Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

small great things

Pages: 481 (Hardback Book)

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Published: Ocotber 11, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I know when I open a Jodi Picoult book I know I’m going to be questioning many things I believe and thought. Small Great Things was no exception. Many times while reading I became disturbed, emotional and found I had to walk away from the book. It did keep me up to 4am as at one point I couldn’t put it down.

The story is about Ruth, a black Labor and Delivery nurse; Turk, an Aryan Nation leader; and Kennedy, a defense attorney. Ruth is accused of killing Turk’s newborn baby and Kennedy takes Ruth case. The question becomes is the lawsuit race based or a nurse failing to do her job.

I never thought of myself as racist or one who pays attention to color. This book will make you think about that to the extreme. I liked how Picoult wrote from all points of view and made you feel what the characters were experiencing.

I was greatly disturbed learning about the Aryan Nation. I know it exists but I didn’t know how will hidden they could be in society. Absolutely terrifying. I guess I live in more of a protected bubble than I realized.

I am very interested to see how close the movie (release date not yet set) will follow the book. I have read Julia Roberts and Viola Davis are set to star in the movie. Very interesting strong women picked to play these characters.

Read with an open mind and heart. Be prepared for heartache and moments of self-reflection. It’s not a book for the faint of heart.

Purring Around the Christmas Tree (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery #6) by Liz Mugavero

purring around the christmas tree

Pages: 298 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 26, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Santa’s dead?! This is how the Christmas season starts for Stan, the owner of the pet patisserie in Frog Ledge, Connecticut. Instead of having her grand opening she finds herself smack down in the middle of a murder, two missing persons and vandalism. Will Stan solve the mysteries in her sleepy town before Christmas is ruined along with her business?

A “purringly” good read. I may have started with the newest release but I was able to follow along “purrfectly”. I did not need to start another series but I am glad I found this one. Stan is the main character that you find yourself wishing you were. Strong, confident, and energized. I liked she was not wishy washy with her life decisions. It was great not to read about a love triangle involving the main character. Now I may read the earlier books and find one but it will not bother as bad as some do as I know who she is with eventually.

This book read so real life when discussing and trying to solve the crimes. Very rarely in real life are crimes straight forward and the answer handed to you. This mystery has many layers that need to be peeled and examined.

Purring Around the Christmas Tree is the perfect book to curl up with your favorite four footed friend on a cold winter’s night.

Blind Descent (Anna Pigeon #6) by Nevada Barr

blind descent

Pages: 336 (eBook)

Publisher: Berkley

Published: March 23, 1998 (original published date)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Warning: If you are claustrophobic or even think you are beware you will find yourself breathing heavy while reading. Ms. Barr does such a fantastic job describing the Lechuguilla cave and what Anna Pigeon experiences you become one with Anna. I had to uncurl my fingers and toes while reading many times.

In book six, Anna finds herself called from Colorado to New Mexico to the Lechuguilla cave to help rescue her friend and co-worker, Frieda. Anna must overcome her fear of tight and confined spaces to begin the rescue. Anna soon learns that everything is not as it should be or appears. Can Anna save her friend and herself before evil wins?

I am really enjoying this series and continue to question myself why I stopped reading the series. It may be I had to find the books first. My goal is to complete this series to the current book by the end of 2018. At times I feel there is too much technical description but I later learn it was necessary. These are books you have to give your full attention to or you will miss the key part that ties the book together.

Liza’s Second Chance (An Amish Charm Bakery #1) by Molly Jebber

lizas second chance

Pages: 305 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: January 30, 2018

Rating: 3 out 5 stars

Liza runs the local Amish bakery in 1912 Charm, OH. Her first husband bought the bakery for her in order to make him more money, not out of love. When he unexpectedly died Liza was thankful for a way to make money to live. One day Jacob and his daughter Ellie, wander into the bakery and instantly Liza realizes she may be ready to move on. As Jacob and Liza get to know one other, Ellie, has different plans than her dad. As Liza and Jacob explore their feelings, Ellie is spreading her wings. Will she spread them to far and force her dad and her to move again or will Liza’s strong faith be the tie that binds?

I find it hard to review a book that I just liked and not loved. It is not the author’s fault if the book did not speak to me. I have read many reviews where others loved it. My main issue was it felt rushed. It seemed to jump from one thing to another and ideas where not given a full follow through as I am used to in other Amish novels.

