October 27th, 2016

baxter-family-christmas

Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart.

In light of their father’s idea, Ashley and her brother Luke don’t think it’s right. They want to protect their ten-year-old niece, Amy—the only surviving member of the accident. But John is determined and believes meeting this woman is something his deceased daughter would want.

At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, is praying for meaning this Christmas. Could she find it in a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again? Maddie believes in miracles, especially at Christmastime, but this is a stretch even she can’t imagine.

Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child.

My Comments: I enjoyed this very short book revisiting the Baxter family. The book is a tad bit sappy for me, yet I can’t stop reading Kingsbury books. There are many characters – all interwoven in some way or another. This is definitely a feel-good, great holiday story. We begin at Thanksgiving and go all the way through Christmas Eve. Christianity is woven throughout as well – dealing with doubts, Christmas miracles, and faith building incidents including salvation. Prayer is integral to the story, which I love. My only complaint is that it is so short, yet we do have the promise of more Baxter stories, which makes me smile.

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

 

October 14th, 2016

the book club murders
Charley Carpenter has poured heart and soul into her clothing store, Old Hat Vintage Fashions. She’ll do anything to make it a success—even join the stuffy Agathas Book Club in order to cultivate customers among the wealthy elite of Oakwood, Ohio.

Although mixing with the most influential women in town has its advantages, Charley finds the endless gossip a high price to pay. But after two women with close ties to the Agathas are brutally murdered, everyone falls under threat—and suspicion. When key evidence indicates that both murders are the work of the same hand, Charley realizes that the killer has arranged each corpse in perfect imitation of crime scenes from the Club’s murder mystery reading list. She uses her membership in the Club to convince Detective Marcus Trenault to use her as an inside informant. Not that he could stop her anyway.

Intelligent, fearless, and every bit as stubborn as Marc is, Charley soon learns the Agathas aren’t the only ones with secrets to protect. Passions explode as she and Marc must race against time to prevent another murder. And if Charley’s not careful, she may find herself becoming the killer’s next plot twist.

My Comments: This was an engaging read, however, the idea does not seem new to me. I have either read it before or seen it on a Hallmark Mystery story. However, having said that, I enjoyed it a great deal and look forward to more books in this series. The main character is likable (I also like her love interest). Secrets abound, the characters interest me, and there are many twists and turns. I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

October 8th, 2016

mikey-swamp-monster

When the stinky Swamp Monster returns, an imaginative boy uses his monster-stopper kit to protect his home and family. A humorous picture book which celebrates the blurry lines between inventiveness and reality.

My Comments: My second graders and I enjoyed this book. It has a small twist which made us laugh. At first it seems like possibly a Halloween book, but really it could be read all year. The artwork is kid-friendly. It made my students think about their siblings and cousins. I recommend this book — very cute!

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

October 3rd, 2016

 

sarahs-orphans
Sarah Yoder belongs to a Plain community in Oklahoma, but her days are far from simple. Life suddenly gets complicated when a series of tragic events unfold, leaving her in charge of the household.

Alone with her younger siblings, Sarah is exhausted but finally at peace. Then she nearly runs over a small Hispanic boy with her buggy…and somehow finds herself sheltering two more orphans.

Paul Byler moved to Cody’s Creek to help his brother in a time of need. But now that Joseph has recovered from his heart attack, Paul’s ready for a quiet place of his own. The only problem? His new property lands him next door to the orphaned Yoder family—and a calling from God he can’t seem to ignore.

My Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is full of hope during difficult times. Sarah Yoder wormed her way into my heart. This book shows that everybody has a choice and they don’t have to fall into victimization. I love the mix of Plain and Hispanic cultures. I love the hospitality. Several issues are brought to light in this story and handled well: mental illness, physical illness, depression, adoption, and abandonment. Chapman does a great job giving hope through all of these circumstances, and again the Amish way of life is amazing to me! This is quite a different read than most. I could hardly put it down.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

September 28th, 2016

egg-drop-dead

In Laura Childs’s New York Times bestselling mystery series, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni—co-owners of the Cackleberry Club café—are back to track down another bad egg…

Maintaining good personal relationships with their suppliers is one of the secrets of the Cackleberry Club café’s success, so Suzanne doesn’t mind going out to Mike Mullen’s dairy farm to pick up some wheels of cheese. She’s looking forward to a nice visit with the mild-mannered farmer before heading back to their hectic kitchen.

But when she arrives, Mike’s nowhere to be found. The moaning of his cows leads her to look in the barn, where she discovers a bloodcurdling sight—the farmer’s dead body. Apparently not everyone was as fond of Mike Mullen as the Cackleberry Club.

Churning with grief and outrage, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni vow to find the farmer’s murderer—but as they get closer to the truth, the desperate killer gets whipped into a frenzy and plans to put the squeeze on them…

My Comments: I have had several Laura Childs’ books in my TBR pile for a while now, but never got around to reading them. That has ENDED. this was a great book – very engaging and well written. I love the characters, and the twists and turns. I like the writing, it feels “full” and rich. This is also a Halloween-type book and captures that well. I love the main character, Suzanne, her friends who work in the cafe, and her boyfriend, Sam. I highly recommend this book to fans of cozies.

I received this book free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

September 26th, 2016

death-by-pumpkin-spice

Bookstore café owner Krissy Hancock would rather spend Halloween serving pumpkin goodies than wearing costumes with Pine Hills’ wealthiest at Yarborough mansion, especially when the soiree shapes up to be more trick than treat . . .

As if a run-in with an old flame and a failed marriage proposal weren’t enough to horrify Krissy for one night, a woman is found strangled to death in a room filled with ominous jack-o’-lanterns. All signs suggest a crime of passion—but when the hostess’s jewelry disappears, malevolent intentions seem way more likely . . .

With the estate on lockdown and a killer roaming the halls, Krissy must help Officer Paul Dalton investigate each nook, cranny, and guest for answers—while also confronting a few demons of her own. Someone has lots of skeletons in the closet, and Krissy better tread lightly to expose them . . .

My Comments: I found this to be a sweet and easy read. I love reading books corresponding with the holidays, and this one does a great job with Halloween. I enjoy the love triangle as well as the mystery. The story moves a little slowly, but it is a good traditional cozy mystery.

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

September 14th, 2016

gingerbread-boy

For this gingerbread boy, it’s eat or be eaten!

When Shirley bakes herself a gingerbread treat to bring to school, the last thing she expects is for him to leap out of her lunchbox and begin gobbling everything in sight. A wild chase ensues—on foot and by cable car—through iconic San Francisco neighborhoods including the Mission, Chinatown, North Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Will Shirley be able to catch the gingerbread boy before he eats up the whole city? Friendship is at the heart of this retelling of the classic folktale. A recipe for (non-magical) gingerbread treats is included.

My Comments:  This is a fun book with great illustrations, and it will make a great addition to my Gingerbread Boy collection. The story is very different AND it has a happy ending! The gingerbread boy goes all throughout San Francisco and tastes the treats–FUN!

September 13th, 2016

Until I love again

Will a Secret from the Past Threaten Susanna’s Future?

Susanna Miller’s freedom during her rumspringa goes a bit further than she wants her family to know. A birthday sign innocently placed on a gas station billboard condemns Susanna as she realizes her relationship with the charming Joey Macalister, an Englisha man, has become far too close.

Her daett is not pleased, but what he hasn’t told her is that he himself has regrets about events from his own rumspringa. Widower Ernest Helmuth knows Ralph Miller’s secret, but he has said nothing as of yet. He plans on having Susanna as his bride no matter what.

With her baptism approaching, Susanna knows that time is running out to make her choice: stay with her family or hope she can find love in the Englisha world. With Ernest Helmuth watching, that decision might not be hers to make.

Is Susanna’s faith strong enough to make the right choice?

My Comments:  I love reading books about the Amish, especially when written by a former Amish person. This is exactly why I read books by Jerry Eicher. The books ring a little truer to life. This story shows what problems can occur from the Amish young person’s time of life known as “rumspringa.” Secrets are covered up and uncovered, difficult choices need to be made, many lives are effected by poor choices. This book, as all his others, is worth the re

September 12th, 2016

kangaroo-kisses

It’s time for… BED!

Not yet!

ELEPHANT must floss,

to make his teeth gloss!

Then I’ll brush furry BEAR.

Please brush your own HAIR!

Follow one mischievous child as she delays getting ready for bed, and has some amazing wildlife encounters along the way!

A perfect picture book for reading aloud at bedtime – or any time.

My Comments: This is a very sweet book Even though it is perfect for very young children (preschool or Kindergarten), my second graders loved it! The illustrations by  Pippa Curnick are very kid-friendly and striking. I can’t wait to read it to my grandsons!

September 5th, 2016

British Manor Murder

It’s a nippy spring in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and so Lucy Stone can’t wait to join her friend Sue at the Earl of Wickham’s manor in England for the “Heads Up!” hat exhibition—even if she has to spend her entire holiday curtseying. But at Moreton Manor, privileged life isn’t always tea and crumpets . . .
Although Perry, the earl of the house, and his sister, Poppy, are surprisingly accommodating to their jetlagged guests, Lucy feels uneasy after a fallen portrait sparks talk of a deadly family omen. The bad vibes come in quickly—snobby Aunt Millicent and her handmaiden Harrison unexpectedly drop by for the exhibition, and meals with the family are consistently tense. But real trouble begins when a body, bludgeoned by the chapel’s gold-plated reliquary, is found in a hidden, sealed off room. Stranger still, the corpse is identified as Harrison’s son, Cyril.

Considering the weapon and the clandestine location, Lucy wouldn’t be shocked if the murder was an inside job. Cyril wasn’t exactly a gentleman, and it’s unclear what business he had on the property. Was the victim trying to make off with the family riches before meeting his end? Or was a scorned country squire looking to settle an ancient indiscretion for good? One thing’s for sure—the criminal is privy to Moreton Manor secrets . . .

To end the reign of terror, Lucy must keep her ear to the ground and mind time-honored traditions—no matter how unusual. Because Lucy has a hunch that the killer has been in her company all along, just waiting for a chance to make blueblood run red . . .

My Comments: I love Lucy Stone mysteries. I feel like as I’ve read the series that I’ve watched this family grow up, because they do grow up in the stories. I think in the very first one I read, Zoe was a nursing baby. Now she’s getting ready for college.

In this story Lucy and friend Sue go across the pond to England for a hat show. Although it’s not exactly like they expected (Downton Abbey), the scenery is beautiful and there is plenty to keep sleuth Lucy busy and to help her forget how much she misses her grandson, Patrick, who is now in Alaska with his parents.

The story is engaging, has a few twists and turns and interesting characters. Of course, there is a murder to solve.

I recommend this book to fans of cozy mysteries. This is a clean, entertaining read. Thank you Leslie Meier – keep the books coming!