Carla Loves To Read

A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard

A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3)5 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Zebra (Kensington)

A Simple Christmas by Charlotte Hubbard is the third book in the Simple Gifts series. This is the first one I read and had no trouble loving this story without reading the first two. Nora Hooley’s shop, Simple Gifts, is full of beautiful handcrafted Amish items including wreaths made by Rosalyn Riehl. Rosalyn works in the shop part-time, happy to escape from her miserable father. Rosalyn is the last unmarried daughter of clockmaker, Cornelius Riehl. There is suddenly a problem with money in the house, past due notices, bills not being paid and no money for groceries. Cornelius has been having problems since the death of his wife and he expects Rosalyn to take care of him. When Marcus Hooley, a horse trainer, shows up at the shop when he arrives in town, Rosalyn has feelings for this rude and handsome young man. He has been hired to work for Wyatt McKenzie. He was recommend by his cousins, but Marcus’ wild ways have gotten him fired from his last three jobs. He is hoping he will get a chance to show what he can do, but does not want to get too involved in the Plain life. Wyatt hires Marcus with certain conditions. This is Marcus’ last chance and he knows it. As he makes himself comfortable in Willow Ridge, Marcus becomes attracted to Rosalyn. There are secrets being kept about something her father has done and is supposed to confess, but his confession does not happen. He becomes more abusive to Rosalyn and is not happy when he realizes there is an attraction between Marcus and his daughter. Marcus has questions about what Cornelius is doing, and he wants to find out so he can share it with Rosalyn.

A Simple Christmas is a lovely, heartwarming Christmas and Amish story. It is an engaging novel that captured my attention from the start. It was well paced and I read it in one day. There are several twists involving Cornelius and I was eager to find out what secrets he has been keeping. I did not like Cornelius and I could not even pity him once his secrets finally came out. Rosalyn is a caring woman with a good heart, who finds it difficult to not be the dutiful daughter she has been taught to be all her life. Marcus was a wonderful character and it was great to see his growth as the story evolved. I enjoyed the setting of Willow Creek. The Amish businesses, the tourists, family and friends all make it seem like a great place to live, Amish and Englisch. One of the main Christian themes of putting our worries in God’s hands and trusting Him to handle it, is central to the story. I enjoyed A Simple Christmas and will definitely go back and read the first two in this series. The publisher, Kensington Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “A Simple Christmas (Simple Gifts #3) by Charlotte Hubbard”


Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay

Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover's Mystery, #1)4 Stars

Published July 5th 2011 by Berkley Books

This is a series that I have wanted to read for awhile. After all the comments about how good this series is, and having read and enjoyed many other books by Jenn McKinlay, I decided I needed to give it a try. I did enjoy this story, but not as much as I had anticipated.

Lindsey Norris has been hires as the director of the Briar Creek Library in Briar Creek CT. Her best friend Beth works with her as the children’s librarian. There are several other employees, but I must mentions Ms. Cole, who is called “The Lemon” behind her back. Lindsey is settling in well, making some long overdue changes to the library and getting the Library Board’s vote of confidence. All seems well, until Beth and her boyfriend of five years, Rick break up. When Beth finds out that the children’s book she has been writing has been plagarized, she is ready to go and give Rick a piece of her mind. When Lindsey, Beth and Captain Sulley show up on the private island, they find Rick in no condition to listen to anything Beth has to say. With the breakup and plagarism, Beth becomes the main suspect, in fact, the only suspect as far as the sheriff is concerned.

This was a great cast of characters, including several townspeople, the library workers and the ladies who participate in “Crafternoon” that made the story interesting. The small town feel with the gossip mill that I love in cozies, was in full swing. Milton, the 80 something year old yoga expert was such a nice guy! He was the chair of the library board and when things got a bit sticky, I loved how he stood up for his staff. There is a rather nosy reporter who I would have liked to kick out of town, but again, it made the book interesting. There were not a lot of clues, so it is the questioning and nosiness that eventually reveal the culprit. I had a suspicion of who the killer was, and I was correct, but there was quite a twist at the end of the story that I was not expecting. A good cozy story that is a good introduction to this series and to Briar Creek. I am definitely going to read more in this series.

Continue reading “Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay”

