The Farmers’ Market Mishap by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter (review by Cathy)

the farmers' market mishap

 

About the book:

Return to Amish Country in Topeka, Indiana, and the Hochstetler twin sisters who are pulled apart by life s changes. Elma is living alone for the first time in her life after Thelma married. Elma has dated some, but she wonders if she is just too picky to find love. Will she remain alone while Thelma moves on to build a family? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

My review (4-stars)

The Hochstetler twins are back in this super cute sequel to the Lopsided Christmas Cake.
Yes, there have been some changes in their lives, especially now that Thelma is married and expecting her first child and Elma is living on her own for the first time. What hasn’t changed is the close and oftentimes humorous relationship the twins have and that’s been my favorite theme of the series so far.

Delbert is still a part of the twins lives since he’s friends with Thelma’s husband, Joseph.  It was a nice touch to see more of their friendship and the times the two friends were able to just hang out with other.

I loved the addition of new characters, Ben Wagler and his mother, Dorothy.  Their relationship had a realness to it that I appreciated.
When Ben from Grabill met Elma  from Topeka at a Farmers Market  in Shipshewana, I just knew this was going to be a fun read.

The store the twins own is thriving and with that comes the need for more help which provided a few chuckles  for this reader.

This is the perfect book to read while sitting outside and enjoying the warm weather with a cold drink.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

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The Farmers’ Market Mishap by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter (review by Kristi)

the farmers' market mishap

About the book:  Return to Amish Country in Topeka, Indiana, and the Hochstetler twin sisters who are pulled apart by life s changes. Elma is living alone for the first time in her life after Thelma married. Elma has dated some, but she wonders if she is just too picky to find love. Will she remain alone while Thelma moves on to build a family? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.

Paperback, 208 pages                  Expected Publication June 1, 2017, by Shiloh Run Press

 

My review:  I really enjoyed this book from Wanda and Jean Brunstetter. Sometimes it’s nice to have a light, fun read, and one that’s not bogged down with a heavy storyline. This is a good story about two Amish women, who happen to be twins, living their lives in Indiana Amish country.

It was so fun to visit with Thelma and Elma again. I felt like I was more familiar with the twins this time and that their individual personalities really came through in this book. Thelma is still a newlywed and expecting a baby of her own and Elma is navigating through life as a single woman living on her own without the constant companionship of her twin.

I really enjoyed getting to know the twins as individuals but at the same time still getting to see them in their unique relationship as twins. Along with the twins, we also get to know Joseph, Thelma’s husband, better. Delbert is back again and there are also a few new characters to get to know.

Sometimes the writing in co-authored books seems choppy and just doesn’t flow that well. That is definitely not the case with these authors and this book. The writing is seamless and the story flows well from beginning to end. Their writing and the descriptions they use make me feel as if I’m right there with the characters. There is a scene in the story where a tornado in Kokomo, Indiana is mentioned. Having actually been in that tornado (at work, in the restroom with coworkers) seeing it mentioned in the story made the story that much more real and believable for me. It made the story more authentic and genuine.

This book could be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading The Lopsided Christmas Cake first. Not only will you have a better understanding of the characters but the book is good and you won’t want to miss out on reading it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

 

The Memory of You by Catherine West (review by Cathy)

The Memory of You

About the book:

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

My review (5-stars)

I loved this book.  I loved the characters, the setting of the winery and the emotional storyline.

Natalie finds a few surprises when she returns to Sonoma.  Her grandfather is much healthier than she was led to believe and her childhood crush, Tanner is now working at the winery.

As she faces demons from her past and the realty of her future, the story takes you on her journey as told beautifully by the author.  This is a story of learning to forgive yourself, honesty and new beginnings.

A truly wonderful book and one that I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains(Carmella’s Quandry) by Susan Page Davis (review by Cathy)

my heart belongs in the superstition mountains

 

About the book:
Journey now to Tuscon, Arizona, and into the Superstition Mountains of 1866, where…
A Chance for Escape Takes Two Unlikely Allies on a Romantic Adventure Along a Desert Trail

Since orphaned at age twelve, Carmela Wade has lived a lie orchestrated by her uncle, pretending to be a survivor of an Indian kidnapping and profiting from telling her made-up story on the speaker circuit. But as she matures into adulthood, Carmela hates the lies and longs to be free. On a stagecoach in Arizona Territory, Carmela and her uncle are fellow passengers with US Marshal Freeland McKay and his handcuffed prisoner.

The stage is attacked. Now a chance to make a new life may suddenly be within Carmela’s reach. . .if she can survive the harsh terrain and being handcuffed to an unconscious man.

Will Carmela’s wish come true, or will she forever be branded by her past?

My review (4-stars)

I quickly got caught up in the story of Carmella and her Uncle Silas. I liked Carmella but the way Silas treated her was shameful.  I could not fathom anyone forcing a young and innocent girl into a life of  lying for personal gain.  Given the fact that he was her guardian and the person that was supposed to protect and offer her guidance made him despicable.

She needed help to escape that situation and on their travels to the next town where they are scheduled to speak, the stagecoach is robbed.  There’s some good news/bad news there..  The good news is there’s a US Marshal on board help her. The bad news involved Silas and quite honestly, I didn’t care.  Freeland (the marshal) is a fantastic character and as he helps her and she begins to learn to trust, the story is  quite good.

This is a nice addition to the series and each can be read as a standalone.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

More from My Heart Belongs in Series…
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetsch (January 2017)
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze (May 2017)
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring by Carrie Fancett Pagels (July 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar (September 2017)

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (review by Kristi)

The Dog Who Was There

About the book:  No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

Paperback, 262 pages                          Published January 31, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  I love dogs. I love books about dogs. With that being said I this isn’t a book I would have picked up to read on my own. A book about Jesus told from a dog’s perspective just didn’t sound like a book I would enjoy. How wrong I was!

