In Review... November 9, 2018

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Need a good read this weekend? We’ve got you covered with our reviews of non-fiction, contemporary romance, historical romance, Amish fiction, a cozy mystery, and a picture book for kids!

Inspirational Non-Fiction/Spiritual Growth
Tricia McCary Rhodes

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In this revised & updated version of an earlier release, Tricia McCary Rhodes invites readers to pause the chaos of everyday life and practice the discipline of prayer on a more personal, more intimate level. Calling it a ‘pilgrimage of the soul’, she provides a practical and spiritually-focused guide to hone one’s prayer life with the ultimate goal of greater fellowship with God and a soul at rest. Chapters are divided into ‘days’, and each day features a section called ‘Practicing Prayer’ which encourages readers to prepare their hearts and ‘press in’ closer to God. The author writes authentically, sharing her own individual experience and wisdom while also remaining zeroed in on God’s wisdom with solid Scripture. Asking readers to adopt the journey as their own, the questions are designed for soul-level contemplation and growth. A great resource for personal Bible study and/or small groups. (NAVPRESS, Nov., 288 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


Inspirational Non-Fiction/Personal Growth
CHOSEN FOR CHRIST: Stepping Into the Life You’ve Been Missing
Heather Holleman

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For anyone who struggles to be noticed or gain deserved recognition, for anyone who is trapped in a hamster-wheel cycle of waiting for the right person or place or purpose to come along, Heather Holleman has written a book for you. Scriptural truth weaves throughout the author’s transparent insight and relatable examples/analogies, and her easy writing style gives the book a conversational tone. Of particular meaning is the truth that women (and men) get so caught up in trying to live out God’s plan for their lives yet they very often forget to invite God into the process. Thoughtful questions at the end of each chapter help readers apply what they’ve just read and ultimately take further steps toward the new reality of living chosen for Christ. (MOODY, Oct, 192  pp., $13.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Amish Fiction
Amy Clipston
SERIES: Amish Homestead #3

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Priscilla’s bravery in spite of a life enduring abuse, as well as Mark’s willingness to listen to his heart and leave his bachelor habits behind, allow for an unexpected and engaging romance that is trademark Clipston. Appearances by beloved characters from prior series installments add depth and community to the struggle this couple faces and, as always, the author offers fascinating insight into the multi-faceted Amish world. Tackling jealousy, gossip, and abuse, this story shares the power of forgiveness and hope and. above all, faith in God’s Word and His promises. Reconciliation is key in Clipston’s storylines, and Priscilla’s ongoing efforts to maintain a relationship with her family without abandoning her fledgling self-respect is a reality some readers will recognize and appreciate. (ZONDERVAN, Nov., 352 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Kerry Sutherland


Inspirational Cozy Mystery
Amy Rognlie
Series: Short Creek Mystery #2

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Amy Rognlie continues her cozy mystery series which will grab readers' attention at the first paragraph and will not let up until the last. The past, present and future are cleverly intertwined, starting with a long ago post card that arrives with no explanation and complicates Callie's plans to build a home for victims of trafficking. Adding to the already-intriguing mystery, a young woman arrives in town and raises even more questions. Who is she? Why do people feel as though they already know her? A dash of romance, a dose of faith, and a mix of skillfully-written mystery plot threads keep reader interest high and make this book hard to put down. (MOUNTAIN BROOK INK, Nov., 250pp., $10.99)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans


Contemporary Romance (Clean)
Jenny Hale

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Calling all Hallmark Christmas movie fans! This is your next fave read. Endearing characters and a fairy-tale-esque plot combine with the charm of the holidays and a to-die-for setting in this sweet romance that’s perfect for curling up with by a roaring fire. Nick Sinclair is much like his grand estate house - empty and impersonal and in need of some Christmas magic. Enter Abbey Fuller and her adorable son Max, their love of Christmas, a house to be decorated, and some well-placed mistletoe. There’s a reason the Cinderella tale remains such a popular, timeless plot, and Hale takes everything beloved about this trope and adds her own style. Abbey and Nick’s story is less about the ‘prince’ rescuing the poor, mistreated woman and more about Abbey doing a bit of rescuing herself. Just in time for the holidays, this is a tender and uplifting romance with plenty of charm and Christmas spirit. (FOREVER, Oct., 368 pp., $6.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


