All Made Up by Kara Isaac

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I loved this book!  When I love something as much as I loved this book, my thoughts and reactions are just excited fangirling fragments rolling around in my head.

Here’s some of them, in no particular order:

* So much depth!
* Never a dull moment!
* Paige!  Allie!  Janine!! +
* Engaging!
* She did not just do that!
* Hilarious!
* “Will you accept this horseshoe?”
* I wish I could hear their accents…
* So witty!
* “I think pumpkin spice lattes are a bad idea.”
* These plot twists are amazing!
* Heartbreaking.
* Raw.
* Wow.

Kara Isaac is one of the best in the contemporary Christian fiction genre.  She writes with so much heart.  She comes up with the best declaration of love scenes!  I have read every one of her books and rated them all the same – Five Stars!  Kara Isaac is definitely a favorite and her books are not to be missed!

Do I recommend All Made Up?  You bet I do!

All Made Up is available now!

 

+ Paige, Allie and Janine are characters from the author’s other books.  Have you read them?  If not…read them!  They’re fantastic!  You can learn more about Kara Isaac and her books here:  Kara Isaac

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A Caffeine Conundrum: The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong

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This was a fun read!  A Caffeine Conundrum is the first book in The CafFUNated Mysteries by Angela Ruth Strong.  In it, two very different young women form an unlikely friendship as they try to solve a murder mystery.

This book was filled with snarky banter, quirky characters, slapstick comedic timing and Christmas cheer!  I am a huge fan of stories set in small towns filled with busybodies, and this absolutely fit the bill!

A Caffeine Conundrum was a clean read and positively the definition of a cozy mystery! I’m looking forward to more of this series!

I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.  A review was not requested.  Opinions expressed are my own.

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler

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The Sound of Distant Thunder is the first book in the new series by Jan Drexler called The Amish of Weaver’s Creek.

This story takes place at a pivotal time in history, the Civil War.  The United States is divided and Jonas Weaver is divided as well.  While he is in love with Katie Stuckey and has plans to marry her, he desires to be part of a bigger cause. Both Katie and Jonas are daydreamers.  But while Katie dreams of a structured Amish life filled with the love of a husband and children, Jonas’ dreams are becoming a little more worldly.

The Amish way is to be non resistant, but when Jonas’ brother is drafted, Jonas volunteers to his place.  Katie’s world is turned upside down by his actions and wonders if their love can survive both the distance and the war.

Jonas and Katie’s time apart is told over a series of letters.  We also see what life was like during the separation from rotating points of view. Jonas may be off fighting a war, but there’s also a battle hitting much closer to home than Katie would like.  Putting their trust in God is the only way to see them through.

This story shares the consequences of war from both sides of the battle lines and what it’s like to wait for word on your loved ones during a time when communication happened a lot slower than it does today.  Historical fiction fans will enjoy this just as well as Amish fiction fans.  Jan Drexler’s ancestors were some of the first Anabaptist settlers in Pennsylvania.  Their stories, combined with her love of Civil War history, helped inspire this novel.

I was provided a copy of the book from Revell.  A positive review was not required. Opinions expressed are my own.

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter

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Why has it taken me this long to read a book by Denise Hunter?! This book was adorable!

I went into this story knowing it was the last book in the series.  I felt this absolutely stood well on its own.  I enjoyed learning about the fate of the couples from earlier stories and I do plan on reading the series in its entirety.

On Magnolia Lane is the story of Pastor Jack McReady and local florist Daisy Pendleton. (A florist named Daisy! Love it!)  Daisy is a member of Jack’s congregation and he’s fallen in love with her over their counseling sessions.  Daisy is completely in the dark about Jack’s feelings and only sees him as her pastor, confidant and friend.

Fed up with a series of bad dates, Daisy has decided to join a new dating app as a last ditch effort to find someone to share her life with.  She’s excited about the relationship that seems to be forming with a man named TJ.  What she doesn’t know is TJ is really Jack, who is much more eloquent expressing himself online than he is in person.

This story unfolded very naturally.  Denise Hunter writes in a smooth and easy going style that keeps the pages turning.  As I read, I was filled with anticipation on when (and how!) the truth about TJ would be revealed and what the possible fall out would be.
In addition to the love story, there were two other storylines going on at the same time that blended with the entire book perfectly!

