Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Mystery #1) by Mollie Cox Bryan

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .

Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small-town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . . .

My Review:

I am enamored with the beginning of this series. I have a soft spot for cows and found myself wishing I could meet Petunia and her sisters.

This is the first book by the author I have read and am already looking to see if my local library or Hoopla carries her other series. If you like strong female characters this is the book for you. There are four strong females. One is briefly mentioned but I think she will make plenty of appearances in future books. If not it would be a great shame.

Opening the series at Christmas time was perfect for me. Where I live we are still in a terrible summer heatwave and drought even though it is almost October. I found myself shivering thinking of the bone-chilling cold Brynn experiences and I appreciated that! The author uses the perfect amount of descriptive words without overdoing.

This perfect if you love Christmas, cows, and murder. Available now from your favorite bookseller.

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

 

An Amish Second Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray, Patricia Johns and Virginia Wise

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

For the Amish, the day after Christmas is for family, feasting, and exchanging simple gifts. And for three different couples, it will bring another precious chance for love . . .

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
Amish nanny Hannah Eicher never thought she’d ever see Rob Prince again. There was no way a relationship between her and the handsome English fireman could overcome her family’s objections—and their personal differences. But when he saves her from a sudden blaze, Hannah longs to see if they can turn holiday hope into a lifetime of happiness . . .

HIS AMISH ANGEL * Patricia Johns
She’s too outspoken to be a proper Amish wife. So as advice columnist “Miss Amish,” Maggie Lapp helps Amish and English with their romantic problems. But when her tradition-minded former fiancé accidentally reveals her secret, Maggie will need more than a miracle to make things right—and find a perfect love for all the Christmases to come . . .

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS * Virginia Wise
Rachel Miller won’t let her disability keep her from selling heirloom plants and proving she can be independent. She certainly doesn’t need reckless Joseph Webber working at her greenhouse to pay off a disastrous Rumspringa stunt. But she and Joseph have more in common than they think—and their surprising holiday partnership might just blossom into forever joy . . .

My Review:

THEIR SECOND CHANCE
Shelley Shepard Gray

I was so happy to finally get the rest of the story between Hannah and Rob. It will make you smile and cheer out loud.

HIS AMISH ANGEL
Patricia Johns

My favorite sentence in the entire book, “married people realize what they have to lose and it is only then that they choose to bend for each other.” I find this beautiful and so true.

AN HEIRLOOM CHRISTMAS
Virginia Wise

A good reminder that sometimes the time we speak in and our actions are not always how we truly feel. A harsh tone may be covering a lot of pain. This is my first Virginia Wise book and won’t be my last.

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

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

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Pages: 337

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone—after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.
So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

My Review:

Wow, Coble has made me think twice about doing a DNA test to see my ancestry. I never thought about it being used maliciously. I’m a little scared now.

The mystery is a page-turner and interesting. I appreciate how Coble keeps the romance and the language clean.

There are many characters and some may find that a tad confusing but if you think about it when half-siblings come into play families get large very quickly. I would have loved to know more about Annabelle and Harper’s newfound sisterhood. Maybe someday we will see them in a future book as side characters.

If you are looking for a good mystery with family at the core Strands of Truth is a perfect read.

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

The Humiliations of Pipi McGee by Beth Vrabel

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Published: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

The first eight years of Penelope McGee’s education have been a curriculum in humiliation. Now she is on a quest for redemption and a little bit of revenge.

From her kindergarten self-portrait as a bacon with boobs to fourth grade when she peed her pants in the library thanks to a stuck zipper to seventh grade where…well, she doesn’t talk about seventh grade. Ever.

After hearing the guidance counselor lecturing them on how high school will be a clean slate for everyone, Pipi–fearing that her eight humiliations will follow her into the halls of Northbrook High School–decides to use her last year in middle school to right the wrongs of her early education and save other innocents from the same picked-on, laughed-at fate. Pipi McGee is seeking redemption, but she’ll take revenge, too.

