Category Archives: Book Review

Barbie Forever

Title: Barbie Forever
Author: Robin Gerber
Publisher: Epic Ink
ISBN: 978-0-7603-6577-9

“Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has been breaking boundaries and highlighting major moments in art, fashion, and culture,” the inside jacket announces in Robin Gerber’s book, Barbie Forever: Her Inspiration, History, and Legacy.

~ What ~
This oversized one-hundred-and-seventy-six-page hardbound targets those interested in the Barbie doll that has been around for sixty years and is still sold successfully worldwide. The large coffee table book begins with a foreword by Ibtihaj Muhammad and introduction, followed by eight chapters, and ending with a bibliography, acknowledgments, author’s biography, image credits, and historic timeline.

With full color, large photographs of design models of the iconic Barbie, the eight sections cover how the doll has been inspiring fans since 1959, her profitable marketing strategies, breaking toy boundaries, the evolution of her female shape, creation of her lifestyle, how she affects fashion and art, global attributes, and the magic she has provided to many doll owners.

~ Why ~
Being in my early sixties, I enjoyed seeing a couple of the old Barbies that I grew up with and still own, so I was familiar reviewing this book. I found the history of Mattel Creations, Ruth and Elliot Handler’s designing Barbie, and Charlotte Johnson’s fashion clothing interesting.

~ Why Not ~
Those who never owned a Barbie doll or do not care about the iconic figure that has enamored girls for decades and will probably continue to do so will not appreciate this book. However, it does show the progression of culture, events, and fashion that the well-known doll captured. Some may not care for a doll proportioned with unrealistic body measurements.

~ Wish ~
With so much historical content in the book, I wish an index was included so one could look up a topic.

~ Want ~
If you love the iconic Barbie doll and are looking for a beautiful tabletop book, this would make an excellent choice. It would be an ideal gift for the Barbie collector too.

Thanks to the author, Bookpleasures, and Epic Ink for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#BarbieForever #RobinGerber #EpicInk #Bookpleasures

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/31EerP4

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Biography, Book Review, Non-Fiction

One More River to Cross

Title: One More River to Cross
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2702-4

“That however we are separated, our Father will watch over us and unite us all in this land before the one beyond,” a prayer is offered in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, One More River to Cross.

~ What ~
Based on a true story, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in a group of wagoners crossing the snowy Sierra Nevadas in 1844. With no profanity, topics of injury, starvation, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes a map and list of characters while the ending has the author’s notes and acknowledgments, eleven discussion questions, biography, and advertisements.

In this tale, a group of Irish Catholics is on course from Missouri to Alta California when they run into trouble in the snowy Sierra Nevadas. Deciding to divide the large wagon train into three groups to survive, some continue on horseback while mostly women and children are left behind in a makeshift cabin and a few men stay with their discarded but valuable wagons. Focusing mainly from several married and single women’s perspectives of waiting for provisions and overcoming their arduous situations, they rely on God and each other to live another day.

~ Why ~
This is a gut-wrenching story of what men, women, and children had to sacrifice to come into a new land. Since my husband and I were born and raised in California and live in Oregon, I enjoyed reading about the places and terrain I have been. I appreciated the many-faceted characters as well as their strengths and weaknesses. The author’s arduous attention to detail shows her tender love of the topic.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of the hardship of traveling when there were no roads and lots of snow will avoid this book. Although Biblical references are mentioned throughout the read, it may not be of interest to those who do not believe in God. Some may think there are far too many characters, but the list and map at the beginning of the book can be referred to often.

~ Wish ~
As with other books by the author, sometimes there is too much information or side subjects intertwined in the story. I often got confused of the many women and their roles, finding there were too many mentioned. I also wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction based on Irish Catholics and their wagon train transversing the mountainous Sierras during winter and how they did everything in their willpower to survive, this may be educational and entertaining.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#OneMoreRivertoCross #JaneKirkpatrick #Revell

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/31zaNG9

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Christmas in Winter Hill

Title: Christmas in Winter Hill
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3610-1

“December was right around the corner. And Winter Hill was not a place to shirk from Christmas,” Krista considers in Melody Carson’s novel, Christmas in Winter Hill.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-seventy-six-page hardbound targets those interested in a romantic Christmas story. With no profanity or too adult situations, topics of Santa Claus may not be appropriate for those who do not believe in the concept. The ending includes the writer’s biography with advertisements.

