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.

The Diva Sweetens the Pie (A Domestic Diva #12) by Krista Davis

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Nothing heats up Old Town quite like the annual Pie Festival, and this year is no exception, especially since Sophie’s professional rival, Natasha Smith, is barred from participating. Sophie, meanwhile, has been asked to oversee the pie eating contest. But the drama really rolls out when celebrity judge, Patsy Lee Presley, host of television’s most popular cooking show, bites the crust during the competition, and Sophie’s friends are suspected of the crime.

As the folks of Old Town dish, the tough truth about Patsy’s meteoric rise to domestic stardom begins to leak. It turns out that Patsy’s sweet exterior hid a secret sour side, which alienated many of her closest allies, including a jilted ex-husband, a bitter ex-mentor, and a jaded ex-best friend. With the festival falling apart, and her friends in danger of being boxed up for murder, Sophie must cobble together the clues and stop a flakey friend from serving up any more deadly desserts.

My Review: This series gets better with each yummy addition. I’m not sure what I enjoy more, the mystery, the baking/cooking tips or recipes. I’m now in the mood to bake pies especially a strawberry pie.

I enjoy how Davis does not let romance overshadow her mysteries. There is just enough to make it interesting and real. I still think her and Mars make a great couple.

If you are looking for a delicious, sweet read this is the book for you.

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

The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis

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Pages: 310

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: April 2, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: With her Amish parents’ twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise–the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.

Sylvia’s bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda’s relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia’s recent engagement to the preacher’s grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

My review: I have been reading Beverly Lewis for I know twenty years and each book she releases keeps getting better and better. The Tinderbox is going to be one of my favorites. I am already eagerly anticipating the sequel due out later this year.

The shock at the end had my jaw dropping to the floor. What a surprise.

I admire Rhoda and her strength and faith in God to work through the secret her husband, Earnest, kept from her. I don’t think I could have been as calm and understanding as she. As always Lewis shows how our belief in God can help us with forgiveness but she doesn’t preach it. I like that.

A solid four star read.

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

Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat #5) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.

When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .

My Review:

As I closed the book I was crying. Why? I fell so hard into the story every time I opened the book that I didn’t want it to end. The emotions Jane experienced were so real. She had to make many hard decisions but I loved that she followed what she thought was the right thing to do even if it wasn’t going to be popular. I feel we really got to know the real Jane and what a powerful force she is.

A series I would suggest the start from the beginning so you can connect with the characters and not ruin any surprises along the way.

I am looking forward to seeing how Adams progresses the series. There is a world of possibility and Adams is the best author for the job.

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

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

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Pages: 347

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: April 23, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

My Review: This is my second Sally Hepworth book and both have been amazing reads. It was a close 5-star read.

A perfect book to show how money can ruin lives.

Would I recommend this book for a teenage reader? No, as it has many adult situations (not sexual) that might be too much. This would make a perfect book club book. I wish I was in one just to have some animated discussions in the plot.

I received a complimentary copy from St. Martins Press 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.

Deadly Vows (A Britton Bay Mystery #2) by Jody Holford

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Pages: 220

Publisher: Kensington

Published: April 9, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:
Britton Bay is buzzing with preparations for a wedding at the bed and breakfast where Molly rents a small carriage home. Molly is even helping out and plans to interview the rising star caterer—until the woman is found dead. And then the bride-to-be goes missing. To make matters worse, the venue is owned by Molly’s new boyfriend’s mother—and Molly was among the last people to see the victim alive. All of which makes solving the crime her top priority . . .

With the nuptials indefinitely on hold, Molly will have to sift through a sticky mix of suspects, including a rival caterer with a short fuse, a groom with an illicit secret, and a wedding party riddled with personal drama. And if she doesn’t discover the truth soon, Molly might be her own front-page news . . .

My Review:

A solid second book in the Britton Bay series. I’m still in love with the characters and the town. I really want to know the full story behind Corky. I just think there is one

Again plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing.

I’m very impressed that the language and romance were clean considering the author is also a romance author. I appreciate it was. An easy read and whether you’ve read the first book or not I think you can easily pick right up with the series with book two.

The exciting news is that book three is already in the works.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington/Lyrical Underground 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.