The Teacher’s Bride (Amish Brides of Birch Creek) by Kathleen Fuller

teacher

Pages: 320

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: December 4, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Christian moved to Birch Creek to accept the teaching position and in hopes, it would widen his availability to find a wife. When a sprained ankle sidelines home for a few days, he has to depend on “accident waiting to happen” Ruby to cover his class. Will Christian be able to see past Ruby’s clumsiness to find the love she has to offer?

The Teacher’s Bride has plenty of laughs to offer between Christian and Ruby. You will be laughing out loud aplenty. I think many of yes will be able to relate to how both get nervous and tongue-tied and clumsy when wanting to impress someone.

My opinion on Christian’s sister, Selah, is still out. I had to remind myself several times as I was reading that she is only 19 years old and 19-year-olds can be very selfish and self-centered. I hope her story is explored more in a future novel.

I enjoy the way Kathleen Fuller writes. It like a warm hug on a cold night; comforting and welcoming. I would have no problems giving her books to young teen girls to read as they are clean and wholesome.

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

The Body in the Attic (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery #1) by Judi Lynn

body

Pages: 220

Publisher: Kensington

Published: November 27, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Jazzi lives in River Bluffs, Indiana flipping houses with her cousin and smokin’ hot contractor Ansel. Their current house belonged to Cal, the ex-fiance of Jazzi’s aunt. Problem is they find Jazzi’s aunt stuffed in a trunk in the attic. Jazzi is on a mission to find out who killed her aunt. During the investigation, more secrets are dug up. Will Jazzi find the killer before the off button is flipped on her life?

I originally thought to give this book 3.5 stars but the mystery warranted 4 stars. What did I not like about the book? The constant bashing Jazzi did of Ansel’s girlfriend. Every time the girlfriend was mentioned she bashed her and it began to feel like bullying. I got it, Jazzi did not like her and she did have some unsavory qualities.

Jazzi’s romance moved way too quick. I don’t care she knew him already. I just don’t think good romances move that fast. The romance overshadowed the mystery unnecessarily at times. I almost feel as if there is nothing left to discover in additional books between Jazzi and her boyfriend unless they get married very quickly.

What did I like about the book? George the Pug! George is a very cute and spoiled pupper. The visual you get when reading Ansel carrying George up and down the stairs is precious. I liked the Sunday family dinners. The dinners added a good reality touch and showed how everyone is connected in some way. The mystery was excellent even if overshadowed.

I will read the second book in the series to see how the story progresses.

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

Santa Puppy (Tourist Trap #9.75) by Lynn Cahoon

santa puppy

Pages: 90

Publisher: Kensington

Published: November 11, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This Christmas, Jill is hosting an adopt-a-pet event at her coffee/bookstore. When bathing a sweet pup whose owner has recently passed away reveals a safety deposit box key Jill is on the hunt to find out what is in the box and to find the pup a “furever” home for Christmas.

For me, this was the perfect introduction to the Tourist Trap cozy mystery series by Lynn Cahoon. I was captivated by Jill and her love for reading and animals.

You can read this novella out of order as your first introduction with no problems at all. There are plenty of mentions of things in the past but all the mentions do is make you want to drop everything and read the series from the beginning.

This is not your typical happy ending so you will find yourself a tad teary at times. Unfortunately, I think there are more stories like this in the real world.

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

A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard

simple

Pages: 368

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 25, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s Christmas in Willow Ridge! Rosalyn is the only daughter left to take care of her father, Cornelius, and that is a job unto itself. To get away a few hours several days a week she has started working in Nora’s shop and selling her homemade wreaths. It also allows her to buy groceries and items for the house when needed since her dad has been receiving bills marked past due. While working one day, Amish bad boy, Marcus walks in and turns Rosalyn’s life upside down. She knows he is trouble but her heart thinks differently. Will Marcus be able to heal Rosalyn’s heart with his love when the unthinkable happens to her father and family?

A Simple Christmas is book 3 in the Simple Gifts series. For fans of Amish fiction, this is a must read series. It is a little edgy with some of their beliefs but it is a good edgy in my opinion. I think it shows there are Amish sects out there that are relaxing some beliefs to let them be sustainable in an ever-changing world that is becoming more and more dependent on technology. This community still believes in living in a simple world but understands it needs the English and the ability to communicate with them. Cells phones and computers can be a wonderful addition to a business but it does come with evils that can lead you far away. Your faith must be strong to not go down those dangerous paths. Just ask Cornelius.

Cornelius has always ruled with an iron fist but more so since his wife died and he moved his family to Willow Ridge. As the years go by he finds himself living a double life. A life that will eventually lead to his ruin. He thinks he can strong arm Rosalyn into staying and taking care of him but he does see that he is pushing her further and further away.

