In the Cradle Lies by Olivia Newport

Series:  The Tree of Life, book 2

Publication Date: 01 November 2019

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

ARC from Shiloh Run Press and Netgalley

 

The second book in the series The Tree of Life brings Jillian Parisi-Duffy and her father, Nolan, a new friend that will challenge their genealogy and legal skills once again. Jillian, a professional genealogist, and her father, the attorney, utilize their skills to help their new found friend, Tucker Kintzler, resolve some very personal and perplexing issues he is undergoing. Set once again in Canyon Mines, Colorado, the story introduces a dual storyline from the mid-1930’s incorporating Tucker’s family history.

This second novel definitely held my attention with the introduction of the second storyline. A captivating story that gets peeled back layer by layer as it unfolds with the exploration of Tucker’s family history.  Once again I enjoyed the secondary story much more than I did the actual main storyline. The secondary story works through a family mystery of locked doors, walled off rooms, and old family secrets.

The book brings back all the eccentric characters we met in the first story and gives them a bit more depth and growth in this novel. Enclosed in the pages is a bit of mystery, greed, romance, and of course, genealogy.  An enjoyable read with a great winter setting!

This ARC copy was received from Shiloh Run Press and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

4 out of 5

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The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts

Publication Date: 22 Oct 2019

ARC from Thomas Nelson Publishers and Netgalley.com

“My driveway reminds me of the freedom I have to come and go as I please. Things were not always this way.”

                                                  -Brighton Friedrich

This is a story of contrasts; dark and light, hope and despair, isolation and freedom. Born in an asylum for the mentally ill in 1923, Brighton Friedrich’s life revolves around her extremely unstable mother, the care she receives from a loving nurse, and her friendship with a lonely albino child named Angel, who is a patient in the children’s ward.

Trapped in a life over which she has no control and no hope of changing, Brighton meets Grace Douglass, a young woman sent to the institution by her parents for behavioral issues. Grace introduces Brighton to the outside world through her stories and her love of photography. Filled with despair and faced with the loss of her friends, Brighton struggles to find a way to save herself and her friends as they slip deeper into the life of the asylum.

Having no exposure to the outside world, Brighton and Angel are naïve and ill-equipped to deal with the real world. Relying on the God’s guidance and protection and basic human kindness, Brighton and Angel find a way out. Their poignant, courageous story is told in an evocative, emotional manner that will leave the reader haunted by their story long after the last page is closed.

This novel is filled with historical detail regarding the institutionalizing of people during the 1930’s and their care. Frightening details bring to life the treatments such as hydrotherapy, insulin shock, sterilization, and lobotomy, the patients underwent in the name of medical care. The book shows the true courage and strength it took to survive in one of these facilities for someone who had no mental health issues. I highly recommend this amazingly, unique story of Brighton and Angel and their journey to find a life and peace.

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

5 out of 5

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Child’s Play by Danielle Steel

Publication Date:  October 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House

Secular Genre

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Delacorte Press

Meet Kate Morgan, a beautiful, efficient corporate attorney, widow of a prominent politician, and mother of three adult children. Widowed 19 years earlier, Kate raised her children to be good upstanding adults and seemingly perfect in her eyes. Meet the children; Tamara, 32 year old senior vice-president of a prominent fashion house, Anthony, 29 year old technology guru building video games with a prominent tech company, and Claire, the youngest at 26, an attorney with a prominent New York firm. This family seems to have it all; beauty, good jobs, and a good family relationship.

As in most families that look perfect on the surface, there are underlying issues and cracks. Kate has no idea that her perfect children have underlying currents and some very major issues going on in their life. The first of the upheavals appear in Kate’s life in the form of an unwed pregnant daughter with a mind of her own. Rebellion in one seems to grant permission to the other two to lead life as they choose instead of following mom’s conservative lifestyle. Anthony cancels his high society wedding just in the nick of time and Tamara brings a long standing secret to the forefront of her life instead of hiding it in the shadows.

One rebellious incident is all it took to change Kate Morgan’s life considerably. As she struggles to deal with all the changes in her seemingly perfect world, Kate also runs into major conflict in the form of opposing attorney, Scott White, in her current big case. Kate. As with all good romances and family dramas, a little conflict is necessary.

As Kate begins to accept her new norms, she realizes that life is about dealing with the issues we are handed. She learns some important lessons about being honest, forgiving our differences, making choices, and the true meaning of family.

A very enjoyable read! Very relevant issues to today’s modern families! And a reminder that normal is what you make it!

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

4/5

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The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Revell

Copy from Netgalley and Revell

 

“Life finds us, no matter how we try to push it away.”

                                                          -Robin Windsor

 Erin Bartels lays out an unusual and unsettling story in her latest novel. Setting the atmosphere in a relatively run down, fading town in Michigan, the story unfolds with Robin Windsor, a teen whose parents have serious issues, being sent to live with her aging grandmother and her eccentric parrot next door to an old cemetery. The novel told in a split timeline alternates between the past leading to an explanation of how Robin Windsor got to the present.

Robin’s introduction to the town and one of the high school’s more popular students, Peter Flynt, begins in the cemetery. Their friendship starts with an exchange of novels and poetry adding a decidedly bookish theme to the novel. The first book in their give-and-take relationship is The Catcher in the Rye, setting up a recurring theme of classics.

The writing itself in this novel has a literary feel to it. The characters are complex and difficult to relate to.  The themes of running and hiding, lying about the past, conquering fears, both real and imagined, and forgiveness are all relevant to the story. The book does not have a strong Christian message to it, and I feel it will probably due well in the mainstream fiction genre. Readers of literary fiction and lovers of classics and bookish novels may enjoy this story.

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

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3 out of 5

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Aiming for Love, Book 1 by Mary Connealy

Series: Brides of Hope Mountain

Publication Date:  1 Oct 2019

Publisher: ARC from Netgalley.com and Bethany House Publishers

 

“Kissing you is the most thrilling thing that’s ever happened to me, and I once killed a grizzly bear with six arrows and a dull knife, so that’s saying something.”

                                                            –Jo Nordegren

In typical Mary Connealy style, this western is filled with dry humor, interesting characters, vivid descriptions, and a tall tale befitting the western frontier. This first novel in her new series introduces us to the Nordegren girls. The storyline centers around Josephine “Jo”, the middle sister, a curious, yet naïve, blue-eyed blonde who dresses in a most unusual manner and runs wild in the woods with a bow and arrows which she most certainly knows how to use. Her older sister, Ursula, an extremely isolated, anti-social young woman rules the household, and her younger sister, Ilsa, swings from branches all over the woods and runs fairly wild gathering medicinal herbs. These unique young women have no contact with civilization until David Warden shows up in their valley high on Hope Mountain.

The story centers on the themes of helping others because it is the right thing to do, accepting people as they are, and believing that family is what you make it. The secondary characters involved in the story, Dave’s parents and brother, his cowhands, and even the bad guys, add an element of depth to the story. A unique storyline filled with family drama, a bit of romance, and some sadness as well make up this intriguing read from Mary Connealy. Bring your imagination to the table when you read this one!

Readers of inspirational historical fiction and western fiction will enjoy this distinctive story. I am personally looking forward to book two in the series to see what further adventures Mary Connealy has for us.

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

 4 out of 5

 

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As The Light Fades by Catherine West

When Liz Carlisle’s life takes a tough turn, she finds herself living back at her family home on Nantucket. Trying to recover emotionally from a complex situation, she winds up in the middle of a chaotic renovation, a dad with Alzheimer’s, a troubled teen, no job, and nowhere to live. What’s a woman to do?

 

Liz is not a quitter. She begins trying to figure out her life and all of its complexity, tackling her issues one at a time. In the process of resolving her living issue, she meets Matt Stone, hernew landlord and neighbor. With his own set of difficulties to resolve, Matt struggles with his attraction to his new neighbor. 

 

This novel depicts the themes of family dynamics, forgiveness, healing, and grace. The story tackles some difficult issues as well; abuse and cutting. The characters feel real, but their relationships and the conflicts they deal with weren’t developed as thoroughly as they could have been. The alternating narration in chapters slowed the pace of the story in places, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it for a good summer read that is not too light and fluffy. Definitely worth your time! 

 

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

 

Four stars!

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Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Series: The Waverly Place Series

Publication Date: 10 Sept 2019

Publisher: Berkley Books

 

Where the Light Enters is a complex family saga set in 1880’s New York and centers around two female doctors. Dr. Anna Savard, an outspoken, bold surgeon married to an Italian New York police investigator, and Dr. Sophie Savard Verhoeven, a mixed race obstetrician and pediatrician as well as also widow of a prominent New York attorney, join forces in this multifaceted story. The women share family ties as well as working relationships, which bind them close in their daily struggle as female doctors during this period in history.

The women have unique personalities and represent strong female role models taking on the issues of sexism and racism in their daily roles. The cast of secondary characters are lively and interesting, contributing generously to the story. Keeping the characters straight initially in this large, complex tale took a bit of work. In addition to a large cast of characters, the multi-layered storylines weave in and out of the intricate plot. In addition to dealing with their daily lives, the women try to help resolve a complicated murder mystery plaguing the women in their area. Read this intriguing tale to find out who was making the women of New York disappear.

I love the historical detail interspersed throughout this story. If you enjoy large, complex historical fiction novels, this book is perfect. I very much enjoyed reading the novel and it went surprisingly fast in spite of its size, a mere 600+ pages.

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

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Rating: 4/5

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction