Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

“Just Look Up” by Courtney Walsh ~ Review

“Just Look Up” by Courtney Walsh

Review copy from Tyndale Publishers Reading Program

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home―a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work―something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.
Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.
Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along―if only she’d just look up.

 

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve only read one other of Courtney Walsh’s books, but I enjoyed that one quite a bit, so I was glad to get the chance to read/review this one as well.
I liked this book – especially Ryan. He was a great character. So sweet and selfless, but not without his own faults and struggles. Lane was a well crafted character too, though I personally didn’t relate to her quite as well, but there were times where I could.
This was definitely a romance book, but not a deep Christian book. There was a bit in the beginning/middle, but only a little and nothing really fully developed/focused on it. The faith strand just wasn’t a very major part of the book. It was clean, and there were mentions of God, and His role in our lives, it just wasn’t the focal point of the story.
The message of not being so connected to the online world etc. was good, and the story  was written well. It all flowed very nicely and was engaging.
So while I think I preferred the other book I’ve read by this author, “Just Look Up” was still a good read.
Posted in Blogging For Books, Book reviews

“The Road to Paradise” by Karen Barnett ~ Book Review

“The Road to Paradise” by Karen Barnett

Book One in the Vintage National Park series

Review copy from Blogging for Books Program

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow. 
But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.
When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?
Karen Barnett’s vintage national parks novels bring to vivid life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands, when he wrote in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter: “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

My Thoughts:

I shall start out this review by commenting on the cover – because it’s beautiful, is it not? I read some other reviews of this book, and several others have said that the cover is what drew them to the story, and I have to agree. It’s so unique, and well-put together; it really attracts the eye! And even the back-cover has intricate little details that match the story so well. Very impressed!
Now onto the inside. :)
“The Road to Paradise” was a good book ~ well-researched and presented. Margie was a very likeable character, and Ford was marvelous as well. I liked how Margie was so determined, and how important her faith was to her. I was glad to see a book touching on the ‘be ye not unequally yoked’ part of romances as that is so often disregarded or swept under the rug.
Their romance was sweet, though for my personal tastes, there was a bit much at some points – with the kisses, etc. Nothing inappropriate, just definitely a romance book.
The setting was great – the whole air of the Mountain and its surrounding was charming. Enjoyed that quite a bit. :)
I liked this book just fine – it was a good one, and I don’t really have any complaints (besides personal preference of how far romance goes). I’ve seen that many people have absolutely loved this book, and I’m glad! For me, it wasn’t an “adored” book, but I didn’t dislike it either. I enjoyed reading it for sure. :)
Posted in Book reviews, Revell Reads

“A Matter of Trust” by Susan May Warren ~ Book Review

(click on image to go to its amazon page)

“A Matter of Trust” by Susan May Warren

Book Three in the Montana Rescue Series

Review copy source: Revell Publishers Program

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he’s remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana’s rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can’t seem to find his footing–or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him. 

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret–one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track. 

When Ella’s brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park’s most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn’t so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he’ll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain. 

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder–and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella’s secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other–even when disaster happens again?

 

 

My Thoughts:

