Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Where We Belong” by Lynn Austin

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“Where We Belong” by Lynn Austin

Review copy through Bethany House

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

The Adventure of a Lifetime for Two Indomitable Socialite Sisters 

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm. 

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was my first Lynn Austin book, and I can gladly say that I enjoyed her writing. It was thorough, and pleasant.
It was delightful to follow the sisters, Rebecca and Flora, on their great many adventures, and their center goal always being the Lord. I also loved their saying, “The Lord knows our end”, because that’s true. He’s got us in the palm of His hand, and our days are ordered by Him.
Both sisters were very unique, and different from each other, yet shared such a strong bond. I did actually like having different parts of the story told from the various array of characters, starting with Rebecca, continuing on with Flora, then Soren, and then Kate, and ending with Rebecca again. It all tied together nicely.
This wasn’t an “on the edge of your seat” read – this was more so a “take it slow” read. It wasn’t packed with action, but neither was it boring. As I said, I enjoyed their journeys, and just their lives.
I really enjoyed the character, Soren. His story was good, and real, and sad. I’m so glad he got his own ‘happy ending’ in a way. That was sweet.
It certainly was a long book, but I didn’t find that tiresome as I might in other cases. I also didn’t see much that could’ve been left out. It was a sound story, and their finds on their adventures were exciting! Even more fun was reading the author’s note and finding that it was based on a true story – very neat.
If you like historical fiction, I definitely recommend this one.

Quotes:

“Egyption thinking would say that we must have angered Him. That He’s punishing us. But our faith asks us to trust Him and to believe that He has a plan for our good, even in the midst of disaster.”
“I need to leave my life in God’s hands and be content. I admit I haven’t found contentment yet, but I’m trying. Meanwhile, I need to keep doing His work without expecting to be rewarded with all of my wishes in return.”
“We need to show her grace, Soren.  Jesus said ‘Freely ye have received, freely give’. We must pray for her, too – not that she’ll change into what we want her to be, but that she’ll become all that God intends her to be.”
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Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“The House on Foster Hill” by Jaime Jo Wright

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“The House on Foster Hill” by Jaime Jo Wright

Mystery/suspense

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide. 

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

 

 

My Thoughts:

This book was creepy! Haha, I had to start my review off in that way. Truly, it wasn’t what I was expecting – it was better. I was admittedly a bit wary before starting this, that there would be a lot of the ‘supernatural’ element, and the story would maybe make me uncomfortable. But it wasn’t, it didn’t. It was so intricate the mystery of it all. And the duel-timeline story so elaborate and interwoven – the whole novel shows immense skill from the author. I couldn’t even imagine getting all of it straight in the writing process! But in the reading, it made sense, and didn’t leave you with any confusion.
But oh yes were there creepy parts. Very, very creepy. ^.^ I tried to avoid reading it before bed, whenever possible, but it is a book that begs not to be put down, so reading before sleep did happen anyway…
I am not usually a fan of split timeline novels – the jumping back and forth is hard for me, and in general, I still avoid it. But it worked with “The House on Foster Hill”. I only jumped ahead once or twice just to be reassured that the next chapter of the current characters ended alright. :)  I knew I couldn’t read one story straight through and return to do the same with the other – that just wouldn’t have flowed as well, I don’t think. Not with THOFH. As I said, the stories, though years apart, were interwoven and built upon the other, linking and relating them.
Now, the question I know many might ask is (well, maybe not, but I’ll still answer…)  : Joel or Grant for preferred hero? (To give you reference if you have not read this book yet, Joel is from the 1906 story, and Grant from the present day story). For me, Joel won out, hands down. Loved and respected him. His relationship with Ivy was no picnic. But I really enjoyed it and rooted for them all along.
That being said, I did still like Grant just fine. And Kaine too (leading present day heroine). Her story had my heart pounding just as much as Ivy’s.
THOFH is a deep book, with twists and turns you weren’t expecting. To finally read the conclusion at the end – you just have to sit there and think on it for a bit.
The message of hope was so beautifully displayed as well. If you’ve read any of my book reviews in the past, you’ll probably have gathered that I am one for a very, very strong Faith strand, so I would say that I would’ve liked it to have been just a little stronger in this book, but the faith strand was still a lot more included than I first wondered about, and more than most books have too. Really, the quiet pieces of the importance of life and eternity, and dealing with death were poignant reminders to me.  One of the quotes I marked said this: “You’re looking at things backward. As if this life and all it has to offer is all there is. It sounds as if this Gabriella could teach us all a thing or two about seeing beyond this world and setting our eyes on Jesus instead.”
Having just been reminded of this lesson by the Lord recently through the death of a friend, the quote affirmed what He showed me. Life here on earth is a blessing, yes, and He has given us His breath to live. But eternity is SO much more glorious, and we all have that hope of Heaven.
So yes, I enjoyed this book, creepy parts and all. And I will be interested to read the author’s next book as well. :)
I would recommend this for ages 18+ due to the intense and frightening/eerie content, and dealing with the reality of human trafficking.
I only had time to make one graphic thus far, but I will also highlight some favourite quotes below:
-He gives us glimpses now, but His plan for us is so much greater than what we see. That's the pitfall of humanity. We look atour present circumsances, our trials, even our joys, and believe that this is all there i (1).png
“An accidental one [death], but accidents never diminished trauma”
 
