Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay

Publication Date: 12 May 2020

Thomas Nelson Publishers

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 3.5 out 5

 

“She’d read it somewhere—something about the fact that after taking a wrong turn, traveling further down the road doesn’t get you any closer to your destination. You have to go back in order to go on.”

–Alyssa

 Welcome to Winsome, the quaint little town north of Chicago where we first visited The Printed Letter Bookshop in Katherine Reay’s last novel. Step into Andante, the town’s newly upgraded coffee shop with its chic décor and excellent coffee. Jeremy Miller and his partner, Ryan, are the new business owners in town trying to figure their way around town. Meet Alyssa Harrison, daughter of Janet Harrison, one of the owners of The Printed Letter Bookshop.

Alyssa and Janet’s stormy and volatile relationship intensifies as Alyssa’s move back to town brings a great deal of emotional family drama into their life. Peeling away the layers of the past is the only way forward for these two women. Alyssa comes across as a spoiled, unlikable character through a great deal of the story as she struggles with her life choices. Only as she comes to term with owning her issues does she become a person with whom I could empathize.

As Jeremy struggles to understand life and business in a small town, he undergoes a great deal of emotional turmoil and joy in building a relationship with his young daughter. Jeremy and Alyssa cross paths and find common ground as the new people in town each struggling with their own problems.

The story has a great deal of emotional depth and angst. Once again community, family, friendship and love rule the story. Readers of women’s fiction and coffee lovers will be entertained by this book!

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

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The Water Keeper by Charles Martin

Publication Date: 5 May 2020

ARC from Netgalley and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

“Love does that. It erases pain. The darkness. The stuff that wants to hold our head under the water. Love reminds us who we are and who we were always meant to be. And there never has been nor ever will be anything that can kill it.”

                                                                                              —Murph Shepard

Journey deep into the intracoastal waters of Florida and a dark, shadowy world filled with evil in this captivating tale that explores the international world of human trafficking. In spite of the evil and darkness in this multi-layered story, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love play a prominent role as well.

Murphy Shepard is a blend of Good Samaritan, Rambo, and Charles Martin. A retired priest who lives reclusively on a semi-deserted island crosses paths with a beautiful young girl who doesn’t realize the danger in which she placed herself. As Murphy finds himself drawn into a time sensitive search for the girl, he acquires a disparate crew of assistants that he encounters one-by-one along the way. Each unique person has a story and a purpose.

Emotional, heartbreaking at times, and memorable, this story will stay with you long after that last page turns. Charles Martin continues to refine his extraordinary storytelling skills with each new book. Don’t miss this one! Stunning read!

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

5/5

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Unyielding Hope by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Series: When Hope Calls, Book 1

Publication Date: 5 May 2020

Publisher: Bethany House

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

This heartwarming story set in Canada introduces us to sisters, Lillian and Grace, orphaned and separated at a young age.  Lillian raised in a wealthy family, lives a pleasant life with her loving father while Grace, on the other hand, grew up in orphanages. The two sisters finally meet and their story unfolds as they move with a group of foster children from the British Children’s Home Society to Lillian’s comfortable home.

Lillian’s charmed life is greatly changed as a result of her sister and the children and Grace finds herself challenged in caring for multiple children and living in someone else’s home. Love, challenges, and adventures carry the sisters and their young wards through this enjoyable tale as they struggle to get to know each other, live together, and find a path to their future.

A great book to curl up with in your comfortable chair and enjoy! A delightful tale of two sisters, their young charges, and their enterprising scheme to find families for them! A thoroughly enjoyable read! Readers of Janet Oke and Laurel Oke will be delighted with this new spin off of the Canadian West, When Calls the Heart, series.

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

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When I Meet You by Olivia Newport

Publication Date: 01 May 2020

Series:  Tree of Life

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

ARC from Shiloh Run Press and Netgalley

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Once again Olivia Newport weaves a unique dual time line story that intertwines the past with the present in the scenic town of Canyon Mines, Colorado.  Working her magic once again with genealogy and research is Jillian Parisi-Duffy and her attorney father, Nolan. The opening of a mysterious, antique trunk complete with all its contents begins the fascinating historical story filled with cross country train rides, bank fraud, Pinkerton agents, and a multitude of other fascinating adventures in the year 1909.

The usual cast of characters living in Canyon Mines from the previous novels is alive and well and contributing to the central story. Adding interest to the story is a handsome young man named Drew Lawson who happens to have ties back to the mysterious trunk. As Jillian finds herself drawn to Drew, she finds herself pulled in another direction with her own family issues which blurs the lines for her between professional and personal behavior.

