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I stopped by a local bookstore several weeks ago and they were hosting local authors. This was a great surprise! Not only did I have the opportunity to purchase new books but I also had the opportunity to meet three local authors. One had written a child’s book, so I didn’t purchase it as I have no children at that age. The other two were murder mysteries. I have since finished one of the two books and starting the second one today.

Secrets by the Knoll by Julie Metros

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In the early 1900’s, Highland Park in Des Moines, Iowa was shocked by the murders of two children. The children were returning home following evening church when they were brutally attacked. This murder remains unsolved.  The Secrets by the Knoll is loosely based off this murder.

This story starts off modern day as a young women begins to learn about her family history. The reader is then transferred back in time and the story starts with you getting to know the family. Its a fun glimpse into the local history. It is obvious Metros spent a lot of time researching the area. I enjoyed her description of 1900’s neighborhood and city activities.

The characters are varied making the story interesting and easy to keep them straight in my head. I feel the male characters are best fleshed out. The dad’s love for his dead son is palpable. The middle son seems shady at best. I enjoyed how even some of the least important characters (like the coroner) got their own voice in the story.

Overall, I enjoyed reading a bit of local history woven into a murder mystery. I’ve not read many local stories so this was a fun escape. Its a quick read for a sunny afternoon on the porch.

I give this book a 4/5 bookends. I recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a local read or an historical fiction. There is mild violence, alcohol suggestion. It would be appropriate for an older teen.

Meeting the local authors and getting a signed copy of their books was a lot fun! This was only the second I’ve had the opportunity to meet an author and have it signed. I would love to do this more. I need to track down a good way to find and connect with authors!

What are you reading? Do you read local authors? If so, how do you find them? Leave a comment and let’s chat!

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Good-evening! I’ve been pulled in a few different directions this month and wasn’t sure if I’d finish this book before the month end. Work is beginning to pick-up and the kids schedules picked-up. This is. of course, absolutely wonderful….except that it takes a bit away from my hobbies, like reading.

I’m guiltily sitting up here in my bedroom as my kids and husband think I’m watching one of my favorite shows which isn’t kid friendly. My wonderful husband is getting the kids into bed. In my defense, I THOUGHT my show was on right now. As it turns out, I’m an hour late! GAH! Guess I’ll have to stream it tomorrow night.

But my loss is your gain. Here’s my book review!

Scarlet: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is now trying to break out of jail. If she manages to do this,
she will be the Commonwealth’s most wanted. Halfway around the world,
Scarlet’s grandmother is missing. Scarlet meets wolf and believes he
may hold the secret to where her grandmother may be. As Wolf and
Scarlet begin to unravel the mystery abduction, they find themselves
drawn to each. Cinder meets Wolf and Scarlet which throws them into
another mystery, waiting to be solved.

Meyer does a great job of building her characters. Each one has its
own uniqueness which makes them seem real. Scarlet’s character is
strong, independent yet dependent at the same time. Cinder is
determined, sassy, and kind. Wolf is cunning, intelligent and focused.
Personally, I can’t wait to see more of Scarlet’s and Cinder’s
interactions in the next book.

I love the new twist on the fairy tales. This one was the focus on
Red Riding Hood. The wolf in this story is cunning and daring. It
is hard to figured out which side he is on. Just when I thought I
knew, some new twist would make me question.

This book is excellently written. I loved the story and the characters.
I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the YA genre, mysteries,
or Sci-Fi. There are hints to romance, but it is very appropriate for
an audience of teens.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

Have you red this book? If so, what did you think? What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you.


Boy, has the last 3 weeks been a whirlwind. I started working as a nurse practitioner and well, that’s kept me pretty busy. That and the kids activities. My son’s soccer season just finished up and my daughter’s dance is picking-up as the Nutcracker approaches. I am deep in the trenches of mommiehood.

Despite everything I was able to read a fantastic read. Below is my review.

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

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Hadley is trying to get free of her past and at 27 is trying to finish her degree in speech therapy. Monroe owns a therapy company that helps children with speech needs. Hadley and Monroe dated while Hadley was in foster care. Unfortunately, Monroe being from a wealthy family is made to choose between Hadley’s future and the two having a future together.

