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

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 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, 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.