In this quaint holiday read, Krista and her eight-year-old daughter have moved to a small town in Washington where the single parent lands a job as the city manager. Since it is right at the beginning of the Christmas season, the mother dreads the upcoming holiday due to her lonely past while the daughter looks forward to it, even entering into a writing contest. Through newfound friends, especially contractor Conner, Krista not only learns not to be afraid of the holiday, but she finds how loved she is by the community.

~ Why ~
This is a quick read that shows how a small town bands together to celebrate Christmasville. I like how the residents all joined together to work on the project and were forgiving when they were in the wrong.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories about Christmas that focus on Santa may prefer to avoid this book that never mentions the Real Reason of Christ’s birth. Others may get irritated on the Hallmark happily-ever-after story and that prayer is mentioned as fleeting moments.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked the author’s writing style, I found the book rather disappointing in that Jesus was mentioned only one time – there was no nativity scene, wise men, shepherds – nothing that related to the basis of Christmas – only made-up, commercialized seasonal topics. When only half of Romans 8:28 is mentioned, the book misses the opportunity to explain that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

~ Want ~
If you like a cutesy-wootsey Christmas tale with all the right fixings and favorites, this may be for you, but I cannot recommend it due to is total lack of the True Meaning of Christmas.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #ChristmasinWinterHill #MelodyCarlson

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/30lC6Cm

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Filed under ** Think Twice - I Didn't Like It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Animal Skins

Title: Animal Skins
Author/Photographer: Mary Holland
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-64351-3393

“Fur (hair), feathers and scales are animal skin coverings that look very different from each other but do many of the same things,” Mary Holland begins her children’s book, Animal Skins.

~ What ~
A part of the Animal Anatomy and Adaptation series, this oversized thirty-two-unnumbered-page hardbound with a duplicate jacket cover targets children ages four to eight years old who enjoy educational information about nature. With no scary scenes, the book may be best read out loud by adults to beginner readers due to some complicated wording.

In this artistically photographed collection, the outer coverings of animals are the focal point. Beginning with the wings of a moth, the pages show a cicada, porcupine, skunk, fawn, birds, frog, salamander, toad, snake, turtle, and little child, explaining what each’s covering is, does, and how it protects them.

The last four pages have more educational tools of learning activities for creative minds that involve a matching skin game, how animals’ skins are used, special skins of a hairy-tailed mole, European honey bee, turkey vulture, and gray treefrog, and animal classes with answers.

~ Why ~
What makes this book fun is not only the full-page, full-color photographs and explanation of skin coverings but also the informational data at the end for older readers. A child will enjoy viewing the animals and insects that show the skin and skin covering differences between species.

~ Why Not ~
Those who have no interest in animal life and their skin may not appreciate this book. Others may prefer more information in chart or comparison format. Beginner readers may struggle with the many two- and three-syllable words.

~ Wish ~
To me, skin is usually the epidermis on a human, animal, or some insects, yet this book considers fur, hair, and feathers to be skin while technically these three are coverings on the skin. Thus maybe the book should have been titled “Animal Skin Coverings” or “Animal Covers.”

~ Want ~
If your child is interested in an educational series about the different parts of animals such as ears, eyes, legs, mouths, noses, and tails, this one on skin is a good choice.

Thanks to Arbordale Publishing, Bookpleasures, and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#ArbordalePublishing #AnimalAnatomyandAdaption #MaryHolland

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2O1pFcg

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Animals / Pets, Book Review, Business / Money / Education, Childrens, Non-Fiction

The Forest in the Trees

Title: The Forest in the Trees
Author/Illustrator: Connie McLennan
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-64351-3508

“Deep in the woods near a foggy sea, there’s a hidden forest in the trees,” begins Connie McLennan’s children’s book, The Forest in the Trees.

~ What ~
This oversized thirty-two-unnumbered-page hardbound with a duplicated jacket cover targets children ages seven to ten years old who enjoy an informative story about forests. With no scary scenes, it may be best read out loud to beginner readers due to some complicated wording. Expressive, colorful illustrations grace both sides of the pages.

In this short rhyming tale that mimics The House that Jack Built in format, the building sentence-upon-sentence story on the left sides of the pages is about a redwood forest with its tall trees, new growth, rich soil, interesting bugs, crawling creatures, abundant ferns, berry bushes, lacey lichen, flying squirrels, spotted owls, leafy laurel, and diving auk. The right sides of the pages include geographical, physical, scientific, and animal/plant facts.

The last four pages have more educational tools of learning activities for creative minds that involve information about the coastal redwoods, a forest vocabulary matching game, animals of the forest and their basic needs, and how new trees are made.

~ Why ~
Since I live in the Pacific Northwest and love trees, this is an ideal book geared for children that teaches about the magnificent redwood trees and how their eco-system protects thriving insects, animals, and plants. The rhyme is cute while the sidebars of interesting facts are educational. I like the attention given to the highlighted words such as reiterations, canopy, humus, crustaceans, epiphytes, fern mats, and lichens. The drawings are detailed and eye-catching.

~ Why Not
Those who do not like an educational read about forest and trees may show no interest in this book. Beginner readers may have issues with some of the two- and three-syllable words. Others may wish there were more puzzles or games included.

~ Wish ~
I wish more books like this were available that had a story yet provided knowledge and information that a young child could learn in a fun, engaging way.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a book about redwoods for elementary-aged children, this will delight many as they realize how abundant life is in a forest.

Thanks to Arbordale Publishing, Bookpleasures, and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#ArbordalePublishing #ConnieMcLennan #CoastalRedwoods #educationalchildren’sbook

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2O4mkJl

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Animals / Pets, Book Review, Business / Money / Education, Childrens

The Girl Behind the Red Rope

Title: The Girl Behind the Red Rope
Author: Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3653-8

“Please listen to wisdom, Grace. Don’t do this!” Bobbie begs the girl in Ted and Rachelle Dekker’s novel, The Girl Behind the Red Rope.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page hardbound targets those who enjoy allegories of being the light in a dark world. With the words heck and hell used a few times, topics of physical abuse, torture, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes both authors’ biographies and advertisements.

In this fast-paced read often written in first person, Grace has grown up only knowing that their community is protected from the evil Fury by the red rope that surrounds Haven Valley. Protected by spiritual leader Rose and her angel Sylous, the remote town must abide with all rules to survive. When outsiders cross over the red rope, Grace questions not only the required ways of living, but she wonders if the residents are following the wrong path to redemption. With her own spiritual guide to help her, she must have the wisdom and fortitude to understand the difference between fear and the light of love.

~ Why ~
Having read several of both authors’ works, I was pleased how well written this story was and that it focused on the Truth of Jesus while living in love without fear. The reader will immediately become engaged with the protagonist who is trying to listen to her heart and head while her subconscious of good and evil crave for her attention.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus may not have any interest in a book about how legalism can blind believers. Some who do not care for allegories about learning to overcome fear and cleave to the Light of Christ will pass on it. With the complicated back and forth of trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong when it comes to the Real God, the book often gets confusing. I found the theme repetitive of similar books written by Ted.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciate the connection of fear and guilt to encompassing one’s life as they struggle to relate to God, I question if the eternal plan of salvation was clearly stated for an unbeliever reading the book. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a story about overcoming one’s chronic fear and guilt of the constant rules of religion, this may be a good selection as it verifies that those in Christ are His light of the world.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2NXpO0s

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Complete Pegan Diet for Beginners

Title: The Complete Pegan Diet for Beginners
Author: Amelia Levin
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64152-678-4

“The Pegan diet is all about fresh, wholesome foods, enjoyed in balance with each other and in accordance with what your body naturally craves,” Amelia Levin writes in the first chapter of her book, The Complete Pegan Diet for Beginners: A 14-Day Weight Loss Meal Plan with Over 50 Easy Recipes.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-eighty-seven-page paperback targets those who are interested in or want to learn about a diet that mixes vegan with paleo. After a dedication and introduction, the book is divided into two sections, followed by a glycemic index and load chart, pesticides on food, measurement conversion tables, resources, index, and the author’s biography.

The first part explains the pegan diet basics of eating plants with a side of animal protein, its benefits of losing weight and belly fat, and a jumpstart plan for the first two weeks. The second section has six chapters of recipes for breakfast, salads and soups, meat and chicken, fish and shellfish, easy sides, and snacks and sweets.

Covering one to three pages each, the recipes begin with a title followed by prep and cook time as well as serving size. A paragraph down the left side of the page discusses the dish with ingredients listed in used order. The numbered instructions are easy to follow in paragraph form. Storage and various tips are set apart with the caloric content included at the end of the page.

~ Why ~
Having never heard of Dr. Mark Hyman’s Pegan diet, I can see how it is a blend of two popular diets but geared toward eating healthy things in moderation. Since I have cut back on wasted carbs and processed sugars, I value a diet that makes sense eating for a lifetime to improve one’s health. It is an ideal book for a beginner as it explains the why of and how the diet works.

Some of the interesting recipes that caught my eye are Grain-Free Nutty Granola, 30-Second Egg, Easy Cucumber-Tomato Gazpacho, Chilled Asparagus Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, Pegan-Style Bibimbap, Gingerly Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Miso-Glazed Pan-Seared Salmon with Bok Choy, Crab Cakes with Creamy Citrus Slaw, Easy Cauliflower Rice, Garden Ratatouille, Coconut-Banana Ice Cream, and Cacao-Nut Truffles.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not think a paleo/vegan diet that avoids carbs while monitoring protein will help them lose weight and feel better may avoid this book.

~ Wish ~
Being a visual person, I wish there were colored photographs of all completed dishes.

~ Want ~
If you want to know more about the Pegan diet and how it works, this is an excellent beginner’s book if you don’t mind it lacking photographs of the finished meals.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#pegandiet #amelialevin #drmarkhyman

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2I4hO9Y

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Health, Home / Garden / Food

Super Cool Space Facts

Title: Super Cool Space Facts
Author: Bruce Betts PhD
Illustrator: Steve Mack
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64152-521-3

“In this book you’ll find a basic description of each thing we talk about, some awesome pictures, and tons of super cool space facts. And jokes–lots of jokes,” Bruce Betts writes in the introduction to his children’s book, Super Cool Space Facts: A Fun, Fact-Filled Space Book for Kids.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-twenty-four-page paperback states it targets children four to eight years old who want to learn about space. With no scary scenes but colorful illustrations and photographs within circles, there are facts about planets, stars, constellations, black holes, jokes, and more.

After an introduction, there are five chapters that cover the universe, stars and constellations, the solar system, comets, meteors, and other sky shows, and rockets, satellites, astronauts, and more. The ending includes a glossary, resources, index, acknowledgments, and the author’s biography.

Containing limited paragraphs about the related topics in one to two pages each, the chapters are filled with circles that are either colored with white writing or photographs with boxed explanations, diagrams, big word alerts, and jokes.

~ Why ~
Most kids love space, and this is an engaging source for children to learn more about it. I appreciate the many interesting facts written in the different-sized circles and the explanations.

One of my favorites was Stars that discuss how they are giant balls of hot glowing gas. The two photos are of hundreds of stars that make up the Quintuplet star cluster and the colorful Hyades star cluster. The two-colored circles mention different sizes of stars and how some solar systems have more stars orbiting them. The big word alert is plasma, an electrical charge-filled gas, and the joke is What did the cool star say to the hot star? Hey, why are you so blue?

~ Why Not ~
Those who have no interest in space may not like this book or want to take the time to learn about our universe. Those who are creationists like me will cringe about the promotion the earth is 13.8 billion years old. Some may think the content is rudimentary or that the jokes are corny.

~ Wish ~
Online it states the book is for preschool to third grade, but its contents may be better geared and understood by ages 8 to 12 years old. I wish somehow God would be given credit for creating the amazing universe where we live.

~ Want ~
If you know a child who is into space and wants to learn more about it, this is an entertaining yet educational book.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#supercoolspacefacts #spacebookforkids #CallistoPublishersClub

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2ZIRKqV

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Business / Money / Education, Childrens, Non-Fiction

The New Newlywed Cookbook

Title: The New Newlywed Cookbook
Authors: Kenzie Swanhart & Julien Levesque
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64152-956-3

“Spending time in the kitchen together is time we treasure because we connect and communicate in a special way. That is why we have specifically written these recipes for two people to cook together,” Kenzie Swanhart and Julien Levesque write in the introduction of their book, The New Newlywed Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Every Couple to Cook Together.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-twelve-page paperback targets those who are interested in cooking with a spouse, partner, or another individual. After an introduction, the book is divided into three sections that contain one hundred recipes, followed by sauces and extras, measurement conversion tables, pesticides on food, index, acknowledgments, and the authors’ biographies.

The first chapter offers newly married people suggestions on what you need and will want in a kitchen and the ways to organize it as you feed each other and others. It also explains how the recipes are set up, complete with sous chef tasks, labels, and tips. The next chapter covers recipes for breakfast, quick bites, dinner, and desserts while the final part has recipes for easy, practical cocktail parties, brunches, barbeques, dinners, and feasts.

Each one-to-three-page recipe begins with its title, followed by serving size, preparation/cooking times,  labels, and a descriptive paragraph. The ingredients are listed in order used on the left side of the page with numbered directions on the right side. Added often are boxed tips and instructions for the sous chef.

~ Why ~
Now that my husband and I are empty-nesters, we tend to make meals together so this is a lovely book for partners or those newly married. I like the idea of giving tasks to one of the cooks while the other prepares the next step or concoction.

Some of the notable recipes are Tomato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Omelets, Mixed Berry Dutch Baby, Chopped Kale Greek Salad, White Bean Hummus, Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, Carbonara Risotto, Cacio E Pepe, Shimp Pad Thai, Baked Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, Coffee Creme Brulee, Stracciatella Semifreddo, Potato and Chorizo Bites, Prosecco Ice Pops, Mini-Avocado and Ricotta Toasts, Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee, Elote Corn Salad, Gochujang BBQ Chicken, Aperol Spritz, Trofie Al Pesto, Burrata and Fig Crostini, and Cranberry Mule.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like cooking, especially with someone else, may have no need for this book. Others may have issues with the many ingredients and more complicated instructions of some meals. Some may prefer recipes with caloric content due to dietary restrictions.

~ Wish ~
Being a visual person, I wish there were colored photographs of all completed dishes. Including calorie count would be ideal.

~ Want ~
If your mate/lover/friend and you want to cook together but do not know where to start or how, this is an excellent easy-to-follow cookbook although it does not have many pictures.

Rated 4.5 of 5 stars.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#justmarriedcookbook #newlywedcookbook #CallistoPublishersClub

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2ZQdwcF

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Home / Garden / Food

You Belong With Me

Title: You Belong with Me
Author: Tari Faris
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3647-7

“You can never really fix something shattered. But you can take the pieces and make something even better. Don’t leave the painful parts of your life in a box on the shelf. Figure out how to make something beautiful out of them,” Hannah is told in Tari Faris’s novel, You Belong with Me.

~ What ~
The first in the Restoring Heritage series, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those interested in a contemporary romance in a struggling Midwest town. With no profanity, topics of abandonment and the foster care system may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt from the next book in the series, a dozen discussion questions, acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this story set in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, twenty-five-year-old Hannah Thornton is determined to fix everything and everyone, including her decades-old friendship with Luke, a once-foster child who still feels he does not belong anywhere. When she enters the town into a nationwide restoration contest, she tries to put the shattered pieces from their past back together her way, not realizing God has different plans. With the help of Luke, her brother, and other key players in the community, she not only accepts help from others, but she learns to trust and believe in them. In the meantime, Luke must process who he really is and that he is wanted.

~ Why ~
This is a fast, easy afternoon read of past loves that are reignited when lies are forgiven, misunderstandings are explained, and truths are confessed. I like the long-term friendship between the two protagonists and how they fight to keep it as it moved from platonic to romantic. Being the first in the series, many of the peripheral characters are important to the storyline.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not understand the charm of small-town living may not enjoy this read that focuses on working together to beautify their community while deepening relationships. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the references of praying to God and allowing Him to be the decision-maker and guide in their lives.

~ Wish
While I appreciated the focus on prayer as an answer to all, I wished the story included the eternal plan of salvation. I found the main character to be a little shallow in her wishy-washiness, careless determination, and self-absorbed decision-making that could have affected the entire town negatively.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy a small-town romance with a bit of intrigue, forgiveness, and honesty, this is a lovely read that will make you want to know what happens in Heritage in the next book of the series.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/34kDW9x

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction