Monday, May 30, 2016

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

From the publisher: For plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won't soon forget.

This is the second book in the Waves of Freedom series. You don't have to read the first book to enjoy this second one but I highly recommend that you do because both are excellent! 

Lillian and Arch's story is more than just romance there is high tension and risk involved at every step.  Both for their emotional and physical safety.  Readers will be eagerly turning pages to find out what happens next.  I felt that the tension was just right.  Not over the top but realistic. 

The emotional things that Arch and Lillian have to deal with were well written and dealt with by Sarah Sundin.  PTSD is something that we are more aware of now and it was shocking to see how it was handled back in the day.  Also through Lillian's story, and others,  it allowed you to see how people view others with "limitations" but how they aren't different from the rest of us in all the ways that matter.  This book was just so well done in a variety of ways.

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

From the publisher:
The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.
Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences

Melanie Dickerson has a way of drawing you into the story and creating characters the are modern yet medieval.  Avelina's character speaks modern words but lives a very medieval life and must obey those in charge.  The Margave of Thornbeck is a more traditional character in actions and deeds.  The story flowed well and I was eager to keep returning to the story.

This is the second book the the Medieval Fairy Tale Novels and answers some questions readers might have from the first book The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest.  While I have read the first in the series and enjoyed it, readers don't have to read that first book to enjoy this book.

The end seemed a bit fanciful and over the top but it was probably just my feelings as I read it.  I see the desire to create a climactic ending for the reasons within the story.

Overall it was very well done and I enjoyed it. I recommend this book.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

From the publisher:
Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job. 

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have.

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie's determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.

This was a very fascinating book.  The way it was written keeps me thinking how different this is from other suspense novels I have read.  Evie Blackwell is a character and I am not certain how she will carry the series that is to come but what is for certain is that the Thane family will be a  part of it the whole way through.

This book doesn't have a killer coming after Gabriel or Evie as they search the cases but there is still an intensity to the writing that will keep you gripped the whole way.  While Gabriel and Evie are the featured characters there are many characters who you will read from their point-of-view.  It makes me wonder if all the books in the series will be this way.  It was not disruptive to read it like this but it definitely made me curious how the series would go. 

Spiritually I felt the book was lacking.  I wanted more, however, it could be that the series itself will build spiritually through out and that would be a really fascinating way to do it.  

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah Ladd

From the publisher:
For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

I know that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and I'm not. But isn't this cover amazing?  It is so beautiful.  

This is the second book in the Treasures of Surrey novels.  However, you don't have to read the first book to enjoy this book. In fact, there is barely any connection to the first book so it won't leave you with any questions about thing in the previous book.

Sarah Ladd has a way of letting peak into the regency time area in a way that is fun and has an air of mystery and suspense.  Readers will enjoy the plot twists and turns as well as the fun of hearing about the fashion of the gowns and social structure during the time.

I am hoping to hear more about these characters in the next book as Lizzie and Mary were wonderful and I would like to see them again.

I only wish that the spiritual lives of the characters had been more developed.  There seemed a hint of that with Isabel and Mary's friendship but it wasn't developed as I had hoped.  But overall a very enjoyable and lovely read.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

From the publisher:
Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own. 
No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love. 
Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies. 

This is book two in the Pathfinder Series.  If you have not read book one I highly and strongly suggest that you go read it before you begin this one.  It will not only help you fully understand the story but it is an incredible book as well.

I am not a fan of books that span large gaps of time.  I feel that the story telling is lacking and that large chunks of important information are left out.  This was not the case at all in The Wood's Edge and A Flight of Arrows.  Brilliantly written and spaced this book will draw you into the world of the characters and their stories.  

I love the attention to details that Lori Benton writes with.  Not just the historical details but the details of how they would have talked really stood out to me.  I really felt as if I could better understand both the Native Americans and the settlers through the words and actions that Lori Benton describes.  

These characters are deep and through the two books you will see the richness fully developed.  Lydia, Anna, Reginald, William, Good Voice, Stone Thrower, Two Hawks, and others I came away feeling as if they were people I could know and found myself thinking of their story long past when I put the book down.

Spiritually...I am blown away.  These two books have together portrayed one of the most moving and compelling pictures of what the gospel can do in the lives of those who turn to the Creator God and His Son, Jesus.  I found my eyes filled with tears as I was moved by this story and the writing so brilliantly done.  

I highly recommend this book and the series to everyone.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Finder's Keepers by Sarah Monzon

From the publisher:

Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together.

Spain, 1689
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?

Florida, Present Day
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious nature magazine, Our World—even diving in waters haunted by great white sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’-man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her dive locations, it may be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first.
A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life—a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece, or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy? 

Do you like historical fiction and contemporary fiction? This book is the perfect blend of both! The book goes between 1689 and Present Day. It goes between and weaves the lives and stories together.  Both stories will keep you reading.  Each could be its own book if the author had wanted to develop it that way but it was a great blend. 

Isabella's story is one of strength.  She may be a woman but she will rise the challenges that come her way and make a new path for herself. This was empowering to read but also showed how we all need someone in our corner.  A friend, a relative, a love.  Each has a special part that we crave. 

Summer is an oceanic photographer who still grieves in her heart for the father she never knew.  Trent is an adventure seeking womanizer who is about to learn about love and maturity where he didn't expect it.  I liked how Summer's past and Trent's present lifestyle weaved together. I thought that was really well done.

Spiritually, there were a few conversations that really stand out to me. Each person reading this will probably find a conversation that strikes them.

I received this ebook free from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Counting Blessings by Eileen Spinelli Illustrated by Lee Holland

This is a precious book.  I oohed and awed over each page as I went through it the first time.  And each time since, as I have read it to my toddler, I have enjoyed it more and more. 

Eileen Spinelli creates a charming counting book for children that focuses on simple every day things that we can all be thankful for.  The book also expresses how we could never count all the blessings we have been given.

Lee Holland is an exceptional illustrator.  I wish these illustrations were stuffed animals that I could buy and give to children.  I want to reach through the page and touch these adorable illustrations. 

I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.