My Review:

A perfect read for middle schoolers or about to be middle schoolers.

I hated middle school. I felt awkward with who I was and who I wanted to be. Luckily though I did not have the experiences Pipi did kindergarten through 7th grade. I felt embarrassed for her as I was reading.

Lesson one learned: Revenge is never as satisfying as you think it will be. If only adults would learn this as well. Kids need to learn this lesson early on and a lot of unnecessary heartache and drama would be avoided. The author handles this so perfectly with Pipi and Vile Kate.

Lesson two learned: Everyone is fighting something inside themselves you don’t know about. Being kind to even the nastiest person will make you feel better in the long run. My favorite line in the entire book: “hurt people hurt people.” Oh, how true is this statement. Once we understand that it is much easier to overlook the nasty in others.

Parents, aunts, grandmothers buy this book for the tween in your life. Read together and let it open up a world of discussions between you. I think you’ll be happy you did.

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

The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The sisters of summit ave

NetGalley:

From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars but I was not thrilled with the style of writing. The story jumps from past to present and between the sisters and Dorothy. Normally that does not bother me but in this book, I thought it took the punch of the story away. I would get really invested in the current storyline and then, bam, it would switch.

I knew going in, this was a work of fiction but I really thought I’d get to the end and be told it was loosely based on a true story. Alas, that did not occur. I have found myself reading what I can on the creation of Betty Crocker.

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

Death by Dumpling (Noodle House #1) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 331

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

My Review:

I finally read book one of this delectable series. Vivien Chien is a true delight to the culinary cozy mystery world. I have devoured every book like a starving reader.

In Death by Dumpling we meet Lana, learn how she started her hobby of amateur sleuthing, and how her relationship with Detective Trudeau began. Chien gives her characters depth from the beginning. I like that Lana is strong but still has reservations and questions where her life is at this moment in time. It makes Lana as it is human nature to be reserved after a tough breakup. The fact that she does not let it knock her down completely is a sign she has inner strength. Inner strength she needs to deal with the murders she runs into.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but as always you get more from the series read in order. Cozy mystery lovers who love culinary series will be a fan of this series. Hurry by the first four books in the series as a gift for the reader in your life.

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales by Some of Christian Fiction’s Most Poplar Mystery and Suspense Authors

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Pages: 911

Published: August 6, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars

Summer of Suspense: Sixteen Tales of Suspense

Amazon:
Start your summer off right with 16 gripping and never-before-published tales of Christian suspense from today’s most popular mystery and suspense authors.
Join Mary Alford, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Vannetta Chapman, Mary Ellis, Debby Giusti, Rachel J. Good, Ruth Hartzler, Shaen Layle, Ruth Logan Herne, Loree Lough, Elizabeth Ludwig, Nancy Mehl, Serena B. Miller, Samantha Price, Alana Terry on a dangerous journey filled with mystery, suspense, and faith that that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

My Review:

I enjoyed most of the stories but there were a few I didn’t. The ones I did not enjoy were stories I wouldn’t normally read. They were good just not my cup of tea.

My favorites: Vannetta Chapman (takes place in Shipshewana and involves an Amish man and a lady FBI agent), Christy Barritt (part of her Lantern Beach series, which I have put on my TBR list) and Rachel J. Good (Amish Twins – one good and one very bad seed. I’m still shivering at the thought of being confused with an identical twin).

I have found several new to me authors that I will be looking to read in the future.

This is the perfect book for the person who likes to read but has a busy schedule. You can read a story in one sitting and not worry about stopping in the middle of a book and forgetting what is happening by the time you get back to it.

The Healing Jar (Prayer Jars #3) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Published: August 1, 2019

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

NetGalley:

What if you have waited to find love only to be rejected when it finally comes?

Lenore Lapp is an Amish schoolteacher in her late twenties still living at home with her parents and grandparents. She thought love had passed her by until she meets Jesse Smucker, a widower with a baby daughter. She quickly falls in love with them both and accepts Jesse’s proposal of marriage, but Jesse breaks off their engagement when he realizes he can’t marry only for convenience.

