Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch (review by Cathy)

Christmas Secrets

Book Blurb:

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother’s approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl with an impeccable reputation, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss…even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost.

 

My review ((4-stars)

One of my favorite things about reading is finding new to me authors.  I find that I like this authors style of writing very much.

This is a Regency romance that starts with a kiss and will make you want to keep reading to find out what happens to Holly and the rest of the characters in this short and sweet story.   The story wouldn’t be complete without an overbearing mother which is expected during this era,

I received a free e-copy and have given an honest opinion.

His Baby Dilemma by Catherine Lanigan (review by Cathy)

his Baby Dilemma

Book Blurb:

Nobody expects Paris fashion designer Grace Railton to settle down in her Indiana town, least of all Mica Barzonni. Fifteen months ago, he turned to her for comfort and compassion following a farming accident that left him permanently injured. Then she returned to France and went silent on him.

Until, suddenly, Grace shows up on his doorstep with life-altering news. Mica, a father? He’s barely learned to navigate his post accident life. But this could be his chance to become the man he’s always wanted to be—the husband and father Grace and their baby son need. Now Mica just has to convince her to stay.

 

My review (4-stars)

I am enamored with the residents of Indian Lake, and even more so after reading the latest in the series.  I love the tight-knit community and how they rally around each other.

I liked Grace and Mica’s story and how it unfolded.  I have to admit that I was on the fence at first on  Mica.  He seemed to wallow in self-pity, but after a while he became  one of my favorite characters.  I understood how he felt when Grace shows up with their baby, which by the way, he is just finding out about for the first time!

This is a sweet story of finding your way in life, forgiveness and being the person that you’ve always wanted to be.  It’s also about reconnecting with old friends and being with the ones you love.

If you enjoy stories with an adorable baby and second chances, you will definitely want to get a copy of, His Baby Dilemma.

I received a complimentary copy from the author and was under no obligation to post a positive review.  All opinions are  my own.

 

The Quilting Circle by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

the quilting circle

About the book United by faith, and bonded by their quilting circle, the Amish women of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, are there for one another through all life’s joys and challenges . . .
 
MORE THAN FRIENDSHIP
Youngest quilter Clara Rose Yutzy is planning her wedding to her longtime beau—which is why she resolutely ignores newly warm feelings for her best friend, Obidiah. But Obie is certain God intends them to be together. With the Lord’s help, he’ll prove to Clara Rose how much he loves her . . .
 
MORE THAN A PROMISE
Mariana Miller prayed for a child throughout fifteen years of marriage. But now, newly widowed, Mariana discovers she’s pregnant—with twins! She’s more grateful than ever for her caring community—especially Reuben Weisel, her late husband’s business partner and best friend. Reuben’s quiet strength comforts her—until he proposes marriage . . .
 
MORE THAN A MARRIAGE
Tess Smiley is new to Wells Landing and newly married. But her marriage isn’t the harmonious union she envisioned. Tess loves Jacob with all her heart, but her heart tells her she must take a stand—and ask for support. Only then does Jacob see how he has hurt her. But is he too late? . . .

Publication Date:  October 31, 2017

Publisher:  Zebra

 

My reviewWhile not a big fan of novellas I enjoyed all three of these stories from Amy Lillard. It was nice revisiting the town of Wells Landing and getting to spend time with the people there. These three stories were nice, easy reads.

Sometimes novellas can seem rushed or unfinished but not these. All three of these stories were well- written and told a complete story that left me feeling satisfied. My favorite novella told the story of Tess and Jonah, a married couple of three years. Their marriage is going through a tough spell because of a lack of communication. I found it easy to understand each of the characters in the story. I liked them and wanted them to be able to work through their issues.

Fans of Amish fiction and Amy Lillard are guaranteed to love this book. This would be a great way to introduce readers to the genre or Amy. Set aside a little time to read these three novellas. You won’t be disappointed.

