Posted in Book reviews

“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” by Lindsay Harrel ~ Book Review

img_2971

 

 

“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” by Lindsay Harrel

Duel-Timeline story

Review copy through the publishers/author

 

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

*
*
*

 

About the Book:

 

Lindsay Harrel presents a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and finding the courage to write your own story.

A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

*

*

*

My Thoughts:

The cover of this book is simply ravishing, is it not? Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, in my opinion! That was incentive enough for me to read this book. Add in that it is about books and a bookstore, set in Cornwall, England, and is the authors second novel – count me in. ;)
The prologue starts us off with letters written from Emily Fairfax from the 19th century. I found this to be a lovely beginning. I would gladly read a whole novel comprised of letters. But anyway! “The Secrets of Paper and Ink” follow more than just one story-line. We are introduced to three leading heroine’s; two in the present day, and Emily from the past. I loved each of these stories and how they were interwoven with each other. I must say though, that I favored Emily’s portions. I loved being enveloped into her time period, and seeing the struggles she was faced with, and the joys she discovered. Her piece was written in first person, and I really am a sucker for that style of writing. :)
That is not to say that I didn’t connect with Sophia and Ginny, though. I very much enjoyed each of their stories. And their friendship was perfect – they were there for each other at just the right time. And I looooved the bookstore aspect! I so want to own a bookstore, and that was just so fun. I also really liked how each character was so unique and individual to themselves. They were all fantastic, and William was so sweet! Memorable characters for sure.
The one and only thing that kept this being a full five stars for me was the faith content. While there at the end, it wasn’t as strong as I was hoping for, and there were a couple spots that hinted at a more “laid back” view of religions in general that I wasn’t keen on. Don’t get me wrong – the ending message was about finding ourselves in God alone, and that was beautiful. But I felt that there was a theme, especially in the beginning that was more a bit prominent  and that was the message of “being true to ourselves”. Emily wrote towards the end that true strength doesn’t come from us or other people, but rather alluded to it being the Lord – I know that is what she meant when she said “It is to another strength we must look, to first build and then to sustain us.” but I admit I was hoping for a stronger pointing to God – an obvious shout that He is the One she received healing from.
The story itself was (or rather, I should say the stories themselves were ;))  beautiful, and written very well. This wasn’t just a fluff book – it was lovely and entertaining, and meaningful. I will definitely be giving it another read or two in the future!
Lindsay Harrel writes a very captivating tale that keeps you until the very end.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Between Two Shores” by Jocelyn Green ~ Book Review

IMG_3702.jpg

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Historical Fiction

Review copy from the author/publisher

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war.

Peace appeals to Catherine, but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel’s life convince her he’s in mortal danger. Against her better judgment she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She’s risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?

IMG_3700

 

My Thoughts:

 

I was very eager going into “Between Two Shores”, as it was my first time reading a book by Jocelyn Green. The cover is beautiful, evoking a sense of what story lies within its pages.
Our heroine, Catherine Stands-Apart has faced many trials and hardships, had her heart-broken, and her trust betrayed. But she is strong – through all she has weathered, she refused to be broken, and she continued on.
This novel set during the 7 year war gave a fascinating glimpse into its history. I didn’t know much about this time period, but I was enlightened through this book and I am glad for it.
The author depicts the history with respect and grace, her writing flowing perfectly to fit.
It was a little slow at first, and I admit I had a hard time connecting until a certain even happened. Until then, I was involved but not entrenched, if that makes sense.
There was a occurance that shocked me and I felt the betrayal Catherine felt, although I feel like she moved past it pretty quickly. And maybe that is realistic for many people, but I would have liked to have seen her grapple with it a little while longer. I’m not saying to withhold forgiveness but matters of the heart aren’t always solved in a matter of hours.
Following Catherine’s journey was special, and I enjoyed it!
I really loved Catherine’s sister, Bright Star. She was rough around the edges to be sure, but her character was intriguing and full of depth. Joseph Many Feathers, their brother, was also a favorite.
This isn’t your typical light-everything-is-awesome kind of story, but it is beautiful nonetheless. There is heartache, and there are many, many trials, but the ending was perfect, and very poignant.

