Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Tyndale House

“Until We Find Home” by Cathy Gohlke ~ Book review

 

“Until We Find Home” by Cathy Gohlke

A WWII novel

Review copy from Tyndale Review Program

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing―spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends―has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.

Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

 

This was an interesting book. There were parts that I liked, and parts that I didn’t care so much for.
I couldn’t connect with main character Claire Stewart for most of the book. I disliked her quite a bit for the first half. Her selfishness was just blinding, and not an attractive trait. I found that very aggravating. Once we got to know her background a little bit more towards the second half of the book, it was easier to understand her a little, but I still didn’t really connect with her. But it was a helpful reminder to be patient with kiddos and treat them with love. “Be patient with all men”, as the Bible says.
I liked her aunt, Miranda. Though sometimes she showed a touch of self-centeredness too. Not a whole lot, it was just sometimes alluded to in her younger days.
 I did feel for Miranda in her own struggles, and was glad to see her motherly attitude towards the children.
 Claire’s inward-focus wasn’t really resolved at the end. It was just shown as how she was, end of story, which was kind of disappointing. I did appreciate her journey to accepting God’s love for her, though. It is easy to know that God loves this person or that person, but sometimes it’s harder to believe it for oneself. So that aspect was good.
The ‘hero’ of this book, David, was a strong character and very beneficial for the children especially, but he wasn’t in the majority of the book.
“Until We Find Home” is told through various points-of-view, including Claire, Miranda, their housekeeper Mrs. Newsome, Little Aimee, Gaston, and Josef, so it wasn’t just focused on one or two characters, but it worked pretty well for this story.
The refugee children were all just darling. I loved Gaston particularly, and little Aimee was such a doll.
And I really liked how they helped the children continue to celebrate their Jewish roots, knowing it was important to them. David was the instigator for that. He really was the children’s advocate, gentle and strong as he was.
There were several plotlines that, to me, have been overdone and I didn’t find it very believable in all points. I skimmed some of it just because it was overly predictable.
The little glimpses we got to see into Beatrix Potter’s and C.S.Lewis’s lives were very interesting, though not at strong as I was originally expecting. Still, it was good.
Because of disliking Claire, and not caring for some of the plotline, I didn’t love this book, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
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Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Book Review: “Freedom’s Ring” by Heidi Chiavaroli

Toothless Books (10)

“Freedom’s Ring” by Heidi Chiavaroli

Historical/Contemporary Fiction

Review copy through Tyndale Blogger Program

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

Boston, 2015
Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated―plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770
As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender.

 

My Thoughts:

 

The cover is lovely, and the story, too. What kind of threw me off, to be honest, was the switching back from one time period to the next with each chapter – I found myself having a hard time switching gears, getting into one character’s story and then having to switch to the other, etc. I must confess that I “cheated” and just read the story of Liberty’s first, switching off about halfway through to catch up on Anaya’s, and then slowly eased my way into reading it “normally” towards the end where it made most sense to do so. By reading it in this unconventional way, I was able to enjoy it more, personally.
Liberty’s story was a little heart-rending, the struggles and pain she had to go through. She had a hard life.
I felt for Annie (Anaya), and her own trials she had to deal with.
Really, both of these characters dealt with struggles and trials that shaped their lives. They were not free from pain, but they learned to live through it and eventually, find God’s Grace, Mercy, and Salvation.
The historical side of this book was actually my favourite, and where I connected the most. Though **SPOILER** I wanted her to marry Alexander in the first place. Redcoat or not. END OF SPOILER***
But yes, it was a good book, one I’m sure many will enjoy.
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 Bethany House, Blogging For Books, Book reviews, BookCrash, Booklook Review, Books, Chuck Black, Heather Day Gilbert, Litfuse, NetGalley Book Review, reading, Revell Reads, Reviews, Tessa Afshar, Tyndale House, update

Another year past/2015

Hello! Today is the last day of 2015. I hope it was a good year for all of you! And I hope 2016 brings lots of blessings and lessons from our Lord too. :)

I am going to do my yearly post of books I read over the past year…so, here we go! I’m showing them from the latest I read to the first I read back in January of 2015. Each image should bring you to their GoodReads page and my review if applicable. :)

 

The Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #2) 
 
 
 
 
 
Meant to be Mine (Porter Family, #2) A Dream Not Imagined: A Cinderella StoryThe Art of Losing YourselfFive Glass SlippersThe Choosing (Seer, #1)
The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, #1) The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (Thornbeck, #1)Esther: The Story of a Woman Who Saved a NationSide by SideTrial by Twelve (A Murder in the Mountains, #2)
Beauty (Folktales, #1) The Salt CovenantsJoseph of Arimathea: A Tale of the ResurrectionFinding MeRise of the Fallen (Wars of the Realm, #2)
For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights into the Missionary Journey Brothers and BetrayalLove by the Letter (Unexpected Brides, #0.5)The Tomb: A Novel of Martha (The Living Water, #3)Remember the Lilies
Stay in the Castle Adventures and AdversitiesHow to Catch a Prince (Royal Wedding, #3)An Uncertain Choice (An Uncertain Choice, #1)Dauntless (Valiant Hearts, #1)
The Vow (An Uncertain Choice, #0.5) The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks (The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury, #1) The Crimson Cord: Rahab's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land, #1) Paper Hearts Journey to the Well
Both of Me Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella StoryTiger LilyDeliver Me from Evil (Freedom #1)  Beyond All Dreams
 Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, #1)
Most of them were very good, and some were so-so, and other’s weren’t a favourite. But ultimately, I had a very good reading year! Top ten favourites? Hard choice! But here are SOME, in no order:
“Resistance” and “Half-Blood” by Jaye L. Knight
“Not Abandoned” by MacKenzie Morganthal
“Brothers-in-Arms” by Jack Lewis Baillot (not published yet)
“The Fragrance of Geraniums” and “All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri
“The Tomb” by Stephanie Landsem
“The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest” and “Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
“Better than Peanut Butter Ice Cream” by Kristen Krueger
“Through Waters Deep” by Sarah Sundin
“Rise of the Fallen” by Chuck Black
“Dauntless” and “Chivalrous” by Dina L. Sleiman
Okay, so I realise I cheated a little and did more than ten, but there are only ten lines, so… :D
Some Honourable Mentions:
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman
A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu
The Tethered World by Heather FitzGerald
Side by Side by Jana Kelley
For the Joy Set Before Us by Erica Fye
Annnnnd there were more I enjoyed. :) But I will end here. What books were your favourites of the year? Could you pick just a few? :D
Here’s to more reading in 2016!
Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Tyndale Book Review: “Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” by Missy Robertson

 

“Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” by Missy Robertson

Nonfiction

Review copy source: Tyndale Blog Review program

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Missy Robertson knew that marrying duck-hunting family man Jase Robertson would be an adventure . . . and she was up to the challenge. Their life together was good (even after Jase grew the beard). They had two children, worked hard to help build the thriving Duck Commander business, and loved and served God.

But after a difficult and risky pregnancy, their daughter, Mia, was born with a cleft palate―a serious condition requiring multiple cranial and facial surgeries. As their baby struggled to breathe, and Missy and Jase faced a life that suddenly looked very different than the one they’d planned, they found themselves staring down one of life’s biggest questions: Where is God in all this pain?

This is the Robertsons’ story. It’s for anyone scared and overwhelmed by a problem they can’t fix; anyone lost and searching for a way through. You’ll meet the young girl Mia who captured A&E’s Duck Dynasty viewers’ hearts, and learn how Missy and Jase have raised her and their sons to be faithful, confident, and secure in who they are. You’ll be inspired by how the Robertson family stuck by each other through the hardest times. And you’ll discover that God’s blessings are bigger than you ever dreamed―and there when you need them the most.

 

My Thoughts:

I am glad that the Duck Dynasty members have chosen to write their stories, because the TV can only capture so much, and much of it being what it wants to capture. But as with everyone, their lives are more complex. The trials Missy, Jase, and their family have gone through, mostly surrounding their youngest daughter, Mia’s cleft lip and palate, can be staggering. But it is a blessing that they’ve had the Lord to lean upon, because really there is no other way to get through anything like that.
Some of it did make me sad, because I could see the areas in which Missy and Jase are particularly broken. I didn’t agree with a lot of Missy’s views. She kept saying how she had to be strong for her children, and her children couldn’t see her emotional or break down. And I don’t agree with that. We aren’t to be strong by our own strength, anyway – we’re supposed to lean on the Lord fully and use His strength. And I think it’s important for all children to see their parents true and raw, even if that means falling apart – God wants us transparent, and children can definitely grow up healthy in seeing their parents that way.I’m not saying freaking out and always being a wreck, I’m just saying that if children can see their parents sad and scared at times and know that they go to God when they are troubled, then that teaches them to do the same.
I also didn’t agree with Missy thinking that Mia (and all of her children) be so independent at a very young age, almost not even relying on Mom or Dad at all. I don’t think that’s wise – God gave us parents for a reason, to grow us and be there for us, to give us security. Not to replace God, but at such a young age, children need that security. I believe if they don’t get that, and don’t understand how to go to God (and really, not many do at such an age) they use their own coping-mechanisms to handle life. And that only makes it hard later on to lean on God.
The relationship between Mia and Bella especially was really cute. What a blessing that they could be (and are) so close.  The support Bella lovingly gave to Mia was precious. :)
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

 

 

 

Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Tyndale Book Review: “The Choosing” by Rachelle Dekker

 

 

“The Choosing” by Rachelle Dekker

Dystopian fiction

Review copy source:  Tyndale

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the book:

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an interesting read. It was my first introduction into dystopian books, and I’m still not exactly sure what I think of this type of fiction. I don’t think it is particularly for me though.

There were things I liked about this book, and some things that I didn’t care for.
The characters were enjoyable; I felt for Carrington a lot, and I really liked Larken – would’ve loved to have her more involved than she was – especially in the end. Larken was a likeable character for me. And I liked Remko too. I think the relationship between him and Carrington was a little…fast/underdeveloped, but sweet nonetheless.

I suspected who the bad guy would be from the beginning, but it grew even creepier as the book went on. I know a lot of people like thrillers, but I’m just not sure I am sold on them – creepiness is not my thing.
The plot was intriguing, though, and it definitely was a fascinating read. I’m just not sure about the whole clarity of the message. From what I understood it was about our worth in God rather than man, but that didn’t actually come across very clearly. It was strange. What was supposed to be represented as ‘good’ bordered on a cult belief, so that confused me. It was like there were two ‘religions’ but neither seemed completely accurate and Elohim-based. Obviously the Law in this book was the ‘bad’ religion, but the alternative that was ‘freeing’ for Carrington was kind of…well, like I said, it reminded me of a cult. It was almost like the 1960’s “free love” feeling of “You’re beautiful, you’re chosen, you’re special”, which is true – we are beautiful, chosen, and special in God, but it’s serious, and in the book it came across to me as almost whispy, flow-y, peace and love, if that makes sense. It was also a little strange that Carrington only met Aaron (the ‘good teacher’) once, yet dreamnt of him and his teachings continually and that’s what ‘saved’ her. Yahweh wasn’t really involved…He was just hinted at in Aaron’s teachings. The only time God was actually mentioned was in the bad religion.
So all of that made me a little uncomfortable.

I have not read Rachelle Dekker’s father’s books – my sister has, and has told me of the suspense and the plots which to me sounded rather creepy. As I said, I’m not a big fan of murder and creepiness in books. I know it’s out there, but I prefer the redemptive angle in books.

On a positive note, I do think that Rachelle has talent in writing, this genre just isn’t for me.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Tyndale Book Review: “Paper Hearts” by Courtney Walsh

 

http://www.amazon.com/Paper-Hearts-Courtney-Walsh-ebook/dp/B00LPQOJVY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422484693&sr=1-1&keywords=paper+hearts

 

“Paper Hearts” By Courtney Walsh   facebook

Review copy from Tyndale Blog Network

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

 

About:

Could the loss of her dream lead to her happily ever after?

Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into her dreams of expansion… and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark. When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice. As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man who seems intent on crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams… and her heart?

My Thoughts:

This was a truly sweet story. A rather ‘heart-melting’ one. :) I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it, because I’ve read my fair share of contemporary romances, and most just aren’t so great, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It wouldn’t leave my mind when I wasn’t reading it, and there were some really, really sweet parts. I know I already said it was sweet, but that’s the perfect word for it. And the Christian theme was really well done too. I was very happy with that, and the outcome, and the healing, etc. All in all I really enjoyed this book! I really liked Abigail – right away; I could relate to her in some ways. And plus, she owned a book store – I love books. :)

The Paper Heart bit of it was just soooo lovely. So cute. And I loved how Abigail loved it secretly, how she poured over the hearts.

Yep, this was a cute and adorable book, well written, and very engaging! I really liked it. :)

I was sent a free copy of this book from the Tyndale blog program for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are my own; honest and unbiased.