When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal

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Pages: 348

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: My friend recommended this book and I am so glad she did. It was excellent. A very strong drama with a lot of heartaches. Beautifully written. Strong female characters.

Goodreads: Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.
Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

Finding Home (The Baxter Children #2) by Karen Kingsbury

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I’m a fan of Kingsbury’s Baxter Family series even though I have not nearly read enough of them. It is definitely a series I like to savor and take my time to read. I was very excited last year to read about the creation of a new series centering around the Baxter children. I am happy to say that book two was just as good as the first.

I find it refreshing to read a children’s book that highlights kids using their imagination during playtime. Being a teacher, I am saddened how many children cannot free-write stories using their imagination because they do not know how to imagine. I constantly hear stories from my littles telling me that they go home and watch hours of endless TV, Youtube or play video games that are far too adult for them. So many rarely go outside and pretend they are on an island made of lava and find ways to escape.

I love how Finding Home teaches right from wrong and being humble. No matter the age of the reader (child or adult) I think we all could learn from it. Even a gentle reminder. Being humble is a wonderful trait but one of the hardest in today’s society.

Finding Home is a great read-aloud for families.

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

NetGalley: Summer is over and Dad begins his important position at an Indiana hospital. Like it or not, Bloomington is the Baxter Family’s new home. As school starts, everyone finds reasons to be excited about the move. Everyone that is except Ashley. Ashley desperately misses the home and friends she left behind. As she realizes her siblings have their struggles, too, she can’t help but wonder if unlikely friends can be the best friends of all? And could time and love from her family be enough to make a house feel like home?

In the second book in the Baxter Family Children series, #1 New York Times bestselling Karen Kingsbury and Tyler Russell tell the funny and poignant tale of the Baxter children finding home!

Amish Front Porch Stories: 18 Tales of Simple Faith and Wisdom by Wanda, Jean and Richelle Brunstetter

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: November 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This book left me contented and inspired to be more understanding of those around me. My plan was to read a story a day but once I started reading I could not put it down. A few stories left me wanting more just because I fell in love with the characters. My favorite was how each chapter ended in a bible verse.

I look forward to buying this book as a gift for several readers in my life.

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: Come and sit a while as you enjoy 18 fictional short stories of love, joy, and the peace found in Amish country.

Amish Country is known for an atmosphere of peace and quiet, perfect for front-porch sitting with a good book. Join New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, as they share 18 heartwarming stories from Amish Country. These fictional short stories include journeys we can all relate to as we seek how to live led by love, joy, peace, patience, and other Fruits of the Spirit. Meet Anna, who struggles to show love to a cantankerous neighbor; Laura, who endures infertility; Nora, whose pride threatens to consume her life; and other women who walk in their faith each day.

The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma by Patricia Davids

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Pages: 224

Publisher: Harlequin (Love Inspired)

Published: February 18, 2020 (paperback)/March 1, 2020 (e-book)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A sweet romance story that will leave you believing love can conquer anything.

A clean romance from all aspects that a mother can feel very comfortable letting her teenage daughter read. There is no worry that a steamy love scene will pop up unexpectedly or unnecessary foul language will break the flow of a beautiful love story.

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

NetGalley: The teacher next door could be the mother they need…

Will she return to her old life…or risk everything to build a new one?

Taking a schoolteacher position in another district is just the change Amish spinster Eva Coblentz needs. And with her new neighbor, blacksmith Willis Gingrich, struggling to raise his three orphaned siblings, Eva is determined to help them heal. But when her relatives insist she come home, Eva must choose between the life she left…and the one she’s growing to love.

Two Steps Forward (The Deacon’s Family #3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 319

Publisher: Revell

Published: February 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I am so sad this is the conclusion to the Deacon’s Family. I have become a fan of Luke Schrock and I’ll be the first to admit that I could not stand him when I first started reading about him. Self-centered little jerk is what he was but he is proof that people can change. I thought pretty much the same of Jimmy Fisher but he did have a grumpy mom and that would make anyone have a hard heart.

I found I was unable to put this book down as I have all the others. Once you delve into Stoney Ridge you don’t want to leave. The real world is put on hold and you are transported to a community with problems just like ours but you know things will eventually work out.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but I heavily suggest reading in order. Reading in order allows you to be more invested with the characters.

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

NetGalley: Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1) by Marthe Jocelyn

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada

Published: February 4, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A delightful read for Agatha Christie fans of all ages. Murder, mayhem, and intrigue lurk around corner of the debut novel in a new series.

Being a huge fan of cozy mysteries I jumped at the chance to read this new novel. I am so glad I did. Although it is a fictionalized version of a young Ms. Christie I was able to imagine this was how she started her career as the Queen of Mystery.

In this novel, Aggie is twelve years old and homeschooled and has plenty of time to use her imagination (a gift so many today do not get to explore). She fancies herself a mystery writer but when she finds a dead body she uses that imagination to try and solve the case. She gets herself into plenty of scraps but her friend Hector is always in the shadows to get her out of them.

This is the perfect novel to introduce the Mystery Queen to your young readers and open their world to a future of cozy mysteries.

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

NetGalley: A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Lemony Snicket and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.

Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal — including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends — to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit.

Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award–nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Stitches in Time (The Deacon’s Family #2) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 330

Publisher: Revell

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania has to be one of the most interesting towns to live in as there is never a dull moment. For this visit we had a surprise deacon election, a need for foster parents and a trampoline terrorizing sheep just to name a few.

Woods went in a direction that I’ve not seen before in Amish fiction and maybe that is because I’ve not read enough yet. She incorporated a group of African American foster children. I loved it as it promoted positive love among races. I’m not saying that to start a race\discrimination discussion. I’m saying because this is what we need for our future. Families want children to live no matter skin color, country of origin or difference in religious background. Kids just want to be wanted and loved.

The premise of the story is We all have dropped stitches in our life like dear of trusting others and we need someone to be out stitch in time to fix our dropped stitch. I found the imagery of knitting and not leaving a dropped stitch as it would cause a hole very fitting and beautiful. If we don’t go back and mend our dropped stitches in life we can’t be our best. I know I have dropped stitches I need to fix. I think we all do.

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

NetGalley: Detachment had worked well as a life strategy for horse trainer Sam Schrock. Until he met Mollie Graber . . .

New to Stoney Ridge, schoolteacher Mollie has come to town for a fresh start. Aware of how fleeting and fragile life is, she wants to live it boldly and bravely. When Luke Schrock, new to his role as deacon, asks the church to take in foster girls from a group home, she’s the first to raise her hand. The power of love, she believes, can pick up the dropped stitches in a child’s heart and knit them back together.

Mollie envisions sleepovers and pillow fights. What the 11-year-old twins bring to her home is anything but. Visits from the sheriff at midnight. Phone calls from the school truancy officer. And then the most humiliating moment of all: the girls accuse Mollie of drug addiction.

There’s only one thing that breaks through the girls’ hardshell–an interest in horses. Reluctantly and skeptically, Sam Schrock gets drawn into Mollie’s chaotic life. What he didn’t expect was for love to knit together the dropped stitches in his own heart . . . just in time.

Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the little Amish church of Stoney Ridge for a touching story of the power of love.

The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler

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Pages: 315

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: January 28, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I could not put this book down. I was sure I had the killer all figured out then Spindler would throw something out there and make me question myself all over again. Every time I was ready to stop for a moment I’d turn the page and Id find myself 50 more pages in the book. I was right on my initial assumption of the killer but had no clue as to why. So, if you figure it out early I promise you it is worth it to finish the book. You will be surprised as to why.

I have not read an Erica Spindler book for many years. I know my mom used to gobble them up like hot chocolate chip cookies on a snowy day. After reading The Look-Alike I have decided to get my mom’s books and read them. I will definitely be getting this one for her.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above are entirely my own.

NetGalley: From Erica Spindler, the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes The Look-Alike, a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?

Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.
In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head—that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

The Innkeeper’s Bride (Amish Brides of Birch Creek #3) by Kathleen Fuller

innkeeper

Pages: 320

Publisher: Zondervan Fiction

Published: January 14, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Finally, we have Selah’s story and let me tell you it was worth the wait. I am not ashamed to admit for the first two books I could not stand Selah as I thought she was whiney, spiteful and at times hateful. Now that I understand why I want to go back and read the first two again as see her behavior with a different attitude. The story has reminded me not to judge others’ bad attitudes so quick as there may be a reason behind their bad behavior.

Although this is the third book in the Amish Brides of Birch Creek series you can read as a stand-alone with no problems. Each story deals with an individual couple and other characters make appearances. Each story is a clean romance with no sex or foul language.

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

NetGalley: When Selah Ropp returns to Birch Creek, she is a different person than when she left. I know I haven’t done much listening in the past, Lord, she prays. But I’m listening now. Her new friend, Cevilla Schlabach, urges her to let go of regrets and allow this to be a fresh start. Cevilla herself, though, hides a secret longing behind her weathered face.

Levi Stoll and his family spent a year transforming a large English house into a small inn. Now that they are open for business, Levi is pleased to have Selah join them as an employee—as long as his grandmother doesn’t try any matchmaking schemes on the two of them. After all, Selah seems as guarded as he feels, and the last thing he wants is for anyone to remind him of his history.

With Kathleen Fuller’s trademark humor and memorable characters, The Innkeeper’s Bride reminds us that God’s grace in the present and our hope for the future is stronger than any pain of the past.

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

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Pages: 464

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I really wanted to give this book 5 stars but due to the fact that it took close to being 150 pages before I felt like I could not put it down, I have to give it only 4 stars.

There are a few dry chapters as they read like a history book but they are necessary to get the background of how the Kindertransport started in Austria. There are a lot of characters to keep track of in the beginning and at times I had to stop and think who and what their importance was to the story.

I will say, once I got around 150 pages I did not want to put the book down. I found the ending heartbreaking but I do understand that that time is history was full of heartbreak.

The Last Train to London is a worthy read for those readers who love to read about World War 2.

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

NetGalley:

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe—and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi is little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year-old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from Vienna’s streets to its intricate underground tunnels. Stephan’s best friend and companion are the brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis take control.

There is hope in the darkness, though. Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss—Hitler’s annexation of Austria—as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape.
Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can. After Britain passes a measure to take in at-risk child refugees from the German Reich, she dares to approach Adolf Eichmann, the man who would later help devise the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his young brother Walter, and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future abroad.