Saturday, July 22, 2017

Review of "High as the Heavens" by Kate Breslin

In this sweeping and comprehensive novel primarily set in German-occupied Belgium in 1917, the author focuses on the complicated wartime relationships between British Nurse Evelyn Marche, her family, and Captain Simon Forrester.

Eve is a nurse by day but a spy always, working with the resistance organization La Dame Blanche (The White Lady). Even though their work is very dangerous -and they even have German soldiers billeted under their very roof - most of her family is also involved. Eve's role as a nurse allows her a unique access to important information that can help the Allies, and she works diligently to pass along what she learns.

One night, Eve goes to meet "a package" (not knowing that the package is actually her long-believed-dead husband) - and when his plane crashes, he is wounded. She takes steps to conceal his identity and their relationship, but Simon is now suspicious of Eve's motives as he is unaware of her role in the resistance. Her risks to keep his true identity and their relationship hidden go deep, and to further complicate things, there is a double agent in the mix.

We also bounce back and forth between memories of Simon and Eve's courtship, as well as the great emotional burden Eve still carries from war crimes several years prior.

This book reads as very well researched and clearly illustrates some of the conflicts and difficulties experienced in this time period. Eve and Simon's struggle to reunite all of the family, keep their loved ones safe, and learn to trust each other again are well done. The author also paints a lovely picture of redemption. I am happy to recommend this book!

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Review of "A Name Unknown" by Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White's first book in her latest series, "Shadows over England", is truly a gem. Featuring a high end female thief and a wealthy (secret) author of a fiction adventure series, she has created a beautiful story of redemption and well illustrates that what is seen is not always the truth of the matter.

Rosemary Gresham was orphaned at eight and forced to steal to eat. Over the years she has managed to create a large family - one not related in any way by blood, but of their shared need for survival. When she is 'hired' to find out where the loyalties of Peter Holstein lie - is it with England, or Germany? - she poses as a librarian to gain access to his house and life.

Peter Holstein actually has dual citizenship, but chose England when he turned 18. As the country is on the brink of WWI, the questions and accusations against him grow louder, and Peter must locate the documents that prove his citizenship. He hires Rosemary to organize his library and family history, and find the items he needs - and in the process of this job, things begin to change for both of them.

The plot points are layered without being tedious or clunky; the humor and mysteries are equally well done; and this is easily one of the best novels I've read lately. I can enthusiastically recommend this book!

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Review of "The Divide" by Jolina Petersheim

In the conclusion of the story that began in "The Alliance", we pick up some time after the Mennonite community has become established in their new location, in the mountains. Leora Ebersole is beginning to grow very weary under the combined pressure of caring for her family and her worries about what has happened to Moses Hughes, the pilot who crashed in their original commune. Meawhile, Jabil is happy to step into the gap Moses' absence has created, and he and Leora grow closer.

As the world continues to shift based on the new "rules", the divide between previous loyalties and relationships become even more tenuous. It's almost impossible to know who to trust, and Leora makes serious choices about things she never thought she'd have to face. And, who will she finally choose - Jabil, or Moses? Will the new community survive? Can Leora live with her secrets?

This two book series was enjoyable and interesting. I have found that as a reviewer it's challenging to expand too much more on the storylines in this book, without giving any spoilers! Also, please note that this is definitely a sequel that you will want to read the books in order; I didn't feel this was a standalone novel. So if you haven't already, make sure to pick up "The Alliance" first!

This book was given to me by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

The Divide

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review of "Just Look Up' by Courtney Walsh

Interior Designer Lane Kelley is forced to return from her big city job and life, to her small tourist town when her brother Nate is in a terrible motorcycle accident. She has avoided home like the plague since a devastating rift occurred. (The author doesn't tell you right away exactly what happened....so neither will I!) For years, Lane has intentionally buried herself in work - and she has been successful at both advancing her career and studiously avoiding the real issues.

Veteran Ryan Brooks has his own emotional scars; he and his sister barely survived their childhood with no mother, and an alcoholic dad. Now a renovator/businessman extraordinaire, Ryan is determined to do his part to revitalize the tourism for their lake front town. He was also in the accident with Nate; he has vague memories of what happened, but suspects there is more to it than he can fully remember. And what he does remember shames him deeply, even though none of it is his responsibility. Ryan is also buried in his huge development project, but still manages to find some balance; all the while, trying to draw Lane out of her shell and find the girl he once knew.

The layers the author has created with these characters and story were nuanced and well done. The quirkiness of some of the characters is fun, rather than odd; and although I know we must have conflict(!) the author does not take a cheap version of misunderstandings to create this tension. Instead, she draws from the character's backstory to find ways that are completely plausible rather than annoying. Do we think they will be together in the end? Will there ever be healing for Lane and her family relationships? Will Ryan ever be free of the stigma of his childhood, and will his business venture succeed? Probably, but how the author gets there is unusually well done.

I was provided a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Review of "True to You" by Becky Wade

This book is the first in the Bradford Sisters series, new from author Becky Wade. I have to say that I'm almost sorry I read this now, because I can't stand the fact that I will have to wait who-knows-how-long for the next two. :/

Middle sister Nora Bradford was engaged to a childhood friend, and then one day, she was not. Since then (several years ago) she has chosen to focus on her work, her family, and a fairytale world of books and a BBC television series - but she has completely closed herself off to the possibility of romantic happiness. She is certain that things are just fine this way, and tells herself that she is content. For the most part she is successful and really believes it, until she meets......

...former Navy SEAL John Lawson. Retired from the Navy, he owns an emergency training company, is a real-life successful hero, and has known for years that he was adopted. However, he has recently been diagnosed with an inherited condition. When John reaches out to Nora for her research experience, an instant connection is formed.

I can't count the number LOL's or satisfied sighs I experienced reading this book. I have no idea how many sweet moments (all without being cheesy, predictable, or over the top) this book has. All I can say is that it was real, interesting, funny, touching, hit appropriate emotional points, the pacing was perfect, it made me think, and truly, the characters only charmed - never frustrated or annoyed me. Nora is incredibly likeable, as are her sisters, so really, I can't wait another second for the next installment. Please hurry, Becky. :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Review of "Behind the Scenes" by Jen Turano

Have you ever read any of Jen Turano's books?? If you haven't, I have to tell you that you're totally missing out. I'm serious. They are all super funny - so imagine my excitement when the opportunity to review her first in the "Apart From the Crowd" series came up.

"Behind the Scenes" features Miss Permilia Griswold, the brilliant and very self sufficient daughter of an extremely wealthy mine owner. Her mother died when she was very young, and as an only child she traveled with her father on all of his adventures, ladylike or not. She has always anticipated inheriting and then running the business - utterly unheard of in 1883 - but her father surprises her. He decides to marry again, and that his new wife will teach her how to become a lady. Her stepmother introduces her into society, but is quite disappointed to find that Permilia has her own way of navigating the social set - and she quickly becomes a dreaded "Wallflower."

However, this is only the beginning of Permilia's adventures. She soon meets fashionable store owner Asher Rutherford, overhears a plot to assassinate him, and rescues him from an attempt on his life. The stepmother and stepsister are not kind; they think her odd and embarassing. Her progressive attitude (she is an heiress suffragette and regularly supports causes that promote women's education" is refreshing! Too many hijinks ensue to cover them all here... (and really, you wouldn't want me to, because it's more fun to read about them in the book!)

The author's whimsical and especially clever style shines through the character's dialogue, their names, and of course the wild plot lines, all of which are often laugh out loud funny. I've read all of Jen Turano's books; none of them will disappoint!

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review of "Deep Extraction" by DiAnn Mills

The second in the author's FBI Task Force series, "Deep Extraction" introduces us to FBI Agent Tori Templeton and Deputy US Marshall Cole Jeffers. They are both connected to the Moore family - Nathan Moore is a wealthy oil magnate who has recently been murdered. His wife Sally was a close college friend of Tori's, and prior to his death Nathan was a friend of Cole's. Is Nathan's death tied to a recent bombing of one of his oil rigs? Or is it more personal?

Both Tori and Cole are heavily invested in finding the truth and hope to remove Sally as a suspect. They quickly become frustrated when the investigation seems to go in a million different directions, and the bodies keep piling up. Complicating matters is Tori's partner Max who is not being himself; one the Moore teens is not immediately forthcoming with some important information, and it's clear that Nathan had some big secrets.

The mystery is well done (I had a tiny suspicion of who, but not a clear picture of how everything fit together until the very end). The "why" is more vague - very glossed over, even now that I have finished the book. I do think there are a lot of people who will love this book; yet the somewhat choppy style of the character's conversations isn't my personal preference. The dialogue doesn't always read as complete, and I found it challenging to follow. It felt like there were gaps, multiple times where things were left out. I went back to re-read certain sections and still did not find clarity. I also found very little chemistry between our two main characters. And to be fair I can't say exactly why, so again we will chalk that up to a preference. However, the action seems realistic and the topic is interesting.

Please check out the book trailer at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-0h2iT3pQg&feature=youtu.be

I was given a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.