Saturday, October 19, 2019

Can't Judge A Book by it's Murder by Amy Lillard

There is something about a mystery book, especially when you mention it's a cozy mystery that gets everyone excited.  
Most people who know me know that I normally avoid mysteries but I am starting to come around to cozy ones.  Amy Lillard delivers and fun and entertaining read in the first of a new series: Not every murder is by the book…


As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime.

When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident.

Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.

This was a well written and had great flowing dialogue.  I loved the small town feel and the set of characters, there will be plenty pf chances for more books in the series. Arlo is quirky and I enjoyed her a lot more as the story went on.  

Now there were a few parts that didn't flow together as well as I would have liked, and I did figure out who did it.  But overall it was still a fun story and a good fast paced read.  I will be interested in seeing this series evolve!  

So pick up your copy of Amy Lillard's new book (releasing on the 29th this month) and enjoy a fun new read!  Happy reading!  

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Love At Pebble Creek (Hope Chest of Dreams #5) by Lisa Jones Baker

I truly love when I can go back and visit a favorite fictional place and the people who make up that world.  

So when I had a chance to review Lisa Baker's book and peek in on the people of Pebble Creek I jumped at the chance.  From the back: In Lisa Jones Baker's heartwarming series, precious hand-carved chests hold treasured dreams--and bring blessings to a new generation ...

Anna King has a talent--and a secret. Like the birth mother she never knew, Anna is gifted at sketching and longs to study and teach art one day. Unbeknownst to her beloved adoptive family, she's even entered a contest to win a full scholarship to art college. Sketching isn't a desirable vocation in her community, so Anna does her work in a remote spot by Pebble Creek and stores it in her beautiful hope chest. Only her family's farmhand, Jesse Beiler, knows her plans--and that's by accident ...

The bishop's son, Jessie is surprised to discover Anna's contest entry form. He can't imagine wanting a life beyond having his own farm and raising a family. Still, he admires Anna's spirit and promises to keep her secret, despite their differences. Yet the better he and Anna get to know each other, the more they find their personalities--and their hearts--complement one another. With Gott's guidance, can they forge the futures they desire--together?

Anna and Jessie are great characters and well written.  Being adopted (and having adopted) I can identify with Anna's feelings of not fitting in and struggling to find what world she belongs in.  With a secret laying heavy on her heart can she figure out what she needs to do? Jessie is confident and admires Anna.  But can he convince her to stay?  

With some unexpected twists and turns this enjoyable story brings us back to Pebble Creek and well written with truly enjoyable characters you will want to pick up your copy of Love at Pebble Creek to enjoy.  Happy reading!  

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Saturday, September 21, 2019

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

When you find a good series it's hard to have it come to an end.  

The final installment of the Prayer Jar Series was one I looked forward to and was not disappointed!  From the back:  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?

This was such a good ending to a beautifully written series.  I would not recommend reading this as a stand alone since you miss story and character development as the series unfolds.  Also it ties up several other story lines neatly. 

Lenore does not have an easy path.  In a complex and compelling plot will Lenore find the love she is longing for?  Will a special jar help?  

This was truly a wonderful wrap up to the series.  From like-able realistic characters and situations to overarching themes of love, faith, and trust, this has been a great series to be immersed in.  

So pick up your copy of The Healing Jar and enjoy another great story by a great story teller!

Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Return of the King's Ranger (Hearts at War #4) by Angela K. Couch

It has been super busy here.  I've moved from my home in Virginia all the way to Minnesota.  I'm missing my front porch swing and good sweet tea, but I'm thankful to have good books to keep me company!

Angela Couch has done a wonderful job with the next book in the Hearts at War series.  I have really enjoyed them all and hate to see it end!  From the back:  The war for American freedom is over, and the British have gone back to England. Not knowing what has become of his family since he was forced into the Continental Army nine years earlier, Myles Cunningham wants to go home as well. He returns to the Mohawk Valley with the understanding that he is believed to have been shot for deserting—fiction that might be made real if anyone recognizes him as the son of a Tory and a King's Ranger.

Everything is wonderful in the growing community along the Mohawk River, except Nora Reid is still alone. With her brother happily settled and both her younger sisters starting families of their own, Nora feels the weight of her twenty-four years. A long walk leads her to the overgrown rubble of the Cunningham homestead where a bearded stranger begins to awaken feelings she'd lost hope of ever experiencing.

With secrets abounding—including whether Myles even cares for her—Nora must determine what she is ready to give up and how far she will go to secure his affections. She begins to break through his defenses, but Myles can't risk staying. Not if he loves her.

I really enjoy a good historical series, especially one so well researched and written.  Her grasp of the time period enriches the story so wonderfully. Everything is so real and vivid in the way she paints her words. 

Myles and Nora were wonderfully written.  Myles was complex and you feel the romantic tension between the two.  There were so many obstacles that it keeps you turning pages to see if they will ever get together.  

If you are looking for a great historical story with lots of surprises, themes of forgiveness and redemption, and a beautiful love story then you definitely want to check out The Return of the King's Ranger! 

Happy Reading!

