The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

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Pages: 184

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Published: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: At the end of every summer, Madeline Island hosts its famous pumpkin race. All summer, adults, and kids across the island grow giant, thousand-pound pumpkins, then hollow one out and paddle in it across the lake to the cheers of the entire town.

Twelve-year-old Billie loves to win; she has a bulletin board overflowing with first-prize ribbons. Her best friend Sam doesn’t care much about winning, or at least Billie didn’t think so until last summer’s race when his pumpkin crashed into her as she was about to cross the finish line and he won. This summer, Billie is determined to get revenge by growing the best and biggest pumpkin and beating Sam in the race. It’s a tricky science to grow pumpkins since weather, bugs, and critters can wipe out a crop. Then a surprise visit from a long-lost relative shakes things up, and Billie begins to see her family, and her bond with Sam, in a new way.

My Review: A beautifully written book showing young readers how the world around them isn’t always about them. Billie is very self-absorbed but I don’t think any more so than other children her age. This her summer of growing and learning for the next stage of her life.

I was very impressed with how the author weaved science and math into the story without the reader feeling like they just received a lesson.

I would definitely recommend this book to any on my middle-grade readers with confidence.

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

The Amish Cookie Club by Sarah Price

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Pages: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Edna’s friend, Verna Bontrager, has a problem. Her outspoken twenty-year-old daughter, Myrna, has been fired from her job. Again. Myrna’s family really needs her to chip in, but she’s clearly unsuited to customer service—not to mention that her sharp tongue scares away any boy who might come courting. But Edna has an idea—and his name is Ezekiel Riehl.

A widower with four young children, Ezekiel needs help. His house and his brood are a mess; his demeanor is gruff. It’s no surprise Myrna takes an immediate dislike to him. Yet she has no choice but to take on the challenge—and soon she starts to create order out of chaos. In fact, the kids begin to depend on Myrna—and so does Ezekiel. The truth is, she’s fallen in love with him. But if he’s to prove he’s not looking for a marriage of convenience, he’ll have to convince her of what’s in his heart . . .

My Review: A fun book full of emotions and lessons. I always say the book I just finished is my favorite by Sarah Price but this one truly is. I would not have thought that when I first started reading, The Amish Cookie Club. I struggled liking Myrna and wanted to reach in and yell at her to GROW UP. I found her so childish but oh what a wonderful change she made when she started working for Ezekiel. Price did a most excellent job in showing us how it is true if you don’t focus on yourself and your unhappiness and turn the focus on others you will find you are happier and more fulfilled.

You will not want to put the book down once you start and it reads so flawlessly you will possibly finish in one day. Just beware you will be sad to leave the cookie club so soon and the next installment is not due until later this year.

Recipes are included and I already want to bake the famous sugar cookies.

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

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

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

On a Summer Tide (Three Sisters Island #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Pages: 308

Publisher: Revell

Published: April 30, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Sometimes love hurts–and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island–a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals–and one in particular. Seth Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

My review: I am a huge fan of the Amish books by Suzanne Woods Fisher and now I’m a huge fan of her contemporary works. On a Summer Tide blew me away.

Direct quote “Planning doesn’t make the wedding. And the wedding doesn’t make the marriage. The marriage is what we live with, day in and day out.” Oh, how I wish engaged couples would read this book just for that quote. It is so true! Look beyond the glitz and glam of the ceremony and reception and look toward your future. Where do you want your marriage to be in ten, twenty years?

There is religion in this beautiful work of art but it is expressed serenely and at the most appropriate moments. It makes the reader sit back and reflect before moving on.

At the end of the book is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using rice crispy cereal that I plan on making this weekend and a discussion guide. This book has just about everything in it.

I am looking forward to reading the next installment of The Three Sisters series.

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

Two Weeks (The Baxter Family #5) by Karen Kingsbury

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Howard Books

Published: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:
Cole Blake, son of Landon and Ashley Baxter Blake, is months away from going off to college and taking the first steps towards his dream—a career in medicine. But as he starts his final semester of high school he meets Elise, a mysterious new girl who captures his attention—and heart—from day one.

Elise has her heart set on mending her wild ways and rediscovering the good girl she used to be. But not long after the semester starts, she discovers she’s pregnant. Eighteen and alone, she shares her secret with Cole. Undaunted by the news, and in love for the first time in his life, Cole is determined to support Elise—even if it means skipping college, marrying her, and raising another man’s baby.

When Elise decides to place her baby up for adoption, she is matched with Aaron and Lucy Williams, who moved to Bloomington, Indiana to escape seven painful years of infertility.

But as Elise’s due date draws near, she becomes focused on one truth: she has two weeks to change her mind about the adoption. With Cole keeping vigil and Lucy and Aaron waiting to welcome their new baby, Elise makes an unexpected decision—one that changes everyone’s plans.

Tender and deeply moving, Two Weeks is a story about love, faith, and what it really means to be a family.

My Review:
This book hit me right in the feels. Even 24 hours after finishing I’m still feeling the effects.

How easy this could be about any teenage girl right now? Previously in a bad relationship with a terrible guy who gets away with the unthinkable. Does she have an abortion, give the baby up for adoption or keep the baby and forgo all her dreams? I couldn’t imagine making that decision. My heart aches for Elise.

I could relate to Lucy in some ways as never being able to have a child of my own. Luckily I was able to be a mom when I married my husband. His son became my son as well. Two Weeks made me look into myself and question if I could have been strong enough to go through so many failed adoption attempts. It might have shaken my belief in God like it did Lucy’s.

There is a third storyline in Two Weeks not mentioned on the book jacket that will have you reaching for the tissues and once again questioning why.

Take your time reading Two Weeks and soak up the amazing work of God in our daily lives.

This is book 5 in The Baxter Family and if you’ve read all the Baxter books or this is your first you can jump right in with no hesitation.

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