The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville

Publication Date: March 16, 2021

Publisher:  Atria

ARC from Atria and Netgalley.com

Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Excerpt: She lets the words museum of memory settle on her tongue. A lovely turn of phrase, rich as sugared blueberries tucked into pastry.

The Memory Collectors is a quaintly odd story that requires a suspension of your logical mind when reading. This unique tale centers on Harriet Langdon, an elderly woman who hoards objects to the detriment of everyone around her, and Evelyn, a young Chinese-American woman who collects objects and resells them. Both women have a unique gift that allows them to feel the emotions people have left behind on the objects.

When Harriet accidentally meets Evelyn she is stunned to realize they share the unique gift. This gift has some very distinct drawbacks. Harriet has a vision of a museum that would house their objects and help people at the same time. However, Evelyn’s talent is necessary if she is to make the museum a success. Can these two very different women with a shared mysterious ability learn to work together to make the most of their ability? Underneath the layers of their relationship lie some dark secrets from the past. Will the darkness overwhelm their fledging venture?

The unique story contains an interesting secondary cast of characters that add to and help develop the story. Meet Owen, a creative artist who uses stray objects to create his work, and Noemi, Evelyn’s younger sister who is a colorful personality and rather distinctive in her own way.

The book was not quite what I expected. The undertones of darkness in the story overlaid the basic lightness that I have come to expect in books that have a basis in magical realism. Read the story and decide for yourself!

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

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Magical Realism

An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publisher: Minotaur Books, an imprint of St Martin’s Press

Rating:  3.5  out of 5

Laced with murder and mystery, this novel begins in London in 1878 when the famed detective, Charles Lenox solves a case that effectively gets him banished to America. Upon arriving he becomes entangled in the murder of a beautiful young debutante, Lily Allingham, in Newport, playground of the rich and famous.

With plentiful suspects showing up as the layers of the plot are revealed, the story definitely keeps the readers’ attention.  Lenox’s dry British wit shows admirably at times throughout the story. The book is rich in historical detail, places and names to spice up the tale. Follow Lenox on his journey from the Prime Minister’s office in London to Caroline Astor’s ball in Newport as he works to uncover who murdered young Lily Allingham!

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

#AnExtravagantDeath #NetGalley

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From This Moment by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Publication Date: 23 February 2021

Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah

ARC copy from Netgalley and Waterbrook Multnomah

Rating: 3 out of 5

From This Moment introduces three young people each struggling with their own unique problems and each coming from a less than perfect home life as children. Jase Edgar, the new youth minister in Bradleyville, Kansas, comes from the foster system where he spent much of his younger life.  He is trying to come to terms with the death of his fiancé. Lori Fowler is a custodian at Jase’s church and an employee at a local quilt shop where her best friend, Kenzie Stetler works. Kenzie, a young woman from an Amish background, chooses not to join the Amish church and remains separated from her family as a result of her personal choices and beliefs. These three young people become good friends as a result of their beliefs and backgrounds. The appearance of a mysterious ring binds the young people together even tighter and ultimately allows them all to follow their hearts.

This book offers a good depiction of the journeys one’s life can take when dealing with hope and loss and the process one goes through in life of waiting and trusting. As these young people progress along their path, their new beginnings will bring romance to some and a deepening of faith and sharing the message to others.  This book is an easy read that blends a contemporary romance with faith and hope. Readers of Christian romance will enjoy this book.

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

#FromThisMoment #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Clean, Contemporary, Inspirational Fiction, Romance

The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

Publication Date:  16 February 2021

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ARC copy from Netgalley and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 5 out of 5

“The things we thought we were supposed to do and be once upon a time, they evolve as we do.

-René Touliard

A captivating story of two strong, resilient women, each working in her own unique way against the German occupation of France! Meet Lila de Laurent, Parisian dressmaker working for Chanel in 1939, and Sandrine Paquet, wife, mother, and member of a prominent publishing family. As the war begins to take shape in early 1940, the lives of these young women are changed forever. Lila goes from high fashion with its captivating parties to dressing the women of the Nazi regime. Sandrine’s life changes dramatically when she must go to work for the Nazis at the Jeu de Paume sorting, cataloging, and readying stolen Jewish artwork for transport to Germany.