On Magnolia Lane is a sweet story filled with family, faith, friendship and forgiveness.  There’s a strong theme of serving and giving of oneself over the course of the story as well.  I really enjoyed how it all tied together.

I recommend this book to fans of clean romance novels with a Christian world view.  I’m so glad to have read this heartwarming tale!  I look forward to more books from Denise Hunter!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

On Magnolia Lane is available November 6, 2018.

When We Were Young by Karen Kingsbury

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Karen Kingsbury knows how to write a dramatic book. She expertly draws you into the lives of her characters and makes it very easy to become invested in their story.

This novel shows how destructive and addictive social media can be. I enjoyed how the book was told in a mix of flashbacks, present day and Noah’s “future”. Noah and Emily’s story is a reminder not to take things – or people you love – for granted. The story is very relevant to today’s world.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

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Psychologist Grace Callahan has a secret.  A Secret to Die For.  Only, she doesn’t know it. When her client is found murdered and her own life is threatened, she is determined to honor her client’s memory by helping the police find his killer.

It’s Detective Nate Quinn’s first day back to work and he’s not entirely sure he should have been cleared from his medical leave.  Nate is suffering from PTSD after a bombing killed several of his coworkers, including his partner.  But then he learns that Grace, his old friend from college, is involved in the case he’s been assigned.  Now he’s determined to protect his friend, stop the bad guys and prove to any doubters (including himself) that he’s ready to be back in the line of duty.

This was an entertaining read!  The plot and crime were really well planned.  The action began immediately and continued throughout the entire book.  There were tender moments of pause in between the action when Grace and Nate became reacquainted, bonding on their shared experiences with trauma and loss.  It was in these moments that faith was shared and reminders of God’s love were strongly present.

I liked this book!  I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of good, clean suspense stories.  I did not have the lead criminal correct, so this book did throw me a curve ball for sure!

This was the first time I read a book by Lisa Harris and I do plan to read more.  This book included a preview chapter for her next release in the fall of 2019.  If the first chapter is any indication as to what the rest of that book will be like, we’re in for another wild ride!

I received a copy of this book from Revell through the Revell Reads Blog Tour Program. A positive review was not required and all opinions are my own.

A Secret to Die For is available now!

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations by Kristi Ann Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, Sarah Loudin Thomas and Becky Wade

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The Christmas Heirloom is a beautiful collection of heartwarming stories filled with the spirit of Christmas!

I love the idea behind this novella collection!  Four authors who each write in very different styles and equally different time periods joined together to write one story that spans generations.  The execution was flawless and each author took special care in making sure her story blended well into the next.

Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter – This novella had it all!  Humor.  Tenderness. Surprises along the way.  Well written characters.  It was a really great way to kick off this entire journey!  Sarah, Randall and the Dowager’s bond was so sweet.  This was the first time I’ve ever read anything by Kristi Ann Hunter and I am definitely looking forward to more!

Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer – I never met a Karen Witemeyer story I didn’t like!  This adorable story was just perfect!  Perfect pace.  Perfect plot.  Characters that are easy to love.  Ruth was determined to provide for her daughter.  Her strength was admirable and Ruth’s young daughter, Naomi, was especially charming.  Let’s not forget about Mr. Beauregard Azlin…what a gentlemanly hero!  This story made me both laugh and cry.  Just perfect!!

A Shot at Love by Sarah Loudin Thomas – This was the busiest of the four stories.  There was a lot going on and it all fell into place wonderfully!!  What a great plot!  I adored Fleeta and Hank.  Fleeta’s family was so special.  I loved how they rallied around her.  I’d never read anything by Sarah Loudin Thomas before and I absolutely plan to read her other books!  (Side note: How cool is the name Fleeta?!?!?)

Because of You by Becky Wade – I love Becky Wade’s natural, easygoing style.  This novella definitely had a lot of depth for such a short story.  I enjoyed Maddie and Leo’s sweet story!  They were a joy to root for!  There was an especially wonderful cameo appearance in this novella, making it very unique from the others, that I simply cannot share because of spoilers!  (Eeek!  Loved it!)  This story is contemporary Christian fiction at its finest!

This collection is perfect for someone looking to step out of their usual genre and try something new.  I highly recommend this book!  The Christmas Heirloom is available on October 2, 2018.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers through NetGalley.  A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.

Upcoming Reviews Fall 2018 Edition (October & November)

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday!

Here are the some of the books I have scheduled to review in the next few months.  They are in order of release date, not review date.

A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris – September 18, 2018 – Currently Reading!
The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler – September 18, 2018
The Christmas Heirloom by Kristi Ann Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, Sarah Loudin Thomas and Becky Wade – October 2, 2018  (Spoiler Alert:  I loved it!  Five stars!)
At Home in Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne – October 2, 2018
Chasing Christmas by Terri Blackstock – October 9, 2018
An Amish Homecoming by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Shelley Shepard Gray and Kathleen Fuller – October 16, 2018
When We Were Young by Karen Kingsbury – October 16, 2018
Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh – October 30, 2018
On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter – November 6, 2018
A Seat by the Hearth by Amy Clipston – November 13, 2018

Other books may pop up as well, so please be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss any surprise reviews!

Please leave a comment below – what book are you most looking forward to reading in the next few weeks?

Have a great day!
~ Jen 🙂

A Christmas by the Sea – A Novella by Melody Carlson

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A Christmas by the Sea is this year’s Christmas novella from Melody Carlson.  It’s the story of Wendy and her son, Jackson as they remodel an inherited cottage in touristy Seaside, Maine.  Their stay is supposed to be temporary.  The plan is to refurbish her grandparents’ cottage, sell it and head back to Ohio…and fast.  Only, Wendy hasn’t shared this information with Jackson, who is over the moon excited about this move.  Will she break his heart…or will her own heart be refreshed by this quaint little town?

Wendy and Jackson have a fantastic mother-son bond and you can see they are clearly each other’s best friend as they navigate life after the loss of their husband and father. When they arrive in Seaside, they meet a cast of year-round charming locals who waste no time making them feel welcome.  Local businessman Caleb Colton takes a special interest in both Wendy and Jackson and soon has Wendy rethinking her plans.

This book was very easy to read and had a wonderful setting.  It was easy to visualize the town of Seaside as Thanksgiving made way for Christmas.  The whole story had a very “everyday life” sort of vibe and was very relatable.  Jackson was an exceptionally wonderful character and he completely stole the show!

A Christmas by the Sea was very cute, entertaining and well written.  The story’s message was a gentle reminder that God has the best plans for us if we place our trust in Him.  It was enjoyable to read and I do recommend picking this book up to get you in the holiday spirit!

I was provided a copy of this book by Revell Reads for review purposes. A positive review was not required. Opinions expressed are my own.

 

The First Love by Beverly Lewis

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The First Love is the latest heartwarming novel from Beverly Lewis!  This book is told by a master storyteller through her warm and gentle voice.  I truly felt like I was in Lancaster County alongside the sweet characters of this story.

Seventeen year old Maggie Esh suffers terribly from severe rheumatoid arthritis.  She has her eye on Jimmy Beiler and it seems he’s interested in her, too.  However, Maggie is convinced no healthy young man would ever want a sickly girlfriend, and begins avoiding Youngie fellowship and singings.  She doesn’t want to get her hopes up for love, only to be let down because of her chronic condition.

When the Mennonite tent revival visits Lancaster County, Maggie learns new things about the God she already loved so much and how important it is to trust in the miracles of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Maggie prays, studies her Bible like never before and holds on tight to God.  Maggie stays faithful as she hopes God’s plan for her is the one she’s praying for.  She also encourages others with her faith.  Her sweet spirit is an excellent example for us all.

I also really enjoyed the point of view from Rachel, Maggie’s new – and very young – stepmother.  Rachel’s hesitant voice showed how much she respected her new, instant family.  I was happy with how her role in the story played out!

I enjoyed this book very much!  I enjoyed Its warmth and its heart.  I loved seeing people genuinely care for each other.  I loved most its wholesome, prayerful and lovely story.  I highly recommend this book!

The First Love by Beverly Lewis is available now!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers though NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.