Posted in Book reviews, Reviews

“Castle of Refuge”by Melanie Dickerson – Review

Castle of Refuge (The Dericott Tales, #2)

“Castle of Refuge” by Melanie Dickerson

Book Two in the Dericott Tales Series

Review copy from the publishers

My rating: 5 of out 5 Stars

About the Book:

Audrey is a viscount’s daughter who has suffered her sister Maris’s cruel, jealous behavior all her life. An act of malice led their father to send Maris to a convent, but Audrey was still left with scars. Three years later, Audrey’s father is determined to marry off his damaged daughter, and Maris is returning. Desperate, Audrey sneaks away.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, injured, and in dire straits. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, each must make a life-changing decision about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a high-stakes, encouraging tale about the power of love.

My Thoughts:

Second in the Dericott Tales, “Castle of Refuge” features familiar character, Edwin Dericott, and new character, Audrey. I loved this story, it was so delightful and the characters were endearing. Audrey was bubbly, and such a joyful personality despite the difficulties she faced at the hand of her sister.The plot moved along so well, and I was swept into the story immediately.

The faith aspect was well-developed, and the characters really did shine. The romance was so, so sweet too. I loved watching the relationship between Audrey and Edwin, and how tentative they both were. And also how well they worked together in harmony against the struggles they were facing. They both felt like they were too scarred to love, but it was great seeing how they each grew as individuals and as a couple.

An exciting, well-paced book, and I look forward to more of this series!!


*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion

Posted in Book reviews

“Painted Vessels” by Gina Renee Freitag ~ Book Review

Painted Vessels by Gina Renee Freitag

Painted Vessels by Gina Renee Freitag

Vessels Series #1

Review copy from the author

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

My Thoughts:

Painted Vessels is a sweeping saga encompassing the life journey of Eli and Ada. The writing is very narrative, and I liked how we were told the story from so many view points. There were many characters, and some I lost track of, but it was interesting to get to see a scene from the various perspectives. I think it would have been helpful to have had something like a character index so the reader could reference that with so many character-pov-switches but even without that, I was able to figure out who was who. It was easy to feel for, and connect to the two central characters, Eli and Ada. And so encouraging to see how they changed and grew as their story continued on. The Caravan members were so wonderful as well. I loved how integral they were to Eli and Ada’s life journey. They were all so caring, thoughtful, and a godly example.One thing that confused me a little was the frequent jumping of time spans – it was basically a split-time-line novel, but the different times weren’t differentiated/specified at the beginning of each chapter so I was sometimes a little confused at first but eventually would figure out what time the story was talking about.I think what I loved best about this book is how clearly the author’s heart was poured out into the pages. It feels like a true honor to read a book when that happens – like you’re holding something very precious to the author. I don’t take that for granted <3 There were many truths woven into Painted Vessels, and the ending was so beautiful. I am excited to start the next book, Fractured Vessels!

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

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews

“The Indebted Earl” by Erica Vetsch ~ Book Review

“The Indebted Earl” but Erica Vetsch

Book Three in the Serendipity and Secrets Series

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business–or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life–especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero’s dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn’t opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed’s elderly mother, and she’s already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she’ll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he’s come to mean to her. Now she’ll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

Click here to read an excerpt.

My Thoughts:

Erica Vetsch has quickly become one of the authors that I want to keep at the top of my list!

This series has been utterly marvelous, and I loved having the chance to read this third book. It didn’t disappoint in the least <3 The characters were lovely, and I easily became attached to them. Yes, the beginning was a bit sad because Sophie’s fiance’ dies (not a spoiler XD), but how the whole novel progressed was beautifully done. 

The Captain was great. I definitely loved him, and Sophie was fantastic, and the three little girls who became the Captain’s wards were darling!! I especially loved Thea; she was hysterical and so full of character.The plot was engaging as well; I’m always in for a marriage of convenience story, seriously. This series has been wonderful for that aspect. Each story has been unique and exceptional.

And in “The Indebted Earl” we got to see Marcus from “The Gentleman Spy” a few times, which I looooved. Marcus was a favorite hero of mine so I wasn’t complaining to have him back. ;)If you like Regency Romance, don’t miss the Serendipity and Secrets series!

About the Author:

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 
 
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
 
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
 
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

Giveaway

There’s a fun giveaway apart of this tour, so make sure to visit this LINK to enter!!

Review copy from the publishers as apart of I Read With Audra Tours. I was not required to write a positive review.

Posted in Book reviews, Reviews

“Present Danger” by Elizabeth Goddard ~ Book Review

Present Danger (Rocky Mountain Courage, #1)

“Present Danger” by Elizabeth Goddard

Romantic Suspense

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Former FBI Special Agent Jack Tanner is working as a detective in Montana when he comes across a body in the national forest during a search and rescue mission. He’s committed to finding the killer, even if it means working alongside his old flame, US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors.

When Terra discovers that the murder victim had ties to a powerful and dangerous trafficker of archaeological artifacts, the investigation takes a deadly turn–one that hits too close to home. As Terra fears she lacks the courage to face what comes next, Jack is more determined than ever to protect her. But he’s failed her before. And if he fails this time, it will cost them far more than just their hearts.

Join bestselling and award-winning author Elizabeth Goddard as she plunges you into a web of deceit made of hidden crimes, open threats, and long-buried family secrets in this gripping first book of an explosive new series. 

My Thoughts:

Every so often, I get a craving for a good suspense fiction title and this one certainly fit that bill! Present Danger was extremely well written, with lots of turns and twists you don’t see coming – especially at the end! I loved seeing how everything connected, and worked together. I hadn’t read any books by this author previously, but I am most excited to continue now.

The plot was superb, and the characters were really well constructed, and I enjoyed seeing how they progressed and grew throughout the novel.The pace of the novel was great, and every page left you ready to flip to the next without delay. It was exciting, dangerous, and compelling, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!

The only thing that I would’ve liked to see more was the faith content – it was pretty weakly interspersed, not a major theme. The characters were shown crying out to God in prayer a couple times, but it wasn’t so much of an integral part of the story. Otherwise, as I said, this was an excellently written novel, and I recommend for fans of clean suspense! 

*I received a copy of the book from the publishers as apart of the launch team. I was not required to write a positive review.

Posted in Book reviews, Reviews

“Facing the Dawn” by Cynthia Ruchti ~ Book Review

Facing the Dawn

“Facing the Dawn” by Cynthia Ruchti

Women’s Fiction

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Mara Jacobs does her best to hold everything together, despite three detention-prone kids, an unrewarding job, never-ending chores, and a husband thousands of miles away. After a shocking loss, she must lean on those around her to find her way to healing and renewed faith.

My Thoughts:

This was definitely one of those books you experience, rather than so much as read. It’s hard to explain, and I’m not really certain how to write a review that could do the book justice. For the majority of the book, I would sum it up as being ‘sad’. And it is. But there is also light carefully woven into the threads of the novel, threads that grow stronger towards the end. Oh and the ending was utterly beautiful. That, I think, may have been my favorite part – those last two chapters.

Facing the Dawn is a very real, raw story. The grief experienced by Mara, and the other characters as well, was down right palpable. At times it was heavy, and you could absolutely feel the exhaustion it caused the characters.I wouldn’t have a hard time believing if each one of these characters were real people, the novel came across that realistic.

I loved Mara’s friends, Ashlee and Sol. They were amazing support for the entire Jacobs’ family. And I love how Ashlee constantly encouraged Mara to seek after God, even when it was hard.