“The easy stuff doesn’t take care of the root issue.”
“She wanted that hope. To cling to God as Gabriella had. To hold Him so close that this world became an interlude before life truly began.”
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(This image not made by me)
I received a copy of this book from the publishers/author as apart of the launch team; I was not required to write a review. All thoughts are my own.
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Book Review: “An Inconvenient Beauty” by Kristi Ann Hunter

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“An Inconvenient Beauty” by Kristi Ann Hunter

Book Five (I think!) in the Hawthorne House series

Review copy from Publishers/Launch Team

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she’ll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation.

Will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and face their fears in time to find their own happily-ever-after?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was my first novel by this author, and I know, who starts with the end of the series?! But I did. And I don’t regret that choice one bit, because it was such a lovely book!! My only sadness is that I haven’t had the delight of reading the others first, but I shall not hesitate to catch up on those.
The author’s writing style is engaging, and the plot just gripping, and warm, and emotional. I can’t remember what exact part it was, but I was reading along enjoying the book, but something just “clicked” and at that part I became emotionally invested – connected to this story, these characters. That’s when it became a five-star book to me.
The characters were marvelous. At first, I wasn’t sure what I would think about Isabella, honestly. I must admit I was leery of her “vast beauty”, and in those first couple chapters was routing for her less pretty, plain cousin, Frederica. However, as I continued to read and found out that it wasn’t your typical story of the main character being stunning and perfect, (and that Frederica had a story of her own…read it to find out!) I softened more, and almost immediately became endeared to Isabella.
I also have to say that I really understood Griffith and his wanting everything to be “just so”. He’s a character of order, of…well, control, and I could relate well. Yes, there are faults in that, and this book actually helped me remember that more, that life really doesn’t always fit in our perfect box, and God has a MUCH better plan than we could ever come up with, and to just allow it. Even if it seems messy at times. It will all come together.
The story line was fresh and not at all annoying (except when things didn’t come together and I wanted to cry along with Isabella. I told you, I got very emotionally connected!!), and I just didn’t want to leave its pages.
And there were some fantastic laugh-out-loud (literally!) moments that were just an utter delight. Reading in bed, I was giggling so hard my sister had to know what was happening. I ended up reading a few parts of this book out loud to both my Mom and sister just so they could laugh along with me. :)
I also appreciated that it wasn’t your typical plot where you know what turmoil is imminent. Yes, there were snags, and like I said, I almost cried with the main character towards the end, but the part I was expecting and almost dreading because I’ve seen it in other novels and not cared for it, didn’t come. It was so much better, and I was very glad for that.
The only thing I was a little “Hmmm” about was a scene where it was implied that God couldn’t show Griffith who to marry, as if He doesn’t show up like that in our lives, especially in very important matters such as marriage. I definitely agree that He lets us make our own choice, and what was said on that matter was good. But I just disagree that He wouldn’t show us His will if we’re truly seeking it. He’s got a great plan for our lives and will gladly show us when the time is right and if we’re earnestly seeking His counsel and guidance.
So yes, to wrap this review up, I very much enjoyed this novel and can hardly wait to read more by this author!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for being on the launch team. I was not required to write a positive review.
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews, Books

Book Review: “Deadly Proof” by Rachel Dylan

 

Deadly Proof (Atlanta Justice)

 

“Deadly Proof” by Rachel Dylan

Book on in the Atlanta Justice series

Review copy from Bethany House

 

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.
Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower’s allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer. 
Determined not to make the same mistakes, he’s intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything–even murder–to keep the case from going to trial.

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’m not really sure how it escaped my notice upon requesting this book that it was a legal-thriller, but somehow it did, so that was a bit of a surprise upon beginning the story. ^.^
While I generally don’t read a lot of legal suspense novels, I didn’t hate this one. There were times when I felt a little lost because of the legal-setting/speech etc. but it wasn’t terrible for me.
Somebody who enjoys this genre won’t be lost at all.
There are two female characters that I literally couldn’t tell apart for the first 3rd of the book, and had to reread a couple of parts because I realized I read it thinking it was one character when it was actually another…they didn’t have distinct different personalities. But that could just be me.
The story revolves around fighting for a case against a big pharmaceutical company, and the court case surrounding that. It was interesting. I wanted to see how it would end, and what transpired with the characters. But for me, it was kind of just watching a Leverage episode, and I pretty much knew the outcome.
The romance wasn’t my favourite, but it was there.
For me, “Deadly Proof” was just an okay book – not my favourite, but I really don’t have any major complaints about it, and I know it could be a favourite among many! For me it just wasn’t my favourite genre and therefore not really a “me” type of book. :) Totally a matter of preference.

 

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Book Review: “The Promise of Dawn” by Lauraine Snelling

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“The Promise of Dawn” by Lauraine Snelling

Book One in Under Northern Skies series

 

Review copy through Bethany House Publishers

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book: When Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three boys arrive in Minnesota from Norway to help a relative clear his land of lumber, they dream of owning their own farm and building a life in the New World. But Uncle Einar and Aunt Gird are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone in order to repay the cost of their voyage. At this rate, they will never have land or a life of their own.

Signe tries to trust God but struggles with anger and bitterness. She has left behind the only life she knew, and while it wasn’t an easy life, it wasn’t as hard as what she now faces. When a new addition to the family arrives, Signe begins to see how God has been watching over them throughout their ordeal. But after all that has happened, can she still believe in the promise of a bright future?

 

 

My Thoughts:

This was actually my first book that I’ve read by Lauraine Snelling.
The setting was what really drew me in – I love all things Norwegian, and living in MN myself, it seemed quite perfect for me! :) And indeed, I enjoyed the setting very much.
The names! They were probably my favourite thing about the book – I just loved them. So…Norwegian, and much like the viking names I love. “Signe, Rune, Bjorn, Knute, Leif…” etc. Just brilliant.
The beginning of the book was a bit hard for me to get into at first, but once I reached about the middle of it, it picked up and really held my attention.
Some parts seemed repetitive, more like a filler, but otherwise it was a well written story.
I thought it was impressive how you can go through a good chunk of the book just really disliking one character, but by the end you really actually started to truly love that character. That was great. :)
I was fond of this book, and am interested in reading the rest of the series as they come out. :)
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“The Captain’s Daughter” by Jennifer Delamere ~ Book review

(Click on image to go to its amazon page)

 

“The Captain’s Daughter” by Jennifer Delamere

Book one in London Beginnings

Review copy from Bethany House Publishers

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

 

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

 

My Thoughts:

 