Woodsmall and Woodsmall has written book that will touch your heart. This story is a story of overcoming life obstacles. The characters all must find ways to get beyond life circumstances. Even Monroe mush overcome his parents gifts in order to self actuate. I fell in love with the characters. I found myself cheering them on for success  in both their relationships and their professional success.

This book is a good, fun read for the holidays. It has a heartwarming ending leaving which is perfect for the Christmas season.

I recommend this book for any young adult or adult who enjoys a romance with a hint of medical information. The content is wholesome and older teens could read and enjoy it.

I give this book a 5 out 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author for an honest review.


If you’re a following of my blog, you may remember prior to graduate school I was part of a book club at my church. We read quite a variety of books. Some were light “free-reading” books and others were more serious books. I decided to return to the book club this year. Last month’s book was a nice light book. This month, we tackled a more serious book. Here is my review of this month’s selection.

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The IMAM’s Daughter: My Desperate Flight to Freedom by Hannah Shah

Shah tells her story of growing-up the daughter of a Muslim’s religious leader’s daughter. She tells her story of enduring her father’s physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She addresses the issues associated with the closeness of Muslim community. She decides to run-away at age 16 once she realizes she is being sent away to marry one of her cousins in Pakistan. After running away, Hannah converts to Christianity which forces her to live a life running away from her family who wishes to execute an “honor” killing.

Hannah’s story of her life is heartbreaking. Because of the closeness of the Muslim community, her tragic abuse which started at age 5, was never addressed by anyone. Its hard to believe that this occurs in today’s society. Its hard to believe its widespread. The abuse made parts of this book very difficult to read. However, Shah explains that many Muslim woman experience the arranged marriages and physical abuse. It breaks my heart knowing there are woman and children enduring this.

This book provides a firsthand telling of growing up Muslim in England. It sheds some light in how the family interacts with the non-Muslim world. I know its only 1 family and 1 person’s view, but it does provide some insight. It was eye-opening to realize that her family (especially her father) was polite to non-Muslims to their face but behind closed doors the hate was over-powering. The book provided insight on how Muslims learn about their religion. The memorizing of verses without any instruction on their meaning was the mainstay of her teaching. The dependence on those telling you what those passages mean is the mainstay of their teaching.

It also was surprising to read that abuse didn’t just happen at home. Shah’s Muslim instructors would beat her if she got an answer wrong. Her brother went to Pakistan to become a religious leader and was abused. Abuse was common place in Shah’s life.

The book does tell the story of her finding love, peace and Christianity. She was able to leave her family and abusive past. She found Christianity and converted. She found Hope and found a way to help other Muslims. This is a story of escaping a tragic past and finding hope. Despite the dark parts of the book, it ends uplifting and positive.

It is an easy read. I was able to finish it in just a few hours of dedicated reading time.  At times, I felt the book bounced around a bit. It is written conversationally. This is a style I like, but it also tends to allow for some bouncing around in the story.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Muslim to Christian conversion. I would caution that child abuse is discussed openly in this book. I would not recommend this for children or anyone under the age of 18 due to the topics discussed.

I would give this book a 4 out 5 bookends.


School started about 2 weeks ago. It has been a crazy last few days. My daughter is now in 4th and the homework workload has increased quite a bit from 3rd grade. My son is in 2nd so he’s also no beginning to see twice weekly homework. Luckily his homework is still really pretty easy and not too time consuming. At least not yet.

With all of that taken into consideration, I had planned on finishing this book sooner. I want to finish a book lent to me and then I need to read my book club book too. With all of that, I’ll be pretty busy the next few weeks trying to get everything done.

None the less, here is my book review on The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

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Barnett tells the story of Margaret Lane and Chief Ranger Ford Brayden. It is set in 1927 with the National Parks Service. Margaret is from a wealthy political family whose dream come true is to spend some time in the National Parks. She is amazed by God’s artistry as she works as a naturalist. Ranger Brayden grew-up on the mountain. He is haunted by his father’s death and does not see the park in the poetic way Margaret does. The two work together to preserve the natural beauty of the park.

This book spoke to soul and I quickly connected to both Margaret and Ranger Brayden. Margaret’s appreciation of the beauty of nature paired with Ranger Brayden’s common sense and knowledge of the danger was a great combination. The author did a fabulous job of weaving the two points a view together to create a truly perfect picture of nature.

