A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


1893 | Chicago’s World Fair, mysterious disappearances, romance, undercover adventures and the secrets of the infamous H.H. Holmes, rumored to be America’s first serial killer.


Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair

Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?.

Synopsis from The White City


A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

A ★★★ Book Review of the White City by Grace Hitchcock, Book One in the True Colors series | Historical Stories of American Crime

★★★ | Perhaps, you know of the infamous H.H. Holmes, a man rumored to be America’s first serial killer. And perhaps you do not. This newly released novel, The White City, by Grace Hitchcock delves into that fantastical story of a man who’s true story is still somewhat unknown.

Readers will join fictional character Winnifred Wylde as she seeks to uncover the truth about H.H. Holmes. As the daughter of Chicago’s inspector Wylde, Winnifred spends her days buried in romance novels until she finds herself captured up into the real life crimes of H.H. Holmes. Posing as his secretary, she works undercover for this dangerous man, under the protective eye of the dashing Jude Thorpe, a true life detective and one of New York’s finest. The budding romance between these two characters is the highlight of this novel!

I gave this book three stars and want to encourage others to read and discover the story for themselves because I’m certain there will be many readers who will enjoy it immensely!

When I first read about this series and the release of this book, I was excited and anticipating a truly suspenseful plot, rich with historical facts and fictional liberties . After all, we’re talking about a serial killer and a time in history when crime was rampant. I expected a serious tone to The White City but instead found more of a Christian romance than a true crime novel.

What I loved about this novel was the setting, the villain, and Miss Wylde and Detective Thorpe’s romance. Detective Thorpe, with his handsome and protective demeanor is the epitome of a romance novel’s hero. I also loved the backstory of H. H. Holmes and his underhanded swindling, insurance fraud and the mysterious killings that he committed in his “hotel” with hidden doors and rooms. Truly, if the author had focused on these three things solely, setting aside Miss Wylde’s personal life, aunt and suitors, this would have a top notch read and exactly what I was hoping for from The White City. More historical background on Chicago and the World’s Fair would have been icing on the cake. At times, I felt like I was expected to have prior knowledge of these things as a reader and unfortunately, I had only but a little. For instance, I never did discover why Chicago was called the White City and found myself Googling H. H. Holmes too.

In the first two thirds of the book, I struggled with the characters and their actions/decisions, the plot and the parts about Miss Wylde’s aunt and suitors which I found myself hurrying through. I desperately wanted more suspense and a deeper plot focused more on Holmes and his crimes. The climax of this novel near the end was my favorite part for this reason - suspense, crime, romance and heroism all rolled up into a few chapters! In the end, this was a solid three stars for me. A good book with a hint of crime, lots of romance and a tiny dash of suspense.

I encourage you to read this book for yourself. I think readers will find the characters to be likable, the story flows along fluidly and the author writes very well, even if it wasn’t the way I initially expected or wanted. This novel is a light read, a clean story for young adults and there’s a delightful romantic aspect to the book that romance readers will enjoy with just enough historical fiction to entice a historical fiction lover.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Grace Hitchcock, Photo Courtesy of  http://gracehitchcockbooks.com

Author Grace Hitchcock, Photo Courtesy of http://gracehitchcockbooks.com

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City
and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest!


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The White City or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright, a time slip suspense novel

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A superb combination of historical and contemporary fiction with powerful characters, a brilliant storyline, riveting suspense and a captivating dash of romance!

Author Jaime Jo Wright completely outdoes herself with this third time slip novel that is sure to capture readers imaginations and hearts in an edge-of-your-seat page turner! Both the depth of this story and the compelling plot are truly remarkable, showcasing the creative way in which Wright delivers the narrative.


Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to turn-of-the-century Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin. When the clues she finds lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a postmortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death. 