I would give a “trigger warning” to those who need it that this book deals heavily with grief, suicide, miscarriage, and depression. It is handled well, but nonetheless, very real.I am impressed with how the book was written to be something you experience alongside the characters instead of just read about. It won’t be a book you quickly forget.There were a couple things that were either abrupt, or not addressed, but life throws those things at us frequently, so it didn’t feel too terribly out of line. I just would’ve liked to have seen a couple more things either talked out or resolved. 

This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group (Revell), through Interviews & Reviews.

Posted in Book reviews, Revell Reads

“Dreams Rekindled” by Amanda Cabot ~ Book Review

Dreams Rekindled (Mesquite Springs, #2)

“Dreams Rekindled” by Amanda Cabot

Book Two in the Mesquite Springs series

Review copy from the publishers

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

When a dashing newspaper man comes to Mesquite Springs, aspiring writer Dorothy Clark sees her dreams coming true–until a man arrives with altogether different plans for the town and its newspaper.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t realize this book was the second in a series when I requested it for review – but I was glad to find that it was still enjoyable and understandable to read on its own. :) I’m sure reading the first one would certainly have its benefits and I would get more of a backstory on some of the characters, but since I missed that, I didn’t feel like it hindered my enjoyment of this one.”Dreams Rekindled” is a sweet, easy story. The first pages pulled me in right away, and kept my interest, but when I reached the halfway mark, it seemed to drag for me a bit. I’m sure it won’t be that way for everyone who reads it – I just found it that way. The characters were good, but I felt like the plot had some fillers. Through 3/4 of the book, the plot was taken up with a specific thread, but then another thread came into play and that was the one that was resolved in the ending. By reading the author’s note, we learn that the particular thread I mentioned will be continued in the third book. However, I felt like the other thread should’ve taken up more of the book than the first, since we won’t get to see the result of that one until later. If that makes sense. For me personally, the story felt like it was captivating to begin with, slowed down in the middle, and then finished in a whirlwind of a plot point that only came into play in the last third of the book.  I did enjoy aspects of the book, and the writing was good. The characters were memorable, especially the dog – I am not a dog-person, but I really liked Nutmeg; the dog felt very much like a central character which was pretty cute. ^.^

I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Laura’s story in the next one – the third book won’t be specifically about her, but the author also mentioned in the author’s note that she’ll be returning and will have her story told in it so that will be nice. :)

Thank you to Revell for the review copy! 

Posted in Book reviews

“Miriam’s Song” by Jill Eileen Smith ~ Book Review

Miriam's Song

“Miriam’s Song” by Jill Eileen Smith

Biblical Fiction

Review copy from the publishers through Interviews and Reviews program

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Miriam and her people have prayed for deliverance from the cruel tyranny of Egypt for generations. She believes her brother is the long-awaited answer to their pleas. But how can the exiled prince-turned-shepherd Moses stand against the most powerful man in the world?

My Thoughts:

I’m sorry to say that this book was a miss for me. I so enjoyed the author’s past two books that I had been eagerly anticipating this one, but “Miriam’s Song” did not sit well with me.As it started out, I was pulled in and interested, moved by the glimpse we got into the time of Moses’ birth, how his life was spared when so many baby boys were killed by the Egyptians. But as the novel continued, and much time passed, my concerns grew. With how much the book jumped from time period to time period (sometimes only days, or months, but then other times by a decade or more), I didn’t really get the chance to bond to the characters themselves. But even so, I held on, knowing that covering such a significant time span would be difficult but necessary. However, I got such a feeling of disrespect from the female characters for the male characters and God even, that it could not sit well with me. Miriam came across extremely prideful for the majority of the book, but it wasn’t portrayed as if that was bad. And from each of the female characters, it was so often stressed that they were the real leaders, and stronger at least emotionally than the men…and the men came across as much weaker characters. I’d even go so far as to say that the way Moses was portrayed for a portion of the book was almost wimpy. He never stood up to his wife, and just came across as weak. I don’t like to give a book a low rating, but for many reasons, I’m afraid I can’t personally recommend this book. Even the portrayal of the Holy character of God felt watered down. Yes, it was stressed how Holy He is, but when I read the sections revolving around Him in this book, they didn’t seem to really be of Him, but rather a watered down portrayal of a fictional character.Perhaps this book won’t sit this way for others. And I’m hoping that I will enjoy the author’s next works as I have her previous two.

this book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group (Revell), through Interviews & Reviews.  