 

About the authorI’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940’s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.

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One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline (review by Kristi)

one perfect lie

About the book:  A handsome stranger moves to the small Pennsylvania town of Central Valley, and his name is Chris Brennan. He’s applying for a job as a teacher and varsity baseball coach at the local high school, and he looks perfect, on paper. But his name is an alias, his resume is false, and everything about him is a lie. And he has a secret plan – for which he needs a pawn on the baseball team.

Susan Sematov loves her younger son Raz, the quirky and free-spirited pitcher of the team. But Raz’s adored father died only a few months ago, and the family is grief-stricken. Secretly, Raz is looking to fill the Daddy-shaped hole in his heart.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who’s dedicated to her only son Justin, the quiet rookie on the team. But Justin’s shy and reserved nature renders him vulnerable to attention, including that of a new father-figure.

Mindy Kostis is the wife of a busy surgeon and the queen bee of the baseball boosters, where her super-popular son Evan is the star catcher. But she doesn’t realize that Evan’s sense of entitlement is becoming a full-blown case of affluenza, and after he gets his new BMW, it’s impossible to know where he’s going – or whom he’s spending time with.

The lives of these families revolve around the baseball team – and Chris Brennan. What does he really want? How far will he go to get it? Who among them will survive the lethal jeopardy threatening them, from the shadows?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will keep readers riveted to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

Published:  April 11, 2017

Publisher:  St.Martin’s Press

 

My review*Warning* Don’t start reading this book if you’re going to have to set it down to go and participate in life. I mean, you can, but you won’t want to. Once you start reading this book you will be pulled into the lives of the characters and you’ll be wondering “Just who is Chris Brennan?”

I received an email from Netgalley one day telling me I was invited to read this book. I had never heard of the author but the book blurb and the cover had me putting the book on my Kindle in a matter of seconds. Then other commitments came up and this book somehow got shoved down, down, down the tbr pile. I was finally able to read it over the weekend and I’m actually glad it got shoved down the pile because it’s one of those books that once you’re finished reading you’re disappointed. Disappointed that you’ve read the book and that experience is over. Yeah I can always read it again but it won’t be the same as reading it that first time when every detail is new and every twist and turn is unexpected.

I’m going to be absolutely honest though and admit that at the beginning I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish the book. There are a lot of characters introduced quickly and I had trouble keeping them all sorted out. But once I did I couldn’t read the book fast enough and or stand to have to put the book down. The characters are complex and Chris Brennan is the perfect “bad guy” character for this story.

The storyline of the book is interesting and I was kept guessing as to what exactly was going on. The pace is excellent and the author has a way of telling a story that leaves you wanting more causing an extreme case of “one more chapter” syndrome. There were many jaw-dropping moments as the story unraveled and I love the fact that I wasn’t able to guess anything before it was revealed.

One Perfect Lie is one perfect story. This was my first Lisa Scottoline book and it definitely won’t be my last. I highly recommend this book!

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

 

About the authorLisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 28 novels, including her latest, ONE PERFECT LIE, which releases in April 2017. Her previous emotional thriller, MOST WANTED, has been optioned for a TV series. Lisa also co-authors a bestselling series of humorous memoir with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, which is based on their weekly Philadelphia Inquirer column titled “Chick Wit.” These witty and hysterical books examine life from a woman’s perspective, and the most recent book is, I’VE GOT SAND IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES. The first in the series, WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG, has been optioned for TV. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, “Justice and Fiction” at The University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Under this Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer (review by Cathy)

underthe same sky

Book blurb:

~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~
Illinois ~ 1854
Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky struggles to make sense of the path the Lord has placed her on and finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

 

My review (5-stars)

This is honestly one of the best books that I’ve read this year!  From the very first page, as Becky frantically went in search of help  for her injured father, I was hooked.

