Posted in 1940's, Bethany House, Book reviews

“Whose Waves These Are” by Amanda Dykes ~ Review

Raes books (6)

“Whose Waves These Are” by Amanda Dykes

Review copy from publishers/author

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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About the Book:

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

 

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My Thoughts:

This book is one that should be savored. It is not a book to rush through. Just as I felt when reading the prequel novella (“Up From the Sea”), while traversing the pages of “Whose Waves These Are”, it was almost like I was holding my breath in anticipation. To see how it would all play out, to watch the characters live their lives – but it was also so much more.
I loved the little Harbor town, Ansel-by-the-Sea – it sounds so charming, and I wish it were a place that I could visit!
The writing style is very unique – and I’ll admit that at first, it took me a while to really get into it because I’m not used to reading a book written in this manner. However, once I got acclimated to the waters, so-to-speak, it was so pleasurable, and I felt so drawn in.
The characters each lept off the page. As did the story itself. It is a winding tale through several decades, but every piece is so well woven together that the completed work is rather stunning indeed.
This story evokes emotion – I wept at more than one part, and the messages impressed throughout the novel were beautiful and touching.
“Whose Waves These Are” took me a while to read, but I wish I had time to linger in it longer, for as I said – it is a story not to be devoured, but to be slowly inhaled.
I loved Bob, and Annie, and Fletch, and Bess, and Ed, and so many other characters, and I am quite certain you will too.
“He said he loves you, that it’ll be all right, that life is big…and God is bigger.”
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Quotes:
More Pictures:

 

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

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“The Artful Match” by Jennifer Delamere ~ Book Review

The Artful Match (London Beginnings, #3)

The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere

Book Three in the Long Beginnings Series

Review copy from the author/publisher

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

Cara Bernay has never fit in. At loose ends in 1881 London after a near tragedy costs her a job, she befriends a rising young artist. With his help, she begins planning a new life and developing her own artistic talent. But soon Cara finds herself at odds with the artist’s brother—a handsome but serious-minded earl who wants to force his brother back to a “respectable” life.

Henry Burke, the Earl of Morestowe, feels the weight of growing financial burdens. His profligate and emotionally unstable brother is making matters worse, and Henry needs him back home. Despite misgivings about Cara’s mysterious background, Henry sees she’s a positive influence on his brother and on Henry’s unruly young ward, and he strikes a deal with her to return with them to their estate.

But the family has their own secrets, and when Cara, drawn ever closer to Henry, stumbles onto the truth, she must choose between following her heart and pursuing a bold plan that could bring disaster.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I had the pleasure of reading the first book in this series, but ended up missing the second when it came out. I wanted to know what was happening to these sisters, so I gladly accepted the opportunity to read this third one. In the beginning few chapters, I felt like I was missing something from the second book, but I don’t think it made it too hard to understand on its own, and I think this book can be read as a stand-alone if need be. Of course, as with many series, it is best read in order, but they are not so intricately woven together that you are lost when missing one. :)
“The Artful Match” is a sweet story of Cara finding her own way in life. Having the misfortune of losing her job, she moves to London, nearly destitute. But then she meets a man who shares her love of art. As she gets to know him, he helps her get on her feet. She is feeling confident in her new adventure until she meets the man’s brother, and eventually, his ward. Life seems to be changing once again, but in good ways that she learns to grow along with.
At times I found this book to be rather slow going, and so it took me a while to get through it. The story was good, and I enjoyed it, but the pace was slow and sometimes typical. I did get frustrated toward the end when the usual misunderstanding/drama happened that occurs in every book, but I’ve come to expect that in most novels.
The characters were well-written, and I especially loved Amelia – she was a spirited little girl who, yes, needed instruction and guidance, but had a sweet heart and loving attitude once given room to bloom.
Overall, it was an enjoyable story, and a good conclusion to the series!
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Once it’s all done, the setbacks you’ve had along the way won’t seem so bad. Sometimes what we make of bad situations leaves us better off than we ever expected.”

 

 

 

 

*I received a review copy of this book from the author/publisher; all opinions in my review are my own.

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews, Books, Reviews

“A Return of Devotion” by Kristi Ann Hunter ~ Book Review

I hate that this is being posted so late!!! I loved this book so much – it will definitely be included in my favorites of 2019 – and so I am embarrassed that it has taken me this long to post my review. But at long last, here it is! <3

 

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“A Return of Devotion” by Kristi Ann Hunter

Book Two in the Haven Manor Series

Review copy from the publisher/author as apart of the Launch Team

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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About the Book:

Daphne Blakemoor was content living in her own secluded world for the last twelve years. She had everything she needed—loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes to a new marquis with an undeniable connection to her past, everything she’s come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford’s main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect . . . until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

Both Daphne and William have spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, forge a new path for the future together? 

My Thoughts:

This was fantastic. Truly. I love this series. :) Going into this one, I wasn’t sure if I’d relate to main character Daphne, just because in the previous book, Kit had been my favorite. It was so silly of me to wonder this, because I not only related to Daphne, I bonded with her. I share so many of her struggles, and to be perfectly honest, there were so many times during the reading of this that I almost had to remind myself she wasn’t actually real because I was tempted to write her a letter saying I relate XD The struggles with fantasizing and daydreaming that she dealt with was so relatable to me. And how when things actually happened in real life, it was harder – and scarier – to deal with than the “harmless” imaginings. But oh how many troubles the fantasizing gets us into. I still need to continue to remind myself to live right here in the present, just as life is.
The truths she discovered, and the journey she took was inspiring and realistic, and so beautiful. I just really, really loved Daphne.
And William. Of course we cannot forget William! He was great as well. Snobbish at first (oh William), but his character grew so much and he was a sweetheart. I absolutely love these two!!
Really, all of the characters deserve their own paragraphs of gushing over them, but I don’t know that we have space or time for that. ;) Jess….Benedict…Sarah…Eugenia…Reuban…I think you get the gist. Such three dimensional characters that you cannot help but adore.
And the story itself was so well done! I loved every minute of it. And waiting for the next book is going to be so hard. :P
Excellent writing, amazing characters, superb plot, and an ending that leaves you wanting more! definitely recommend this series :)
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Quotes:

 

“Daphne didn’t handle strangers very well most of the time, and she certainly wasn’t managing this one.” 
*
“You know,” Jess finally said, “it’s okay to not be good at something. It’s okay to ask for help.” 
*
“‘Be strong and of good courage,'” Daphne said from memory as she looked around at the three upturned faces. “‘Fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.'” 
*
“Mrs. Brightmoor sank further into the woodwork. She actually managed to blend her faded orange printed muslin partially into the glaringly red wallpaper. It was a rather amazing feat.” 
*
“I like people. Well, I like helping them. They make me nervous unless I have a particular task to do.” 
*
“Daphne frowned again. What good was escaping into one’s imagination if the world’s problems came along for the ride?” 
ARoD library (5)

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Between Two Shores” by Jocelyn Green ~ Book Review

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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?

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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 Bethany House, Book reviews

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

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“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?

 

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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”!

 

 

 

 

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

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. :)

 

 

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews

“Shelter of the Most High” by Connilyn Cossette ~ Book Review

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“Shelter of the Most High” by Connilyn Cossette

Biblical Fiction// Cities of Refuge book Two.

Review copy from the publisher

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

 

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a City of Refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood and chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Will they break free from the shackles of the past in time to uncover the betrayal and save their lives and the lives of those they love?

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

What fun to be able to read little Eitan’s story from when we first met him in “A Light on the Hill”. Except…little Eitan is no longer little in “Shelter of the Most High”! What happened?! ;) He grew up. Into a very strong, Yahweh-following, handsome young man.
This story is also shared with heroine, Sofea. The foreign speaking spitfire with the utmost concern for her cousin, Prezi. Both of these young woman are strong characters and immediately endearing. Kidnapped from their Island and families that were murdered, the girls manage to escape off the ship on which they were imprisoned, making it to shore but nearly dying in the process. They are rescued by a group of Hebrews who bring them back to the city of refuge, Kedesh.
Not only would the ordeal be terrifying, but not speaking their language or understanding at all would be remarkably hard. It was lovely to see the girls adapt, even through continued hardships.
Some of the tension that occurred towards the middle/end was a bit predictable, though there was one event that I hadn’t suspected that was interesting for sure.
I know the relationship tension is something done in almost every novel and it works for the stories, but I have to admit that I get a little tired of it. I certainly don’t mind realistic relationship problems because relationships are hard, but when it just seems to be a part of the plot it isn’t my favorite.
However, I loved how it was resolved, and the ending was very, very good! I don’t want to give any spoilers, but after the tension event occurred, I was completely riveted, wanting to know how a certain plot was going to be unwound.
I also loved the small hints we got for Prezi’s relationship status, though I know we probably won’t get a book for her story. I loved Prezi, Sofea’s cousin, and fell in love with her sweet character!
This is Biblical Fiction, so of course mentions of Yahweh are woven throughout. Its message wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, so I think that’s why it wasn’t my favorite compared to the first book in this series, but it was still very good, and as I said, I loved the ending – that is where we received some very lovely truths that were healing to the characters. I would’ve liked to see Sofea develop more in her faith in Yahweh, though. I feel like that wasn’t touched upon very deeply.
Eitan’s story was very good in this aspect though.
*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.