Leapin’ Lizards by Dawn DeVries Sokol (board book review)


Leaping’ Lizards is an adorable primer, with each lizard starring in a two page spread and named with an alliterative adjective. The colors are a riotous mix of bright, bold shapes that frame each equally colorful lizard with splashes, dashes, brush strokes and shapes. Continue reading


Cozy Fall Book Recommendations

Despite the unreasonably warm weather, Fall is quickly approaching and I am longing for a cool evening when I can get all cozy with a book, a blanket, and a hot beverage. The cozy (or cosy for those who prefer “the Queen’s English”) blanket will have to wait, but the book and the beverage (perhaps with a bit of ice) do not.

So, in collaboration with Justine of the YouTube channel Justine Marie (check out her video linked below), here are some of my favorite books that feel just right for Fall:


No Other Will Do is the first in Karen Witemeyer’s charming Ladies of Harper Station series. This novel, (and the follow-up Heart On the Line) is full of Witemeyer’s signature humor and sweet romance. It is a perfect read to escape into the past where a swoon worthy hero and a strong heroine take on the danger that threatens the small women’s colony that she founded with her suffragette aunts.

Reviews:   No Other Will Do

                  Worth the Wait (novella)

                  Heart on the Line


For a complete change of pace, but again great escapist fiction, Mike Nappa’s Annabel Lee is a thriller that will keep you reading late into the night. Fast paced, but with character development and just the right touches of wit and humor, Annabel Lee (and the second Coffey & Hill novel, The Raven) will affect the quantity of your sleep, but not the quality.

Reviews:    Annabel Lee

                  The Raven


My ultimate cozy (or cosy, as it is a very English book) read choice, however, is a classic work of suspense that I am currently reading and plan to follow by re-watching Hitchcock’s classic black and white movie interpretation from 1940 – Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. From the first evocative line to the last, the writing is, for me, an immersive experience. Much like my favorite Spring read, The Enchanted April, the atmosphere of the novel is closely matched by the film version but the written version adds more depth and reveals some interesting insights and surprises.

So there you have it, three novels (and some bonus sequels) to warm your heart and chill your spine in the cool of Fall. And to physically warm you, be sure to check out Justine’s video and give her seriously yummy Pumpkin Spice Syrup and Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte recipes a try:

Justine and I had lots of fun collaborating on these Fall picks and we’d love to hear from you in the comments here or on her video!

Beloved Hope by Tracie Peterson (review)

belovedhope_peterson_bethanyhouse.jpgI picked this novel up to read with a little trepidation.  While the premise felt compelling, I haven’t been a fan of the book and novella I previously read by this author.

Though I have a passing familiarity with the names and events of the Whitman Massacre, having read about it and visited the historical site in the past, I found myself looking to see if I just hadn’t remembered the Flanagan sisters.  These are 19th century characters that feel so real, even when they aren’t. Continue reading

Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid (review)

abidingmercy_reid_thnelsonI thought I was done with Amish fiction for a while, but Ruth Reid pulled me back in with an unexpected premise.  Weaving together elements of mystery, faith, and a budding relationship, this is a book that I didn’t want to put down until all had been revealed.

The storyline is split between the past and the present as well as between Faith’s life working on her Amish family’s farm and in her mother’s restaurant, and the struggles of the kidnapped Adriana’s parents.  The tension is created not by the question of whether Faith is the kidnapped Adriana, but by how and when this will be revealed. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano (review)

behindthescenes_turano_bethanyhouse.jpgAfter being introduced to a small group of ladies relegated to being wallflowers in the prequel novella, At Your Request (read my review here), I was excited to delve into the first full-length novel.  This was a must read, in great part due to my personal love of the name Permilia (though I prefer the spelling of my French-Canadian great-grandmother’s name ‘Permelia’).

“I’m not wearing any shoe’s, so it’s highly unlikely I hurt you, but–” she bit her lip–“I will apologize for kicking you.  I’ve never been prone to violence before, but…something about you seems to bring it out in me.”

The corners of his lips began to twitch.  “Should I take that as a compliment?”

“I don’t believe so.” (p.120)

Jen Turano’s humor shines through her fiction, and she tends to Continue reading