Review of Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher   Leave a comment

 

After three years on a whaling voyage, Henry Macy returns to Nantucket to news that his grandmother has passed, bequeathing her vast fortune to him and his sister, Hitty. And it was truly vast. But Lillian Coffin was no fool. The inheritance comes with a steep cost, including when they should marry and whom–a Quaker in good standing, of course. But if they relinquish the inheritance, it all goes to Tristram Macy, their father’s thieving business partner.

As Hitty and Henry seek a way to satisfy the will’s conditions, they’ll be faced with obstacles on every side–and it may be that Lillian Coffin will have the last word after all.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher surprises and delights with this story of hope and renewal, love and redemption, arriving just when most needed.

***

This is the third book in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Nantucket Legacy series, which focuses on the Quakers of Nantucket. While I know I’m missing out on a lot of backstory to the characters, I had no problems getting into the book. It’s a well-written and thoroughly enjoyable story, actually becoming the cozy read I was looking for. It was interesting watching how Henry and Hitty both adjust to suddenly becoming wealthy. Hitty is absolutely against it. Wealth, to her, corrupts, and she has no interest in changing her simple lifestyle. She works at the Cent School and moons over a quiet single father who seems to take little notice of her. Moving into her grandmother’s big house feels like moving into prison, and the fortune her grandmother’s chains.

Henry on the other hand, sees the situation differently. He’s always been a man who’s taken long to make up his own mind. It’s why his romance with Anna Gardner has been stagnant all those years. But now, it’s like a light bulb turned on. Even though his grandmother’s fortune comes with strings designed to control their lives from even beyond the grave, Henry has an idea to thwart it and use his grandmother’s wealth to benefit the people in Nantucket. But learning to use the wealth comes with problems of its own.

I really enjoyed the characters in the story. All of them were well-developed, although I will probably forever hold a grudge against Hitty. Anyone who views reading as boring and worse, cuts up a book with scissors, earns them no brownie points with me. 😛 But I digress.

While the story is light, it does touch on the issues of segregation and religious differences, and how they could divide neighbor against neighbor. I loved the messages found inside the book. Of how you shouldn’t underestimate a person’s value or sacrifice your calling to try to match other people’s expectations. And most importantly, seeking God’s Light and letting Him lead you in life.

Verdict: A solid story with great characters and heart. Buy immediately.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Advertisements

Review of A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson   Leave a comment

 

 

Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

***

Hello, folks! I know, look who’s back. 😛 And with another book review. 😀

As those of who have been following my blog know, I like to occasionally go outside my preferred genre of fantasy and Biblical fiction to try something different and experience a new setting. When I saw Liz Johnson’s work “A Sparkle of Silver” advertised as a comfy mystery romance, I thought to myself “why not?” and decided to give it a try.

Millie Sullivan is a girl who’s struggling to make it one day at a time and juggle finances to keep her grandmother, who is struggling with dementia, housed in a nursing home. Then she is faced with the horrible reality of her grandmother being evicted unless she can come up with the funds necessary to get her a better place. She has zero prospects of that happening until during one of Grandma Joy’s lucid moments, finds out from the woman about a lost diary from her great-grandmother that holds the clues to a lost treasure. Armed with this knowledge, she immediately seeks employment at the local Chateau where Grandma Joy believes it to be.

Ben Thornton is working 3 jobs, his position as a security guard at the Chateau being one of them, Trying to earn enough to pay back the numerous victims of his mother’s schemes. With name after name coming up and feeling powerless to make restitution for his mother’s sins, he despairs of ever being able to wipe the slate clean until he catches Millie snooping around in the Chateau’s library.
Despite his reservations, he agrees to team up with her and find the lost diary in exchange for half of the treasure found.

The first quarter or so of this book was a bit of a slog for me. While I enjoy comfy stories, I like them to go somewhere, not spend pages crammed with details on very simple scenes. It was like Millie’s mind in a way. Veering off into aimless wandering before snap! Back to the story. Wander again…snap!

Every now and then we are sent into the past to relive the days of Millie’s great-grandmother when she was a guest at the Chateau. The ironic thing is that the story there was more interesting and flowed better than the one set in present day. Gradually, though, things do pick up. The mystery, such as it is, never amounts to much, but the romance part between Millie and Ben improves.

Millie, to me, acted ridiculously immature for her age and the responsibilities she was supposed to have, which made it hard to really connect with her. She does grow through the story, but you never feel she truly reaches a mature state until the end. Ben, on the other hand, is a pretty solid character, as well as Grandma Joy, even though her scenes were few.

Overall, the story does improve the farther you go. While I wasn’t exactly treated to a warm and comfy mystery read, I did get a lighthearted story with the message that when you leave things in God’s hands and trust Him to provide for you instead of yourself doing it, things always work out.

Verdict: For those seeking a lighthearted read that takes its time, you’ll have no problem enjoying this story.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Review of the Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos   3 comments

 

 

A girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . .

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price. When a mysterious stranger named Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.

***

 

 

The last time I found a series in Christian fantasy that dealt with people crossing over into other worlds from our own was roughly ten years. Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow, if I recall right (an excellent series too, but I won’t go over this here :P).

So you can imagine my delight in discovering The Crescent Stone, book one in what promises to be an epic series.
Madeline Oliver has everything money can buy. Except the gift to breath. With a disease laying waste to her lungs, simple things such as walking to the mailbox or carrying a basket of laundry she can’t do without collapsing in a heap. With the knowledge that she won’t be getting better, she has accepted her fate and withdrawn into herself. Going to high school classes is her only attempt at some normality in her life. When a strange man offers her the chance to breathe, to live a normal life once more in exchange for a year of service to the Sunlit Lands, Madeline takes it without knowing what the costs of such a gift brings.

Jason Wu carries around a terrible weight inside, despite his snarky attitude and quick wit. When Madeline accepts the deal to travel to the Sunlit Lands, he pledges himself to her service and stays by her side. In the Sunlit Lands, he is the only one in the beginning who questions the magic that surrounds the paradise.

As far as characters go, Jason is going to be the one who steals the story. His humor even in most dangerous situations and his gutsy attitude I totally enjoyed. Think Robert Downey Jr. and you have a pretty good idea of Jason’s personality. And yes, you will definitely love his companion, Delightful Glitter Lady (I’ll let you find out who this is on your own :P). Madeline, I feel didn’t match up as well, but she was still enjoyable. After being given the opportunity to breathe again and live a normal life, she doesn’t want to pay attention to the secrets surrounding this gift but is eventually forced to do so when she sees the suffering she was blind to.

For the story itself, I’ll be honest and say it has a lot of slow spots, but Jason’s antics keep the reader invested. Much of the story has a social political theme running through it. In fact, one could say it is the backbone of this book. Topics such as racial discrimination, immigration, and how many people end up wealthy on the backs of others. At times it feels like it’s a little pushed, especially when we’re supposed to be focused on this new world and the protagonists, but it gets interrupted for the author to go over America’s past wrongs towards people.
But the important thing is that it does make you think, which is something I enjoy in a story. The spiritual elements are presented in a subtle vein that is noticeable but not preachy.

So is it a tale worthy to be read? I think so. Matt Mikalatos has crafted a unique world where magic carries a price, and what one takes, another has to give. Necromancers lurk in the shadows and orc-like beasts are to be battled by glittering elves who claim to fight for truth and justice.

Verdict: Though it’s bogged down at times with its social justice issues, the worldbuilding and humor, along with the message woven into the story, are enough to keep you turning the pages and look forward to the next in the series once you finish the book.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Review of Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar   3 comments

 

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

***

 

I’ve been wanting to read Tessa Afshar’s work for a long time, as I see a lot of her books in the Biblical fiction section. So at long last, I finally got my wish!

The story takes place in ancient Greece and introduces us to a young woman, Ariadne, who is forced to live with her harsh grandfather and a mother who treats her with disdain. When her grandfather tries to marry her off to a cruel man, Ariadne decides to take a risk and run away with her foster brother back to her father in Corinth where she hopes to find love and acceptance. Unfortunately, things are not so easy. Ariadne and Theo both deal have to deal with the pain and trauma left over from their parents’ divorce. Theo, the adopted one, struggles to rise above the stigma associated with an orphan child, and prove himself to be just as worthy as the next person. Ariadne looks for meaning and purpose in her life. First the games, where she develops her athletic abilities, then in parties, and finally is drawn into her father’s lifestyle as a thief. With the latter, she discovers she has a natural talent as a thief with her speed and athletic prowess. Despite the danger, she enjoys the thrill and excitement of robbing the rich to help the poor until a fateful accident occurs that puts a loved one in jeopardy.

The story is a lighthearted one for the most part, but it does explore the damage divorce leaves on children and how it effects their lives growing up. And also the consequences of wrong choices made in life and how they can rip a family apart, which Ariadne’s father has to live with.
But the best part is that God can restore what was lost and heal the broken pieces, which Tessa Afshar does a beautiful job of writing. And as Ariadne discovers God, she finds rest and contentment for her soul, as does the rest of her family.

The romance is light and could have been better in my opinion, but that’s a trivial thing. The characters are well-written and though the story has some slow spots, it keeps things going at a decent pace with the intriguing adventures Ariadne faces.

Verdict: If you are looking for a lighthearted read with great characters and a good story to enjoy that deals with loss and restoration, I highly recommend this book!

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Review of Together Forever by Jody Hedlund   Leave a comment

 

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children–firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

***

 

Years ago I read another book by Jody Hedlund called Unending Devotion. The story impressed me so much that when I saw Together Forever available to review, I immediately grabbed it. Unfortunately, this latest installment I did not find to be as inspiring.

The story deals with the orphans of New York in the 1800s, and how the Children’s Aid Society endeavored to get them out of living on the streets and place them with families who would give them a start at a new life. It’s a great premise to explore, and Jody Hedlund explores a little the fears of children as they journey on the train to a new life, and how the endeavor was more like selling the children than anything else. But for the most part, these parts are small and glossed over in favor of focusing on the attraction between Marianne and Drew.

Marianne Neumann’s goal is finding her lost sister, Sophie. Joining the Children’s Aid Society not only allows her the chance to find out her sister’s whereabouts, but also to stand on her own two feet and make a difference in life.

Andrew Brady is a former teacher with a Southern charm and good looks to make any lady swoon. He’s got a talent with children, but carries a dark secret from the past that haunts him.

Both characters carry their own burdens and secrets, but are passionate about taking care of the children they are charged with placing in good homes. Most of the story is focused on riding the rails and going from town to town sending children to families and then watching Marianne go all fluttery because of Drew and vice-versa…

I enjoy a good romance just as much as the next person, and that’s something I like reading in books such as these. But honestly, the romance stinks because there really isn’t any. Just mooning over how darn good-lookin’ the other person is. Which can be overlooked, provided the characters are deep and compelling enough to hold your interest. These, sadly, are not. Marianne is just the doughty maid determined not to fall for the charming and smooth gentleman (but does anyway), and Drew, well, he can’t resist a challenge. When they end up getting trapped in an engagement together, I perked up, hoping the story might improve for them…but a murder mystery thrown into the mix for the heck of it spoils that. Which I might add, did not even have the fun of a good mystery.
Reinhold, like a couple reviews mentioned here, was probably the best developed character WITH the best story. It’s too bad his role was so brief. I would have liked to read more about him.

The spiritual elements were okay. There is a theme about learning to forgive yourself and let go of guilt. And of course learning that when you love someone enough, love them to let them go if you have to. Nothing preachy, but I also felt the spiritual elements were not very deep either.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a gentle read, then I think most of you will like this story. If you want something memorable and more compelling, you will probably want to pass.

(I received a free copy of the book from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of the Shard by Victoria Simcox   Leave a comment

 

 

The Shard, Victoria Simcox’s fast-paced, intricately woven sequel to The Warble, takes Kristina Kingsly and her schoolmates back to Bernovem…and into a thrilling, often dangerous adventure.

Kristina’s stay at summer horse camp is horrible to say the least, and it’s all because Hester and Davina are there, too, making her life miserable. When Hester’s cruel prank goes terribly wrong, it’s actually what sends the three girls back to the magical land.

In Bernovem, Kristina is excited to see her former friend, Prince Werrien. When he invites her to sail with him on his ship to his homeland Tezerel, putting it simply, Kristina can’t refuse.

Reunited with her gnome, dwarf, animal, fairy friends and best of all, Werrien, things seem like they couldn’t get any better for Kristina. But when Werrien becomes fascinated with an unusual seeing stone, the “Shard,” Kristina is haunted by a ghostlike hag.

Struggling against suspicion, guilt, illness, and ultimately the one who wants to possess her soul, Kristina will see it’s in her weakest moment that she will encounter more strength than she has ever known.

***

 

 

In the Shard, we return to the delightful world of Bernovem and its inhabitants of talking animals, fairies, and dwarfs. Kristina, our hero from the first book, is older now, and at times, she feels like the entire time she spent in Bernovem was a dream. A stay at summer camp soon lands her back in the magical realm where she gets reacquainted with old friends, as well as the charming Prince Werrien for whom she is developing feelings for. And while things couldn’t look more idealic, there is a subtle danger growing. Kristina can’t understand why she is getting sick so often, and Werrien has become enraptured with the Shard, a crystal that allows him to see into other places. And in the shadows, a malevolent creature is plotting the demise of not only Kristina and Werrien, but all of Bernovem.
It’s a tale of adventure and faith, whimsy and magic. Open the door to the next chapter of this enchanting story. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Review of The Wounded Shadow by Patrick Carr   Leave a comment

 

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.

Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own?

***

 

To say that I was excited for the third and final book of the Darkwater saga by Patick Carr is an understatement. I practically kept my eyes peeled on my inbox for the email from Bethany House listing the book up for review, then hoping I’d make it on the list. And we’ll skip the part with me doing a victory dance once it did. 😛
Anyway….
Though the series has had its rough spots, overall, it’s been a great adventure. The world-building, the characters…. Honestly, I need to read it over again because I miss it. I’d highly recommend reading the first two books in the series, so you have a proper grasp of what is going on.

The story starts with Willet and the other members of the vigil racing to halt the evil of the Darkwater forest that is sweeping over the continent. With people lured by rumors of gold and precious aurium in the forest’s depths, Cesla is building a powerful army with abilities to rival even the gifted. The solution to their defeat? Locked in a vault within the tortured mind of Willet Dura.

So where to start? The plot, despite some lags in places, is awesome. The tension, the emotional journey of the characters, keeps you riveted to the pages. And I must admit, Patrick Carr went deeper with the characters than I was expecting. Anne Elisabeth Stengl is one of my favorite authors because she knows how to bring to life a character’s dark side and still show the redeeming power of love that bring a person back from the edge of the abyss. To my utter surprise, Patrick Carr went this route and succeeded! Mark, the former urchin and thief now Pellin’s apprentice, who shows more heart and depth than a priest in his desire to bring back the mind of a girl who was twisted into becoming a mindless dwimor, capable only of killing; Pellin, who saw how Cesla was snared into exploring the Darkwater. He recognized the man’s pride that could have been his own and led him into destruction. And in spite of all Cesla’s evil, still loved the man that was once his brother and mentor, and strove to remind him of that in the end. These were perhaps a couple of the most moving areas in the story that touched me.

Toria Deel has been a journey in progress. Originally, she was more of a pompous twit than anything else. And definitely willing do whatever it took to further the Vigil’s goal. The end justifying the means, regardless of who was hurt. Losing the man she loved and being teamed up with a former urchin causes her to soften.

Bolt, honestly, you gotta love. The man is like an older version of Batman and Wolverine thrown in there (DC/Marvel reference, I know :P). He always expects something bad to happen, and rarely shows much emotion. But he has such a dry sense of humor, you can’t help smiling as you read.

Willet…Willet has been an off and on character for me. While I like him, he’s not one of my favorite characters, which is odd since he is the MAIN character in the story. But I think the problem lies with the fact that Patrick Carr tried too hard at times to make the character flawed, and a bit of a wise-mouth. But he’s capable and does try to keep his head in tight situations, so he still works.
The gift of domere changed his life. Some might argue it wasn’t for the better, as it grants to Willet an unnaturally long lifespan that will see him still hale and hearty while the woman he loves grows old. But he learns to accept both it and Gael’s love, and acknowledge that he must leave everything in Aer’s hands.

I came across one review that mention how this book has nothing to do with Christianity, wallows in worldly wisdom, and loses touch with truth. As a reader who actively searches for inspiring reads, I respectively have to disagree. Does the story expound Christian beliefs? Yes. Does it whack you over the head with them? No. I have always believed that the greatest thing a story can do is “show” the message through the characters and their actions, instead of delivering a sermon that makes you roll your eyes.

In the Wounded Shadow, you see the consequences of pride and yet the hope for salvation. Mercy, forgiveness, love, and restoration come together in a sweeping epic that truly makes The Wounded Shadow a satisfying conclusion to this series.
Verdict: A definite buy!

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

The Midnight Ember

An Ember for Thought

Audra's Book Blabbing

Let's Talk About Books!

The Godly Chic Diaries

GRACE FOR PURPOSE

Heather Tabata

Heather Tabata's inspirational blog and author information.

Life - a tale

Because everyone's the same tale, narrated differently.

What do you mean ?

“Every human life contains a potential. It that potential is not fulfilled, that life was wasted.” ― C.G. Jung

Kat Devitt

Turning tragedy into timeless romance.

Book Wolf

Devouring Books

Sara in LaLaLand

Welcome to my world.

SAMANTHA THE READER

A BLOG FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS ...

irevuo

art. popular since 10,000 BC

Help Me Believe

Strengthen the believer. Answer the critic.

Heartstring Eulogies

Conjured by Sarah Doughty

Your grace is enough...

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Mia Reads

Books. Life. Community.

ChristforAllLivesMinistry (C.A.L.M.)

Let's build a Nation of good faith, solely dedicated to God and Jesus, helping each other to overcome evil! May God Bless you with the fullness of his Shalom!

The Cat's Write

Milly Schmidt

Cedric Ramey

Art, Travel, Fashion, Lifestyle

The Critiquing Chemist

Literary Analysis derived from an Analytical Chemist