Showing posts with label 3 stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3 stars. Show all posts

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Review: When Mountains Sing by Stacy Monson


https://amzn.to/2KycfCi

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

When the truth cost her everything, she thought there was nothing left to lose.

Mikayla Gordon loves nothing more than sleeping under the stars, reeling in the “big one,” and long hikes in the wilderness. A medical crisis reveals a 30-year-old secret that turns everything she’s known and believed upside down, unraveling her dreams and her identity.

In search of answers, she follows a trail from Minnesota to Colorado and discovers more unwelcome secrets even as she falls in love with the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, and a wilderness camp leader who shares the greatest secret of all.

Knowing her life can never go back to what it was, she must make decisions that will impact far more than just her future.


My Review

I'm torn on this book- there are things I liked about it, and things that bothered me. It was difficult for me to get involved in the story and invested in the characters at first, I think because there was a lot of mundane in the narrative. When Mikayla steals DNA from her family members for a DNA test I thought that was pretty unethical, and then her extreme over the top reaction was off-putting. I thought it was strange that she wanted answers but wouldn't listen to anything from the people who had the answers she was looking for. Once she was off on her adventure, calmed down, and got a job at the camp while she waited for someone to return to Colorado, I felt like the real character building began. I was interested in her friendship with Dawson and how he gently led her to a place where she could open up to her fears and turn to God with them. I didn't feel any romantic chemistry on her end- she seemed ambivalent about developing a long-term relationship with him because she had plans to leave. I appreciated the messages of faith and the way Mikayla enjoys her hands-on job of helping the youth fall in love with the outdoors versus writing about it for a magazine. Overall, I think with tighter content editing and more expression from Mikayla about her feelings for Dawson, this would be a fabulous book.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Review: Brentwood's Ward by Michelle Griep


https://amzn.to/2LLh0KN

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

“I suppose I can’t expect to keep you under lock and key. You’re hardly a criminal.  .  . are you?”   

It takes a criminal to catch one, and Nicholas Brentwood is just the man for the job. Reformed in more ways than one, the rough-around-the-edges Brentwood is a member of the Bow Street Runners, London’s early nineteenth-century fledgling police force. There’s none better than Brentwood at catching the felons who ravage the city’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice served.  Beautiful and beguiling, Miss Emily Payne is not the sort of miscreant Brentwood usually hunts down. When he is assigned as her bodyguard, he vows to protect her from her father’s enemies, who will stop at nothing to carry out their mission fueled by greed and revenge.
       
All her life, Emily has longed for love, but it remains beyond her grasp. This season she’s determined to find a husband, which is quite the undertaking with a hound-dog guardian like Brentwood watching her every step. If he would just give her some measure of freedom, she is sure she could win the heart of society’s most eligible bachelor.

Emily’s headstrong persistence challenges Nicholas in ways he doesn’t expect but of one thing he’s certain—of all the cunning criminals he’s dealt with in the past, this time he’s met his match.

My Review

An exciting story with two characters who drive each other crazy... until they don't ;) I had a difficult time with Emily in the beginning because of her attitude, but as her past was slowly revealed, I grew to understand her a bit more. I enjoy stories set during the Regency era but delve into the lives of those not placed high in Society. It's always a little more gritty, but also interesting and eye-opening to the way of life back then.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)



Don't miss the following books in the Bow Street Runners series . . .

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Friday, August 9, 2019

Review & Giveaway: A Lady's Maid by Jen Geigle Johnson



https://amzn.to/2YGSd1u

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis


Molly O’Malley, lady’s maid to the progressive Lady Amanda Halloway, is determined to continue the life’s work of her lost love, killed in the Peterloo Massacre. But when her efforts and a trip to Lady Halloway’s charitable orphanage culminate in her own abduction, Molly’s eyes are opened to the horrifying crimes transpiring in the city’s slums. Despite the risks, she broadens her mission and is drawn ever closer to the peril all around them.

Thomas Flaherty, a footman in the Halloway household, has been with Molly from the beginning, but he fears she will never trust him with her heart. Even though her cause and happiness are of foremost importance to him, his loyal patience is tested by the fears that keep her at a distance. But with their safety on the line, Thomas is resolved to sacrifice everything for the woman he loves.

