Blue Ridge Sunrise(Blue Ridge #1) by Denise Hunter (review by Cathy)

Blue Ridge Sunrise

About the book:

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe—a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

My thoughts:

It took some time for me to get interested in this book to be honest but once I did, I really enjoyed it.  I liked that Zoe decided to stay in Copper Creek after her grandmother leaves her a peach orchard.  I loved that she finally took charge of her life and the life of her daughter, Gracie.  I have to admit that Ms. Hunter made me fall in love with Gracie who is one of the most adorable children’s  characters in any book that I’ve read.

The storyline is an interesting one and I liked that Zoe faced up to her past mistakes and realized that she had to come clean about something she had done that not only effected her life but her daughter and Cruz and old boyfriends lives, too.  I admired her for that and that’s when I genuinely started to care about her.  It took courage for her to make a break from her past and embrace the future.

I love when a character matures and takes responsibility for their actions and that’s exactly what I took away from this character.  I loved Cruz and thought he was a wonderful character with depth.  Kyle was what I consider a necessary character added to make my blood boil and again, that was a great choice by the author.

This isn’t a lighthearted story but it one that held my interest throughout and one that I truly enjoyed.

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

 

 

 

A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick (review by Kristi)

a picture perfect Christmas

About the book:   From disowned to daughter to “I do?”

Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding.

Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile.

What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding?

If you like Christmas weddings, family reunions, and happily-ever-afters, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series by Candee Fick. Pick up Picture Perfect Christmas and start celebrating the season today.

(NOTE: This book is a follow-up to Focus On Love and is best understood if read in that order.)

Publication Date:  November 12, 2018

Genre:  Inspirational Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Series:  The Wardrobe Series, book 4

 

My thoughts:  At the end of Focus on Love, where readers followed Liz and Ryan’s relationship, I was disappointed. The book ended suddenly and I didn’t get the ending I wanted with all the details. I felt like there were loose ends that needed tying up and I also just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters. A Picture Perfect Christmas is like the author saying “I heard you Kristi, and here you go”. Finally, I (and other readers) get the answers to “what happens next?”.

Readers return to Liz and Ryan’s relationship with letters to her mom from different locations. Through this, we get to learn what’s been happening with this couple and also the status of Liz and her parents’ relationship. This was a wonderful way to start the story and catch up with (or be introduced to) these characters. Throughout the story, we also get to learn more about Liz’s parents and especially her dad’s past which reveals a lot about their relationship issues.

The story has a good pace to it and at just a bit over 100 pages, it is a quick read. It’s a great book for a lazy afternoon spent reading in a comfy chair. As with the other books in the series, this book as a young adult feel to it but not so much that older readers won’t enjoy it. Although this book can be read as a standalone I wouldn’t recommend it. The story will make much more sense if Focus on Love is read first. But, I would recommend reading the entire series in order. They are wonderfully written books that will appeal to readers of all ages.

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

 

About the author:   Author of inspirational romance, non-fiction, and devotionals. Candee is married to a high school football coach and is the mother of three, including a child with special needs (thus providing inspiration for her first two non-fiction titles).

In addition to her non-fiction devotionals, she writes faith-based romance novels for the Bling! Romance imprint. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Double Finalist/Winner in the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the short novel category.

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Murder at the Flamingo (Van Buren and Deluca Mystery #1) by Rachel McMillan (review by Cathy)

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.

My thoughts:

While reading this book, I desperately wanted to visit Boston.  Of course I could visit Boston, but I wanted to be in the 1930’s Boston that the author wrote of in, Murder at the Flamingo.  It all seemed so glamorous and exciting, well not the murder but the characters and how they embrace life.

It’s pretty easy to like Reggie (Regina) and Hamish, the heiress who wanted to find her own way in life and the shy lawyer who had me wondering if he’d ever find his way.  I could easily imagine the conversations they had which at times were amusing.   They have busy and vibrant lives which I loved.  It took me longer to warm up to Luca but he was the one who brought Reggie and Hamish together so I made my peace with him early on.

The pace of the book moved a bit slow at times in my opinion and although I didn’t lose interest in the storyline, I wish that hadn’t been the case. I did enjoy the storyline, writing and the characters so overall, I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it the book.

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

 

 

A Sparkle of Silver (Georgia Coast Romance #1) by Liz Johnson (review by Cathy)

A Sparkle of Silver

About the book:

Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

My thoughts:

A Sparkle of Silver not only has a beautiful cover, but it has a beautiful story between the covers.   This book is all about relationships, the one between Millie and her grandmother, between Millie and Ben and my personal favorite was the one from 90 years ago.  I was drawn to the story of Millie’s great-grandmother, Ruth.

It was easy to relate to Millie and her need to find the funds to provide care for Grandma Joy who has dementia and needs a better facility for her needs.  It’s heartbreaking to think of that happening, but it is an unfortunate reality.  The author wrote Grandma Joy and her illness in a sweet and sensitive manner which I loved.

It felt like I was on an adventure with Ben and Millie as they searched for the truth of her heritage looking for clues, paperwork and the most delicious treasure of all, Ruth’s diary.  I know it’s wrong to read another persons diary or journal but I have to admit, I had a hard time waiting for them to read another page and to find out what had happened in that estate all those years ago.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Ms. Johnson but it will not be the last.  Her characters were fantastic and her writing is top-notch. I loved the mystery mixed with a bit of romance and the most important to me was love of family.

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

 

 

Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family by Darla Weaver (review by Cathy)

Gathering of Sisters

About the book:

Once a week Darla Weaver bundles her children into the buggy, hitches up her spirited mare, and drives six miles to the farm where she grew up. There she gathers with her four sisters and their children for a day with their mother. In Gathering of Sisters, Weaver writes about her horse-and-buggy Mennonite family and the weekly women’s gatherings that keep them connected. On warm days, the children play and fish and build houses of hay in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles and games and crocheting. No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this Old Order Mennonite family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other.

The rest of the week is full of laundry, and errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesdays are about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.

Hear straight from Amish and Mennonite people themselves as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book includes “A Day in the Life of the Author” and the author’s answers to FAQs about the Amish and Mennonites.

My thoughts:

A truly enjoyable and relaxing read.   I loved getting to know Darla, her mother, sisters and their children and looked forward to their Tuesdays as much as they did.   Ms. Weaver is honest and welcomes her readers with open arms as she shares stories of the ladies exchanging books and magazines, getting the children settled and busy, while the ladies work on sewing and crafting projects.

There has to be food, right?  Of course there has to be and each sister brings something that they cook and share with each other.  The author shares some of their recipes in the book which I found to be an added bonus.

No matter how busy the sisters lives are they still make time to spend every Tuesday with each other and their mother.  During the school year they have fewer children at home but in the summer they have all the younger ones with them but they still get together and find time for each other.  That is something that I loved about the family and how much they want to be together.  No matter what the weather conditions are they still get their baskets and kids together and spend the day with those they hold dear.

With the holidays fast approaching and our lives getting more busy, this is a great book to read to remind us of to make time for  the people in our lives.

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

 

 

 

 

Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin (review by Kristi)

Through the Autumn Air

About the bookA mysterious English stranger appears in Mary Katherine Ropp’s kitchen one autumn night, heralding the beginning of a new chapter in the widow’s life.

The mother of ten, Mary Katherine is an empty-nester who lost her husband four years earlier. She misses her husband so much, she still talks to him. She pours her creative spirit into writing stories and serves as the district’s Budget newspaper scribe. An avid reader, her dream is to open a bookstore with her English friend, but the church elders want this wayward widow to work in an Amish-owned combination store.

When an English man breaks into her house looking for food, Mary Katherine doesn’t call the sheriff. She turns to her good friend, Ezekiel, who needs a cook at the restaurant he started after his wife died ten years earlier. Mary Katherine and Ezekiel set out separately to make sure their new friend isn’t caught up in the investigation, and their efforts keep bringing them together. They’re both still so in love with their long-gone spouses, so when the sparks begin to fly, they are beyond confused. Is it possible to find “The One” more than once in a lifetime?

But as Mary Katherine stands by her dear friend after the death of her husband, Mary Katherine is reminded of the terrible risk in giving her heart to someone. Can these two people, well-versed in the pain of loss, put the past behind them and trust in the hope of the future?

