Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Published: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am absolutely horrified such a person as Georgia Tann existed. The pain suffered for generations is a tragedy. It’s also horrifying to think she was never officially brought to justice.

While I agree some children went on to live extraordinary lives it still doesn’t change how crudely they were adopted. I do believe you should have the right to your adoption records. I do not know much about adoptions but if there is one thing I hope is learned is that adoption facilities should get detailed health information of the families from the families for the children.

My eyes have been opened and my heart hurts for the Georgia Tann kids. Hopefully, nothing like this happens in the USA again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The compelling, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought a new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. Christie and Wingate tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, many of the long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with the authors to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

Us, in Pieces by Tasha Cotter and Christopher Green

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I’ll admit when I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it. Adin got on my nerves almost immediately. He is a whiny wimp of a man, in my opinion. BUT, I ended up loving it and changing my impression of Adin. He still wouldn’t be the man for me though.

I really liked how the novel was written using both emails, texts, and first-person dialogue. The alternating voice of Adin and Lilly made it exciting as we got to see what both thought about the situation. Both characters do a lot of growing as the book progresses.

Us, in Pieces, is available through Amazon (paperback only) and Shadelandhouse Modern Press (smpbooks.com).

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Shadelandhouse Modern Press. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Amazon: Us, in Pieces is a fresh and witty love story that follows two old friends into the unforgiving and wild terrain of the heart.

In college, Lilly Jameson and Adin Driscoll are as close as friends can get, until Lilly leaves unexpectedly and without explanation at the end of their sophomore year. Nearly ten years pass without contact when a sudden invitation from her parents brings them back into each other’s lives. Old, unspoken feelings resurface, and they take a gamble on their limited time together: they will be a couple for forty-eight-hours, and then go back to their own separate lives no strings attached.

But when Adin returns to his life in Columbus, Ohio, and Lilly to hers in Denver, Colorado, they find themselves unable to move on. They soon discover that who they were and who they have become is as unclear as to the sort of life they could build together.

Are they really the ones they have been waiting for all their lives? Will they risk the wildly different lives they have created for themselves? Can they bridge a lost decade to rekindle a life-long love and share a future they have only dreamed of?
Told in sparkling prose in the alternating voices of Adin and Lilly, this beautifully crafted, tightly woven, debut novel is an exhilarating roller coaster ride. Us, in Pieces, is an enduring love story across generations.

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

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Pages: 422

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 23, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A thrilling psychological read that will keep you up late into the night. When you get to the last 15-20 chapters, make sure you can finish in one sitting. I had to wait to finish and it was agonizing!

Campbell does a great job alternating the first-person accounts between Caroline and Aiden. One minute you feel sorry for Caroline and the next Aiden. You don’t know who to believe until the very end.

This the perfect vacation book as you won’t want to put it down.

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: Parade’s “10 Books Written by Women We Can’t-Wait to Read in 2019” | She Reads’ “Most Anticipated Thrillers of Summer 2019” | Pure Wow’s “The Best Beach Reads of Summer 2019” | CrimeReads’ “The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer”

From bestselling author Michele Campbell comes A Stranger on the Beach, an edge-of-your-seat story of passion and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.

As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?

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.

Fan Mail (An Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense #2) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 247

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: November 12, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Fan Mail is just as good as Desolate Shores. Aspen and her niece are a good team both in the investigation of murders and as a family unit. I didn’t want to stop reading from the moment I opened the book.

Please tell me a third book is on its way soon. I can’t wait to see who gets murdered next and how it helps Aspen overcome her past.

Clean romance as a side story, very few curse words, if any, but there are triggers of physical abuse, drug abuse and of course murder.

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

NetGalley: Agatha Award-winning and national bestselling author Daryl Wood Gerber returns with a dark new novel of suspense . . .

An adoring fan and a string of murders: a demented show of love that leaves no one safe . . .

Local celebrity news anchor Gloria Morning is used to receiving declarations of love and praise in her weekly fan letters, but when a Lake Tahoe doctor is murdered and she gets an anonymous note telling her it was done for her glory, her appreciation turns to panic. Unsure of where else to turn, she enlists the help of novice private investigator Aspen Adams. No sooner does Aspen begin digging into who sent the macabre note than another murder occurs, followed by another note, and she soon realizes she’s up against a ruthless and deranged killer.

Working with scant clues and a puzzling array of potential suspects, Aspen is determined to unearth the elusive connection between the victims and her client. But as the body count grows and the murderer remains a mystery to both her and the police, Aspen discovers she’s gotten closer to the killer than she ever imagined, and now she must risk everything she holds dear to stop the killings, including her own life . . .

The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets by Sarah Miller

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Pages: 294

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I had never heard of the Dionne Quintuplets until I read this book. I finished the book feeling angry and sad. Thinking back on it I think I was angry the entire time I read the book. How as a human did at anytime we think it was ok to look at them like caged animals? Yes, their birth in 1934 was a miracle in itself but to be put on display from almost day one?

Although this book is touted as a Young Adult book it should be read by adults as well. If nothing else, maybe we can all learn not to treat others as commodities but as equals.

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

NetGalley: In this riveting, beyond-belief true story from the author of The Borden Murders, meet the five children who captivated the entire world.

When the Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a grand total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne mesmerized the globe, defying medical history with every breath they took. In an effort to protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family–and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Quintland. Here, Sarah Miller reconstructs their unprecedented upbringing with fresh depth and subtlety, bringing to new light their resilience and the indelible bond of their unique sisterhood.

The Bake Shop (Amish Marketplace #1) by Amy Clipston

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A warm, delicious read that will leave you full of love. The story between Christiana and Jeffrey is romantic but like all relationships there is strife. I admire their persistence to keep believing all will work out.

The only complaint and it is not a big one: I wish there were recipes for Christiana’s yummy bakery items. Clipston makes them come to life.

I’m excited about this new series and am already counting down the months to book two.

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

NetGalley: Return to Lancaster County with the first installment of Amy Clipston’s charming new Amish Marketplace series.

Christiana Kurtz loves to bake, but when her bake stand becomes too busy, her mother encourages her to move her business to the local market. Her new bakeshop becomes so inundated with customers that the line blocks the leather and woodcraft shop next door, which is run by Jeffrey Stoltzfus. When Jeffrey complains that her stand is driving away business due to the lines, she complains to him that his personalization machine smells. Though their relationship starts off on bad footing, they eventually forge a friendship.

When Christiana’s father makes a surprise visit to the market, he is upset to find that Jeffrey uses the building’s electricity to personalize his items. He tells Christiana that Jeffrey is too modern for her, and she’s forbidden from dating him. Christiana is crushed, but she knows she must obey her father.

When Jeffrey’s shop catches fire one day, he puts the entire market in jeopardy—including Christiana’s bakeshop. Christiana, however, can’t deny how she feels about Jeffrey despite his mistakes. Though the odds are against them, can two young people find a way to rebuild both their businesses and their relationship?

Desolate Shores (an Aspen Adams Novel of Suspense) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 239

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I was blown away by Desolate Shores. The story was full of action and kept me on my toes trying to guess the killer. Every time I thought I guessed it a new red herring would be introduced. Any author that can achieve that with me is a go-to author.

I loved the side story with Aspen’s niece, Candace. I can’t wait to read more in this series to see how their relationship progresses. I feel so invested in their story that I have to know more.

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

NetGalley: Daryl Wood Gerber, the national bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author of the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, returns with a novel of gripping suspense . . .
A chilling murder, an elusive killer, and a family mystery that hits too close to home . . .

After finding the body of her best friend on the icy shores of Lake Tahoe, Aspen Adams refuses to stand by and watch as the local sheriff’s department begins their search for the killer. Launching her own investigation, she’s soon confronted with a growing array of secrets—both about the friend she thought she knew and about many of the people in her own life. As fragmentary clues and escalating dangers threaten to derail her, she must also cope with the disturbing behavior of her deadbeat sister and troubled teenage niece.

Determined to overcome her personal demons over past failures, Aspen is driven to unravel the conflicting evidence and a shifting range of suspects to bring the killer to justice, even as a family trauma unfolds that threatens to upend her life. And as her investigation inexorably leads her to a shocking discovery and taunts her with a solution that is just out of reach, Aspen realizes that the killer wants nothing more than to see her and her niece dead . . .

Murder, She Uncovered by Peg Cochran

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Pages: 284

Publisher: Random House Publishing

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Why did I wait so long to read this??? I could not put it down. It kept me guessing the entire time.

Elizabeth’s character grabs you immediately and you feel like you’ve known her forever. I was surprised how independent and strong she was given it is 1938 in the book. The more the book progressed the more her confidence grew.

I am already lobbying for Santa to bring me a kindle gift card so I can get books one and three. I want to see how it started and where Elizabeth’s character is going. Definitely, a must-read series for those who love historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

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

NetGalley: An intrepid 1930s Manhattan socialite uncovers deadly secrets during an assignment to the Hamptons in this riveting historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Rhys Bowen.

Westhampton, 1938. To the dismay of her well-to-do family, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams is quickly establishing herself as a seasoned photographer over at the Daily Trumpet. Growing more confident in her decision to pursue a career, Elizabeth is thrilled when she and her reporter sidekick, Ralph Kaminsky, are sent to Long Island to cover the story of a young maid found dead in one of the glamourous summer homes in the devastating aftermath of the Great New England Hurricane—also known as the Long Island Express.

At first, it’s assumed that the young woman was caught in the terrible storm, but when a suspicious wound is found on the side of her head, the police suspect murder. The maid’s death becomes even more tragic when it’s discovered she was pregnant, and with Elizabeth and Kaminsky at the scene of the crime, the Daily Trumpet scoops all the other papers in town.

The young woman’s boyfriend emerges as the likeliest suspect. But as Elizabeth follows the story, she begins to wonder whether someone in the household of the maid’s employers might be responsible—someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth about the baby’s paternity hidden. . . .

The Amish Widow’s Rescue (A Love and Promises Novel) by Rachel J. Good

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Pages: 315

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A story full of hurt, struggle, and love. A good example of how finding the right person can change your outlook on life. Never give up on believing in love.

Although this is book 3 in the series it is able to be read as a stand-alone. All three books are good, clean Christian reads that can be read from teenager to great-grandmas. Religion is a strong theme but scripture and sermons are not heavy in the reading.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Forever (Grand Central Publishing), through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: The perfect family awaits…if only he’ll risk his heart.

Pregnant and recently widowed, Grace Fisher is determined to provide for her family on her own. Thankfully, her jam business is popular in her Amish community. But it’s difficult keeping up with her work, her farm chores, and her two mischievous children. Especially now that they’ve taken to idolizing their neighbor Elijah. While the handsome farmer is kind and generous, he seems intent on holding Grace and her little ones at a distance…

Elijah Beiler has always admired his neighbor Grace. So standing by while she struggles to support her family isn’t an option. Offering to take over her farm duties, Elijah is determined to help while remaining detached. He knows all too well that love only leads to heartbreak. Yet the more time he spends with Grace and her children, the harder he finds it to leave each day. But can Elijah overcome past hurts and open his heart to this ready-made family?