Risking their lives and their love, Molly and Thomas and a team of nobles on their side will stop at nothing to empower the powerless, no matter the personal cost.


My Review

There is amazing history in this book. The kind that I am so grateful for as a woman and try not to take for granted the sacrifices of those who paved the way for suffrage. I was glad to learn about the historical details that were new to me. Even though this book has a slow beginning as it introduces a bevy of characters, the action and suspense picks up the pace with quite a few dangerous situations- much of it due to Molly's naive recklessness. I had an overall feeling of anxiety and stress as I read, and had a difficult time connecting with the emotions of the main characters. The narrative is split between several characters, and I felt like it divided my focus. I thought the romantic moments between Molly and Thomas were wonderful, but the ones between Chloe and Annesley fell flat. Perhaps if I had read the preceding book, A Nobleman's Daughter, I would have been drawn in more.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Review: Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham


https://amzn.to/2FiBEgq

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people's mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more--a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn't expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny's undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring--perhaps too much--for the one who wrote it.


My Review

A sweet story with a fun twist! Penny and Thomas don't meet until much later in the book than usual, which made me anxious for the story to get on with it. And then she doesn't tell him about her connection to him with the letters, which made me even more anxious for them to get on with it! I liked the small town of Azure Springs and the sense of community there, especially with the woman who runs the boardinghouse and helps the wanderers understand what they are searching for. I didn't feel much chemistry between Penny and Thomas, but I liked them both as individuals.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: The Beauty (Ladies of Miss Bell's Finishing School) by Rebecca Connolly


https://amzn.to/2Eeeebl

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

Caroline Perkins cannot claim much in her life other than the dowry her uncle arranged for her and her physical beauty. Raised on the London docks, she bears the burden of being a tradesman’s daughter, and not one of respectability. In leaving Miss Bell’s School for Young Ladies, Caroline is leaving the only friends she has known and the only safe place she has lived. But she knows her companionship with Lady Ashby could give her the connections and opportunities she needs to secure a good future for herself. If her past does not return to haunt her present and future, that is.
 

Will Debenham isn’t certain what he is looking for in his life, but from the moment he sees Caroline Perkins, he is certain he has found it. Every interaction with her only enhances the feeling, and every day in her company makes him want her more. But can the son of an earl really marry a tradesman’s daughter? Or will station, birth, and Caroline’s own resistance keep them apart?

My Review

This is a sweet Regency story, but I wished for more in the way of plot and personality. The focus of the book is on Caroline's role as companion and her opportunity to find a husband as such. She was a bland character, and even as I attempted to find more interesting attributes about her, Will described her perfectly: "You are always so calm, so stalwart, so unaffected. You possess an unnatural serenity." She does feel the insults of others keenly, but instead of standing up for herself, she accepts it and even internalizes the belief that she is of less worth and undeserving. I was disappointed that she didn't have more of a backbone, although this is probably realistic of many women of the time who are victims of the precedence of status and birth in society. Will sees beyond all that and cherishes her for her beauty and grace, despite her unfortunate circumstances. My issue with him is that he observed her abuse and didn't do much to stand up for her either. He struggles with his desire to break out of his role as a gentleman, but doesn't take the opportunity to do so when she is in need of his help. I kept reading to the end to see how their happy ending would come about, and the final scene was lovely and emotional.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Ladies of Miss Belle's Finishing School series:


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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: The Paradox of Love by Teri Harman


https://amzn.to/2VBtie8

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

In 1889 in Paradox Valley, Colorado, Oakley Hallowell dresses like a boy, taking on the role left empty by her six dead brothers. Better than any cowboy, her hard work and mystic gifts are the reason Hallowell Ranch thrives—but her prideful, abusive father, Gideon, will never admit it. Despite his insults and beatings, Oakley refuses to abandon her grief-broken mother and beautiful home.

