Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is THE Must-Read of 2022


It's 1 AM and I just read the last page of The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by author Sara Brunsvold. Wow- what a story! Mrs. Kip is one of those stories that will soak into your heart and soul and stay with you long after you've closed the book. (For the record-it was totally worth it to lose sleep to finish this book.) 

By the end of the book, I was convicted by how I was living out my life for the Lord. I wanted to be 'a Mrs. Kip' to someone. I love how Ms. Brunsvold showed that it doesn't matter if you've known a person an hour, a day or a week you can still make a lasting impact on their life and sow seeds for Christ. I was reminded of the Bible verse in James 14:4 about our lives being, but a vapor here for a little while and then vanishing away.

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14 (King James Version)

Mrs. Kip deals with topics we today in society so often and readily avoid such as the trials and difficulties of aging and death. Society generally as a whole avoids these discussions at all costs. However the author deals with them in an honest and poignant way. 

The relationship between Aidyn and Mrs. Kip was so special. One of my favorite parts of the book. This relationship was written beautifully and showed how even when you think you are not making a difference in someone's life, as long as you keep showing up as yourself, it gives the opportunity for seeds to planted and new ways to think about things and growth to take place if the person is seeking and willing.  

Mrs. Kip reminded me of my godly 87 year old grandma who I'm so happy and blessed to say is still with us. She is an incredible prayer warrior with a genuine heart for the Lord and spreading His Word. Much like Mrs. Kip my grandmother is a sower of seeds for Christ and His Kingdom. 

Fair Warning: You'll need to read this book with a box of Kleenex. I cried about 6 times while reading this book which is a new record for me. They were all good tears, I promise you.

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is not to be missed and is one of my favorite and most surprising readings of 2022. This is not a book I would have picked up myself and this makes me so grateful to my good friend that recommend this book to me. It made my year and it will make yours too! 

P.S. You absolutely, must positively, read this book!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Worthy of Legend: A Journey of Being Who God Made You to Be

So ecstatic!! Book three, Worthy of Legend, from Roseanna M. White's Secrets of the Isles series is finally here. 

Lady Emily Scofield is a beautiful, gentle, sweet character you can't help but love and sympathize with her plight. Her father sees her as a pawn in a game...using her to further himself through alliance of marriage to whom ever he deems will suit his purposes. Her older brother Nigel is both physically and verbally abusive, and her mother - who she's always seen as an ally - seems to have deserted her. Yet despite all this, Emily attempts to love her family as God loves them. 

She fears that because she isn't a strong character her family and friends will not love her. She comes to realize that no matter how dire her circumstances the Lord sees her. He always does and is always with her.

Bram Sinclair, Earl of Telford, is Libby Sinclair's brother from The Nature of a Lady (Book 1 in Secrets of the Isles series).  Two traits I appreciated about Bram were how protective he was - particularly of Emily - and his deep desire to be chivalrous. Throughout the book you see how his love for all things King Arthur and the Knights at the round table inspired this desire. I won't give it away, but Bram also had a particular love for a certain sweet that is just adorable and makes you fall in love with who he is even more.  

"Let's set the record straight here and now. You, Lady Emily Scofield, are an absolute delight and no one in his or her right mind could possibly do anything other than crave your company. Do you understand?" (White, 204)

I loved the sweet and tender romance between Bram and Emily.  Their relationship initially was based on Bram's need to protect her, but eventually turned into love. I liked how throughout Worthy of Legend Bran is a hero on the outskirts of the story that is always aware of everyone around him, but especially Emily. Not only does Bram observe Emily, but he finds himself being drawn to her. They had a natural and easy chemistry that made you want to keep reading to find out what happens.

I really loved the theme of how friends become family. The whole group embraces Emily like family and it was a lovely example of how beautiful family is to our lives even if you are not blood related. 

Ms. White excels at creating a series and making the reader want to come along for the story, but also simultaneously making the reader care about the characters in all the books and seamlessly weaving characters from the series throughout so that you feel like you are coming home. 

The cover for Worthy of Legend is beautiful and breathtaking.  Maybe it's because I'm not-to-subtly bias about the color green...but Emily's fiery red hair and mint green dress with puffed sleeves made me reminisce of another favorite heroine of literature - L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. Please tell me you see it too?

