Saturday, November 10, 2018

His Promise by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
It is less than two weeks to Thanksgiving, which means the holiday season is quickly approaching. This morning we even woke up to a dusting of snow. I'm a little bummed that fall seemed to be cut short, but I could be ready for cozy clothes, fires, Christmas cookies and family evenings. I recently had the opportunity to read His Promise: An Amish Christmas in Hart County, which also gave me a bit of a chance to glimpse forward to Christmas.
I have enjoyed reading the Amish of Hart County series by Shelley Shepard Gray because you get the chance to catch glimpses of characters you met in the other stories. This book, sadly, was the last book in the Amish of Hart County series. Even as such, it can be read as a stand alone book, so don't worry if you have to catch up on the rest of the series later.

The story focuses on the holiday season of Grace King. Having agreed to pet sit, she winds up being left behind while her family heads back home to see family that needs their help. As much as she was looking forward to being away from her family, while pet sitting, she wasn't really prepared for the loneliness of not having them in town. When the dog that she is watching wanders away, she learns that John Michael, a former beau of her sister lives next door. While separately at dinner in the local diner, they run into Dorma, a woman who they know from their youth whose family used to own the land where John Michael and the family Grace is pet sitting for live now.

As the story unwinds, there is a good thread of suspense, balanced with love, compassion and self-discovery. The suspense keeps the story moving quickly along, as you want to learn a little bit more about the seemingly foul play around the fires and thefts that have been happening in the community. The characters that Gray develops are very likeable and although Amish, they face similar issues and are fully relatable. The temperamental dachshund, named Snooze, that Grace was watching was a lovable, relatable pup with his own agenda whose antics added a few laughs to the story. I really enjoyed this story and watching Grace grow through the course of the story as she discovers what is really important.

If you are looking for a good book to curl up with, I recommend checking out this latest from Shelley Shepard Gray (or any other of this series too).



About the Book:
His Promise: An Amish Christmas in Hart County by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s latest Christmas novel in her Amish of Hart County series.

It’s set to be a white Christmas in Hart County, and Grace King is pet-sitting in a beautiful home with only a difficult dachshund for company. Just as she starts to miss the bustle of her large Amish family, Grace runs into a familiar face. Living right next door is John Michael Miller. He’s a fireman now, but five years ago, he had courted her older sister, then broke her heart. Seeing him again stirs Grace’s anger, but also reminds her of deeper feelings she’s done her best to deny.

The infatuation John Michael once saw in Grace’s eyes is long gone, though his complicated attraction to her remains. He had walked away all those years ago when he realized he was falling in love with the wrong sister. Now, as suspicious fires are set in their community, that’s not an option. Grace dismisses his warnings, and John Michael vows to keep an eye on her. But he can’t help wondering if he’s reconnected with Grace, only to risk losing her again.

Now all John Michael wants for Christmas is to keep Grace safe, in the hopes that they can one day have a future together.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.



No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die 2nd Edition by Deb Thompson and Tonya Prater

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I'm not sure why, but we generally are terrible at being tourists where we live. When we head out of town, we do research and plan for the places that we might go and the things that we might do; but when it comes to staycations and finding things on the weekend, we seem be creatures of habit and return to the tried and true, rather than explore the local area. This summer, we decided to finally visit the Mansfield Reformatory, where Shawshank Redpemption and other films were filmed. It was a neat attraction full of information about the history of the facility and information about the films that were made there. It even had 'haunted' stories to share about paranormal experiences that others have had. This gem is right off the main road and only 45 minutes from home, but it took us 16 years after we moved here to finally check it out. It's examples like this that found me jumping at the opportunity check out 100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before you Die; a guide that could help me as a local explore many activities and places that are close to home.
The book is well organized, divided into 5 themed sections: Food and Drink; Music and Entertainment; Sports and Recreation; Culture and History; and Shopping and Fashion. Within each section there are several local places or events to check out, including a brief description or story about each. Also sprinkled in are tips with some other nearby things to check out. This format is easy to thumb through and check out some great options in (and around) Cleveland. Several of the listings actually include more than one place to check out, giving you even more than 100 things to check out. The locations and activities included are both everyday and special occasion activities, like the Summer Solstice Festival and the Woollybear Festival. At the back of the book there are suggested itineraries to explore, including one for date night or a family outing; a guide to the activities by season; and an index which makes it easy to look up something specific.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a mix of some places/events that I have visited and some hidden gems that I have yet to experience. The guide would work well for both locals and out of town visitors, offering a mix of places that local residents may not have tried and places that visitors will want to check out. There are several new places that I look forward to checking out. The book is the perfect size to stash in the car so that we will be ready for the next time we are out and about in Cleveland.


