If you follow my blog, you might remember me telling you about a bag of books I received from fellow blogger, Susan at Susan Loves Books. Sitting by the pool in Florida is the perfect time to read physical books and over the last month, I finished three of them. I hope to post every few weeks and review any I have read during that time.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Published January 14th 2021 by Viper, January 25th 2022 by Atria Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In The Appeal an English village community comes together to help one of their own. Little Poppy Reswick has brain cancer that has little chance of being cured by normal treatments. The family is told about a drug regimen coming out of the states and their doctor is willing to try it, but it will cost £380,000 per treatment. The local theater company “The Fairway Players” quickly works to set up a Go Fund Me type of campaign and quickly raise £250,000 for the treatment. But suddenly the money is gone, the fund defrauded by a get rich quick scheme. Could someone be so hardened as to steal from a sick child? The answer is yes – and he or she doesn’t shy away from murder in order to cover up the crime. But someone has given himself away in the emails and text messages that go back and forth within the group. A legal team led by QC Tanner and made up of two junior lawyers, Femi and Charlotte need to read between the lines to see who the murderer is as the members show their true colours.

I’m not going to lie, this book took me awhile to get into it. The format was very different, using only emails, text messages, a few police transcripts and Whats App conversations between the legal team, to tell this story. There were many one sided conversations as some emails were never recovered. I wasn’t even sure what the lawyers were trying to prove for most of the book. I will say, once I got about halfway in, I was hooked. I wanted to know who had been murdered, who was in prison and who the real murderer was. I also had suspicions about what was going on with the family and sick child, but was only partially right. You wouldn’t think you would get to know characters or that they would be developed this way, but they were. Each email reveals a bit more about the characters, their flaws, secrets and fears. This is a mystery, with intrigue, and dark humour that had me chuckling to myself while reading. It is well written and moves at a quick pace but it is a character driven book that is different from anything else I have read before. As the book comes to an end, there are some disturbing secrets revealed, terrible crimes and a total breach of trust. So, do I recommend this one? It is not going to be for everyone, but I enjoyed it. I probably would have rated it higher if it hadn’t taken me so long to get hooked, but overall, I enjoyed it and will look for more books by Janice Hallett.

An Amish Family: Four Stories by Kathleen Fuller 

Published June 12th 2018 by Zondervan

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

An Amish Family is actually an anthology, made up of four Amish Romances that also deal with family issues. Building Trust centers on Grace Miller and Joel King. They are in love and plan to get married. For some reason her father is totally against it. Joel needs to figure out why Mr. Miller is against him as well as win him over. A Heart Full of Love is the story of a young mother, Ellie. She gives birth to twins and her mother tries to take over raising the girls. You see, Ellie is blind and her mother won’t believe that she can take care of her twins. Surprised by Love is a fake dating story that goes through some angst until both Emily and Reuban realize they have feelings toward one another. The final story, A Gift for Anne Marie is about a pair of BFFs. Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Things are evolving slowly, but when Anne Marie’s mother announces that she is getting remarried and moving out of state, time is running out. Will Nathaniel finally tell Anne Marie that he loves her and wants her to stay? Four sweet, romances that all deal with love as well as their families.

I enjoyed all of these stories, but probably liked A Heart Full of Love the least. It angered me that Ellie’s mother treated her the way she did. Although it all works out in the end, there are too many people in the world that think someone is less due to a disability. Because these are novellas, there is not a lot of character development, but enough to get to know the characters. A good book to read over a few days, with a story a day. I love happily ever after endings and these stories all left me smiling.

Home for the Holidays (Juniper Springs #1) by Sara Richardson

Published September 22nd 2020 by Forever

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book I have read by Sara Richardson, and it won’t be the last, in fact, I will be reading the second book in this trilogy soon. The Buchanan sisters all share special childhood memories of their Aunt Sassy’s beloved Juniper Inn, but haven’t been there for years, not since their mother and aunt had a falling out. Dahlia, Rose and Magnolia all have secrets they are keeping from one another and they miss the support they used to give one another. When Aunt Sassy sends them each a gift to remember past Christmases along with a request to come and spend one last Christmas with her at the Juniper Inn, they decide to go. They are ready to take care of their aunt for her last Christmas before she dies. The laugh is on them, Sassy is not sick, but wants to give them the Inn to run together. She has a couple of handsome young men ready to help fix things up for a Christmas Extravaganza, and maybe become interested in one of her nieces.

This is not necessarily a Christmas story, but a story of family, reconciliation, self-reflection and figuring out what is really important in your life. I loved the sister’s characters as well as all those we meet in Colorado. The story is told from all three sister’s POV in alternating chapters, so we see what they are all dealing with. Dahlia is always organized and focused, and her ex-husband uses her to also organize his life. He and his girlfriend are taking their children to Paris for the holidays and leaving her home alone. She finds herself at a crossroads not sure where to go but knowing she has decisions to make. Magnolia runs her own baking business and is married to a fireman, a man she loves, at least she did. She has always been the most independent of the bunch, but is struggling with her marriage after failed IVF treatments, and several miscarriages. Rose, the youngest is the one who remained home with their demanding mother. She is trying to start her own business, but is engaged to a man whose family is making unreasonable expectations and demands on her life. The sisters get time to think, talk things over with one another and make decisions. Sassy is there in the background to support them, but lets them make their own decisions. There is some romance in the story, but it is not the main theme, it is family relationships and self-reflection that carry this wonderful story. Sara Richardson has created a family that I was not ready to leave behind and fortunately I won’t have to as the next book, The Summer Sisters has already been published.