Sunday, 24 November 2019

Whose Waves These Are

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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.

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.


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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?

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
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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.
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

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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.


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

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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?
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.