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*


Monday, July 22, 2019

A Family for Gracie by Amy Lillard

It's been 110 degrees in the shade here so it's a perfect time to hide inside with the AC and see what the Amish of Pontotoc, Mississippi are up to.  
In A Family for Gracie we are taken back to Pontotoc.  From the back:
For the Amish of Pontotoc, Mississippi, faith and family are everything--even when they pose the greatest challenge . . . 

Gracie Glick is known for being the helpful one, always available for a relative in need. But now that she's longing for a home and family of her own, it's time to help herself. With few eligible men in Pontotoc, Gracie's choices, and her time, are limited. So she takes a bold leap of faith: she proposes to Matthew Byler, a handsome, recently widowed, father of five. It's not until after they're married that Gracie learns Matthew doesn't want more children . . .

With his grief still fresh, and his children needing care while he tends to his farm, Gracie is the answer to Matthew's prayers. But a marriage in name only suits him fine. And when he finally tells Gracie the dismaying reason why, they must decide whether to continue 
together--or apart. It's a choice that will force them both to look deeper into their hearts than ever before . . .

First, this series gets better and better with every book.  You can read this as a stand alone but to get some references and back story and to better appreciate the book you should read the first two. 

Gracie was super sweet, I was a little worried that her bonnet was on a bit tight in the beginning but when her personality started showing through and I saw flashes of spirit and temper she really grew on me.  On the other hand I did want to yell at Matthew on quite a few occasions in the book, which is the mark of a good storyteller.  If a fictional character gets you that riled up they are doing a good job! I also was a huge fan of little Henry.  

Another reason I have enjoyed this series is real life issues are explored.  The Amish don't just farm and ride around happy in buggies.  Real life tragedies touch them as well.  

So can two people thrown together for the sake of the children find common ground?  Will they find peace and love or disaster.  What will Henry break next?  Pick up your copy of A Family For Gracie and find out.  Happy reading!

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Brides of Big Valley by Wanda, Jean, and Richelle Brunstetter

I really enjoy books that family write together.  It's really neat to see how the stories interweave, yet stand apart with the writer's unique style.  
In the Bride's of Big Valley we see three generations come together for stories from unique Amish communities.  From the description: In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.

I really enjoyed the stories, they could stand alone but work well together as characters overlap.  There is a little explanation of the different Amish groups highlighted, but I like having more background on unique cultures so I did a bit of my own research and that really was helpful in understanding more about the groups and made the reading much better. 

In Deanna's Determination Deanna is left widowed with a special needs child.  Elmer has loved Deanna but an accident leaves him bitter and unable to see a future with her.  The story had sad parts, but just like real life, things aren't always rosy.  I enjoyed how the characters were portrayed and how they worked through their challenges.  

In Rose Mary's Resolve Rose Mary meets a pilot who crashes and the family nurses him to health.  He is drawn to their simple way of life and family bond.  Kevin's father is, well, he's kind of a jerk and pushy.  I really liked how Kevin grew in faith and matured as the story went along.  The story had a nice flow and pace. 

Leila's Longing was probably my favorite in the book.  You really felt for Leila and wanted her to find her place in the community and love.  How many times do we feel that we are never enough?  Leila was the character who changed the most in my opinion in the stories.  I found myself caring for her and invested in her being happy.  This was a great story to end the book with!

All in all I enjoyed this book.  It's going to be a great addition to my shelf.  So pick up your copy today!  Happy Reading!   

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Lady and the Wish (Faraway Castle book 4) by J.M. Stengl

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved fairy tales.  She grew up into an adult who still loves fairy tales and is passing the love on to her children.  

I do love fairy tales and retellings.  This past week I was able to read the next installment of the Faraway series, The Lady and the Wish.
Isn't this cover GORGEOUS!  From the description: Gillian set her heart on marrying a prince.

Lady Gillian Montmorency is determined to win Prince Fidelio’s heart, but her plans are crashing around her ears. First, Fidelio’s older cousin with a beard like a bird’s nest proposes to her. Next, intimidating Prince Max insists she will be his next trophy.

But the worst of all, her parents reveal a financial scandal. To pay off her father’s debt, Gillian must agree to work one year as companion to an old lady at some remote and ramshackle villa.

Fine. She’ll go. But she doesn’t have to like it.

Something strange is going on at Lady Beneventi’s villa. Ghostly people appear, doors vanish, statues come to life . . . and the old lady herself despises Gillian. With the help of a handsome but hostile construction worker, can Gillian solve the mystery of the wishes and return to her proper place in high society? Can she finally snare a prince to marry?

Or might love play a part in changing her plans?

A King Thrushbeard Romance
 

I don't see too many retellings of Thrushbeard which makes this a unique story to begin with.  Gillian (who has made previous appearance) is spoiled and self centered.  At least on the surface.  But like all tales looks can be deceiving.  Despite the "mean girl" reputation Stengl's characters have multiple layers and depth to them.  

From hundreds of poodles to a flirting statue the story moves quickly and keeps the reader engaged.  With wishes that often led to mass chaos my son and I couldn't get enough.  Honestly to me the series just keeps getting better and better.  My son's only complaint was not enough cinder sprites, but the poodles made up for it.  With a beautiful romance interwoven in this story was pure magic. 

So if you are looking for some misfiring magic, romance, and a strong female character, this is your book.  So pick up your copy and enjoy another trip to Faraway Castle where magic lies inside.  Happy Reading!  

Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*