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.

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

remedy

Pages: 208

Publisher: WaterBrook & Multnomah

Published: October 23, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Since her father’s death, Holly has been able to live a different life for being Amish. She started working at Green’s Pharmacy in town and she realized she loved being able to help her people with health questions. Her bishop has allowed her to get her GED, become a pharmacy tech and now take classes to become a licensed practicing nurse. This will allow her to answer customer questions when it comes to her deliveries of their medicines. She knows her love for her job will keep her from getting married or so she thinks. Holly did not expect to find someone like Joshua.

Joshua knows Holly from some local singings but then she disappeared. He never expected to run into her on her worst day. He runs to Greene’s Pharmacy to pick up his mother’s new diabetes medicine but when he gets there the pharmacy is closed. Holly returns from her deliveries and becomes concerned when the pharmacy is still closed. As she opens up she finds Mr. Greene laying in the floor. With Josh’s help she able to get Mr. Greene the help he needs.

What will happen to the pharmacy and can Holly control her heart when Josh is around? Will her career stop before it even began?

I could not put this book down. The idea of an Amish being able to follow her calling without having to leave the faith was a wonderful change. If you think about it what could be better. We all trust those most like us, it is human nature. Holly understands their hesitancy to take medicine and go against the belief of “it is God’s will”. Her goal is to prevent deaths that were preventable if they had just gone to the doctor and took their medicine as prescribed.

I applaud the Woodsmall’s for creating an Amish male character that is open to change and seeing the woman not just as a homemaker. Josh understands that Holly is invested in her community and is willing to give up a life with another to help keep her community healthy.

A beautifully written tale of romance and change. If you like Christian fiction pick this book up. You won’t be disappointed.

I received a complimentary copy from WaterBrook & Multnomah 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swenson #23) by Joanne Fluke

cake

Pages: 270 (eBook & Hardback)

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 25, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Hannah has come home from college after the death of her father and has no intentions to go back after a disastrous ending to her love affair with a professor. As Hannah tries to keep the house running for her youngest sister, she sees her mother declining more and more into depression. No projects the daughters think of can pull their mom back into the land of the living that is until two church ladies tell Hannah and her family about Essie. Essie is the elderly owner of the Albion Hotel who lives above it with no water or electricity. Essie is to proud to accept help even though all the townsfolk love Essie. Unfortunately Essie has fallen and broken her hip. Essie wants to revisit the Christmas Ball with its Christmas Cake parade one more time before dying. Hannah and her family are determined to make that happen for Essie. While gathering info for the Christmas Ball, Hannah and her mom run across several notebooks that Essie said are the beginnings of a novel she has written. Can Hannah make Essie’s dreams come true of the Christmas Ball or will a story of fiction become all to real?

This book can be read out of sync from the rest of the series since it takes place before Hannah opened The Cookie Jar. I found this book delightful. Yes, it does read differently from the other books in to series as Hannah is not solving a murder mystery but she does have a mystery to solve. I liked seeing Hannah’s mother on a more real, down to earth basis than her usual snooty self at times.

If you are looking for a quick Christmas themed read during a cold, dreary day then this is the book for you. I read it in one day. My only complaint is I didn’t leave any for today. If I could I would be a regular customer at The Cookie Jar. Lots of yummy recipes included.

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

Death and Daisies (A Magical Garden #2) by Amanda Flower

death

Pages: 248 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: November 13, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fiona is putting the finishing touches on her Climbing Rose Flower Shop and working on making Duncreigan her own cottage. Her baby sister has flown over from Nashville to “find herself” after college. Fiona is also learning that not everyone in town is welcoming her with open arms. Minister MacCullen thinks she is trouble like her godfather and wants nothing to do with her or her business. After one of worst storms to hit the area in decades the minister is found washed up on the beach. Will Fiona’s new love, Chief Inspector Craig, suspect her once again?

In book two of the Magic Garden Mystery series we seem to jump right back in to Fiona’s life. I love when you can open a book and feel like you never left. Just as the first book, it was a fast-paced read that you do not want to put down. Fiona is still strong and a take no prisoners kind of gal. My judgment is still out on the addition of her sister Isla. She adds to the story but she can be whiny to the point I want her to go back to Nashville.

There is some magic in the book with the garden and Fiona being able to see visions but the magic is more background. It doesn’t overshadow the mystery.

I would definitely suggest you read this series in order so you don’t ruin the surprises each book offers.

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.

Carrot Cake Murder (Hannah Swenson #10) by Joanne Fluke

carrot

Pages: 343 (Paperback)

Publisher: Kensington Mystery

Published: March 2008 (original publish date)

Rating: 3.5/4 stars out of 5

First, I want to start off that if you read some previous reviews before starting the book you will probably be turned off from this series. Second, even if I do not like a book I am not going to bash the author and other reviewers for liking a book I did not. Reading is to be fun and everyone likes different styles and wants to get something different from what they read. Let’s be nice to the author’s who work hard at what they craft and the readers who enjoy the results. Now, onto my review.

I enjoy this series as my “fun” reads. Does Hannah Swenson try to solve world peace? No. Does Hannah have issues in choosing the perfect man in her life? Yes, but didn’t (doesn’t) most of us. Consider yourself lucky if you found Mr. Perfect on your first try.

In the tenth Hannah Swenson mystery, Hannah is helping her business partner Lisa with her large week long family reunion out at Lake Eden. Lisa’s long lost Uncle Gus makes an appearance at the family reunion but it is not all hugs and love. It appears Uncle Gus was quite the ladies man and moocher. Hannah is sent on a mission to find Uncle Gus for the family photo and instead finds him belly up next to her infamous carrot cake. Who wanted Uncle Gus dead and why?

Carrot Cake Murder did not have the sense of danger around every corner as some of the other books in the series did and it did not keep me on the edge of my seat. But, I still had a hard time figuring out the killer until close to the end.

I admit I have not read the two books before I read this one so I am curious about a couple of items mentioned as to what occurred previously. It might make more sense as to what I have read about what happens in a later book regarding Hannah and her choosing a particular man as her husband.

Of course there are plenty of yummy recipes scattered throughout the book. A few I want to try salmon cakes, cocoa fudge cake, Mexican hotdish and funeral hotdish..

Sadie by Courtney Summers

sadie

Pages: 320 (eBook)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Whoa what a tumultuous read.

In a small town that America has forgot, is a young girl trying to raise her little sister Mattie wit little help from those around them. Sadie’s life is shattered when Mattie is found in a local orchard violently murdered. Sadie takes it upon herself to find the murderer and bring vigilante justice to him. As Sadie works her way across the miles she finds herself closer to the murderer but does she also find herself closer to her own death as well?

National radio personality, West McCray, hears Sadie’s story and finds himself unable to not get involved. The investigation he launches starts taking over his life and his hope is he finds Sadie before it’s too late.

I had no idea while reading Sadie that it was labeled as a YA read. Any fan of thrillers and mysteries will enjoy this book no matter their age. WARNING: there is plenty of violence, foul language and sensitive subjects (child abuse, child sexual abuse, drug use) throughout the book but all that is what makes this book unable to put down. I almost expected to look up from the book and her my West on the radio talking about a true case.

The book is written in two forms: a narrative when reading Sadie’s thoughts and actions and a podcast transcript when reading West’s thoughts and actions. The podcast transcript reading was different but fit this book.

You will be thinking about this book long after you have finished. It will keep you up at night even if you aren’t up reading.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed above are completely my own.