Posted in Book reviews

“The Accident” by A.M. Heath ~ Book Review

The Accident

“The Accident” by A.M. Heath

An Epistolary novella

Review ecopy from the author

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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About the Book:

Can a wrong number bring true love or only heartache? 
Ashlyn Conner’s life is spiraling out of control. She’s already lost her father, and now that her mom is battling thyroid cancer, she fears being orphaned at fifteen. When a friendly stranger texts the wrong number, Ashlyn finds a confidant she didn’t realize she needed. The more Ashlyn gets to know Chris Knowles, the more she’s convinced he could be the caring husband and loving father the Conner women so desperately need.
If only she’d been honest and hadn’t made him believe he was texting her mother, Danielle.
When the truth comes out, will she lose her friendship with Chris and damage her relationship with her mother? Or can God make something beautiful out of her lie?
Told through text messages and Ashlyn’s journal entries, The Accident is a heartwarming, family-centered story.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

My favorite thing about this little novella is the way it is written – completely through text messages and journal entries! I could read books in that format all day long. ;) It reminds me of my near-obsession of reading the Dear America books growing up. So fun!
The storyline was cute, and I thought Ashlynn was a very good character, and I understood her motives behind her actions. I didn’t really “bond” with the mother all that much; to be honest she kind of annoyed me at times. I felt for her in her illness, but her character just wasn’t one I loved. There was also a ton of LOL’s which felt a little overused, however that is coming from a person who never uses LOL, so. ;)
And of course, this is just my personal opinion. :)
I enjoyed this read though, and as I’m quickly coming to find, I definitely enjoy this author’s writing style! Very fun, engaging, and well-done!
Posted in Book reviews, Books

“Of Fire and Lions” by Mesu Andrews ~ Book Review

Happy Release Day to this book!! Mesu Andrews writes some great Biblical fiction – I am happy and honored to be on her team! <3

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“Of Fire and Lions” by Mesu Andrews

Biblical Fiction

Review copy from the publishers as apart of Mesu’s BFF launch team

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Of Fire and Lions

About the book:

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone? 
Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

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My Thoughts:

 

This is an exquisitely told tale of…so much. To say it was only about one character, or one theme would be an error because so much was ensconced in this novel.

The story is told through the eyes of Abigail – or Belili as she is most often referred to – and Daniel, and spans across their lives from when they first met, when they felt lost to each other, and when they were reunited, and beyond.

It took me a bit to adjust to the time-jumping, but it was handled smoothly, and expressed the novel so well.

Belili had to endure a lot of heartache. As we learn her story, we are endeared to her and understand her pain, and her decisions. Time after time God gently reveals Himself to her, and that was a beautiful part of this story.

Daniel’s faith was spectacular, of course. And inspiring. To be faced with death for following Yahweh, and still remaining true to Him – it is encouraging to say the least. I thank God that we can still worship and pray to Him freely.

“Of Fire and Lions” really is such a full book that it almost seems impossible to cover everything and do the book justice. It was more than a pleasurable read, and I absolutely loved the faith shown throughout. Seeing the transformations at the end was just wonderful, and seeing God work – always amazing!

A beautiful Biblical Fiction piece from Mesu Andrews – I always look forward to more of her novels!

 

 

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Posted in Book reviews

“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” by Lindsay Harrel ~ Book Review

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“The Secrets of Paper and Ink” by Lindsay Harrel

Duel-Timeline story

Review copy through the publishers/author

 

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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About the Book:

 

Lindsay Harrel presents a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and finding the courage to write your own story.

A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

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My Thoughts:

The cover of this book is simply ravishing, is it not? Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, in my opinion! That was incentive enough for me to read this book. Add in that it is about books and a bookstore, set in Cornwall, England, and is the authors second novel – count me in. ;)
The prologue starts us off with letters written from Emily Fairfax from the 19th century. I found this to be a lovely beginning. I would gladly read a whole novel comprised of letters. But anyway! “The Secrets of Paper and Ink” follow more than just one story-line. We are introduced to three leading heroine’s; two in the present day, and Emily from the past. I loved each of these stories and how they were interwoven with each other. I must say though, that I favored Emily’s portions. I loved being enveloped into her time period, and seeing the struggles she was faced with, and the joys she discovered. Her piece was written in first person, and I really am a sucker for that style of writing. :)
That is not to say that I didn’t connect with Sophia and Ginny, though. I very much enjoyed each of their stories. And their friendship was perfect – they were there for each other at just the right time. And I looooved the bookstore aspect! I so want to own a bookstore, and that was just so fun. I also really liked how each character was so unique and individual to themselves. They were all fantastic, and William was so sweet! Memorable characters for sure.
The one and only thing that kept this being a full five stars for me was the faith content. While there at the end, it wasn’t as strong as I was hoping for, and there were a couple spots that hinted at a more “laid back” view of religions in general that I wasn’t keen on. Don’t get me wrong – the ending message was about finding ourselves in God alone, and that was beautiful. But I felt that there was a theme, especially in the beginning that was more a bit prominent  and that was the message of “being true to ourselves”. Emily wrote towards the end that true strength doesn’t come from us or other people, but rather alluded to it being the Lord – I know that is what she meant when she said “It is to another strength we must look, to first build and then to sustain us.” but I admit I was hoping for a stronger pointing to God – an obvious shout that He is the One she received healing from.
The story itself was (or rather, I should say the stories themselves were ;))  beautiful, and written very well. This wasn’t just a fluff book – it was lovely and entertaining, and meaningful. I will definitely be giving it another read or two in the future!
Lindsay Harrel writes a very captivating tale that keeps you until the very end.

