October 4th, 2015


In this first book of the series, readers are introduced to a lovable little alligator named Dozi. Living in a swamp in central Florida, Dozi observes wondrous colorful lights over a distant amusement park. Eventually, the curiosity of the little alligator gets the best of him and he heads off to discover the strange and fascinating new world of humans.

While hiding inside one of Orlando’s popular theme parks, Dozi makes the decision to stow away in the unsuspecting Hoxwinder family’s minivan after the family has finished visiting the park. During the long over-night drive home from Florida, Dozi befriends young Byron Hoxwinder in the very back of the vehicle. The family arrives home without anybody but 9-year old Byron Hoxwinder realizing they have brought a young alligator home with them.

My Comments: This book is adorable. I like the fact that it has rhyming words and you could practice the skill of inferencing with it. Dozi is one cute alligator wanting a family. The illustrations are vibrant and definitely help with comprehension. The story is cute and child-centered. A great addition to a young child’s library – maybe ages 2-7.

September 24th, 2015

ties that bind

Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.
Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

Ties That Bind is the first novel in the new series, “The Amish of Summer Grove.”

My Comments:  Love this book – what drama! This type of story is so intriguing, I know that if you love Amish fiction + Lifetime movies this is the book for YOU! It has been a long time since I could really stick with a book until the finish, but this book kept me engaged. Of course, Cindy Woodsmall is one of my fav authors of Amish fiction. Included within the covers is plenty of drama and mystery. Quill is a very likable character as is Ariana. I am anxious to hear more of Quill’s story. I feel like much has been left unsaid. The end of this book was less than satisfying and I can’t wait for the next installment to be published. There is so much story to be told…I wonder if this will be a trilogy or more even. I better end before I give away too much of the story.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

***The good news is I have one or two books to giveaway! Please just leave a comment about why you love Amish fiction and I’ll use random.org to choose a winner. I will choose a winner October 1.


September 21st, 2015

the bali mystery

Amelia Moore, the founder of the Moore Detective Agency, specializes in missing persons. Her cases have taken her to some very interesting places and put her in some dangerous situations, but she always solves the case. With the help of Rick Bonito, her sometime partner, her business is flourishing.

When Mrs. Brody hires Amelia and Rick to find her missing brother, they find themselves in Bali, Indonesia. They are mystified why her brother quit his job, put his home up for sale, and ran off to this mysterious and exotic island without telling a soul.

My Comments: I have been listening to this book on my commute back and forth to work on Amazon’s Audible. I love the reader/actress. She makes the book come alive as she uses voices as well as accents. Two things attracted me to this story — it’s clean and it’s cozy mystery – with romance thrown in. Amelia Moore is a dedicated detective and Rick Bonito works with/for her. They seem to be a cute couple who aren’t quite a couple yet. The mystery does not seem to involve anything gory or gruesome, which is a nice change. I’ve never heard of Bali, Indonesia, but the author causes me to want to visit. The people there sound interesting as well. I will be reading/listening to more books in this series.

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

September 19th, 2015

A House Divided

Corbin Gage can stand up to anyone . . . But his own divided house will bring him to his knees.

Corbin, a longtime legal champion for the downtrodden, is slowly drinking himself into the grave. His love for “mountain water” has cost him his marriage to the godliest woman he knows, ruined his relationship with his daughter, Roxy, and reduced the business at his small Georgia law firm to a level where he can barely keep the bill collectors at bay. But it isn’t until his son, Ray, threatens to limit Corbin’s time with his grandson that Corbin begins to acknowledge he might have a problem.

Despite the mess that surrounds his personal life and against the advice of everyone he knows, Corbin takes on a high-stakes tort case on behalf of two boys who have contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to an alleged chemical exposure. The defendant, a fertilizer company, is the largest employer in the area. The lawsuit becomes a tornado that sucks Corbin, Ray, and Roxy into an increasingly deadly vortex. Equally intense pressure within the family threatens to destroy, once and for all, the thin threads that connect them.

Corbin must find the strength to stand up to his personal demons. Justice for two dying boys depends on it . . . his family depends on it.

My Comments: These books always grab my attention – a Christian based novel with mystery and suspense. I also love law and lawyer-type books. This story is straight out of today. Christian families dealing with alcoholism, illness, and issues of forgiveness. Interesting characters, riveting story lines, and family dynamics, justice seeking – this book has it all. I have read Whitlow’s books in the past and highly recommend them and this book. I can’t wait for the next one!

This is my honest review. I received a copy of the book from the publisher, but would have purchased it!

September 8th, 2015

candy corn murder


Halloween is coming to Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and local reporter Lucy Stone is covering the town’s annual Giant Pumpkin Fest for the Pennysaver. There’s the pumpkin-boat regatta, the children’s Halloween party, the pumpkin weigh-in…even a contest where home-built catapults hurl pumpkins at an old Dodge! But not everything goes quite as planned…
Lucy’s getting very annoyed that her husband Bill and his friend Evan have been working seemingly nonstop on their potentially prize-winning pumpkin catapult. But when the day of the big contest arrives, Evan is nowhere to be found…until a catapulted pumpkin busts open the trunk of the Dodge. Amid the pumpkin gore is a very deceased Evan, bashed in the head and placed in the trunk by someone long before the contest started.

Bill is on the hook for the Halloween homicide—he was the last one to see Evan—so Lucy knows she’s got some serious sleuthing to do. The crime’s trail seems to always circle back to Country Cousins, the town’s once-quaint general store that’s now become a big Internet player. Though the store’s founder, Old Sam Miller, is long gone, his son Tom and grandson Trey now run the hugely successful company. But whispered rumors say things aren’t going well, and Lucy finds that this case may have something to do with an unsolved, decades-old Miller family mystery…

With each new lead pointing her in a different direction, Lucy sees that time is quickly running out. If she wants to spook the real killer, she’ll have to step into an old ghost story…

My Comments: I normally enjoy Leslie Meier’s books and have read each one. This book, however did not keep me on the edge of my seat. The side story about Patrick Lucy’s grandson left me underwhelmed as well. I DID finish the ebook and enjoyed it, just not as much as previous books. I love Fall and this time of that time of the year, but the book did not give me a feel for it. I look forward to the next book hoping it will be better.

September 8th, 2015


About the book: An important inspirational debut, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is much more than a memoir about reclaiming faith and overcoming chronic illness. Written with humor and personality, it tackles the universal struggle to heal what life has broken. This is a book for questioners, doubters, misfits, and seekers of all faiths; for the spiritual, the religious, and the curious.

Reba Riley’s twenty-ninth year was a terrible time to undertake a spiritual quest. But when untreatable chronic illness forced her to her metaphorical (and physical) derriere on her birthday, Reba realized that even if she couldn’t fix her body, she might be able to heal her injured spirit. And so began a yearlong journey to recover from her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by visiting thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. During her spiritual sojourn, Reba:

-Was interrogated by Amish grandmothers about her sex life
-Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple
-Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement
-Fasted for thirty days without food—or wine
-Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom
-Was audited by Scientologists
-Learned to meditate with an urban monk, sucked mud in a sweat lodge with a suburban shaman, and snuck into Yom Kippur with a fake grandpa in tow
-Discovered she didn’t have to choose religion to choose God—or good

For anyone who has ever longed for transformation of body, mind, or soul, but didn’t know where to start, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome reminds us that sometimes we have to get lost to get found.

My comments: I did not really enjoy this book. I am very sorry that Reba Riley (no relation) had a rough experience in church, but I can’t relate to what she went through. Honestly, I could only get half way through the book. This is my honest opinion.

August 16th, 2015

its a seashell day

Sunny-as-a-summer-sky rhymes chronicle a mother and son sharing a day of sand digging, seashell collecting, and seashore exploring. Kids will learn about a variety of shells and count along with the boy as he totals up his collection, puts his shells away, and then drifts off into a well-earned bedtime. A spread of seashell facts caps off the story.

This captivating, narrative nonfiction title featuring nature and counting is an ideal fit for home, preschool and kindergarten bookshelves. Pair it with the author’s beloved It’s a Firefly Night for a delightful day-to-night duo.