 

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson ~ Book review

The Warrior Maiden (Hagenheim, #9)

“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson

Part of the Hagenheim series

Review copy through BookLookBloggers

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

Mulan isn’t afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father’s soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster… or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen — and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?

My Thoughts:

 

The Disney version of “Mulan” is a favorite of mine. So I was both excited and a little hesitant to read a retelling of this fun tale. The excitement was fulfilled – it had a lot of the elements of the Disney version while still remaining unique to its own story. I admit I kind of wanted her name to be something other than Mulan, but I still can look past that fact. ;)
Right from the start we are plunged into the thick of it, and I really enjoyed that. I was apprehensive of how far the whole ‘feminist’ thread would be pushed, but it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, at least in the first portion of the book.
One of the things that I love about the Disney version is Mulan’s desire to protect her family – yes, she is strong, but also caring. And for the most part, this story’s ‘Mulan’ character was that way too. I appreciate that she could still be gentle and strong at the same time. That was handled quite well. I didn’t care for that she did take more of the glory when it should have been equally split between her and Wolfgang. He was completely overlooked most of the time, even though he was just as much a hero as she was. And he didn’t seem to mind that. It was all boastful of what a strong woman she was, and yet he was sometimes shown to be a little weaker but that was shown as okay – their roles were swapped. Now, as I have said in reviews past, I am not against strong women, but I do struggle with the view that “women have to be better than men or else”.  God created men and women for different roles, and they are both equally strong and wonderful – He will fulfill what He wills, and each person’s life is uniquely different. But the message of women constantly triumphing over men (when the men can be shown as strong too – I want more strong men in fiction) wears on me, I admit. Mulan, in this book, became pretty proud and was glad she could do what so few men could – I found that distasteful and boastful. She was also disrespectful at times. I understand that she had inner scars, and while that sometimes came into play, she also acted in ways that didn’t have reason for that.
I loved Wolfgang, and his desire to protect Mulan in all stages of knowing or not knowing her identity, but was saddened when it was often portrayed as a bad thing, or that he didn’t need to protect her because she was “stronger than most men”. Even if I was super strong, as a woman, I would want to be protected  -I’d be flattered. Because Wolfgang was not doing it in a demeaning way – he was respectful and honorable. I just wish that would have been shown a bit more, and not put down as a bad thing.
Other than that, I did really enjoy this book. It was exciting, and full of adventure with good writing. There wasn’t a dull moment, and I really appreciated the fast-pace of it all!  A four star read for me!
*
*
*
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.
Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Books

“The Songbird and the Spy” by J’Nell Ciesielski ~ Book Review

 

Songbird and the Spy

“The Songbird and the Spy” by J’Nell Ciesielski

WWII fiction

I received an ecopy from the author for the purpose of this review

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

 

As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy. 

Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn’t who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his 
attraction to the songbird, he’s determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives, hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael’s hand: complete the mission or save Claire. 

As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?

Written for the General Market (G) (I): Contains little or no; sexual dialogue or situations, violence, or strong language. May also contain content of an inspirational nature.

 

*

*

My Thoughts:

 

What a delightful and exciting tale this book turned out to be! Not once was there a dull moment, and the characters shined throughout it all. Danger abounded, as it most often does in the case of WWII novels – especially when behind enemy lines – and the plotline was definitely a captivating one!
I fell for each of the characters, and they made such an excellent fit. So sweet and endearing! And it ended so well too! I was getting a wee bit nervous there for just a second, but oh! It was reminiscent of one of the Anne of Green Gables movies, and just smashing.
As I mentioned, “The Songbird and the Spy” is an exciting novel. There is so much intrigue and thwarted plans happening that the reader is guaranteed a rather thrilling ride.
Clair is an American on her way to a music school in France, but of course plans change. Michael is a spy for the British nation, undercover as a German Captain. And he plays the role quite convincingly, I must say! His character really is marvelous though. Quite the hero – you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with him too. ;)
The writing itself was great – everything read so smoothly and tied together. As it is War, there was *some* graphic scenes but nothing that I found shocking at all. In fact, there was one particular instance where, while it was horrible, I was glad it happened because it was realistic. But I won’t give anything away.
This is a clean read, though not Christian, so there isn’t a spiritual thread or specific Christian content. And of course, me being me, I would’ve absolutely loved if this book had that element, but since it is not marketed as Christian Fiction, I am reviewing it as such. :)
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“The Curse of Misty Wayfair” by Jaime Jo Wright ~ Book Review

img_3441

“The Curse of Misty Wayfair” by Jaime Jo Wright

Duel-Timeline Novel

Review copy through the publishers/author

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

 

img_3460

 

My Thoughts:

 

Goodness. Gracious. I’m quite sure that I resembled a wide-eyed owl upon completing this book! Just when I thought I had figured it out, I was wrong, and there was a different twist! And that brings me to how impressed I am with the authors writing ability. Like…how?..! This book and its plot is SO intricate and so detailed and complex, and yet it all weaves together so brilliantly and flawlessly – both the historical story and the present day story.
The characters themselves are each complex as well.  Historical heroine, Thea Reed, has lived her life as an orphan, not knowing her real parents. Her journey to find her identity is captivating, to say the least. Present day heroine, Heidi Lane is on the path to find her identity too, though in a different way. Having grown up in a Christian family, she still felt like a misfit. There was a theme and even a quote in the present day story that made me relate well to Heidi. The quote said: “But, Heidi had to admit, it was nice to finally be heard.”
I felt that this was actually a timely thing for me, and agree with that – it is nice to be heard, to know that there are others who are willing to listen and make us feel validated.
The overarcing theme of our identity and where it is truly found was beautiful. It unfolded at a good pace, and is a very lovely reminder.
I can’t continue without at least mentioning some of the other characters though, such as Simeon (past timeline), Rhett (present day), Connie (present day), and Emma (present day). Simeon is a sweetheart; felt for him immediately. Rhett could be a bit annoying at first (Heidi thought so too, so I’m not alone!), but I grew to love his character. Connie (Rhett’s mother) was amazing, and I adored her daughter (Rhett’s sister) Emma. <3 All amazing characters woven together.
And I loved both storylines pretty equally. Not sure I had a favorite…I love historical stories, but the present-day one was just as good!
There are many creepy things that occur in this novel that might give you a few shivers. I don’t generally take delight in reading eerie novels, but I know I am in for an enjoyable – and impressive – ride when I pick up one of Jaime Jo Wright’s books. As I said, her plotlines are just amazing, and nothing is as it seems until the very end. With each book, I’ve been a little more flabbergasted at how it all comes together.
But do prepare yourself….while things indeed aren’t what they seem, those things and events can still be a bit creepy. ;) Definitely worth the read, though! Thoroughly enjoyed “The Curse of Misty Wayfair”!

 

 

 

 

img_3459

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

“Who I Am With You” by Robin Lee Hatcher ~ Review/An I Read With Audra Blog Tour

robinleehatcher

“Who I Am With You” by Robin Lee Hatcher

Who I Am with You is the first book in Robin’s new “A Legacy of Faith” series.

Review copy through I Read With Audra blog tours

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

(clicking on the above graphic will lead you to the giveaway. Ends tomorrow -25th.)

*

*

*

 

About the Book:

 

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination. 

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have broken their hearts, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

Who I Am with You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’m very glad I tried my first Robin Lee Hatcher book – “Who I am With You” is such a sweet read, with writing that feels very familiar in style for me.
I loved the realistic characters and the realistic events and struggles they went through, and yet how it wasn’t overwhelming when they struggled. I didn’t feel like there was anything unnecessary or unrealistic. It was a very touching romance story, slow and sweet.
Jessica is still recovering from many hurts involving her husband and daughter’s car crash and the history preceding it. Ridley is recovering from lies spoken about him and false claims regarding his actions on a political campaign. It was a delight to watch both of them find their healing in a way that was both separate from each other and yet connected at the same time.
At the end of each chapter, we also get to read about Jessica’s great-great grandfather, Andrew Henning. She has inherited his Bible, which connects her to him, and we as the reader feel connected as well as we read along with his life. I thought having his story at the end of the chapters was a lovely touch and not at all overwhelming or hard to switch over as some split-timeline stories can be.
I was also pleased that faith was interwoven frequently and beautifully throughout the entirety of the novel. It was definitely a Christian piece, in that if you took away that strand from the novel, the story wouldn’t hold together as well, and I appreciated that so much! When I read Christian Fiction, I want to see God in it and I did with this book. It wasn’t thrown in your face, but it was done very well and I enjoyed it.
Looking forward to the next book in this series!
_no need to be sorry, dear. we can't shut off our feelings whenever we want. they are what they are._  a cultural marvel

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of over 75 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an ACFW Carol Award winner and an eight-time finalist and has won two RITA Awards and been a finalist eleven times. Her numerous other awards include the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

For more information, visit www.robinleehatcher.comFacebook: robinleehatcherTwitter: @robinleehatcher and Instagram @robinleehatcher.

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“In the Shadow of Croft Towers” by Abigail Wilson ~ Book Review

 

In the Shadow of Croft Towers

“In the Shadow of Croft Towers” by Abigail Wilson

A Regency/Mystery Novel

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

 

From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a mysterious Regency tale of secrets and spies, love and treachery.

Orphaned Sybil Delafield jumps at the opportunity for a position at the mysterious Croft Towers. She believes she was hired to act as companion to a dying woman, but a highway robbery and a hostile welcome from the Chalcroft family cause her to wonder if she was actually hired to help someone spy for France.

An unsolved murder adds intrigue to this already secretive family, and Sybil recognizes Mrs. Chalcroft’s handsome grandson as one of the infamous highwaymen who robbed her. Sybil must determine if this man’s charming smile and earnest eyes speak the truth or if he is simply using her like others in the house. Everyone seems to have something to hide, and Sybil must decide who to trust while also coming to terms with the truth about her own past.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

What a captivating read! Goodness. I didn’t want to put it down, especially as the plot got going. I loved that it was written in first person – that is one of my favorite styles, and it just draws me in immediately. The writing style itself was lovely too, fitting into that time period just beautifully.
We are instantly drawn into our heroine’s plight. Sybil has a sweet, and curious nature. I love how the book starts out – a highway robbery! And might I say, I was in love right then and there with a certain person. You’ll have to read it to find out who. ;)
The mystery held up till the very end and was handled quite masterfully. The entire plotline was really well done!
And I loved the characters. Oh I loved them so much. Except for a bad apple or two. I don’t want to ruin anything because it was all so fabulously played out that I don’t wish to ruin it for any readers! But I definitely would recommend the read. It was enchanting, and so much like a beloved British period drama – loved it! And I have a new book-boyfriend, which is always so lovely! Quite honestly, I was smitten from the beginning with him, and I would very much like my own Mr. Mystery (I’m sure you can guess who he is, but I will withhold his name just to be safe. ;)).
After finishing, I was a bit saddened to find that really there was no faith thread whatsoever. It was a very clean and wholesome book, one which I loved VERY much, but there were lots of instants where a message of trusting God could’ve been implemented very well. So that was the one and only thing that brought it down a half star.
But otherwise, it was a completely lovely novel and I eagerly await more from this author!!
in the shadow of croft towers (1) in the shadow of croft towers
abigail wilson