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman haunting the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, they must overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined. - Synopsis from The Curse of Misty Wayfair

"Narrated in parallel story lines from 1908 and the present, Wright creates an inspirational mystery with thrilling finesse, blending chilling supernatural elements with the raw interiority of mental illness, and taking readers on Heidi's haunting search for identity, which is sure to keep them up at night."--Booklist

"Stellar writing combined with stellar storytelling is rare. Jaime Jo Wright brings both in abundance to her third novel, The Curse of Misty Wayfair."--James L. Rubart, bestselling author of The Man He Never Was

"The Curse of Misty Wayfair is deliciously thrilling, with a resolution steeped in light and hope."--Jocelyn Green, author of Between Two Shores

"Jaime Jo Wright does it again! The Curse of Misty Wayfair is a compelling and deeply moving story."--Kara Isaac, RITA Award-winning author of Then There Was You


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★★ |   Since reading the Reckoning at Gossamer Pond, I found myself eagerly listening to the House on Foster Hill by way of my Scribd account, highlighting the fact that I truly loved Jaime Jo Wright’s creative storytelling and suspenseful, time slip narratives. But only time could reveal that my absolute favorite of Wright’s novels is her newest release, The Curse of Misty Wayfair.

As I delved into this new story, I was immediately immersed in two stories… That of Thea Reed, a young woman who’s searching for her roots so to speak at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that of Heidi Lane, a present day woman who’s returned home at the mysterious bidding of a letter penned by her dementia ridden mother. Both stories take readers captive from the very beginning… Wright has a way of creating magnetic, multi dimensional characters that are relatable and likable.

While I loved Thea and Simeon’s story, it was the dynamic relationship between Heidi and Rhett that I found captivating, amusing and enjoyable. Their strength, and stubbornness, made for some great interactions that left me smiling. Not to mention, the intricate way these two stories wove together in a fascinating tale of suspense, mystery and intrigue was phenomenal!

Overall, this was an excellent read. It’s clear that Wright is a master of words and very studious of people and their unique makeup. She portrays her characters and their thoughts in a way so relatable, readers can easily identify with them. I love how each of her books portrays a character with special needs and the unique qualities those characters bring to the story, as well as the concept that everyone is made in God’s image with love and for a specific purpose. The faith elements woven throughout this novel are rich, deep and inspirational. The clear impact a personal relationship with the Lord is evident and following the characters on their journey to uncover God’s truths is enlightening and relevant.

Along with Wright’s other two novels, I highly recommend The Curse of Misty Wayfair to both historical fiction lovers and contemporary fiction readers. It is also a great read for mature young adults and college age readers. Please, don’t miss out on this gripping novel, it won’t disappoint!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Jaime Jo Wright is the Christy Award-Winning author of The House on Foster Hill. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Curse of Misty Wayfair or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★ Book Review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream by Pepper Basham | A Christian, historical fiction novel

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


This sweet novel opens the door to life in the heart of Appalachia during the early twentieth century. With endearing characters and a storyline so heartwarming, it’s a must-love story from start to finish!


A British Missionary Meets a Chilly Welcome in a Remote Appalachian Community
 
Laurel McAdams is well acquainted with trouble, but her dreams keep her hopeful that life can improve on her mountain in the Blue Ridge. Still, trouble does come in the form of an outsider.

Having failed his Bristish father again, Jonathan Taylor joins his uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination.

Faced with parents angry over his teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

Journey into North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where a young woman’s dreams are held captive by rugged landscape and long held traditions. - Synopsis from My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream


A ★★★★ Book Review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream by Pepper Basham | A Christian, historical fiction novel

A ★★★★ Book Review of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel's Dream by Pepper Basham | A Christian, historical fiction novel

★★★★ || With a tender love story reminiscent of Catherine Marshall’s Christy, Pepper Basham shares a delightful tale of a young, British man who comes to the heart of the Appalachian mountains in 1918 at the behest of his uncle to teach at a mission school. There he meets Laurel, a young woman who’s colorful and upbeat outlook on her life in the mountains when it’s at its best, or its hardest, has him falling for the mountains, and her.

Having lived in the Appalachian mountains myself, I can attest to the tugging the beautiful mountain scenery and countryside can place on one’s heart. I found this sweet novel to be both familiar and endearing. Author Pepper Basham weaves in colorful mountain phrases, wit, humor and country charm while depicting what I believe to be an accurate look at life in the mountains around the early twentieth century. The characters are likable, while the story line moves along with both the highs and lows of life in a remote area. There are strong elements of faith woven throughout the story and a beautiful underlying message of God’s never-ending love for His children and the acceptance He gives regardless of our shortcomings.

In my opinion, this historical fiction novel is the perfect cozy, light read for perhaps a winter afternoon under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa.. My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream is a wholesome read for teenagers and will charm adult readers as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She lives in North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about Pepper from her website, www.pepperdbasham.com, or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream or borrow it from your local library.  You can find more of the My Heart Belongs books on Amazon. Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts, a Christian Fiction Novel

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers book review program and Thomas Nelson (a registered trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


The Solace of Water is not a book to just be read, but rather a book to be experienced. 

Have you ever read a book that was so riveting, you needed time after finishing the book just to process the depth of the words and the emotions tied up in them? I’m feeling that way after just finishing the new release, The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts.  For hours, my mind and heart has mulled over what I just read - the extreme depth of grief, love, friendship and the redemption that can only be found in forgiveness.


A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts, a Christian Fiction novel from Thomas Nelson. 

A ★★★★★ Book Review of The Solace of Water, by Elizabeth Byler Younts, a Christian Fiction novel from Thomas Nelson. 

★★★★★ || As I try to compose a review, I’m not even sure my words will do this novel justice. I loved everything about this book. How the characters and their thoughts jumped off the page, coming alive and coercing me to relate to them. How I felt angered over their decisions, grief over their losses and heartache over their pain. I felt the newness of life come about as forgiveness made its way into the lives of the characters, a refreshing balm for the soul. 

Words cannot describe how good this book was.  The Solace of Water is not a book to just be read, but rather a book to be experienced. 

Author Elizabeth Byler Younts wasn’t afraid to entwine hard truths or expose the realities of lies and deception. She brought life to the pages and made me, as a reader, see how we as humans make choices without fully realizing how they impact those around us.  Using a timeline when racial tension was at an all time high, she weaves a story that is just as relevant today as it was in the mid 1950’s. Friendship and love can transcend all religions, races and ways of life. 

I can’t say enough about this book, without giving too much of the story away. It is a story I would highly recommend to other adult readers. It is one that won’t soon be forgotten and quite possibly remembered for a long time to come.


In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart. - Synopsis from The Solace of Water


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of https://www.elizabethbyleryounts.com/

Image courtesy of https://www.elizabethbyleryounts.com/

Elizabeth Byler Younts writes women's fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

Learn more about Elizabeth at www.elizabethbyleryounts.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Solace of Water or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


 

A ★★★★ Book Review of A Daring Venture (Empire State #2) by Elizabeth Camden - A Historical Fiction Romance

*I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Bethany House at Baker Publishing Group via NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


★★★★ Book Review of A Daring Venture (Empire State #2) by Elizabeth Camden - A Historical Fiction Romance

A fascinating, suspenseful romance between two dynamic characters...

Step back in time to early 20th century America when times were changing and evolving as new science and inventions began making history. Follow the budding romance between two compelling people and lose yourself in a mystery of sabotage and intrigue.

As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city-- but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team's techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.

While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, these two rivals will face higher stakes than they ever could have known.. - Synopsis from A Daring Venture


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★ Book Number 11/50  |  After reading the synopsis of this newly released book about a month ago, I was excited to begin reading it.  From the very first chapter, I was hooked! Dr. Rosalind Werner is a woman ahead of her time, making her mark in a world of scientific research that was primarily dominated by men.  Readers will love her fierce determination and bright mind.  

Nicholas Drake immediately identifies himself as a force to be reckoned with, yet readers catch a glimpse of his soft side where he adores his family and cares tenderly for his young daughter. When these two dynamic characters cross paths, the chemistry between them is quickly kindled.  As their magnetic relationship grows, so does the suspense. The characters begin making decisions that impact their relationship while colossal history is being made.  In the background, an evil force is at work, seeking to destroy this new love and the progress being made. 

This exciting story kept me interested and entertained from beginning to end.  Quite frankly, I was sad to have the book wrap up.  Author Elizabeth Camden does an excellent job of mingling history, romance and suspense all into one thrilling story!  This is the first book I've read by her and I am looking forward to reading her other titles now.  While this book is a second book in the Empire State series, it is designed to be a stand alone story and I did not feel like I'd missed anything by not reading the first book in this series.  

I enjoyed the flow of the story, the compelling way it was written, the historical significance and the empowering position Dr. Werner held as a forefront leader in her time.  The story was laden with accurate facts and included two real life characters who indeed made an incredible impact on our country at that time. I learned things I hadn't known before and truly loved that part of this book.  I appreciated the suspense and mystery that worked it's way into the story without overpowering the romance, making this a very entertaining read.