 

 

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 Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson ~ Book review

The Warrior Maiden (Hagenheim, #9)

“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson

Part of the Hagenheim series

Review copy through BookLookBloggers

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Book:

Mulan isn’t afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father’s soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster… or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen — and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?

My Thoughts:

 

The Disney version of “Mulan” is a favorite of mine. So I was both excited and a little hesitant to read a retelling of this fun tale. The excitement was fulfilled – it had a lot of the elements of the Disney version while still remaining unique to its own story. I admit I kind of wanted her name to be something other than Mulan, but I still can look past that fact. ;)
Right from the start we are plunged into the thick of it, and I really enjoyed that. I was apprehensive of how far the whole ‘feminist’ thread would be pushed, but it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, at least in the first portion of the book.
One of the things that I love about the Disney version is Mulan’s desire to protect her family – yes, she is strong, but also caring. And for the most part, this story’s ‘Mulan’ character was that way too. I appreciate that she could still be gentle and strong at the same time. That was handled quite well. I didn’t care for that she did take more of the glory when it should have been equally split between her and Wolfgang. He was completely overlooked most of the time, even though he was just as much a hero as she was. And he didn’t seem to mind that. It was all boastful of what a strong woman she was, and yet he was sometimes shown to be a little weaker but that was shown as okay – their roles were swapped. Now, as I have said in reviews past, I am not against strong women, but I do struggle with the view that “women have to be better than men or else”.  God created men and women for different roles, and they are both equally strong and wonderful – He will fulfill what He wills, and each person’s life is uniquely different. But the message of women constantly triumphing over men (when the men can be shown as strong too – I want more strong men in fiction) wears on me, I admit. Mulan, in this book, became pretty proud and was glad she could do what so few men could – I found that distasteful and boastful. She was also disrespectful at times. I understand that she had inner scars, and while that sometimes came into play, she also acted in ways that didn’t have reason for that.
I loved Wolfgang, and his desire to protect Mulan in all stages of knowing or not knowing her identity, but was saddened when it was often portrayed as a bad thing, or that he didn’t need to protect her because she was “stronger than most men”. Even if I was super strong, as a woman, I would want to be protected  -I’d be flattered. Because Wolfgang was not doing it in a demeaning way – he was respectful and honorable. I just wish that would have been shown a bit more, and not put down as a bad thing.
Other than that, I did really enjoy this book. It was exciting, and full of adventure with good writing. There wasn’t a dull moment, and I really appreciated the fast-pace of it all!  A four star read for me!
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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 1940's, Book reviews, Books

“The Songbird and the Spy” by J’Nell Ciesielski ~ Book Review

 

Songbird and the Spy

“The Songbird and the Spy” by J’Nell Ciesielski

WWII fiction

I received an ecopy from the author for the purpose of this review

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

 

As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy. 

Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn’t who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his 
attraction to the songbird, he’s determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives, hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael’s hand: complete the mission or save Claire. 

As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?

Written for the General Market (G) (I): Contains little or no; sexual dialogue or situations, violence, or strong language. May also contain content of an inspirational nature.

 

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My Thoughts:

 

What a delightful and exciting tale this book turned out to be! Not once was there a dull moment, and the characters shined throughout it all. Danger abounded, as it most often does in the case of WWII novels – especially when behind enemy lines – and the plotline was definitely a captivating one!
I fell for each of the characters, and they made such an excellent fit. So sweet and endearing! And it ended so well too! I was getting a wee bit nervous there for just a second, but oh! It was reminiscent of one of the Anne of Green Gables movies, and just smashing.
As I mentioned, “The Songbird and the Spy” is an exciting novel. There is so much intrigue and thwarted plans happening that the reader is guaranteed a rather thrilling ride.
Clair is an American on her way to a music school in France, but of course plans change. Michael is a spy for the British nation, undercover as a German Captain. And he plays the role quite convincingly, I must say! His character really is marvelous though. Quite the hero – you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with him too. ;)
The writing itself was great – everything read so smoothly and tied together. As it is War, there was *some* graphic scenes but nothing that I found shocking at all. In fact, there was one particular instance where, while it was horrible, I was glad it happened because it was realistic. But I won’t give anything away.
This is a clean read, though not Christian, so there isn’t a spiritual thread or specific Christian content. And of course, me being me, I would’ve absolutely loved if this book had that element, but since it is not marketed as Christian Fiction, I am reviewing it as such. :)
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.