The Army killed Antero’s parents and the government forcibly removed his tribe of Utes from their beloved valley. His quest for revenge sent him down a dark path and into hiding. When he witnesses Oakley quietly, miraculously save a cow from a mud-bogged death he steps out of isolation to meet her.

Antero knows Gideon Hallowell will shoot him on sight, but this fascinating woman revives his bitter soul. How can he fight a world that despises him to keep Oakley by his side?

Oakley senses goodness and loyalty in Antero, unlike the other men in her life. But she’s afraid to get close, to trust. How can she open her heart to love, forgive her father, and forge a path to happiness?


My Review

I don't quite know what to make of this story. Oakley is a complex character- abused by her father, yet tries her hardest to be the son he never had. Cherishes her mother, but resents that she doesn't stand up for herself or her daughter. Has no interest in a relationship, but is inexplicably drawn toward a drifting Indian. The circumstances she cannot escape are difficult and trying, and there doesn't seem to be any hope or love there, until Antero shows her kindness and gentleness. I enjoyed their interactions, even though there are few before they become devoted to each other. They are each a rescuer of sorts to the other- he rescues her from harm, she rescues him from loneliness. They both struggle with the trauma they have experienced, and wonder together if forgiveness is possible. I liked the way they lifted each other, bringing light and even faith to their dark worlds. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they do... and the ending was both messy and wrapped up a little too nicely. Overall, I found it interesting and was compelled to keep reading to see how everything would turn out.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Monday, May 13, 2019

Review & Giveaway: A Welcome At Our Door by Amy Clipston

 

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for A Welcome At Our Door by Amy Clipston with JustRead Publicity Tours!
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
https://amzn.to/2YnJZ9OTitle: A Welcome At Our Door  
Series: Amish Homestead, Book 4  
Author: Amy Clipston  
Publisher: Zondervan  
Release Date: May 7, 2018
Genre: Amish Fiction

After a devastating loss, Cindy Riehl is still searching for peace. Will she find it in the community she calls home—or will love send her down a new path?

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl children—has watched her siblings find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever feel the same as it once did.

When a handsome and kind Englisher named Drew crosses Cindy’s path one surprising day, the two of them become fast and easy friends. Drew dreams of starting a family after some losses of his own, and before long, he and Cindy discover that their feelings for each other are romantic. As they spend more time together—often in secret—Cindy is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. In time, she is faced with a difficult choice that threatens to upend her world.

Will Cindy find contentment and love, and will she ever find restored comfort in God and her beloved community? In this final installment of the Amish Homestead series, we return to the charming town of Bird-in-Hand for a story of healing, family, and God’s perfect provision.


MY REVIEW

3 stars / I liked it

This is a sweet story of friendship, healing, and discovering one's path. Cindy has contrasting emotions about her life- she acts as though she is content, but is stuck in her grief and feels like no one can understand. Even though she is sweet and helpful, she also comes across as a bit immature and self-centered. Her quick friendship with Drew fills the void in her life, and they are very sweet together. The narrative is repetitious and the entire plot focuses on the dilemma of their relationship- they are forbidden to be friends because it would prevent Cindy from staying Amish... even though she still had not committed to baptism. The family members are two-dimensional and I wished there had been more depth explored, their feelings shown rather than told. The last part of the book was more interesting and I was curious to see how the author would choose to wrap everything up. I felt like it was overly simple and even though I enjoyed the happy ending, there were issues that I thought were not addressed.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions expressed in this review are my own)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, and Amish Homestead series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats.  

CONNECT WITH AMY: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
 



TOUR GIVEAWAY
(1) winner will receive a print copy of A Welcome At Our Door.  