I chose four stars for this wonderful book because it is a great addition to any historical fiction lover's bookshelf. It is one I believe readers will enjoy and highly recommend to their friends! 

‘I care about you, Rosalind. We may be different on the outside, but beneath all the manners and accents and background, you and I are like a house on fire.’ ... He knew everything about her past yet still looked at her with a combination of hope, determination, and raw strength. It shot a bolt of confidence straight into her soul. They were united. They would venture forth into this uncertain and frightening future side by side, and face whatever challenges came their way together.
— Elizabeth Camden, A Daring Venture

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of www.elizabethcamden.com

Image courtesy of www.elizabethcamden.com

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

Learn more about Elizabeth Camden at www.elizabethcamden.com.

You can also follow her on Facebook


Lastly, pick up your own copy of A Daring Venture or borrow it from your local library.  You can also find the other books by Elizabeth Camden available here.

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★ Book Review of A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot - A Historical Fiction Romance

*I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Revell at Baker Publishing Group via NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A sweet, historical fiction read for any age!

Cozy up with this easy read as you step into Cimarron Creek, TX and lose yourself in a story of secrets, faith, love, forgiveness and suspense. 

There is no such thing as an impossible dream . . . 

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the local doctor's treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek's dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He's managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality. - Synopsis from A Borrowed Dream


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★ Book Number 7/50  |  A Borrowed Dream, book two in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy is a book that rather surprised me.  It is the first book I've read by author, Amanda Cabot. The story begins when Austin Goddard and his young daughter move to Cimarron Creek, harboring secrets that mean life or death.  As Austin ushers his young daughter to school, he meets the young and beautiful school teacher, Catherine, who he quickly begins falling for while he battles his need to keep his true identity secret and keep his daughter safe.  Catherine finds herself wrapped up in her own secrets and trials as she walks through life with a mistrust for the town's current doctor, meets and takes in a stranger, and cares for her schoolchildren.  The story is one of new love, secrets, forgiveness, tragedy and even mild suspense.  

In beginning this book, I immediately saw the connection to the first book in the series, which I have not yet read.  At times, I did feel like I had missed something, especially when it came to understanding some of the characters and their history, but this book does focus on a story that is completely separate from book one. Without giving too much away, the love story is sweet as we see a relationship form out of friendship and respect.  There are fairly exciting twists and turns that keep readers interested and turning the pages to find out what happens next. There's even an evil villain... The story moves quickly, is sweet, touching, predictable, clean and has the perfect happy ending, just as you'd expect. 

A Borrowed Dream has similarities to Janette Oke's "Love Comes" series so if you're a fan of hers, you will really enjoy Amanda Cabot as well.  Because the story does touch on subjects like murder and rape, I would ask parents of young adult readers (ages 11-13) to consider the reader's maturity level but I do feel the book was well suited for teenage girls 14+.  My reason for this rating is simply a matter of personal opinion.  The book was good and I liked it. You may like it much more than I did.  I desired a deeper storyline, while this one merely skimmed the surface. Several tragedies happen and I felt the author only lightly touched on what would have been a deep impact for such a small, close knit community.  The predictability was another factor that I wrestled with, unfortunately knowing exactly how the book would end. The outcome of too many events felt so convenient and obvious for the storyline. However, amidst my desires for something deeper, I still found myself turning the pages as the story moved along, held my interest and had various climactic elements. When all was said and done, I found myself wanting to read more by this author in this series and I think you will too!  Again, if you're looking for a cozy, historical fiction read with engaging elements, this is the book for you! 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at www.amandacabot.com. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter


Lastly, pick up your own copy of A Borrowed Dream or borrow it from your local library.  You can also find the other books by Amanda Cabot available here.

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★★★ Book Review of A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green -A Historical Fiction Novel

How fast this year is moving! In case you missed it, my husband and I had some really exciting news we shared earlier this month so my days have suddenly become busy and filled with lots of preparation and paperwork. Amidst the crazy excitement though, I have scheduled in some time during the wee hours of the morning to practice my current favorite method of self care: reading. I'm curious, what are some ways YOU practice self care?

I was recently given a wonderful opportunity by Bethany House Publishers to gain a copy of the newly released novel, A Refuge Assured, by Jocelyn Green. Friends, I couldn't put it down!

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


Captivating & Suspenseful... A detailed look at French émigré life in America after the Revolutionary War.