“We can not keep dwelling on the past. We must look ahead. Remember Mr. Muller’s admonition that God will always meet our needs.” -TCD
When I requested this book for review, I didn’t actually know it would have mention of George Muller’s orphanage, but finding that was a nice surprise. Rosalyn and her sisters were orphaned and spent their growing up years in the GM orphanage. When I found that out, I expected this story to have more of that included, with relying on God really being Rosalyn’s foundation. However, it seemed that the main focus of this story was on Rosalyn’s life in London; to be more specific, in the theater. It was a very interesting read, and also very easy to get into and continue reading without getting bored or hung up on things. It flowed smoothly, and was entertaining. I would’ve just liked to have seen more emphasis on trusting God – that the faith aspect would’ve been the central theme. It was included of course, but more as an undertone to the story. The plot and Rosalyn & Nate were the driving force of this novel.
Rosalyn and Nate were good characters. Rosalyn could be quite…naiive, but she was still a likeable character. I just got frustrated with her relationship with Tony – I did not like Tony at all.
Nate was a solid character, and I enjoyed his and Rosalyn’s relationship. Though it would’ve been nice to have them finally get together and work out things sooner rather than it all just happening in the end chapter. The ending seemed a bit rushed, but I do hope we will get to see glimpses of their story in the next book about Rosalyn’s sister, Julia. I’m looking forward to reading that one – Julia seems like quite an interesting character.
The theater aspect was indeed interesting. I did like following that story.
And the cover is lovely, though I should note that, while she is technically a daughter of a captain, I suppose, the title is slightly misleading, as her father isn’t in this story, nor much about the sea.
Overall, I liked “The Captain’s Daughter”, and will continue with the series. There were just a few things that frustrated me, but I still enjoyed the book.

 

“God is the supplier of need,” Mrs. Moran said. “We are simply blessed to be His agents sometimes.” – Page 166
“Perhaps not. But then, absolution doesn’t come through what we can do, does it? It comes from another source. One greter than ourselves.” – Page 325
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Book Review: “Wings of the Wind” by Connilyn Cosette

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Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette (Purchase HERE)

Book Three in the Out of Egypt Series

Review copy from Bethany House Program

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage–for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This was such a beautiful book! Truly. I wasn’t sure if I’d completely bond with the main character, Alanah, because from the backcover blurb, she didn’t sound like a typical character I’d love, but I was wrong, and this book was marvelous and I enjoyed it ever so much!
It stunned me in its plotline. And the characters. This series has been so good, and I’m sad to see it end, but excited for the next series by this author!
Alanah was a fiery character to be sure, but relatable. And Tobiah! Oh. Wow. His sacrificial and continuing love for her was just heart-melting. A great mirror to Christ’s love for us. It really impacted me, and helped remind me of our Heavenly Father’s persistence in pursuing us in the most loving way. He doesn’t push, but He pursues.
A midwife was introduced in the beginning of the book, as a healer (read it to find out why!), and the whole time I was doing this: “Is that…? That has to be…? Is it? It’s got to be Shira! Please let it be Shira!” – because I don’t know about you, but I love having characters from past books in the series show up in the next one even if it’s not directly about them.  And I loved Shira. :)
The midwife’s character was so perfect for this story. Her gentleness but firmness with Alanah was great.
The characters really were marvelous. I loved Nita from the beginning. <3 And the sand cats. That was an amazing touch that I loved ever so much. I love cats. ^.^
The storyline was captivating.
And the sometimes-painful-journeys we go on with Alanah, and what she had to endure! So sad. But I absolutely loved to see how it was all wrapped up and how God had a purpose in ALL of it. That is so true in our own lives – there are times where we go through horrible things that we can’t see any point of – all we see is the pain. That’s probably all Alanah saw too. But God had a plan, just as He does for us! He’ll bring us out of our own Jericho’s, He’ll bring us Healing, in His time. Nothing goes unnoticed by Him – He’s got us in the palm of His hand, even in seemingly hopeless situations.
The lessons learned by each character were fantastic, and Tobiah’s reminder that “you are not God” – that was brilliant and hits home. We can’t protect everyone all the time, despite our good intentions – we are not God. But HE is, and He is more than capable. Beautiful.
So yes, as you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. God used it to touch my heart, and that always guarantees a book to be a winner in my eyes! :)
Have you read the series? Which if of the books was your favourite, if so? Counted with the Stars, Shadow of the Storm, or Wings of the Wind? They’re all so good, not sure I could pick a favourite. Shadow of the Storm has a special place for me, but now so does WOTW, and Counted with the Stars was utterly lovely too. So, I don’t know. ^.^