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.

Egg Drop Dead (A Noodle Shop Mystery #5) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 320

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: The Noodle Shop Mystery series has quickly become one of my favorite new series. I get so excited when I get approved by NetGalley for the newest addition to the series. I cannot explain why but when I am reading I am smiling even when someone gets murdered. Strange, right?

I would love to be Lana for even one day especially on a Sunday when she eats dim dum with her family. I have never had dim sum but she makes it sound oh so yummy. Get your belly full of yummy deliciousness and go home curl up with your love and read the afternoon away. Sigh…sounds like a perfect Sunday.

I was shocked at who the villain was and why in Egg Drop Dead. Red herrings abound and keep you on your toes throughout the book. Every book has been excellent at this.

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: In the fifth in Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop delectable mystery series, Egg Drop Dead, the Ho-Lee Noodle House takes its business to the next level—only to end up in hot water.

It was supposed to be a fancy, intimate dinner party by the pool. Instead, Lana Lee’s first-ever catering event turns into full-course madness when a domestic worker is found dead. Is the party’s host Donna Feng, the sweet-and-sour owner of the Asia Village shopping plaza where Ho-Lee is situated, somehow to blame? That’s what Lana—whose plate is already plenty full with running the restaurant, pleasing her often-disapproving mother, and fretting over her occasionally-serious boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau—must find out.

Before the police arrived at the crime scene, Donna had entrusted an odd piece of evidence to Lana: a thumb drive shaped like a terra-cotta soldier. Now it’s up to Lana to lead her own investigation, digitally and in real life, into a world of secrets involving Donna’s earlier life in China, whether the victim had a dark agenda, and if the killer is still out there…and plans to strike again.

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 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.

As the Tide Comes In by Cindy Woodsmall

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Pages: 352

Publisher: WaterBrook & Multnomah

Published: August 21, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: A beautiful story of heartache, love, and trust God.

I read this story in under twelve hours as I could not put it down. My poor husband had to finish fixing dinner as I was not stopping. Tara’s story will worm its way into your heart and soul and will not let go. You will find yourself crying and not even realizing it.

Beware if you are experiencing a hard time with grief over losing a loved one. This book is all about how to learn to let the hurt go, turn it over to God and cherish the memories you have with the loved one. When you are ready I would recommend reading it as it may help heal your pain.

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

NetGalley: A New York Times best-selling author releases her first southern novel, a Steel Magnolias-meets-Sweet Home Alabama story set on St. Simons Island.

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott’s life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia’s St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past – her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what’s left of her identity into pieces?

Cilka’s Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2 by Heather Morris

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Pages: 349

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Best Book of 2019

My Review: Cilka’s Journey is a story that will change your life. I didn’t think I could be more astounded and moved than I was after I finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz but I was.

The horror and tragedy that Cilka faced daily for 15 years, starting at age 16, will tear you apart as you read. You will find yourself angry at humanity but then have your faith in humanity restored just as quickly.

Cilka’s Journey is book two but can be read as a standalone.

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

NetGalley: From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes a new novel based on a riveting true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka’s journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

New Beginnings at Promise Lodge (Promise Lodge #4) by Charlotte Hubbard

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I have really enjoyed the Promise Lodge series as the characters have built a new town and the new addition is just as good.

This time we get to learn more about Frances and Gloria Lehman as they navigate life after the death of husband and father respectively. Beware, Gloria, is a brat and Frances gets whiney but by the end, you will love them.

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: Spring blossoms with new life and new beginnings for the flourishing Amish community of Promise Lodge. And as a just-opened bakery sweetens the air with fresh-baked goodness, residents will find that change can be a most joyous test . . .

Recently widowed after twenty years of marriage, Frances Lehman is only just tasting the freedom and opportunity that her Promise Lodge friends enjoy. So she’s not about to be pressured into marriage by her widowed brother-in-law, even if she and her daughter have no real means of support. Much more promising is her new friendship with Preacher Marlin Kurtz, though their respective families don’t see their relationship as proper . . .

When Frances suffers a serious injury, she’s determined to prove she can recover—and remain independent—without burdening Marlin. Now, with his steadfast belief in real love tested, Marlin’s hope is that Promise Lodge’s irrepressible residents can help him restore Frances’s joy—and that faith will show them a way to turn their fragile second chance into a blessed and abiding future together . . .

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.