Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“All for Love” Collection ~ Book Review

 

 

 

“All for Love” 3-Novella collection by Mary Connealy, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Jen Turano

 Three of Christian historical fiction’s beloved authors come together in this romantic and humorous collection of novellas featuring prequels to their latest series. New and loyal fans alike will enjoy these novellas previously released only as ebooks. Connealy’s “The Boden Birthright” journeys to the Old West, where ranch hand Chance Boden’s determination to be his own boss is challenged by his employer’s pretty daughter. Hunter’s “A Lady of Esteem” follows a Regency-era young lady whose chance at love and reputation in society are threatened by a nasty rumor. Turano’s “At Your Request” tells of a young woman who is humbled at her newly lowered status in society when she is reunited with the very man whose proposal she rejected.

 

Review copy: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

 

My Review:

 

 

 

“The Boden Birthright” by Mary Connealy// 3 stars

I’m not generally a huge fan of the “old west” type of fiction, but I had read one of Mary Connealy’s stories before and enjoyed it, so I started this one with little trepidation. And while it was a fine story, I felt that it was heavy on the descriptions instead of the characters and their lives, and it was very much an insta-love situation. Which, I know, kind of has to be the case for a novella, but it was like a switch had gone off with their romance, since Chance had been mourning his wife only a couple pages previously.

It just was a bit rushed, and not my favourite story. But that’s not saying it won’t be your favourite. :)

“A Lady of Esteem” by Kristi Ann Hunter//  4.5 Stars

This is the story for which I received the review copy. :) I absolutely loved Kristi Ann Hunter’s book, “An Inconvenient Beauty” and have been eager to go back and start this series from the very start. So receiving this novella collection with The Hawthorne House’s prequel in print – I was quite pleased. ^.^

And it was a joy to read “A Lady of Esteem”! I loved main character, Amelia – she had just a sweet and caring heart, and she was oh-so patient throughout each trial she faced. And all the servants – I loved them too, and their love and devotion to Amelia; even if they didn’t work under her themselves. And hero, Anthony was a great character of a changed man. The two main characters complimented each other so well!

The faith message was definitely present, which I of course appreciated.

The whole story was brought together very nicely, and a fantastic prequel to the series!

 

 

 “At Your Request” by Jen Turano// 4.5 stars

 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I would think of this novella. I hadn’t previously read anything by Jen Turano, and since I was almost done with this collection, I admit I was a bit hesitant about the last one, concerned that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as the one before. But goodness, I shouldn’t have worried! This story was darling, and pleasantly surprised me at more than one turn. Every time I thought I knew what would happen or what one of the characters would say, assuming it would be the typical in most romance fiction, it would be the opposite – which delighted me because that is what I wanted to find but rarely do in stories.

I also loved that Wilhelmina wasn’t your typical ‘perfect stunning trim’ character. One scene had me giggling out loud, and I was just very impressed with this story. I would definitely like to read more by this author. :)

I do wish there would have been a faith message; that was sadly not present.

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars// Very lovely collection with enjoyable reads!

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Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Breath of Hope” by Lauraine Snelling ~ Book Review

A Breath of Hope (Under Northern Skies #2)

 

“Breath of Hope” by Lauraine Snelling

Book 2 in the Under Northern Skies series

Review copy through publisher

My rating: 3.5/4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Nilda Carlson has been trying to save enough money to go to America for months, so when a letter arrives, with an offer to pay her passage, she jumps at the chance. Her younger brother Ivar accompanies her, and they are thrilled to join older brother Rune and his family in the northern forests of Minnesota.

But America is not everything Nilda imagined. A terrifying experience in a lumber camp shakes Nilda’s confidence and trust in men, but a job helping a young widow raise her children and run her farm gives her a chance to build her own life. When she meets Fritz, the children’s schoolteacher, she is initially unimpressed and uninterested. His kindness and passion for learning begin to win her over, but how can she sacrifice her dreams for the future for a man she’s still not sure of?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Book Two in the “Under Northern Skies” series, “A Breath of Hope” continues Signe and Rune’s story in America as well as Rune’s siblings, Nilda and Ivar, joining them from Norway.
I was expecting this book to be more of Nilda’s story than anyone else’ but I was still quite pelased to find that we got to see more from Signe and Rune, and experience the story through their POV’s too.
What I like about this series is that it portrays life as it was in that time period, and the trials and experiences they went through with a realistic view.
And the names are always fantastic – I love the Norwegian background. It was fun that in this one, we get to see a little more of Norway in the beginning as Nilda and Ivar are saving to make their trip to America.
This book was a little…lacking in a main plot line. It’s more of a continuation of every-day life from the first book, with not much climax. So, it could be a bit of a slow read, but I still enjoyed it. The characters were well-built up just like the first one, and the setting/descriptions were strong.
There were a couple of “inconsistencies” where they would skip over something just mentioned, or didn’t revisit a “plot line” I thought they would. There was also a fair build up to something happening, but when it was revealed at the very end it wasn’t very monumental, if that makes sense.
But all in all, I still enjoyed reading it, and am curious to see what the next book will hold. I don’t feel like we really got to hear much of Nilda’s story, so I would like to see hers especially continue. :)
 
*This doesn’t really pertain to the review or the book’s contents at all, but I must admit I was a little bummed when the review copy came and it was hardcopy, because the first was paperback, and I want a series to match. Am I the only one? XD
Quote:
“Never is a long time. Somehow we will find a way.”
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt ~ Book review

 

Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt

Biblical Fiction

Review copy through Bethany House Publishers

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.

Judah’s father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight–or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband’s decision–what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long? 

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah’s wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice. 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I was actually hesitant to read this book at first because the other books I’ve read by this author were not favourites. But since this one was about the Maccabees, I was very intrigued and willing to give it a chance. Happily, I didn’t find it to be like the other books I’d read previously, which was good. It was pretty clean, as a whole, though since it is largely a battle-book, there are definitely some graphic scenes, but the graphic-descriptions never lasted too long.
Being someone who celebrates The Feast of Dedication with my family, I was particularly interested in that aspect of this novel, but honestly, that specific account was told in a matter of 2 or so pages without much depth.
A lot of the book seemed mostly factual instead of story-sounding, and I realize facts are good, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I prefer a Biblical based book to explain things more in a story-telling way – where you relate to it at a deeper level because it is incorporating characters and storylines along with the information.  I couldn’t really connect with the main characters because, well, there wasn’t much about them. The first half of the book showed them well enough, and I was able to connect a bit there and the book’s title made sense, but at the middle-mark, when the battles all started to happen, it lost the character-relation and was really more of a battle play-by-play and less about Leah and much more about Judah. Which is fine for many, just not what the title suggests at all, or what I was hoping for.
Things that I thought they would spend time on were glossed over within a paragraph, or mentioned as just a passing thought, which I thought was a little odd.
It was nice to see each battle-victory be given to the glory of Adoni, though.
I appreciate the author’s intent, writing a novel about the Maccabees, because it is fascinating, I just personally could not connect with this book.

Quote:

“And we are to teach our children that no king can ever take the place of HaShem in our hearts. The Hellenes may abolish our Temple service, they may forbid us to circumcise our children or observe the Sabbath, and they may encourage us to eat unclean animals. But they can never unseat HaShem from His throne. He still owns heaven and earth, and He still controls the fate of kings and priests.” 
** I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher.  All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews, Books, reading, Reviews

“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette ~ Book Review

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“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette

Book One in the Cities of Refuge Series

Review copy from the publishers

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

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About the Book:

 

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

 

 

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My Thoughts:

 