Rosalyn believes deep in her heart that she will always be a “maidel” the rest of her life and she is fine with that. What she is not fine with is taking care of her ungrateful father. She finds he is making her life more and more unbearable. If not for her job in Nora’s store, I have no idea how Rosalyn would have survived.

Each book in this series can be read as a stand-alone. You will find yourself loving the characters as much as I do. I dare you!

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

 

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Random House Publishing – Ballantine

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I will start my review saying I will NOT discuss the political sides of abortion or whether I think it is right or wrong.

George Goddard, an upset father, takes it upon himself to teach the women and doctor at the state’s only abortion clinic a lesson, by taking them hostage. He blames everyone there, patients and staff, for what has happened to his daughter.

After the first shot was fired, Hugh McElroy, a hostage negotiator, was one of the first one scene. What he doesn’t realize is that his fifteen year old daughter is inside with her aunt, his sister. Hugh has depend on his training and the others inside to keep his daughter safe.

Through the eyes of a nurse who is a patient, the doctor who performs the abortions, a retired professor facing a death she cannot control, the distraught father, an anti abortion protestor, a young woman who felt abortion was her only way out and a scared teenager we learn of the many different reasons humans make the decisions they do.

You can guarantee that when you pick up a Jodi Picoult book you will be made to dig deep inside yourself and think. You may not agree with the issue being discussed but you will be forced to see the issue from every side.

I was not sure if I would like the narrative structure The Spark of Life was written in but by the end I was glad it was written backward, meaning we start with the most recent hour of the hostage standoff and work our way back to how it all began. It forced me to question why and take more of the facts given into consideration.

A great book for book clubs as many discussions can arise while reading. Expect tears and heartache as you read.

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

The First Love by Beverly Lewis

first love

Pages: 304

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

1951: It’s a summer of change and acceptance. Maggie is learning to deal with her chronic illness and help her younger siblings accept their new stepmom. A Mennonite tent revival has set up in town and Maggie attends at the urging of her Mennonite cousins. Will the meetings bring her closer to accepting her illness and accepting her stepmom or will the meetings take her away from her Amish faith?

I knew very little about Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis until reading Maggie’s story. JRA sounds absolutely terrible not to know day to day when you wake up on how you are going to feel and if you are going to be able to move or not.

I applaud Lewis for her positive stepmom portrayal. So many times we read stories of a terrible stepmom who hates her step kids. Being a stepmom myself it made my heart sing to see the stepmom as loving and trying to keep their mom’s memory alive. Yes, there are hard times but with love and patience hard times can be overcome.

My favorite story line was Maggie’s spiritual awakening. The thirst for understanding and believing was beautiful. There were a lot of biblical stories mentioned that I was not completely familiar with and has made me interested to read more of my Bible.

Lewis has written another story that reminds you of the beauty in the world.

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

‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #2) by Jacqueline Frost

twas

Pages: 309 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 13, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Holly White has barely recovered from her almost death last Christmas while investigating a murder when another murder finds her this Christmas. The town lothario winds up stabbed to death and left in the town square’s gigantic peppermint candy bowl. Unfortunately Holly’s best friend and town cupcake maker, Caroline, is the main suspect. Can Holly solve this murder before becoming a repeat customer of the “almost dead” club?

This series is my guilty Christmas pleasure. Holly and her family are what you think of when you think of Christmas. First, they live in Mistletoe, Maine where the twelve days of Christmas is celebrated with the Reindeer Games. You have blindfold gingerbread house building and snowman building contests. The town plays Christmas music and every store is decorated. A little murder is thrown in to make things even more interesting.

You will laugh, scream and cry with Holly at every turn. Her love life is interesting. She is kind of dating the local sheriff but they have yet to get on the same page at the same time.

In book two, Holly’s family is building an inn at the Christmas Tree Farm and I am interested to see how the dynamics change in future books with this addition.

If you love Christmas and murder together you need to get this series ASAP.

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

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White

glass

Audiobook: 14 hours

Publisher: William Morrow

Published: September 8, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A story of romance, illicit affairs, espionage, and tragedy.

It’s 2013 and Sarah Blake needs to find inspiration for her next best-selling book. At her wit’s end she opens her great-grandfather’s chest and discovers information that could be history changing regarding the sinking of the Lusitania.

Go back 98 years to April 1915 and we meet Caroline, a first-class passenger, who is married to Gilbert. Gilbert is very pre-occupied and Caroline hopes this cruise ignites a spark in their marriage. What she did not expect was to run into her first love, Robert Langford.