The flow between the past and the present stories is smooth and consistent. The theme that resonates through the book for me was how the past reflects on the present. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Readers of contemporary and historical fiction alike will enjoy this book. The book can be read as a standalone.

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

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The Englisch Daughter by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

Publication Date: 21 April 2020

Publisher: Waterbrook Press, a division of Waterbrook Multnomah

ARC Copy from Waterbrook and NetGalley

Rated: 4 out of 5

 

“One of the things I’ve learned this past year is that whatever we choose to do sacrifices something else.”

–Roy Graber

The Englisch Daughter explores the implosion of Roy and Jemima Graber’s marriage. Living in the Old Order Amish requires a unique lifestyle, set of rules, and faith, particularly for the women. Jemima’s dreams and savings disappear overnight along with the husband she thought she knew well. Left with a husband who lies, cheats, and brings his secrets home, she struggles to find herself and to deal with four young children.

Pulled into the complexities of Roy and Jemima’s troubles is Abigail Graber, Roy’s younger sister. She too trusted her brother with her life savings and her future. Chris Fisher, a young man with his own set of challenges resulting from his lifestyle choices, comes to work at the Graber farm to help Roy. Abigail and Chris fight their attraction as they become pulled into Roy and Jemima’s problems.

A deeply moving story that centers on the lessons learned when we try to protect the ones we love with lies and dishonesty. Can the pieces of broken trust be healed? How far must a person go to figure out his personal self-identity? How far is too far? Read this compelling story about these four people each at different places in their life struggling to find forgiveness, trust, and to rebuild their family and lives.

This ARC copy was received from Waterbrook Press and NetGalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Publication Date: 01 April 2020

Series: Daughters of the Mayflower, Book 12

Publisher: Barbour Books

ARC Copy from NetGalley.com and Barbour Books

Rating: 4 out of 5

“…but this is 1889 and a woman’s place is not with a rifle in one hand and a saddle in the other.”

–Susanna Gentry, Eliza’s mother

Steeped in rich Texas history, this adventurous story offers romance, intrigue, and a bit of danger. Ranches, cowboys, and cattle drives bring this story to life. Eliza Gentry has disagreed with her mother’s philosophy on being a lady since she was old enough to get around outside and follow her brothers and dad around the ranch. Spirited and outspoken, Eliza wants nothing more than to get an education and study the stars.

Spoiled and rich Ben Barnhart has his eyes set on Eliza and wants to marry her. Only problem with Ben is that William Gentry, Eliza’s father wants nothing to do with anyone named Barnhart. In an effort to make sure Ben Barnhart gets nowhere near his daughter, Mr. Gentry hires the John Brady Detective Agency to guard his daughter.

Eliza finds Mr. John Brady to be a bit of a mystery. Something about him seems remotely familiar, but she can’t seem to place him. Follow the adventures that lead Eliza into serious trouble and John Brady to the rescue. As secrets are uncovered and the truth reveals itself, can Eliza forgive the man she knows as John Brady?

This twelfth book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series is as good as the very first one. Don’t miss this fun read!

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

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The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Wingate, Lisa The Book of Lost Friends

Publication Date: April 07, 2020

Ballantine Books

ARC from Ballantine Books and Netgalley.com

Rating: 5 out of 5

“Stories change people. History, real history, helps people understand each other, see each other from the inside out.”

This emotional, dramatic story of three young women unfolds as they journey from Goswood Grove Plantation in Louisiana to the wilds of the untamed Texas frontier in the year 1875. Displaying courage, perseverance and loyalty, the three make their life altering journey led by Hannie, the free girl of color, by taking risks, using ingenuity, and never giving up. Along the way, Hannie and Juneau Jane, the illegitimate Creole daughter of the plantation owner, become acquainted with the Southwestern Christian Advocate’s advertisements from people who are seeking lost friends, their lost family members. As the girls travel they add to their list of people seeking lost friends. To Hannie, the task becomes a driving force in her life.

Told in a dual timeline, the novel encompasses the story of Benny Silva, a young teacher working in the town of Augustine, Louisiana near Goswood Grove. As Benny’s history project unfolds, the past and the present intertwine and weave a captivating story filled with a cast of characters with personality and spunk. As she bumps up against the town’s power base, she and her students learn some powerful lessons.

Interspersed with actual advertisements from the Southwestern Christian Advocate and based on real historical facts, this fiction story is one of the most captivating I have read in a long time. This book is one that will make you think for days after you close that last page. One of the best books I’ve read in 2020!

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

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