Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Book Description:

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. 

Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: April 30th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers (first published April 2019)

My thoughts:

Whose Waves These Are is absolutely the most impressive debut novel I have ever read. Hands down the absolute best!  This dual time line novel is heart-stirring and so beautifully written that it has stayed in my mind since I finished reading it.

The author begins her story in Ansel-By-The Sea, Maine in 1944 and transitions to Chicago 2001 and to be honest I almost didn't want to leave Maine but I soon discovered I would be returning with Annie Bliss to visit GrandBob.  Oh how I loved all of the characters in this coastal town.  Every single one of them held a special place in my heart.  Ms. Dykes certainly crafted characters that I became emotionally attached to.   I am quite sure that I have never shed so many tears while reading a book but some of my tears were happy ones because I clearly felt a connection to the characters.

This superbly written novel of love and healing is perfectly paced and will have a permanent place in my home.  I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book and if you haven't had a chance to read the novella, Up From the Sea (Whose Waves These Are 0.5) you should definitely read that, too.
After reading the novella and novel I can honestly say I am a huge fan and cannot wait to read Amanda Dykes future work.

Order a copy of Whose Waves These Are

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

An Amish Reunion by Amy Clipston,Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin

Book Description

From bestselling authors in the Amish genre come four stories about reuniting with those you love.

Their True Home by Amy Clipston

When Marlene Bawell moved from Bird-in-Hand ten years ago, she was in the deepest of mourning for her mother. Now they have moved back so her father can seek employment after being laid off. To help save money, Marlene works at the hardware store owned by Rudy Swarey’s father. She knew Rudy growing up and didn’t think much of him—because he was so immature! But just as she starts to realize how much Rudy has changed, her life is once again turned upside down. Will Marlene ever have a chance to find her own true home?

A Reunion of Hearts by Beth Wiseman

Elizabeth and Gideon Beiler experienced one of life’s most tragic events. Unable to get past their grief, the couple abandoned their Amish faith and went in different directions, though neither could bear to formally dissolve the marriage. When their loved ones reach out to them to come home for a family reunion, Elizabeth has reason to believe that Gideon won’t be there. Gideon also thinks that Elizabeth has declined the invitation. Family and friends are rooting for them to reunite, but will it all be enough for Elizabeth and Gideon to get past their grief and recapture a time when they were in love and had a bright future ahead of them?

A Chance to Remember by Kathleen Fuller

Cevilla Schlabach, Birch Creek’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is surprised when Richard, a man from her Englisch past, arrives in Birch Creek for a visit. While he and Cevilla take several walks down memory lane, they wonder what the future holds for them at this stage of life—friendship, or the possibility of something else?

Mended Hearts by Kelly Irvin

At eighteen Hannah Kauffman made a terrible mistake. Her parents and members of her Jamesport Amish community say they’ve forgiven her. But she feels their eyes following her everywhere she goes with eighteen-month-old Molly. Thaddeus, Molly’s father, escaped this fate by running away to Jamesport. Now that Thaddeus is gone, Hannah’s old friend Phillip is stepping up to be by her side. He has waited patiently for Hannah to realize just how much he cares for her. But when Thaddeus returns after two years, Hannah can’t deny the love she feels for him. Does the fact that Phillip has waited patiently for her all this time mean that she owes him something? Can she trust either one of them? Can she trust herself? She has repented and been forgiven by the One who is most important—her heavenly Father. But is she willing to risk making more mistakes by opening herself up to love?

My thoughts:

I am a huge fan of the four authors in this collection and have read most everything they have written so I knew I would enjoy each of the four stories.  I normally don't have a favorite in these collections but in this one my absolute favorite was penned by Beth Wiseman.  I absolutely adored Elizabeth and Gideon Beiler In a Reunion of Hearts.
Their story was the most moving to me and I rooted for them to find the peace and happiness they truly deserved.

One of the other things I liked was reconnecting  with characters crafted by Amy Clipston in, Their True Home and Kathleen Fuller in, A Chance to Remember.  Admittedly I haven't always liked Rudy Swarey but Ms. Clipston managed to do what I thought would be impossible by making him likeable so kudos to her for making that happen!  I've always loved Cevilla Schlabach and I loved her storyline so much.  Kelly Long always captures my heart with her writing making her one of my favorite authors.

All of the stories are poignant with characters who you will love making this collection one I highly recommend. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Governess of Penwythe Hall (Cornwall #1) by Sarah E. Ladd

Book description:

Cornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811
Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

My thoughts:

I know that when I read a book penned by Ms. Ladd that I will be in for quality Regency reading but I think she may have exceeded my expectations in this first book in her new Cornwall series.  In this beautifully crafted story I felt like I was there with the characters during the difficult times and the good times.

It's one of those novels where I was captivated from the very beginning which was refreshing and made me want to turn the pages as fast as could.  Yet, I was conflicted because I wanted to stretch this one out for as long as I could so that I could enjoy the beautiful description of the Cornwall coast that I could easily see in my mind and to hear the conversations that took place there.

This amazing storyline has a touch of suspense with a bit of romance and well crafted characters which in my view makes The Governess of Penwythe Hall a must read. I will be anxiously waiting for the next book in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Weddings, Willows amd revised Expectations by V. Joy Palmer

Book Description:

Seventeen years after being orphaned, Apryl Burns and her twin sister Courtney have their own expectations for life. While Courtney continues to shine at everything, Apryl holds fast to the mantra that as long as her potato chip stash remains intact, then she’ll be fine.

But when their beloved grandmother ends up injured and unable to manage her struggling antique store, Courtney makes it their mission to revamp the business and save what’s left of their family’s legacy. Despite rampant doubts in her abilities, Apryl finds herself trapped under the weight of family loyalty as they transition to a wedding venue decorating service. Soon she’s forced to ask (translation: blackmail) their grandmother’s renter/handyman, Chance McFarland, for help, an arrangement that is made even worse by the fact that Chance is her former (ahem, and current) crush.

Chance knows a few dozen things about family loyalty, which is why he begrudgingly agrees to Apryl’s insane plan. While Apryl claims they’re archenemies, the girl Chance only glimpsed in their teens starts to emerge, stealing what remains of his heart.

But expectations are a powerful thing. Amidst the glamorous weddings and swaying willows, can those old expectations be revised into something new?

My thoughts:

This is the first book that I have read by Ms. Palmer so I had no idea what to expect.  I can tell you that what I got is a novel with instantly likable and wonderful characters!  I absolutely loved Apryl and can honestly say that I won't forget her anytime soon.
With her acerbic wit she had me laughing out loud throughout the book but she has soft side which showed how uncertain she could be.

I loved that she and her twin sister Courtney work together to help their grandmother save the antique store by putting her needs before their own. The idea of a wedding decorating service was genius and added entertainment to the storyline.  Especially when Chance McFarland is tasked with helping Apryl.  These two are super cute as they work together setting up the different venues for the weddings.  Apryl is a hard worker, she's creative and she loves potato chips.  I mean how can a guy not love a girl like that?  It was pretty easy to love and respect Chance, too which I did!

Courtney and their grandmother along with several secondary characters round out this delightful, well crafted story. I found the storyline moved at just the right pace and I loved the way author added both warmth and wit to her writing.  As I said before, this is the first book that I've read by Ms. Palmer but it will not be the last.  Weddings, Willows and revised Expectations is suitable for both younger and older adults.

I received a complimentary copy from the author but was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.

Up from the Sea (Whose Waves These Are 0.5) by Amanda Dykes

Book Description:

When Savannah Mae Thorpe visits her family in New England, she learns the future of the land she's inherited is in question. She finds help from a local lumberjack--who holds a shadowed past of his own--to discover the truth of a local legend and save her land. But her expedition may have unexpected ramifications on her life--and the lives of those around her. 

My thoughts:

Up from the Sea is the prequel to Whose Waves These Are, the debut novel by Amanda Dykes.  As far as novellas go this is easily one of the best that I have had the pleasure of reading.  The writing is top-notch with beautifully crafted characters.

The story takes place in  the1920's where Savannah Mae Thorpe is living in Maine with her uncle and aunt after losing her parents.   Savannah Mae was my favorite character that is until we get to know Alastair Bliss. I'm not normally a fan of lumberjacks but I was willing to make an exception for him.

This short story has everything a reader could ask for, a little bit of mystery, family dynamics, and a sweet romance.   Up from the Sea was a free book that I downloaded and I would encourage anyone looking for a good read to do the same. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #1) by Carolyn Miller)

About the book:

Can a proper noble lady find a future with a fossil-hunting man of faith?

As the daughter of Viscount Aynsley, Caroline Hatherleigh knows every rule of society--and she's always followed them precisely. But when she visits south Devonshire and encounters a fossil-hunting scientist and his sister, her assumptions about what is right are shaken. Questions she has never considered about the importance of friendship and faith suddenly confront her--and her comfortable understanding about how the world works is thrown off balance. What if God wants to be the center of her life, rather than merely a social obligation?

Gideon Kirby loves science, and hunting down proof of past lives is a joy he won't willingly give up. But his scientific leanings are being challenged both by his personal beliefs and by local smugglers in the Devonshire countryside. And every day his sister's illness becomes more desperate, her care growing more demanding. Adding a viscount's daughter to the mix is a complication Gideon never expected--especially since he must stay far away from this young woman he's falling for in order to protect his beloved sister's secret.

When a mysterious stranger visits the village, that secret will be exposed, no matter how Gideon fights. Then tragedy strikes in a smugglers' cave. And the threat of scandal may lead to broken hearts and passionless propriety. Will the shaky bond these two have nurtured be strong enough to overcome their differences--or will the trust they've withheld from each other tear three lives apart?

My thoughts:

A wonderful first novel in a new series by Carolyn Miller. I am a huge fan of this authors work and in this story she exceeded my expectations by adding a wonderful character who loves science.  It's the first time I've read a Regency with such a surprise and I absolutely loved it.

I didn't realize that fossil hunting was popular in this time period so I was fascinated by that revelation and when we meet Gideon Kirby I found myself drawn to him and couldn't wait to find to more about him.  The love he has for his sister, Emma sealed the deal for me and I could imagine him caring for her and protecting her making me love him even more than I had imagined.  Normally I'm drawn to the protagonist more so than any other characters in the books I read but in this case as much as I liked Caroline Hatherleigh  she wasn't necessarily my favorite.

I found Emma to be a more compelling character which made her my favorite throughout the story and maybe it's because she has not had an easy life.  I enjoyed the friendship between Caroline and Emma simply because it seemed genuine without the jealousy  usually associated with female friendships in some novels.  

Overall, the message of faith woven in with the exceptional storyline and well crafted characters made this one of my favorite books penned by Miss. Miller.  I thought the pace of the book was good and I never grew bored while reading it which is why I recommend it to others.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher but was not required to write a review.  All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

With this Pledge (Carnton #1) by Tamera Alexander

About the book:

On the night of November 30, 1864, a brutal battle in Franklin, Tennessee, all but decimates the Confederacy and nearly kills Captain Roland Ward Jones. A decorated Mississippi sharpshooter, Jones has a vision on the battlefield and, despite the severity of his wounds, believes his life will be spared. But a life without his leg, he can't abide. He compels Elizabeth "Lizzie" Clouston—governess to the McGavock family at the Carnton mansion—to intervene should the surgeon decide to amputate. True to her word, Lizzie speaks on his behalf and saves not only the captain's leg but also his life.

When a fourteen-year-old soldier dies in Lizzie's arms that night, the boy's final words, whispered with urgency, demand that Lizzie deliver them to their intended recipient. But all she has is the boy's first name. And, as she soon discovers, there's no record of him ever having enlisted. How can she set out alone across a land so divided by war and hatred to honor her pledge? Even more, does she dare accept Captain Jones's offer to accompany her? As he coalesces at Carnton, romance has blossomed between him and Lizzie—a woman already betrothed to a man she does not love.

My thoughts:

As I read this book I kept thinking how artfully written it is and if you are as big a fan of Tamera Alexander fan as I am, you will know exactly what I mean because that is standard for her.  Admittedly I am an avid reader of Civil War fiction so I read this genre whenever I can.

The author has written a gritty novel that pulled me in immediately although making me cringe at times with her descriptive and realistic story telling.  This is something that I love about her work, she does her research and crafts characters that endear themselves to me. Lizzie Clouston is much stronger than I would ever hope to be and I cannot imagine nursing injured soldiers  or being anywhere near that much pain and suffering because I am no good in an emergency situation truthfully.  However I felt like I was there when the military took over their home for a hospital and how the family had no choice but to assist when they were required to do so.  That is why I found Lizzie so endearing as I read of how she rolled up her sleeves and did what was asked of her.

I had been eagerly anticipating this book since I finished reading the novella Christmas at Carnton and I can say this novel was well worth the wait.  The writing is top-notch and the characters are exceptional.  A must read for fans of Historical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to write a review.  All opinions are my own.