Something Worth Doing by Jane KirkpatrickWhat it is: an inspiring, well-researched biographical novel about 19th-century women's rights advocate Abigail "Jenny" Scott Duniway.
What it's about: Born in Illinois, Jenny travels the Oregon Trail with her family to the Willamette Valley, where she becomes a teenaged school teacher. She then marries, has six children, supports her family by opening a millinery shop after her husband is injured, and in 1871 starts a newspaper focused on women's rights.
For fans of: novels featuring determined women dealing with life-changing events and societal constraints.
The Stone Wall by Beverly LewisStarring: Anna, who's part of the Beachy Amish (they drive and use electricity), who spends the summer with her more-strict Lancaster County Amish relatives, like her grandmother did decades ago.
What happens: Anna works with a handsome Mennonite giving tours and looks for a stone wall her grandmother, who has Alzheimer's, cryptically mentioned. She also volunteers at a horse-riding therapy barn and makes friends with a young Amish widower there.
Reviewers say: "a resplendent tale of love, loss, and faith" (Publishers Weekly).
The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan1945 London: Married at the beginning of World War II and separated for years, Diana and Brent must get to know each other again. But Diana worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and can't discuss her work, and Brent, who was on the front, suffers terrible nightmares.
What happens: MI6 recruits Diana, an architectural historian fascinated by Sir Christopher Wren's work, to use her knowledge to help root out a Russian spy using churches and church services to send messages.
What sets it apart: the sweet love story between an already married couple; the architectural and historical details; the evocative settings.
The Sowing Season by Katie PownerStarring: 63-year-old Gerrit Laninga, who's had to sell his Washington State farm after years of hard work that cost him close family relationships; studious 15-year-old Rae Walters, who's been diligently following her parents' plan for her life...but can she keep it up?
What happens: When Gerrit finds Rae hiding in his barn, they connect and are able to help one another in unexpected ways.
Why you might like it: This poignant debut novel thoughtfully examines intergenerational friendship, change, and the power of forgiveness.
Noel Street by Richard Paul EvansStarring: Elle, who's a waitress in a small mountain town, a widow whose husband died in Vietnam, and the mother of a mixed-race son; William, a recently returned Vietnam POW working as a mechanic.
What happens: In 1975 Utah, Elle, who's estranged from her family, begins a friendship with William after he works on her old car.
Series alert: This is the "memorable, thought-provoking" (Booklist) 3rd in the Noel Collection; the 4th entry, The Noel Letters, just came out.
An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard GrayThe setup: It's a freezing cold December evening in Charm, Ohio when Julia Kemps locks herself and her young daughter Penny out of their rental house. Luckily, neighbor Levi Kinsinger passes by and helps.
What happens: Julia and Levi work together on a Christmas surprise for Penny, and as Christmas grows closer, so do they -- but both have secrets and pasts they're trying to forget.
Read this next: If you like this heartwarming 4th in The Charmed Amish Life series, try the author's The Gift, or Cindy Woodsmall's A Christmas Haven, which are both Amish Christmas romances.
Shepherds Abiding by Jan KaronStarring: Father Timothy Kavanagh, a retired Episcopal priest in the small North Carolina town of Mitford; Cynthia, his beloved wife.
What happens: In this comforting 8th installment in the beloved Mitford series, cerebral Father Tim takes on a special Christmas project -- restoring an old nativity scene -- and discovers the joys of faithfully laboring with his hands to create something beautiful for someone he loves.
Reviewers say: "goes down like hot cocoa by the fireplace" (Publishers Weekly).
by Terri Blackstock
Featuring: rookie lawyer Sydney, whose firm is laying off employees; her grandmother Callie, who's in a wheelchair and has dementia; and Finn, a down-on-his-luck cab driver and former chef.
What happens: With Sydney busy trying to keep her job, Callie calls on Finn to drive her to appointments, and to help her with her Christmas project: finding a date for Sydney.
For fans of: sweet, fresh Christmas romances with bits of humor.
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