Both women, driven by their own reasoning work, in very different jobs for the La Résistance. Lila, driven by guilt, works passionately for information to help La Résistance in their battle against the Nazi regime and to recover the stolen family jewelry and artwork of the Touliard family. Sandrine, driven by love for her missing husband and her family, begins work under Rose Valland, an art director working through the resistance to document the stolen artwork of France and its Jewish citizens.

Behind these strong, brave, and capable women are their men, René Touliard and Christian Pacquet, both members of La Résistance as well. A cast of secondary characters work in conjunction with these brave men and women to add depth and reality to this dynamic historical story. An excellent blending of history, faith, and love pulls this story together.

Read this excellent piece of history to follow the journeys of Lila and René and Sandrine and Christian as they find their way through the occupation and war working toward a different future than the one they faced down. Be sure to read the Author’s Notes at the end as they add depth and detailed explanations to the novel.

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

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Publication Date: July 17, 2018

HQN

ARC from HQN and Netgalley.com

 

 

Welcome to the wine country of Washington State! Follow Mackenzie Barcellona, through the vineyards of Bel Après, the family owned business in to which she married. A winemaker by trade, she lives a life immersed in grapes, wines, and vineyards. A romantic proposal to the winery’s owner, Barbara, at the annual Solstice party triggers an avalanche of emotional events for many members of the immediate family. Once the events begin, nothing will be the same for the entire Barcellona family.

The novel focuses predominantly on Mackenzie and the strong females in the family and their intertwining lives and emotions. In addition, the reader gets a great insider look at the running of a winery and its day-to-day operations. An intriguing family drama highlighting family, friendship, and a sense of belonging!  

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

#TheVineyardAtPaintedMoon  #NetGalley

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Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

Series: The Windy City Saga, Book 2

Publication Date:  02 February 2021

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Rating: 5 out of 5

This book is a beautifully guided tour of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair intermingled with a captivating story of Sylvie Townsend’s life 22 years after the Great Fire of 1871, where we first met her in book one of The Windy City Saga series. Once again Jocelyn Green artfully brings to life a story that blends fictional characters with historical events, settings, and people.

Now in her early forties, independent Sylvie still runs her bookshop and has raised Rose, a young Hungarian orphan, for the past thirteen years on her own. Living in the apartment above Sylvie are the Bartok brothers; steady, solid Kristof and Gregor, handsome and a bit wild. Both brothers play for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Exposition Orchestra at the Fair. When Rose disappears one day at the Fair, Sylvie finds she may need the support and assistance of the steady Kristof more than she could ever imagine.

Sylvie and Kristof must decide if Rose’s disappearance intertwines with Gregor’s wild life style. Drawn closer together while they try to piece the puzzle together, the pair finds comfort in each other’s presence and in the comfort of close friends and Sylvie’s sister, Meg and her family.

As control and fear dictate Sylvie’s choices, she works on learning to trust the Lord’s timing during difficult times.  One of the most importance lessons Sylvie and Rose both come to understand is the value of the gift of choice. Sylvie, Rose, Kristof, and their friends and relatives explore the true value of family of choice.

Come and spend some time exploring the 1893 World’s Fair with a guided tour by Rose, listen to a concert where Kristof plays beautiful classic music, and take a ride on Mr. Ferris’s Wheel! See the sights, smell the Parisian perfume, taste the hot chocolate! Don’t miss this great piece of history woven throughout the story.

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

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Filed under Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ARC from Netgalley.com and Thomas Nelson

Rating: 5 out of 5

A great, atmospheric and moody story filled with intrigue, murder, and a secret society! The backdrop of the dark and inhospitable Loxby Manor as well as the nearby ruins of Kinwich Abbey with its mysterious lights flickering at night adds to the suspenseful story line.

Nothing is as Charity Halliwell remembers when she steps back in to Loxby Manor, home of her best friend, Seline Cavanagh, after five years away. A dark atmosphere seems to prevail as she is banished to her guest room upon arrival. Seline briefly shows up that first evening, only to disappear into the night.

