Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Copy from Netgalley and Revell
“Life finds us, no matter how we try to push it away.”
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.
3 out of 5
Publication Date: July 2019
ARC from Ballantine Books and Netgalley.com
Excerpt: “No matter what the weather, my window on the bay never failed to soothe me.”
When best friends and single moms, Jenna, an emergency room nurse, and Maureen, a librarian, find themselves with empty nests, the reality of a trip to Paris finally seems like it is on the horizon. As they plot and plan for their trip, life interferes in the most unexpected ways. As the women work their way through the unforeseen events, they each meet a man along the way.
The novel tells the story in alternating chapters of each woman’s struggle with her challenges and the men they meet. Jenna, who has sworn off doctors as a result of her ex-husband, meets a kind, decent man who happens to be a surgeon, and Maureen, a quiet and rather staid librarian at the local library, becomes acquainted with a good looking construction worker who is a bit rough around the edges but has a definite interest in books and life. Have the two women finally met compatible men after all these years? Can they juggle elderly parents, grown children, and new relationships?
The story is pretty predictable and a bit slow in places. The book makes a nice, easy paced read for those who enjoy a clean story without a lot of excess drama.
This copy was received from Ballantine Books and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: 01 May 2019
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
ARC from Shiloh Run Press and Netgalley
The author uses a unique premise in this first book of a series called the Tree of Life. She incorporates genealogy as a means of introducing a second timeline to the novel. The time shifts between current day in Canyon Mines, Colorado and the year 1878 in Memphis. The connection is not initially clear as to how the two storylines will blend and it created a bit of a disconnect for me when reading, particularly early in the story.
The characters in the novel are a bit on the interesting and quirky side, and they seem to add personality to the story. Nolan Duffy, an attorney and professional mediator, lives in Canyon Mines with his daughter the genealogist, Jillian Parisi-Duffy. A great deal of the story centers around Meri Davies, a young college graduate who wanders in to town and accepts a job at Jillian’s friend, Nia’s bed and breakfast. Jillian, Nolan, and Nia take on Meri and her life and personal troubles as their next project to solve. Jillian utilizes her best genealogical skills to uncover Meri’s family tree and in doing so hopes to answer some of the girl’s unresolved issues.
The historical portion of the novel is based on actual historic notes, and real historic characters are incorporated in to the storyline. I actually enjoyed the historic portion much more than I did the contemporary part of the story The central themes in the book dwell on independence, forgiveness, and family. Readers of contemporary and historical fiction may enjoy this book.
This ARC copy was received from Shiloh Run Press and Netgalley. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
#TheInnAtHiddenRun #NetGalley #amreviewing #amreading
Publication Date: 19 Feb 2019
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Berkley Publishing Group/Random House
“The thing about my job, Bill…it forces you to change the way you see things. And with a student like Yuri … I see life differently because of him, and that’s a good thing.”
–Maggie Topper, teacher
This emotional story goes straight to the heart of why teachers teach and what they take away from the classroom and their students at the end of the day. Set in fall of 1999, Maggie Topper, a second year sixth grade language arts teacher, takes on an extra duty teaching assignment for Yuri, a young boy in need of tutoring outside of the traditional classroom. Unsure of herself with the new assignment, Maggie begins her journey with Yuri, who actually loves learning and hungers for companionship. Maggie works to bring both to this young boy by combining his love of baseball with education.
The story also follows Maggie’s personal life as she learns from her student and grows and expands her own life. The book touches on many important themes; a parent’s love for their child, a teacher’s dedication and growth, and a child’s recognition of his own truth and reality. Heartbreaking, endearing, and at the same time motivating, read this beautiful story of how one individual can change a person’s life. A terrific contemporary read with depth and complexity!
This ARC copy was received from Berkley Publishing Group/Random House and Netgalley.com. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
#TheSecretOfClouds #NetGalley #BerkleyPub #RandomHouse
Series: A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery
Publication Date: July 2018
Publisher: ARC from The Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson
“Sometimes stories are in the people whose life’s pages no one thinks of turning, his father once told him. Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure. Not just peer through a glass and count his heartbeat.”
Hamish DeLuca, a rather quiet young man with a severe case of anxiety, finally has enough of his well meaning parents help and takes off for Boston to spend some time with his rather progressive and wild cousin, Luca Valari. Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, daughter of well to do Connecticut parents, runs off to Boston to remove herself from an unwanted fiancé and a difficult social situation. Reggie and Hamish find themselves working for Luca as he prepares to open his flashy new nightclub, The Flamingo.
The story centers on the opening of the nightclub and all of the undercurrents that come to light when Hamish and Reggie begin to spend time together. Opening night rolls around and a sensationalized murder occurs at the nightclub. The year is 1937 and the undercurrents of illegal business, police on the payroll, and dark mysterious figures controlling things all play a role in this mysterious read. Family, loyalty, and finding oneself all occupy central themes in the story. The characters add depth and heart to the story.
An engaging read for lovers of historical fiction, romance, and historical mystery! I’m ready for another Van Buren and DeLuca book!
This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson Publishers and The Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: Sept 11, 2018
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
ARC copy from Netgalley.com and Waterbrook Multnomah
“And he reminded me that our children aren’t really ours anyway. They belong to God. We have them for one season of life, but then they have to move into their own season.”
Kim Vogel Sawyer brings to life the lesson of accepting our life the way the Lord gives it to us instead of the way we plan and hope for it to be. Marty and Anthony Hirshler, devout Mennonites raised and married in the faith, live in Pine Hill, Indiana. Their story of heartbreak, disappointment, and new chances is interwoven with that of Brooke Spalding, a close, non-Mennonite friend of Marty’s from childhood, who runs a successful real estate business in Kansas City. This book offers a genuine portrayal of lives planned and changed by circumstances beyond their control.
Mixing faith, fertility issues, medical crises, and family issues together creates an intriguing novel that draws the reader in right from the beginning of the story. I enjoyed the interweaving of Marty and Anthony’s Mennonite faith and way of life with that of Brooke’s modern lifestyle. Timing is critical and Brooke and Marty find in each other some much needed support. As Anthony brings Marty and his construction crew to Eagle Creek to work for Brooke on a restoration project, he finds that more than his buildings are being restored.
Don’t miss this emotional story by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Readers of Amish fiction and Christian fiction will truly enjoy this unique story.
This ARC copy was received from Waterbrook Multnomah and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.
Publication Date: 1 September 2018
Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
ARC Copy from the author, NetGalley.com and Barbour Publishing
“You see, my dear, real joy is not found in the best moments of life, but in trusting that God is making the best of every moment…even those as dreadful as death.”
A delightful Christmas tale that centers around two engaging young people living in Victorian London in 1853! 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.
As Mina waits on William day after day, her romantic imagination gets the best of her. 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. This story confronts the dilemma of whether or not it is ever okay to lie, even if you are doing it for the best of reasons.
The short novel is charming with an interesting cast of secondary characters to entertain the reader. Some of the characters you will like and some you will find to be perfect villains. Get an early jump on your Christmas spirit with this quick holiday read!
This ARC copy was received from the author, Barbour Publishing and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.