Becky is young, frightened and unsure what the future holds for her as she grapples with the loss of her mother and sister and the family farm after the tornado.  Mercifully, her father’s life was spared, but the injuries he sustained brings new worries and life changes. It also brings a move to St. Louis which takes them away from the prairie that she loves and the only home she’s ever known.  The move takes her away from Matthew Brody, the preacher whose help has been invaluable to her and her father.

Ms. Roemer keeps her characters down to earth and true to their beliefs throughout the story, which I found refreshing and realistic.  The move to the city didn’t change them or make them want a different lifestyle than the one they had back home.  They faced uncertainty, they worked hard, they brought happiness to others and they did it all with dignity and grace.

I was impressed with the authors debut novel and am eager to read more of her work. This is a book that can be shared with your daughters, mothers, grandmothers and your friends from church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep (review by Cathy)

12 Days

Book Blurb:

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

My review:

An enjoyable Victorian Era novel with an interesting storyline that can be read at a leisurely pace.

In 1850 London, we get to know the characters as they gather at Bleakly Manor for the 12 Days of Christmas. There are some Victorian Christmas Traditions that I am familiar and then there were some that were new to me. I was glad that the author had Historical Notes at the end of the book, so that I would know what some of them are.

This has a nice blend of mystery, humor and a bit of romance and is a book to read with a cup of hot tea on a cold winter day.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano (review by Kristi)

out of the ordinary

About the bookWhen shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair’s mother catches Gertrude Cadwalader, paid companion to the light-fingered Mrs. Davenport, returning a pilfered item, she comes to the wrong conclusion. However, Harrison is eager to mend fences once he realizes the error. After a real thief starts preying on society, can Gertrude and Harrison catch the culprit?

Publication Date:  November 7, 2017

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers

 

 

My reviewFor those of you looking at this book and thinking “oh no it’s the second book in a series” don’t fret. You don’t have to read the first book before enjoying this one. I haven’t read the first book and I can tell you this book stands completely on it’s own with the perfect balance of humor and romance.

One of the things I loved best about this book is there was no tension or dislike between Harrison and Gertrude. They were simply friends. Albeit, friends who were realizing an attraction to each other. I loved this because it allowed me to enjoy the characters and the story. I could simply fall in love with them as they fell in love with each other. Gertrude is a spunky gal and even though Harrison is being groomed to take over the family business there is a playfulness about him that made him adorable. Their interactions with each other and their friends were so genuine they soon seemed real to me and were a couple I wanted the best for.

The storyline of the book is light and fun with a seriousness about it that was like a glue that held everything together. There were parts where I could sympathize with the characters and their struggles and times where I was laughing out loud. Let me warn you that when you get to the part where Permilia dances be ready to laugh out loud. So if you are reading the book in public and don’t want to look like a crazy person or have to explain yourself (if your not into talking about books with strangers) put the book down because “lol” you will.

After reading this book, I now want to go back and read the first in the series so I’m all caught up before the next book comes out. Book three is about Permilia so I’m toning up the stomach muscles to be ready for the laughter I’m sure is to come.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and oh-so-fun read then grab this book. You won’t be disappointed!

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

 

About the authorJen Turano is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. She pursued a career in management for nine years before switching to full-time motherhood after the birth of her son. When she’s not writing, Jen can be found watching her teenage son participate in various activities, taking long walks with her husband and dog, socializing with friends, or delving into a good book. She lives in suburban Denver, Colorado.

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Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble (review by Kristi)

Beneath Copper Falls

About the bookUSA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble returns to her beloved Rock Harbor—but both danger and romance hide in this idyllic small town.

Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff’s dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams “He’s going to kill me too” before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it’s too late. Allyson’s death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn’t believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson’s cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana’s ex-fiance locates her, she’s caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.

Publication Date:  July 10, 2017

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

 

My reviewColleen Coble’s books are a hit or miss for me. Beneath Copper Falls goes into the miss category for me. I just didn’t feel this story and really didn’t connect with any of the characters. In fact, I felt like something was missing throughout the entire story.

This story was a bit puzzling to me. It was confusing from the very beginning. It seemed like there were just too many characters and trying to keep all the names and people straight just about got my head to spinning. The suspense just wasn’t there either. Usually when I read one of Ms. Coble’s books I am closing the curtains and curling into the couch cushion as much as I can. Not with this book though. The “bad guy” didn’t come across as mysterious or evil but just a jerk. And no, I didn’t figure out who the bad guy was. So kudos to the author for that bit of shock value.

Often when I read this author’s work I am frantically turning pages but not this time. The story didn’t seem to flow as well as previous books of hers. I often found myself thinking I had skipped a page or missed something and I found this to be frustrating after awhile.

As for the characters, well….there wasn’t one I really, really liked. They were ok but nobody was memorable and I had a hard time feeling anything for them. The romantic element in the story didn’t appeal to me either. It seemed rushed and almost added to the story because someone felt it needed to be there.

Even though I didn’t enjoy this story fans of Coble will perhaps find they like this book. For me though it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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

 

About the authorUSAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

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A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston (review by Kristi)

A Place at our table

About the book:  Kayla Dienner has suffered her fair share of heartache, which is why she vows to protect her heart at all costs . . . until she meets Jamie Riehl.

Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.

Publication Date: November 14, 2017

Publisher:  Zondervan

 

My review:  There are some authors that you just know you are going to enjoy their books. For me, Amy Clipston tops the list. I’m always excited to read her latest story and be introduced to characters who I will soon think of as friends. This book was everything I expected.

Even though there is a heart-stopping moment at the beginning of the story, I thought the book had a bit of a slow start. Perhaps I was just too anxious to find out what was going to happen next because I kept thinking “c’mon, let’s go”. Soon enough though the story takes off and I was reading and turning pages as fast as I could. After those initial moments I thought the book had a great pace and the storytelling, as always, is excellent.

I liked both of the main characters in this book. Kayla may come across a bit on the tough side but she’s really just shielding her heart from more pain. She has recently suffered heartache in two different forms and James, a.k.a. Jamie, represents both forms of heartache to Kayla. I can understand that while she found him attractive she wanted to protect her heart. To me it only seemed the natural thing to do even though at times it may have made her seem a bit harsh or selfish. Jamie is driven by his work and at times he lets it get in the way of living. He has his reasons for being the way he is and I was just as able to understand where he was coming from as I was Kayla. Once again Amy Clipston has created characters who are completely realistic and authentic. Not only will Kayla and Jamie find a spot in your heart but so will the other characters in the book.

As always after reading an Amy Clipston book I am left wanting more. I want more Kayla and James and I want more of the rest of these characters and their lives. I love that Amy can write a story that leaves you satisfied yet wanting more, more, more. This book is a wonderful start to what can only be an awesome series. This book is definitely recommended for fans of a good read.

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

 

About the author:  Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and three spoiled rotten cats.

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A Place at Our Table(Amish Homestead #1) by Amy Clipston (review by Cathy)

A Place at our table

Book Blurb:

Kayla Dienner has suffered her fair share of heartache, which is why she vows to protect her heart at all costs . . . until she meets Jamie Riehl.

Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.

My review (5-stars)

I think that Ms. Clipston has written another bestseller!  A Place at Our Table, takes the reader into the lives of first responders.  I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for all of them and after reading this book, even more so.

The  author crafted wonderful characters and an emotional storyline.  Two of my favorites are Jamie and Nathan.   At times, Nathan seemed more mature and grounded than his older sister, Kayla.  She was over protective of Nathan which seemed natural after the loss the Dienner family had suffered.

There were a couple of times that I cried while reading this book which is okay, because it shows the emotional connection I had to the characters.  There is just so much to love about this book and I cannot wait to read the next one in the series.

A must read for fans of Amish and Christian fiction.

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