Category Archives: Book Reviews

Past Book Reviews

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen

Series: Tales from Ivy Hill, Book 2

Publication Date: December 2017

Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ARC Copy from Netgalley.com and Bethany House

The fall of 1820 finds Rachel Ashford, the impoverished daughter from Thornvale Manor in Ivy Hill, teaching etiquette at her friend, Mercy Groves’ school for girls at Ivy Cottage. Dependent upon Mercy and her aunt Matilda for a home, Rachel tries to make herself useful. However, she soon finds out that teaching is not her calling.   The Ladies Tea and Knitting Society, a group of enterprising business women from the village, brainstorm the idea of a circulating library for the village utilizing Rachel’s inheritance of her father’s library. Thus begins Rachel’s career as a librarian.

The story encompasses so many of the village characters, each with their own unique personality and history. We meet Jane Bell, Rachel’s and Mercy’s good friend; James Drake, the gentlemen who is building a new inn in the area; Sir Timothy Brockwell, an upstanding young man who resides in the area and past beau of Rachel. Everyone has a story and some of the stories have a bit of intrigue and mystery tucked into them.

This second book picks up life in the village with all its quirkiness and charm just where it left off in the first story. I really enjoy the townspeople of Ivy Hill and the ladies of Ivy Cottage are unique and special in their own way. Some interesting themes such as the high price of being honest, the cost of accepting charity and grace, and the surrender of one’s dreams run through the novel giving it depth in addition to its entertainment value.

A charming Regency read that still leaves plenty of events to occur and characters to be developed with time! Looking forward to book three!

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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

If Not For Thee by Amber Lynn Perry

Series: Daughters of His Kingdom Series, Novella

Publication Date:  December 2017         

Publisher: Liberty Publishing

ARC copy from author

 “…God might have a simple solution for your problems—and I believe I know what that is.”

Adam Galloway, cousin to Maggie Main

If Not for Thee is a delightful historical fiction novella set in December 1775 making it a perfect read for the season. Meet Maggie Main, an independent, spirited young woman, and Marcus Wells, a charming young man and old friend,  just returned from doing his familial duty in England. Maggie grew up with a huge crush on Marcus until he left for England, and then she lived with her daydreams.

Both Maggie and Marcus find themselves forced in to a situation where only marriage will solve their problems. Necessity often creates relationships we could only imagine. That is definitely the case for Maggie. A marriage between Marcus and Maggie solves their most immediate problems, but opens up heartache for Maggie as she imagines herself needed, but unloved. Find out how independent Maggie resolves her dilemma with Marcus by reading this charming, romantic novella!

I received this book free from Liberty Publishing and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The above thoughts and opinions I have expressed are wholly my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Christmas, Colonial Fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray

Gray, Shelley Shepard Love Held CaptiveSeries: Lone Star Hero, Book 3

Publication Date: Oct 10, 2017

Publisher: Zondervan

ARC copy from Netgalley and Zondervan

 

“Someone recently told me writers and poets make wars seem glorious but only fools think that way.”                                                                                     -Julianne Van Fleet

This third book in the Lone Star Hero series brings together two young women who both suffered greatly as a result of the less than glorious circumstances they found themselves in as a result of the Civil War and its aftermath. Julianne Van Fleet, a quiet, young woman, lives alone in San Antonio, Texas, and Lizabeth Barclay, a pretty young woman of similar age, is employed as a maid by her cousin at The Menger Hotel in San Antonio.

Their lives become entwined with two men, Captain Devin Monroe and Major Ethan Kelly in a set of unusual circumstances that brings them all full circle with an old nemesis of theirs, Colonel Daniel Bushnell, a self-serving, mean man with some very bad habits. These men served in the same unit during the war and were imprisoned in a prisoner of war encampment prior to the war’s end. Their story reaches back in time to the war and events that involved each of them. As well, the storyline also pulls us into the present and the entanglements of their current lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about Major Kelly and Captain Monroe whom we had met in the first two novels of the series. Ms. Gray’s characters are normal people with flaws and character defects, but they work hard to be people of integrity. I really enjoyed the story and the end tied our characters together quite nicely.

Readers of Civil War and post Civil War fiction will enjoy this read! A good solid read that continues the story of the four survivors from Johnson’s Island POW camp.

This copy was received from Zondervan and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Historical Fiction

The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Copy from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson

 

“Years ago my mom told me life sometimes leads you along a strange crooked path, but in the end it will always take you where you’re supposed to be, she replied.”

                                                -Lettie Romanelli

Irma Joubert’s latest tale once again draws the reader to the complex life of South Africa during WWII. Readers of her previous novel, Child of the River, will find many of the same characters in this book along with many new ones. The story begins in Italy in 1939 and revolves around Marco Romanelli and the Rozenfeld family and their plight to escape the Nazis.

After four years of hiding the Rozenfelds in isolation in a mountainous cave and nearly starving, Marco and the Rozenfelds are captured by the Nazis and shipped to a camp. The depth of their tragedies during these difficult times is heart breaking. After the war finally ends and Marco returns home to his village, a sick and broken young man, his family sends him to South Africa to stay with his brother and recover from the war.

Marco meets Dr. Lettie Louw, who begins to nurse him back to health. Lettie and Marco marry and begin their family, only to have another of life’s difficulties change their course. Read this detailed account of Marco and Lettie’s life as they encounter complexities one can only imagine.

Once again Joubert gives the reader a good look at religious and ethnic prejudices during this very difficult time in history.  The author delivers a deep, detailed book for readers of historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in WWII and South Africa.

This copy was received from Thomas Nelson and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Historical Fiction

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

Publication Date: August 2017

Publisher: Zondervan

ARC Copy from The Fiction Guild and Zondervan

 

“No matter where you’re going, God is already there. He’s already on the train. He’s already waiting for us at the first stop in Cincinnati. There is nowhere we can go—by carriage, wagon, ship, or train—where he is not already there, holding us in the palm of his hand.”

                                                                        –Words of wisdom from Ella’s mom

Tamera Alexander once again transports us back in time to Nashville during the year 1871. A wonderful blend of true historical facts mingled with a fiction storyline runs through this outstanding novel highlighting Alexandra Jamison’s heartfelt battle for independence to follow her heart’s calling as an educator.

Alexandra must first break free of a domineering father and the expectations of society in order to fulfill her dream. Getting hired by the Fisk University, a freedmen’s university, is only the start of a life changing course of events for Alexandra. Her choice to teach at the university leaves her without a home, money, or family. However, during the course of events, Alexandra meets Sylas Rutledge, a mine owner from Colorado trying to bid on a railroad near the Belle Meade Plantation. The story follows Alexandra and Sy as they each pursue their dreams and struggle to find out if they can surmount a past that stands between them and build a future in spite of their differences.

The historical detail encompasses railroads, Fisk University and its Jubilee Singers, and touches once again on Belle Meade Plantation, in addition to the struggles for the general recovery of the South following the Civil War. The characters feel like real people that will touch your heart with their stories, struggles, and efforts.  The themes running through the novel are many; forgiveness, acceptance, family, prejudice, and realization of fulfilling dreams in different ways.

A great read! I highly recommend this novel for anyone with an interest in historical inspirational fiction. An engrossing story that will hold your attention!

This ARC copy was received from Zondervan and The Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Filed under Book Reviews, christian fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Romance

If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

Weiss, Leah If the Creek Don't RisePublication Date: August, 2017

 

Sourcebooks Landmark

 

ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Sourcebooks Landmark

 

 

“I need an ally to instill hope and possibility in my good people. We all deserve hope and possibility.”
                                                   -Excerpt from letter written by Eli Perkins

Sadie Blue, pregnant, seventeen, and illiterate, finds herself with a worthless husband in the form of Roy Tupkin, a drunk, belligerent bully, living in the town of Baines Creek, North Carolina deep in the Appalachian Mountains. The year is 1970; and deep in those mountains, the world has not caught with this small rural town, a town and people that really need hope.

The novel is narrated in first person, present tense by a multitude of characters that affect Sadie’s life in one way or another. The characters have depth and personality. They are not always likable and they are not always nice people. They do, however, make one think about the difficulties of life in the Appalachians. Some of the more likable characters in the novel are Eli Perkins, the local minister and advocate for education; Kate Shaw, the latest educator to come to rural Baines Creek; and Birdie Rocas, a very unusual local resident who adds her own unique voice to the story.

Multiple storylines run through the book. In one, Sadie’s marriage, pregnancy, and all the complications that come with being married to Roy Tupkin are covered. In another storyline, Eli Perkins, his sister, Prudence, and Kate Shaw are intertwined in Sadie’s life with dramas of their own. The story is intricate and contains a few surprises along with a twisty ending.

I enjoyed the haunting narrative. The characters are gritty and real. Not a light read, but a deep story that will make the reader pause!

This ARC copy was received from Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Contemporary

Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson

Series: Heart of the Frontier, Book 3

Publication Date:  Oct 5, 2017

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

ARC Copy from NetGalley.com and Bethany House Publishers

“I’ll definitely be praying. Ain’t never known anything that wasn’t made better by prayer.”

                                                                                                                     -Uncle Edward

 

Cherished Mercy, book three in the Heart of the Frontier series, focuses on Mercy Flanagan, the youngest of the three Flanagan sisters whom we met in the previous two books of the series. The sisters survived the Whitman Massacre and settled with their uncle Edward in Oregon City. The year is now 1855 and Hope and Grace Flanagan are married with children and busy lives. Mercy lives with Grace and Alex and keeps busy helping her older sisters.

This story focuses on Mercy’s quest to help the family friends, Isaac and Eletta, missionaries to the Indians along the Oregon frontier. Mercy goes to the mission with an open mind and heart to do her part. Upon arriving, she comes face to face with Adam Browning, Isaac’s brother. Adam carries a grudge against her before she ever arrives because of his own personal history and his unwillingness to see beyond it. Mercy’s arrival brings a far different person than Adam expected.

The story encompasses so many characters that will touch the reader’s heart. This third story blends family, friends, and shared histories together in a very touching way. Sad in many ways, poignant in others, and inspiring all the way through, Cherished Mercy will engage your attention all the way through!

A thoroughly enjoyable and emotional story and a fitting end to a great series! I think this series was one of Tracie Peterson’s finest. If you haven’t read books one and two, take the time to read those stories as well.

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Filed under American Frontier, Book Reviews, christian fiction, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction