Friday, December 18, 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room {A Fantastic Mystery Novel}

About the book: 

Whispers in the Reading Room (Zondervan, November 2015)

Lydia's job at the library is her world---until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World's Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn't merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks-the man so many people fear-is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

Purchase a copy:

About the author: 

Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio.

Connect with Shelley: websiteTwitterFacebook


If you enjoy mystery, suspense, and period pieces, Whispers in the Reading Room is a must read. I had not read any books by Shelley Gray prior to this one, and haven't read the other two books in her 'A Chicago World's Fair Mystery' series; I enjoyed the novel very much and plan to read the other books in this series simply based on how much I enjoyed this 3rd novel. The character development is excellent as first impressions and assumptions give way to hidden strengths, secret lives and complex personalities.

The novel revolves around the relationship between Lydia Bancroft and Sebastian Marks. Lydia is a librarian, and Sebastian is an avid reader who spends much time at the library. Even though they don't even talk to each other, a camaraderie between them is clearly apparent in the way they appreciate each other's intellect and routines. As they novel progresses, the reader discovers (long before Lydia) that Sebastian lives a dark life. He is a formidable owner of a saloon & gambling club in the gritty, crime-ridden area of Chicago. Lydia and her mother are revealed to be poor, yet Lydia's desire to remain strong and independent have her struggling with looking forward to life with her fiancé. These two separate worlds collide very literally in the Hartman Hotel, and Sebastian finds himself coming to Lydia's rescue. Connecting outside the library creates a wonderful "Thru the Looking Glass" storyline as they try to right themselves and move on--yet nothing with ever be the same as Lydia & Sebastian and other characters' lives criss-cross, shift, and are disrupted. Humor, anger, sadness, murder, scandal, fear & longing all stay intertwined until the last sentence on the final page brings true resolution. It is rare for an author to be able to maintain such a level of dimension throughout a novel, but Gray does it with excellence. I have no desire to tell you any more info about the plot or the minor characters--because it's so worth your time to discover it all on your own.

*I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review*

copyright 2015 LeAnne Klopfenstein

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Book Review for The Amish Christmas Sleigh

The Amish Christmas Sleigh by Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard, and Kelly Long is a 384 page book in the Christian Amish fiction genre.  It is published by Kensignton and was released on September 29, 2015. To purchase your copy, click here.

Book Information:

Kelly Long
For solitary toy-maker Sebastian Christner, hiring Kate Zook as his new housekeeper is simply the right thing to do. Now she can support her special-needs brother. But one taste of her independent spirit is showing him undreamed-of holiday joy—and making him long to give her a home for always.

Amy Lillard
Bernice Yoder has far too much to do to entertain holiday dreams. Even if she can help Jess Schmucker outwit his three mischievous young daughters, it’s impossible to imagine the handsome widower can see her as anything but a scolding schoolteacher. He never guesses how a magical Christmas Eve will open his eyes to love or how Der Herr will awaken their faith and hope.  

Molly Jebber
As much as Charity Lantz’s children need a father, the young widow isn’t sure her new neighbor Luke Fisher can ever be the right choice. They’re having more disagreements than snowflakes in December. Besides, he’s never given a sign he wants to be more than friends. Can Gott show them a way past their misunderstandings to a forever love?

About the Authors

Molly Jebber is an educational, motivational, and Women’s Christian Connection speaker. She was raised in a small town in the Midwest, and insists if you had blinked twice, you would’ve missed it. She loves God, her family and friends, sunshine, swimming and traveling to the Amish communities.  Creating historical Amish characters and throwing them into difficult situations and joyous times has been challenging and fun for her. The greatest reward she’s experienced in becoming an author is meeting wonderful people from all over the world who’ve been encouraging and supportive.

Kelly Long is the author of the acclaimed Amish Patch of Heaven series and has been a finalist for the coveted Carol Award from the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Lily’s Wedding Quilt was a 2011 Goodreads Favorite Book of the Year.  Born and raised in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, she’s been married for nearly twenty-five years and has five children. Please visit her at  

Amy Lillard won the 2013 Carol Award for her first Amish romance Saving Gideon. She was also a Maggie Awards finalist. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. Visit her at


Click here for a giveaway via rafflecopter!! One copy of The Amish Christmas Sleigh, One copy of Change of Heart, One Amish doll, One tote bag, One Barnes & Noble Gift card, One ink pen.

My Thoughts about the Book:

The Amish Christmas Sleigh is a very delightful book in that it consists of three independent novellas, which I found to be a neat way to experience three authors whose works I haven't read before! I also hadn't read Amish fiction before, so having the chance to expand my awareness of more variety within the Christian fiction genre was a great opportunity.

The first novella I read was A Sleigh Ride on Ice Mountain by Kelly Long. Unfortunately, my review of this novella is pretty mixed, as sexual content kept getting in the way of the piece having a rich storyline. So, while I enjoyed the main plot of the book, the various times that sexual desire interrupted the plot make this first novella a little difficult for me to recommend. The main storyline is clever--Kait, who cares for her disabled brother & becomes the housekeeper for Sebastian, a toymaker--is a good one as the reader waits to see if Kate and Sebastian will fall in love; I just wish the sexual content hadn't detracted from the novella's potential.

The next novella, A Mamm for Christmas by Amy Lillard is a very sweet & tender story, and I very much recommend reading it! Jess is a widower who is struggling to raise three young girls while caring for the family farm, all while still grieving the loss of his wife the year before. His daughters are precious in a very spunky way, and is the character development area of author Amy Lillard's that I enjoyed the most. While I began the novella feeling sad that Constance, Hope, & Lily Ruth don't have a mother, the girls' relationship with their dad, the way they say what's on their minds in a truthful (sometimes frank) manner, and the scheme they put together to try and have their school teacher come to their house and color and depth to the book. When Bernice Yoder, the girls' school teacher, makes her entrance into the book--by confronting Jess no less--the novella becomes even more well-rounded. It's clear immediately that Jess and Bernice are the "will they get together or won't they?" couple within the book, but Lillard adds other characters and situations that make the novella extremely enjoyable.

The final novella, An Unexpected Christmas Blessing by Molly Jebber is another wonderful read. The story begins by the reader meeting Charity Lantz, who became a widow a year prior. Charity has two children, Josiah & Beth, and her mother lives next door. It is clear that her family means a lot to her, and Charity has a very neat relationship with her children. When she gains a new neighbor, Luke Fisher, on the other side of her, Josiah & Beth take to him immediately. The relationship between Charity and Luke is genuine, pure, and comes very naturally--it is a solid friendship with no hidden agendas. The main thing they have in common is how much they each love the children. Several events occur that cause Luke & Charity to rely on one another, which deepens their friendship while making them each find it harder to not fall in love with the other person. But a secret in Luke's past has potential to disrupt the relationship between Luke & Charity. The weaving of the "will they marry or won't they?" storyline is an excellent one, and makes An Unexpected Christmas Blessing a must-read!

*I received a complementary copy in exchange for my honest review.

copyright 2015 LeAnne Klopfenstein