Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Murder Wears Mittens

Murder Wears Mittens
By Sally Goldenbaum
Seaside Knitters Society
Kensington, 2017


As autumn washes over coastal Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters anticipate a relaxing off-season. But when murder shatters the peace, the craftiest bunch in town must unravel a killer’s deadly scheme . . .

After retrieving fresh lobster nets from a local Laundromat, Cass Halloran rushes to attend a last-minute gathering with her knitting circle. But Cass can’t stop worrying about the lonely boy seen hanging around the dryers, and the school uniform he left behind in a hurry. When the ladies return the lost clothing the next day, they find the child and his younger sister alone, seemingly abandoned by their mother . . .

The knitters intend to facilitate a family reunion, not investigate a crime. But the death of Dolores Cardozo, a recluse from the edge of town, throws the group for a loop. Especially when the missing mother and one of their own become tied to the victim’s hidden fortune—and her murder . . .

Before scandalous secrets break bonds and rumors tear Sea Harbor apart, the Seaside Knitters need to string together the truth about Dolores—while preventing a greedy murderer from making another move!

* Includes a knitting pattern *

My thoughts

Heartwarming … poignant … entertaining … a story to savor. Atmospheric and evocative, this is a story of family, friendship and community, caring people who work together to solve a murder. Murder Wears Mittens is all that I could ask for in a cozy mystery, and more.

Although Murder Wears Mittens is the first mystery in the Seaside Knitters Society series, it actually continues a long-running series put out by another publisher; you can see how the novels lay out here. There’s wonderful character development throughout these stories, but background is provided so that each book can stand alone.

I discovered Sally Goldenbaum’s writing several years ago in a kind of unique way. Fueled by an addiction to stories set in New England, I was thrilled to discover the website Stop You're Killing Me, where you can search for mystery books by several different categories, geographical location being one of them. I highly recommend this website to mystery lovers, by the way. Anyway, I found the Seaside Knitters series, tried the first one, and was hooked. Sea Harbor is fictional, but patterned after Gloucester, MA. I’m delighted that Ms. Goldenbaum has a new publisher in Kensington and is continuing the series.

When it comes to cozy mysteries, Murder Wears Mittens is a cut above. While it perfectly fits the cozy genre, there’s also elements of women’s fiction. At its heart is the friendship between four women of various ages – Cass, Izzy, Nell and Birdie – united by a love for knitting and a desire to help the community. Their current goal is the HMS project, “a community effort that would result in enough hats, mittens, scarves and socks to warm anyone in need for the long winter ahead.”

Izzy’s brother, Charlie, is one of my favorite characters – a man filled with gratitude for those who had helped him during a time when personal mistakes almost ruined his life. “He’d fixed up the well-traveled Bimmer and traveled from one side of the country to the other. Putting a period to some sentences, a thank-you to others.” Now he’s returned home and I look forward to more from this character.

I’m more comfortable when the murder victim is someone I can dislike, but that’s not the case here – and it makes for rich storytelling. Dolores Cardozo is a woman the Seaside Knitters were coming to know better in death than life – and I would have loved this lady. The mystery plot is well crafted, with hints that will be obvious once the murderer’s identity is revealed.

Murder Wears Mittens doesn’t move at a fast pace; rather, it’s a sweet, character-driven story to be read leisurely and savored. I adore this whole series and hope we get to spend a lot more time with the Seaside Knitters. “Best of the best” for me. Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Sally Goldenbaum was born on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Manitowoc, WI, to a homemaker mother and a ship-building father. Although she now lives in landlocked Prairie Village, KS, her longing for lakes and the sea is satisfied in part by writing the USA Today bestselling Seaside Knitters Mystery series , set on Cape Ann, MA.

She is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Her fictional knitting friends are teaching her the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl.

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To enter the drawing for a print copy of Murder Wears Mittens, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Anticipated Releases by Amy Clipston: Fall 2017/Spring 2018

I enjoy Amy Clipston’s stories of family and faith, and am excited about several new Amish fiction releases coming over the next few months, even into spring of 2018. These titles include novella collections and the first two books in a brand new series. 

And if you enjoy Amish fiction, but haven’t read Amy’s stories before, here’s a great place to start …

The Christmas Cat (Novella)
From An Amish Christmas Love
Releases September 12, 2017

Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. 

Although the Amish don t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry s favorite wingchair. 

But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.

A Place at Our Table
An Amish Homestead Novel #1
Releases November 14, 2017

Kayla Dienner has suffered her fair share of heartache, which is why she vows to protect her heart at all costs . . . until she meets Jamie Riehl.

Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.