This book is a Christian novel. Margaret often refers to God’s handiwork and is confused by Brayden’s inability to see and/or acceptance of God’s work. She does pray to God and several of her conversations regarding nature does revolve around God.

The only negative to this book was there were some slower parts.

Overall, this is an excellent read. It connected with my soul and my desire to to be out in nature. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an historical novel of a slightly different sort. I would recommend it to young adults and adults.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What are reading now? Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear form you.

 


I am very excited to have finished the last book in the Amish of Summer Grove series. It is a well-written fantastic story. To be honest, I want to get to my review quickly, so I won’t delay!

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Gathering the threads by Cindy Woodsmall

This is the third and final book of the series. Ariana has returned to the Old Order Amish that she grew-up and loving. She finds herself feeling confused and uncertain of where she belongs. Skylar is also found struggling a bit figuring out how she fits in with the Brenneman family.

This book ties the entire series together and pulls everything into a wonderful ending. Woodsmall’s characters continue to grow. I grew to love all of them. I loved where they ended and the path we took along the way.  The book is a coming age of sorts as both Skylar and Ariana must find thier path and define who they are.

This book is a Christian novel. There are multiple references to God. The story is so much more than a Christian Amish novel. It evaluates what it means to be a family and how to be true to yourself and honor God at the same time. There are many underlying Christian themes such as honesty, forgiveness, and love.

I honestly did not find anything negatives about this book. It was an absolute delite to read and a fitting conclusion to the series.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish or Christian novels. I also would recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories about family relationships. This book is an innocent story with no sexual contexts. There is the mention of past drug use and smoking. I would recommend this book to young adults.

On a scale of 1-5 book ends, I give this book a 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

If you’d like to pre-order this book, click HERE. You can also pre-order it from Amazon.

What are you reading? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share a link to one of your recent book review.


Its a long weekend for the Fourth of July! Since I work part-time, I’m blessed with a 4-day weekend. We’ve used our time for both some obligatory things- grocery shopping, birthday planning, etc- and some leisure time- mostly reading and playing video games with the kids.

This weekend I finished a fantastic book. Here’s the review:

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Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall

Woodsmall tells a switched at birth story with a twist. What would happen if an Amish baby was switched with an Englisch baby? In this story, Ariana’s and Skylar are now in their 20’s and found out they were accidentally switched at birth. This is the first of three books.

This book takes Amish books to another level. This book contains a sweet love story and takes you into the Amish world. But it takes you to another level. It tells the story of complex characters and relationships. This book introduces the complexities in both the Amish and Englisch worlds. The characters are far from perfect. This story introduces some of the flaws in both worlds. The first in the series, Woodsmall focuses mainly on Ariana’s part of the story while introducing Skylar and her family later in the story.

As I read this story, it was easy for me to connect with the characters for different reasons. I could connect to Ariana’s drive and need to protect her family. She loves and embraces the Amish life. She has been protected from the downsides of Amish life and is somewhat naive to the issues within the community. I can connect to this love and passion for her family. Her goal driven attitude and the desire to fix things for everyone. Skylar is faced with failure in college and an uncertain future. She brought me back to life as a freshman and my own struggles. As a parent I could connect to both Ariana’s parents and her sister.

Not only are the characters and their situations relatable (to an extant- I wasn’t switched at birth), but the story is rich and full of detail without feeling long and congested. Woodsmall expertly provides enough detail to help you feel like you’re in the story. The story isn’t a straight lined book, girl is switched at birth and reunited with biological family and happily ever after. It is instead filled with twists and turns which truly make this book a page-turner.

This is a Christian book and there are many Christian themes folded into the story. The book stresses the importance of forgiveness, accepting God’s Grace, and recognizes the legalism which at times plagues the Christian world.

The really own downfall to this book, if you can call it a downfall, is the ending. She left the readers and Ariana in an unfortunate situation. I do own and will very soon be reading the second book. As I must find out what will become of the girls.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves Christian or Amish books. This book is beautifully written without any inappropriate language or sexual situations. There is mention of Drug and alcohol use. But it is minimal. I would say it would be appropriate for older teens.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book free from the publishers.

What are you reading? Have you read these books? If so what did you think of Ties that Bind? I would love to hear from you.