My Comments: My class and I enjoyed this book so much.  Although it is kind of an easy book for second graders, the story is sweet and you can get lost in the illustrations – which can tell their own story. We spent time telling a story just using the illustrations and then went back and read the book together. Since we are launching a new school-wide discipline framework using S.A.I.L. as our acronym, this book was perfect to help reinforce that because of it’s beach theme. The children all wanted to hold it and read it for themselves. This is a great book for young children ages 3-6!

July 31st, 2015

the bradstreet gate

About the book: Georgia, Charlie and Alice each arrive at Harvard with hopeful visions of what the future will hold. But when, just before graduation, a classmate is found murdered on campus, they find themselves facing a cruel and unanticipated new reality. Moreover, a charismatic professor who has loomed large in their lives is suspected of the crime. Though his guilt or innocence remains uncertain, the unsettling questions raised by the case force the three friends to take a deeper look at their tangled relationship. Their bond has been defined by the secrets they’ve kept from one another—Charlie’s love and Alice’s envy, Georgia’s mysterious affair—and over the course of the next decade, as they grapple with the challenges of adulthood and witness the unraveling of a teacher’s once-charmed life, they must reckon with their own deceits and shortcomings, each desperately in search of answers and the chance to be forgiven.

My comments: This book was just so-so to me. The story was engaging enough, the characters complex and interesting, and the writing was decent. Having said that — I didn’t care for the language and casual sexual scenes. This isn’t the kind of stuff I want to put into my brain. However, I was kept in suspense and I kept turning the pages. The four main characters were not like anybody I really know, but as I said they were very interesting and multi-layered. The mystery was well-developed. Not my most favorite, however.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.


July 18th, 2015

the friends of jesus

About the book: America’s favorite inspirational novelist and #1 New York Times bestselling author offers a richly told tale about six of Jesus’ closest friends and companions, bringing biblical truths to life in this captivating continuation of her Life-Changing Bible Study series.

In our everyday lives, friends are the people whom we spend the most time with, go through struggles with at times, and who know us best. Each of Jesus’ friends—Peter, John, Matthew, Judas, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus—traveled with Jesus and were part of His daily ministry, and each has a compelling story to tell. There were some who would question or doubt Him…and one would even betray Him. Kingsbury brings these fascinating personalities to life in ways that will not only help bring you closer to the truths found in Scripture, but also to Christ.

By combining valuable, instructive Bible study with compelling, insightful character sketches of Jesus’ companions, Kingsbury provides you with a deeper understanding of the scriptural teachings featuring these fascinating people. Emotionally powerful, thought-provoking, and soulful, The Friends of Jesus will help you to appreciate the Bible and understand how it applies to your relationships with the most important people in your life.

My Thoughts: I love reading these Bible based books by Karen Kingsbury. She makes the characters come alive. I usually do not like these types of books, but I make an exception with this book and with her first book in this series, The Family of Jesus. Kingsbury has the ability to make these people real by giving them thoughts and situations I can relate to. I wanted to read this book because I totally enjoyed the Family of Jesus. This book did not disappoint. I felt as if I knew the characters and she adds just enough detail to help me imagine these characters and what life was like for them. I’ve read the stories in the Bible many times and this just adds new dimension and makes me think. I like to think, especially about the Bible. Thank you Karen Kingsbury for your great books and now taking your fiction writing to a whole new level!

I gave my honest opinion in exchange for a free e-copy of The Friends of Jesus from the publisher and NetGalley. Thank you!

July 18th, 2015

Love arrives in pieces

About the book: For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

My Comments: I heard a lot of good things about this book – good romance, great beach read, and I saw it on many TBR lists for the summer. Stella, who grew up in a pastor’s home, is not a typical pastor’s daughter. She won beauty contests, she’s been married and divorced, and now she was just about ready to move back to live with her parents until her mother finds her a job in her field of interior design. What neither she or her mom knows, however, is that she would be working closely with an old boyfriend, who just happens to have history with both Stella and her sister.

The book is good. It includes a nice southern flair. I like the exploration of complicated relationships which we see in several parts of this book. It IS a great summer, beach read.

I am giving my honest opinion in exchange for a free copy of the book from the publisher.