Resigned to living single, Lenore throws herself into caring for her elders. While working in her grandmother’s garden, she digs up an old jar. Will Lenore find healing for her broken heart and solve long-buried family secrets by reading the note contained inside?

My Review:

Let me start with that I enjoy reading Wanda Brunstetter books and I have struggled with giving this 3.5 stars. My reasoning is I felt disappointment while reading. In some ways, the prayer jar story seemed like a second thought. Almost like, oh I need to include the jars in the story. Also, the story seemed to drag along slowly. The ending was beautiful and I’m glad everything worked out.

Is it worth your time to read? Yes! Especially if you have read the previous two books in the series. You can read this as a standalone and I think you will be just fine.

I would recommend to others. My 3.5 stars are my opinion and should not be used in your decision to read the book or not. I will continue to read her books. In fact, I have three waiting in the wings.

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.

A Stitch in Time (A Needlecraft Mystyery #3) by Monica Ferris

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Pages: 260

Publisher: Berkley

Published: July 1, 2000

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

When a damaged tapestry is discovered in a small-town church closet, needleworkers join to stitch together the clues which lead to a crafty crime.

My Review:

I’ll admit when I started the first book in the series, Crewel World, I was not sure this series would be for me. My mind was quickly changed and I am a huge fan of this series. In fact, I have been trying to find the books I am missing when I visit used bookstores.

Book 3 takes place during the Christmas season and is not your typical murder mystery. Why? Well, we do not have a murder but an attempted murder on Betsy herself. I loved the fact that it took place at Christmas with LOTS of snow while I have been sweltering in a heatwave with no rain until last night. I actually felt cooler while reading as Monica Ferris does a great job with her descriptions.

If you are leery about the book being too religious since it centers around a religious tapestry found in a church you have no worries. Religion is not a focal point. You do learn about saints and attributes but I found that very interesting. Especially the fact that symbols may represent more than one saint.

A free needlepoint pattern for a snowflake is included at the end of the book.

I don’t give 5 stars too often but A Stitch in Time felt very worthy of the perfect rating.

Wonton Terror )A Noodle Shop Mystery #4) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 300

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

In the fourth in Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop delicious mystery series, Ho-Lee Noodle House is ready to take the Cleveland night market by storm—until a brand-new food venue literally explodes onto the scene.
Lana Lee is all smiles when the first evening of Cleveland’s Asian Night Market kicks off the summer. The weekly festival is always good for business, packed with locals and tourists, and this year, some stiff new food-truck competition. Wonton on Wheels, run by old friends of Lana’s parents, promises to have customers lining up for their delicately wrapped delights—until the truck blows up at evening’s end.
Lana’s boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, had been planning a birthday getaway for the two of them but, lo and behold, Lana must assume the role of amateur sleuth yet again. With one proprietor of Wonton on Wheels dead, it’s beginning to look more like murder and less like an unfortunate accident. And as they begin to unwrap layers of disturbing secrets, Lana’s own family erupts into new drama. Will Lana be able to solve this crime—or has she jumped from the wok right into the fire?

My Review:

This series started off entertaining and delightful and keeps getting more so as each new book is released. Lana and her family are what I consider a typical American family no matter the ethnicity. They have their drama and yes sometimes everyone within 20 feet hears that drama but at the same time, they love just as deeply as they disagree. Lana wants to be independent and live her own life but her mom has a hard time letting go. I think a lot of young woman from close-knit families find in their twenties that is a common growing pain. I know I did.

You will be craving everything from wontons and dim sum to Asian noodles as you read. I admit I have never had dim sum and it isn’t for lack of want. I’m just not sure where to get it in my city. Lana makes it sound very delicious.

The only wish I had for this series…recipes for some of the dishes. I am a sucker for trying recipes that are included in my cozy mysteries.

Whether you are looking for a delicious read or a murder mystery, Wonton Terror is the book for you.

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