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7) by Carol J. Perry

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7)4 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry is the seventh book in A Witch City Mystery series and was as good as the rest in this series. There is no sign that this series is running its course. Chang is good in life as well as in books, so in this outing, Lee Barrett is starting her new job as field reporter for WICH-TV. Lee is assigned to interview Albert Eldridge, the organizer of the Holiday Walk and financial supporter of a number of charities in Salem, Mass. When she arrives for her interview, she ends up with a different story, as she finds Mr. Eldridge dead in his office from blunt force trauma. Detective Pete Mondello, Lee’s boyfriend, is assigned the case. Lee begins an investigation of her own, gathering clues and questioning those close to Albert. She is busy with her snooping, assignments for work and getting her home ready for Christmas. Luckily for Lee, with the aid of her visions, and O’Ryan her cat, she hopes to wrap up the case before sleigh bells ring out on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Salem was brought alive in this book. Cold weather, shopping, baking, tree decorating, a Christmas play, many Santa’s ringing bells for donations, and the generosity of people around Christmas all add to the setting and ambiance of the story. The mystery was interesting with several suspects, a red herring or two and pointed clues. Even though Pete continually asks Lee to stay out of the investigation, she does not stop, even if it means she puts herself in danger. The characters are the strength of the series. Lee is smart and independent. She lives on the third floor of her Aunt Ibby’s house in her own apartment. She has O’Ryan, a cat, who is a real character in the stories, who just happens to have been a witch’s familiar before she died. Aunt Ibby, who is sixty something, is a vibrant caring character. She is a retires librarian and does research for Lee. She is also a wonderful cook and they share many tasty meals together. I like that the authors portrays her as a vibrant personalty and there is also a bit of a love triangle for her in this book. There are several characters in this book that have not been in the others, but they all help to flesh out this book. There is a little paranormal in the book as Lee can see images in reflective images (she is a scryer). She doesn’t really embrace this and seems to be apprehensive at what she will see. This is one of the ways she gathers information, but it is not overdone. I was not able to figure out the culprit until just before the clues gave it away, which I always enjoy. I will continue to look for more books in this series, as I continue to enjoy them. The publisher, Kensington Publishing, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7) by Carol J. Perry”

Sheets by Brenna Thummler

I actually requested this book back in August when I read a review on Perfectly Tolerable. Check out Brittany’s blog if you are not familiar with it.



by Brenna Thummler

Published August 28th 2018 by Lion Forge

3.5 Stars

SHEETS is a sad, but powerful middle grades graphic novel about loss, perseverance, forgiveness and unlikely friendships.

Marjorie, a thirteen year old girl, who feels invisible to the world. When her mother died, her father shut himself down emotionally. Marjorie is not running the family laundry and taking care of her little brother. She loves books and the piano. She is awkward and has not friends. A tough life trying to get through middle school. Throw in a ruthless business man harassing her, and I do not understand how she makes it through the day. And then there is Wendell. He is the ghost of a little boy, who has the habit of exaggerating. He is a cute little ghost who wears a sheet. When Wendell gets kicked out of his house and needs a place to stay, he ends up in the human world, living in the laundry. There are all kinds of problems with this, but when push comes to shove, Wendell and Marjorie team up to save the laundry.

This book is a graphic novel that deals with some deep issues: death of family and friends and the depression of the child forced into taking care of her family, as well as the bullying. Having said that, it is also about second chances and finding friends in the most unlikely places. The illustrations are wonderful. They are colourful, yet muted in pastel shades that add to the despair that Marjorie is feeling. The faces show so much expression, it is easy to see how the characters are feeling. This is a clever story that I believe middle school students would enjoy and perhaps some may identify with these outcast characters. With Halloween around the corner, this is a different type of ghost story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “Sheets by Brenna Thummler”

Stacking the Shelves, October 14, 2018

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga Reviews and  Marlene of Reading Reality. It’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course Ebooks!

If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!

I think I had the best week ever in my quest to stop adding books to my TBR and requesting ARCs since I made that a goal. I only received 4 books from Netgalley this past week, although I have about 10 pending between Netgalley and Edelweiss. Here are the four.


Once again, my plan is to not request any books, but I will accept invitations and widgets. I still have 8 pending requests on Netgalley and 6 on Edelweiss.

What do you think of my selections this week? Any appeal to you? I hope some of them entice you to take a look at them. 

Image result for happy sunday reading

The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, & Richelle Brunstetter

The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith4 Stars

Published September 1st 2017 by Shiloh Run Press

What a beautiful collection of Amish Christmas Stories. This Christmas book is made up of three stories written by popular Amish author Wanda Brunstetter, her Daughter-in law Jean Brunstetter and first time published author, her granddaughter Richelle Brunstetter. The thing I loved about this book was that the stories are about three generations of women in one family written by three generations of women in one family. Each of the women that these stories are written about, suffers emotional times and heartache that really tugs at the heartstrings. The stories also focus on one beloved, cherished, Christmas quilt with a thought provoking scripture verse embroidered on it, that is passed down to the next generation on or around Christmas.

Finding the person who is right for you to marry is hard enough, but moving away from family or dealing with a child born with a disability can add stress to any relationship. When your parents do not agree with your choice of a spouse in an Amish family usually means the marriage is not going to happen and could result in a lot of unhappiness. The final story deals with being left at the alter and healing enough to love again. A wonderful set of novellas, that I very much enjoyed. The publisher, Shiloh Run Press, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.

