Monday, July 17, 2017

The Writing Desk - A Review

Published - July 2017, Thomas Nelson
Author - Rachel Hauck
Title - The Writing Desk
Format - ebook, paper, audio
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Tenely Roth is basking in the success of her first book. She's been awarded the prestigious Gordon Roth award. Yet now she's struggling. She's under pressure from her publisher to produce her second novel, and Tenley is struggling to even put the words on paper. When her estranged mother contacts her asking for Tenley's help as she goes through cancer treatments, Tenley reluctantly agrees to head to Florida. After all, a change of scene just may inspire her, right?Once there, Tenley discovers a writing desk that seems to have a story of its own. Birdie Shehorn is living in the Gilded Age. She's the daughter of of old money and is expected to make a good match. Yet Birdie's heart longs for other things. She longs to be recognized for her own merit and not the match she can make. She longs to have her words published for all to read. Two women. Connected by one writing desk. Both with a longing to write, but are trapped by who society expects them to be. Can one lost manuscript bring both women the healing and closure they need?

My Thoughts:
This book was amazing. I can't say enough about it. I absolutely adored it.

There is something about the way that Rachel Hauck writes that just pulls me into her books. I get lost for hours. As much as I've loved her Royal Wedding series, her stand alone novels are probably the ones that stay with me. I love the depth of the past meeting the present. I love how the main character, Tenley in this case, has to make a decision that is similar to the one Birdie is forced to make. I love how each woman makes her choice for certain reasons, but was it necessarily the right one?

I love the depth that is Tenley and Birdie's characters. Both are not shallow characters. I love how they each either learn or not from the circumstances that they are presented with.

Some authors can draw a reader in. Others can make the story linger long after the book has ended. Ms. Hauck is one who has managed to do both with this book.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in order to share my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not required to like the book, only honestly give me honest opinion.

Recommended to fans of women's fiction, Karen Kingsbury, Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck

Rating - 5 stars



Friday, July 14, 2017

Heart on the Line - A Review

Published - June 2017, Bethany House
Series - Ladies of Harper Station Book 2
Author - Karen Witemeyer
Title - Heart on the Line
Format - ebook, paper
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About the book:
Grace Mallory left Colorado on the run. She's running from the men who murdered her father. In Harper's Station, she has finally found a place she can call home. She's working as the telegraph operator. Yet even in Harper's Station, she's not completely safe. When her location is discovered by those who killed her father, Grace logs off of the telegraph rather suddenly. Amos Bledsoe, the operator on the other end of the telegraph, has been chatting to Grace for months over the wire. When she abruptly disappears in the middle of their conversation, he becomes concerned. He is determined to meet her in person to see if she's ok. Soon both of them find themselves trying to keep themselves and the town safe.

My thoughts:
I always enjoy reading Karen Witemeyer's books. They are fun and sweet. This one had just a tough of romantic suspense in it.

I really enjoyed getting to know both Grace and Amos. I also enjoyed visiting with the other characters in Harper's Station. Sometimes, it seems that secondary characters can stand out. And in this case, all of the ladies of Harper's Station certainly stand out.

This book, overall, was a delight. I recommend it to fans of Karen Witemeyer.

I received a copy from the publisher for free to review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, historical romance

Rating - 4 stars


Friday, June 23, 2017

With You Always - A Review

Published - June 2017, Bethany House
Series - Orphan Train Book 1
Author - Jody Hedlund
Title - With You Always
Format - ebook, paper
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When a financial crisis hits New York City in the 1850's, thousands of immigrants are left without work. These immigrants came to the US in hopes of a better life. Instead, they find themselves crammed into tenements, working for pennies, and forced to find ways to support themselves. Elise Neumann finds herself attempting to care for her sisters when her job as a seamstress is suddenly gone. With no where else to go, Elise accepts a position with the Children's Aid Society to go work in new towns in the west. Thornton Quincy is the son of one of New York's wealthiest families. His father is dying, and he has issued a challenge to both Thornton and his brother - whichever son can build a successful town and  marry for love in six months will become the new head of the family business. Thornton is tired of being in his twin's shadow and is determined to win the contest. Yet when he meets Elise, he soon finds himself questioning all he's been brought to believe. Will the west be a place of new beginnings for both Elise and Thornton?

My thoughts:
I was so excited to see a new series by Jody Hedlund. I remember growing up adoring the Joan Lowry Nixon Orphan Train books. And now to read more about that period of history by one of my favorite authors as an adult, well, let's just say that I was pretty much over the moon.