This series has been just excellent. And so easy to get caught up in and then get lost in!
“A Matter of Trust” was full of adventure, danger, and a good romance.
I hadn’t previously read many “Search and Rescue” series before this one, but my was it gripping! And now I’m even more excited to read SMW’s other SAR books.
But yes, this book. I loved the snowy setting because I love the cold. And spending time in a cold book made me imagine it was just a little colder here. ;)
Gage is a very strong character. I wasn’t sure if I’d fall in love with him as a character or not at first, but I shouldn’t have worried at all. Out of the three book heroes of this series I think maybe he’s at the top of my list…it’s hard to decide for sure though, because I love Sam as well, and Pete, and Ty…Okay, so these books have swoonworthy characters.
And the leading gals! They’re amazing. Ella was a very likeable character, and I could relate to her in her desires to be “perfect” before God but realizing that even if we’re not perfect, He loves us anyway – unconditionally.
And that brings me to the faith strand. These books are pretty short, but there’s always a faith strand, which is a big draw for me. And while they are not super loud, they are also not just sideline plots either – the message is woven in the story and touched on throughout it. It’s gentle and beautiful. Trust was the theme of this book, of course, and I really appreciated this as it was a much-needed reminder for me. We can trust God in ALL things, because He is good in ALL things. Love that lesson!
So yes, I very much enjoyed this book – loved it, in fact. This series, if you haven’t gathered, has made me very happy. :)
Don't for a minute that God has forgotten about you or doesn't have your back. And don't base God's love or desire to help you or your opinion of yourself. Base it on who God says He is.
“I have a feeling God put us exactly where we needed to be to get away, so – no, I don’t hear any laughter. I hear God saying, “You messed up, but that doesn’t mean I did. Trust Me.”” Pg 187
“Her words echoed back to her about God, ‘You messed up, but that doesn’t mean I did. Trust Me.’ She wasn’t sure where they’d come from, but they lingered, hung on.
Maybe that was the key – just because she’d made a mistake with her life didn’t mean that God has, and it hopefully didn’t change the way God saw her. Still flawed but worth loving anyway.And if God loved her despite her failures, maybe she could let go of trying to control everything, start trusting Him.” pg 197
Posted in Book reviews

“Suit and Suitability” by Kelsey Bryant ~ Book Review

(click on image to go to the book’s amazon page)

 

“Suit and Suitability” by Kelsey Bryant

Part of the Vintage Jane Austen collection

Review ecopy from the author

 

About the Book:

 

The mystery surrounding their father’s criminal accusations is almost as hard to solve as the many puzzles springing on their hearts. 

Canton, Ohio, 1935. Ellen and Marion Dashiell’s world crumbles when their father is sent to prison. Forced to relocate to a small town, what is left of their family faces a new reality where survival overshadows dreams. Sensible Ellen, struggling to hold the family together, is parted from the man she’s just learning to love, while headstrong Marion fears she will never be the actress she aspires to be. When a dashing hero enters the scene, things only grow more complicated. But could a third man hold the key to the restoration and happiness of the Dashiell family?

 

My Thoughts:

 

To start out, I must confess that I haven’t read the original “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen, but I have watched the two movie adaption’s very many times, and next to Persuasion, it is at the top of my list for Jane Austen favourites.
“Suit and Suitability” was a very close retelling to the original (I am basing off the movie, remember), and throughout it, I really felt like I was pretty much watching the movie itself, only it being set in the 30’s in Ohio/New York. The characters were very close to their real representatives, and the plot-line very near the real one. There were a couple differences, and a bit of a twist at the end, but for the most part it had all the great things that make it Sense and Sensibility.
We got to know more of Marion in the beginning, and I was afraid we wouldn’t get to know Ellen at all, but about a little before halfway that changed, and their stories were told equally, which I appreciated. It’s nice to have a book where there are two main characters.

For me, it did get a little long, and I often knew what was going to happen of course, but I did still enjoy the telling of it. The setting was good, and I liked the 1930’s dialogue quite a lot. That was a nice touch.
And what this book did have that the original does not, is the soft but good undertones of Faith and our trust and reliance on the Lord. It was only slight in the beginning/middle, but towards the end it got stronger, and there was a good reminder/lesson of trusting God through all things, even the bad, at the end. I was glad to have that lesson be included, as when watching the movie I always bemoaned the fact that this story could be so perfect for Godly lessons of many kinds. :)

So yes, if you enjoy the story of Sense and Sensibility, you’ll enjoy this one!

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews, Litfuse

“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White ~ Book Review

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1)

“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White

First book in Shadows Over England.

Review copy from publishers through Litfuse Blogger Program

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

The cover alone makes this book a worthy addition to any bookshelf. But add in the amazing story, and you know “A Name unknown” is a definite keeper!
The story pulled me in immediately, and I was drawn right into the world of these characters. There were many unique twists, and mysteries, and the history was woven beautifully into the story. But one of the best elements of this book was the heart of it – the Faith aspect. I was very pleased with it, and there were many places I marked down. It was gentle, and beautiful, and meaningful. To me, a Christian fiction’s main theme should be revolved around a godly message – one that is filled with Christ, and I was ever so pleased to discover that in this novel. Personally, when I pick up a CF title, I don’t want it to just be ‘clean’, I want it to be filling. And “A Name Unknown” was that.
I loved the characters – Rosemary and Peter. Oh, Peter was just darling! I liked him right away, and Rosemary too. They were very different characters to be sure, but blended so well and balanced each other out.
Rosemary a thief, and Peter a secret novelist. They both have so much richness to them!
As a writer myself, I loved Peter and seeing his writing mind take over; how he’d get lost when thinking up a new idea – very relatable. :) And his overall love of books and letters! Be still my heart. ;) He was just splendid.
I just really loved the characters – how real they were, and how they didn’t always do what you expected. Life doesn’t always go as expected, and that was portrayed so well in this book.
Every page begged to be turned again, not left unread. If only I had an ample amount of time to read from beginning to end! But still, I savoured this book for the time it took me, thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. And set right before WWI broke out – a very fascinating time to read a novel in.
So yes, I can definitely recommend this one! Fellow booklovers, you will fall in love with “A Name Unknown”!

 

Those were just a couple of my favourite quotes. I have several others, just without images:

 

“Were he a different man, one who could command a presence and charm people wherever he went, perhaps he would have struck off to see more of the world than this imitation jungle. Perhaps he would have made his own way, cut his own path with machete and pistol. As it was, even the jungle of London sent him running for cover.” – Pg 30
“Treasures were never where one sought it.” Pg 48
“I am by no means an expert, of course, but love of the written word runs deep in my family- also no great mystery to you, having seen the library. But I do hold fiction in especial esteem. Fiction is a way to express mankind’s deepest heart. His fears. His hopes. His failings. His successes. Fiction is truth…in a pretty wrapping.” Pg 56
“Everyone needs a distraction from sad things. Especially when there is nothing they can do about them.” – Pg 211
“Peter had used it as an example in one of his notes this week. That giving one’s life to God was very much like what she’d done with those dresses of Jenny’s. It was still the same fabric – still the same basic person. But just as she’d changed the shape and drape and the seams, God remade the old man into a new one. But unlike the dress, which had no say, people had to choose to put themselves in God’s hands. He wouldn’t start snipping and sewing against their will.” – Pg 292
“You listen to me, Rosemary Gresham. If Jesus could save tax collectors, and harlots, thieves and hypocrites, who are you to say you’re too far gone, hmm? Our God is bigger than our sins. And if there’s something saying otherwise into your ea, know it’s a lie straight from the devil.” – pg 383
And believe it or not, I still have more that I marked down, but I won’t overload you with them all. ;)

 

 

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 Book reviews

Special Book Review “Ceaseless” by Sarah Holman

Why is this book review special, you might ask? Well, this short story is not yet released, nor does it have a cover or ‘about’ blurb. So this is a very, very early review I guess you might say. :)

 

“Ceaseless” by Sarah Holman

Short story part of the Tales of Taelis series

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Not available. To hint at, it is the short story connected to “Courage and Corruption”, about a character named Alfred.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a very good short story, part of the Tales of Taelis series! Very well written, with a meaningful message. It was short, as the style would suggest, but still very enjoyable and a connecting piece to two of the books in this series.
I was impressed that so much could be expressed about Alfred and his journey in such a short amount of story-telling time.
As I said, love the writing style, and the author’s note at the end was beautiful. I really love this series. :)
*I was given an ecopy from the author. All thoughts are my own.