Can't wait to display all these books on my shelf and see how they look together. Each cover is stunning and unique and perfectly fits the story. Do you swoon over gorgeous book covers too?

Worthy of Legend wraps up another tremendous series by Roseanna M. White. If you are looking for a period story filled with romance and mystery then this book is for you.

~~Worthy of Legend was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Inventions of the Heart was a Struggle


Inventions of the Heart is Mary Connealy's second book in her Lumber Baron's Daughter's series and centers around Michelle Stiles who is hiding out at the Two Harts Ranch that is owned by Zane Hart. 

Michelle is determined to stay one step ahead of her stepfather's schemes, which includes marrying her off to an unsuitable man. While she is hiding out, she tries to convince Zane Hart to start mining the gold on his property and let her manage the business. This brings all kinds of trouble and risk their way.  

Having read more than 20 books by author Mary Connealy, I feel I've read enough to get a sense of her writing style. What I've observed is that her books are plot driven, which tend to have less developed characters. If the story is your focus, you're in luck. But if you want to get to know characters in-depth, you probably won't finish quite as satisfied. As a reader I find it hard to connect with such a heavily plot driven story. And if you've never asked yourself if you love the plot more than the character developments, well, now you can! 

This book does have everything you want in a western romance, including kidnappings, rescues, and a wedding (would it even be a proper Mary Connealy book without a wedding?), but I really struggled to connect with the characters and story overall. 

To be fair, I believe that not having read the first book (The Elements of Love) in Ms. Connealy's newest series, there was some confusion and disconnect because I didn't know the characters from the first book. It takes a lot of effort to craft a series that any reader can jump into at any book in the series, and this one left me hanging. 

With that said, I found the start of the story confusing. It was supposed to feel fast paced and action orientated, but for me, it just really left me baffled. The book threw a lot of different characters at you, and paired with the fast pace, I just found myself not caring what happened to anyone. I also was thrown out of the story because, for me, Michelle's name was very modern, so every time I read it, it threw me out of the experience. 

I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for Ms. Connealy as an author as she's written and published countless novels. However, I feel I'd be doing the readers of my blog a disservice if I wasn't honest with you all and let you know I had to fight really hard to finish this book. 

Having been a reader of the Christian fiction genre for over two decades, I've grown....my reading habits and genres I may once have been drawn to have changed. I'm so much more intrigued by the characters of the story over the plot. I know in the beginning I absolutely cared more about happened in the book, and now I care who the book introduces me too. This change is exciting, honestly, because it means I will also be bringing new books and styles to my blog that have previously not been represented. 

I'd love to know... are you #teamplot or #teamcharacter? 

~~ Inventions of the Heart was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Marilla of Green Gables: A Must for fans of Anne Shirley

As a reader, I admit that I typically avoid books where an author takes a crucial and/or favorite character in a series and explores either their backstory before or after a book/series. My reason being is that I don't want the new author to "ruin" my concept of that character. While after having 4 bookish friends within a week recommend this book to me I knew I had to check it out. 

In the case of Marilla of Green Gables author Sarah McCoy delves into what a young Marilla Cuthbert (and Matthew) were like, how life shaped her before spirited and spunky red-headed orphan Anne Shirley burst into their lives.  

If life hadn't gotten in the way I would have finished this book in less than 2 days. Upon closing this book, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to find I had a whole new appreciation for Marilla and wanted to go back to Avonlea and dive into re-reading the delightful 8-book Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. (Warning: You may need a box of tissues when reading Marilla of Green Gables.)

In her author's note Ms. McCoy reveals to us her inspiration for this book was a quote from Anne of Green Gables chapter XXXVII where Marilla is telling Anne how John Blythe (Gilbert's father) used to be her beau and Anne tragically says " Oh Marilla- and what happened?"  Marilla of Green Gables was her answer to this question.  For me, I recall the scene in the Anne of Avonlea (1985) movie where Anne mentions Marilla's romance with John Blythe and Marilla responses with "You can never tell about people by looking at their outsides." This quote always made me wonder who Marilla was before Anne. 

Ms. McCoy did an excellent job of maintaining her own voice as as author all the while paying tribute to L.M. Montgomery.  One aspect I appreciated was how you felt there were some characteristics of young Marilla that we see in Anne. You get the sense that Marilla understands Anne better than she realizes. 

Marilla of Green Gables may end up being on my most surprising reads of 2022 and is not to be missed. I'd even venture to say if somehow you missed the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid (trying to pick my jaw off the floor and not judge.) perhaps reading Marilla of Green Gables will make you want to read the series. Add this book to your TBR pile!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

In Honor's Defense is a Superb Conclusion to a Powerful Series

In Honor's Defense (Book 3 in the Hanger's Horsemen series) is here and I'm ecstatic! Luke Davenport aka "Preach" finally gets his own story. Readers, myself included have been clamoring for his tale since encountering him in At Love's Command. There was something infinitely intriguing about Luke and you want to know more about him as a person and what has made him who he is today. 

In Honor's Defense, Luke isn't quite ready to hang up his spurs or his gun. He takes a lone job tracking cattle rustlers for a rancher and from there the adventure takes off, running him right into the life of Damaris Baxter. 

Damaris Baxter was a heroine I felt an immediate kinship and relatability to. The youngest of eight she was accustomed to being invisible. "Being invisible had its uses, however. Forgettable girls rarely got called on to recite lessons in front of the class. Or asked to dance when one had a perfectly good book to read...Not only was Damaris on the shelf, she was in the back corner behind the knickknacks, collecting dust." (Witemeyer, 8).  At times, I think we can all connect with Damaris' feeling of being invisible. Becoming a guardian to her teenaged orphaned nephew takes her out of her comfort zone and when she rose to the challenge with bravery and determination it made me love her character even more.

Luke Davenport is a man whose compass for right always pointed due North. He's a man that knows his limits and "he knew his God- the source of all strength. He'd keep going until the Lord stopped him." (Witemeyer, 299).  One character trait I appreciated about Luke was his ability to memorize scripture and recall it to memory when needed was impressive and earned him his nickname "Preach".  This character trait made me want to be more intentional in memorizing scripture. There is a pivotal scene In Honor's Defense when Luke is telling Damaris of his past and how ashamed he is. Damaris' response was perfect. "...I do know the man standing before me today is a man to admire. One who places the well-being of others before himself. One who loves God's Word and inspires loyalty in his friends. One who forgives the faults in others faster than he forgives his own. You're a good man, Luke, and I thank God for bringing you in our lives." (Witemeyer, 147). 

The incomparable Karen Witemeyer further endeared herself to her readers and fans when she once again dedicated her newest release In Honor's Defense to her Posse Facebook group. "To my Posse. I couldn't ask for better barnstormers, more dedicated readers, dearer friends. Thank you for blessing my writing journey and my life. (Quoting dedication from In Honor's Defense.) Dear readers if this heartfelt dedication doesn't affect you you may need to get your pulse checked! (Gift of the Heart part of the Christmas Heirloom collection was the first book Ms. Witemeyer dedicated to her Posse.) Karen, Thank YOU for blessing our lives with your gift of writing and your books.  

It's a struggle for me to be unbiased about Ms. Witemeyer's books because as a reader her books are always consistently rock-solid and check a lot boxes for me. I tend to gravitate towards books where the characters are multidimensional, where you see how the characters change and grow; when there's quick-witted banter between the hero and heroine and a plot that keeps you turning pages. Ms. Witemeyer excels at building up the climax till the end. Sometimes it feels like you're about to have a slight panic attack hoping everything turns out ok in the end.

In Honor's Defense is the third in a three-book series. It can be read as a standalone although if you read the series in order you'll revel more in the experience and saga of the Horseman. If you enjoy action-packed romances mixed with a little bit of mystery, you need to add In Honor's Defense to your TBR pile. You won't regret it. 

~~ In Honor's Defense was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Sunburst is Electrifying and Action-Packed

Sunburst  contains one of my favorite romance tropes... marriage of convenience. It was honestly one of the very fickle reasons I was drawn to this book. This plot is few and far between particularly in contemporary stories. Immediately, became intrigued and curious to see how Ms. Warren would craft a modern marriage of convenience story.

Former Navy SEAL Ranger Kingston is on a mission in Nigeria to rescue his brother Colt. He never thought he'd come face to face with the one woman whose heart he broke. 

