Sunday, March 23, 2014

Summer of Joy

In “Summer of Joy” by Ann H. Gabhart we are once again taken to Hollyhill, Kentucky. The year is 1964 and Jocie Brooke’s summer was an exciting time and her life kept on changing as the year kept on going. Her father, David, is a divorced preacher and editor of the town newspaper. Over the summer he fell in love with Leigh who happens to be much younger than he is. The summer of 1964 also brought Jocie’s sister Tabitha home. She left with their mother years earlier and wasn’t heard from too much since that time. This book opens up at Christmas of 1964 and Jocie’s father is trying to work up his nerve to propose to Leigh. He thinks he is too old for her and that she may regret marrying him. He especially doubts himself when another man shows interest in her. Tabitha is now raising her son who happens to be bi-racial. It seems there is always gossip going on regarding the Brooke family but the town still loves them and accepts them with all of their faults. It seems to be mostly smooth sailing as the year turns to 1965 and the family is planning a June wedding. However, Jocie’s mother is about to make a reappearance back into their lives. And then there is the trouble of someone stalking Leigh and trying to come between her and David. This man will go to extremes to get Leigh and once again Jocie’s life is in danger. Will the Brooke family find their happily ever after?

This is an amazing conclusion to the Hollyhill series. This book is wonderfully written and keeps you turning the pages wondering what will happen next. This series touches on several deep topics that in 1964 nobody wanted to talk about and it will make you wonder how you would have reacted in those situations. In this book we see how unconditional love and acceptance from God and our families help us when we don’t know which way to turn. I highly recommend reading “Scent of Lilacs” and “Orchard of Hope” first so that you get the full story of the Brooke family and the town of Hollyhill. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Revell through NetGalley.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Caught in the Middle

In “Caught in the Middle” by Regina Jennings we are taken to 1883 Texas. Nicholas Lovelace works for a railroad man and is on a business trip when he runs into Anne Tillerton. Anne is a buffalo hunter and is trying to hide from her past. When she saves Nick’s life their two lives start to intertwine. Anne becomes guardian to a young child, Sammy, and goes to Nick for help. After securing a place to live and a job with Nick, Anne slowly begins to fit it with the town life but she is still wary of men, especially Nick. The two form a friendship and after a time Nick realizes he wants more. Anne is confused by Nick and by other people she has befriended as she hears them talk about God. She wants nothing to do with God because she feels and He wants nothing to do with her. When she faces losing Sammy she is caught between doing the right thing or taking the easy choice and fleeing. She soon learns she can’t flee from God. Nick is also faced with hard choices as pressure of being county commissioner builds. Will he and Annie both listen to their hearts and do the right thing?

This was a well written book that will make you empathize with the characters and make you wonder about what you would do if you were in Anne and Nick’s shoes. In this book we see how two people face their challenges and the difference in someone who trusts that God guide him and someone who makes her own choices. While this book can be read as a standalone I recommend reading “Sixty Acres and a Bride” and “Love in the Balance” as well. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Bethany House Publishers through NetGalley.

A Heart's Rebellion

In “A Heart’s Rebellion” by Ruth Axtell we are whisked away to 1815 London. Jessamine Barry along with her best friend Megan is in London for her first season and she has not been impressed by the aristocrats. She escaped to London in hopes of recovering from a broken heart. When she meets Lancelot Marfleet she finds him intriguing but does not consider him as a suitor. Lancelot however is immediately taken with the lovely and standoffish Jessamine. Lancelot and Jessamine have a lot in common he being a vicar and she being a vicar’s daughter. The more he tries to get to know her the more she pulls away. She is not ready to trust her heart again. Jessamine decides to do more to fit in with London society and finds herself drawn to a dashing and somewhat disreputable young man. When an unfortunate even happens Jessamine leaves London for the safety of her home. Lancelot still feels that she is the woman God intends for him and prays for guidance. Will the two find their way back to one another?

This is a sweet love story that will sweep you away to London during the Regency period. There is a certain romance about that time and Ruth Axtell gives a very good picture and makes you feel like you are there with Jessamine and Lancelot. In this book we see how faithful Lancelot is to God and that he trusts Him even when things are bleak. We also see how Jessamine reacts to having her heart broken and veers off the path God has chosen for her because she is scared to love again, but we also see that she comes back to Him in her time of need. This is a great story of hope, trust, and love. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Revell.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful

In “A Broken Kind of Beautiful” by Katie Ganshert we meet Ivy Clark. Ivy is a model with an uncertain future. She has reached the age where the industry no longer wants her. She gets a chance at an editorial but there is a catch. She must go to Greenbrier, South Carolina to model wedding dresses for her stepmother, Marilyn. Ivy was the result of an affair and has never felt wanted by her mother or her father. Marilyn was devastated by her husband’s affair especially because she was barren, but God let her know that she would be Ivy’s true mother even when Ivy pushed her away. Ivy has gone through life thinking that the only reason people want her is because she is beautiful but she knows she is broken on the inside. When Davis Knight walks back into Ivy’s life her world gets turned upside down. He’s the one man who resists her charms and challenges her to find her true self. Davis has issues of his own as well and Ivy pushes him just as much as he pushes her. Will the two of them finally accept God’s forgiveness and open themselves up to true love?

This is an amazing novel that will keep you turning the pages. This is a heartbreaking story that reminds us that no matter what we have done all we have to do is ask for God’s forgiveness and we will be redeemed. We must always remember that when it seems that the world is against us His love for us is unconditional. Have a tissue handy when you read this one! I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. Click here to read the first chapter.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Queen's Handmaid

“The Queen’s Handmaid” by Tracy L. Higley takes us back to 39 BC in Alexandria, Egypt and then to Judea. Lydia is a servant in Cleopatra’s palace and takes care of the royal child. The arrival of the Galilean governor Herod is eagerly anticipated by Cleopatra but things are about to take a turn for the worse. During Herod’s visit Lydia is visited by her mentor and the news he has for her will soon change her future. He gives her a set of sealed scrolls and tells her she must take them to Jerusalem. Lydia sees her chance to fulfill this task and to get away from the cruel Cleopatra when Herod leaves Egypt. Lydia is to serve as the handmaid to Herod’s wife Mariamme and she is thrown into a royal house of turmoil and deception but soon befriends Mariamme. She also makes other friends within the household most importantly is Simon. Lydia keeps her promise to her mentor and every year during the Day of Atonement she goes to the Temple to hand the scrolls over to the appointed one, but he never shows. When things become too heated for Lydia to stay in Jerusalem she turns to Simon to help her with the scrolls and discovers just who he really is.

This is a very well written book that will take you back in time when the people of Jerusalem where suffering under Herod’s control. This book is full of history and will keep you turning the pages. This is an amazing retelling of Herod’s cruel reign and the hopes of the prophets as they anxiously await the arrival of the Messiah. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Biblical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Thomas Nelson.

Visible Threat

“Visible Threat” by Janice Cantore takes us to Long Beach, California. Brinna Caruso is an officer in Long Beach and her mission is to save all the abducted children she can. In the first book in this series, “Critical Pursuit”, we learned that Brinna was abducted when she was six years old. After that experience she knew she wanted to be able to help other children. When Brinna gets a call from homicide detective and her former partner Jack, she gets pulled into a very tangled case. They discover a body of a young woman in the river. Several days later they find another woman in the river but this time she is alive. As Jack and Brinna dig deeper into the case they discover there is a human trafficking ring in Long Beach. While the two work the case they also find themselves attracted to each other. Brinna helped Jack to pull out of his grief after his wife died but she is leery about having a deeper personal relationship with him. Brinna also has to deal with her doubtful beliefs about God. She makes progress in this book to have a relationship with God but she still wonders why He allows bad things to happen to good people and her fragile trust is about to be put to the test.

This is a very well written book that will draw you in immediately. In this book we see that Brinna has made progress towards believing and trusting in God but we still see she has bitterness and doubt. We all go through time that test our faith but we need to remember that will times are the toughest God is there with us and we only need to call on Him. I highly recommend reading “Critical Pursuit” first so that you can appreciate the relationship between Brinna and Jack and the relationships they both have with God. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Tyndale House Publishers.

In the Shadow of Jezebel

“In the Shadow of Jezebel” by Mesu Andrews takes us to Israel in 843 BC. Princess Jehosheba is the daughter of Jehoram, King of Judah and has been raised as the daughter of Queen Athaliah who is the daughter of Jezebel. Jehosheba has been trained to be a priestess in the temple of Baal but when a letter from the dead prophet Elijah brings bad news to King Jehoram her future is changed forever. Jehosheba is forced to marry Yahweh’s high priest so that Athaliah and Jezebel can one day rule the nation and turn everyone away from Yahweh and to the temple of Baal. Jehosheba does not trust anyone and fears her new husband, Jehoiada. Jehoiada trusts that Yahweh will help him to show Jehosheba that he is a loving husband and that Yahweh is the one true God. With time and compassion Jehosheba becomes a follower of Yahweh and learns what true love really is.

This is not a story I remembered from the Bible and I loved the fact that the author included the Bible verses at the beginning of each chapter. This story shows us that when we do not keep God’s commandments He will punish us. He punished King Jehoram and all of Jezebel’s family because of their worship of false gods. We must always remember that even though God is a loving and forgiving God He is also a jealous God. This was an amazing book and Mesu Andrews brings the Old Testament to life and paints a picture of what life was like during that time. I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Revell.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

In “The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn” by Lori Benton we are taken to 1787 North Carolina. Tamsen’s stepfather is a harsh man who arranges a marriage for her to wealthy Virginia planter, Ambrose Kincaid. When Tamsen sees the bad side of Ambrose she is determined to not be in a marriage like her mother’s. She runs into frontiersman Jesse Bird and he helps her escape her stepfather after her mother’s death. The two head west to the State of Franklin to hide and Jesse is convinced that Tamsen is the woman God has planned to be his wife. He vows to protect her and take care of her and he hopes that one day she will return his love. Tamsen struggles with life in the mountains but she knows that she can never return to her stepfather or Ambrose and she trusts that God will see her through. As time goes by her feelings for Jesse deepen but before she can tell him she is kidnapped. Jesse must rely on God to help him find Tamsen before it is too late.

This is a wonderfully written book that will draw you in and keep you guessing until the end. There is so much going on in this book but it all intertwines perfectly. This book also has a lot of history about the State of North Carolina and the Lost State of Franklin. In this book we see how Tamsen and Jesse keep their faith and trust God to protect them and see them through. We also see how love and trust can bring two people together in the darkest of times. I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. Click here to read Chapter 1.