Tuesday, 13 July 2021

A Tapestry of Light



 
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In 1886 Calcutta, Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither.  In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon the skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger named Everett Scott appears with news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light.  Despite her growing friendship with Everett, friend to Ottilie's English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her bother.  Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn't forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in a cold, foreign land.

Review

A Tapestry of Light is a sweeping historical novel that crosses two countries to bring a moving story of love, loss, faith, and belonging. In beautiful prose, the author tells the story of Ottilie Russell, who has encountered so much loss in her life that her faith is near shattered. For the sake of her younger brother, Thaddeus, she embarks on a journey to England where she is faced with racial prejudice from London society and her extended family. Feeling forced to forsake her heritage and familial connections, Ottilie begins a journey of finding herself and discovering her true worth.  She finds comfort within her talents in beetle-wing embroidery, a skill that had been passed down to her by her mother and grandmother. With each stitch, she brings herself one step closer to becoming socially independent and discovers that God isn't nearly as far away as she thought Him to be.

An absolutely beautiful story, A Tapestry of Light has become one of my all-time favourite novels. Highly recommend!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

A Dance in Donegal


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All her life, Boston-born Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of the Emerald Isle. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira is compelled to fulfill her dying wish - that she become the teacher at Ballymann, the beloved village in Donegal, Ireland, she's heard so much about.

After an arduous voyage, Moira begins a challenging new job in an unfamiliar and ancient country. Through a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira's mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she's journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends - and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced - as she seeks to navigate a life she'd never dreamed of...but perhaps was meant to live.

Review

Jennifer Deibel literally picks up a reader and plunks them straight into the story, complete with rich descriptions of setting and characters. A Dance in Donegal has a sweet romance, but it isn't all that. The main story is about Moira finding herself and discovering the truth regarding the persistent mystery shrouding her mother's time in Donegal. Throughout the story, Moira's presence in Donegal is dogged by shadowy rumors and whispers of scandal surrounding her mother. While Moira truly wants to know the truth, while at the same time, she is apprehensive in learning of what the truth may be. What if it's truly scandalous? would it forever change her affections and memories towards her deceased mother? Through it all, she finds herself falling for the attractive local thatcher, Sean, who is quick to help her settle into her new role as schoolteacher in any way that he can.

With intriguing details about life in a small-town village in Ireland, A Dance in Donegal will appeal to lovers of historical fiction.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  



Thursday, 24 June 2021

When Twilight Breaks

 


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Munich, 1938

Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line.  If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country - or worse.  If she does not report truthfully, she'll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home.

Peter Lang is an American graduate student working on his PhD in German.  Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society.  But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party - to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.

As the world marches relentlessly toward war, Evelyn and Peter are on a collision course with destiny.

Review

Wow.  When Twilight Breaks is one of the best historical - and World World II - novels I have read - and I've read a lot!  It offers a fascinating storyline with compelling characters set in a very turbulent time in history.  In the story there were facts about the Nazi regime that I had never heard of before that especially highlighted the gradual tightening of control and oppression towards the Jewish people. The close censorship of news was eye-opening and the terror felt during that time was clearly expressed on the pages of this book.  A suspenseful and moving read, When Twilight Breaks is a must read for lovers of historical fiction.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

The Way It Should Be


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After years of estrangement, the lives of Zara Mahoney and her twin sister, Eve, are suddenly intertwined again.  When Eve's troubled lifestyle causes the state to contract Zara about taking custody of Eve's two children, Zara feels wholly unprepared.  Besides never knowing she was an aunt, her new house, new husband, and plans for the future were meant to give her a fresh start.

Meanwhile, Eve may have a real chance at a new beginning with the help of Tiff Bradley, who, after facing a heartbreaking tragedy in her own family, is dedicated to helping women everyone has given up on.

Over the course of one summer, all three women's hearts and lives hang in the balance as Eve desperately works toward a new life.  Can they redefine their expectations of how life should be to find the hope they - and those they love - so desperately need?

Review

Christina Suzann Nelson has a remarkable talent for creating an original storyline and down-to-earth characters you really want to root for.  I loved her novel, More Than We Remember and equally enjoyed The Way it Should Be. I would never hesitate to buy one of her books!

This novel is an story about the lives of three different women and how through an interesting turn of events, they become intricately connected.  Zara, Eve, and Tiff have all encountered tragedy, and are going through hardships that have impacted or are currently impacting their immediate relationships. For Zara, she has been estranged from Eve for a number of years by her own choice. Eve feels trapped in the web of addiction, but desperately loves her children and wants only the best for them. Tiff walks through the depths of sorrow over the tragic loss of her daughter, causing a deep rift between her and her husband and son. You can't help but feel enormous empathy for each woman, especially realizing that their stories probably ring with more truth than fiction. 

One thing I really enjoyed was how the writer did the narrative of the story.  For two of the women, Zara and Tiff, it is written through third person narrative.  But for Eve, it is written through first person narrative through her journal entries.  It provided a unique style of writing to combine all points of views and provided a wonderful depth to the stories.

In all, I loved this story and can't wait to see more books from Christina!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Blackberry Beach

 

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Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted - fame, money, and acclaim.  So why isn't she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she'll be able to clam the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss - and he has no plans to change the life he's created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. As their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected...and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

Review

Blackberry Beach is another winning novel by Irene Hannon that treats the reader to not one, but two sweet romances. The main romance is the one between Katherine Parker and Zach Garrett. It comes as an unexpected surprise for both individuals when they find themselves hopelessly attracted to each other. The attraction turns into a swoon-worthy read as Katherine and Zach try to navigate a realm of "what-ifs" and "maybes" when it comes to the possibility of being together. 

Meanwhile, Zach's Aunt Stephanie, recently retired from the fast-paced corporate world, finds herself drawn to Frank, a kind, albeit, withdrawn widower who works in Zach's coffee shop. 

For both sets of couples, compromises would need to be made in order to give wings to the budding relationships. And therein lies a beautiful novel that I will read again and again. 

Irene Hannon's "Hope Harbor" series is such a breath of fresh air as each story brings the reader into a lovely seaside town full of wonderful people with big hearts for God and each other.  Irene is a master with the written words, creating characters with depth and realism, and a story that always warms the heart. I look forward to many more adventures in Hope Harbor.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Unknown Threat

 


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US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive.  Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks.  Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He and his team are experts at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she's assigned.  She's been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke's life in danger, the stakes have never been higher.  But it's hard to know how to fight back when you don't know who the enemy is.

Luke has teamed up with Faith before, but he's not convinced she's up for the job and she's not convinced he's telling her everything he knows. As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to learn tot rust each other and work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining  their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

Review

Unknown Threat is a fast-paced thrill ride that doesn't let up until the final page. It was an intriguing look into the world of Secret Service Agents, and I never knew they had such a wide scope of duties! 

The author did a brilliant job of crafting a suspenseful story where it felt no one was safe from the assassin.  My only wish would be that there were a few more clues, or bread crumbs, along the way to hint at the ending. I felt like there was such a huge reveal at the climax that required a lot of explanation into the "who, what, why". Other than that, what a smashing start to the new "Defend and Protect" series for Lynn H. Blackburn.  I became a huge fan of hers with her "Dive Team Investigations" series and was pleasantly surprised over the inclusion of a few characters from that series in Unknown Threat

Looking forward to the second book in this series!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Monday, 15 March 2021

All That We Carried

 


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Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident.  They haven't seen each other since the funeral.  Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world - what you see is what you get, and that's all you get.  Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life coaching business around her DIY spirituality - a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie's insistence (and against Olivia's better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  In this remote wilderness they'll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way forward is the one way they had never considered.

Review

All That We Carried is a moving story about two estranged sisters on a hiking trip of a lifetime.  Both broken by the tragic deaths of their parents, they've been trying to cope in their own unique ways, yearning for healing amidst the grief. Their past separated them, but ends up bringing them together as they explore the Porcupine Mountains for a chance to reestablish a sisterly connection. 

I was greatly touched by this story as it is an equally emotional and spiritual experience. As a reader peeking into these two sisters' lives, you want nothing more than to erase the hidden hurts and restore their relationship.  Melanie and Olivia are very real, very down-to-earth characters that are struggling with the circumstances of their parents' deaths and the resulting consequences of it. The only thing I would have wished to see more is a stronger resolution to their spiritual journey ending in the hope to be found in Jesus.  I also have questions about a mysterious character in the story, but perhaps the ambiguity of the individual is also part of the enthralling nature of the story.  Not all ends are tied up in a neat bow, but that is where the reader's imagination can take over.

I truly loved this beautiful story!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.