Heroine Noemi Sutton was quick-witted, smart and brave. Having a father that was a former SEAL he taught his daughter how to use her wits and defend herself should the need arise. These attributes made her the perfect foil for Ranger. 

Ranger and Noemi had some seriously smoldering chemistry. (Can I use the word smoldering in Christian fiction?) 
Both Noemi and Ranger are dealing with God in different ways during this story. Ranger is discovering he has to rely on God because he is going blind. In Noemi's case she's running from God because in her mind everyone she loves God takes away. Ranger assures her that "I've got news for you, honey. God very much notices you." (Warren, 287).  This gem of truth is so comforting. No matter where we go we can never escape God's omnipresence.
Ranger's "world is always so black and white- and Noemi gives it color. She makes me laugh, and I feel like I can breathe. Like everything isn't life or death. Mostly, she makes me...feel." (Warren, 295)

Susan May Warren is an author I've been happily reading for the past 20 plus years. With over 85 books published and 1.5 million copies sold she's proven she can write any genre and engage her readers with dynamic characters and plots that keep you turning pages long after you should be asleep. (Bookworms need sleep?)

Sunburst reminded me of The Bourne movies with Matt Damon where you have a mission/op in a foreign country. There's the perfect blend of danger and romance leaving you wondering what else can go wrong and will Ranger and Noemi figure out there in love with each before it's too late?

Sunburst is not to be missed and reminds the reader of why they love Susan May Warren's books so much. There is romance, humor, family, and suspense all wrapped up into these pages. While this is book two (Book one is Sunrise) you could read it as a stand alone but the author does suggest reading them in order. This is the perfect summer read for a pool, beach, or even your own backyard!

~~ Sunburst was provided to me by the author herself and Revell in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~ 

Monday, May 2, 2022

When the Day Comes is Captivating and Compelling


When I saw this absolutely stunning cover combined with a captivating plot and I had high expectations for this book. I'm happy to say Ms. Meyer's story exceeded all my expectations. 

The story centers around nineteen-year-old Libby. She is a time-crosser. One life she lives in Colonial Williamsburg 1774 and the other in 1914 New York. On her 21st birthday, she must decide which period to remain in forever- 1774 or 1914. Which time do you think Libby chooses? Which era would you choose? If Libby fell asleep in 1774, she wakes in 1914 and when she falls asleep in 1914, she wakes up in 1774 and so forth. Being a time-crosser, she can't alter history or tell others how it's going to change. Another interesting characteristic about being a time-crosser is if Libby is ill or has a broken limb in one time the alternate period, she is perfectly healthy. 

When the Day Comes was Gabrielle Meyer's first novel published with Bethany House. It's the 1st book in her Timeless series. Guilty reader confession: I always been interested in dual-time stories, and I own several, but I haven't read them yet. However, after reading When the Days Comes, I've became hooked on this genre. I had the tremendous delight and honor of meeting Ms. Meyer last summer at the Mississippi River Readers Retreat in Little Falls, Minnesota and she told us about When the Day Comes and I was instantly spell-bound by the plot. 

The reverberating theme of honoring God no matter what path/time of life you live in rings true and is beautifully illustrated in this book. 

"...you must not let one life dictate the other. There's work to be done here, and God is calling us to do it." (Meyer, 164). 

The struggles and comforts that Libby experienced in each time period were compelling and showed the differences in profound ways that revealed the positives and negatives of choosing to stay in each period of time. I thought this quote beautifully summed up some of the challenges Libby faced and how it can start to affect your heart and mind if you are not grounded in what truly matters in this life. 

"Please Libby, do not let anything turn your heart to stone. Do not let anger or bitterness take root in you. If you do, all of this was for naught. Instead, use what you've learned from me, and from this life to do good and further God's kingdom in the time you occupy." (Meyer 310-311). 

Libby remained true to her values and beliefs whether she was in 1774 or 1914. I admired this trait of her character because I've often wondered if I lived in a different period than my own would the core of who I am remain the same or would I bend to the precepts of the day? Well, the author proves with our heroine it's possible to stay true. 

When the Day Comes is a story that will stay with you long after you close the book and not to be missed. 

~~ When the Day Comes was provided to me by the author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~