About the Book:
100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die, 2nd Edition by Deb Thompson, Tonya Prater

Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland is as diverse as the people that call it home and is finally being recognized as the gem that it’s always been. From family fun to romantic getaways there is something for everyone in the city that Rock and Roll built. 100 Things To Do In Cleveland Before You Die is the ultimate guide to finding the best things in the city and, for life-long residents, new ways to explore old favorites. This is THE guide for finding the best food, festivals, museums, outdoor activities, music and more. 100 Things guides you through the city like a local and shares what residents have known for years; Cleveland is the place to live or visit for a memorable experience. A melting pot of people and cultures, Cleveland is a place where you can find great food from a truck or from an award winning chef, home to some of the biggest sports fans in existence, world class museums and venues, an amazing amount of green space, and features public art around every corner. Browse the pages of 100 Things before you set out on your next trip to the city to experience something new.


About the Authors:

Deb Thompson is a freelance travel writer whose work takes her across the country to find the most unique attractions that destinations have to offer. An avid fan of the strange and bizarre, she enjoys nothing more than exploring the hallways of haunted locales, searching for Bigfoot in the great outdoors, finding aliens in Roswell and mixing it up with a great cocktail. You can follow her endeavors at JustShortOfCrazy.com. Tonya Prater is a travel writer with the heart of a nomad. Once a full-time RVer who dreams of reliving the experience, she is on a mission to find the fun, quirky stops scattered across the U.S. that most people drive past. Tonya shares her experiences at TravelInspiredLiving.com, which offers travel inspiration for the budget-minded.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Summer Plans and Other Disasters by Karin Beery

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Fall has definitely struck. The days are crisp and blustery, the nights are cold. All the more reason to curl up with a blanket and a good book. This week I had the opportunity to read of another season...Summer Plans and other disasters by Karin Beery. This is the debut book by Karin Beery (and thus the first one that I have read).


Told from multiple points of view, the book focuses on Callie's summer in Michigan at the light house. She is a teacher off for the summer who heads home to work and live with her brother and hopes to rekindle an old romance (in an attempt to answer some what-if questions that she has encountered). I love that Callie is a planner but as you know (or might have guessed from the title), plans don’t always work out the way we want. Sometimes things turn out better than your plans would have, but other times they don’t. Between the challenges of her plans, the need for her to manage outside of a plan and her perpetual klutziness (and perhaps a bit of ditziness), the book provides a lighthearted story that also provides for some great lessons for the characters.

The author brought the characters to life through their own thoughts and the eyes of the other characters as she shifted telling the story from each of their views. I enjoyed getting to know Callie, a talented musician and teacher; Jack, her protective and loving brother; Ryan, her brother's best friend; and Stacey, a friend of Jack's that Callie becomes friends with. Through the course of the story, there were challenges, inner turmoil and reflection, long-standing and newly developing friendships, family, faith and humor. I wish I could have been on the beach reading this, but snuggled on my couch under a blanket, the author was able to transport me to the summer scene of the shore of Michigan. This was an enjoyable and fun book to read. I look to future books by this author, especially a sequel (please), so I can be part of the next chapter of this group's lives.

About the book

Elementary school music teacher Callie Stevens thinks she’s finally figured out God’s plan for her life—she even made a list to keep her on track.

Moving in with her brother and reconnecting with her ex-boyfriend are at the top of the list. What’s not on the list is running into her childhood crush, Ryan. God wanted her to connect with Kyle, right?

Trying to figure out God’s plan is hard enough. But a dating-averse older brother, the young blonde who adores him, a pregnant best friend, and Callie’s continual mishaps make her wonder whether her best laid plans were truly God-inspired.

Now available from Elk Lake Publishing!

About the author

Karin wrote her first novel in 2007 to cope with her husband’s cancer diagnosis (no worries – he’s cancer free now!). With the support and encouragement of her family, she submitted that manuscript. That particular manuscript has not been published yet, but Summer Plans and Other Disasters, her first published book, releases in September 2018.