Publication Date:  August 14, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish fiction, Contemporary fiction

Series:  Every Amish Season, book 3

 

My thoughts:  When you look at the cover of this book you see an Amish woman against a vibrant autumn background. But when you take a closer look you notice the Amish woman isn’t what you usually see. The woman on the cover is an older Amish woman, someone who isn’t the typical main character in the genre. But, Mary Katherine Ropp isn’t your typical Amish groossmammi. She’s a bit too outspoken, too independent, and too adventuresome for her own good. And she, along with other Jamesport residents, will quickly capture your heart.

Mary Katherine was a delightful character to read about. I enjoyed my time with her immensely and am so glad that Kelly Irvin decided to write about an older character. So often stories focus on younger characters and their lives and the older characters are just secondary. Mary Katherine has been through many life experiences and ups and downs but she still has dreams and ideas proving that though she may be older she is still young at heart. The author created the perfect leading man for Mary Katherine in Ezekiel. He has a lot of similar life experiences to Mary Katherine and this made the story interesting and realistic. In addition to Mary Katherine and Ezekiel there are many characters to get to know and ones to catch up with. The author does a fantastic job creating characters from young to old.

Ok, I just have to say it. There was one thing that rubbed me the wrong way in this book. And that’s how the church leaders and Mary Katherine’s sons treated her. Mary Katherine has a dream of running a bookstore and writing stories. The church leaders tell her that she can’t own/work in a bookstore with her English friend, Dottie. They tell her what she needs to do with her time and where she needs to live. I know this is the Amish way but I still didn’t like the way she was treated by not only the church leaders but by her son, Thomas. He’s a character I really didn’t like.

All in all this was a really good read. I liked the characters (mostly) and the storyline. The story moves along at a good pace, not too slow and not too fast. Kelly Irvin is, I believe, underrated as an author of Amish fiction. She creates a wide range of characters in all age ranges, both Amish and English and puts them in stories that have quality and depth. Pick up a copy of this book and you’ll soon see what I mean.

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 authorKelly Irvin’s newest series, Every Amish Series, began with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. The second book, Beneath the Summer Sun, will debut in January 2018. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker’s Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop’s Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper’s Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it “a beautifully woven masterpiece.” The Beekeeper’s Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly has novellas in The Amish Christmas Gift and The Amish Marketplace, both of which were also ECPA bestsellers. She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine..

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW’s San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have two grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren.

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The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall (review by Cathy)

The Christmas Remedy

About the book:

When an Old Order Amish woman takes a job at a small-town pharmacy struggling to survive in a world of “big box” stores, her motive is to help her Plain community. But the advent of the holiday season brings an unusual mystery to the surface–and possibly love.

Twenty-four-year-old Holly Zook lives a unique life for a young Amish woman. Years ago, her bishop allowed her to continue her education and become the lead technician for Greene’s Pharmacy, an old-timey drugstore that looks out for the Amish community–a group largely without secure healthcare plans. She knows she can’t marry and hold onto her professional job. She’s Amish, and she can only have one or the other, so she spurns love and works toward addressing treatable diseases–like the one that claimed her father’s life.

As long as Holly continues to avoid Joshua Smucker, the one man who draws her like a warm hearth in winter, she should be fine. When something unexpected threatens Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly and Joshua must work together to unravel what’s happened and find the “missing” patient before the Board of Pharmacy shuts them down. As the snows of December arrive, with Christmas in the air, will Holly succumb to the generous spirit of the season?

My thoughts:

It’s impossible not to like Holly Noelle Zook the sweet and caring young lady working at Greene’s Pharmacy.  She has decided to do what she feels is right for her community even if it means she has to forgo marriage and children.

I was delighted by this unique storyline of an Amish woman having permission from her Bishop to pursue an education and an employment in an English family owned and operated business.  I loved that the pharmacy is small  and that the customer base is both Amish and English.  I loved Holly’s energy and the concern  she has for the health and wellbeing to all in her community but most of all I loved her passion to help others and do her best in everything she did.

This short story has a bit of romance, a tiny bit of mystery within the pharmacy but most of all, it has hardworking and kind characters that I truly cared for.  This book is perfect for the readers in your life from the young to the young at heart, so when you pick up a copy for yourself, get a few extras to give as gifts.

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