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
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Posted in Book reviews, Books

“Through a Glass Darkly” by Jack Lewis Baillot ~ Book Review

Before I jump into my review I want to say that I loved this book so much. Yes, I will say that again in my review, but I really mean it – it has stuck with me and I want to read it again already. ^.^  I had the privilege of reading a pre-released copy, meaning it is not yet published. But I very much hope that it will become published this year, as it is one I can’t wait to recommend to others!
As it isn’t published yet, there isn’t a proper cover for it. So with the author’s permission, I am using a MOCK cover I created for posting my review. It is not the final version or even one of the versions possible. Just some fun I had after reading. :) Anyway, on to the review!

 

 

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“Through a Glass Darkly” by Jack Lewis Baillot

Not yet published

Add it on GoodReads

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

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About the book:
Adam Clark has just returned from the war in Iraq. He has come home to a family which has rejected him and wants nothing to do with him. He feels all he has left is the house his grandpa left him and the God he put his trust in. Dealing with PTSD because of what he experienced in the war, Adam sometimes wonders how he will get through each day.

India Lee struggles with PTSD for different reasons. Suffering trauma from her past, India is often scared to leave her house. Depressed and lonely, her only companion is her older brother Jared and her only occupation her little flower garden. She doesn’t trust her new neighbor anymore than she trusts anyone.

Then comes the day when Adam steps outside his own shell to help India. A small act of kindness changes their lives and sets them on a path which could bring them healing if only they are willing to open up and face their broken pasts and their present pain. Their battles are long and frightening, but both believe God can bring them through the darkness until they see the light face to face

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My thoughts:
How does one even begin to write a review for a book that is filled with so much heart, and emotion, and struggles. I won’t lie: it was a hard book to read. And yet, so much easier to devour than to set down. I read it every spare minute I had. And my heart broke for these characters, and for the story it tells of real life people too.
I loved this story. Not because it was happy and fluffy but because it is real, and beautiful, and hopeful. And it hurts. But I found it beautifully healing as well.
Characters India and Adam immediately became relatable for me. I instantly cared about their journey, their lives, and really everything about them. I wanted to hug them and possibly not let go (they wouldn’t like that, but….).
And I was so proud of them at many turns! They complimented each other so well. They were not perfect, but no one is, and I think that is one of the things that drew me to them so much. Because they were more than believable, they were entirely realistic. And I loved them for it.
India was amazing to me – with all she dealt with, she was still so brave. Same goes for Adam. Their courage, especially when facing their past was inspiring.
I really do have all the love for this book, and I hope it will be published with utmost haste. It made me tear up, feel everything they felt, and cheer them on.
I wasn’t ready for it to end – I thought I had a few more pages left, so that was sad. XD But it was an excellent ending, and so full of hope.
The struggles in this novel are so real, and I absolutely applaud the author for writing this with so much honesty, truth, bravery, and gentleness. It was so well written, and I was blessed by reading it. <3 One of my favorites for 2018!
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*Because of the heavy topics touched on in this novel, I would recommend for ages 16+, but that is just my personal age recommendation, and obviously also depends on where a person is at themselves.
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Posted in Books, lists, Random babblings, reading, update

It’s that time of the year //2018//

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Another year has somehow sped behind us! As I’m quite sure everyone with agree with and say themselves, it feels like we just welcomed 2018, but here we are at the close of it, 2019 on its heals.

As every year, 2018 has been full, with highs and lows, adventures and troubles, blessings and trials. And it has all grown us.  I praise God for all He’s taught me this year, even though it meant a lot of rough patches.

Life preceded over blogging this year…I had some good several months there where I did author interviews and character spotlights each month which was really loads of fun and I enjoyed it so much. But as the rest of the year continued, time slipped away and I wasn’t able to organize blog posts as well. Computer problems never help with blogging either, and we had our fair share of that this past year too.

 

Of the author interviews, there were 7 total:

 

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AI AM Heath

 

 

 

And 8 character introduction posts:

Willa Forsythe Haley HamptonWyatt Paxton Moriyah CILindsayH Megan Jacobs CI CI LettieLibby S CI CI Liz Cooke

 

 

 

 

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Books! What would a yearly wrap-up be without books? At least coming from me ;) At the beginning of 2018 I had hoped I’d be able to read 80 books, but knew that was probably a bit unrealistic, so I lowered it to 75. Then half the year went by and I realized I might not be able to make that goal either, so down to 70 it went. I didn’t want the goal to become a stresser, because reading is a very pleasurable thing, not a drag. I made that goal, and ended up making my previous goal too. I read a total of 77 books in 2018, equaling 20,293 pages, approximately. Goodreads kept track of it all for me, in addition to my book-notebook that I keep. If you wanted a more in-depth look at the books I read, you can check my goodreads wrap up here. :)

And as I always attempt to do, I have selected some of my favorite reads of 2018! That was a mighty hard task though, let me tell you. I love all de books. <3

And as last year, I have chosen my Top Twelve instead of ten or less, because that is just not realistic for me. ;) So without further ado…. My Top Twelve.

 

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Twelve beautiful books – And yes, I realize that there are only eleven in the picture. That would be because the 12th is an ebook :)  You can click on the titles below and they will lead you to my reviews of each one.

 

“The Masterpiece” by Francine Rivers

“Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar

“An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White

“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette

“The Sea Before Us” by Sarah Sundin

“A Rumored Fortune” by Joanna Davidson Politano

“Storm Front” by Susan May Warren

“The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel

“Isaiah’s Daughter” by Mesu Andrews

“The Hunter and the Valley of Death” by Brennan McPhearson

“If Only It Were Yesterday” by A.M. Heath

“Through a Glass Darkly” by Jack Lewis Baillot

 

 

Annnnd because I am who I am, I have made an Honorable Mentions List. AND a very short list for my favorite short stories of the year :)

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

“A Sparkle of Silver” by Liz Johnson

“A Song Unheard” by Roseanna M. White

“A Promise to Break” by Kathlyn Spurgeon

“Picking Daisy” by Valerie Howard

“Escape and Endurance” by Sarah Holman

“Shelter of the Most High” by Connilyn Cossette

“The Writing Desk” by Rachel Hauck

“The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond” by Jaime Jo Wright

 

 

Novella’s:

 

“Finding The Magic” by Jack Lewis Baillot

“Shot at Love” by Sarah Loudin Thomas

“A Heart So Tender” by Debra E. Marvin

 

 

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And that wraps up the year! Well, it wraps up this blog post. ;)  Happy New Year, readers!! And THANK YOU for being a follower of my blog. It really does bless my heart, and even though I’m rather bad at posting frequently, I do appreciate each and every one of you! <3

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

“Retrieve” by Sarah Addison-Fox ~ Book Review//Giveaway

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Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end!

 

Retrieve Cover

Retrieve (The Stormer’s Trilogy #1)

By Sarah Addison-Fox

Ecopy for review from the author

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

What if the job you took to stay alive might be what kills you?

Kade knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it’s like to lose everything and everyone around him.

His job in a Stormer Unit guarantees not just his survival in the decimated country of Azetaria, but his sister Meg’s. Even if it means facing the Numachi warriors baying for his blood, he’ll do what it takes to keep her safe.

Hadley is alone and surviving the only way she knows how. By hiding where predators won’t find her and scavenging enough just to keep her alive.

When desperation drives Hadley to search for her missing brother, she mistakenly accepts the offer of recruitment into the Stormer’s camp, only to be partnered with Kade and sent as a scout into Numachi territory.

The intimidating young Stormer may just know where her brother has gone. But can they stay alive long enough to find him?

Goodreads Book Link

Amazon Book Link

Where to find the author:

Sarah Author image

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Twitter: @saddisonfox

Facebook Fanpage

Blog

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but this novel surprised me – especially the ending. Because…where is book two? I know we only have to wait a month till that one comes out, but I kind of need to know how the story continues. :)
Anyway!
The first bit of this book definitely had a “Mulan” feel to it which was great. I liked the characters – I liked Hadley from the start, though Kade took a smidgen longer. He’s a rough one. ;) But it was enjoyable seeing their journey together. This is an action-filled story that keeps you on your toes. And I was actually quite thankful for that! I wanted something that kept me wanting to read. “Retrieve” definitely did that.
I’m not sure what this book is technically classified as, but it felt quite “fantasy” like without the magic elements, and I liked that a lot. Kind of like Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles. :) The world was very real, and my mind had no trouble picturing everything. And it was great that even though the book centered on two characters almost exclusively, it wasn’t boring at all, nor did you wish for more character interaction – I loved Hadley and Kade’s relationship. And I want to see it continued. Bring on book two. ;)
One thing I will say – there is a fair amount of swearing involved, and while I know that it was realistic for the character, I didn’t care to read all the cursing continuously. It didn’t shock me, but I wasn’t a fan either. I get when something needs to be realistic, but I prefer the “He cursed” or “swore” etc. Actually reading the words isn’t my favorite, because in essence then I am swearing and that is not a habit I want.
There were mentions of ‘gods’ (ex. “If the gods were real, they wanted nothing to do with them”, etc.), and one they referred to as the Ancient religion, which I assume is alluding to Christianity since the one time it was mentioned, the ‘h’ in “Him” was capitalized. It was very brief in this book, definitely not center or even side plot yet. Not sure if that will change in the next book, though I am curious to see. As it is, I wouldn’t classify this as a Christian book, but it was clean and wholesome (except for the swearing).
If you’re looking for an adventure novel with great characters and exciting plot (not to mention the need to keep reading even when the next book isn’t out…) be sure to check out this one. I enjoyed it very much!
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GIVEAWAY!
Click on the image to enter to go HERE.
Posted in Book reviews, Reviews

“Jesus Always” Devotion ~ Review

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“Jesus Always”

Sarah Young

Devotional

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About:

Life today is full of difficulties—loss, sadness, fear. In the midst of these challenges, joy often feels impossible or out of reach. But Jesus has more for His followers than a life of striving, pain, and discontent. He offers life abundant, life to the fullest, life brimming with joy! Jesus Always, the new 365-day devotional from bestselling author Sarah Young, was written as part of Sarah Young’s exploration of the promises of joy in scripture. Written as if Jesus Himself is speaking directly to the reader, Jesus Always invites you into a new way of living—a life of joy. 

