In Review... December 21, 2018

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Happy last Friday before Christmas! Can you believe it?!? Here’s another batch of recommended reads for you when you’re ready to take a break this weekend :)


Historical Amish Romance
WHERE THE HEART TAKES YOU
Virginia Wise
SERIES: Amish New World #1

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An historical Amish debut and the beginning of a new series, this intriguing novel sheds light on the harsh realities faced by the earliest Amish settlers in America. By emphasizing their reliance on God and each other, the story allows these engaging characters to find a place in readers’ hearts. Greta is genuinely likable, despite her frequent cluelessness, and Jacob’s layered backstory adds further dimension to their current situation. Both hero and Heroine are headstrong, and romantic chemistry isn’t the only emotion sparking between them - the author does a good job of keeping both of these elements realistic and not over the top. Some of the editing could be a bit tighter (head hopping, telling vs. showing) but overall the charming plot, lovable characters, and inspiring history overcome these minor issues. Readers will chuckle, smile, swoon, and maybe even shed a few tears, and for sure they will be ready for another trip to the Amish New World. (ZEBRA, Dec. 288 pp., $7.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Bookmarked Review

Amish Contemporary Romance/Novella Collection
THE AMISH SWEET SHOP
Emma Miller, Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis

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Stock up on chocolate before diving into this sweet read or prepare to fight off chocolate cravings throughout! Each of the three stories in this collection have a distinct flavor, per each author’s unique style, but are all tied together through Beechy’s Sweets. “The Sweetest Courtship” by Miller is completely delightful, the perfect blend of wit, warmth, and romance as Jacob and Rose are thrown together with a little help from his mom Clara and a broken knee. Bradford’s “The Sweetest Truth” is a heartwarming story with humor and heart - as well as some sizzling romantic tension. Readers will embrace Sadie’s journey to accepting that she is still worthy of love, and they’ll fall head over heels in love with Amos in the process. “Noting Tastes So Sweet” by Mary Ellis doesn’t have quite the same tone as the other two, and it doesn’t have romance as a focus. Despite this - and a couple of continuity hiccups - it stands well on its own with layered characters and a compelling plot. (KENSINGTON, Dec., 304 pp., $15.95)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Children’s Picture Book
ABC BIBLE VERSES FOR LITTLE ONES
Rebecca Lutzer

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Young readers now have a fun and creative way to learn their ABC’s. Each page is filled with beautiful, vibrant illustrations that will catch the eye of any youngster. Each bible verse presented with the letter is in simple format for young readers to easily understand. Lutzer has provided a lovely, engaging book to introduce little ones to the bible and the Lord. Perfect for little ones, early readers, and even young Christians, this gem has a little something for everyone. (HARVEST HOUSE, Jan., 32 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Inspirational Historical Women’s Fiction
WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS
Erin Bartels

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Debut Novelist Erin Bartels gives readers a compelling story that touches on the difficult topics of interracial marriage, social status, and generational secrets. Although living during different times, Elizabeth, Nora and Mary show similarities that stem far beyond their relation to each other. They each learn the importance of staying true to oneself, defying the odds, and going against the grain of societal pressures. Bartels is not afraid to tackle adversity, and does so gracefully and poetically. We Hope For Better Things will easily gain favor from readers, and leave them wanting more. (REVELL, Jan., 392 pp., $9.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Romance
FLIGHTS OF FANCY
Jen Turano
Series: American Heiresses #1

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Turano delivers a fresh new story that is filled with laughter, mischief, danger, and romance. Isadora Delafield, an American heiress of the Gilded Age, embarks upon a most peculiar adventure, for the safety of her future and her person. True to the author’s style, this book includes (more than) a few mishaps from the heroine as well as devious antics from the villain. The children will pull at heartstrings, the hero will steal all hearts, and when readers come to the conclusion of this story, they will be begging for more Turano adventures. Written with all the unique flavors of this author’s voice, Flights of Fancy is a light-hearted, fun-filled adventure every reader should experience. (BETHANY HOUSE, Jan., 368 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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A woman who doesn’t like chickens isn’t to be trusted.
— Flights of Fancy

Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Romantic Suspense
NORTHERN DECEPTION
Laurie Wood
SERIES: Heroes of the Tundra #1

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Readers are taken to the dangerous yet beautiful Canadian tundra in Laurie Wood’s debut novel. Packed full of action, romance, and fun, readers will find themselves holding their breath as Kira and Lukas dodge bullets, bombs and more. Woods also brings in a special-needs character, adorable Sophie, adding a much needed bright spot to a novel that is so full of suspense; readers cannot help but fall in love with her sweet spirit. The fierce protectiveness Lukas portrays will have readers swooning as he battles to save his beloved Kira from harm. Wood captures the reader’s attention from page one and doesn’t let go all the way to the end. (ANAIAH PRESS, Dec., 170 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Inspirational Non-fiction/Christian Living
BRAVE LOVE: Making Space for You to Be You
Lisa Leonard

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Fans of the Lisa Leonard Designs jewelry line will find the founder’s memoir especially appealing. Leonard, remarkably one of three sets of twins, shares how strong a connection she feels to her twin sister Chrissie and describes an idyllic childhood, yet confesses she constantly struggled to be perfect in order to be loved. The author describes her early life, marriage, and how her business started and eventually developed into the multi-million dollar company it is today. Readers, however, will find themselves most connected to Leonard’s struggles as a mom to her oldest son, David, who was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, and how she worked through grief and shame in order to parent her son with confidence. Leonard’s ongoing theme throughout every chapter is that it takes courage to love and bravery to communicate what one needs most, giving readers much to contemplate. (ZONDERVAN, Jan., 256 pp., $22.99)

Reviewer: Michele Howe

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Contemporary Young Adult
PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY
Laurie Boyle Crompton

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Many people would love to have a do-over day, and that’s exactly what Andie gets as she starts her senior year … again and again and again. Can a true love’s first kiss stop the endless cycle and allow Andie to see tomorrow? Various social issues and cliques (though there is a lack of diversity) are addressed as Andie struggles to find where she fits in. This book is a blast from the past, which may make it more relatable for an adult audience vs. the targeted YA crowd, who may not understand the 80s movies references. While the characters acted and spoke like teens, they felt more like teens from a few decades ago vs. present day. There is some predictability, especially if you’re familiar with John Hughes’s movies, but it’s a quick, fun, enjoyable read overall. (BLINK, JAN, 304 pp, $17.99)

Reviewer: Leslie L. McKee

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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.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE

In Review... December 14, 2018

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Happy FRI-YAY! Can you believe how close we are to Christmas? Less than two weeks!! Enjoy these books while you take a break this weekend from shopping :)


Inspirational Historical/Western Romance
STAGECOACH TO LIBERTY
Janalyn Voigt
SERIES: Montana Gold #3

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Voigt continues her Montana Gold series with Con Walsh’s story, picking up a thread from the previous book and giving this layered hero his time to shine. Several storylines - which at first seem only tangentially related - converge on this Gold Rush setting, adding dimension to both the characters and the plot and keeping reader interest engaged from beginning to end. For her own part, Elsa Meier may be the most compelling heroine introduced so far in this series (which is saying a lot considering how engaging the previous two have been) - with grace and grit in abundance. Fabulous romantic chemistry, heart-in-your-throat adventure, and the promise of more to come make this a must-read for historical/western romance fans! (MOUNTAIN BROOK INK, Dec., 294 pp., $12.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Gold Star Review

Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
A BOUND HEART
Laura Frantz

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Frantz brings the Scottish Highlands to life in her newest historical fiction release. From exploring Scottish castles to being sent to Jamaica and on to colonial America, readers are treated to swoon-worthy romance and action-packed scenes full of adventure. Within these pages, a childhood friendship blossoms into a sweeping love story despite the difference in social class between Lark and Magnus – he, a landowner, and she, an herbalist and keeper of his bees. As with all of Frantz’s novels, her attention to research is flawless, filling the pages with breathtaking scenery, braided in biblical truths that will speak encouragement to reader hearts. A must read for historical romance fans. (REVELL, Jan., 400 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Andi Tubbs

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
WITH THIS PLEDGE
Tamera Alexander
SERIES: Carnton #1

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There are certain events and heroic acts over the course of time which ought to be preserved in the memory of our collective history and Alexander honors Civil War Carnton’s residents and those they encountered with her grace, craft, and class. The atmosphere of turmoil, grief, and strife is palpable, yet the everyday living of life moves forward despite extraordinarily tragic circumstances. The author treats each historical and fictional character with reverent respect and maintains a sense of authenticity and raw humanity throughout. The bravery and sacrifice, courage and boldness embodied by this story will stir the reader’s pride in and compassion for mankind. This story of hope amidst tragedy is a must-read for fans of well-researched historical fiction and heartwarming silver linings. (THOMAS NELSON, Jan., 448 pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Inspirational Self-Help/Marriage
LOVE TALK: Speak Each Other’s Language Like You Never Have Before
Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott

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In their three-part newly revised and updated text, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, unpack the foundational reasons why communication is the lifeblood of any marriage and how each partner’s unique fears can hinder them from speaking the truth in love. The coauthors provide readers much in the way of personal examples from their own relationship, thus successfully encouraging others to keep at the task of “love talk” and making the authors’ advice so very relatable. Christians will value not only this jam-packed primer on all things communication related but will especially appreciate the Parrotts zeroing in on special challenges such as being married to a silent partner (including when silence is the best communication tool). Love Talk is just what the doctor(s) ordered for a happy, fulfilling marriage. (ZONDERVAN, Jan., 176 pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Michele Howe

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
HER COWBOY’S TWIN BLESSINGS
Patricia Johns
SERIES: Montana Twins #1

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Patricia Johns shows love and respect for the Montana land and people while sharing some of the dangers and hardships of daily life in her latest release. Country cowboy Casey Courtright and citified Ember Reed want the same ranch land for very different reasons. In exchange for Casey showing her the area, Ember agrees to help with the twin baby boys Casey is now caring for, not realizing it would scratch at old wounds. Both Casey and Ember will have to learn that compromise is sometimes the best choice and letting go of one dream opens the door to a bigger and better one - one that is God-ordained. That adorable cover and heart-melting cowboy-plus-babies plot will leave readers swooning for sure! (LOVE INSPIRED, Dec., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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There’s faith in God to answer our prayers,” Bert said, “and then there’s faith in God when He gives us the unexpected.
— Her Cowboy's Twin Blessings

Inspirational Contemporary Fiction
MOONDUST LAKE
Davis Bunn
SERIES: Miramar Bay #3

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In the third book of Bunn’s Miramar Bay series, dysfunction takes a nasty turn in one family. Because of this, it’s not always a comfortable read. However, readers will be intrigued to discover, along with Buddy, the past his father never wanted him to learn. Buddy Helm and Kimberly Sturgiss, the church psychotherapist, work together to uncover the past as they prepare for the biggest struggle of their lives. Readers will enjoy getting to know Buddy; through all the anguish he has to endure, he is true to himself and wants to do the right thing. Fans of Nicholas Sparks and Kate Morton will enjoy this series. (KENSINGTON, Jan., 300 pp., $21.95)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans

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Inspirational Non-Fiction/Christian Living
TASTE AND SEE: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers

Margaret Feinberg

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Readers will embark on a culinary journey with popular speaker and author Margaret Feinberg’s latest release. Informative and surprisingly profound for what one may think is just a book about food, readers will experience the basic, yet essential, parts of how and what food brings to the table, both physically and spiritually. God is not only a foodie, but purposefully created and provided food for the world to taste and see His goodness. Taste and See will stir in readers a hunger for fellowship, God’s divine Word and actual food with biblical references, personal thoughts and easy recipes to enjoy. (ZONDERVAN, Jan., 192 pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Food really is God’s love made delicious, nutritious, and restorative. But we must learn to slow down and savor the delicate flavors and divine lessons.
— Taste & See

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.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE