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.

#TheWordsBetweenUs  #NetGalley

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

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.

#WhereTheLightEnters #NetGalley

Rating: 4/5

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Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep

Publication Date: 1 September 2019

Publisher: Barbour Publishing

ARC Copy from the author, NetGalley.com and Barbour Publishing

 

A delightful trio of tales from the Victorian Era with a bit of a Dickens’s essence to each one! Each of these stories, two of which are previously published, are filled with eccentric characters, subtle twists,  and a cameo appearance by none other than Charles Dickens himself. The themes of second chances, hope, forgiveness, family and friends run through each of the stories tying them up with pleasing endings for the holidays.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Clara Chapman, Ben Lane, and a handful of quirky personalities find themselves spending the 12 days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor together, each in search of a special prize significant only to them. However, they must last the entire twelve days which may be more difficult than it seems initially. Read this tantalizing little story to find out who makes it to the twelfth day and who doesn’t.

A Tale of Two Hearts

William Barlow, a young law clerk with a bit of a wild past, crosses paths with Mina Scott, a free thinking young woman who loves to read Dickens when she’s supposed to be waiting on tables at her father’s inn. When Will needs to come up with a bride quickly, who better to ask than his friend Mina who waits on him! As Mina and Will begin their journey along a path twisted with tall tales and some outright lies, they find their situation more complex than they planned.

 The Old Lace Shop

My personal favorite of the three stories is this third tale. In her search to become self-sufficient, Bella White, a lovely young woman coming from an extremely difficult home life, encounters Edmund Archer, a former old love from her distant past. Bella and Edmund end up as partners in the Nottingham Lace and Hose factory. Sprinkled with interesting historical detail about the manufacturing of lace, this story draws the reader right into the world of Victorian manufacturing with all its intrigue, turmoil, and heartbreak.

 Don’t miss these intriguing short stories tied up nicely in one volume for easy reading! Great book for readers of historical fiction, Victorian fiction, or Christmas fiction!

This ARC copy was received from the author, Barbour Publishing and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

Publication Date: 03 Sept 2019

Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ARC copy from Bethany House and Netgalley.com

Rating: 5 /5

Elizabeth Camden tells a captivating story about Annabelle Larkin, an enterprising young woman fresh from the farm in Kansas who moves to Washington, D.C. to take a temporary job with the Smithsonian Institution. In a move to try and prolong her job in Washington, Annabelle takes on the challenge of Gray Delacroix and his exotic plant collection.

As Annabelle and Gray find themselves struggling with a mutual attraction, outside forces step in to complicate their relationship. Annabelle finds that she must make some very difficult choices and in doing so jeopardizes her relationship with Gray.

The story revolves around the conflict of doing what is right for your country and its people and doing what your heart wants you to do. The conflicts are complex when the choices Annabelle makes and has to live with impact her life in major ways. Not only does Annabelle learn some difficult lessons, but Gray also learns valuable lessons about important priorities in one’s life.

Filled with historical data that is very interesting, this book will hold the reader’s attention from start to finish. I learned some amazing facts about food and the food industry during the late 1800’s. Don’t miss the author’s notes at the end of this book. A wonderful read for people who enjoy strong female characters and good historical fiction!

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

#TheSpiceKing #NetGalley

 

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Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Politano

Publication Date: August 20, 2019

Tyndale House Publishers

ARC copy from Revell and Netgalley.com

 

A very intriguing story! A rather unique plot with a captivating leading lady kept me reading steadily until the very end. Spitalfields in the East End of London is an extremely poor neighborhood from which Raina Bretton, a local rag woman, vividly imagines escaping someday but with no real hope. Spirited away on a train early one morning, she finds herself living an adventure she could not begin to imagine.

As she finds herself questioning who she really is, she must also figure out who she can trust.  Filled with twists, turns, and definitely some romance, the story leaves the reader speculating until late in the story. Grab a book and venture along with Raina as she struggles to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life. Readers of historical fiction and historical mysteries will definitely enjoy this book!

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

Rating: 5/5

#FindingLadyEnderly  #NetGalley

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Regency