Friday, September 11, 2015

Review - "Not by Sight" by Kate Breslin


 
Not by Sight
by Kate Breslin
 
Published by Bethany House Publishers
384 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
 
About this book:
 
"In the spring of 1917, all of Britain's attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.

A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country's cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.

But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death."
 
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Earlier this year I read Kate Breslin's For Such a Time novel and I liked it and found it to be an interesting historical story, so months ago, when I saw that she had written this book and that it was going to be published this year, I put it on my reading list. I thought Not By Sight was a good historical fiction novel as well. I can't say much about the story for fear of giving away spoilers, but this novel did have an interesting storyline with some unexpected twists and a crew of characters with their own unique personalities. One thing I like about Breslin's stories is the way she describes things and brings you into the story through her descriptions. Her descriptions of the places in the book could make me feel like I was there.

This book takes place in England during World War I and includes the subject of spies and espionage during that time. It also gives us an idea of what the Women's Forage Corp was and what work the women who were a part of the WFC did to help with the war effort. Grace is a suffragette in the story so women's suffrage is also a historical subject in the book. There is an Author's Note in the back of the book that talks about these subjects that I thought was interesting too.

Overall, I did enjoy this novel. I think it's another great historical fiction novel by this author and I'm interested to see what she might write about next.

Notes on the content: There are mentions of a character once being a prostitute, and also mentions of a child that was born out of wedlock. Jack is also rumored to be / have been a playboy and gambler.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review - "Through Waters Deep" by Sarah Sundin


 
Through Waters Deep
by Sarah Sundin
 
Waves of Freedom series, Book #1
Published by Revell
384 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
 
About this book:
 
"War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them."
 
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The story begins in March 1941 at the Boston Navy yard, where Mary Stirling, a secretary at the navy yard, is making sure that everything is ready for a ship-launching ceremony. While checking things, she notices that the bottle of champagne she had decorated the day before appears to have been tampered with. When she mentions this to her boss, he doesn't think anything is amiss. However, when the bottle is smashed in the christening of the ship, it is discovered that someone sabotaged the bottle and refilled it with gasoline so that things would catch on fire at the ceremony. The question is, who did it?

While at the ceremony, Mary runs into Jim Avery, a guy she knows from high school. Jim is now a naval officer and has just been assigned to a ship in Boston. Being new in town, Jim and his navy friend Arch have been wanting someone to show them around Boston and Mary ends up being the perfect person to do it. While out on their excursions together, a friendship develops between Mary and Jim.

While a lot of suspicion is going around about who might be a sabotager and as the tension between the men working at the navy yard grows, Mary decides to work on the mystery herself and uses her skills as a secretary to record everything that's going on at the navy yard. As more sabotage is discovered, both Mary and Jim find themselves in dangerous situations. Can they figure out who the sabotager is?

Through Waters Deep is the first full length novel I've read by author Sarah Sundin and I thought it was a great historical fiction novel. The author's writing and the details included in the story made me feel like I was in the time period. This story takes place before the United States officially entered World War II and throughout the story we see how much tension there was between the isolationists and the interventionists and how arguments and fights broke out between them. Through Jim's side of the story we also see the danger that the navy ships faced when they went out to sea, never knowing if they would be attacked by German vessels.

I thought the characters were well done. The main characters, Mary and Jim, were likable and realistic. They both have fears that they struggle with that they must trust in God to help them overcome.

The mystery aspect of the novel was wonderfully done. It kept me guessing about who the sabotager was until the end.

I did appreciate how the romance between the characters started out as a friendship before turning to romance instead of being an insta-love type of romance. I do, however, think there was a bit to much detail and focus on the physical appearance of the characters.

Overall, as someone who loves to read books based around the World War II time period, I really enjoyed this novel. The action and mystery had me enthralled in the story until the end. I'm looking forward to reading the second book in the Waves of Freedom series when it is released next year.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review - "In Good Company" by Jen Turano


 
In Good Company
by Jen Turano
 
A Class of Their Own series, Book #2
Published by Bethany House Publishers
352 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
 
About this book:
 
"After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position.

Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare.

At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance--with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children's parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?"
 
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In Good Company is the first book I have read by author Jen Turano, and I found it to be an enjoyable and funny story. While this book can be read as a stand alone novel (the way I have read it), I think it would be best to read these books in order as people and events from the first book are mentioned in this book.

I really liked Millie's character and her personality. A spunky bookworm who carries around a pocket dictionary and who is always trying to improve her vocabulary by using words she learned from it (although sometimes incorrectly), Millie is misunderstood as a nanny by her employers. Although the children she takes care of love her, her employers always find her nannying methods improper causing her to be dismissed from her position as a nanny quite often. Having run out of options of nanny positions, Millie's only choice is to be hired by a man who doesn't believe in her skills as a nanny. However, with her wit, determination, and unconventional methods of looking after children, Millie proves to be just the right match for the children she is hired to look after.

With three mischievous kids, some high jinks, a flock of shrieking peacocks, a meddling woman who wants to play a matchmaker in Millie's life (to Millie's dismay), romance, and a mystery, this was an interesting and delightful story that had me laughing quite a lot! I plan on reading the first book in this series when I can to find out more about the characters in the series and I'm looking forward to reading the third book when it is published. I would recommend this book to those who like to read historical Christian romances.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Review - "A Worthy Pursuit" by Karen Witemeyer

 
 
A Worthy Pursuit
by Karen Witemeyer
 
Published by Bethany House Publishers
352 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
 
About this book:
 
"A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily's mother she'd keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily's legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he's been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he's ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte's heart.
"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
A Worthy Pursuit is the first book I've read by author Karen Witemeyer and I really liked it! After I started reading it, I did not want to put it down! I found some parts to be quite funny and I was laughing a lot while reading it. There was also quite a bit of action in the story making it a fast-paced read.

I thought the characters were great, both the main and side characters. I admired Charlotte's character for wanting to take care of the three children she has taken charge of and her wanting to keep them safe from harm no matter the cost to her own self after the school they attended was closed and the children didn't have a good place to go.

Stone is a likeable and honorable character. He is more concerned with finding out the truth about the situation he has become involved in and doing what is right instead of just retrieving the girl he was sent to find in exchange for money with no thought to who might be the best guardian of the girl.

The three children - Lily, John, and Stephen - were charming. I enjoyed reading about the uniquely different talents that they've each been blessed with and how they use those talents. I thought Lily was absolutely delightful and her character had me laughing the most in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed A Worthy Pursuit and would be interested in reading more books by Karen Witemeyer. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction, westerns, and Christian romances.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review - Love's Rescue by Christine Johnson

 
 
Love's Rescue
By Christine Johnson
 
Keys of Promise series, Book #1
Published by Revell
352 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance
 
About this book:
 
"Can a girl enamored with the adventurous seas ever be content with the tame life of a Southern belle?

When her mother dies, Elizabeth Benjamin heads home to Key West, determined to transform herself into the perfect Southern belle her parents always wished her to be. But nothing goes according to plan. Her brother resents her, the servants do not obey her, and Rourke O'Malley, the dashing man she vowed to forget, refuses to relinquish his hold on her heart. Worst of all, it becomes painfully obvious that her father is not the man he appears to be.

As family secrets come to light, Elizabeth is faced with a difficult choice: to perform her duty and abandon her dreams, or to leave her life of privilege behind to chase the man her father sees as little better than a pirate.

From the first emotional page, author Christine Johnson throws you into a world of impossible choices, hidden desires, and heart-melting romance in the steamy South.
"
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
As a South Floridian, the summary of this book immediately caught my interest. A Christian historical novel set in the Florida Keys? Yes, please! It is so rare that I see historical novels set in Florida, especially novels set in the 1800s. While I've never been to the Florida Keys, I could picture the plant life and ocean shores described in the book quite well as it's not too different from the coastal areas of the part of Florida that I'm from. Oh, and let me not forget to mention that the story started with something us Floridians despise - that's right, the dreaded hurricane!

Set in 1846, the story starts with Elizabeth having to leave Key West in a few days to travel to Charleston where she is expected to secure a prominent match. But Elizabeth loves a man in Key West who her parents don't approve of: wrecker Rourke O' Malley. In her last attempt to change her future before she must leave for Charleston, Elizabeth and her brother Charlie venture out into a storm to try to find Rourke. However, Elizabeth's choice to go out during the storm ends with consequences she never expected.