Karin writes contemporary and speculative fiction stories with a healthy dose of romance, but she’s also expanded her repertoire: she writes feature stories for the local paper, copy material for businesses, and blog posts for herself and others. She even edits (offering copy editing, fiction editing, and critiques through Write Now Editing Services) and teaches (she’s the Substantive Fiction Editing instructor for the PEN Institute and can be found around the country teaching writing and editing courses at conferences and at her local college).


When Karin’s not reading, writing, or editing, she enjoys cooking and baking. She plays the piano and sings (the key of E, please). She kayaks with her husband in the summer, watches football in the fall (Go Blue!), and enjoys Christmas lights all winter long. Shy but extroverted, Karin adores her nieces and nephew and loves spending time with her family. Learn more about Karin at: karinbeery.com.

You can also follow her on:

Facebook - www.facebook.com/authorkarinbeery/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/karinbeery

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/karinbeery/



No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fit to Be Tied by Debby Mayne

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Fall is upon us. It has meant busy weekends and evenings, filled with back to school and fall sports. When I wasn't at one of the schools or the field for a game, I found some time to catch back up with the Bucklin family in the second installment of the Bucklin Family Reunion Series, Fit to Be Tied by Debby Mayne.

Fit to be Tied was a well-written enjoyable story told from the viewpoint of five of the family members, some by birth, others by marriage. I really enjoy this style of writing and how the use of multiple viewpoints can engage the reader and provide additional insight into the family and their tales. The characters were relatable and enjoyable to get to know and the story was filled with a real perspective and a good balance of humor. The multiple points of view led to short chapters, which made it easy to ready in short or long installments.

It seems that everyone outside the family is yearning to go and experience a Bucklin Family reunion, which unlike your typical family reunion, occurs on a multiple times a year basis. What balances that nicely is that it seems sometimes that there is a reluctance of the family to attend the reunion...but not wanting to miss out or be the topic of conversations, brings them all together. They certainly do family reunions on a grand scale, this one was multiple days and included lots of food and even a trip to the hospital.

You can jump right into this second book in the series with no problem, as the author does a great job introducing the characters and building on their stories. But having read the first one, I really enjoyed hearing the continuing stories of the characters I met in the first book, while getting to know more members of the family.

I look forward to the next reunion story in this series to see what new adventures await this family.



Fit to Be Tied
by Debby Mayne
Bucklin Family Reunion series: Book 2


The Bucklin family loves each other too much to stay away. . . but not enough to behave

Being rich is fine, but when wealth comes from striking oil, it's a slippery mess for a family who doesn't know what to do with it. The Bucklin cousins are all together again, and this family reunion is shaping up to be another disaster.

Coralee falls for the police officer who pulls her over. Sally has finally found a guy, but now she's not sure a relationship is even worth the bother. No matter how hard Brett tries to avoid trouble, he somehow stumbles right back into the thick of it. And Marybeth and Bucky continue to fumble and bumble as they learn how to handle being rich.

The Bucklin family is known for drama—and Bucklin family drama knows no bounds.


Meet the Author
Debby Mayne writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction and is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas-plus more than 1,000 short stories, articles, and devotions for busy women. Debby is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. She was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so Debby enjoys featuring characters with Southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms. High Cotton is the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion series.

Learn more about Debby and her works on her site.


You can purchase a copy here.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Lethal Legacy by Carol J. Post

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
It's been a while since I sat down and read a whole book in just two days. As a mom of two active kids with a full-time job, simply having that many hours to myself can be a feat. But, when you read a book that has a suspenseful, action-packed, fast-paced story that keeps you wondering what would happen next and it leaves you unwilling to put the book down once you start, it is very easy to do. From the very first page, I was pulled into the story in the recent release from Carol J. Post, Lethal Legacy. The pace of the story never slowed, even as the author provided the details necessary to develop the characters and share the back story.
This book is the second one set in Murphy, North Carolina featuring a group of friends. This book follows Bryce's story. Andi's family has owned the house next door to Bryce's family home for generations and her dad and her would come up and stay when she was a kid. It had been 12 years since they saw one another when she came back following her parent's tragic death. When she arrives at the house, she finds that someone has broken in. Finding a cryptic note from her father in one of his books as she cleans up and then learning that her dad had been planning to visit Bryce to talk to him about something, leaves Andi wondering what the secret was that had been weighing on her dad. There seems to be danger lurking everywhere and she soon realizes that whatever her dad's secret, someone seems to be targeting her as a result. I found myself hoping that she would find more clues and solve the mystery, so that she could be safe. But, did like that with the break-ins and unexplained accidents and Bryce being a sheriff deputy, and generally feeling the need to protect her, they find themselves spending more time together and becoming friends again.