This beautiful story weaves the lives of strong, engaging characters in an exciting series of events while offering a storyline rich in historic details that is sure to delight any historical fiction enthusiast.

Fleeing One Revolution to the Aftermath of Another, She Seeks and Dreams of Peace

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.  -  Synopsis from A Refuge Assured


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★★ Book Number 3/50  | War, suspense, mystery, determination, faith and romance... From the gorgeous cover to the heartwarming ending, this story is sure to win the hearts of its readers. Early on in this captivating novel, the author, Jocelyn Green, introduces readers to French émigré, Vivienne Rivard,  who must flee her beloved home in France to save her own life. Vivienne faces the heartbreaking loss of her dear aunt and learns the details of her estranged mother's questionable past, while living life in a country ravaged by the horrors of the French Revolution.  We follow her journey overseas to America, where readers meet Liam Delaney, a former militiaman in the American Revolution just years prior.  Throughout the early storyline, additional, supportive characters enter and lay the foundation for exciting plot twists which add a sense of mystery to the novel. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this book as well as the suspense that builds from the events taking place throughout the story. The author depicts an accurate peek into the gut-wrenching perils of the French Revolution, portrays early American life beautifully and details major historical events such as the Whiskey Rebellion while bringing historical figures like Alexander Hamilton and Monsieur Omer Talon to life. In addition, the author sets forth the story in intricate details which delights reader's imaginations and brings vivid color to the sights and smells of the era.

When Vivienne finds herself as a sudden guardian of a young boy, mystery surrounds the lad who could possibly be Louis-Charles, the heir to the French throne. Readers will get a glimpse into this boy's life and his story as he and Vivienne must once again flee their home to protect their very lives.  Finding refuge in a place called French Azilum, a historically accurate place in Pennsylvania, they find their lives even more intertwined with Liam Delaney and other important characters.  

Vivienne, who never knew the love of her own mother, finds herself shepherding this young boy through life, providing for him, caring for him and nurturing him as she struggles to make her own way in life. She discovers the value of family and opens her heart to forgiveness along the way. It is her admirable determination and grit that I loved most about her. 

Liam, who's noble character has readers falling in love with him from the start, makes his way through the story fighting moral battles and upholding what he believes to be right. As he quickly falls for the beautiful Vivienne, readers find a hint of romance that later becomes a beautiful love between two strong and independent people. 

The end of the story wraps up with an exciting, climactic turn of events and a heartwarming ending.  I don't want to give too much away in the details but suffice it to say, the ending will not disappoint.  I truly believe historical fiction readers will love this book as much as I did. It is indeed a five star book, in my opinion. 

The birds were free to wing over land and sea, yet they came home to roost at the edge of the country she could no longer call home. Vivienne had come unmoored. Adrift, in more ways than one.
— Jocelyn Green, A Refuge Assured

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of A Refuge Assured or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★ Book Review of Out of the Ashes (Heart of Alaska #2) by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Hello sweet friends and readers! I know I've been MIA around here since last November... Unfortunately, my husband and I experienced a tragic event in our lives over the holiday season and as a result, I had to have an emergency life saving surgery. I am now six weeks post surgery and feeling mostly recovered as our lives begin to return to our new normal. For me, the new year snuck in quietly while I was focused on other things, but I do hope that you are having a wonderful, productive start to the new year!

Soon, I hope to be back here sharing about some of my goals (or dare I say, lack of goals) for 2018. In the meantime, however, I want to share some thoughts on a heartwarming, newly released book I received from Bethany House Publishers!  This touching story weaves the tale of two people battling different struggles and how God uses those struggles to bring their hearts to Him and then to each other.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

" Can the Majesty of Alaska Foster Hope and Healing for Those Who Need it Most? After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925. When an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel arrives, it seems the perfect opportunity.

Young widow Katherine Demarchis is also traveling to the foot of Mt. Denali with her grandmother--a last trip before she retreats into a quiet and solitary life, finally free of the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Yet when she encounters there a Frenchman from her past, her plans for the future are thrown into question.

Both haunted by the violence of their pasts, can Katherine and Jean-Michel rediscover the bond they once had? Or, when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will it be impossible to heal what's been broken for so long?   -  Synopsis from Out of the Ashes


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★ Book Number 2/50  |  This tender story is sure to melt your heart!  When I first received this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover. It's visually appealing for anyone who loves historical fiction and makes you want to dive right in! As this story begins, you'll learn about the two main characters, Katherine and Jean-Michel - two people who loved each other but were torn apart. As their lives moved on without each other, their hearts are scarred by battles they each endured separately as the result of the paths their lives take.  When Katherine's grandmother becomes involved, the two former lovers are given the opportunity to reconnect and reunite their love from years ago.

I enjoyed the story line and felt both Jean-Michel and Katherine were genuine, endearing characters.  They were easy to relate to and their separate journeys in understanding themselves, finding their faith and rekindling a long lost love was so touching.  Throughout the book, the authors do a wonderful job of setting forth the plan of salvation as we get to watch the main characters discover their faith and turn to God to deliver them from their past. In addition, there's sustenance developed for their faith as they find mentors in their friends and loved ones who explain the Scriptures to them and help them grow in their new faith.  For that, I loved this book!

While Out of the Ashes is clearly the second book in the Heart of Alaska series, I didn't feel like I'd lost anything by not having read book one, In the Shadow of Denali, first or even at all.  Out of the Ashes continues the story of Cassidy, Allan, and the Curry Hotel staff from book one, but works well as a stand alone novel. Readers also get to learn about some minor characters such as Colette, Jean-Michel's sister, and Thomas and Mrs. Johnson, two of the hotel staff.  While I did find Colette a little too immature to be believable, I felt these characters added merit to the story.

The book opens with all the interesting details readers need to know about the main characters' backgrounds and lays the groundwork for the story. Roughly halfway through, readers might find themselves anxious to skip ahead as there's a bit of a lull in the drama. But keep reading because 3/4 of the way through the story, just as Katherine and Jean-Michel reconnect on a deeper level, an influenza epidemic becomes a very serious concern for the little town.  Then, as you would expect, this novel will wrap up quickly and neatly, with the warm-gooey ending you anticipated in the beginning.

I gave this book three stars because I enjoyed the history that I learned in the book and the journey of personal faith for Katherine and Jean-Michel.  The two things that kept me from giving Out of the Ashes a higher review was that, for me, the novel had too many perspectives on the story.  While I enjoyed learning about the other characters that made up the Curry Hotel staff, I found myself feeling like the novel jumped between different characters' points of view too often and left me wanting more from one character's point of view.  As a result of that rapid shift in perspective, I felt that things moved too quickly and that I missed out on the details and depth the story could have held.  I believe, however, that the reason for multiple perspectives is because this book IS a part of a series and the authors wish the readers to be able to connect with all the lovely staff of the Curry Hotel in order to enjoy the series as a whole. I am certain that we will find in the book to follow that the lives of these dear characters continue. Secondly, the novel uses the influenza epidemic as a crisis point in the story, but then downplays the reality of it later, with all the characters miraculously getting well but not attending the six funerals of those who passed. I found that hard to fathom in such a close knit little community. Also, little is mentioned of the outcome for the four people who contracted the disease while camped outside of town during the quarantine. At that point in the story, things move quickly and wrap up with a predictable ending.  Overall, though, this book is truly heartwarming if readers focus on the journey that Katherine and Jean-Michel embark on.  By the end of the story, readers have fallen in love with these characters, the Curry Hotel staff and will find themselves wanting to pick up other books in this series.

One beautiful thing came out of the torment of the last few years. She was redeemed. And that changed her life forever. No matter what, she couldn’t allow herself to listen to the lies of the enemy any longer.
— Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse, Out of the Ashes

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: 

If you would like to learn more about authors, Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, you visit Tracie's website here and find Kimberely's website here.  Also, be sure and check out the first book in the Heart of Alaska series, In the Shadow of Denali.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Out of the Ashes on Amazon or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★★  Book Review of The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I am so excited to share with you today about a brand new release from Bethany House Publishers!  This sweet novel shares a beautiful story of two young people who begin to seek God's will for their lives and futures, while falling in love and learning the value of family, friendships and faith. 

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

Book Look(s) | A Book Review of The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

"In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,  In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through. Judd Markley knows he can never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother's life means leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world is all he knows, he puts it behind him and heads for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward's life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more--maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd's and Larkin's dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together--or maybe, it will take a miracle."   -  Synopsis from the Sound of Rain


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★ Book Number 47/50  |  This lovely book is near and dear to my heart for many reasons.  First, I live in the Appalachian mountains and have vacationed in Myrtle Beach so I easily identified with the characters and the locations set in this story.  In addition, I have experienced several hurricanes and their aftermath firsthand during my years growing up.  The Sound of Rain beautifully ties tragedy, young love and personal growth together in a sweetly woven story that takes place between the mountains, the ocean and the hearts of two yearning people. 

I loved the easy flow of this story... It was soft and touching with many author-induced smiles along the way, especially when referencing the humidity of South Carolina versus the cooler air of the mountains.  I appreciated how Judd wanted to carry on his deceased younger brother's memory while courageously embarking on a new path and welcoming change.  The author created a character whom we can all fall in love with as a man of integrity, grit and perhaps even a quiet passion.  As for Larkin, I enjoyed seeing her pursue the repairing of a relationship between her family members. In her pursuit, she becomes the main tie in connecting her family and helping them grow back together.  The author beautifully portrayed Larkin as a delightful caring, willing spirit who should be an inspiration to us all.

Amidst all the glory of this tender story, a massive hurricane and quite possibly one of the largest of it's decade, makes landfall in the heart of this book.  While I do believe the author accurately described the historic details of the storm, I wondered where the fear of such an intense storm was. Oftentimes, witnessing howling winds shake the very walls of your home while weathering a category 4 storm is quite unbelievable. The aftermath of such is a state of disarray; so much so that life doesn't easily resume, especially without power, aid from neighbors and the accessibility to roads, food and stores.  I am certain, however, that the author merely included this historic storm as a way to draw her characters together and give them a deeper connection while using the event as a bridge for the rest of the book's plot, rather than as a show stopping experience like this hurricane most likely was for life at that time. 

As the story continues to unfold after the storm, readers begin to soul search along with the characters and learn that God has a way of honoring our dreams and changing our hearts to see His dream for our lives.  That was, perhaps, my favorite part of this book and a beautiful thought to absorb. 

For readers who enjoy historic fiction and the 1950's era particularly, I know you'll love this book! You'll not only fall in love the characters, but you'll find yourself enjoying a look back in time at coal mining, beach trips to the oceanfront and a well-researched peek into timbering the land and the U.S. Forestry division. 

I gave this story four stars because I eagerly looked forward to every moment I could spend in this book and it truly was a heartwarming story with a beautiful, underlying message. The book was so well written and it flowed naturally, and easily. In addition, I just have to add that the cover with it's gold foiled raindrops, is simply stunning! 

...as much as he wished he could go back and take Joe’s place, he couldn’t. But there was a sweet girl with laughter in her eyes who just might give him a good reason to go on living for as long as he could.
— Sarah Loudin Thomas, The Sound of Rain

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

If you would like to learn more about author, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and her wonderful books, visit her website at www.sarahloudinthomas.com or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The Sound of Rain on Amazon or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★ Book Review of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

* Note: All thoughts below are my own. I was not compensated to write this review.  However, this blog post does include affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.

Image via Goodreads.com

Image via Goodreads.com

★★★ Book Number 44/50  |  In keeping with my WWII themed books, I chose Love Finds You in Victory Heights via my online library. This story opens a look into the life of the women and men who made a difference here in the United States while many fought the war abroad.  The main character, Rosalie, a riveter at the Boeing plant in Seattle, WA struggles after the death of her fiancé and a family member as a result of the war.   In the midst of her struggles, she finds God's salvation, freedom from her the weight of guilt, and love, all while touted as Seattle's own "Rosie the Riveter". 

I gave this book three stars because it was cute and an easy read.  I loved that Rosalie found salvation early in the story.  I enjoyed the characters and learning about each one more as the story unwound.  At times, I felt much of the book was written after a major event had already happened in the characters' lives.  I would rather have read the story as they walked through those major events, but it was still a great book and yet another accurate look at life during World War II. 

My favorite part was perhaps the peek into the women who worked so hard to build the incredible machines that helped end the war and make America one of the leading Allied forces.  These women paved the way for women's rights, women's independence and equal rights in the workforce. 

Mama taught me that a girl’s good looks soon fade, while what’s in her heart just keeps getting more beautiful.
— Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss, Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington

Pick up your own copy of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington here or borrow it from your local library. Then, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments below!

Learn more about Tricia Goyer here and about Ocieanna Fleiss here.