phillip Baker, providing for his family in the wake of his wife’s death means backbreaking work and renewed dedication to his faith. Still, his strength can’t help him relate to his little son’s struggles. It seems a godsend when new doctor Emily White is able to treat Gabe’s shyness and fear even as she helps heal him. But no matter how strongly Phillip is drawn to the caring Englisher from the city, their differences may be too great to overcome . . .

Reeling from her own tragic loss, Emily keeps loneliness at bay through her clinic work. Somehow, though, Gabe and his gentle, sad-eyed father are making her want to risk opening her heart again. But can she find acceptance in their Plain world—and a way to turn their separate lives into a family forever? . . .

My Review: Amish romance is one of my favorite genres. I like it because I’m guaranteed a clean romance with unnecessary sex scenes and crude language.

Loree Lough has delivered that in the first in a new series. Emily and Phillip’s story is one of heartache, loss, and hope. A story that makes you cry and smile.

My only issue with it was I felt the romance was rushed into way too soon. I wish it had taken more time to develop. Does it hurt the story? No. Does it make me like the story any less? No.

I love the premise behind this series of “a little child shall lead them.” I am looking forward to the next book in 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.

The Snow Bear by Holly Webb

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Pages: 160

Publisher: Myrick Marketing and Media, LLC

Published: October 1, 2019 (November 26, 2012 (UK Edition)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Sara loves to listen to Grandpa’s stories of his adventures in the Canadian Arctic when he was a boy. As the snow begins to fall, she builds a snow bear just like the one in Grandpa’s story. In the middle of the night, Sara wakes up and sets out on an enchanted journey through a world of ice and meets a special polar bear cub who befriends her. But will she ever find her way back home?

My Review: An endearing read for children of all ages. The love between a grandpa and granddaughter is highlighted beautifully within the backdrop of the Canadian Arctic and a polar bear looking for his mama.

A bonus is a piece of educational information on polar bears and other arctic animals at the end of the book. A perfect book for an elementary classroom.

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

Killer in the Carriage House(Victorian Village Mysteries #2) by Sheila Connolly

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Pages: 288

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Welcome back to Asheboro, Maryland, where real estate can be a matter of life and death. Killer in the Carriage House is the second book in the Victorian Village Mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly.

Coming back to her hometown was never on the agenda for hotelier Katherine Hamilton. But when she’s offered a chance to lead the charge of transforming the landscape into a Victorian village and tourist attraction, Kate can’t quite refuse. The only problem? Nobody in Asheboro has the passion, nor the funds, to get plans off the ground…until Kate teams up with handsome historian Joshua Wainwright, who has ambitious ideas of his own involving an old mansion and a treasure-trove of documents that could attract investors and help seal the deal.

Then, just as Kate and Josh seem ready to pull the trigger, a dead body turns up in the town library. Do these mysterious papers spell danger instead of dollars? That’s what Kate intends to find out before all bets are off…and someone else ends up six feet under.

My Review:

I love the idea of turning a town into what it looked like in the past. Honestly, though, I wasn’t sure how this series was going to progress after the first book and still stay interesting. I was pleasantly surprised. The premise of Thomas Edison selling his electricity patents and Henry Barton buying them was a joy to read. I’m ashamed to say I have not taken the time to look this up and see if there is a smudge of truth to this or if creative artistic license was used. Either way, it made for interesting reading.

I am eagerly anticipating the third book in this series to see where we go next in the development in the town.

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.

An Amish Second Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Patricia Johns and Virginia Wise

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

For the Amish, the day after Christmas is for family, feasting, and exchanging simple gifts. And for three different couples, it will bring another precious chance for love . . .

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish nanny Hannah Eicher never thought she’d ever see Rob Prince again. There was no way a relationship between her and the handsome English fireman could overcome her family’s objections—and their personal differences. But when he saves her from a sudden blaze, Hannah longs to see if they can turn holiday hope into a lifetime of happiness . . .

HIS AMISH ANGEL * Patricia Johns
She’s too outspoken to be a proper Amish wife. So as advice columnist “Miss Amish,” Maggie Lapp helps Amish and English with their romantic problems. But when her tradition-minded former fiancé accidentally reveals her secret, Maggie will need more than a miracle to make things right—and find a perfect love for all the Christmases to come . . .

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS * Virginia Wise
Rachel Miller won’t let her disability keep her from selling heirloom plants and proving she can be independent. She certainly doesn’t need reckless Joseph Webber working at her greenhouse to pay off a disastrous Rumspringa stunt. But she and Joseph have more in common than they think—and their surprising holiday partnership might just blossom into forever joy . . .

My Review:

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
Shelley Shepard Gray

I was so happy to finally get the rest of the story between Hannah and Rob. It will make you smile and cheer out loud.

HIS AMISH ANGEL
Patricia Johns

My favorite sentence in the entire book, “married people realize what they have to lose and it is only then that they choose to bend for each other.” I find this beautiful and so true.

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS
Virginia Wise

A good reminder that sometimes the time we speak in and our actions are not always how we truly feel. A harsh tone may be covering a lot of pain. This is my first Virginia Wise book and won’t be my last.

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

Death by Dumpling (Noodle House #1) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 331

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

My Review:

I finally read book one of this delectable series. Vivien Chien is a true delight to the culinary cozy mystery world. I have devoured every book like a starving reader.

In Death by Dumpling we meet Lana, learn how she started her hobby of amateur sleuthing, and how her relationship with Detective Trudeau began. Chien gives her characters depth from the beginning. I like that Lana is strong but still has reservations and questions where her life is at this moment in time. It makes Lana as it is human nature to be reserved after a tough breakup. The fact that she does not let it knock her down completely is a sign she has inner strength. Inner strength she needs to deal with the murders she runs into.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but as always you get more from the series read in order. Cozy mystery lovers who love culinary series will be a fan of this series. Hurry by the first four books in the series as a gift for the reader in your life.