Reaching out with joy-filled reminders from the Word of God, these devotions will intimately and gently connect you with Jesus—the One who meets you where you are. Draw near to Him in Jesus Always

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’ve actually already reviewed the content of this beautiful devotional, but this one is different in style – it is smaller, and the cover more intricate than the last. And oh-so beautiful! It is truly stunning to look at.
As I said in my first review of this book, the devotionals are heart-touching and so meaningful. I love all of the Jesus Calling Devotionals that I have read, as they minister right to the heart. They bring comfort and wisdom, and I highly recommend them. :)
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Posted in Book reviews

“Heaven Shining Through” by Joe Siccardi ~ Book Review

Heaven Shining Through

“Heaven Shining Through” by Joe Siccardi

A novella

Review copy from the author

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

Throughout her life, she had a rocky relationship with her mother – and now her mother is all she has left. 

Through a nostalgic look back, Samantha recognizes the presence of God in an ordinary life. She learns more about herself as a wife and mother who has had her share of sorrow and blessings. 

As her faith increases, she is able to see her mother through new eyes, leading to reconciliation …and is reminded of that every time she sees Heaven Shining Through.

My Thoughts:

 

A well written novella about a woman named Samantha who thinks back on her life as she takes care of her ailing mother.
It was a very short and easy read. It felt almost non-fiction rather than fiction, as Samantha recounts her life, the people she met, and the choices she made. Her relationship with Chad was meaningful and it was nice that they loved each other so well, even when life was rough.
There were several swear words, talk of marital relations, and life choices, and while faith was mentioned, it wasn’t really the sole focus. I was expecting a bit more of a redemption thread.
Still, it was written well, and flowed nicely. I wouldn’t recommend for younger readers, though.

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“The Christmas Heirloom Collection” by 4 Authors ~ Review

My review of this is embarrassingly late, as I read this collection a couple of months ago. Ooops! But at last, here it is…

 

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations

“The Christmas Heirloom”

Four Holiday Novellas 

By Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade.

Review copy from the publishers/author.

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Perfect for the Christmas season, four beloved authors bring their bestselling, award-winning talents to a multigenerational collection of romantic holiday novellas. In stories ranging from 1820s Regency England to present-day Washington state, readers will be treated to Christmas tales of an heirloom brooch passed from mother to daughter for almost two hundred years. Will the family legend claiming the brooch brings love to its recipient hold true for these women separated by the years but bonded together by the ties of family?

in Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson. While he may be far above her station, she can’t help but notice that his desire to make this Christmas special for his grandmother matches her own.

in Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love as the holidays draw near.

in Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her mother’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance one December.

in Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love? 

My Thoughts:

Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter 4 stars

A sweet novella with endearing characters! I am quickly becoming a fan of Kristi Ann Hunter’s stories. They flow so well, have lovely amusement, and great characters you can’t help but love! Sarah wasn’t your typical heroine, but she was so loveable! Her affinity for cake was just the best. ^.^

Grandmother was also an amazing character who I grew attached to in the short amount of pages.

I just love Miss Hunter’s characters. Although, I will admit that the hero took me a few pages to love him – once I got past the fact that he couldn’t see Sarah’s charm immediately, I loved him too. ;)

The scene featuring the brooch being passed down was darling and very touching.

All in all a very sweet novella!

 

Gift of the Heart by Karen Whitmyer 3.5 stars

This novella was actually my first read by this author. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing quality – it read very well, the characters were all constructed nicely, the plot complete – I was impressed! I enjoyed the story, too. The romance didn’t seemed forced at all (which is a feat in a novella!), and the relationships were sweet.

 

“A Shot at Love” by Sarah Laudin Thomas 5 stars

Oh I loved this one! Main character Fleeta was just priceless, and I would say the same of Hank! I loved how unique this story was, as well as how individual each character was – especially Fleeta. She wasn’t your typical heroine and I loved her all the more for it. Upon receiving the heirloom broach, she was uncertain, determined to never fall in love. Ah, how God changes things. ;) The romance was sweet, and it all unfolded perfectly. And the faith-strand was powerful – some things didn’t turn out perfectly like we hope (just like real life) but how the characters learned from it was splendid, and I was just very impressed. I’m very eager to read more of this authors works!

 

“Because of You”  by Becky Wade  3.5 stars

The contemporary novella of this collection, “Because of You” was a cute finish. The town setting with the Christmas feel was nice, and it was fun to follow along with main characters Maddie and Leo as they worked together on Mission:Christmas – an event run by their church to help families in need. The story was told well, and their romance believable. Little Charlie was a cutie too. :)

I think it would’ve been nice to see the brooch included just a little more, but it was still incorporated.

 

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All in all, sweet holiday read. :)