I also did not care for Jacob in his pursuit of Liza. He made it seem all about him and to heck with others thoughts and feelings in his life. I agree Ellie was a little bit of a pill but he needed to take the time to really listen to her and take her feelings into consideration. There was a reason for her acting out. He didn’t really take Liza’s feelings into consideration either. He was all “I am man and I want you so I will have you”. That gets my goat every single time. Look mister it takes two to make a successful marriage and I have thoughts, feelings and concern too!

The ending of the book is the best. It felt more thought out and loving than the first three quarters of the book.

I will more than likely pick up the second book in the series just to see whose story is told. Maybe I just had an off day reading the book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advanced copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

A Dash of Love by Liz Isaacson

a dash of love

Pages: 197 (eBook)

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: December 26, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A cute Valentine read.

Nikki’s lifelong dream is to be a chef in a five star restaurant. Her problem: she is not classically trained at such schools at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She thinks she has found the perfect job to learn from THE chef in Lakeside, Holly Hanson. Nikki becomes her assistant, entering receipts and such, as Holly has agreed to let Nikki cook after hours in the restaurant kitchen. Paul, Holly’s classically trained chef, has a disastrous run in with Nikki on her first day but he soon finds himself smitten. Paul learns of Holly’s generosity in allowing Nikki to cook after hours and becomes suspicious immediately as Holly is known to be quite the opposite. Can Paul figure out what is going on before Holly ruins his chance at love with Nikki?

I am a sucker for Hallmark’s romance and mystery movies. Yes, I admit there is a gooey, smushy side to this reader. Sometimes you just have to read about romance, hearts and flowers. I especially love a good, clean romance after reading a book full of mystery and death. It is like a palate cleanser for me. Hallmark Publishing has found the perfect way to accomplish that in writing books based off their movies. They are short (usually under 200 pages) books and always have a smile at the end.

A Dash of Love was sweet, romantic and heated in that there is a lot of cooking going on between Paul and Nikki. My interest in piqued between Nikki’s Cinnamon Candy Chili (recipe included in the book) and Peanut Butter Root Beer Beef Stew (yes you read that right). My next mission is to find this movie playing and watch it as I would love to see how the sparks fly on the screen.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hallmark Publishing for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

His Amish Teacher (The Amish Bachelors #3) by Patricia Davids

his amish teacher

Pages: 293 (Large Print, Library Binding)

Publisher: Thorndike Press

Published: November 15, 2017 (original publication date)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When I am in the mood for a quick, comforting Amish head I know to head to a Patricia Davids book. I almost never can resist picking up her newest book at store or library.

In His Amish Teacher, we join Lillian Keim and Timothy Bowman of Bowman’s Crossing as they start the treacherous journey from friendship to love. Lillian loves her job teaching more than anything especially since she knows she can never have children of her own due to an illness. Timothy and Lillian have been the best of friends for as long as anyone can remember and their friendship even survived a 6 year separation when Lillian’s family moved to Wisconsin. Timothy feels the underlying fire of love for Lillian but is afraid of ruining their friendship. He decides to take a chance after an uncontrolled fire almost burned the school down with Lillian and 42 of the communities children inside. As Timothy works to put out the fires that are popping up around the community, will he smolder the flames of love for Lillian or let them be set ablaze?

I am a firm believer that if you and your love are friends first you have the best chance of having a forever love. Lillian and Timothy have shared just about everything life has to offer except marriage. They both have a love of learning, books and reading. The both share love of family and community. They are almost able to finish one other’s thoughts. A closeness like theirs doesn’t happen every day. As you read this book you will find yourself believing in the good of others between the love shared between Lillian and Timothy and the outpouring of support for people miles around after a devastating loss to multiple families.

His Amish Teacher is 3rd in a series of 5 but can be read as a stand alone with no issues. I personally have read this series out of order and have had no issues.

Patricia Davids Amish series (all of them) are good clean reads suitable for anyone teenager and older.

Endangered Species (Anna Pigeon #5) by Nevada Barr

endangered species.jpg

Pages: 305 (paperback)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing

Published: March 1997 (original published date)

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

In the fifth installment of the Anna Pigeon series we join park ranger, Anna, as she works on Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast. While she is patrolling the area with another ranger they see smoke. Cumberland Island is dried timber and vegetation just waiting to go up in seconds. As they race to the source they find a drug interdiction plane has crashed killing both pilot and passenger. They soon learn the passenger is not the passenger that was to be in the plane. Join Anna and her fellow rangers as they unravel this mystery on an island that does not take too kindly to outsiders interfering.

I am a fan of the Anna Pigeon series as the books are based in true national parks. Some I have heard of and many I have not. I get to visit and learn of parks I may never get to visit in real life.

I liked this book but there were a lot of scenes that just felt like filler to me and did not add mush to the story line. I really enjoyed the scenes that discussed the sea turtles and wished they had played more of a role.

Anna Pigeon, the main character, is a strong woman who has had a rough past. Every now and then you will see cracks in her armor but she quickly seals them up. Her current love interest, Frederick, is in the story off and on and well, let’s just say he is a jerk. Read it and see if you agree.

This is one series I plan on getting caught up on in 2018.

My Turtle Journal by Teresa Westing

my turtle journal

Pages: 93 (eBook)

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Published: November 15, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I grew up with box turtles as pets. We usually found them on the side of a busy road. My all time favorite one was Junkyard (found in a junkyard) and he was so much like Buttons. He loved for me to pet his head, he ate out of my hand and loved for me to talk to him. He would do a happy turtle dance when he saw me.

Reading My Turtle Journal made me think of him so much. I was disappointed with a scene towards the end. I was very teary eyed. This book would be good for third grade and above but younger than that might be a little disturbing to them towards the end. As a reader you might want to skip that part if you share the story with younger kids.

A great story to teach kids how to care for a turtle and help them understand their hard shell can protect them but they can still get hurt.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dog Ear Publishing for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

Amish Sweethearts (Four Novellas) by Amy Clipston

amish sweethearts

Pages: 384 (eBook)

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: January 9, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One thing is for sure and certain, you cannot go wrong picking up a book of Amish novellas to read during a winter storm and when it is a book full of Amy Clipston novellas it is wunderbar (wonderful)! I found myself falling in love over and over again when reading the novellas in Amish Sweethearts.

Love and Buggy Rides is a story about Janie and Jonathan who work together at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides. One day while Janie is eating lunch she witnesses an accident while Jonathan is driving a buggy full of tourists. Janie is drawn to helping Jonathan in the aftermath but is afraid to go against her father. Will their new friendship survive or will another tragedy tear them apart?

A Home for Lindsay is a novella with characters from the Kauffman Amish Bakery series (one I need to move up my TBR pile). Matthew has been building a home for his beloved, Lindsay, on his sister’s farm and is looking forward to being married to Lindsay in six short months. Everything comes to a screeching halt when Matthew learns of his sister and brother-in-law’s pending bankruptcy. Matthew becomes fearful of not being able to provide for his future wife. Will Matthew share the terrible news with Lindsey or run away leaving her heartbroken?

Where the Heart Is shares the love story of Tobias and Mariella (a beautiful and unusual name). Tobias has returned from his time in an alcohol rehab in Florida and is ready to make amends with his community and family, especially his Dat (dad). He returns in time for his little sister’s wedding. Mariella is one of the wedding party and has been helping her best friend get everything ready for the wedding. Sparks start flying as Mariella and Tobias find themselves together over and over again.

Love Birds is one of my favorite Amish novellas. For some reason I find myself reading this novella over and over again. I has previously read it when I read An Amish Market. This story definitely fills you with the warm and fuzzies when you finish. I’m in love with how the Amish community takes care of each other in a time of need. This novella focuses on the romance blooming between Ellie and Lloyd but throughout the reader learns how the Amish help one another.

If you love to read Amish stories, ask your sweetheart for this book for Valentine’s Day. You won’t be sorry.

Thank you to NetGalley and Zondervan for a copy to read in exchange for a review based on my own honest thoughts.

The View from Rainshadow Bay (Lavender Tides #1) by Colleen Coble

the view from rainshadow bay.jpg

Pages: 336 (eBook)

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: January 23, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a great way to start off my romantic suspense reading for 2018. I could not figure out who the bad guys were until they were revealed. I love that!

Shauna is trying to make a life for herself and her 5 year old son after her husband dies while on a rock climbing adventure with his best friend Zach. Zach has never been able to forgive himself for the death of Jack. One day while Shauna was visiting a family friend he gives her a box and told her to give it to his estranged wife for safekeeping. As she is driving away the house explodes killing her friend. Shauna realizes it was no ordinary explosion and that the mysterious box and its contents have something to do with the explosion. Shauna enlists the help of Zack even though she blames him for her husbands death. Can Shauna and Zach figure out why the box is so important before others are killed or worse them?

You will be on the edge of your seat reading The View from Rainshadow Bay. There are several mysteries tied into the main mystery and your mind will be continuing to think about what is happening next. I caught myself several times still reading at 3am as I could not put the book down. The characters are well thought out and every action and reaction is true life.

I cannot wait for the second book in the series to be released this July.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for an advanced copy in exchange for a review based on my own thoughts and opinions.