I enjoy the way that Carol brings the characters to life, sharing about them as the story progresses and by telling the story from multiple points of view. The characters in this story are the type of people that I could easily be friends with. The story line was great and with the suspense, intrigue and a touch of love story, it was a very enjoyable read that I simply didn't want to put down.

If you enjoy suspense stories, you should definitely check out this book and the others by Carol J. Post.
About the Book:
Someone wants her family secrets buried

He’s her only chance to survive

Andrea Wheaton thought her parents’ tragic deaths were accidental—until she’s attacked during a burglary at their home. Now she’s also being targeted. Her ex-sweetheart Sheriff Deputy Bryce Caldwell insists on protecting her, though she refuses to trust him again. But with a killer closing in, can she and Bryce uncover her family’s secrets before it’s too late for them both?



About the Author:
From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads like someone who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She started as a child writing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles which actually made it into some religious and children's publications. Several years ago (more than she's willing to admit), she penned her first novel. In 2010, she decided to get serious about writing fiction for publication and joined Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband of thirty-two years, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano and holds the position of church treasurer. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping, almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of three fat and sassy cats and one highly spoiled dog.

You can learn more about the author on her blog.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Her Fear by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
As summer winds down, I have found myself back into the full swing of school and fall sports. On days where practice is short, I tend to stick around and read rather than driving back home. Which allowed me to read the newest from Shelley Shepard Gray, Her Fear this past week. Her Fear is the 5th in the Amish of Hart County series. Even though it is the fifth book in the series, you could easily jump in to the series with Her Fear. Some of the characters from the other stories are included, but are only minor characters.

Sadie is the main character and her back story is sad. When she becomes pregnant and her boyfriend denies that he is the dad, rather than supporting her, her parents send her to live with her odd extended family that she hasn't met. As we learn more about her home life, it is clear that even with all the strangeness with her relatives, she is better off on her own than with her parents.

The characters that Gray develops are like most of us, they are Amish, but fully relatable. The thread of suspense in this novel is not as suspenseful as in some of the other stories, but with the tense living situation, the unplanned pregnancy and scares she has there is plenty of uncertainty on how things will turn out. Her Fear is a story of hope. Sadie finds her self in a tough situation, but through her strength she finds hope and learns about the life she can have. The thread of an emerging love makes a nice balance to the suspense and gives the reader hope for Sadie's finding happiness.

I look forward to reading more books by Shelley Shepard Gray in the future. I recommend Her Fear to readers looking for a good story.


About the Book:
In New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s latest novel of suspense in her Amish of Hart County series, an EMT falls for a woman with ties to an Amish community where people are dying similar, suspicious deaths.

Sadie Detweiler never imagined she’d move to Kentucky, yet here she is: a pregnant, unmarried Amish girl banished by unforgiving parents to live with kin she barely knows. The men are gruff and her cousins are secretive. Worst of all, elderly matriarch Verba becomes mysteriously ill shortly after Sadie moves in. When EMT Noah Freeman arrives, Sadie immediately notices he’s unlike any other Amish man she’s met. Noah is warm, confident, and has an easy way with practically everyone in the community, both Amish and English. Though Sadie is drawn to him, she has little hope he will reciprocate her feelings once he learns she’s with child.

Noah can’t understand how a girl as sweet and lovely as Sadie ended up sleeping on a cot in Verba Stauffer’s kitchen. He also senses Sadie is terrified of something. Concerned, he checks up on her. Eventually they strike up a friendship and soon their attraction is undeniable. When Verba later dies at the hospital and her death is followed by two others, Noah’s boss wants him to dig around the Amish community for clues. He agrees—for Sadie’s sake—because only the truth will keep her safe and by his side.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.