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 13, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm May 20, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



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Monday, May 6, 2019

Review: The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah E. Ladd


https://amzn.to/2V1Fc0u

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

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 Review

As usual the author did a lovely job with the setting and characters. I especially enjoyed Delia's role as governess and her love and compassion for the children she cared for. Her grief had some complicated dynamics, and her journey throughout the story took her from never wanting to marry or have children again in order to avoid the pain of loss, to hesitantly allowing hope and love to bring light into her life. She has a turbulent history with her in-laws, and I enjoyed the suspense that slowly grows until the climax. Jac and Delia share a congenial friendship for most of the book, and their common focus is the children, which brings them closer together. Strong themes of family, loyalty, and forgiveness.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Double Review: The Sewing Sisters' Society & A Most Inconvenient Love by Ruth Logan Herne



https://amzn.to/2DjqoiL

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Hattie McGillicuddy might not look like your typical matchmaker, but Hattie makes things happen in the little town of Second Chance, South Dakota. With the arrival of the railroad and official statehood, Hattie’s determined to bring brides west, and not just any brides. Brides who need the wide open prairie as much as the prairie- and the prairie men- need them! Three pioneer stories of unlikely love are woven around a little town full of homespun characters that take us back to another place and another time but with the same faith, hope and love we cherish today.

Macy can’t sew a lick, and she’s come to town with a sacrifice and a secret, but when Hattie’s first apprentice is attracted to the pastor of the only church in town—the man raising her illegitimate son— will the truth set her free? Or make her leave the town and her son behind?

Unjustly accused, Nellie comes west to escape the law. She has a way with tucks and gathers, and every Western town could use more tucks and gathers. She’s determined to improve the drab look of the prairie and manages to brighten hearts as well. But will her quick speech and firm ideas of women’s suffrage draw Levi Eichas closer or send the somber carriage maker running?

Grief has robbed Ann Hazel, but when her aunt pushes her to go west and help an ailing Hattie McGillicuddy turn hems, Ann’s shamed into it. She’s managed to avoid life for awhile, but when Sol Eichas’s nanny comes down sick, Ann reluctantly agrees to help. As she winds her way around Sol’s heart and home, can the two troubled souls leave the past behind to embrace a future together?


My Review

These stories of sweet romance and a second chance at life and love worked perfectly as novellas in a collection. I liked that they had the same setting in a small but developing town, and exploring the relationships between each couple. Hattie is a sweetheart and I enjoyed her personality and the way she mentored the young women, providing a common thread connecting the stories. I felt like I got to know the characters quickly and connected to their struggles and feelings. Well-written novellas are a pleasure to read for the instant gratification of a happy ending ;) The following full-length book in the series, A Most Inconvenient Love, is a must-read to follow up with the lives of each of these endearing couples as they make up a strong supporting cast.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


https://amzn.to/2VbQQW1

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

Sober businessman Seb Ward may have come from a wealthy lumber-baron family in Minnesota, but he knows that appearances can be deceiving, and that his illustrious family is pretty dysfunctional. Being in another state has provided the buffer he sought from his father’s misdeeds, but when a little boy shows up on a train… a little boy who looks enough like Seb to be his own child… Seb’s faced with a dilemma. Raise the boy as his own, or let his mother suffer the embarrassment of “a brother by another mother.” And when the boy takes a shine to the Rachel Eichas, the newly contracted school teacher, Seb can’t help but do the same. But Rachel was raised by an unloving, business-first father and there’s no way she’s looking for those same qualities in a husband. Can she see through Seb’s focus and drive to find the loving man within?

My Review

I enjoyed this sweet story of a lumber mill owner and the local schoolteacher and how they came together despite some misunderstandings and conflicts in the town. I felt like I was missing a bit of backstory to many of the townspeople and family members that are mentioned, and while the author did a decent job catching the reader up, I wish that I had read The Sewing Sisters' Society novella collection first, where it tells their stories so I could get to know them first and appreciate them more in this book. I appreciated Sebastian's loyalty to his mother and self-sacrifice in taking on his young half-brother without dispelling the rumors, but hoping that his character would speak for itself. Rachel learned about trust as she got to know Sebastian and determine for herself what kind of man he was. She went through some difficult years with her strict father, but enduring that trial strengthened her and her sisters, as well as their bond. I enjoyed her disposition- friendly and helpful, but cautious and thoughtful as well. I liked the small town setting and the way the neighbors supported each other, even with the typical busybodies and negativity stemming from gossip and the disgruntled. The tone of the narrative was a bit peculiar, and it was interesting the way the author wove in snippets of scripture as they came to the minds of the characters.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)