The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Publication Date: 19 March 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Copy from and Berkley

“We decide who and what we will love and who and what we will hate. We decide what to do with the love and hate. Everyday we decide.”

                                                             –Elise Sontag

Elise Sontag’s life was forever changed one February afternoon during 1943 when the FBI arrested her father, Otto, for allegedly engaging in subversive activity against the United States.  The longer Otto is gone, the more difficult and complex Elise’s life becomes. Her fragile mother barely hangs on as she struggles to hold their small family together.

As Otto makes arrangements for the family to once again be together, he is compelled to make the choice to move his family to an internment camp in Texas. In August of 1843 the family moves to Crystal City internment camp and begin their life of captivity which will last until 1945. The camp brings Mariko Inoue, a young Japanese American girl, into Elise’s life. The girls become best friends sharing school, secrets, and teenage life in this small, walled off world while the WWII rages on.

The year 1945 brings repatriation to Germany for Elise and her family and a return to Japan for Mariko Inoue and her family. The last year of the war results in vastly different lives for both young women, forever touched by the bonds of their friendship.

The story starts out slowly, but the tale becomes much more engrossing as the story weaves its way from Davenport, Iowa to Crystal City, Texas and on to Pforzheim, Germany. The historical details are richly woven into the fiction. The principles of friendship, love, loss, and the tragedies of war blend together to add depth to the novel.  I would definitely recommend this book to readers of historical fiction, particularly those who enjoy WWII.

I received this book free from Berkley and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions I have expressed are wholly my own.

#NetGalley #TheLastYearOfTheWar   #soozmeissner  #berkleypub



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Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

Series: Blackbird Mountain, Book 2

Publication Date: March 12, 2019

ARC from Thomas Nelson Publishers and

 “Sorry’s for something you didn’t mean to do, he added.” “For breakin’ something that’s on accident. But my behavior that day wasn’t an accident, so I know it’ll take more than a word to make it right.”

                                                                            –Haakon Norgaard 

Driven away for four years by his own rash behavior, bad decisions, and regret, Haakon Norgaard, the youngest of the Norgaard brothers, returns home to Blackbird Mountain to try and make amends to those he cares about. While timely, his arrival leaves many of the residents of the Mountain uneasy and apprehensive.

Sharing the family homestead are Jorgan and his wife, Fay, and their two children as well as Thor and his very pregnant wife, Aden. The Sorrel clan once again brings turmoil and violence to Blackbird Mountain in their quest for revenge. Harlan Sorrel knows no boundaries when it comes to battle. He steps over the line this time. With Haakon’s assistance, the Norgaard men work to bring peace to the Mountain.  As Haakon works toward forgiveness and peace for his soul, he is haunted by a page from the Bible, a drawing from a young Norwegian boy, and a pair of deep blue eyes.

During this time of unrest on Blackbird Mountain, a young widow named Kjersti Jönsson and her children remember a young fisherman who helped them out on her farm while his ship docked in southern Norway. As memories fade and hopes die away, the harsh reality of the coming winter in Norway gives way to an unexpected visitor.

Once again Joanne Bischof touches my heart with this beautiful story of forgiveness, hope, faith, family and looking to the future. Well written and deeply moving! If you have not read book one in the series, I highly recommend reading Sons of Blackbird Mountain first. Come to Blackbird Mountain and discover the Norgaard family.

 This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson Publishers and The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#DaughtersOfNorthernShores  #NetGalley #Norway  #historicalfiction  #christianfiction  #amreading



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A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

Publication Date: February 2019

Publisher: Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ARC copy from Bethany House and

“I want to believe that dreams really can come true,” she said simply. “I would like to believe that hope and heart is all it takes to make anything happen, but it isn’t.”

–Eloise Drake

Another captivating historical novel from Elizabeth Camden centers on the small town of Duval Springs, New York in the year 1896.  The tiny town took on the state of New York Water Board only to lose their battle against the coming of the Ashokan Reservoir. The battle becomes very personal for two people from opposing sides; Eloise Drake, the accountant for the Water Board assigned to assess the property values of the townspeople and Alex Duval, mayor of Duval Springs.

Eloise Drake lives her life by her own personal three R’s: rules, regulations, and respectability. Being an accountant suits her perfectly. There are rules for everything and a precise order to the job. She tries hard to lead her life in the same staunch manner. Alex Duval is a dreamer who challenges the people of Duval Springs to the seemingly impossible task of moving the entire town. In spite of their differences, the two once shared a love of adventure novels, dreams, and each other. Can they put aside their differences and do the right thing for the people of Duval Springs?

Read this engaging novel filled with vibrant characters that add depth and personality to the story along with an intriguing mystery that must be solved along the way. Rich in historical detail based on the actual Ashokan Reservoir, Camden weaves fact and fiction together to come up with another great read. I would definitely recommend this book to readers of historical fiction and romance.

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

 #NetGalley  #ADesperateHope  #BHPFiction

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The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

Publication Date: 19 Feb 2019

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

ARC copy from and Berkley Publishing Group/Random House

“The thing about my job, Bill…it forces you to change the way you see things. And with a student like Yuri … I see life differently because of him, and that’s a good thing.”

                                                –Maggie Topper, teacher

This emotional story goes straight to the heart of why teachers teach and what they take away from the classroom and their students at the end of the day. Set in fall of 1999, Maggie Topper, a second year sixth grade language arts teacher, takes on an extra duty teaching assignment for Yuri, a young boy in need of tutoring outside of the traditional classroom. Unsure of herself with the new assignment, Maggie begins her journey with Yuri, who actually loves learning and hungers for companionship. Maggie works to bring both to this young boy by combining his love of baseball with education.

The story also follows Maggie’s personal life as she learns from her student and grows and expands her own life. The book touches on many important themes; a parent’s love for their child, a teacher’s dedication and growth, and a child’s recognition of his own truth and reality. Heartbreaking, endearing, and at the same time motivating, read this beautiful story of how one individual can change a person’s life. A terrific contemporary read with depth and complexity!

This ARC copy was received from Berkley Publishing Group/Random House and The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own. 

#TheSecretOfClouds #NetGalley #BerkleyPub  #RandomHouse


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Filed under Book Reviews, Clean, Contemporary, Contemporary

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

Series: Supper Club Series, Book Two

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale House

ARC copy from the author and Tyndale House


 “Whatever you choose to do, give your plans to God and He will give you all you desire.”

                                                 -Advice from Grandma Bev

Rachel, Melody, and Ana are back again in book two of the Supper Club series. We met these young women back in Book one of the series, The Saturday Night Supper Club. This story can be read as a standalone; however, I think you’ll enjoy it more having experienced book one first. Once again set in Denver, the story centers around all things food, friendship, and romance.

Melody Johansson, creative baker extraordinaire, is stuck in a dead end job and suffering from a string of bad relationships.  Justin Keller, a gorgeous pilot with a rogue smile and lots of charm, is certain his life is complete without any complications from long term relationships. When their paths collide, Melody and Justin get more than they anticipated. As a series of unpredictable events complicate their lives and relationship, they must each do some soul searching and figure out their goals and dreams. Faith, trust, and God’s timing all play significant roles in their story.

The book is one you won’t want to put down once you start. Also, it will definitely leave you with the munchies! The food descriptions are mouth watering. I feel like I need to head to the kitchen immediately. Read this appealing story for yourself and you too will be tying your apron on!

This ARC copy was received from Tyndale House and the author.  The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.


 Four stars!

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Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Publication Date:  5 February 2019

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

ARC Copy from and Bethany House Publishers


“What is courage, he said, but moving forward in the face of fear? If there was nothing to be afraid of, we would have no need to be brave.”

                                                                                                   –Samuel Crane

Jocelyn Green takes us into the third year of the Seven Years’ War, deep into the heart of the conflict between the British and French forces who also managed to draw many colonial settlers and Native Americans into their struggle as well. Between Two Shores is a captivating story that explores the complexities of war, relationships, and the price we pay when engaged in life’s struggles.

After a five year absence Samuel Crane, a twice captured colonial, once again shows up at the trading post run by Gabriel Duval at Kahnawake, Quebec.  With the return of Samuel, Catherine Duval’s life is turned upside down. Catherine, a young woman living in a world where she is constantly torn by guilt and conflict, works to find her true self and answers to her many questions amidst the turmoil raging around her.

The tale follows Catherine’s path to discovering her inner self, to grasping the courage and forgiveness she needs, and to finally understanding and accepting that God’s plan for us is not always what we perceive it to be. Family, faith, and choices are all key aspects of this beautiful story that takes us from the shores of the St. Lawrence River to the battlefield during the Battle of Quebec.

This story and these characters stayed with me for days after I finished the last page. Emotional, hauntingly sad at times, and filled with wonderful life lessons! The depth of feeling in this novel and the inability to foresee the turns the story would take captured this reader thoroughly.  Historical storytelling at its finest!

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#NetGalley #BetweenTwoShores #JocelynGreen #HistoricalFiction


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Ladies of Intrigue: 3 Tales of 19th-Century Romance with a Dash of Mystery by Michelle Griep

Publication Date: 1 February 2019

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

ARC Copy from the author,, and Barbour Publishing

Let’s take a journey through the nineteenth century with this collection of tales each with a hint of intrigue. Three settings, three heroines, and their three equally captivating counterparts make for a delightful read.

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady
1815. Cornwall. Helen Fletcher, a young governess, returns from Ireland to Cornwall only to find herself spirited away from the ship by a mysterious smuggler. When the mysterious smuggler turns up again, will Helen be able to figure out exactly what his intentions are? Be swept off your feet in this charming tale of love on the Cornish coast!

The Doctor’s Woman
1862. Mendota, Minnesota. Emmy Nelson, a frontier doctor’s daughter, braves the wilds of Minnesota in order to care for the men at the outlying military post of Fort Snelling and the Sioux Indian being held captive there. Clashing with the new citified, military doctor adds further turmoil to her troubled soul. Read this lively tale of a city boy and country girl and the lessons they learn from each other!

A House of Secrets
1890. St. Paul, Minnesota. Amanda Carston, a lively young woman full of spunk, is soon to be married to a handsome, dynamic young attorney, Joseph Blake. In her search to finish one big project before the wedding, Amanda uncovers a mystery that she just can’t leave alone. Creep through the halls of the decrepit Grigg house with Amanda to see if she uncovers the mystery behind the old place!

I enjoyed the likeable characters, unique settings, and bit of romance each story shared. Each tale is a standalone and easy to read. I hope you will enjoy this collection of stories as much as I did. If I had to choose a favorite, I think the prize would go to A House of Secrets. Enjoy!
This ARC copy was received from the author, Barbour Publishing and The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#NetGalley #LadiesOfIntrigue #BarbourPublishing #MichelleGriep #HistoricalFiction 

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