Posted in Book reviews

“Marriage, Melodies, and Rewritten Conclusions” by V. Joy Palmer ~ Book Review

*I thought I had already posted this back when I posted it on goodreads, but apparently not! So here is a late review…

Marriage, Melodies, and Rewritten Conclusions

“Marriage, Melodies, and Rewritten Conclusions” by V.Joy Palmer

Review copy from the author

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Kaylee McGrurd feels like life has left her behind. Her best friends have all moved out, married, or are in the process of matrimony. Meanwhile, she’s lost another job, and her daily diet consists of noodles that are better suited as packing material. Then Kaylee’s ex, Gabe Sanders, enters the equation.

Gabe walked out on Kaylee without warning or explanation nine years earlier, but now he’s been brought back to the area for the unforeseen future. And he’s in need of new lead vocalist for his wedding band.

A dwindling account balance calls for desperate measures, and Kaylee reluctantly accepts Gabe’s offer. While the former couple works together in the midst of happy marriages and heartfelt melodies, secrets and the need for forgiveness highlight the strife between them…and the hope that maybe God’s rewriting the conclusion to their story.

My Thoughts:

First, I have to say how utterly impressive the covers and formats are for this fun series by author V. Joy Palmer! They’re so beautiful, and I love how they each have their own look and yet still relate to each other.

“MM&RC” is the third and I believe final book, and can stand on its own, though it’s fun to see the familiar characters come in, and that Epilogue at the end is a total nod to all three books which was lovely! But yes, MM&RC is Kaylee and Gabe’s story. It is both a lighthearted and serious read. I won’t give away spoiler details, but Gabe struggles with a past, and has to learn how to forgive himself. Kaylee struggles with feeling left behind in life, and her ex-fiance’ coming back into her life causes some emotional stress for her, bringing her to learn how to move on and truly extend forgiveness. Following along their journey connects you through the pages, and while sometimes I personally found the wit a little too much, it was a fun story and I look forward to more books by this talented author.


*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author but I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Posted in Bethany House, Book reviews, Reviews

“Shadows of the White City” by Jocelyn Green ~ Book Review

Shadows of the White City (The Windy City Saga, #2)

“Shadows of the White City” by Jocelyn Green

Book 2 in the Windy City Saga// Historical Fiction

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong? 

My Thoughts:

Sylvie’s story is here at last! I have been looking forward to reading this story, and it did not disappoint. <3 I had a hard time with the first novel, mostly because of how Sylvie was treated, so I was so eager for her to have her own story, and it was such a good one. “Shadows of the White City” is a complex and artfully woven novel. It’s not one to rush through – the vivid details and wording of it all is sure to require your attention and paint the setting in your mind. Characters are always the best part of every story for me, so as you can imagine, that is where I spent the majority of my focus! This book takes place many years after the first novel, and Slyvie’s life hasn’t exactly turned out as she planned but she has cherished the pieces that she held on to, most dearly her adopted daughter, Rose. When Rose goes missing, Slyvie is confronted with more than just fear at losing her precious daughter – fear of losing everything that she has found her identity in. I loved seeing how Slyvie’s character grew throughout the story. She was such a strong character even at the beginning, but she grew even stronger throughout it, while still showing gentleness of spirit, and learning that it is perfectly good to rely on others at times too. We don’t need to be self-sufficient – and indeed, we are never really self-sufficient at all; God is our strength, and Slyvie learned this lesson for herself, learning how to let go and trust Him. It really was a beautiful message, and it played across the pages so naturally.Kristoff was the perfect gentleman! Truly a respectable and entirely loveable hero. He was never pushy or forceful, but always enduring, always loving – yet he had his own weaknesses certainly, and seeing his own journey progress alongside Slyvie’s was very enjoyable to be apart of. I truly enjoyed this book, and I think I can say it might just be my most favorite of the author’s works I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. “Shadows of the White City” was beautifully written with fantastic characters, and a moving plot – a wonderful read for sure!!

