Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

172Do They Have a Fighting Chance at Love?

After completing his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past.

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she’s reluctant to trust him. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Eden believes she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about Levi’s prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

What I Loved: One of the aspects that stood out the most was the hero. There’s something so special and so unique about a flawed hero. It was endearing to watch Levi struggle with his speech and the creative way he worked around it. Equally endearing for me was watching Eden’s spiritual growth. She has a righteous judgemental problem that so many Christians have fallen victim to and it was encouraging to see how Witemeyer brought her from one idea to the other. The reader can easily glean lesson while they were being entertained.

Rating and Recommendation: If you’re looking for another Christian historical or Christian western that you haven’t read yet, you’ll enjoy To Win Her Heart. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Baby Book Review: God Made the World

168Charming illustrations help infants and toddlers discover God’s natural world, from dolphins to foxes to kittens! This squishy fabric book features crinkle cloth for sensory development and hours of baby fun. God Made the World also includes a child-safety mirror so baby can see herself and know she’s a part of God’s design. 

For parents, a Velcro closure keeps the book shut, and a hanging tab can attach the book to a stroller, purse, or toy so it can go wherever they do. It comes packaged in a bag to keep it clean and includes a header card for easy hanging display. 

 

What I Loved: It is cute, colorful, and just right for little ones. It’s soft and would make a great first book. There is a crinkly page to help entertain and a mirror on the last page so baby can see himself. I really appreciate the loop on the top which allows you to attach it to a stroller or car seat. The message inside is short, sweet, and timeless.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving God Made the World 5 stars and recommend it for the littlest ones in your life!

~ I was given a copy from Kregel. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Hold the Light by April McGowen

171To an artist, the light is everything. So what is Amber supposed to do when facing blindness?
Amber spent her life adapting—first to being abandoned by her birth mother as a toddler, and then to the death of her adoptive father in her teen years. Now she’s moved past all that, loving life as an independent woman: she has a job as an art instructor and the perfect apartment.
But when a routine eye appointment reveals she’s losing her sight, life comes to a halt. Pressures come at her from all sides. Her mother, her boss, her boyfriend and her closest friend, Shannon, all have ideas about what’s best for her.
Even after her blindness counselor, Ethan, befriends her and opens her eyes to new opportunities and the possibility of a deeper relationship, one haunting question remains: How could the God she loved all her life turn everything upside down—again?

What I loved: Hold the Light was beautiful! Memorable! I can’t say enough good things about this one. While I did feel like there were areas where the secondary characters or Amber’s reaction came across as a tad shallow, there was so much more working for this novel.
My favorite aspect of the novel was McGowan’s ability to show real hardships and real emotions. She had crafted a story that tugged on my heart without making me feel broken inside. She also excelled at bringing the reader to face a new reality, something very few, if any, of her readers would face in their lifetime. But I walked away enlightened and I know you will too. Hold the Light is more than a story of hard reality, it’s a story of real hope and the peace that comes from knowing The Light of the World.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Hold the Light 4.5 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction or fiction containing characters with a disability.

~I received a copy from WhiteFire. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna White

159Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

What I Loved:  A Name Unknown contained so many of my favorite fiction aspects: There is something so right about meeting a flawed character in a novel, and White nails it with her stuttering hero.
There was a touch of mystery and suspense. Just a touch to keep those pages turning but not so much that you have to leave the light on at night.
I find the noble thief an endearing storyline. It’s always interesting to see the realities of a lifestyle that I have no experience in such as Rosemary’s history as an orphan on the streets of London.
And then there’s the author character. I enjoyed being able to relate to him as well as watching his thoughts and his stories unfold throughout the story.
One can’t neglect the historical angle! The series started before WWI so we’re seeing the climate heat up as the nations are on the brink of war and people begin to suspect each other of being traitors. Most war fiction novels feature the war or the aftermath and few look at what is taking place before the start of it.
And most importantly, of course, is the spiritual message. White does an excellent job walking her character through salvation and repentance, as well as growing her Christian character.
Needless to say, this will be one of my highlights for the year. And I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Name Unknown 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, Pre-war, or WWI setting.

~I received a copy from Bethany House. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

158Page-Turning Intrigue and Romance from an Up-and-Coming Historical Romance Talent

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service. 

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

My Thoughts: Confession. I struggled to get into this one for some unknown reason. I think it was just one of those rare things that happened. But BELIEVE me, there was PLENTY here to get wrapped up in. So my struggle may not be yours.
Breslin does such an excellent job at packing you up and dropping you off overseas in 1917. The history is rich but easy to understand. She brings so much light to life in occupied Europe during WWI. There was also so much detail and insight into underground networks during the war. I found this fascinating. Couple that with the excitement of an unknown double agent, well-developed characters, a solid message on faith and Christ’s forgiveness, and unexpected twists along the way and you’ve found yourself a worthy war fiction novel.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving High as the Heavens 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or Christian war fiction.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

117

If you’ve been following me here or on Facebook, you likely have heard about the new series I’m working on. A Season Passed contains 4 novels. Each of them is inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies.
First up is my Alice in Wonderland inspired novel titled If Only It Were Yesterday.

If Only It Were Yesterday is a story of good intentions, misunderstandings, history, life lessons, romance, conflict, time travel, Victorian lifestyle, tea, and just a little bit of that quirkiness that you’d expect to find in a Wonderland inspired novel.
I’m about 2/3rd of the way finished with the first draft, but already I can’t wait to hand this story over to you. But today I have the honor of showing you the official cover! I hope you love it as much as I do. Seeing the cover makes me even more anxious to bring this story to you. Lord willing, it’ll be a Fall 2018 release. It may sound like a long wait but it’s just around the corner if you’re the one responsible for its every word. 😉

Final Liz

In other news: I’m currently working on creating two more covers for what I expect to be the next two releases following If Only It Were Yesterday. Book 2 of A Season Passed (which I’ll be sharing all the juicy details VERY soon) and my secret project are currently on my desk and awaiting their covers.
What happened to the rest of the Ancient  Words Series? As you may know, there are two more novels to complete the series, but I find myself in a natural break and have decided to follow God’s leading to work on these other three books before finishing off Ancient Words. But don’t worry. If you’ve loved my previous work, you’re going to love what I have in store for you next. Here’s to our next adventure together!!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

167A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

What I Loved: You’re in for a Christmas treat with this one! Griep has a charming, yet quirky, story to offer for your Christmas reading. I really enjoyed the insight into the Victorian Christmas traditions. There were several that I had never heard of. Griep’s guide to the Christmas traditions in the back came in handy.
There was an intriguing mystery here alongside the romance that kept me engaged. There’s also a timeless lesson on the power of kindness and on not seeking revenge.
This is something of a shorter novel, so it’ll fit right in with your busy holiday season.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving 12 days at Bleakly Manor 5 stars and recommend it to fans of Christian Historical Fiction or Christian Christmas stories.

~I received a copy from the author. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Audio Book Review: Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance

170They never should have met. But they might be made for each other.

Feya Broon, a Scottish half Gypsy, knows what it is to go hungry. Trapped in the Edinburgh tenements with a father lost to his past and only the faded memory of her mother’s faith, Feya is desperate to provide for her siblings. When an ill-conceived plan leads to thievery, she finds herself in the last place she’d ever want to be–captured by a palace guard. But there’s something about this man that tears at every preconceived notion she’s even had about the haughty English.

Alasdair Cairncross never dreamed he’d be forced to transport a Gypsy woman halfway across the wilds of Scotland. The timing is disastrous, considering his fiancée’s imminent arrival and his father’s political goals. Not only that, but the fiery young woman threatens to lay bare secrets Alasdair would rather keep hidden. And yet the farther they travel together, the less concerned he finds himself with duty–both to the crown and to the plans his family has for him.

As their walls begin to crumble, Feya and Alasdair must fight to survive a decades-old feud, a Highland kidnapping, and the awakening of their own hearts.

My Thoughts on the Story: I was hooked from the moment it started. This one felt so outside of the box in terms of standard Christian Fiction. And I mean that as a great compliment! I loved it!! The characters were properly developed, even down to the villain. The setting was rich and easy to envision. Vallance stepped out and gave her hero a unique ability or disability, depending on your viewpoint. This helped to set him, and the entire novel, further apart from the norm.
The one thing I would caution is that while Vallance didn’t go too far in terms of passion for a Christian Fiction novel, she went plenty far enough. Within the Veil would be more appropriate for a mature audience.

My Thoughts on the Audio Version: Everyone’s idea of an enjoyable reading voice will be different but this narrator was among my favorites. I liked her overall speaking voice and appreciated how she was able to slip into thicker Scottish accents when needed.
However, it takes a little time to adjust to her speech and be able to follow the story. I had to find some quiet time when I could focus on the story more than anything else.
One thing I would have liked to have seen differently is a longer pause when switching between view points.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Within the Veil 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, a clean Gypsy story, or a Scottish setting.

~ I received a copy from the author. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

And if you don’t listen to audio books, fear not! Within the Veil is available in paperback and e-book form! Enjoy!

*Note for those following the blog: I accidentally released this review before it was finished. My apologies!!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: With You Always by Jody Hedlund

160A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance. 

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Thoughts: I struggled a bit in the beginning with this one, but once I was hooked, I was really hooked and couldn’t put it down! I always appreciate historical fiction for the insights into lesser known areas of history, and Hedlund is a master at her research. The setting comes to life with a hard look at the plight of the poor and the destruction of the gangs of New York City. A new-to-me lesson was that they sent workers out west as well as young orphans. I enjoyed seeing more on the development of a new town.
The spiritual lessons were just as strongly woven into the story as the history lessons were. We’re treated to themes such as fighting fair, finding strength in humility, not judging those beneath you, and trusting God for your needs and at to be with you in the dark times.
There were some great twist and turns along the way, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next with this family.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving With You Always 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical Christian Fiction or stories about the Orphan train.

~I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: One Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

161

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

What I Loved: From the moment I picked up the book I was hooked! I don’t know if Johnson was inspired by the movie Sweet Home Alabama, but I couldn’t help but pick up on some subtle similarities in the first few chapters. And I loved every minute of it! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a remake, but if you’re familiar with the movie you’ll likely enjoy watching a similar situation unfold.
Johnson kept my attention until the very end. I sympathized with Natalie in a way that I rarely do in a book. She made me laugh, she made me cry. And no heroine is complete without a lovable hero. Johnson did a great job crafting characters that felt and acted like real people. The supporting cast is equally charming.
I’m going to miss visiting PEI with Johnson and the crew, but I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented author!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving On Love’s Gentle Shore 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Contemporary Fiction.

~I received a copy from Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.