Posted in Books, update

September 2018 Recap

Happy October, readers, and welcome to one of my most favoritest months of the year! ;) I love fall, and October, and just yes <3

How was your September?

For me, blogging took a major backseat as life was continually busy, and also our computer crashed…we have a temporary one working right now but since it’s just as old as the previous one…I don’t want to get too attached. So for now I am not committing to any blogging schedule just yet – I haven’t really had time to do so anyway. I do have some reviews coming up because I am sadly behind on those.

We harvested the majority of our garden in September, continued on with the farmer’s market, celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with a friend, and were kept busy with day-to-day life.

I completed the Instagram book photo challenge I took part in, though with a few hiccups along the way.  ^.^

As for books, I read:

 

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And as always I acquired my fair share of books but haven’t had time to photograph them, so….yeah.

 

This is a very short post, and I always keep hoping for more, but it’s hard to keep up with right now.  Maybe soon, right?! ;)

What are you looking forward to in this fine month of October? For me it is the chilly weather, fall colors, my birthday, hot cocoa, and book-reading!

 

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Posted in Book reviews, Tessa Afshar, Tyndale House

“Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar ~ Book Review

 

Thief of Corinth

 

“Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar

Biblical Fiction

Review copy through Tyndale Review Program

My Rating: 5+ out of 5 Stars

About the book:

 

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

My thoughts:

Oh, what to say about another Tessa Afshar novel? If you’ve followed my reviews, or reading habits in general, you probably know Tessa Afshar is one of my most favorite authors, and I am always soooo very excited for a new novel of hers. And of course, this was no exception! I will always read a story by Tessa Afshar. Always. Her Biblical Fiction is the best, and always uplifts me, encouraging me in my walk with Christ.
I so enjoyed reading “Thief of Corinth” – the first person style once again fits perfectly, and I loved Ariadne – she was real, and that showed in every aspect.
I was drawn into the story immediately, and it was nearly impossible to set down. Not only captivating, but full of meaning. The over-arcing message of love was beautifully portrayed. The story worked up to that message, setting the foundation for Ariadne’s vast need of His love.
Eeeek, just all so beautiful!! I was very touched by Paul’s words (Ms. Afshar really does a superb job in bringing this apostle to life!), and how Ariadne grew. None of it was forced; everything felt natural and realistic, and absolutely encouraging. I love the importance put on love. <3
Everything about the book is well-done. The setting, the characters, the plot – it all blends together to create this breathtaking piece of a story that you are so drawn in to that you won’t want it to be over.  I definitely wanted more. ^.^ Annnnnd, I did indeed catch the hint that we’ll possibly be seeing more of Theo, so that is most exciting, because I love these characters!
I just really, really loved “Thief of Corinth”, and can’t wait to reread it! Waiting for another TA book will be hard though. ;)
Definitely recommend this one!!!
Posted in 1940's, Bethany House, Book reviews

“An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White ~ Book Review

An Hour Unspent (Shadows Over England, #3)

 

“An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White

Book Three in the Shadows Over England Series

Review copy through the publishers

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About the book:

 

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.

 

My Thoughts:

 

Barclay. Barclay. And did I mention Barclay? Because yes. I want to reiterate how much I adored his character! His whole story. But okay. I suppose I should attempt to say more about this novel, right? Because it was all amazing! Barclay just greatly helped that factor. ;)

What a conclusion to the Shadows Over England series! But I am also so sad that it is over. Because these characters have become so real and the family so…familiar that is sad to say goodbye! I am very glad to know that the next series will still give us glimpses of these beloved characters, because I really am not ready to say goodbye. Each family member could have their own book and I would be very happy. ;)

The plot for this one was so well done, so well executed, and just perfect. I loved every piece of it. It held the right amount of intrigue, and mystery, while still not being too overwhelming. The only thing that frustrated me was a reaction of Evelina’s towards the end – understandable, but still I wanted her to do the opposite of what she did! XD Ah if we could only advise characters, right?

The setting was very good, and interwoven into the story so well that it was just part of it. I really enjoyed the clock making aspect of the book, and how the characters would relate it to God. Barclay’s faith was so real and very nicely portrayed, and encouraging. It wasn’t “perfect” because our faith does sometimes falter and we do sometimes question, but it is still strong.

And the relationships between Barclay’s makeshift family was darling to see.

I know I keep coming back to the characters but to me, a book is only as good as its characters and these really were so marvelous!! I loved them all so very, very much.

I just really loved this book. Its character, its setting, its lessons. A superb story for Barclay and Evelina <3

Posted in Author Interview, blog tour, Book reviews, Books, character introduction

Author Interview! A.M. Heath (Blog Tour/Book Review)

Blog tour

 

Good morning, readers! For September’s interview, it’s a little different – it is apart of the blog tour for “If Only It Were Yesterday”! So there is a lot of extra fun going on here, including a giveaway, facebook party, and my review. So let us get on with this fun-filled post, shall we?

 

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The Book:

If Only It were Yesterday (A Season Passed, #1)

 

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

 

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My Review:

*Happy sigh* This was a perfectly delightful read! The first I’ve read by this author, but it most certainly won’t be my last!

I read this as an e-copy, but I made quick work of securing a print copy for myself, because it was that enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate to read it again.

Main character Liz Cooke was real and quirky and lovely, and also very relatable. Starting in present day, we get to know Liz and see how she struggles with believing that times past would be a better place to live instead of this trial-torn present day world. Owning an antique store, she comes across a very special trunk that throws her back in time…

There were so many pleasant nods to Alice in Wonderland, and I love the quotes scattered throughout. The Bible verses at the beginning of the chapters was a joy as well, and it was fun seeing how they were interwoven into the chapters.

“If Only It Were Yesterday” portrayed the historical timeline in a realistic way, showing the beauty as well as struggles that we find today too. I loved the encouraging faith message in this book, and the reminder that God is in control and has placed us in the time period He knows is right for us. Being content where we’re at, and serving Him here.

I was just thoroughly impressed with this novel, and eagerly anticipate the following books in the series! Such a good read <3

(And on a bit of a fangirl note…I loved Scott. He was the best ‘best friend’, and he was adorable. I want to see more of him…XD)

 

Image result for curly q

 

AI AM Heath

 

Welcome to my “Peculiar” Blog! I’m so happy to have you here :)  Would you please introduce yourself and the genre that you write:

 

Thanks so much for having me! My name is Anita and I write under A.M. Heath. I write Christian Fiction. Most of what I pen is historical or historical romance. But I have some Contemporary/contemporary Romance under my sleeves as well. ;) But all my stories carry a message for the soul and a bit of clean romance.  

 

 

What inspired “If Only It Were Yesterday”?

 

Me. Lol I inspired the novel. Seriously though, I had to learn the hard lesson about the trap of idolizing history and/or fiction. Once I saw reality a little more clearly, I couldn’t help but notice how many avid readers had fallen into the same trap. I wanted to reach out to them. I wanted to remind them that most of what we see in fiction is an illusion. While there ARE elements of reality, there are also a great deal of unrealistic elements. It blessed me abundantly to hear back from the early readers who admitted to being a little too much like Liz. But it’s an easy trap to fall into, especially when there’s so much around us that makes us discontent. From there, it’s only a matter of longing for that contentment elsewhere … never realizing that it doesn’t exist in our settings but ind Christ.

 

 

Of your characters, is there one that you relate to more than the others? And if so, why?

 

Definitely Liz. I basically just allowed her to become me in many ways. Her natural curiosity. Her need to know what really happened. Her fixation on history and all things Austen. All of this comes from me. And because of that, this was probably the most natural story/character to write. She is her own person in other ways,  but she also a great dose of myself.

 

 

Do you have a special process for how you choose your character’s names?

 

Lol I’m probably the most laid back person you’ll talk to about naming characters. It seems that everyone has a system except for me. I literally just start tossing around ideas, just whatever pops in my head. I also thumb through a list of era-appropriate names and jot down whatever jumps out at me. At that point, it’s just a matter of calling out names until the character answers to one of them.
LOL Okay, I’m aware that this explanation makes me sound a bit crazy. But if you’ve seen The Man Who Invented Christmas, you’d understand. Dickens’ method in the movie actually IS my method. It’s worked well for me so far! And the characters really do come to life when you stumble upon the right name.

 

 

I have heard that many authors have their own interesting writing quirk – do you have one?  If so, would you mind sharing?

 

I have a specific playlist that I like to play while I’m writing. I’ve found that most songs outside of that list tend to annoy me and distract me from my writing.

