Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Solace of Water” by Elizabeth Byler Younts ~ Book Review

“The Solace of Water” by Elizabeth Byler Younts

 

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the book:

In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

 

 

My Thoughts:

I feel a bit lost for words at how to review this one. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I found this to be in a good way.  

Every page was filled with tragidy, really. It was a heart-wrenching book. There was so much sorrow and so much brokenness between all of the characters, and yet the relationships formed  were beautiful in their shared brokenness.

Sparrow was my favorite character. My heart went out to each of the characters, but it was she for whom my heart hurt the most. I can’t say that one character over the other had more pain, because each dealt with a great deal of grief, but for some reason I just hurt for her the most.

As I read, I wanted to hug away the hurt from each character. They did find solace in the end, though I admit I was expecting a bit more of the healing focus to be from Jesus. Sparrow’s was and that was lovely – I would’ve liked to explore that more.

It was written in such an easy to read style that it was hard to put down and yet hard to intake all at once too because of the content. It was definitely unique. :)

Recommended for ages 16+

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Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“Murder at the Flamingo” by Rachel McMillan ~ Book Review

 

 

 

“Murder at the Flamingo” by Rachel McMillan

A Van Buren and Deluca Mystery

 

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man,” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build. 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I’ve got a lot of cover-love for this one. Not to mention the clever title. :)
I liked the story itself alright, but to be honest it wasn’t my most favourite.I had a bit of a hard time getting into it, and sometimes it felt choppy and jumped around a bit to where I wasn’t sure I knew what was going on and would need to read the same thing several times before I would get what was going on.
There were several things that were repeated and sometimes felt a little more like filling rather than integral to the book.
I liked Hamish quite a bit, and loved his love for The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – that was extremely endearing to me. How he carried his well-loved copy with him and knew parts of it by heart; yep, loved that! And I also appreciated his struggles with anxiety. No, I don’t like anxiety, but it is nice to see real characters with real struggles. And while I don’t suffer from panic attacks or anxiety at the severe level he does, I could understand. I applaud the author for writing this into his character and making him come to see himself as strong through it all.
I liked Reggie and enjoyed their relationship, until the latter half of the book. Reggie was very fickle in her romance and it was very aggravating. Literally, in one chapter she was kissing one of the two men she goes between, and is having a marvelous time with him, and then in the very next chapter she is said as feeling wildly attracted to the other man, trying to keep her gaze from tracing his lips. That just irked me. I understand that “the heart is deceitful, who can know it?” but it was like there was no conflict of her conscience either.
The mystery plot was pretty well done. It kept you wondering till the end. As I mentioned above, there were definitely parts where I felt lost in the explaining of it, but that might just be me.
I was also disappointed by the utter lack of faith included. It was ‘clean’, but I wouldn’t classify it as Christian.
I didn’t hate this book. I just didn’t love it like I had hoped.There were definitely aspects I enjoyed, like the time period, and the nightclub, and the dancing. And I would be curious to see how the series continues.
I think it will be one that many people love. And I wish I could’ve said the same for me. It was just a bit of a miss for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be for you. :)

 

 

 

 

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

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Orphan’s Wish” by Melanie Dickerson ~ Book Review

 

 

 