Continue reading “The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, & Richelle Brunstetter”

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1)4 Stars

Expected publication: October 15th 2018 by Creativia

This is the third book I have read by James Cudney, and this is quite a different book from the other two. There are some similarities, such as a dysfunctional family, but this is a cozy mystery, with some humour. Kellan Ayrwick is a single father following the death of his wife in an accident. He has returned home for his father’s retirement celebration as well as to meet and talk to a woman who has a story for the reality television show he works for. The woman, who promised to give some dirt to Kellan’s boss on trouble behind-the-scenes at Braxton College, ends up being killed, Kellan steps in and begins to investigate. With the help of an old friend and head of security, Collin, the begrudging tidbits of information from the sheriff, the case heats up before the murderer is found.

Many of the characters in this book were extremely unlikable. Kellan’s parents were too busy to spend time with family members and had actually driven several siblings away. Even though Kellan’s sister Eleanor lived in town, there was no relationship between her and her parents. In fact, Eleanor and Kellan really didn’t have much of a relationship either, they met up when one of them wanted something from the other one. Then there is Nana D. She is the humour in the story. She is a smart, sassy, busybody who loves Kellan and in her own way helps him figure things out. Add in the college employees, many of them rather bitter and nasty, some students who were involved in the mystery and you have an intersting mix. This was a good mystery dealing with sports, college politics, families, flawed characters with a huge surprise at the end. There were enough of red herrings to keep me changing my mind about the culprit and their identity was a total surprise as well as the motive. It made sense when it was all laid out though. My one complaint is that this is a longer book than most of the cozies I have read, but there was enough to keep me reading. Kellan is a great MC, with a lot of baggage yet to be unpacked. I am very interested to see where this series will go next, especially with the surprise at the end. The author generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.

Continue reading “Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney”

The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3) by Vicki Delany

The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3)4.5 Stars

Published February 13th 2018 by Crooked Lane Books

This is the third book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series, and I was happy to see that this book was as enjoyable as the first one. The book can be read as a standalone, but it is always good to read a series in order to get all the back story.

The West London Theater Festival is gearing up and and Sir Nigel Bellingham will be reprising his role to star in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Jayne is catering a fundraising tea at the beautiful estate of one of the Festival Founders. Gemma Doyle is helping her friend Jayne cater the party. When Jayne finds Sir Nigel dead at the bottom of the cliff, Jayne’s mother, Leslie looks like the perfect suspect, after all, she was the last one to see him alive. Gemma decides she has to do some private investigation in order to come to the truth. Some think that Sir Nigel committed suicide after his horrible mishap of making a fool of himself during the tea when he was asked to recite some of Hounds. Gemma gets Leslie to open up about her previous relationship with Sir Nigel and tries to convince her to tell her family and the police. Her friend Grant, who owns a rare book shop is around to help her at times and there seems to be a bit of a romantic interest developing between them. Meanwhile Police Detective Ryan and his partner Louise are on the case, with heads butting as usual. As the story goes forward, there is an inkling, that perhaps Ryan is still interested in Gemma.

I really enjoy the characters in this story, especially Gemma and Jayne. They have a great relationship, almost like sisters instead of friends. It is interesting to see how Gemma sees things and using this unusual gift just like Sherlock Holmes. Alicia, the young lady who works in the Emporium for Gemma is hilarious. I love hearing about what she wears to work each day and how it reflects her feelings about all the antics in the book. The story was well written with the plot flowing well and keeping me guessing. It took me awhile to figure things out though I did figure it out just a little bit before Gemma! There was just so many good suspects to ferret out. This was a true Sherlock Holmes ending with Gemma coming up with that aha moment. I am not crazy about triangles, so I hope now that Gemma realizes that Ryan is still interested in her, she will not get together with Grant. The idea of the bookstore and adjoining tea room is a great concept that is a great setting for these stories. I am looking forward to the next on in this series. Continue reading “The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3) by Vicki Delany”

The Amish Christmas Letters by Patricia Davids, Sarah Price, Jennifer Beckstrand

The Amish Christmas Letters4.5 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Kensington

I really enjoyed this Christmas trio of letters. In the Amish Communities, phones are used sparingly and thus letter writing is very important. I love the idea of circle letters, where each writer adds their own letter to the ones in the envelope and sends them in. These letters are from three cousins who all share the news of a new romance. All three of these stories involve a widower and children. One is only looking for a nanny, not romance; the second has had to sell his farm and rent from a young woman and her father who has suffered a stroke, and have moved into the Daddy house at the back of the property; and the last is a young woman who is conned into traveling to a neighbouring community to babysit 7 children while their parents run a growing cookie business, all the while being set up with their uncle.

I enjoyed these novellas a lot. The characters were developed as much as possible in a short story and they were all very likable, even the rather rude uncle in the last story. It was wonderful seeing the feelings develop even while some of the characters or their family were trying to deny they were there. The children were all adorable, even though some were a bit incorrigible. Overall a wonderful read around Christmas time. All three authors did a wonderful job of merging these letters together to form a great book. The publisher, Kensington Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.

Continue reading “The Amish Christmas Letters by Patricia Davids, Sarah Price, Jennifer Beckstrand”

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