I knew that the Children's Aid Society placed children, orphans or not, in homes in the west. Yet I didn't know that they also found jobs for women. I also found the idea of building a town around the railroad fascinating.

I loved both Thornton and Elise. I loved how her suggestions were things that he actually took into consideration. I loved how he wanted to protect her and to provide for her. Watching them fight their feelings for each other was fun.

I am looking forward to the rest of this series. I am hoping for both Marianne's and Sophie's stories.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Jody Hedlund, Karen Witemeyer, historical fiction, orphan trains

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Freedom's Price - A Review

Published - June 2017, Revell Books
Series - Keys of Promise Book 3
Author - Christine Johnson
Title - Freedom's Price
Format - ebook, paper
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About the book:
After the death of both her parents, the loss of her home, and hoping to escape an arranged marriage, Catherine Haynes travels from England to Louisiana hoping to be with her mother's family. Only her journey doesn't go as planned. The ship she's on becomes dangerous to travel just outside of Key West. Stranded in Key West for a time, Catherine meets the dashing Tom Worthington. Tom makes his living salvaging wrecked ships, but his real goal is to seek justice for his father's murder. When Catherine enlists his help in escorting her to Louisiana, he agrees. Neither knew what was in store for them on the plantation. Could the man who murdered Tom's father be the same man who is running Catherine's family's plantation? If so, then they are both in danger. Will long held secrets keep them apart?

My Thoughts:
I really liked this book. There was more mystery in it than the others in the series. I enjoyed both Tom and Catherine's characters. I thought that they worked well together.

While this is the third book in the series, it stands alone. The majority of the book takes place in Louisiana. It's been a while since I read something that is set pre-Civil War era in Louisiana. I'd forgotten how much slave labor was used in the South. This book forces both of the main characters to look at their own views of slavery.

Still it was an entertaining read.

I received a copy for free from the publisher as part of the Revell Reads program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Fifth Petal - A Review

Published - January 2017, Random House
Author - Brunonia Barry
Title - The Fifth Petal
Format - ebook, paper
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About the book (Goodreads):
When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.  But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

My Thoughts:
I'd never heard of this author before. But when I saw it was available to review, both the cover and the back cover copy drew me in, so I thought "why not." 

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I was drawn in quickly. I was curious to see how all of the puzzle pieces were going to line up. 

Reading about a modern day witch hunt in Salem was interesting on several levels. First I vaguely remember learning about them in my history classes in school. Second, it made me think about how we live in a society today that could easily have such a thing happen. 

Would this have been a book I'd have tried if it wasn't a review copy? Probably not. Am I glad I gave it a chance? Absolutely. Would I read books by this author again? Maybe. I'd have to see. If I were in a mystery kind of mood, then yes. 

Overall, this book was an unexpected surprise that I found myself enjoying.

I received a copy of this book for free from the Blogging for Books program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars

For Love and Honor - A Review

Published - March 2017, Zondervan
Series - An Uncertain Choice Book 3
Author - Jody Hedlund
Title - For Love and Honor
Format - ebook, paper
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About the book (Goodreads):
Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed? Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have? As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?

My Thoughts:
I think I've read everything that Jody Hedlund has written. This is the third book in the author's young adult series. 

I really enjoyed this book. It is helpful to have read the others first because that's where the reader is really introduced to Sir Bennet. I loved how he was determined to care for his family. I also loved Lady Sabine. I thought she was witty and a good match for Sir Bennet. 

This was a fast read. I love to read about knights and their ladies. Since I knew that this book was written for younger audiences, that I shouldn't expect quite the depth that I get in the author's adult novels. Still, the characters were deep, and they struggled to overcome their challenges.

I received a copy of this book for free from the BookLook Blogging program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of young adult, knights, Jody Hedlund, Melanie Dickerson

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wings of the Wind - A Review

Published - May 2017, Bethany House
Series - Out From Egypt book 3
Author - Connilyn Cossette
Title - Wings of the Wind
Format - ebook, paper
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About the book (from Goodreads) -
Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.
Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.
Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?
 


My thoughts -
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. Biblical fiction is a genre that I usually don't read. Yet the cover captivated me. So I picked it up.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with this. It's told from the perspectives of both Alanah and Tobiah. I loved to see how Alanah came to understand the God of the Hebrew people. I loved to see how she finally came to a point that she was willing to be used by God. 

Over the years, I've read countless stories of how the Israelites left Egypt to return to the Promised Land. Yet this is the first one that I've read that actually talks about how they felt. 

I'm really glad to know that this book stood alone and I didn't have to have read books 1 and 2. 

I received a copy for free from the publisher to review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Recommended to fans of Biblical fiction

Rating - 4 stars