Four years later, after her mother's death, an unwed Elizabeth journeys home with her aunt after her long stay in Charleston. On her voyage home she finds herself in a situation from which she needs rescuing, and her rescuer is none other than Rourke, than man she left behind. However, her homecoming is not a happy one. Her brother resents her, her father still does not approve of Rourke, and her aunt is trying to turn her into someone she doesn't want to be. While her father and aunt try to force her into a marriage to a man she despises, Elizabeth discovers family secrets that shatter everything she knows about her family. Will Elizabeth do what is expected of her, or will she follow her heart and her dreams?

Love's Rescue drew me into the story from the very beginning and it had enough action and mystery in it to where I did not want to put it down. I thought the author did a good job with the characters and I wanted to find out what was going to happen to them. I enjoyed the unique setting and I learned about some new things, such as wrecking in the Florida Keys and how the wreckers were seen as not being much better than pirates. The story had good themes of forgiveness, redemption, and self-sacrifice. Overall, I really liked it and would be interested in reading the next books in this series when they are published.

A couple notes on the content: There are mentions of an affair in the book. Also, as this book does take place before the end of slavery, there is prejudice against slaves and free black people by some characters, and the term "darkie" is used more than once.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review - "As Love Blooms" by Lorna Seilstad

 
 
As Love Blooms
by Lorna Seilstad
 
The Gregory Sisters series, Book #3
Published by Revell
320 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance
 
About this book:
 
"Young romance opens like a rose . . . but even a rose has its thorns.

Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park--and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

Against the lush backdrop of manicured gardens and greenhouses full of the exotic, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to delight."
 
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I really liked As Love Blooms! It was a cute and funny book. As Love Blooms is the third book in the "The Gregory Sisters" series and while I haven't yet read the first two books in the series, I didn't really have any problems following the story in this third book. It read well as a stand alone.

I loved Tessa's personality in the book! She's a spunky, ambitious, and fun character. She is a bit of a thrillseeker as well and isn't afraid to try new things. She also shows determination, working hard to make her dreams come true even when others, including members of her own family, don't believe in her and her dreams. I'm afraid I can relate to her quite well in that aspect.

The historical setting was interesting. Taking place in 1913, the story shows how major cities in the United States were building up their parks and were working to build new conservatories for park visitors to enjoy. Women's suffrage is also a main historical subject in the book.

I also liked the theme that the book had: that we should put our hope and trust in God to help us do things, not rely only in ourselves. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that Tessa has to learn the hard way as she keeps secrets and sometimes uses deception to try to get the things she wants done.

Overall, I really enjoyed As Love Blooms and I definitely want to read the first two books in the series now to find out more about Tessa's sisters.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Review - "Where Trust Lies" by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

 
 
Where Trust Lies
by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
 
Return to the Canadian West series, Book #2
Published by Bethany House Publishers
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance
 
About this book:
 
"She loves her friends and students in the West, but family obligations have called her home. Where does she truly belong?

After a year of teaching in the Canadian West, Beth Thatcher returns home to her family. She barely has time to settle in before her mother announces plans for a family holiday--a luxurious steamship tour along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. Hoping to reconnect with her mother and her sisters, Beth agrees to join them, but she quickly realizes that things have changed since she went away, and renewing their close bond is going to be more challenging than she expected.

There's one special thing to look forward to--letters and telephone calls from Jarrick, the Mountie who has stolen her heart. The distance between them is almost too much to bear. But can she give her heart to Jarrick when it will mean saying good-bye to her family once again--and possibly forever? And will she still want to live in the western wilds after the steamship tour opens up a world of people and places she never imagined?

Then comes a great test of Beth's faith. Someone in her family has trusted the wrong person, and suddenly everything Beth knows and loves is toppled. Torn between her family and her dreams, will Beth finally discover where her heart truly belongs?


A companion story to Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart TV series!"
 
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"Where Trust Lies" is the second book in the Return to the Canadian West series. The storyline picks up basically right after where the first book left off. Because it starts right after where the first book ended, I personally would not recommend this book as a stand alone as some things might not make much sense if you haven't read the first book in the series.

Beth Thatcher is returning home to her family after spending a year as a teacher in the mining town of Coal Valley. She is hoping to spend some time with her family, and while at home, she is also hoping to receive a letter of invitation to teach in Coal Valley for the next school year. However, as soon as she returns home she finds out that her family has plans to travel on a steamship tour and would like her to come along. Although she wanted to spend some time at home for awhile, Beth agrees to traveling so she can spend time with her family. However, not everything they encounter during their travels is as it seems. When something terrible happens, will Beth trust in God to help her and her family get through the devasting ordeal?

I thought "Where Trust Lies" was a good continuation of the Return to the Canadian West series. While I prefer the first book in the series to this one because I enjoyed the setting and people of Coal Valley more, I still very much enjoyed reading the continuation of Beth's story. It was interesting to read about the different places Beth and her family traveled to while on their trip. I also liked reading and finding out more about Beth's family.

Just as I liked seeing Beth's strong faith in God in the first book, I liked seeing her grow in her faith in this one as well. She is trying to figure out where God is leading her and what His will is for her life, including whether or not she is supposed to return to Coal Valley to teach again. Beth is also trying to figure out her romantic relationship with Jarrick and whether or not he is the man God wants her to be with, and if he's not, if she will be able to let him go. When something devastating occurs, Beth must also trust in God to get her and her family through the difficult time.

The pace of the story is on the slower side. While I didn't mind the pace, some may find this book boring because a lot of the story didn't have a lot of action.

Overall, I really enjoyed "Where Trust Lies" as a sequel to "Where Courage Calls"! It was a nice continuation of Beth's story with a good theme of trust. I look forward to reading more books in this series if more are published.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Review - "Anna's Crossing" by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Cover Art
Anna's Crossing
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

An Amish Beginnings Novel
Published by Revell
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

About this book:

"Some endings are really beginnings . . .

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna K├Ânig reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home--assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people--dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands--who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing--and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it
."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anna's Crossing is a historical fiction book about how some of the Amish first came to America. It shows some of the hardships that the Amish and Mennonites would have faced when they traveled by ship and made the difficult journey to America in the 1700s.

The story in Anna's Crossing is told from three different characters' perspectives: Anna's - a young Amish woman who is reluctantly traveling with other Amish from her hometown to America; Bairn's - the carpenter of the Charming Nancy ship who hopes to someday be captain of his own ship and who would rather be transporting cargo than people; and Felix's - a curious and sometimes troublemaking Amish boy who is interested in everything there is to know about sailing a ship. I really liked that Felix's perspective was included in addition to the two main adult characters' perspectives as I enjoyed reading about his character and seeing what mischief he would get into next.

I liked Anna's character. She has a strong faith in God throughout the story and she trusts in Him even during the most difficult times during their journey. She also shows compassion for others, even when it's hard to or when some don't deserve it.

I did not, however, care for Georg Schultz's character. He gave me the creeps from the beginning with the way he acted towards Anna, and I was extremely unhappy when he made a reappearance at one point in the story. Just a warning that at one point he does basically attempt to sexually assault Anna, but thankfully she is saved before he can do anything to her. By the end of the book I understood why he was written into the story, but I wish his character had been handled differently and I wish the parts with him being a creep towards Anna had been left out.

I don't typically read Amish fiction, but I love to read historical fiction and this book sounded interesting. It was interesting to read about how some of the Amish first came to America and to see what they would have gone through on their journey. An Author's Note is also included at the end of the novel where the author wrote about what parts of her novel are factual and which parts are based off of assumptions or made up.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book. There were some things I did like about it and I did learn some new things about history and the Amish. However, I can't say I particularly enjoyed this book, mainly due to Georg's character.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review - "The Trouble With Patience" by Maggie Brendan

The Trouble With Patience
by Maggie Brendan

Virtues and Vices of the Old West series, Book #1
Published by Revell
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance

About this book:

"Patience Cavanaugh has lost hope in romance. The man she yearned to marry is dead and her dreams are gone with him. Now she is consumed with restoring a dilapidated boardinghouse in order to support herself.

Despite Patience's desire for solitude, Jedediah Jones, the local marshal with a reputation for hanging criminals, becomes an ever-looming part of her life. It seems like such a simple arrangement: She needs someone with a strong back to help her fix up the boardinghouse. He needs a dependable source of food for himself and his prisoners. But as she gets to know this "hanging lawman," Patience finds there is far more to him than meets the eye--and it could destroy their tenuous relationship forever.

With a keen eye for historical detail and a deft hand at romantic tension, Maggie Brendan invites you to a Montana gold rush boomtown, where vices and virtues are on full display and love is lying in wait."


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"The Trouble with Patience" was a story I liked, but there wasn't anything very special or unique about it. The first part of the book was a bit slow and had somewhat of a love triangle with Jedediah becoming jealous over a newcomer in town when the newcomer starts paying attention to Patience. The second part of the book involved a mystery about who had been rustling cattle and who murdered a rancher.

The story did have a strong theme of forgiveness which I liked. I also liked Patience's faith. It was a nice story with some mystery, but overall, for me it was just okay. A good book if you're looking for a lighthearted read and you like reading western romances.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review - "The Daughter of Highland Hall" by Carrie Turansky

9781601424983
The Daughter of Highland Hall
by Carrie Turansky

Edwardian Brides series, Book #2
Published by Waterbrook Press
336 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance

About this book:

"What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor… what if it isn’t enough?

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.

When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served."


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I really enjoyed "The Daughter of Highland Hall"! It was a good historical fiction novel with great characters and good themes. The story revolves around Katherine "Kate" Ramsey who is entering her debut season to find a suitable suitor with a place in high society and with wealth. The story also has a bit of a side mystery about Kate's maid trying to find her sister.

Kate's character shows a lot of growth in the story. She starts out wanting to marry for the reasons of having wealth and status in high society, but then she starts to realize that maybe she's looking for the wrong things to marry someone for. As she goes through trials during her debut and as her friendship with Jon grows, she begins to see what is truly important and who she can really trust. She must decide whether she wants to marry someone just because of their status or if she wants to marry someone because she actually loves them. She must also decide how far she is willing to go to help others.

Something I really liked about this book is that it emphasized the importance of not being unequally yoked spiritually to the person you marry. That's something I rarely see emphasized in Christian fiction books.

A couple notes on the content: One of Kate's relatives is having an affair with a married woman. It's not detailed, but it does play its part in the plot. There is also an unwed mother in the story.

"The Daughter of Highland Hall" is the second book in theEdwardian Brides series and while I have not read the first book in this series, "The Governess of Highland Hall", I did not have any problems following this story. I'm sure those who have read the first book in the series will probably enjoy this book even more than I did.

I plan on reading the first book in this series as soon as I can and I'm looking forward to reading the third book when it is released in the fall of 2015! I would recommend this book to those who like historical fiction.

*I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review - "Beyond All Dreams" by Elizabeth Camden

Beyond All Dreams
by Elizabeth Camden

Published by Bethany House Publishers
368 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Romance

About this book:
"Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?"


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I enjoyed "Beyond All Dreams", a Christian historical fiction novel with romance and a mystery. The mystery part was intriguing. Anna thinks the report of what happened to the ship her father was aboard is inaccurate and she wants to find out the truth about what really happened to the ship and to the people that were aboard it. But she is threatened not to look into the matter or she may lose her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress, a job which she loves. She must decide whether it's worth it to continue to search for the truth or if the risk is too great.

The historical aspect of the story was great and it seemed to be well researched. An historical note is included at the end of the novel and it was interesting to read about how part of the story was loosely based on certain things in history. I also liked the setting of the story. I loved reading the descriptions and details about the Library of Congress. As someone who was following politics closely for awhile, I found the political parts of the story to be interesting as well.

I thought the characters seemed realistic. Both Anna and Luke have there own dreams, goals, convictions, and ambitions. Both characters have also had rough pasts that they've had to deal with.

The story does have people drinking, being drunk, and some being cruel and careless when drunk. It also had a few sexual references that I thought were unneeded. The spiritual content seemed a bit lacking to me as well.

Overall, I liked the story and would recommend it to those who enjoy reading historical fiction and mysteries.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review - "At Home in Last Chance" by Cathleen Armstrong

 
 
At Home in Last Chance
by Cathleen Armstrong
 
A Place to Call Home series, Book #3
Published by Revell
304 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
 
About this book:
 
"What happens when the life you're running from won't let go of your heart?

Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going--out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over.

Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier. Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don't even trust themselves?

With emotional depth and characters who leap off the page and into your heart, Cathleen Armstrong invites you to return once more to the dusty and delightful town of Last Chance."
 
