The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

About the book: Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

Publication Date: July 30, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Dove Pond #1

My thoughts: I requested this book from NetGalley based on the cover which I thought was pretty and the fact it had something to do about books. I didn’t read the description so I went into reading this book a bit blindly. This book was nothing like I thought it might be.

The author starts out with Sarah and Grace as young girls and we get to know a bit about who they are. Then fast-forward to present day and we see Grace and Sarah meet for the first time when Grace moves her family to Dove Pond. Grace’s family consists of her mom and her niece. They have moved back to Dove Pond because Mama G has dementia and a move back to her childhood home might make things easier on everyone. I thought the author did a fantastic job of portraying what it was like for Grace and Mama G as her dementia progressed and things became more difficult for each of them. Next door neighbor Travis Parker was a nice addition to the story and the fact that he had just gone through the same thing with his father made him a very believable character and support for Grace. I liked Sarah more though and I think that’s because she came across as more dimensional than Grace. Sarah was a softer character and one that I just thought I would have more in common with.

While I enjoyed the story I thought the pace was a bit slow at times and it seemed like the story was stuck. Things were repeated over and over and hopefully were edited out before the story was published. The book is 368 pages and could probably be trimmed down to 300 and not lose any of the story’s substance. At times I had a difficult time staying interested in the story and I think with some editing this wouldn’t have been an issue. One other thing was the rushed ending that wasn’t really an ending at all. I know there are more books to come in the series but it would be nice to have had some closure on the main part of the story (which isn’t about Sarah, by the way).

All in all, this isn’t a bad read and I was interested enough in the story and the characters that I would strongly consider reading the next book in the series. I don’t like unfinished endings and would like to know what happens next.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and wasn’t required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Hawkins writes novels that have been praised as touching, witty, charming, and heartwarming. A native Southerner who grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee where storytelling is a way of life, Karen recently moved to frosty New England with her beloved husband and multiple foster dogs. The Dove Pond books are a nod to the thousands of books that opened doors to more adventures, places, and discoveries than she ever imagined possible.

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The Cottage by Michael Phillips

About the book:

 Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga…
When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that “the Cottage” is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.
The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman–and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place–and the character of its most prominent citizen–that soon gets under her skin.
Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whale’s Reef. David’s cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni’s hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni’s very life in danger.

Publication Date:  October 4, 2016

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Series: Secrets of the Shetlands #2

My review:

 I received this book through Bethany House Publisher’s reviewer program. I didn’t realize it was the second in a series but that didn’t seem to matter when I started reading the book. It does quite well as a standalone even though I felt like I should have known things that were talked about.

This book was an enjoyable read for me. I found the story interesting and unlike anything I have read before. The author did a great job with descriptions and historical facts. This made the story more believable and authentic. Even though it took a bit of time to get accustomed to the Scottish brogue used by the Shetlanders I found the author’s use of this made the story more genuine. It made me feel as if I were there on the island listening in to their conversations.

While this book is over 400 pages I didn’t find the story to lag at any time. The story unfolds at a steady pace and the author’s writing style is easy to read. The book flows easily from chapter to chapter making it easy to stay interested in.

This book was a nice escape and a nice visit to the Shetland Islands. If you like stories rich in personal history and family you will find this an interesting read.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions in this review are mine.

About the author:  

Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.

A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick

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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The Healing Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter

About the book:

What if you have waited to find love only to be rejected when it finally comes?

Lenore Lapp is an Amish schoolteacher in her late twenties still living at home with her parents and grandparents. She thought love had passed her by until she meets Jesse Smucker, a widower with a baby daughter. She quickly falls in love with them both and accepts Jesse’s proposal of marriage, but Jesse breaks off their engagement when he realizes he can’t marry only for convenience.

Resigned to living single, Lenore throws herself into caring for her elders. While working in her grandmother’s garden, she digs up an old jar. Will Lenore find healing for her broken heart and solve long-buried family secrets by reading the note contained inside?

Publication Date: August 1, 2019

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Genre: Amish fiction

Series: The Prayer Jars #3

My thoughts: Book 3 of The Prayer Jars wraps up the series in a way that will leave readers satisfied. While the primary focus of this story is Lenore Lapp we also get to catch up with Sara and Michelle from the previous books. In addition to catching up with characters, there are new ones to meet and grow to love.

Fans of Wanda Brunstetter are sure to love this book and the conclusion to the series. It is a well-written, down-to-earth read that is hard to put down and will have readers wanting to visit Amish country as soon as possible. I recommend this book to fans of the author and the genre. It can be read as a standalone so if you haven’t read the other two books in the series that is ok though I highly recommend reading those as well.

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 author: Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning romance novelist who has led millions of readers to lose their heart in the Amish life. She is the author of over 100 books with more than 11 million copies sold. Many of her books have landed on the top bestseller lists, including the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, CBA, ECPA, and CBD. Wanda is considered one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre, and her work has been covered by national publications, including Time Magazine, USA Today, Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, and Country Woman. Wanda’s books have been translated into four foreign languages.

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29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

About the book: “Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne, a renowned scholar and television host. The beloved professor rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, she’s left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid. In the only way he knows how. The man gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. No chance of being found out. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Thriller

**Does contain some language and adult situations**

My thoughts: 29 Seconds is the second novel by T.M. Logan that I’ve had the chance to read. While I enjoyed it just as much as his debut novel, Lies, the book is quite different. In Lies, the main event of the story takes place at the beginning of the book and there is a cat and mouse chase throughout the rest of the story leaving the readers on the edge of their seats. In 29 Seconds there’s quite the buildup to the main event. The phone call that the story receives its title from doesn’t take place until approximately halfway through the book. But the first half of that book isn’t just wasted space or words thrown on a page. Uh-huh. The first half of this book builds up to the main event, that 29-second phone call, that may or may not change Sarah’s life. For me, the author did a fantastic job of building up to the phone call. We get to know Sarah as a person and what her life is like with her husband who has left her for someone else. While we hear much about him we never really get to know him as a person, which is fine. Readers also get to know Sarah’s father and the relationship between him and Sarah. And there’s a great deal of time spent getting to know and thus despising the one and only Professor Alan Hawthorne. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever hated a character as much as I did this guy. He’s a bully who uses sexual harassment to get what he wants. He’s narcissistic and creepy and just plain nasty. T.M. Logan did a great job of creating the perfect character for readers to love to hate. I wanted every single bad thing that could have happened to this character to happen to him. I despised him and wanted to make that phone call myself.

One character in the book has a pretty important role though we don’t see him much. That’s James Grosvenor, the father of the child Sarah rescues. I enjoyed the short time spent with this character. He exuded wealth and power. It was effortless to picture this guy sitting in an office talking to Sarah and offering up his services to her. There was just something about this character that was so interesting and I was drawn to him. I would have actually liked for him to have had a bigger role in the story so I could read more about him.

While this book wasn’t as fast-paced as Lies I enjoyed it just as much. I liked the way the story played out letting readers get to know the characters and build attachments to them. T.M. Logan does a phenomenal job of telling stories that capture the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go until the end. T.M. Logan is on my must-read author list and I can’t wait to read more by this talented author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and wasn’t required to write a review. All opinions are mine

About the author: Tim was born in Berkshire and studied in London and Cardiff before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently writes full-time and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

His debut thriller Lies (2017) sold more than 350,000 copies and was one of Amazon’s biggest selling e-books of 2017. Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in a dozen countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next thriller takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder… The Holiday is due to be published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 13 June 2019.

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A Family for Gracie by Amy Lillard

About the book: Gracie Glick is known for being the helpful one, always available for a relative in need. But now that she’s longing for a home and family of her own, it’s time to help herself. With few eligible men in Pontotoc, Gracie’s choices, and her time, are limited. So she takes a bold leap of faith: she proposes to Matthew Byler, a handsome, recently widowed, father of five. It’s not until after they’re married that Gracie learns Matthew doesn’t want more children . . .
 
With his grief still fresh, and his children needing care while he tends to his farm, Gracie is the answer to Matthew’s prayers. But a marriage in name only suits him fine. And when he finally tells Gracie the dismaying reason why, they must decide whether to continue
together—or apart. It’s a choice that will force them both to look deeper into their hearts than ever before . . .

Publication Date: July 30, 2019

Publisher: Zebra

Genre: Amish fiction

Series: Amish of Pontotoc #3

My thoughts: During the first two books of this series readers have watched with Gracie as her cousins, twin sisters Leah and Hannah, have found love and families of their own. Finally, Gracie gets her turn in a somewhat unusual way, especially for an Amish woman. Gracie may be in for more than she bargained for as life with Matthew isn’t the easiest. Taking on a ready-made family, a fussy baby, and a husband who doesn’t communicate with her could prove to be more than Gracie is prepared for.

This book was an enjoyable read and I liked the realness of the story. From the unique personalities of the children to Gracie’s struggles and Matthew’s reluctance at taking on a new wife, this story was so full of real-life aspects that it made for a quick and easy read. Amy Lillard does an excellent job of bringing stories to life through her characters and descriptions.

While this book is the third in the series it could be read as a standalone. It is sure to be a favorite of fans of Amish fiction. It is a book I highly recommend.

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 author: During the first two books of this series readers have watched with Gracie as her cousins, twin sisters Leah and Hannah, have found love and families of their own. Finally, Gracie gets her turn in a somewhat unusual way, especially for an Amish woman. Gracie may be in for more than she bargained for as life with Matthew isn’t the easiest. Taking on a ready-made family, a fussy baby, and a husband who doesn’t communicate with her could prove to be more than Gracie is prepared for.

This book was an enjoyable read and I liked the realness of the story. From the unique personalities of the children to Gracie’s struggles and Matthew’s reluctance at taking on a new wife, this story was so full of real-life aspects that it made for a quick and easy read. Amy Lillard does an excellent job of bringing stories to life through her characters and descriptions.

While this book is the third in the series it could be read as a standalone. It is sure to be a favorite of fans of Amish fiction. It is a book I highly recommend.

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

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Cowboy Christmas Guardian by Dana Mentink

About the book:  

UNDER THE RANCHER’S PROTECTION

Someone is dead set on stopping Shelby Arroyo from doing her job: assessing mineral rights in a mine in gold country. But after rancher Barrett Thorn rescues her from an attack, the handsome widowed cowboy seems to feel responsible for her. That is, until he discovers she’s from the family that he’ll never forgive for his wife’s death. As the threats against Shelby escalate, cowboy honor and an unexpected attraction keep Barrett by her side, even at his own risk. And since Shelby won’t back down, Barrett must protect the brave, loyal woman he has no business falling for…a woman someone wants to kill by Christmas.

Publication Date:  November 7, 2017

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

Genre: Suspense, Christmas

Series: Gold Country Cowboys #1

My thoughts:  

The first book in Dana Mentink’s new series is a fast-paced, action-packed story full of edge-of-your-seat scenes that will have your heart racing. I have no doubt she’ll be able to top these scenes in the future books of the series. It will be so fun to see how.

This story captured my attention from the very beginning. The opening scene creates the tone for the rest of the story with a dark, stormy night full of danger for Shelby Arroyo, the leading lady of the story. This woman can manage to get herself into a lot of dangerous situations and it’s a good thing she has Barrett Thorn there to rescue her. Barrett may come across as a brooding cowboy but there is so much more to him. Oh, and I absolutely adored Evie Thorn, the matriarch of the Thorn family! Is it possible for her to adopt me?

Reading this story it’s hard to believe that it’s written by a third grade teacher who is mom to Junie the dog and posts funny videos on social media. This book is dark, mysterious, and so good. It really shows her ability as an author to write a wide range of stories. I enjoy the fact that she can make me laugh or, in this case, keep me on the edge of my seat and turning pages long into the afternoon or night.

This is a book you don’t want to miss out on reading. I’m already anxious to read the next book in the series and see what’s in store next for the Thorn family. This is one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:

 Dana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, two ACFW Carol Awards as well as a Holt Medallion.

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