A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham

Publication Date: 4 August 2020

Publisher: Revell

ARC Copy from NetGalley.com and Revell

Rating: 5 out of 5


“But as you ponder what it is you want most in life, remember most things fade away with time. Only love, pure love, remains in the end. ”

                                                                      -Catherine Pratt

Step onto the rugged streets of Penance in the Dakota Territory in the year 1880 and meet the diverse and entertaining citizens of this small mining and logging town. The story focuses on the town’s schoolteacher, the upstanding Miss Agnes Pratt, who came out six years ago from Buffalo, New York to teach the youngsters of Penance.

Life is good in Penance and relatively predictable for Agnes until the new doctor arrives in town. Dr. James Harris, a fine young doctor newly graduated, arrives in town from none other than Buffalo, New York. Six years after Agnes disappeared from his life, James is finally face to face with her again. As they struggle to keep their shared history a secret, they find that their unsettled past continues to haunt them. Agnes unexpectedly finds herself with an orphaned baby to raise and the challenges of the child’s background bring unexpected memories back to disrupt her life.

As Agnes and James are forced to confront their history, they must figure out what is really important in life. They each must learn that where we come from doesn’t dictate who we are nor does it change the person we are. As Agnes and James explore the seasons of their life, their growth as individuals helps them make the right choices bringing a beautiful ending to this story.

Begin the journey to Penance and read this engaging story interwoven with threads of friendship, family, faith, and community. Everyone loves a genuine “feel good” story that ends leaving us feeling all is right with the world at that moment. Great read for lovers of historical fiction, historical romance, and Christian fiction!

This ARC copy was received from Revell and Netgalley. The thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.  

#ALifeOnceDreamed #NetGalley


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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Clean, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, western

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

Publication Date: 30 Jul 2019

Publisher: Forge Book

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Forge Book

Rating: 5 out of 5


“In the book of life, everyone has chapters they don’t like reading out loud.”


 South of the Buttonwood Tree is a quixotic blend of mystical and down t0 earth rolled up into one delightful story.  Filled with both serious and insightful characters as well as an ample cast of quirky ones, the story draws us straight in with the finding of a mysterious baby girl by a young woman named Blue Bishop.

The picturesque small town of Buttonwood is well known for its namesake, the buttonwood tree, a tree that offers cryptic guidance to the citizens of the town. When Blue discovers the baby, guidance from the tree indicates that the baby should belong to her. The story follows Blue’s journey after finding baby Flora and working to solve the mystery of her birth.

Full of southern charm with tidbits of wisdom sprinkled through, the story reads like a modern fairytale. Explore the importance of family and friends in a person’s life as Blue comes to understand what family really is and the role they play in her life. I thoroughly enjoyed this magical book. Readers of Sarah Allen Addison will absolutely love this book as will readers of women’s fiction.

This ARC copy was received from Forge Book and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#SouthOfTheButtonwoodTree  #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Romance

Outsider: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

Series:  Kate Burkholder, Book 12

Publication Date: 07 July 2020

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Minotaur Books


Rating: 4 out of 5


“Live your life with God’s goodness and you’ll never fear the past.”

                    –Kate Burkholder’s Mamm

 Who is the strange woman asking for Chief Kate Burkholder after being found by Amish farmer, Adam Lengacher, outside her crashed truck in the middle of a fierce snow storm? Why is she in Painter’s Mill, Pennsylvania?  This fast paced twelfth novel in the Kate Burkholder series starts out on a snowy night that quickly turns into a full blown blizzard grounding Kate and the mysterious woman at Adam Lengacher’s remote farm.

As the novel unfolds Gina Colorosa, the mystery woman and an old best friend from Kate’s early police academy days, begins to explain herself. She weaves a complex tale of what happens when the good guys turn really bad. Can Kate believe the story? Who can she depend on to help her sort through the details? Who can be trusted? The intricate web of complexities surrounding them tightens as the intense search for Gina escalates.

This intriguing suspense filled novel by Linda Castillo is well worth your time. I enjoyed the mystery, suspense, and drama of the story. Relevant to today’s headlines, this story will get your attention and keep it.

This ARC copy was received from Minotaur Books and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#Outsider  #NetGalley

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Filed under Amish, Book Reviews, Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

Publication Date: 07 July 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

ARC copy from William Morrow and Netgalley.com

Secular Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5


Excerpt:  The song “Wishlist” had her compiling her own list of wishes. A different job. A different attitude. A different life.

                                   –Thoughts from Natalie Harper

Sometimes one needs to be careful about what one wishes for. Natalie Harper’s wishes get granted in a way she never imagined. Along with a new job and a different life, Natalie struggles to find a new attitude to life as well. She inherits the job of running the Lost and Found Bookshop from her mother, Blythe, a carefree spirit that adored her job along with the task of looking after her aging grandfather suffering from cognitive issues.

The Lost and Found Bookstore, a quaint, independent family-owned bookstore, resides in the heart of San Francisco’s historic district.  Distinctive details of family and building history trickle through the novel enriching the story further. The secondary characters; the beleaguered playwright, the struggling actor, and the song writing handyman, are engaging and unique, presenting a flip side to Natalie, who is a rather stalwart and serious individual.

Using every tool in her chest, Natalie works to try and save the failing bookstore. Struggling with her grief, her Grandy’s failing health, and what she feels are her own personal shortcomings, Natalie eventually comes to the conclusion that indeed “there was a book for everything.” Finding just the right book is the key.

Filled with family, courage, books, and love, this story is an amazing read. This book is one of my very favorite reads of 2020. Great for readers of contemporary women’s fiction!

This ARC copy was received from William Morrow and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

 #TheLostAndFoundBookshop  #NetGalley



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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

Publication Date: 30 June 2020

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

 Rating: 5 out of 5



 “The world is dark, so dark we sometimes forget the stars. But they are always there—we need only fight to see these places of brilliant light, these echoes of the truest story.”

                                     –Simon Claremont, watchmaker & storykeeper

A magical story spun full of hope and wonder, love and loss, and so much more! Candlewick Commons in London is home to Simon Claremont, a watchmaker by day and a marvelous storyteller by night, and his small family consisting of Penny, his wife, and Lucy, his young daughter, and their honorary member, Dashel Greene, a young boy befriended by Lucy. The children grow up inspired by the rich stories told each evening and the imaginations that are nurtured with love and ideas without boundaries.

Lucy grows into her occupation as a maritime archaeologist and keeper of the watch shop. Dash, moved by his aunt to the States while in his teens, becomes a forensic astronomer with an amazing career. When the two young adults cross paths, their careers and lives intersect over an amazing story from their shared past about the mysterious disappearance of the ship, the HMS Jubilee.

The story spins and weaves its magic while detailing another extraordinary story set back in time beginning in 1802 in East Sussex, England. A young boy by the name of Frederick Hanford set in course the motion of a life that would brand him a traitor and bring about his disappearance along with that of the Jubilee.

A beautifully told complex story that moves through two time periods drawing the reader into the lives of Lucy and Dash, as well as that of Frederick and Juliette. The historical part of the story was spellbinding.  I loved the elements of the story that kept me grounded in reality while also stretching my imagination with that hint of mystical realism. An absolutely sublime, summer read! Don’t miss this book to find out if Dash and Lucy can uncover what really happened to mysterious Frederick Hanford.

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

#SetTheStarsAlight  #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper

Publication Date: 16 June 2020

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 4.5  out of 5


Step back in time with this uniquely haunting tale spanning two intertwining timelines set predominantly in Australia. In this fascinating story of an unwanted inheritance, fiery opals, exotic animal taxidermy, a white kangaroo, and a mysterious woman in a green dress, the author weaves a tale that cleverly draws the reader in deeper and deeper to follow the twisty plot of the story.

The first timeline begins in 1919 when Fleur Richards, a young war bride, inherits an estate in Australia from her husband Hugh about which she knows absolutely nothing. Upon traveling to Australia to resolve issues with the inheritance, she finds herself drawn into a rather peculiar situation with a group of unique characters that tie back to the story that unfolds in the second timeline. The story in the second timeline draws Fleur back in family history to the year 1853 and a place called Mogo Creek, a name with which she is familiar.

Travel with Fleur as the story of Captain Stefan Von Richter, an explorer and opal hunter, and Della Atterton, the owner of the Curio Shop of Wonders, unfolds to reveal the layers of a complicated family history. Interspersed with fiction based on historical facts, this intriguing story is a complex tale that readers of mysteries and family drama will enjoy.

This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelsons and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#TheWomanInTheGreenDress #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Suspense

The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

Publication Date: 02 June 2020

Publisher: Ballantine Books

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Ballantine Books


Rating: 3 out of 5


“We are all living in tragedy of Shakespearean proportions while pretending we don’t know the inevitable ending. . .”

–Excerpt from Grant’s email

An interesting read set a few months prior to  9/11/2001 that dissects the natural weaknesses of human nature when people make mistakes and tell lies! In a story that contains a few too many coincidences, the reader meets Cecily Gardner, a reporter from New York City and Grant Smith, a financial consultant on Wall Street. Cecily and Grant meet in a bar in New York City like many other young adults.

As the story unfolds, a web of lies is woven by Grant and Cecily that will eventually affect many of the people in their lives.  In the months after 9/11, the lies will begin to unravel.  Is one lie worse than another? How important is the truth? The story explores the issues involved and lives affected when a good person makes mistakes and the complexities of how one lie often leads to another even when we tell them to ourselves.

A thought-provoking contemporary read exploring morals and the ramifications of telling less than the truth! The story also explores the theme of unconditional love, forgiveness, and the importance of listening to our head as well as our heart. I definitely recommend this book for readers of women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, and romance. A good start to your summer reading!

This ARC copy was received from Ballantine Books and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#TheLiesThatBind #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary

A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden

Series:  Hope and Glory, Book 2

Publication Date: 02 June 2020

Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ARC copy from Bethany House and Netgalley.com

Rating: 5 out of 5

Beautiful, feisty Caroline Delacroix works day and night as personal secretary to the president’s wife, Ida McKinley. What a job the young woman has! Ida McKinley is certainly not the easiest person to work for and requires an undue amount of attention. Caroline does her job flying by the seat of her pants and breaking whatever rules are necessary to get things accomplished. The stakes are high for Caroline as she desperately needs a pardon from the President for her wayward brother Luke.

Nathaniel Trask, treasury agent and investigator extraordinaire, gets assigned to head the new security task for President McKinley. Nathaniel has some issues of his own with which he struggles, but there is no one better at details and plans for security. He is a handsome, serious fellow that believes firmly in following the rules and guidelines.

 As Caroline and Nathaniel bump heads over jobs and rules, they find value in many of each other’s distinctive traits. Each of them tries to do the best job possible, but each follows a distinctly different set of rules. Caroline’s brother Luke adds another layer of complication to their blossoming friendship.

The historical data is excellent in this novel. The details regarding Ida McKinley’s illnesses and personality issues, President McKinley’s reelection and his assassination, as well as the information about the formation and changing work of the Secret Service provide an interesting backdrop to an excellent story. As always with Elizabeth Camden’s work, the historical notes add depth to the book.

An excellent read! The first book in the series definitely adds background depth to the story so I would highly recommend reading The Spice King first. Readers of historical fiction and historical Christian fiction will enjoy this book! Book Three is coming in 2021!

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

#AGildedLady #NetGalley


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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Historical Fiction

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Publication Date: 26 May 2020

St. Martin’s Press

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and St. Martin’s Press

“That there might be a place where people were not constantly competing against each other for their very sustenance, but were instead helping each other survive through war and injury and poverty and pain, seemed as much something out of a Jane Austen novel as anything else she could have hoped to find.”

                                                            –Mimi’s thoughts                       

Welcome to Chawton, the quaint little town where Jane Austen spent several years of her life writing and home to a quixotic group of Austen’s fans. An engaging and moving story of this group of eight disparate, wounded individuals who band together to honor their favorite author and her works unfolds beginning in 1945.

The Jane Austen Society is a result of eight people initially deciding they need to preserve her local legacy in the village of Chawton. Adam Berwick, local farmer; Andrew Forrester, local solicitor; Dr. Gray, town’s medical doctor, Frances Knight, currently residing on the Knight estate where Austen’s artifacts are located; Evie, Frances’s housemaid extraordinaire; Adeline Grover, local schoolteacher; Mimi Harrison, actress from the States; and Yardley Sinclair, estate sales with Sotheby’s of London form the core group of trustees and advisors. This mismatched group of Austen lovers band together to save the collection of works and items held at the Knight estate and the cottage where Jane resided and wrote. They started with a minimal donation,  a great deal of knowledge of Austen, and willingness to work hard.

The first half of the story has a slow, lazy feel allowing the reader to slowly journey the path through the many references to Austen and her works and the introduction of the society members. I couldn’t put it down the last half of the book. The story was engaging and moving as the members struggled with their own personal issues as well as getting the society off the ground and trying to achieve their goals. This book is a work of fiction. A delightful read! I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend for any fans of Jane Austen or historical bibliophiles.

This copy was received from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley.  The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

#TheJaneAustenSociety #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ARC from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 4 out of 5


 “Trust is personal and dangerous and terrifying…”


Who doesn’t love good Regency filled with handsome highway men, a bit of espionage and intrigue, an adorable baby, and a distressed lady? A mistaken identity in carriages sets a course of events in action that will drastically change Elizabeth Cantrell’s future plans.

Going from housekeeper to becoming the esteemed Lady Elizabeth Torrington literally overnight, Elizabeth Cantrell must decide what type of man she married. Working together to uncover a mystery in their midst, Adrian, Lord Torrington, and Elizabeth must play the roles of their lives in order to expose the bad guy. The masquerade behind which they hide allows them some interesting insights into each other. Can they learn to trust each other when so much is at stake?

Read this intriguing tale to find out if trust is indeed dangerous and terrifying or if the truth will free both of them from their pasts to forge a promising future. A delightful read and my first book from this author! I am looking forward to reading the rest of her books. I highly recommend for people who enjoy historical fiction, Regency fiction, and Christian fiction.

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


#MasqueradeAtMiddlecrestAbbey #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Historical Fiction, Regency