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Single mother Kaitlyn left her daughter Olivia in the custody of her brother six months ago and left Last Chance and her daughter behind to run off with a guy on a motorcycle. Now, after realizing the mistakes she’s made, she has returned to Last Chance wanting to start over. But starting over is hard to do when everyone is judging her for her mistakes and her own daughter has a hard time trusting her because she thinks her mom is just going to leave her again.

Steven is seen as the irresponsible black sheep member of his family. He’s used to using his charm to get everything he wants. After being away from home for awhile he is now back in Last Chance trying to prove that he is not the irresponsible charmer he’s been in the past.

Can the people of Last Chance forgive and look past the mistakes of Kaitlyn’s and Steven’s pasts to see them for the people they have become?

I liked "At Home in Last Chance". Even though it’s the third book in the A Place to Call Home series, I had no problem following it. The story could be both funny and sad at times.

The author did a good job with the small town setting, making me feel like I was in the small town of Last Chance. I liked how each of the characters had their own unique personalities. Kaitlyn’s daughter Olivia was cute and I thought it was funny when she gave some people glares sometimes, even if it wasn’t respectful. I really liked Elizabeth’s character as well. She was a sweet, loving woman who didn’t hold Kaitlyn’s past against her.

I did not care for Steven’s character in the first part of the book. He was conceited and cocky, thinking he could get anything he wanted with his charm, including any woman he wanted (in this case, that would be Kaitlyn). He just really annoyed me for the first part of the book, although he did grow on me in the second half.

I also thought the faith content was lacking. There are very few mentions of any of the characters’ faith in the story. Some of the characters did go to church, but I don’t think Steven ever went for the right reasons. The only reason he started going to church again after not going for years was to see Kaitlyn.

Still, "At Home in Last Chance" was an easy read and a heartwarming story. I would like to read the first two books in the series to find out more about the characters of Last Chance.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review - "Hidden Agenda" by Lisa Harris

 
 
Hidden Agenda
by Lisa Harris
 
Southern Crimes series, Book #3
Published by Revell
320 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Christian Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary
 
About this book:
 
"His cover is blown. Now his enemies are on his heels and closing in.

Michael Hunt is alive--and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he's been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is Olivia Hamilton--the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

This nonstop chase from Christy Award-winning Lisa Harris will leave you breathless."
 
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Hidden Agenda is a good suspense novel that definitely kept me enthralled in the story to find out what was going to happen next. I haven’t read the first two books in the Southern Crimes series, and while Hidden Agenda is the third book in the series, it read well as a stand alone novel. I could easily follow it without needing to read the first two books.

The crime part of this book revolves around the cartel. Because it revolves around the cartel there are a lot of descriptions or mentions of things the cartel is involved with such as murdering (there are murders in this book), drug dealing, and money laundering.

I can’t say much about this book without giving away spoilers. It was a suspenseful book with good characters and I liked it. It was a nice change of pace from the genres I’ve been reading lately. I would now like to read the first two books in this series to find out more about some of the characters. Overall, I think it’s a good book for those who like crime and suspense books as long as you don’t mind that this book involves the cartel and murders. I would only recommend this book for older teens and adults.

*I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review - "Love Unexpected" by Jody Hedlund

 
Cover Art
 
Love Unexpected
by Jody Hedlund
 
Beacons of Hope series, Book #1
Published by Bethany House Publishers
352 Pages
Target Audience: Adults
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance
 
About this book:
 
"1859
Presque Isle, Michigan

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she's left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He's just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other's dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife's death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters."
 
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**Note: I don't recommend this book for those who are under the age of 18.

Love Unexpected is a story with good themes such as redemption, forgiveness, and hope. I thought the author did a good job with Patrick’s character, showing him as a man who became a Christian after living a very sinful and depraved life who, after becoming a Christian, worked hard to repay those whom he had wronged and he started living for Christ. However, he still struggles with memories of things he has done in the past and he is also worried about how others would treat him if they knew about his past. I thought his character seemed realistic.

I also thought the setting of the book revolving around a lighthouse and a small Michigan town was interesting to read about.

Unfortunately, this book was too sexual for my personal reading taste and comfort and, in my opinion, was too sexual for a book published as a Christian book. There were a lot of sexual references in the story and the romantic parts were rather detailed to the point where I ended up skimming over some of the pages.

Overall, because of the excess of sexual related content I can’t recommend this book, especially to unmarried young adults.

*I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.