Tessa Fairweather, a second-class passenger, is working with her sister to obtain the music composition that is in the hands of Gilbert. Tessa does not understand why she is to get this music but one thing she does understand is that she is falling for Robert.

What does Sarah learn and how does each passenger above affect the outcome?

I opted to listen to the audiobook and let me state it is FOURTEEN hours of listening. I enjoyed the audiobook as the narrator did an excellent job with all the characters. My issue was I did not have a lot of time lumped together to listen to a good chunk at one time.

The story jumps between Sarah (2013), Caroline (1915) and Tessa (1915) so you do need to keep track of who is talking and what year it is. It is pretty easy since the majority of Caroline and Tessa’s time is on the Lusitania.

I knew very little about the sinking of the Lusitania and The Glass Ocean has whetted my appetite for more.

The Whispered Word (Secret, Book and Scone Society #2) by Ellery Adams

whispered

Pages: 292 (Paperback)

Publisher: Kensington

Published: November 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Another five star visit to Miracle Springs, NC with Nora and the Secret, Book and Scone Society.

Summer is ending but visitors to Miracle Springs is still going strong. One such visitor has made Nora and her group of friends really think about their own pasts. Nora finds “Abilene” curled up in her stock room in a too large dress and flip flops, hospital ID bracelet and bruises with a story to tell. Abilene does not want to talk but is willing to work for exchange of food and place to lay her head.

A new shop has opened as well that seem like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for a town hit hard by the closing of the local bank (read the Secret, Book and Scone Society to learn more). Virtual Genie will appraise your family heirlooms and any other treasures you may have and offer to sell them online for a 60/40 split.

Nora and Society has decided to help those affected by the bank closing and put together Secret Kindness bags and leave them on the doorsteps. One particular person has been on Nora’s mind, Amanda Frye, a not so nice visitor to the bookstore but Nora is trying to see the good behind the pain that makes Amanda so tough to deal with. Unfortunately, Amanda never reaps the benefit of the kindness bag. The Society finds her floating in the pond in front of her house. at first it looks like suicide but Nora sees flaws in the plan.

Can Nora and the Secret Society find out the truth of Amanda’ death while helping out Abilene? Is Virtual Genie everything is appears or are they trying to steal what is left of the people in Miracle Springs?

I absolutely LOVED the first book in the series and the second did not disappoint. In fact it was even better. When I enter the world of Nora and the Society, I get lost and do not want to return. I am perfectly happy being lost in Miracle Springs. Particularly the bookstore. My copy of The Whispered Word looks like a post-it note factory exploded on the pages. I have marked every page where a book or author is mentioned. I would love to be able to read every book mentioned in both books of the series.

As I was reading this book it hit me that Hester has similarities to Ella Mae (Charmed Pie Shoppe series), another wonderful character from Ellery Adams. I truly believe in the cooking with feeling and others will feel it. Imagine being able to sit outside on a lovely park bench with fall swirling around you, a comfort scone from Hester next to you, a book recommended by Nora in your hands and maybe a pair of stress relief socks knitted by June on your feet to keep you warm. Are you interested in a visit yet?

If the answer is yes you have two chances. You can run to your favorite bookseller or library and grab The Secret, Book and Scone Society now and on November 27 you can buy The Whispered Word. While you are at it you may want to buy copies for your best friends as well. No sense in keeping your visits to yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

His Promise (Amish of Hart County #6) by Shelley Shepard Gray

promise

Pages: 334 (Paperback)

Publisher: Avon Inspire

Published: October 23, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Grace has made her niche in life by pet sitting for Englishers who go out of town. This year for Christmas while she is pet sitting a very cantankerous dachshund her family has to go to her grandparents to take care of them. When the dachshund gets into a little trouble Grace runs into John Michael Miller, her sister’s ex-boyfriend and the boy she had a crush on when she was younger.

John Michael regrets hurting Grace’s sister several years ago but he had a good reason, he was falling for Grace. John Michael is now a firefighter and this season has been busy with arson fires being set to cover local burglaries.

Can Grace forgive John Michael for hurting her sister and let their feelings grow? Can John Michael keep Grace safe even when he is not around?

Let me start with the end, the last forty pages had me in tears. Why? The beauty of the story coming together and the action happening. See if you don’t have a glimmer of tears in your eyes as you read.

Shelley Shepard Gray has a way to make the love come through in a beautiful, clean way. I would feel very comfortable giving any of her Amish books to any young teenage girl to read.

I loved that Gray included helpful fire safety tips especially during the Christmas season in the story. A few things I learned and have started looking around to make sure my parents and family are as safe as I can make them.

Gray’s Amish of Hart County is a six book series that can be read any in order and each as a stand alone book. Once you take a visit you will want to keep visiting.

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