Oh! Here’s another that I never knew was odd, but the more I talk to other authors, the more I find that it’s rare. When a new book idea is conceived (we’ll have to call it the plotting process because it’s typically the only real plotting I do) I tend to work with the last things first. Almost immediately, I’m hashing out title ideas, naming main characters, and visualizing my cover options. Once these things are established and I have a basic sense of my plot, I’m ready to start writing. And I don’t go far before I’m writing the clincher and ending scenes. I think for me, the most vital part of the plotting process, is to be able to visual the final product. To see those characters in their most crucial scenes and to have a solid idea of a the cover and title gives me a sense of direction that a detailed outline gives to a seasoned planner. I’ve tried several times to formally outline a story, but I can’t seem to do it. I use that finished imagine in my head to guide me. Knowing the title helps point me toward my goal and purpose for the story. I typically know the starting point and the end result, so I just wing it from there.

 

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

 

Typically, it energizes me. I actually get weighed down if I don’t get to write for long periods of time. Editing and formatting drains me to no small degree, so I keep another draft in the writing process, so I can slip away and refuel with some creative time.

 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

 

SLOW DOWN! So many new self-published authors rush to finish their first book that it suffers as a result. I was one of those. I ended up revising my first book and re-releasing it the following year because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the outcome as the reviews started rolling in. With a traditional publisher, an author doesn’t have a choice except to wait until they’re picked up. But with self-publisher, the author is in charge of everything and it’s all too easy to let your eagerness put something out when you and the story isn’t quite ready.  

 

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

 

There’s a great network of authors who have helped me in various ways, some of which I’m just beginning to get to know. But Alicia G. Ruggieri, Amanda Tero, and Krista Noorman have worked alongside of me for several years. They’re always there to encourage me as well as help critique and line edit my work. I highly value their lovingly honest opinions. They, along with others on my team, push me to craft a better story. And there’s no substitute for talking shop with someone who knows what you’re going through.  

 

 

How important to you is the faith-element in your writing? Is it central to the theme or more of a sideline plot?

 

Normally, when I craft the plot, the spiritual theme is in clear view and a central part of the story. There have been a couple of times when the faith element was hidden and had to be layered on in order to bring it into focus properly. But, for me, it really is the heart of the story and the reason I’m penning one at all.

 

 

What does your family think of your writing?

 

They’re very proud. Some of the women in my family read my books. And my kids are always thrilled to see Mommy’s books in print. Lol My husband isn’t a reader so I think the whole tedious process baffles him. He’s told me multiple times that he doesn’t see how I sit in front of the computer as long as I do. Lol But I love it.

 

 

And lastly, would you recommend a book that my readers might like if they’ve read, or plan on reading, your latest, “If Only it Were Yesterday”?

 

I’ve given this a lot of thought. The character, Liz, is such a fan of Jane Austen, so I don’t think you could go wrong by picking up one of her novels or any classic. But another would be Lynn Austin’s Wonderland Creek. The fact that it has Wonderland in the title is a fun coincidence. But I would recommend it because they’re both written in the first person and both main characters have an unfortunate addiction to fiction which leads them astray and brings them to some tough lessons.

 

 

Thank you for the wonderful interview, Anita! I so enjoyed your answers, and you’ve been a joy to get to know!!

 

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Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

 

You can visit me online on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and my blog. *Note: I’m most active on Facebook and my blog.

Whether you’re on social media or not, you can ensure that you never miss one of my sales, giveaways, or new releases by signing up for my newsletter. I’ll send you a direct link to your email anytime something big happens. http://eepurl.com/dDbVNz

 

 

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Facebook party! Click on the graphic below to join!


Liz Party

And don’t miss out on the give-away!! Click on the graphic below to go to the giveaway and enter!

Grand Prize

Also, catch up on the other stops of this blog tour!

Release Day Spotlights: 
Sept 4: 
Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Reviews for If Only It Were Yesterday:

Sept. 5:
Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books

Sept. 6:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Sept. 10: 
Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley

Sept. 11:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Sept. 12: 
Virginia Winfield @ Bigreadersite

Sept. 13:
Heather G. @ Blue Jeans and Teacups

Sept. 17:
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

 

**I also did a Character Introduction post featuring Liz Cooke from “If Only It were Yesterday” – you can check that out here!

CI Liz Cooke

Posted in Books, character introduction

Character Introduction: Liz Cooke

(If you’re new to these posts: The idea behind them is just to spotlight the character a bit, give a little description of their personality, and for fun, a few books I’d recommend to them if I could. )

CI Liz Cooke

 

Welcome to a sort of late Character Introduction post! In today’s introduction, you will be meeting a lovely character – and you will get to hear more about her and her story next Monday!! So check back for that. ;) But for now, please enjoy getting to know…
Elizabeth Cooke
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(photo provided by author, used with permission)
Liz Cooke is a woman captivated by the past. Among all the strife and worries in her own world, she fantasizes eras gone by, certain they would offer her the peace and relief she seeks.
Circumstances draw her back to an era where men were gentlemen and women were ladies. In this flowery setting, Liz is awed by all it holds, but soon discovers that 1885 isn’t devoid of problems either – in fact, there seems to be just as many issues she has to face there as in her own world.
I love Liz because she is so real and definitely relatable – who doesn’t long to visit the past, often thinking they had it better than we do now? The lessons she learns are ones that are just as important to us here and now. And besides all this, my booklovers heart found a bond with Liz too ;)
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If I were to recommend some books to Liz, they would be…
“An Inconvenient Beauty” by Kristi Ann Hunter – set in the Regency time period, I think Liz would gladly find herself lost in this novel!
“At Your Request” by Jen Turano – this is a novella but a delightful read to be sure, and I think Liz would find it entertaining and amusing as I did!
“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White – I personally think Liz would adore this one. It is full of intrigue, romance, and BOOKS! :D What’s not to love, right?
“Emmeline” by Sarah Holman – a Jane Austen Retelling, I believe it would be a fun one for Liz too. :)
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You can meet Liz in “If Only It Were Yesterday” by A.M. Heath:
If Only It were Yesterday (A Season Passed, #1)
Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.
Image result for curly q
And don’t forget to check back next week for more about this fun book, as well as my review of it, and an interview with the author herself!
Posted in Book reviews, Revell Reads

“A Rumored Fortune” by Joanna Davidson Politano ~ Book Review!

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“A Rumored Fortune” by Joanna Davidson Politano

Stand-alone novel

Review copy through the publisher

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the book:

Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first. 

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I have been eagerly anticipating this author’s second novel, and I was so excited to dive into this gem. And what a gem it is! I thoroughly enjoyed “A Rumored Fortune”, being swept away between its pages and taken on quite the journey. So much beauty, and heart.  Main characters Tressa Harlowe and Donegan Vance were spectacular. I loved how Tressa’s portion (the majority of the novel) was in first person – it really flowed so nicely and bonded me even more to her. Third-person for Donegan’s portions was fantastic, too; the differences transitioned well, and you were never left with a feeling that it was incomplete or anything.
These characters complimented each other so well. Unlike Tressa, I fell for Donegan from his first words to her. ;)
I did really love their relationship, though! Sometimes her…resistance of him could get slightly frustrating, but I still understood her side of things –  her hesitancy to enter into ANY sort of relationship with anyone.
The plot-line of this novel was so superb. And I loved the vineyard aspect of it. Just so much. Each time I read parts about the vineyard and its care, I could see so much significance and resemblance to how God cares for us, including the pruning seasons. It was just really beautiful and remarkable! I should have taken a photo of my copy from the side, because I had marked so many pages that had just the best quotes! I will share some in my blog post with this review, but even so, there are so many worthy ones. A must-read book. <3
Just like in her debut novel, author Joanna Politano’s writing is superb, and absolutely captivating.
“A Rumored Fortune” is one you are going to want to savor, for certain. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next!!
Quotes:
I had sooo many! And not enough time to make graphics for each, unfortunately. But below are the graphics I did make, and then the quotes that I still loved but didn’t get the time to graphic-ize. :)

 

 

A Rumored Fortune 6

 

“Sometimes being in your own company fulfulled you more than sharing space with someone who intensified your aloneness with every word.”

 

“The only perfect father is the one in heaven. Never forget that.”

 

“The best fruit arises from a hostile environment – harsh winters, dry soil, and unrelenting heat from the sun deepen a grape’s flavor and heighten its sweetness. Bearable conditions bring only mediocre fruit.” – Notebook of a viticulturist

 

“It would serve everyone far better if you spoke plainly. Once the sting of truth is dealt, it can being to heal, but an unspoken truth festers for a long time.”

 

“No, He’s bringing you to life. It takes a harsh summer to yield abundance in the vineyards. Perhaps this is your summer.”
She pulled back to look up at him. “What am I to do then? How do I endure it?”
“When you feel you’re dying in the heat of summer, all a branch needs to do is to hold on.”  He gripped her elbows and looked into her eyes to convey the importance of the truth he now uttered, for it was all he could offer her. “Cling with all its might to the vine. That’s all, simply hold on.”
I am, He seemed to say to my pleas. I Am all those things you want. A statement directly personally, to my wrung-out fatherless heart. My Father, who art in heaven.”
“God had a way of pruning off anything that came between Himself and His children, it seemed. I’d experienced it too and somehow I was grateful for it.”
A Rumored Fortune 7
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+