“The Orphan’s Wish” by Melanie Dickerson

Book #8 in the Hagenheim Series of Fairy-tale retellings

Review copy from the publishers through BookLook Bloggers.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn’t enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he’s an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan’s Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what “family” really means.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I think this cover has to be one my favourites of Melanie Dickerson’s. :) The colors are very attractive and it’s just a very lovely cover. ^.^
The story itself is a light, sweet read. While normally I don’t so much mind or notice when reading YA if it is below my age level, I admit that I found this one to be a bit simple for me. This isn’t really a bad thing, it just wasn’t as engaging as I was hoping. There were a lot of predictable and common troupes that I found a little over-done, but I think that partially had to do with the mood I was in while reading.
The characters themselves were pretty well built-up. I personally couldn’t really connect, and sometimes felt that Aladdin had a bit of a ‘poor me’ spirit about him, when I wanted to see more of an overcomer sort of character.
Besides the fact that the main character is named Aladdin and he has a little friend named Abu, and he was a street rat, there weren’t a whole lot of other related facts to it being an Aladdin retelling. Which was okay, just something I thought I would state. I really didn’t mind that it wasn’t much related to the original. And I must say, I do really like and appreciate that the author writes fairy-tale retellings without the magic.
The faith strand was pretty good – it was present, but light. I wanted a bit more emphases to be made that God is the One we go to to be fulfilled instead of turning towards people, but that wasn’t really shown all that much.
It was a clean book, which is always appreciated. There were a couple kisses in the end, but nothing too strong. I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t my favourite of this author. And as always, that doesn’t mean others won’t adore it, because I do think that it could be a favourite for someone else!   I think this would be a very good read for the ages that it is geared towards.  :)
Quotes:
“Aladdin pointed to the place where its slender trunk was shattered but still holding together. ‘Strange that it can be so broken but still so alive.’ Just like him.”
“But that’s not my job, is it, God? You’re the only One who can heal a soul wound.”

 

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review, Uncategorized

“Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort” – Sarah Young ~ Review

Jesus Calling: 50 Devotions for Comfort

 

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

 

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

My thoughts:

 

I looooove the Jesus Calling devotionals. I may have more than two…or more than three…Okay, so I have four different ones. And I love them all. I was very excited to see this one come available for review, because who doesn’t need comfort from Jesus?
I love how these devotionals are written, as Jesus speaking to us. It feels very personal, and I definitely believe that the Lord uses them. There have been so many times where I am feeling low or discouraged, etc. and open to a devotional page and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.
In this one, they are the devos selected from the bigger one, Jesus Calling, so I have read them before, but many seem like reading them new, and they do share immense comfort. And the artwork! Oh my. I wasn’t expecting that, but each devotional page has a piece of art on the other side with a verse scripted across it, and then also some pages in between devotionals with Bible verses elegantly scripted across a lovely scene. It really is beautiful, and so peaceful and calming.
So yes, I definitely recommend this devotional, as well as the other Jesus Calling devotionals!

 

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel ~ Book Review

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“The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel

 

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers program

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

About the Book:

 

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

 

Prepare yourself for an excited review ;)
I’d been eyeing this book for a while just because of the cover alone, so you better believe I snatched it up eagerly when it became available to review! I knew it was one of those books that even if I didn’t like it, the cover was enough for me to drool over it continually. But of course, no worries about not liking the book – I more than liked it! In fact, I quite loved this novel! “The Heart Between Us” has quickly become one that I hug to my chest and squeal a little bit. Yes, it was that good.
The reading of it gave me so many happy feelings!! But I will try to calm myself in an attempt to write a helpful review…
The plotline was unique and gripping from page one. Oh, and page one – the prologue – I have to make a comment here: that was an amazing sentence opener. I marked it, just because the writer and reader in me loved it. “Amy says in order to move forward, I have to stop clinging to the past.”. This sentence is from Amanda, Megan’s heart-donor. <3
Back to the plot – so yes, Megan is used to sitting on the sidelines due to heart-problems most of her life. But now she’s got a new heart…however, she still fears that life might be passing her by. When she finally meets her heart-donor’s parents, they give Megan their daughter’s journal which is filled with Amanda’s bucket-list. Megan sets out to accomplish each item on the list in honor of Amanda. Right there we’re shown we’re about to embark on the story of a life-time.
Another aspect of this story is about Crystal, Megan’s twin sister. They may be twins but they’re very different from the other, and haven’t had a good relationship in years. When her job and marriage are on the line, she agrees to tag along with Megan on her travels. Will it mend their relationship, and help Crystal right her life-priorities?
Both character’s were great to follow along-with. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d bond with Crystal, already having deeply connected with Megan, but I shouldn’t have been worried. They each go through such life-lessons, and are easily relatable.
I rooted for both Crystal and her husband Brian, and Megan and Caleb. Which brings me to another happy-moment; Caleb, and any scene involving the two. Just…ah soo many good feelings <3333
I loved visiting all the travel-destinations with the sisters – places I may never actually visit, but had the pleasure of seeing them through story. So fun!! In my opinion, this book could’ve capped 500 pages with more details on each travel-stop and I would have been super content with that. ^.^
My favourite places they visited? Oh hard question…I really loved their time spent in Ireland, Scotland, and England. And Paris. And just really every stop. :D
The faith aspect of the book was very good too. It could’ve been a little more included in the beginning, but it’s also understandable why it wasn’t as strong there – we had to see the sisters grow. It was good.
So yep, I loved this book. And will be looking forward to the author’s next book, whatever it may be!

Quotes:

These are just some of the quotes I marked – I marked quite a few. ^.^

 

 

The Heart Between Us 2

The heart Between Us 3

The heart Between Us

Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

“Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore ~ Book Review

 

“Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

 

Meet Denver, raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana until he escaped the “Man” – in the 1960’s – by hopping a train. Non-trusting, uneducated, and violent, he spent another 18 years on the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth.

Meet Ron Hall, a self-made millionaire in the world of high priced art deals — concerned with fast cars, beautiful women, and fancy clothes.

And the woman who changed their lives — Miss Debbie: “The skinniest, nosiest, pushiest, woman I ever met, black or white.” She helped the homeless and gave of herself to all of “God’s People,” and had a way of knowing how to listen and helping others talk and be found – until cancer strikes.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a tale told in two unique voices – Ron Hall & Denver Moore – weaving two completely different life experiences into one common journey where both men learn “whether we is rich or poor or something in between this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless-just workin’ our way toward home.”

The story takes a devastating twist when Deborah discovers she has cancer. Will Deborah live or die? Will Denver learn to trust a white man? Will Ron embrace his dying wife’s vision to rescue Denver? Or will Denver be the one rescuing Ron? There’s pain and laughter, doubt and tears, and in the end a triumphal story that readers will never forget.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

This biography/autobiography is written in first person and reads slightly like a fiction title. Each chapter alternates between each man, Ron Hall and Denver Moore, as they tell their stories and how their life-paths entwined to form a strong bond of friendship. In the beginning, they are about as opposite as opposite can be, but over their life-experiences, they realize they have more in common than originally thought, and it is Ron’s wife, Deborah that urged them together.

It was an interesting book. I liked a lot of the spiritual lessons Denver spoke about – had I sticky notes with me when I read, I would’ve marked a few down. He spoke it how it was, and experienced some profound truths.

Deborah left an amazing legacy. Her devotion to help those in need was inspiring, and she followed God’s path for her life tirelessly.

This book has some heart-breaking moments, and some beautiful memorable passages as well.

The changing chapters with the different perspectives was hard to adjust to at first because there wasn’t anything to differentiate from the other and in the beginning you obviously don’t know their individual voices yet. But once I got a few chapters in, I was able to differentiate with ease.

 

 

  • I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Posted in Book reviews, Booklook Review

Book Review: “The Promise of a Letter” by Kathleen Fuller

 

“The Promise of a Letter” by Kathleen Fuller

“An Amish Letter” Novel, Book two

 

Review copy through BookLook Bloggers

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

A letter brings him back to his Amish family. It will take someone truly extraordinary to make him stay.

Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don’t go as planned, Roman’s prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn’t plan to stay for long.

Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional—strange, even—Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she’s never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn’t mind. She is content being single.

But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

 

My Thoughts:

 
Surprisingly to me, I am enjoying this Amish series. Personally I am not a huge fan of Amish fiction, but the first two books of this newer series have been interesting reads that keep me occupied. I enjoy the characters, and the plots have been sweet.
In “The Promise of a Letter”, we get to see more of Leanna’s character that was introduced in the first book. I really liked Leanna – she was a very spunky, fun character. And Roman was an equally good character in different ways.
I appreciated the faith aspect, and Roman’s grandmother’s influence even though she wasn’t present in the novel.
The sibling dynamics between brothers Roman and Daniel was realistic in their struggle for reconciliation – and stubbornness against it happening. It was frustrating at times, but not unbelievable, which I think is good.
I really did enjoy Leanna and Roman’s relationship – they were pretty cute. And headstrong, both. ^.^
I don’t know how accurate to the Amish way these books are – some things in the books seem a little far-fetched, but I guess I really can’t say one way or another.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. :)