Contemporary Romance (Clean)
Crystal Walton
SERIES: Home in You #4

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This tender-hearted romance will delight Walton's readers through and through. A story packed full of drama, Livy and Chase are the perfect match for each other, even if they are too stubborn to admit it to themselves at first. Livy’s emotionally traumatic life has led to choices with repercussions she must deal with, but she also has to find forgiveness for herself and learn that she is worthy of a life filled with good things and happiness. Yet, along with the more sobering themes and the many truths that will speak to readers' hearts, there is also plenty of fun courtesy of Livy’s quirky personality and general clumsiness/awkwardness. After all, a woman who lives on caffeine is the best type of heroine. Chase's protective nature makes him an endearing aspect of the story as well, and he is sure to pop up on this year’s book boyfriends lists! (IMPACT EDITIONS, LLC., Oct., 249 pp., $13.95)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon


Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Romance
Melissa Jagears
SERIES: Frontier Vows #1


Read this marriage-of-convenience novel from the safety of your favorite swooning couch - and invest in a good air conditioner and some fans. Jacob is a yummy cowboy/marshal hero with a good heart and a surprisingly tender side. He also has a penchant for making Annie (and readers) blush with his winks and meaningful looks, a pastime he quickly comes to love the more time he spends with his reserved new wife. Jagears writes that balance between gentlemanly respect and simmering passion so well and perhaps never so skillfully as she does between Jake and Annie. Along with the sizzling romantic chemistry, the author also creates both a palpable tension and a comforting warmth that permeate the entire story from the first page to nearly the last. As Annie and Jake face one seemingly-impossible situation after another, hope and the power of Love remain at the ready. (UTMOST PUBLISHING, Oct., 410 pp., $12.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


Children’s Picture Book/Christmas
Sigal Adler
SERIES: Christmas Picture Books for Children #4

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An endearing story about kindness, friendship, and the Holiday Spirit, Sadler creates a beautiful world of magical winter fun to encourage these traits in children. Learning how to care for others and put their needs first is a timely and important theme, at Christmas and any time of the year. Gorgeous illustrations draw children in, and young readers will want to revisit this story several times to be transported to the imaginary world of talking snowmen and little rabbit friends. (SIGAL ADLER, Oct., 50 pp., $10.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon


Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

Cozy Up With These Bookish Cozy Mysteries!


Cozy Mysteries are hugely popular for readers right now, and I personally (Carrie) love this genre known for quaint small towns, quirky characters, loyal pets, and amateur sleuths (usually women). Granted, there is a bit of a formula to these books but that’s part of what makes them so charming. (For a great tongue-in-cheek post about this, check out Top Ten Things I’ve Learned From Cozy Mysteries over at I Wish I Lived In a Library!)

When they are set in a bookstore or library, they become even more charming!

Since October is a great month for mysteries, I thought I’d give you the breakdown on some of the best ‘bookish’ cozy mystery series to start with (and some new ones we’re looking forward to).

Bookstore Mysteries

Might as well go with the most obvious one first, right? ;) This is a brand new series from Kensington and debut cozy author Lauren Elliott. The main character - rare book expert Addison (Addie) Greyborne, has recently moved from Boston back to her quaint New England seaside village hometown where she lives in an inherited Victorian mansion and owns a rare & used bookstore called Beyond the Page. The first installment, Murder By the Book, releases October 30, 2018 with the second book coming up in April 2019 and the third next October. I can’t wait to read this one ASAP!

Tourist Trap Mysteries

Lynn Cahoon’s popular Tourist Trap series is set all around the charming coastal town of South Cove, California, but the heroine Jill Gardner owns a delightful bookstore/coffee shop so a lot of the scenes take place there. This is one of my go-to cozy mystery series, bookish or not, and I’m always eager to get my hands on the next book!

Library Lover’s Mysteries

One can’t talk about bookish cozy mysteries without mentioning Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lover’s Mystery series from the Penguin Group/Berkley. Heroine Lindsey Norris is settling in as library director in her cozy hometown of Briar Creek, Connecticut - which isn’t as sleepy as it first appears!

Bibliophile Mysteries

A cozy mystery list also isn’t complete without the Bibliophile Mysteries from Kate Carlisle, published first by Obsidian and now by Berkley. The latest book in the series - Buried in Books - has a 5 star rating on Amazon with 100 reviews. Brooklyn Wainwright is a skilled surgeon… of books, and her book restoration jobs keep leading to mysteries!

Pen and Ink Mysteries

This new series from Krista Davis & Kensington is so unique! Not only does the heroine manage the Color Me Read bookstore in DC and create coloring books for adults, the book comes with a front & back cover that you yourself can color. The first book released in February 2018 and the new installment will be out in November

Check these out too!

There are so many other great ‘bookish’ cozy mystery series that I should mention. Make sure you add these to your TBR lists as well!

And if that’s not enough (lol) check out these lists here and here from Cozy Mystery List :)

Do you love cozy mysteries too? What’s your fave series?