I have to be completely honest though and say that at times I wanted to quit reading the book. The story wasn’t bad or anything it was just that Barley’s story was sad. From his earliest memories as a puppy to the life he lived as a stray, Barley often times had a rough life. There were happy times for Barley though and those moments kept me reading.

As to the part of the story that included Jesus, who is referred to as the Teacher or The Kind Man, well, I found that part of the story interesting, too. I found the way that the author told this story from Barley’s perspective was unique and entertaining. The author made the dog almost human in his ability to understand what was going on.

There was a nice surprise to the end of the book that made reading all of the sad parts worthwhile. I was pleased with the way the story ended and the fact that it brought a smile to my face. I would recommend this book to people looking for a different kind of read. I found it interesting and a quick read.

I received a free copy of this book from the Fiction Guild and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an “Outstanding Book of 2008.” For the past five years he has taught a very popular course on the subject of grief using film, theatre, literature and oral history as a way to study this often intimidating subject. He has acted extensively on TV―in everything from Lost to West Wing to Entourage -and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA. Brian Shuff is a writer from Mesa, Arizona, who now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work completing a book of short stories. His mother died when he was eight years old, giving him a life-long interest in the subject of grief. Along with Ron Marasco he has written a screenplay based on Louise Hay’s groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life that will premiere in 2011. He and Marasco are also working on a dramatic adaptation of John McNulty’s book This Place on Third Avenue.

 

The Final Vow by Amanda Flower (review by Kristi)

The Final Vow

About the book:  Summer weddings in Barton Farm’s picturesque church are standard procedure for museum director Kelsey Cambridge. At least they were until the Cherry Foundation, which supports the museum, orders Kelsey to host her ex-husband’s wedding on Farm grounds.

Ambitious wedding planner Vianna Pine is determined to make the bride’s Civil War-themed wedding perfect. But each time Vianna’s vision threatens the integrity and safety of the Farm, Kelsey has to intervene.

When Kelsey finds Vianna’s dead body at the foot of the church steps, everyone’s plans fall apart. With both the wedding and Barton Farm at risk of being permanently shut down, Kelsey has to work hard to save her own happily ever after.

Kindle Edition                                      Published May 8, 2017, by Midnight Ink

 

My review:  Amanda Flower has struck gold once again with the third (and final, I believe) installment of the Living History Museum series. Chaos is reigning once again at Barton Farms. With attack chickens, a bridezilla, and a tipsy Abraham Lincoln this book is part murder mystery and part comedy and an all around fun read!

I’m not sure how Amanda Flower is able to take things that sooo don’t belong together (see above) and put them together to make perfect sense. I’m glad she is able to because her books are a delight to read. Her characters are quirky yet realistic and the situations they are put in are sometimes so off the wall you don’t know how they can handle it. Somehow they do and the result is hilarious and heartwarming.

The murder mystery aspect of the book is well done. I was left guessing until the end as to who the murderer was. I had no clue and was surprised at the reveal. I love that Amanda can keep you guessing and on your toes as to who the bad guy (or gal) is.

Knowing that this is the last installment of the series I was happy that the storyline between Kelsey and Chase has closure. I will miss these characters and am hoping that perhaps one day we can make a return trip to Barton Farms and see how everyone is doing.

If you like cozy mysteries then be sure to pick up this one. It is a good read and you won’t want to miss out on it. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books in the series as this can be read as a standalone. I would recommend the first two books though as they are just as fun as this one!

I received a free copy of this book and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.

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Return to Huckleberry Hill (The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill #7) by Jennifer Beckstrand (review by Cathy)

Return to Huckleberry Hill

About the book:

When it comes to matchmaking, Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s unstoppable octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never seem to run out of opportunities—or grandchildren…

Reuben Helmuth is plenty bitter. John King, his best friend—or so he thought—is engaged to the girl Reuben loved. Humiliated, Reuben flees from Ohio to his grandparents’ home on Huckleberry Hill, where he knows he’ll find comfort. He’s enjoying wallowing in his misery—until John’s sister, Fern, shows up. She won’t stop pestering Reuben about forgiveness—or trying to help him find love again. Yet Fern’s efforts only reawaken Reuben’s long-buried feelings—for her…

With her brother too ashamed to face Reuben, it’s fallen to Fern to help mend fences. But as she and the Helmuths do all they can—even organizing a knitting club event filled with eligible girls—it may take one more challenge to inspire Reuben to forget his heartache, recognize his own blunders, and embrace the true love that’s right in front of him…

My review (4-stars)

Anna and Felty are still matchmaking in Return to Huckleberry Hill.  They are tenacious and want everyone to experience the same happiness they have.  Especially their grandchildren.

Boy, do they have their work cut out for them when their grandson, Reuben shows up unexpectedly from Sugarcreek.
He’s nursing a broken heart after his girlfriend and best friend become a couple and he felt like he was a laughingstock and just wants to get away from everything and everyone back home.

Imagine his surprise when Fern decides to come for a visit.  There was so much to love about Fern!  Her patience,  sense of fairness, humor but mostly the sacrifices she was willing to make for her family and her friend, Reuben.
This had the makings of a really good book with some really good characters. Unfortunately, Reuben was not a character that I liked very much.    His behavior throughout most of the book became annoying as he thought that everyone should respect and admire him because he was wealthy and handsome.  It became tiresome to me after a while.

Anna and Felty still provide  some laugh out loud moments as I’ve come to expect. She’s still trying out new recipes and he’s still encouraging her.

I received a copy from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.