Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-curse-of-misty-wayfair/387110

Back Cover

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.
 
Review
 
Suspenseful?  Check.  Thrilling?  Check.  Creepy?  Check.  Read with the lights on?  Double-check.
 
The Curse of Misty Wayfair is another exciting read penned by Jaime Jo Wright, who has two other similarly written stories on the market.  They are all stand-alones, but if you are a fan of a suspenseful, slightly creepy read that spans the present and the past, I highly recommend that you read them.
 
This novel in particular is so jam-packed with various historical tidbits such as post-mortem photography, mental asylums, and how superstition can grip not only a person, but a whole town.  As Thea Reed attempts to uncover the secrets of her past, she discovers that facts are shrouded with curses and superstition, making it difficult to find the truth.  In her quest, she unwittingly stumbles upon deadly secrets over which someone will do whatever it takes to keep buried.
 
In present day, Heidi Lane also embarks on a journey into her past, made all the more difficult when she encounters the same superstition that Thea Reed battled many years before.  Through it all, Heidi struggles with knowing what to believe and battling her deepest fear that she is going crazy. 
 
The Curse of Misty Wayfair will grab you from the first page.  I read this book in record time (and then wished I hadn't so I could read yet some more!).  I've thoroughly enjoyed each one of Jaime Jo Wright's books and highly recommend them all for suspense lovers. 
 
 

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

A Desperate Hope

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/a-desperate-hope/391970

Back Cover
 
Eloise Drake's prim demeanour hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her.  A mathematical genius, she's now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York.  But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartache.
 
Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map.  The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition.  With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town - but he needs Eloise's help to succeed.
 
Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he'd lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.
 
Review
 
Every single book of Elizabeth Camden's that I've read, I have loved - and A Desperate Hope is no exception. 
 
Highlighting another member of the Drake family, A Desperate Hope follows Eloise Drake, an incredibly smart young woman who loves her job and is determined to make her own way in the world.  However, when she is advised she will be sent to Duval Springs to assist in demolition of the town, her love for her job battles with her desire to forever lock away memories of her past with Alex Duval.  When it becomes clear she has no choice but to go with the demolition team to Duval Springs in order to keep her job, she reluctantly packs a suitcase and braces herself for the impending encounter with Alex.  Her orderly, prim personality instantly clashes with Alex's passionate character, awakening forbidden memories and longings she believed were safely buried away.
 
Over the course of the story, there are constant tensions between Eloise and Alex, Eloise and her guardian, Eloise and the townspeople, and Eloise and her boss, who is also a potential suitor.  All the tension threatens to spin Eloise's carefully ordered life out of control, and she struggles between wanting to do her job, and desiring to help a town that she once was enthralled with.  In the midst of all the inner turmoil, danger dogs at Eloise's footsteps, and she is perplexed at who would do her harm.
 
Alex has his own struggles in being torn between his loyalty for his townspeople and his love for Eloise.  He desperately wants both, but has a difficult time in seeing how it can all be possible without someone being hurt in the process.
 
With romance, danger, and wonderful historical detail, A Desperate Hope was an engaging read that I thoroughly enjoyed. 
 
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Bride of Ivy Green

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-bride-of-ivy-green/376580

Back Cover
 
Spring is in the air...and change is too.  Mercy Grove has lost her girls' school and is resigned to life as a spinster, especially as the man she admires is out of reach.  She contemplates leaving Ivy Cottage to become a governess - a decision with consequences she never imagined.
 
Meanwhile, her friend Jane Bell is facing a difficult decision of her own.  Should she accept Gabriel Locke even if it means giving up her inn and destining another man to a childless marriage?
 
When a secretive new dressmaker arrives in the village, Mercy, Jane, and the other ladies of Ivy Hill attempt to befriend her, but they soon suspect she isn't who she claims to be.
 
Together the women of Ivy Hill look forward to one wedding, but surprises lie in store and dearly held dreams may yet come true.

Review

In Jane Austen style, Julie Klassen has written another lovely novel filled with sweet romance, supportive friendships, abiding faith, and a touch of mystery.  Mercy Grove is easily the main female character in this novel, but her friends, Rachel and Jane, make up a great supportive cast with their own interwoven side stories.  The Bride of Ivy Green is by no means a fast-paced novel, proceeding more like a leisurely stroll, inviting the reader to pause, take a breath, and just enjoy the simplicity of life in Ivy Hill.  I will be the first to say that I greatly enjoy a thrilling suspense novel, but in a world run by a fast-paced culture, it is like taking a holiday to be able to sit back and relax to a sweetly written novel that is more about the characters and their development then whipping through the story. 
 
I am sad to see that this is the final book in "Tales from Ivy Hill", but am quite happy with the satisfying endings for all of the characters.  Successfully tying up all the characters that have made their way through the "Tales from Ivy Hill" books is no small feat, and I applaud Ms. Klassen for accomplishing it with such ease.  I am excited to see what is next for Ms. Klassen, full well knowing that her next work will be another fabulous read.


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

Mark of the Raven

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/mark-of-the-raven/392670

Back Cover

Lady Selene is heir to the House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking.  As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person's dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires.  Soon after the gifting, however, Selene discovers that the Ravenwood women have been secretly using their gift to gather information or to assassinate those responsible for the fall of House Ravenwood to the Dominia Empire hundreds of years ago.
 
As she becomes more entrenched in Ravenwood's dark past, Selene longs to find out the true reason behind her family's gift, believing that its original intent could not have been for such evil purposes, but she is torn about upholding her family's legacy - a legacy that supports her people.  Selene's dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations - but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house. 
 
One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood.  The other path holds shame and likely death.  Which will she choose?  And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?
 
Review
 
I find fantasy novels can be very hit and miss.  Either the author re-writes the same story that has been written so many times over, or creates a story so "original" or different, that it is difficult to follow or engage in as the world system is so complex and/or there are way too many main characters and plots that as a reader, you feel you need some sort of map or encyclopedia to the story in order to follow along. 
 
However, I can safely say that Mark of the Raven hits the ball out of the park.  The storyline is perfectly unique, and for a lack of better term, so utterly cool.  As I was reading the book, all of my expectations were blown away by the originality of the plot, the ease of following the plot, awesome characters, and the detailed setting.  Mark of the Raven is the perfect adventure story with a kick-butt female lead, strong male counterpart, classic battle of good v. evil, family tensions, impossible choices, and special "secret" gifts. 
 
The back cover of the book gives a great synopsis without giving much away, so rather than run the risk of giving any spoilers, I will not add to it.  All I can say is this: Mark of the Raven was awesome read.  I cannot wait for the second book!!
 
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
 

In Too Deep

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/in-too-deep/388960

Back Cover

When the Carrington County Sheriff's Office dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren't prepared to find an encrypted laptop - or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.
 
Adam turns to his friend, Dr. Sabrina Fleming to recover the files from the laptop.  But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes.  When evidence implicates members of Adam's own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case. 
 
The truth could set hundreds free - but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets.

Review

Book two in "Dive Team Investigations", In Too Deep follows a similar format to its predecessor, Beneath the Surface in delivering a fast-paced mystery and a thrilling climax.

The world of computer forensics is fascinating - and not one usually highlighted in mystery novels, as DNA forensics usually takes the forefront in the fictional world of investigations.  I really enjoyed the fun character of Dr. Sabrina Fleming, a superhero buff that wears converse sneakers, drives a Mini Cooper, and lives in a tiny home.  But behind her quirky persona, she is a genius and a whiz with computers.  No matter how locked up a computer drive is, or how damaged, she always is able to draw some clue, some secret from its database.  She is the go-to expert for the dive team, much to Adam Campbell's pleasure as he secretly admires her.

In Too Deep was the perfect mash-up of suspense and romance.  I was hooked from the first page and really wished it was longer!  Fans of Christian suspense will not be disappointed.  The final instalment to the series, One Final Breath, comes out September 3, 2019 - I cannot wait!!



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

Sunday, 5 May 2019

We Hope for Better Things

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/we-hope-for-better-things/391360

Back Cover

When journalist Elizabeth Balsam is asked to deliver a box of old photos to a relative she didn't know she had, the strange request seems like it isn't worth her time.  But as soon as she explores her great-aunt's farmhouse with its locked doors and hidden graves, she soon discovers just how dramatically some of the most newsworthy events of the previous two centuries shaped her own family.  As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage inn the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding.

Take an emotional journey through time - from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to Michigan's Underground Railroad during the Civil War - to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Review

Wow.  Just wow.  Erin Bartels has crafted an engrossing novel that crosses time periods to highlight the stories of three generations of women their struggles against racism.  Erin Bartels captures the pain, hopelessness, and despair when hatred consumes a person or nation.  But in so doing, she also embodies the strength, character, and boldness of those willing to fight against injustice. 
 
We Hope for Better Things is also about love.  Love that is forbidden in different ways for different reasons - in one way forbidden unjustly and in another way rightly so.  And chapter by chapter, the story delves into the results and consequences of those actions and decisions, some such consequences being utterly heart-breaking.
 
One of my favourite aspects about this novel is the way in which the author wrote it.  It is like a large puzzle with the facts and events of the history of the characters being put together piece by piece until the full story unfurls at the end with a few startling revelations.  I don't want to go too deeply into the story for in so doing I would undoubtedly give much away, but I would urge anyone who appreciates historical novels to pick up We Hope for Better Things.  Yes, it is sad at times, and the characters do not always make the right decisions.  But We Hope for Better Things is equally engaging and thought-provoking, resulting in a story that will stick with you for many days to follow.
 
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Made for the Journey

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/made-for-the-journey/262491

Back Cover

In this deeply personal account of her first year as a missionary, Elisabeth Elliot shares the challenges she faced as she worked in the jungles of Ecuador to bring the Word of God to a people virtually untouched by the outside world.  With fascinating detail, she captures the stark realities of life in the jungle, the difficulties she encountered while developing a written language for the tribe, and her confusion when God didn't "cooperate" with her efforts to accomplish what she believed was His will.
 
More than just a memoir, Made for the Journey is a beautifully crafted and deeply personal reflection on the important questions of life and a remarkable testimony to authentic Christian obedience to an unfathomable God.

Review

So the next time you ever hear me complaining about anything at all...remind me of Elisabeth Elliot's first year as a missionary.  The strength and fortitude she displayed is awe-inspiring.  The impossible odds and despairing circumstances she went through would have sent many weaker individuals running for the hills (or out of the hills in this case...).  Each chapter in this book highlighted another difficulty.  From wretched living conditions (cockroaches, snakes, leaky roofs, bats "hanging out" above the beds...), constant obstacles to transcribe the Colorado language, to doubts of life's direction - it was a tumultuous year for Elisabeth.  But through it all, Elisabeth ultimately trusted in her heavenly Father, the one who brought her into Ecuador and unmistakably had a purpose for her time among the Colorado natives.  
 
The overarching theme of the book was God has a plan and purpose for our lives.  While in the midst of difficult circumstances it can be hard to see how there could ever be good that arises out of evil, we are promised that "God works all things for good for those who love Him".  It may be that we never see the full, amazing plan in our lifetime.  It is not something to despair over, but take hope in that whenever we are following God's will, no matter what 'small part' we are doing, God uses it all for His glory.
 
An amazing book and one I highly recommend!


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