Where has Seline disappeared to? Who is behind her mysterious disappearance? Piers Cavanagh, the disgraced son of the family, arrives to try and sort through the mysterious comings and goings at Loxby Manor. As Piers and Charity try to unravel the mysterious disappearance of Seline, they find themselves exploring their past and trying to untangle the secret society of the Ancient Order of the Gormogons.

Read this twisty story to find out if Piers and Charity can uncover the mystery of Seline’s disappearance and who is behind the secret society.  I didn’t see it coming until the end! I highly recommend this engaging tale for readers of historical fiction, Regency fiction and Christian fiction. 

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

#TheVanishingAtLoxbyManor  #NetGalley

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

Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

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Publication Date: 12 January 2020

Publisher:  Atria Books, Division of Simon and Schuster

ARC copy from Netgalley and Atria Books

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Traumatic, life altering events change Lana Antanova’s life forever as she witnesses the deadly work of the Gestapo in Paris. As a result, Lana, the daughter of a Russian countess, goes to work for the Resistance in southern France along the Riviera posing as the mistress of a very wealthy Swiss businessman, Guy Pascal.

The unique setting for WWII definitely got my interest as well as the lifestyle of the German officers and the Russian émigrés which highlights the distinction between people during the war. As Lana and Guy work together to save as many Jewish people as possible, they find themselves drawn together in spite of the difficult times. One of the most personable characters of the story is the taxi driver, Pierre, who is much more than what he seems to be on the surface.

When Guy disappears one night, Lana must take charge of her life and alter her plans. Follow Lana as she travels to Switzerland and reinvents her life. The story sets a good pace and kept my interest most of the time. However, the ending is too farfetched for this reader.

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

#LanasWar #NetGalley

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

Publication Date: 12 January 2021

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

This poignant and emotional story begins one beautiful, sunny day in January of 1888 on the plains of the Dakota Territory. The story introduces us to Gerda and Raina Olsen, sisters and schoolteachers working in different parts of the territory. Both girls are faced with decisions that will alter their life and that of their students forever when a blizzard unlike anything they have ever seen hits the prairie.

Gerda and Raina each choose a different path to follow as the storm hits. One becomes disgraced over her actions and the other becomes a heroine. The story follows not only the girls, but several of their students and their paths forward. Intertwined in the story is Gavin Woodson, a disgraced writer, trying to make a new way forward for himself. Gavin’s impact on one of the sisters and her student will be felt for years to come.

The story is a rich mingling of history and drama.   Touching on complex issues of the prejudice against immigrants, the difficulties of life on the plains in the 1800’s, and of the complications faced by  young women on their own during this time, the book weaves an engrossing tale that readers of historical fiction will find well worth their time!

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

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz

Publication Date:  January 5, 2021

Publisher: Revell

ARC Copy from Netgalley.com and Revell

Rating: 5 out of 5

Laura Frantz has outdone herself with this excellent story portraying a complex time in the settling of our country. Journey back in time to 1634 James Towne in the Virginia Colony! Meet Xander Renick, thriving tobacco planter, widower, and prominent council member who resides at Rose-n-Vale, his beautiful plantation property set along the James River. Make the acquaintance as well of Selah Hopewell, a spirited twenty-six year old young woman whose father owns the local mercantile. Both of these colonists understand well the distinctions and complexities of living on the frontier.

Xander’s life is dedicated to growing his tobacco plantation, serving the community as a council member, and helping to keep a path of communication between the native people and the English. Selah’s life is extremely busy; she works at the family store and she has been charged with overseeing the new brides that have arrived in James Towne. In a life filled with worrying about survival and day-to-day living, neither Selah nor Xander have had time to focus on finding a mate.

This tension-filled tale highlights the volatility of life in early colonial times. Filled with adventure, a genuinely evil person, adorable youngsters, handsome, hardworking heroes, and a romance as sweet and light as the breeze off the James River, this book is perfect for readers who enjoy good, solid historical fiction with well done, subtle romance.

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

#TidewaterBride #Revell #NetGalley

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