*I received a copy of the book from the author/publisher for being on the launch team. I was not required to give a positive review.

Posted in blog tour, Book reviews, Books

“Roots of Wood and Stone” by Amanda Woods ~ Book Review

Sometimes You Find Your Roots Where You Least Expect Them

Debut novel from Amanda Wen shows the beauty in God’s plan for our lives

Grand Rapids, MI — For readers who can’t decide if they would like to pick up something historical or contemporary for their next read, debut author Amanda Wen offers them the best of both worlds in her new release. Roots of Wood and Stone (Kregel Publications/February 2, 2021/ ISBN: 9780825446689/$15.99) is a warm, delightfully written split-time novel that will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

Sloane Kelley was abandoned at birth, and while she wants more than anything to learn where she came from, her family roots remain a mystery. As curator of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, Sloane has dedicated her life to making sure others can connect with their history. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact; after all, the museum has a few on display and more in storage. However, she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now, she’s on the hunt to see if there’s more where it came from. 

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. He’s always been the responsible one, and with her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles after he takes a few things to the local museum: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the old house, and his own heart, which is drawn to Sloane. Selling the house that holds so much history will disappoint both Sloane and his sister, Lauren, who is doing her best to care for their grandmother, but Garrett finds himself in an impossible situation.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love—and a God who faithfully carried her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

And Sloane may just find her roots in a place she never would have expected.

Roots of Wood and Stone is set in the area of Kansas Wen has lived in most of her life. In fact, the story is inspired by aspects of her own family history. “One of my favorite things about split time is watching the contemporary characters dig into the past,” Wen explains. “My mother is a genealogist who’s been tracing our family history since before I was born, and her passion for uncovering our family’s stories has been an important backdrop my entire life. Her research has given me an appreciation for those who came before and a desire to pass along this appreciation to my own kids.” As an homage to her mother and all the rest of her ancestors, Wen named many of the people and places in the book after family. Parts of their stories are even woven into the historical portion of the book.

Wen not only offers readers two plotlines filled with plenty of history and romance wrapped into one story, she mixes in a healthy dose of humor and strong faith elements as well. “All my characters have deep needs that they try to fill through other means (achievement, research, hard work, planning, etc.), but throughout the story they learn that only God can fill those needs,” Wen shares. “He has a beautiful plan, one that goes far beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine, and he takes all our broken pieces and loose ends and weaves those trials into a tapestry more beautiful than we could possibly imagine. He is always there, faithfully guiding our steps, even—or perhaps especially—when we’re not aware of it. I hope my readers will trust him, his individual love and care for each of us, and his perfect plan just a little bit more after they close this book.”

Roots of Wood and Stone (Sedgwick County Chronicles)

My review:

This was a lovely debut novel! I really enjoyed getting to know both Sloane and Garrett of the present day story, and Annabelle and Jack’s story from the late 1800’s. I especially loved how the two timeline stories wove together to create a truly beautiful story.

The characters were realistic, and the setting came alive in both parts. “Roots of Wood and Stone” is a rich story full of history and meaning. It was easy to cheer on Sloane as she searches for her own unknown family history. 

I really appreciated how each of the characters had to come to the end of themselves and then ran into the arms of God. Life is often like that, and our strength can only truly be found in Him.

Looking forward to seeing what this author writes next!

*I received a copy of this book from the publishers as apart of I Read With Audra Tours. I was not required to write a positive review.

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on February 2, 2021.

In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. She serves as a choral accompanist as well. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit www.amandawen.com. Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen)