Posted in Book reviews, Books, Revell Reads

“Living Lies” by Natalie Walters ~ Book Review

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“Living Lies” by Natalie Walters

Harbored Secrets #1

Review copy from publishers/author

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name–but no one knows your secret. At least that’s what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton’s newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she’ll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Debut novelist Natalie Walters pulls you to the edge of your seat on the first page and keeps you there until the last in this riveting story that will have you believing no one is defined by their past.

 

My Thoughts:

 

I love getting the opportunity to read an author’s debut novel. It feels so special, to be trusted with their first book baby. :)
“Living Lies” is a romantic suspense title, and I thoroughly enjoyed the suspense plot – it was really well-written, and I enjoyed seeing how the whole thing played out and worked together in the end.  That thread was my favorite for sure.
The characters themselves were great, and nicely written. I appreciate how  Lane dealt with depression and anxiety, and that message of the book was definitely handled very well and with care.
The romance didn’t really ‘click’ for me, personally. Not that the two characters weren’t good for each other – they were, and I certainly didn’t dislike them as a couple. I don’t really know why I wasn’t getting engaged in the romance thread. Sometimes it felt a little like insta-love but it wasn’t exactly like that because the main character had some things she felt she needed to overcome.
Charlie was a fantastic guy. I loved how patient he was. And little Noah was a cutie. Also, I had a soft spot for Miguel. His character was really well-written.
The story flowed so nicely, and was an enjoyable read to be sure.
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*I received a review copy of this book from the author/publisher; all opinions in my review are my own. 

 

Posted in 1940's, Bethany House, Book reviews

“Whose Waves These Are” by Amanda Dykes ~ Review

Raes books (6)

“Whose Waves These Are” by Amanda Dykes

Review copy from publishers/author

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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About the Book:

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

 

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My Thoughts:

This book is one that should be savored. It is not a book to rush through. Just as I felt when reading the prequel novella (“Up From the Sea”), while traversing the pages of “Whose Waves These Are”, it was almost like I was holding my breath in anticipation. To see how it would all play out, to watch the characters live their lives – but it was also so much more.
I loved the little Harbor town, Ansel-by-the-Sea – it sounds so charming, and I wish it were a place that I could visit!
The writing style is very unique – and I’ll admit that at first, it took me a while to really get into it because I’m not used to reading a book written in this manner. However, once I got acclimated to the waters, so-to-speak, it was so pleasurable, and I felt so drawn in.
The characters each lept off the page. As did the story itself. It is a winding tale through several decades, but every piece is so well woven together that the completed work is rather stunning indeed.
This story evokes emotion – I wept at more than one part, and the messages impressed throughout the novel were beautiful and touching.
“Whose Waves These Are” took me a while to read, but I wish I had time to linger in it longer, for as I said – it is a story not to be devoured, but to be slowly inhaled.
I loved Bob, and Annie, and Fletch, and Bess, and Ed, and so many other characters, and I am quite certain you will too.
“He said he loves you, that it’ll be all right, that life is big…and God is bigger.”
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Quotes:
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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 Book reviews, Revell Reads

“The Heart of a King” by Jill Eileen Smith ~ Book Review

 

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“The Heart of a King” by Jill Eileen Smith

The Loves of Solomon

Biblical/historical Fiction

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Heart of a King (The Loves of King Solomon #1-4)

About the book:

Four women captured King Solomon’s heart in different ways, and he indulges his desires despite warnings. For all his wisdom, did Solomon or the women he loved ever find what they were searching for?

 

King Solomon was wealthy and wise beyond measure. He could–and did–have anything he wanted, including many women from many lands. But for all his wisdom, did he or the women in his life ever find what they searched for all of their lives?

In this engrossing novel, you’ll find yourself whisked away to ancient Israel, where you’ll meet Solomon and four of the women he loved: Naamah the desert princess, Abishag the shepherdess, Siti the daughter of a pharaoh, and Nicaula the queen of Sheba. As you experience the world of Solomon through his eyes and the eyes of these women, you’ll ask yourself the ultimate question: Did Solomon’s wisdom ultimately benefit him and those he loved . . . or did it betray them?

 

 

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My Thoughts:

 

Before I go into my review, I want to state how much I love this cover. The colors just pop and it is beautifully designed! And the spine of it too – it’s beautiful!
The inside of this attractive novel was very enjoyable as well. Not once was I bored or lacking interest. I found this book to be very well-written, and captivating.
It was really interesting to see into King Solomon’s life, as well as a few of his many wives’ lives.
I was really impressed with how the author wrote King Solomon’s character  – he was likeable and understandable, and yet so frustrating with his weakness for many, many women. I have always wondered about him and his many wives, and honestly, he was irritating in this aspect but I couldn’t hate him. His flaws made up his character, and his strengths were shown as well. Like I said, I was impressed with the overall respect the author wrote into his story.
And I also found the four wives highlighted in this novel to be fascinating and well-written. I felt for each of them and enjoyed getting to know them. I think Naamah and Abishag were my favorites, but they each were unique characters that had complex stories.
I would like to add as well that it was all tastefully written. I was a little cautious about how…passionate it might become at times because of the nature of the story, but the descriptions never went too far, and it was handled really well. I was very appreciative of this!
The historicalness of the story felt natural, and I would easily classify it as such; historical fiction.
“The Heart of a King” is definitely my favorite of this author’s work thus far, and I would recommend it to fans of Historical/Biblical fiction. This novel felt similar to the author Mesu Andrews’ writing, so if you’ve enjoyed her novels, be sure to check out this one as well.
:)
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_It did no good to try to rewrite what was already past. What could never change. The very idea was futile._
_Sometimes suffering brings people together in a way prosperity never can._
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publishers as apart of the books launch team. I was not required to write a positive review.  
Posted in Uncategorized

“Far Side of the Sea” by Kate Breslin ~ Book review

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“Far Side of the Sea” by Kate Breslin

WWI fiction

Review copy from the publisher as apart of the launch team

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

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About the Book:

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.

 

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My Thoughts:

 

What a well-crafted and splendid novel this was! I love the author’s ability to write compelling and realistic (and romantic ;)) historical fiction. “Far side of the Sea” is set during WWI, and while I’ve read (and enjoyed!) my fair share of WW TWO fiction, I haven’t read too many WW ONE fiction – so it is always a delight to learn more about historical time periods through fiction. And it is woven so well throughout this novel.
The plotline was superb with many twists and mysteries, though I shan’t be saying much about that because…spoilers! And I should dearly hate to ruin the enjoyment of finding out everything for yourself. So if you enjoy compelling WWI fiction, don’t hesitate to add this one to your list!
The characters were amazing, as well. I simply loved Colin, and Johanna both! They were each so realistic, and beautifully portrayed that it was so easy to fall in love with them right away. At first, I thought I would favor the parts written from Colin’s point of view (third person), but as soon as I got to know Johanna, I was just as much enthralled with hers (also third person)! So well done, and remarkably enjoyable.
It was also fun to see familiar characters from “Not By Sight” :)
The faith strand was present and sweet. I really liked how it ended, and the conclusion Colin came to, and there was just so much to love! So sweet! But again, I hesitate to mention too much more!
I can’t end though without saying I also loved the pigeon history and involvement throughout the story! So interesting, and added a great touch.
Bravo to the author for another riveting and beautiful book!
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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, Books, reading, Reviews

“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette ~ Book Review

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“A Light on the Hill” by Connilyn Cossette

Book One in the Cities of Refuge Series

Review copy from the publishers

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

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About the Book:

 

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

 

 

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My Thoughts:

 

What a delightful treat to be able to read Moriyah’s story, whom we were introduced to in “Wings of the Wind” (part of the Out of Egypt Series, while this book is book one of the Cities of Refuge Series)!
I loved this book; it was excellent. I love how the author weaves a story that is at once so captivating and so meaningful and ripe with the Lord’s beauty.
And I loved the characters – of course, Moriyah, but also Ora, and Eitan (SO adorable!!), and the hero Derek – all such excellent characters, well-constructed and portrayed.
I was impressed that most of the book was one of the characters being on the move – they weren’t in one location for very long, and that made the setting very unique! And adventurous. Though the reason behind it was a sad one, the descriptions of the sights they saw were a pleasure to read.
Moriyah’s heart-journey was even more enjoyable, seeing her struggles from page one and how she found healing from Yahweh. Her finding her worth was beautiful. <3
She was so kind to those around her, and so strong even when she felt herself weak. I also loved how she could hear Yahweh’s Voice – so precious. Moriyah was such an easy character to bond with. I felt like I shared in her sorrows and also her joys. I wanted to see her triumph, but most of all I loved how she committed – and surrendered – her life to Yahweh. Such a humbling and good reminder, one I love to read about in fiction.
I was a little surprised by the amount of kissing involved…I am not a Biblical/Historical expert at all, but I wouldn’t think that a Hebrew maiden would give away so many kisses before commitment, let alone before marriage. And if it was a matter of getting caught up in the moment (understandable; the flesh is weak), I think because of their upbringing, she would have felt a bit of remorse afterwards, if that makes sense.
But otherwise, I very much adored this book.
Each piece of this book was well-written and engaging, and I can hardly wait for the next one (yay for getting to see an older Eitan in the next one!!)!!
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Quotes:

 

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“Hear, O Israel. The Lord your God, the Lord is One. And you should love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength…these words which I command you today shall be on your heart.” If I loved Yahweh, I would obey, no matter the cost.

 

Posted in Book reviews

“A Song Unheard” by Roseanna M. White ~ Book Review

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“A Song Unheard” by Roseanna M. White

Book Two in the Shadows Over England series

Review copy from the author/publishers as apart of the Launch Team.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

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About the Book:

 

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I–to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales. 

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

 

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My Thoughts:

 

This book was beautiful. I wasn’t sure how the next book in this series would stand next to the first, “A Name Unknown” (because I loooved that one), but wow! It exceeded my expectations. Utterly delightful, and vivid and strong. I love how it wasn’t ‘heavy’, but it was deep. It was so easy to get caught up into, and so refreshing. This is definitely one of those books that you don’t just read – you live in its pages. You feel like you know the characters personally – not like you’re just reading about them. Spectacular!
And the settings were rich – London. Wales. Belgium.
“A Song Unheard” really does pull you in effortlessly.
There was so much to it, that I’m not even sure how to capture it all in my review! The music aspect was glorious. I’m not really a musician, but wow! Stunning. And the strength of family – maybe not by-blood-family, but still family. That was touching. And the faith-element – absolutely fantastic, and heartwarming. It was real, and not just ‘fluff’.
The characters were all spot-on.
Willa Forsythe…oh Willa. What a character she was! So developed, so complex, so broken, but so lovely. And strong. And willa-ful. ;) I loved her! What else can I say than that she was amazing? Her struggles, and trials – the walls she put up, and the ending conclusion – ahh, so good!
Lukas De Wilde being a playboy – I was curious to see how his character would go. But wow, I loved him too! His flirtation towards Willa was extremely amusing, and his devotion endearing. He had great depth too, and I loved “getting to know” him and seeing his transformation in the book.
Parts of this story shared the POV of Lukas’ sister, Margot. She was positively delightful! Her math-brain – goodness, I wish I had that! ;) And her loyalty to the Lord, and her faith – inspiring. I believe I heard that we’ll get to see more of her character in another series possibly? I sure hope so!
“A Song Unheard” is full of so much beauty, and depth, as I said, it’s impossible to cover all of it within one review, but I definitely recommend it! Music, intrigue, danger, hard-won-romance, a family of thieves, a world-renowned violinist – this book is enticing to say the least! It’s lovely to have a series set during the start of WWI – and a series so well written at that!
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Quotes:

 

“We are in God’s hands, and God’s alone. War is knocking on our door, and it is bigger than any of us. But the Lord is bigger than war. He will take care of us, if it is His will. And if it is not, then it will be to His glory. Rest in Him.” – words from Lukas’ mother’s letter.

 

_Our faith is the rock we stand on, Willa - but we don't demand anyone else stand here with us. Though if you ever wanted to, there is plenty of room.__God is real, my friend. And I dare

_There is a saying, I believe, about hiding our lights under a basket. Perhaps Jesus was talking of our faith, but I believe it applies to the gifts He has given us as well, n'cest-ce pa

_Music is like a person, oui_ You must make friends. Court it. Listen to it speak, let it find its voice._

_I don't want fame. Or awards or...I just want to play. That's all. To have the music._

_There is a saying, I believe, about hiding our lights under a basket. Perhaps Jesus was talking of our faith, but I believe it applies to the gifts He has given us as well, n'cest-ce pa

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*Read an interview with the author, Roseanna M. White HERE. And stay tuned for this next Monday, where Willa Forsythe will get her own post. :) Also….pop in on Valentine’s Day to see a special cover reveal!! Lots of fun!

 

 

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