Ours For a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer (review by Cathy)

Ours For a Season

About the book:

An Old Order Mennonite couple’s vows and beliefs are challenged in this stirring contemporary novel for fans of Cindy Woodsmall or Shelley Shepherd Gray.

Anthony and Marty Hirschler are part of an Old Order Mennonite community in Pine Hill, Indiana. The couple has grown apart since a doctor confirmed they would never have children. Marty longs to escape the tight-knit area where large families are valued, and the opportunity to do so arises when her childhood friend, Brooke Spalding, resurfaces with the wild idea of rebuilding a ghost town into a resort community.

Brooke hires Anthony to help with the construction, drawing the Hirschlers away from Indiana and into her plan, and then finds herself diagnosed with cancer. Moral complications with Brooke’s vision for a casino as part of the resort and the discovery of a runaway teenager hiding on the property open up a world neither the Hirschlers nor Brooke had considered before.

Will they be able to overcome their challenges and differences to help the ones among them hurting the most?

My thoughts:

I quickly became caught up in the story of Marty and Anthony Hirschler.  Their story is an emotional one and had me reading for hours before I took a break.  At times I felt sorry for Marty when its clear she desperately wants a child of her own which can never become a reality based on confirmation from a doctor, but then there were times I became frustrated with her and thought she needed to face reality.  It was sad but rang true that this would cause distance between the couple.

I loved that Brooke Spalding (Marty’s childhood friend) offered the couple an opportunity to move from Indiana to Kansas with the prospect of a job for Anthony.  The storyline soon became more interesting as life changing decisions are made.

The author tackles some very tough topics in, Ours For A Season such as miscarriage, homelessness, and a very serious illness and she does so in a respectful and touching manner.  There is a lot going on in this book but it is so worth the read.  The secondary characters are every bit as strong and important to the storyline.

I loved seeing the changes in the characters lives and that there was no rush in getting them where they needed to be.

I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall (review by Kristi)

enchanting nicholette.jpg

About the bookIn this captivating novella by Dawn Crandall, Nicholette Everstone is already a widow at the age of twenty-two: her husband was murdered on their wedding day. She has just returned to Boston after two years of mourning in Europe. Although her husband was loving, the marriage was an arranged one, and Nicholette would like to wed again–this time for love…and to someone safe

As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette meets someone she can’t help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of “what if” at bay?

Publication Date:  October 9, 2018

Publisher:  Whitaker House

Genre:  Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction

Series:  The Everstone Chronicles #5

 

My thoughts:   Dawn Crandall has a way of creating heroes that readers swoon over and heroines they like so much they want them to get the hero. She has done just that in Enchanting Nicholette. A hero and heroine that I couldn’t help but love made this book a fun read.

From beginning to end this book is pure enjoyment. I loved getting to know these characters and I absolutely loved the way they met. As an avid reader, I enjoy it when characters meet in situations that may be a bit awkward for one or both. The bookstore scene makes Nicholette and Cal realistic and believable.

Enchanting Nicholette is a great continuation of the Everstone Chronicles. Even though this is a novella the story within is just as complete as a full-length novel and everything I loved about the series is included: believable characters, great descriptions, and a wonderful pace. There are lighthearted moments and some more serious moments to balance everything out.

If you’ve read the Everstone Chronicles then Enchanting Nicholette is a must-read. If you haven’t read a book by Dawn Crandall this would be an excellent choice to start with although I do recommend reading the entire series. They are all well-written books and will provide some background for this story. I’m anxiously waiting to see what’s next from this author who is one of my favorites.

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

 

About the author:    Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles from Whitaker House. The series currently consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter,  and The Cautious Maiden.

Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary. Apart from writing books, Dawn is also mom to two precious boys, and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan (review by Kristi)

murder at the flamingo

About the book:   “Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square. When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo night club.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.

Publication Date:  July 10, 2018

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Genre:  Mystery, Historical Fiction (1930s)

Series:  Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery #1

 

My thoughts:   As soon as I saw the cover of this book I was in love! I liked the colors, the scene, and the font used. I loved the cover so much that I wanted to just pick up the book and start reading right away. But, since I’m a one-book-at-a-time kinda gal, I finished my current read and then delved right into this one.

I wish I could say I was as in love with the story as I was the cover, but that just isn’t the case. This was my first book by this author and I found her writing style a bit different at times. It was hard for me to really get into the story and then it was difficult to maintain my interest. I liked Hamish and Reggie and loved the fact that they were opposites. He suffers from anxiety attacks and she is a high society woman trying to make it on her own. I found their strengths and weaknesses played well off each other. There is a slew of supporting cast in this story and I really didn’t feel any kind of draw to any of them.

My biggest thing with this book is that it is supposed to be a murder mystery (even says so in the title) but it for-ev-er to get to the murder. I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen. See, I was expecting it to happen close to the beginning and then the rest of the story would be the two main characters trying to solve the murder. The murder didn’t take place until over halfway through the story. Up until this time, I guess, is some sort of buildup to the murder even though it seemed very lackluster. It keeps being hinted at that Luca, Hamish’s cousin, is probably doing some shady business under the guise of running a nightclub. I was never really sure if all this talk about Luca was a buildup to him being a victim, murderer, innocent bystander, or what.

The author references Hamish’s favorite book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, throughout the book. I’ve never read this book so the references were a bit lost on me. I found at times that the story seemed bogged down in the descriptions of Boston. I feel like the pace of the book was just too slow.

This is the beginning of a new series from this author. I doubt I read the rest of the series and I’m not sure that I would give her other books a try. Her writing style just isn’t for me.

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

 

About the authorRachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.

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Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower (review by Kristi)

Premeditated Peppermint

About the bookSomeone’s sweet on revenge . . .

Christmas is Bailey King’s favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat: peppermint combined with molten white chocolate. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother. New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Bailey’s not about to let her beloved town—and Swissmen Sweets—be turned into a sound bite. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric’s executive producer is found strangled to death—and Eric’s the prime suspect.

With Bailey’s sheriff deputy boyfriend out to prove Eric’s guilt, her bad-boy ex tries to sweet-talk her into helping him clear his name . . . and rekindle their romance to boost ratings for his show. Now, between a surplus of suspects and a victim who wasn’t who she seemed, Bailey’s edging dangerously close to a killer who isn’t looking to bring joy to the world—or to Bailey—this deadly Noel . . .

Publication Date:  September 25, 2018

Publisher:  Kensington

Genre:  Cozy Mystery, Amish Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Series:  Amish Candy Shop Mystery #3

 

My thoughts:

The small town of Harvest, Ohio is about to get shaken up when Bailey King’s ex-boyfriend, Eric Sharp, and his tv production crew arrive to film a Christmas special. Bailey’s world will be topsy-turvy and peppermint may not even be able to fix things!

Murder, mayhem, and charm (yes, charm!) go hand in hand in Amanda Flower’s latest installment in the Amish Candy Shop Mystery series. From beginning to end this book had my attention. I liked the quick pace of the book. There was always something happening and clues being revealed. With plenty of twists and turns, I was kept guessing until the very end as to who the murderer was. The author’s sense of humor shines through in her characters thoughts and dialogue making this book fun to read. Even though I enjoyed the human characters my favorites were Jethro, the pot-bellied pig, and Melchior, a rather reluctant camel.

Fans of cozy mysteries will definitely want to add this book to their must-read lists. A quick, fun read this book will bring readers hours of enjoyment!

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 author:  Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and  Agatha Award-winning 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.  In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.

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A Simple Christmas (Simple Christmas Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard (review by Cathy)

a simple christmas

Book Description:

The rustic beauty of a country Christmas fills the Simple Gifts crafts shop, while the Amish residents of Willow Ridge pull together in uncertain times–and in the face of an unexpected homecoming.

Nora Hooley’s shop is abuzz with preparations for the holiday open house, and Rosalyn Riehl is handcrafting wreaths from evergreen boughs, pinecones, and other natural materials. The work is a welcome diversion for the only unmarried daughter of Cornelius Riehl: her gruff dat has been receiving envelopes marked Past Due, leaving dutiful Rosalyn to manage the household’s inexplicably shrinking budget. Then another distraction swaggers into Simple Gifts–blue-jeaned and leather-jacketed, with a reputation that precedes him.

Marcus Hooley hightailed it to Willow Ridge on a wing and a prayer–not that he’s the praying type. He rejected his Amish roots long ago. But behind the bad-boy attitude is a gifted horse trainer who’s counting on some
bent-but-not-broken family ties to throw him a lifeline. He can’t erase his past, but a sparking attraction with strong, spirited Rosalyn holds the promise of a second chance . . . and of shedding light on shadowy secrets to build a bright tomorrow.

My thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of this authors work for many years and am always delighted to read any of her books but since I’ve grown fond of her characters in Willow Ridge, I was especially happy to revisit them and find out what is going on in their lives.  Well, there is quite a lot going on in their lives.

Nora Hooley is busy getting her Simple Gifts shop ready for her holiday open house and working with the Riehl sisters to stock the handmade items they make to sell in the shop. I would totally frequent that shop if it existed just to hear the conversations, to enjoy the decorated sugar cookies, spiced cider and purchase the handmade Amish goods.  As usual and unfortunately Cornelius Riehl continues to be a fly in the ointment.  He has been on of the most maddening characters in this series.  He’s a selfish man, a really bad father and a pretty poor choice for a deacon.  Having said that, he adds to both my enjoyment and anger in this storyline and I’ve been waiting for him to get his comeuppance.

I liked that Rosalyn gets more of her story told this time and I have to say that I felt so sorry for her being the older and unmarried sister and the one that’s more controlled by her father.   When Marcus Hooley showed up in Willow Ridge, I didn’t like him at first. I thought he was rude and too full of himself but as the story progressed, I started to grow fond of him. As did Rosalyn which was the perfect and fun plot twist that made this book so much fun to read!