Amish Sweethearts (4 novellas)
Includes A Home for Lindsay
and Where the Heart Is
Releases January 9, 2018

A Home for Lindsay - From Amy Clipston’s beloved Kauffman Amish Bakery series comes Lindsay Bedford’s story. Lindsay is happily looking forward to the day she becomes Matthew Glick’s wife and is excited for the plans he has for the house he will build her. So, when Matthew suddenly calls off the wedding, she is blindsided. She knows there is more to the story than what he is telling her, but will he open up and let her in on his own heartbreak?

Where the Heart Is - Tobias Smucker is back home, and it’s no secret he and his father are still not on the best of terms. But what is surprising is that his little sister’s best friend, Mariella, has been harboring her own secret feelings for Tobias. With her help, he begins to unravel a family mystery and learns that everyone has their own hidden depths, including his father.

A Legacy of Love (novella)
From An Amish Heirloom
Releases April 10, 2018

Local volunteer fire fighter Leon King agrees to repair his ex-girlfriend Susie Bontrager’s grandparents’ antique rocking chairs for her future home with her fiance and is forced to acknowledge that his feelings for her have not quite gone away. 

As Susie spends time with Leon, she begins to recognize she is marrying the wrong man for all the wrong reasons.

Room on the Porch Swing
An Amish Homestead Novel #2
Releases May 8, 2018

Ever since her best friend died six months ago, Laura Reihl has vowed to make each day count. And that means she should probably break off her relationship with Rudy. They’ve been together for so many years, and his friendship means the world to her. But she knows friendship doesn’t come close to the fireworks of true love, and she’s not really feeling the fireworks.

So when Savilla’s widower, Allen, asks her to help him take care of the baby Savilla left behind, Laura jumps at the chance. Maybe the change of scenery will help her gain perspective on her relationship with Rudy. And she’d do anything to help Allen out—he’s always been a good friend to her, and he’s Rudy’s best friend as well.

When she arrives at Allen’s house, though, she finds a man she barely recognizes. Allen is distraught over his wife’s death, blaming himself for not taking her to the doctor soon enough.

As Laura helps Allen work through his grief, she remembers just how easy he is to talk to. And she discovers an attraction she’s never felt with Rudy. She can’t be falling for Allen, can she? It would be a betrayal to the two people she’s care most about, Savilla and Rudy. But if she denies her feelings, is she betraying herself?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: The Blessing

The Blessing
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Amish Cooking Class #2
Barbour/Shiloh Run, 2017


Six new cooking class students.  New friendships form, a romance blossoms, and hearts receive healing nourishment. Will Heidi’s own hurting heart also be healed?

Despite stressful changes occurring in their lives, Lyle and Heidi once again open their Ohio home up to those seeking to learn about Amish cooking. This time a teenager helping her divorced dad cook for the family, a caterer needing new recipes, a food critic, a hunter looking to impress his buddies, a wife given the class as an unwanted gift, and a mailman lured in by the aroma of good cooking gather around Heidi’s table.

During each class, Heidi teaches culinary skills, but it is her words of wisdom that have a profound effect on her students—though, this time Heidi’s own hurting heart will need some healing nourishment.

My thoughts

In the Amish fiction genre, Wanda E. Brunstetter is a solid, dependable writer; I know what to expect and am never disappointed. Her characters are relatable and have depth, it’s easy to get caught up in the storyline, and spiritual themes are gently woven throughout, in a way that comforts and even makes me think.

The Blessing, continuing the Amish Cooking Class series that began with The Seekers, is about family and relationships. While there’s some overlapping of characters and themes, sufficient background is given so that this book can stand alone. But if you’re like me, you’ll want to go back and read the previous one if you haven’t already.

I loved the cooking class theme because ordinary people from various walks of life are pulled into the story. They all have some type of problem or insecurity, because that’s life – and the story reflects how life in Christ is to be lived. I was entertained and impressed by how the lives of all these characters interconnected. But best of all was the way Heidi, while dealing with her own personal struggles, shared her faith in a creative way – by writing a Scripture verse on the back of each lesson’s recipe card. Each verse seemed to be exactly what someone needed to hear at the time, and this reminded me of how easy it is to witness in the simplest of ways, then step back and let God work.

The Blessing comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but with the promise of much more to come. Several recipes are included at the end … “Chicken in a Crumb Basket” sounded delicious (also easy) and I will be trying it soon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to The Celebration in February 2018. Recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages.  With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Review + GIVEAWAY: A Name Unknown

A Name Unknown
By Roseanna M. White
Shadows Over England #1
Bethany House, 2017


She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?

Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.

Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

My thoughts

I have enjoyed several of Roseanna M. White’s excellent novels, but there is that intangible “something” that sets A Name Unknown apart for me. Sometimes a story simply resonates in a special way … maybe it has something to do with how the setting (Cornwall), characters (fascinating and complex), storyline, and spiritual theme all blend together. Whatever the reason, I loved A Name Unknown and am excited about the whole Shadows Over England series. I believe these stories wonderfully reflect the author’s God-given creativity.

Cornwall Coast
For someone who loves British settings as much as I do, it doesn’t get much better than the rugged, majestic coast of Cornwall, which is vividly conveyed. And then there’s the hero and heroine, Peter and Rosemary – so real, sympathetic and endearing. Honestly, could there be two more opposite characters? Peter is kind, good, with a great sense of humor, and he stutters! Rosemary is a Cockney girl who became a thief in order to survive, and acquired a unique “family” in the process (I’m already in love with Willa and look forward to her story). Peter, with German family connections, faces doubts as to where his loyalty lies – and Rosemary is out to steal that name. Peter is a believer, and applies those beliefs to his daily life. Rosemary believes in a God who doesn’t hear.

Avid readers will love that Peter is a writer, with a totally messed up home library that Rosemary is hired to organize. Just imagine this … “Shelves lined the walls, floor to towering ceiling. Lined with books, all of them. Then with books stacked in front of them. Books stacked on the floor. Books stacked on the chairs, the tables, lining the windowsills. Boxes of them. Random cases of them at odd places.”

Rich in historical detail and accuracy, the pre-World War I years make a fascinating backdrop for this story. Peter and Rosemary are compelling characters with great chemistry between them. Best of all is how Peter shares his faith and the growth we see in Rosemary. I enjoyed A Name Unknown so much and hated to reach the last page.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself.

Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.



A special thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Bethany House for making this giveaway possible.

To enter the drawing, please click on this link and share my Facebook post, then leave a comment here. If you’ve enjoyed any of Roseanna’s books and maybe have a favorite, please share. (It was the first Culper Ring novel, Ring of Secrets, that drew me to Roseanna’s writing.)

BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on August 27, 2017. Winner will be chosen by and contacted by e-mail.

Eligibility: US residents


Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: Wilderness Reunion

Wilderness Reunion
By Elizabeth Goddard
Wilderness, Inc. #4
Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, 2017


After stumbling on a drug operation, Alice Wilde races through the woods as bullets whiz past, using her skills as a wilderness guide to elude her pursuers. But she doesn't stay safe for long once one of the armed men recognizes her…and starts stalking her.

When the sheriff asks her to guide his men and photojournalist Griffin Slater—her ex-boyfriend—to the crime scene, though, she can't refuse. Alice knows Griffin's just there for a story, but after the two of them are separated from the rest of the group, he's the only person who can save her. And with someone willing to do anything to hunt them down, Alice must put aside their past if she wants to survive.

My thoughts

Wilderness Reunion is an edge-of-your-seat page turner, filled with non-stop action – also impossible to put down. With Elizabeth Goddard’s distinctive gift for conveying vivid imagery and bringing characters to life, I was transported into the Oregon wilderness and caught up in Alice and Griffin’s story from the very first paragraph.

Suspense isn’t my genre of choice, but I’ve consistently enjoyed the Wilderness, Inc. series. For one thing, the stories I’ve read are more action packed than filled with scary suspense or terror. Secondly, in a genre that isn’t known for its character depth, Goddard creates well-rounded characters that readers can immediately connect with.

Blossom Bar, Rogue River
Wilderness Reunion takes place in Oregon’s wilderness, and I could “see” its wildness, rugged beauty and majesty as I read. In the river rafting scenes, I could almost hear the water churning and roaring around me. Griffin, a photojournalist who captured the tragedies of the world, felt he was damaged goods because of all the horrors he had witnessed. Wonderful romantic tension is created when Alice, who literally finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, is forced to rely on Griffin in a life-or-death situation – and both struggle with emotional baggage from their past relationship.

Wilderness Reunion stands out to me because it calls attention to a growing and dangerous problem in our country today –marijuana farms located in remote wilderness areas. Goddard writes at the end: “I wanted to raise awareness of the devastation that’s being inflicted on public lands in our beautiful country. Not only are illegal marijuana farms catastrophic to the land, the wildlife and water, but they’re dangerous to people, especially nature enthusiasts.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Wilderness Reunion and look forward to Elizabeth Goddard’s next series.


I was provided a free copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty-five romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES–a 2011 Carol Award winner. She’s a double finalist in the 2016 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for her books BURIED and BACKFIRE in the Mountain Cove series.

A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time. She currently makes her home in Minnesota with her husband and children.

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