Sunday, 24 November 2019

Whose Waves These Are

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/whose-waves-these-are/393240


Back Cover

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose...and rocks.  Its message?  Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving.  When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the harbor village on the coast of Maine, and he sets his callused hands to work.
 
Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when GrandBob, the man who gave her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is the one in need of help.  But what greets her is a mystery:  a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home.  Memories of stone ruins on a nearby island ignite a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.
 
Together with the handsome and enigmatic town postman, Annie uncovers the story layer by layer, yearning to resurrect the hope GrandBob once held so dear and to know the truth behind the chasm in her family's past.  But mending what has been broken for so long may require more of her and those she loves than they are prepared to give.

Review
 
With an artistic style, Amanda Dykes has penned a beautifully written story that is cross-generational and carried along by a wonderful cast of characters.  I fell in love with the writing and how the author deftly describes even the simplest of things.  For example, from the first page, the author is telling of a draft notice letter that has been received:
 
"It lies there on the red, paint-chipped kitchen table, like an old friend who has let himself in and put his feet up, the most natural thing in the world.
 
But it's anything but natural."
 
Carried along by the lyrical voice, the story leaps to life through the pages, unveiling an intriguing plot chapter by chapter, showing how the actions and events in the past can very well shape and guide the future.  It is a powerful reminder to not take lightly decisions we make today for the possible reactions and repercussions that could follow later on.  The heroine in the story, Annie Bliss, well knows that truth, as she fights the guilt of failure from a previous career decision.  Little does she know that GrandBob has also struggled with his own haunted memories.  But where GrandBob has found solace and a purpose, Annie has yet to find her.  But perhaps it can be discovered in the sleepy and quaint town of Ansel-by-the-Sea...
 
This novel was a breath of fresh air.  I so enjoyed the lovely prose and thought-provoking story.  Whose Waves These Are is a smashing debut novel for new author, Amanda Dykes.  I will be looking forward to her next work!
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Verity

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/verity/387060


Back Cover

After leaving England behind for anew life in the West Indies with her sisters, Verity Banning wants something to call her own.  Her affinity for animals inspires her to set up a business importing horses, as well as other goods in demand by the island residents.  However, when she arrives in the colonies to purchase her goods, unexpected news of Captain Duncan McKintrick awaits her - as does the captain's handsome brother, Ian, whose sympathies lie with the fledgling Patriot cause.
 
As the great-granddaughter of a British general and a friend to many Loyalists, Verity believed all she wanted was a peaceful resolution.  Yet both the Patriots and the impassioned Ian McKintrick are steadily laying claim to her heart.  When faced with the decision of what - and for whom - she will fight, can she set her feet upon a new path despite the danger that threatens to destroy her dreams?

Review
 
I had devoured the first book in this series, Keturah, not once, but twice in rapid succession.  Needless to say, I had rather high expectations for subsequent novels, and can safely say that Verity has more than lived up to those expectations!
 
The Banning women appear to have strong, independent spirits - and Verity is no exception.  When it comes to falling in love, they won't just fall in love with any man.  Rather, as Keturah's husband puts it, "They seek not a man to direct them or lord over them, but rather one who will stand beside them, celebrating their strengths".  Verity had found such a man in Captain Duncan McKintrick, but when tragedy strikes, Verity focuses her time and energy on importing horses and opening a successful tack store, hoping in time her sorrow would be assuaged.  It is through this venture that Verity meets Duncan's brother, Captain Ian McKintrick, and the two strike a business agreement with Ian delivering Verity's goods to Nevis. 
 
Not surprising, attraction blooms between Verity and Ian which is a balm to both of their hearts.  But politics and dangers from the past arise to threaten their relationship.  With each chapter, suspense and adventure continue to build, drawing on the unsettled political climate of the time.  Keturah had its own political tension through the locals on the island, but Verity builds on it globally as the Loyalists and Patriots are on the verge of the Revolutionary War.  Verity is more than just a romance or adventure story - it is an intriguing piece of historical fiction.  Like Keturah, I will be reading this one again....and waiting in eager anticipation for the third novel, Selah.

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

Beholding and Becoming

https://ruthchousimons.com/beholding-becoming/
 
Back Cover
 
You are in the process of becoming.  Every day is an opportunity to be shaped and formed by what moves your heart...drives your thoughts...captures your gaze.  Is it any wonder that where you direct your eyes and your heart matters in your day-to-day?
 
We become what we behold when we set our hearts and minds on Christ and His redemption story here in the details of our daily lives.  Not just on Sunday, not just on holidays, not just when extraordinarily hard or wonderful things happen...but today.
 
Bestselling author and artist Ruth Chou Simons invites you on a new journey to Beholding and Becoming.  With more than 850 pieces of intricate, original artwork, Ruth encourages you to elevate your gaze to the One who created all things.
 
 
 
Today is an opportunity for God to demonstrate His love and His faithfulness in the midst of your mundane.  No circumstance is too ordinary or too forgotten for Him to meet you there in worship.  His transforming grace turns your "everyday ordinary" into a holy place of becoming.
 
Review
 
What a beautiful, inspiring book!  Ruth Chou Simons pours her heart out onto the pages of Beholding and Becoming, urging fellow believers to consistently set our eyes upon the One who is worthy of all praise and glory.  And by having a heart full of worship in all that we do in every circumstance, we can abide in Christ and have a deeper relationship with our Savior. 
 
I devoured these pages in two sittings and each word left an impact on my heart and soul.  From appreciating His creation to eagerly awaiting until we are called to our true, heavenly home, a wide variety of opportunities for worship are covered, encompassing our greatest joys to the small, ordinary things that we do by rote every day.  I was equally challenged and encouraged in reading through this text, where the author's words are supplemented by awe-inspiring hymns of faith and thought-provoking Scripture words of truth.  Not to mention, the delightful and beautiful artwork on each and every page was a feast for the eyes.
 
This is a fantastic book, and one that I would highly recommend.  It is so timely in this day in age when the culture is all about "me, myself, and I" - something that has strongly affected believers as well.  It would be great for a women's book study or even singular study.  I know I'll be reading this one again and again...
 
 
 


Book has been provided courtesy of Harvest House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.


 

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Storm Rising

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/storm-rising/391480

Back Cover

Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets - and dangers - never before seen on earth.
 
Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team.  But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them.
 
Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most - freedom.  But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations.  Though both are haunted by secrets of the past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster.  However, the truth hidden in centuries - old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction.

Review

Wow.  What a non-stop, heart-pounding read!  Storm Rising definitely hit it out of the ballpark for an adrenaline junkie like myself (adrenaline junkie when it comes to books that is...).   Staying true to form, Ronie Kendig has written another fantastic military-adventure-suspense novel, pulling in characters from her previous books to round out an intriguing story.  Similar to Ronie's previous series, the "Tox Files",  Storm Rising centralizes around searching for an ancient artifact.  The journey takes readers around the world in a race to recover the artifact before it falls into dangerous hands.
 
Leif Metcalfe is a strong, male lead, but with some vulnerabilities.  Likewise, Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is the perfect female counterpart as she is one of the best of the best  - a spy and assassin who is known to do whatever it takes to get the job done.  The battle of wills between Leif and Iskra is akin to fireworks as each is equally determined to see their job through - no matter what the cost.  The intense sparks that shot between Leif and Iskra made for some entertaining reading!
 
I'm super excited for the start of this new series: "The Book of the Wars".  I could not stop reading Storm Rising, often losing sleep over reading one more chapter.  It ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I seriously cannot wait for the next instalment to be released.  March of 2020 can't come soon enough for this suspense lover!
 
 
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

A Reluctant Bride

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/a-reluctant-bride/394450


Back Cover
 
Living in London's poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins harbors little hope for a better life.  So when she's offered the opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees.  The journey abroad is her only prospect to escape a bleak future - both for herself and to help her sister, who's suffering in a workhouse.
 
Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves everything behind and takes to the sea to escape the pain of losing his family.  As the ship's surgeon, he's in charge of the passengers' welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be.  He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.
 
With hundreds of single men congregating along the shore of Vancouver Island, eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph miss their chance at true love, or will they overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?
 
Review
 
This was a really eye-opening read into the lives of the unfortunate living in London in the 1800s.  It is absolutely sickening the abysmal conditions that they were forced to live in.  I realize poverty has always been a part of society and always will, but it doesn't make it any less shocking.
 
A Reluctant Bride is based on historical events whereby bride ships full of eligible, single women sailed from London to British Columbia to become wives of the single, lonely men who lived on the Island.  For most of the women, it was a symbol of a fresh start, a new beginning, and hope for a better life.  For Mercy Wilkins, who was under the impression that she was going to be finding a new job, not a new husband when the ship docked, she is desperate not to cause any trouble on the voyage in order to ensure safe passage for her sister.  However, the journey quickly becomes one of the unexpected as she partners with ship's handsome doctor to tend to the passengers.  Her emotions become the best of her, and her heart quickly becomes intertwined with that of the doctor's - jeopardizing both of their reputations. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Jody Hedlund's attention to detail in her beautiful telling of the history of the bride ships.  I couldn't imagine having to live in such poverty with the only escape was to marry a complete stranger!  I can't help but have a lot of respect for the women on the bride ships and for the courage they displayed.  Their story is not one to be missed, and I highly recommend A Reluctant Bride to historical fiction lovers.

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

Monday, 14 October 2019

Between Two Shores



Back Cover

She has always moved between worlds, but now she must choose a side.

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral in a world tearing itself apart.  Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the Seven Years' War against her wishes when her British ex-fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father.  Samuel claims he has information that could help end the war, and he asks Catherine to help him escape.

Peace appeals to Catherine, even if helping the man who broke her heart does not.  But New France is starving, and she and her loved ones may not survive another winter of conflict-induced famine.  When the dangers of war arrive on her doorstep, Catherine and Samuel flee by river toward the epicenter of the battle between England and France.  She and Samuel may impact history, but she fears the ultimate cost will be higher than she can bear.

Review

Oh boy.  What a read!  I love, love Jocelyn Green's historical fiction.  The detailed research she undergoes for each novel is widely evident from the first page.  I'm always blown away by the intricacies of her plots and the depth of her characters. 
 
Set in my native country of Canada, Between Two Shores takes place during a very turbulent time in Canadian history as the French and British fought over who would control the territory.  The French enlisted the help of many of the Mohawk warriors in their fight against the British, even going so far as to pay for the scalps of British immigrants who called the area their home.  The British were equally brutal in their battle tactics in their massacres of Indian villages.  Thus went on the bitter Seven Years' War which divided many families and friends and decimated numerous lives.
 
As set out in the back cover description above, Between Two Shores centres around Catherine Duval, a strong woman caught between two cultures - two different peoples she calls her own.  As she tries to maintain relationships with one side, the other suffers.  She feels like a nation divided, not unlike her native country at the time.  As such, Catherine tries her best to be neutral, both in the war, and in her own life.  But in the end, no one can remain completely neutral.  A side must be chosen, and each chapter in the novel leads up to the climatic question: Which side will it be? 
 
Encapsulating the tension of the time, Jocelyn Green crafted a riveting novel that was difficult to put down.  It was full of heartache and despair, war and trauma, and yet held together with a thread of hope.  Hope for humanity in the middle of a wretched war, hope for fractured relationships, and hope in a heavenly Father who holds the whole world in His hands.      


Book has been provided courtesy of Harvest House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

Sunday, 22 September 2019

A Bound Heart



Back Cover

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera.  Lark is just the keeper of his bees - and the woman who could provide an elixir to help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir.  But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic.  Can they make new beginnings in this New World?  Or will their hopes be dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony?

Laura Frantz's prose sparkles with authenticity as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in colonial America.

Review

Sigh.  What a sweeping and swoon-worthy story!  Full of drama, hardships, forbidden love, and desperate circumstances, A Bound Heart swept me off my feet and kept my head in the clouds.  Set in the oft-romanticized setting of Scotland full of brawny men, fair maidens, and an awe-inspiring landscapes with sandy shores and rocky cliff sides that get beaten by storm-tossed waves...

...Yes, I may have fallen in love with Scotland through the reading of this novel and dearly hope to explore its beautiful land and rich history someday!

Back to the story...the characters in the novel become as storm-tossed as the sea itself as through a series of terrible events, Magnus and Lark are forced to leave all that they know and love to undertake a dangerous sea crossing to an unknown life in a wild and untamed country.  They struggle to hold fast to their faith and the budding affections between them for strength.  At times it appears their very lives are doomed, and I, as a reader, devoured every word breathlessly until the last page.  

A Bound Heart was a fantastic read, of which I'll be revising very soon as reading it just once isn't enough!

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

Living Lies


Back Cover

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name - but no one knows your secret.

At least that's what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son.  Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope.  What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton's newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder.  But when that truth hits too close to home, she'll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

Review

What a great first novel in a new series, "Harbored Secrets"!  Complemented by a wonderful, and very likeable, cast of characters, Living Lies is a suspenseful mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.  Natalie Waters has crafted a story combining all my favourite elements: suspense, mystery, and romance.  She does an excellent job at keeping the "who" and "why" under wraps until the climax, making it difficult to put the book down!  

One of the other central themes to this novel is what society often considers a "taboo" topic: depression.  Depression is very real and affects more people that one would realize.  It is more than likely that everyone knows someone who has struggled with depression.  Natalie Waters handled the topic very tactfully, and gave a strong emphasis on how much we need to be there for our friends and loved ones, be an example of Jesus love through thick and thin.  

With such a great start to a new series, I'm super excited to know that the second book is coming out very soon - November 2019!  Some fall/winter reading to look forward to!


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


Sunday, 11 August 2019

Flight of the Raven

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/flight-of-the-raven/393030
 
Back Cover
 
Selene Ravenwood, once the heir to House Ravenwood, is now an exile.  On the run and free of her family's destiny, Selene hopes to find the real reason her family was given the gift of dreamwalking.  But first, she must adapt to her new role as wife to Lord Damien Maris, the man she was originally assigned to kill.
 
While adjusting to her marriage and her home in the north, her power over dreams begins to grow.  As the strongest dreamwalker to exist in ages, her expanding power attracts not only nightmares but the attention of the Dark Lady herself.
 
With a war looming on the horizon and a wicked being after her gift, Selene is faced with a choice: accept the Dark Lady's offer or search out the one who gave her the gift of dreamwalking.  One path offers power, the other freedom.  But time is running out, and if she doesn't choose soon, her decision will be made for her.
 
Review
 
WOW.  Rarely does a second novel live up to the expectations of an amazing debut novel, but I have to say, Flight of the Raven is a smashing success!  Following on the heels of Mark of the Raven, where Lady Selene made a shocking decision to align herself with Lord Damien, this sequel follows Lady Selene as she enters into a new phase of her life as wife to Lord Damien, whose kingdom is perceived an enemy to House Ravenwood.  Lady Selene is still uncertain why his kingdom is such a threat and how it all ties into her family's gift of dreamwalking.  She still cannot reason the purpose behind the dreamwalking gift.  Her immediate ancestors, even her mother, had been utilizing the gift in a cruel and evil way - was it possible the gift can be used for good?
 
As Lady Selene tries to dig deeper into the history of her gift, it is clear that the origins of it have been keep shrouded in mystery.  Ancient tomes of knowledge shed hardly any light on the matter, and she begins having horrid nightmares of being chased by the Dark Lady.  She can't help but wonder: Will the darkness be something she can escape?  Or is it her destiny?  And what of Lord Damien?  Will he yet still be harmed by her and her gift?  Will the affection that begins to grow between them be quickly extinguished?
 
The saddest thing about this book was that it had to come to an end...I literally devoured each and every page.  I will be counting down the days to when the third book comes out in February 2020.  Until then, I will most likely be re-reading the first two novels once or twice...

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



The Number of Love

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-number-of-love/391570

Back Cover
 
Three years into the Great War, England's greatest asset is their intelligence network - field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack German telegrams for hints of the enemy's plans.  Margo De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages.  But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, she discovers for the first time in her life that numbers aren't enough.
 
Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy who just won't give up.  He's smitten quickly by the quick and brainy Margot, but soon the dangers of the war draw ever closer.  Margot and Drake will have to team up to save themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.
 
Review
 
Roseanna M. White's newest series, "The Codebreakers" centralizes around England's "Room 40", a place that was shrouded in mystery during the Great War, and very much remains the same today.  Arguably one of the most integral parts to fighting the Great War, Room 40 was filled with brilliant minds who quickly see patterns and hidden messages not easily picked out by the average person. 
 
Margot De Wilde is one of those gifted individuals.  She was introduced in Book 2 of "Shadows over England" series (A Song Unheard) and I was thrilled to know that she would have her own story.  Margot is a brilliant and complex young lady, preferring her books and puzzles to parties and people.  She can easily be over-stimulated in public settings and is constantly noticing patterns and numbers whether it is the number of bricks in a building or buttons on a blouse.  Margot is definitely not your average girl who fills their head with the newest fashion designs and lipstick trends.
 
Drake Elton, being an intelligence officer, is no slouch either.  Oftentimes, he must rely upon his wits in order to keep him alive.  It's no surprise that he is instantly taken with Margot, whose amazing mind equally matches her beautiful face.  What he is surprised by, is how danger seems to be following him home, making him fearful for not only the outcome of his mission, but for the safety of those he loves.
 
The Number of Love is not a fast-paced suspense novel, but a fascinating historical piece interspersed with romance.  It is clear that the author puts in a lot of research into each and every one of her novels, and never fails to jam as many interesting facts as possible in each story.  I so enjoyed this story and cannot wait until the next book, On Wings of Devotion, comes out in January 2020!  (That will be a fabulous way to kick off the new year!)


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

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.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Shelter of the Most High

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/shelter-of-the-most-high/386040

Back Cover

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean.  But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kadesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him.  He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot.  Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

Review

I think it is impossible for Connilyn Cossette to pen a bad novel.  I've absolutely fallen in love with every single book of hers that I've read! She has quickly become one of my favourite all-time authors, and the absolute best at writing Biblical fiction. Her historical knowledge and beautiful writing style bring the Biblical times to life like no other.  When reading her books, I can almost smell the salty sea, or feel the wind in my hair, and experience the blistering heat of the sun. 

The setting aside, each novel has a unique dramatization of either a Biblical event (such as the exodus from Egypt shown in her previous series, "Out from Egypt"), or a completely different story set in a Biblical time period such as this current series, "Cities of Refuge".  While there is no Sofea or Eitan in the Bible, a story such as theirs feels incredibly plausible, and I wouldn't be surprised if something similar actually happened in history. 
 
The story had all of my favourite elements.  Shelter of the Most High was exciting and suspenseful, with the threat of danger looming at every corner.  The big question was, "When would Eitan ever be freed from the sins of his past?"  It felt like spies were everywhere, and Eitan's home had become more of a prison than a refuge.  
 
Eitan and Sofea's journey was also inspiring as the faith of Eitan's step-mother, Moriyah (who we met in the first book of the series, A Light on the Hill) is strong and unshakeable, even in the face of evil.  When trouble arose, she instantly prayed - a good reminder to all to "Cast our cares on Him for He cares for you". 
 
The story also induced some lovely sigh-worthy moments as Eitan falls in love with Sofea and seeks out ways to overcome their language barriers to express his love and devotion to her.  
 
Shelter of the Most High was a fantastic read, and one that I quickly devoured.  I found myself constantly making excuses to put other tasks aside so I could read just "a little bit more"!  The third book cannot come soon enough! 


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

Mind Games

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/mind-games/391490

Back Cover

FBI Behavioral Analyst Kaely Quinn's methods may be highly unorthodox, but her talent is undeniable.  She's done her best to establish a new life for herself after being demoted and transferred to St. Louis when a reporter revealed she's the daughter of an infamous serial killer.  But when that same reporter claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely's, it seems her old life has followed her.
 
When a body is found that fits the poem's morbid predictions, Kaely and her new partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, are forced to move past his skepticism of her approach and work together to unravel the deadly riddle. 
 
With a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely must race to catch the murderer before anyone else, including Kaely, is killed.
 
Review
 
What a chilling read!  The cover and title of this book say it all as Mind Games takes the reader along a twisted ride into the dark mind of a serial killer who has their sights firmly fixed upon Kaely and her demise.  The initial killings are seemingly random, creating panic in trying to predict where the killer will hit next.  Suspense builds with each page until it reaches a thrilling climax and an incredible plot twist.  This was truly one of the best suspense novels I have read, but be forewarned: Mind Games is not for the faint of heart.  Even just the fact that Kaely's father was a serial killer (and how that would have impacted Kaely emotionally and psychologically growing up) is a dark and disturbing element. 
 
I'm excited to see that this is the start of a new series and will be eagerly anticipating book two, Fire Storm, scheduled to come out in August 2019!
 
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A Secret to Die For

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/a-secret-to-die-for/387480




Back Cover

Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret - and a target on her back.

When one of her clients is murdered, Grace quickly realizes that computer security specialist Stephen Shaw wasn't suffering from paranoia.  What she doesn't know is that someone believes Shaw gave her a vital piece of information before he died - and they are ready to silence her at any cost.  Her only hope may be an old friend, Detective Nate Quinn, who has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed his partner and left him dealing with PTSD.

With her signature pulse-pounding suspense, bestselling author Lisa Harris takes you deep into the heart of fear in this race against the clock.

Review

Lisa Harris delivers a fast-pace suspense novel showcasing a threat that has the strong potential to become all too real in today's day and age.  I don't want to completely give away the plot of the novel, but will drop this hint:  we live in an era whereby a large chunk of this world is driven by technology, and if that technology is threatened, it would spell utter chaos for everyone it affects.   

The female lead in A Secret to Die For, Grace Callahan, doesn't fully realize what she's been pulled into when someone breaks into her house.  After a harrowing escape and a surprise reunion with Detective Nate Quinn, Grace's life embarks on the most terrifying adventure as she attempts to dodge the dangerous men coming after her while trying to find out the truth of what they want before it's too late.

A Secret to Die For is thrilling and exciting, and would make a perfect addition to the suspense lover's library.   




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