I’m always eager to see what’s on the menu and who will be popping in at the Grill N Skillet which is one of my favorite places of business in the community.  That’s where I’ve met some of my favorite characters and watched how their lives have changed.  There have been many changes in the community as the Amish, Mennonite and English continue to grow closer and work together to make better and prosperous lives for themselves and to make Willow Ridge a great place to live.

I don’t like to admit this but as the story unfolded and we find out why Cornelius behaved the way he did, I felt a tiny bit sorry for him and understood his bad behavior. I love how Ms. Hubbard mixes both good and bad characters and explains their actions in the end.

If you are a reader of Amish fiction you will definitely want to read this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Premeditated Peppermint (Amish Candy Shop Mystery #3) by Amanda Flower (review by Cathy)

Premeditated Peppermint

Book Description:

Someone’s sweet on revenge . . .

Christmas is Bailey King’s favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat: peppermint combined with molten white chocolate. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother.

A New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Bailey’s not about to let her beloved town—and Swissmen Sweets—be turned into a sound bite. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric’s executive producer is found strangled to death—and Eric’s the prime suspect.

With Bailey’s sheriff deputy boyfriend out to prove Eric’s guilt, her bad-boy ex tries to sweet-talk her into helping him clear his name . . . and rekindle their romance to boost ratings for his show. Now, between a surplus of suspects and a victim who wasn’t who she seemed, Bailey’s edging dangerously close to a killer who isn’t looking to bring joy to the world—or to Bailey—this deadly Noel . . .

My thoughts:

Ahh…Christmas in Amish Country where Baily King is anticipating spending time with her Amish grandmother and friends in Harvest, Ohio.  Sounds peaceful and wonderful, right?   It would have been if Eric Sharp and a production crew hadn’t shown up to film an Authentic Amish Christmas.

Bailey is just living her life, trying to make Swissmen Sweets successful and profitable for herself and her Amish grandmother, a new relationship with her boyfriend sheriff deputy, Aiden Brody and making friends in her new community.   She definitely doesn’t need any distractions as she prepares for the Harvest Christmas Market.  Not Eric her ex boyfriend, not a film crew and certainly not finding the strangled body of the producer.

I have to say that trying to solve a murder shouldn’t be a laughing matter but when Bailey and her best friend from New York, Cass get involved, it’s pretty funny.  Cass is a chocolatier  who in this book considers herself to be a bit of a detective and a talent agent for both Bailey and Jethro the pig.  I love Jethro, it’s pretty hard not to love that little bundle of bacon who is one of my favorite characters in this series.  If Bailey does  get a television show and her co-star is Jethro, this reader will be thrilled.

Overall, this book and the series has everything that I love.  Candy, loveable characters (human and animal), an emphasis on family and community and the best cozy mystery writing that I’ve ever  had the pleasure of reading.  Not only do I love the humor Ms. Flowers puts in her writing, I love that I’m always surprised by who the culprit is and the perfect pacing of the storyline.  Although this is the third book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand alone but I do recommend reading the series in order so that you can get to know the wonderful residents in this community.

I received an advance copy of this book and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

A Wells Landing Christmas by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

a wells landing christmas

About the bookFamilies rejoicing together, caroling parties full of cheer, and church get-togethers brimming with delicious cooking and warm fellowship. Ivy Weaver would give anything to be a part of Christmas in Wells Landing. But one reckless mistake made her an outsider, and it’s all she can do now to tend to her ailing grandfather and make a living. She sure doesn’t need Zeb Brenneman returning to help after he abandoned her for no reason. He’s working hard to make amends, but Ivy isn’t sure there’s enough faith–or still-sparking love between them–to stir her forgiveness . . .

Zeb knows leaving Ivy was the biggest mistake he’s ever made. Even though she won’t hear him out, he’s determined to prove he’s become the trustworthy, steadfast man she truly deserves. But bright new chances and surprising revelations will give him and Ivy choices they never imagined. And finding their way back to each other will be the most
challenging–and precious–Christmas gift of all . . .

Publication Date:  September 25, 2018

Publisher:  Zebra

Genre:  Amish Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

 

My thoughts:  Amy Lillard has become one of my favorite Amish fiction writers. In a genre that can become a bit stale, she always keeps the stories fresh and the characters interesting. So interesting in fact, that I read this book in one day. Basically in one sitting. Yeah, it’s that good!

This is a story about family, friendship, love, and second chances. At times it is an emotional read that had me smiling and then tearing up. Ivy has her hands full caring for her grandfather, Yonnie, who is quite the character at times. I loved reading about the gentle way she cared for him and was protective of him. It was easy to see the bond between the two. I also loved the way Zeb didn’t back down when Ivy was rather harsh with him. It was clear to see that he cared for her and their story had me unable to put the book down. There are plenty of twists and turns that made me wonder if the two could ever recapture what they had years ago.

Readers of the author’s books are sure to love a chance to return to Wells Landing. Realistic characters and storyline make this a quick, enjoyable read. Happy reading!!!!

 

About the author:   I’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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