What a delightful treat to be able to read Moriyah’s story, whom we were introduced to in “Wings of the Wind” (part of the Out of Egypt Series, while this book is book one of the Cities of Refuge Series)!
I loved this book; it was excellent. I love how the author weaves a story that is at once so captivating and so meaningful and ripe with the Lord’s beauty.
And I loved the characters – of course, Moriyah, but also Ora, and Eitan (SO adorable!!), and the hero Derek – all such excellent characters, well-constructed and portrayed.
I was impressed that most of the book was one of the characters being on the move – they weren’t in one location for very long, and that made the setting very unique! And adventurous. Though the reason behind it was a sad one, the descriptions of the sights they saw were a pleasure to read.
Moriyah’s heart-journey was even more enjoyable, seeing her struggles from page one and how she found healing from Yahweh. Her finding her worth was beautiful. <3
She was so kind to those around her, and so strong even when she felt herself weak. I also loved how she could hear Yahweh’s Voice – so precious. Moriyah was such an easy character to bond with. I felt like I shared in her sorrows and also her joys. I wanted to see her triumph, but most of all I loved how she committed – and surrendered – her life to Yahweh. Such a humbling and good reminder, one I love to read about in fiction.
I was a little surprised by the amount of kissing involved…I am not a Biblical/Historical expert at all, but I wouldn’t think that a Hebrew maiden would give away so many kisses before commitment, let alone before marriage. And if it was a matter of getting caught up in the moment (understandable; the flesh is weak), I think because of their upbringing, she would have felt a bit of remorse afterwards, if that makes sense.
But otherwise, I very much adored this book.
Each piece of this book was well-written and engaging, and I can hardly wait for the next one (yay for getting to see an older Eitan in the next one!!)!!
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Quotes:

 

Moriyah

Moriyah 2

Moriyah 3

Moriyah 4

Moriyah 5.png

 

 

“Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God, the Lord is One. And you should love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength…these words which I command you today shall be on your heart.” If I loved Yahweh, I would obey, no matter the cost.

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Death at Thornburn Hall” by Julianna Deering ~ Book Review

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“Death at Thornburn Hall” by Julianna Deering

Book Six in the Drew Farthing Mysteries Series

Review copy provided by the publishers

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

 

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About the Book:

 

The Fartherings’ Scottish Holiday Takes a Dark Turn 
Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing holiday, but he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his host at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before Drew can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious riding accident.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each might have had a motive to put Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

 

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My Thoughts:

 

I found this book uniquely written, and very… British-mystery-esque! Really, it was liking stepping into a BBC Mystery show. ^.^
The setting and era were very nice, and worked well with the story.I was most intrigued to find out the culprit in the end, though I did suspect the person earlier than Drew figured it out…! ^.^ But then, I have watched a lot of British Mysteries ;)
The characters were endearing, though because this is part of a series, you don’t really get to know them completely in one book. That is the one thing that probably makes this a lower rating for me, but not due to the book’s fault at all. This is just the kind of series that should be read in order. And I did not do that. ^.^ There were lots of references to past happenings in the previous books, so I wished I had had the chance to read them in order, but alas. I’m still glad I got the chance to read a Drew Farthing mystery, even if it is the 6th book. :) I’d like to start over at the first book at some point, and go through them, because, judging off this one book, they seem good and entertaining. :)
That being said, “Death at Thornburn Hall” could be read as a standalone (as I did), but I think I would recommend reading them in order to get a better grasp on the characters and their background! :)

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Quotes:

“That could be. Or maybe He has something else in mind. Some other way for you to find out what you want to know. A better way. Or maybe it just isn’t time yet and His answer isn’t no, but ‘not now’.”
“People generally think sheep are stupid, you know, but he says they’re not. It’s only when they’re afraid that they make bad decisions.”
“It wouldn’t be faith if we could see everything ahead of time.”
“You know how it is. When there’s a tragedy, people are so helpful at first. But after a while they go back to their regular routines, and the bereaved one is left quite alone with nothing to go back to.”
“At some point we have to trust God with our lives, don’t we? Otherwise we spend our days huddles in a corner afraid to take a step outside. But what a waste that is when there’s so much we;re meant to do with the time He’s given us.”
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.”
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.