Showing posts with label Michele Paige Holmes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michele Paige Holmes. Show all posts

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Favorite Books of 2017: Novellas and Collections


You all know how much I love novellas, so of course I had to share my favorites that must not be missed! Here are my top 10 novellas and collections that I rated 5 stars in 2017. (The last book isn't technically a novella but it is the compilation of the novel and novella in hardback... aaaaaand it's my favorite book of all time- Merry Christmas to me!)




http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

Love, love, love this series! I read one right after the other and then re-read my favorite parts from all three again when I was done. In all the books, there are deep emotions simmering beneath the surface in the characters, brought to light by the highly dangerous circumstances they find themselves in, resulting in explosive sparks! There is a blend of vulnerability and strength that is appealing. I think we all feel flawed and vulnerable in some way, but want to believe that we will have the strength to not only persevere but succeed when trials come. I kept reliving the stories of all three books in my mind for days afterward.



Heidi Reads... Valentine's Day Collection (Timeless Romance Anthology) by Janette Rallison, Heather B. Moore, Jenny Proctor, Annette Lyon, Heather Tullis, Sarah M. Eden

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

After reading some deep historical novels, this novella collection of light contemporary romances was just what I needed! It made me smile, giggle, and get swoony (I've recently decided this is the best way to describe that butterflies/toe curling feeling when the romantic moments are really touching). I'm always impressed that the stories in the Timeless Romance Anthologies are so creative and varied. Here's what I thought of my favorites in the Valentine's Day Collection...

A BRUSH WITH THE LAW by Janette Rallison
So. Funny. This is the one that made me giggle and think, "Girl, what are you thinking?!" Bethany has a great sense of humor to deal with the mishaps that keep her in the sights of a local policeman.

EVERY OCCASION by Heather B. Moore 
The chemistry is hot in this one! Maurie has a good perspective on life and her dysfunctional childhood, but that doesn't make returning home less painful. Grant was the one light in her youth but he has a confession of his own to make... great tension and backstories to make the characters vulnerable with each other.

HOLD YOUR BREATH by Jenny Proctor 
I haven't read anything by Jenny Proctor before but this definitely won't be the last! I loved the determination of Kayla to stick to her plan of no dating while training for the Olympics, and Nate's equal resolve to not let her get away. They had fantastic chemistry and charming banter.

HEY, HELEN! by Sarah M. Eden   
One of my favorites of the collection, the secret love angle was so romantic and it was perfectly balanced with humor from Helen's column and compassion as she helps Neil take a difficult stand with some family issues. A strong story to end the anthology with, I finished with a big sigh of satisfaction :)



Heidi Reads... A Holiday in Bath by Julie Daines, Caroline Warfield, Jaima Fixsen

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

I loved this novella collection! Each story was set in Bath, England during the Regency era, and it was so fun to learn historical details about that location. The first story by Julie Daines was full of drama, intrigue, and emotional turmoil (without being melodramatic). The friendship and affection that develop between the vulnerable Marianne and protective Mr. Northam balances out the darker parts of the story, and I loved how everything wrapped up. The second story by Caroline Warfield was a delight, and since I haven't read anything by this author before I'm looking forward to seeking out her other books. Lucy's sweet and compassionate nature make her a perfect match for the charming Edmund who is looking to turn his life in a direction different from his parents' expectations. The last story by Jaima Fixsen has plenty of kissing as the title implies, and while I liked the characters, their relationship seemed too based on physical attraction. It was still a fun story and finished the collection off nicely.



Heidi Reads... My Dearest Love by Sarah M. Eden

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What a sweet love story! I fell in love with the O'Connor family living in the tenements of New York City. Instead of allowing the harsh circumstances pull them apart, their bond keeps them strong and supportive of each other. Ian is a man confident in his skills, yet adorable with his uncertainty and vulnerability when it comes to a certain lass. Biddy is completely alone but her mother's words to keep making the best of things helps motivate her to work hard in the loud factory. This is my favorite kind of romance, where we get to see the two develop a friendship that progresses into love. Ian's brothers Patrick and Tavish have great personalities and I hope we get to read more about them in the future. The ending is bittersweet which brought out more emotion and curiosity about where the family's journey will take them.



Heidi Reads... Falling for a Duke (Timeless Regency Collection) by Rebecca Connolly, Nichole Van, Janelle Daniels

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Such a great collection! Each story captured my interest and held it with interesting characters, unique plots, and great settings. I especially loved the creative way the author incorporated the past with the present in VINGT-ET-UN | TWENTY-ONE. The story starts with Eliza and Liam resenting each other, but as we learn of their former friendship layer by layer and see them come together again in spite of the obstacles, the emotions heighten and I could not stop reading! I KISSED A DUKE was pretty fun and I liked seeing Madeline learn to stand on her own in a demanding and unforgiving society. ON THE DUKE’S ERRAND had an amazing setting in Scotland and it was interesting to learn about the conflicts there and how David did his best to get to know the people and their circumstances. He and Ceana had great chemistry and worked together well with his charm and her fiery personality.



Heidi Reads... The Heart Only Grows by Michele Paige Holmes

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

Be still my heart! How I loved this sweet story of two orphans that brought together two lonely people to form a family. I've always been fascinated by the history of the orphan train, and since we have adopted our two daughters, it's a topic that is close to my heart. I love characters like Addie, she is a woman who has suffered hardship, but it has made her more compassionate and an advocate for the orphans. Miles' sorrow is understandable, and I loved how Addie accepted what he was able to offer- and not offer- with gratitude. I also loved that he was quick to look beyond himself to the family now in his care and couldn't help but respond. A wonderful novella with characters that are easy to connect to, great pacing, and a full story arc- just the kind of reading that makes me cozy up and sigh with happiness :)



Heidi Reads... Christmas Grace by Jennifer Moore, Krista Lynn Jensen, Chalon Linton, Anita Stansfield

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttps://deseretbook.com/p/christmas-grace-5191770?autocomplete=true&variant_id=157250-ebookhttp://www.goodreads.com

I absolutely loved this collection of heartfelt holiday stories set in Regency England! Each one had a perfectly sweet romance full of the hesitation and anticipation of unexpected love. I felt like it was easy to get to know the characters quickly and connect with them and whatever their struggle or heartache was. I loved watching the happy endings unfold for each of the couples in the stories and I loved the cozy feeling that the snowy Christmas setting brought. I honestly couldn't pick a favorite because I loved them all so well- that must be a good sign :)



Heidi Reads... A Season of Love by Carla Kelly

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The writing of Carla Kelly is so refreshing, I always look forward to reading a story by her. And this one has five stories! The characters are ones that are easy to like, and I quickly connected with them and their feelings through the various struggles or trials they are enduring. I appreciate that they are strong people with admirable traits, and most of the conflict comes from exterior sources. Overall the stories are sweet, but they still contain the author's trademark grittiness and realistic world view including the lower classes of British society. I also love the wry humor that subtly brings a lighter note to the narrative without diminishing the emotions and deeper themes.



 Heidi Reads... Happily Ever After: Six Fairy Tale Romances (A Timeless Romance Anthology) by Jessica Day George, Julie Wright, Sarah M. Eden, Julie Daines, Heather B. Moore, Annette Lyon

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

I absolutely love a good fairy tale retelling, and this collection is full of them! Every one of the stories is creative while still being recognizable. The authors did a wonderful job of pulling me into the story quickly and keeping me guessing as to how things would resolve. I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories, but my favorites were The Miller's Daughter (based on Rumpelstiltskin), Black Fern (based on Beauty and the Beast), and Scarlet (based on Little Red Riding Hood). Something about the relationships in those particular stories resonated with me, the settings were easy to envision, and the tension or anticipation was palpable.




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As much as I adore my well-read paperback version of Edenbrooke and it's lovely cover, this gorgeous hardcover comes with the companion novella Heir to Edenbrooke.

Edenbrooke:
Words cannot express how much I adore this book. It's always the first book I recommend! I totally relate to Marianne, her insecurities and strengths, and Phillip is the perfect hero in my mind. The romantic tension is Off. The. Hook. I literally can't count how many times I've read it (especially my favorite parts).

Heir to Edenbrooke:
I absolutely adore Edenbrooke, and to have a novella from the hero's perspective is a dream come true :) I loved the insights it gives into Phillip's life before he meets Marianne, and it helped me more understand him and his actions in Edenbrooke. Of course I wish there was more of him and Marianne together from his point of view, but I think it's pretty perfect for what it is. My imagination can fill in the rest ;)



Do you enjoy reading novellas? 
What are some of your favorites?


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Favorite Books of 2017: Historical Romance


Happy New Year! It was so fun to look back on my Goodreads list and remember all the amazing books I was blessed to read. This is a list of my top 10 historical fiction books that I gave 5 stars, along with my reviews- my thoughts on what made the book stand out!


A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

Heidi Reads... A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

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What an amazing reading experience! I was completely transported to the historical setting and the story which never felt rushed, but never felt slow either. Since my parents took my sisters and I camping and backpacking often, I've loved the outdoors and exploring the mountains. The descriptions of the wilderness and how Sion and the surveying team worked to establish accurate maps and guides was fascinating. I loved that Tempe was an explorer of the country too, and that she appreciated the little wondrous details of nature. The author did a great job of depicting the grim realities of the harsh frontier, including violent encounters with Native Americans, without being disturbingly graphic. Tempe and Sion are both weighed down by grief that hasn't passed by, but their developing relationship begins the healing process, and amidst the chaos of warring Indians on the move and the unforgiving wilderness, there is an undercurrent of peace and blossoming romance. The personalities of Tempe's family and Sion's team are vividly portrayed and provide opportunities for conflict, growth, and compassion.


Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart by Jennifer Moore

Heidi Reads... Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart by Jennifer Moore

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttps://deseretbook.com/p/miss-whitaker-opens-her-heart?variant_id=150569-paperbackhttp://www.goodreads.com

Whenever I read a historical novel by Jennifer Moore, I'm guaranteed to be swept away to an earlier era and the location is always unique to any other book I've read! Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart is no exception- I was completely immersed in early 19th century Australia, and the dynamics of the community and politics there were fascinating! I loved learning details about the lives and hardships of the people who relocated there from Europe. The characters are developed so well that I felt like I knew them and was invested in their decisions and hoping for a happy ending, especially for Sarah who suffered the loss of the people in her life who loved her. The themes of overcoming prejudice, compassion, and forgiveness are strong as Daniel and Sarah are confronted with life-changing decisions. I loved their friendship and budding relationship, which developed naturally over the course of the story. 


A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

Heidi Reads... A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

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There's a quality to Sarah Ladd's writing that is restful to me, even with the tumultuous circumstances of her characters. I so easily sink into the story and am immersed in the setting. I loved seeing Annabelle take her future in her own hands and sacrifice her comfortable lifestyle for her freedom and peace. Owen is a hero that grows on you with his quiet strength and I loved his connection to the forest and land. I enjoyed Annabelle's uncle and aunt as stabilizing characters in her new and very different life. There are elements of suspense as Annabelle is in hiding from her brother and Owen is investigating the network of poachers on the land he is responsible for. The pace steadily builds as relationships deepen, secrets are uncovered, and the complex dynamics of the lives of the characters are intertwined. Annabelle and Owen both grow in their faith as they turn to God for comfort and guidance.


So Pure a Heart by Amber Lynn Perry

Heidi Reads... So Pure a Heart by Amber Lynn Perry

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I've loved the Daughters in His Kingdom series, and this book is a perfect addition as the memorable characters become involved in the Revolutionary War and fight for liberty and independence. The tension and suspense is seriously ramped up in this book since the two main characters, Hannah and Joseph, are involved in espionage and the risks are greater than ever. I absolutely loved the setting and era, and reading this story made me want more- to find some real life accounts of Patriots to study. The language the author uses for her characters and narration reflects the era while still remaining easy to understand. I believe that plays a large part in feeling transported to the time and place of the story, and I felt an instant connection to the characters and their strong emotions during such a turbulent time. The romantic tension between Hannah and Joseph is off the hook and while their bittersweet past brings plenty of angst, there are also  moments and scenes of sweetness and happiness from their relationship. I feel like the message of patriotism and taking a stand for what we believe is more pertinent than ever in our day, and I appreciate the profound thoughts of the characters as they discover what the cause means to them and what they are willing to risk for it.


Yesterday's Promise by Michele Paige Holmes

Heidi Reads... Yesterday's Promise by Michele Paige Holmes

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

Wow. I was not prepared for how much I would love this book! All the characters really come to life and practically jump off the page. I was fully immersed the entire time I was reading and it was too hard to put down. The introduction and the beginning of each chapter is told from Collin's point of view, flashbacks to his youth and earliest interactions with Katherine. The present day narrative is from Katherine's perspective, and I really liked her personality and determination. She doesn't remember her childhood experiences in Scotland so we got to learn along with her the complex dynamics and history between the different clans and the English. Despite the harsh traveling circumstances she thrives in the beauty of her homeland, and her relationship with Collin blossoms gradually and wonderfully. I loved the give and take between them, the devotion and loyalty, and hesitant feelings maturing into full romance. There are deep layers to Collin that Katie seeks to uncover and know as she falls in love with him and wants to support him and his burdens. There is an element of intrigue as Katherine sorts out political loyalties and where her place is in all the drama and hopes for the future. I am *so* looking forward to the second book and seeing how she confronts her enemies and becomes a leader in her clan.


Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Heidi Reads... Many Sparrows by Lori Benton
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What an epic story! I was completely immersed in the time period and setting with Clare as she fights for her son. It's definitely a heartbreaking journey and the process of change she goes through is profound. Jeremiah's support and patience is a Godsend to her, although she doesn't always see him that way when he doesn't act as swiftly as she'd like. The struggles and experiences portrayed seem unreal, but I know that they are based on history and the realities that settlers and natives faced. I appreciate the meticulous research of the author and I feel like it really made the story come to life. The powerful themes of waiting on God and trusting that He will work all things for our good are strongly felt in the long journey Clare and her family are on.


The Keeper of Her Heart by Stacy Henrie


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This book starts out mild and unassuming, then packs an emotional punch, and wraps up with the happy ending you didn't think would happen. I slowly fell in love with each of the characters and their strength during times that become increasingly dangerous. Ada's devotion to Ned and her ideal for a home full of love and laughter despite her upbringing is wonderful and supports her during the trials she endures. I especially liked seeing Ada's spiritual journey throughout the book as her faith grew little by little with Ned and Minnie's examples. The historical nuggets from wartime London were fascinating and really made the story come to life in a special way. I can't fully comprehend what the people went through during that time, but this book offers a glimpse into the hardships and heartbreak, and also the hope and perseverance. Of course I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I felt like the middle part of the book is where I began to emotionally connect with Ada and her little circle of family and friends, and I shed some tears at several points in the story. It made the last part of the book that much sweeter as God's promises are fulfilled and Ada's joy deepens with an abundance of blessings. I loved the romance, the history, and the emotion in this unforgettable story!


For Castle and Crown by Sian Ann Bessey


http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttp://www.bookdepository.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

Sian Ann Bessey has quickly become one of my favorites, and once again I was completely transported to medieval times and immersed in the story. I loved the characters from the beginning and really felt for them with the intense trials they endured with strength. It has a steady pace with action interspersed and a climax that had me biting my nails! Childhood friendship that blossoms into love is one of my favorite types of romance, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet relationship between Edmund and Pippa. There are powerful themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and inner beauty that made the story deeper and more meaningful.


The Darkest Summer by Rebecca J. Greenwood

Heidi Reads... The Darkest Summer by Rebecca J. Greenwood

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttps://deseretbook.com/p/the-darkest-summer?variant_id=155260-paperbackhttp://www.bookdepository.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

Loved it! The details of Cora and Adam, the duke, really made the story for me, as well as their mutual yearning for unconditional and affectionate love. Cora is passionate about horticulture and loves plants and flowers, even trying to rescue the plants that are getting waterlogged in Hyde Park and worrying over the wheat crop of England. Adam is struggling with a lingering injury from Waterloo and the sorrow and grief he has over losing his entire company of soldiers to the violence there. The initial attraction they feel for each other is unexpected and Adam's infatuation with Cora leads him to seek her out and discover her true characteristics beyond the ballroom niceties.

Cora's controlling mother is a complex character- at times seeming the villain in her treatment of her daughter, but also had me curious if her motivation was merely selfish or if she truly had deeper concern for her daughter's future well-being. While the pace at the beginning of the book is a bit slow, once Adam and Cora are off on their adventure the plot really spices up and emotions are brought to the surface and forced to be dealt with. Adam's closest servants that accompany them provide humor and more depth as their loyalty and regard for him reveals his true nature. A wonderful Regency novel with sweet romance and excitement!


Ruth by H.B. Moore

Heidi Reads... Ruth by H.B. Moore

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttps://deseretbook.com/p/ruth?variant_id=154473-paperbackhttp://www.goodreads.com

Once again I was completely immersed in the setting and in the lives and emotions of the characters! I absolutely loved how the author brought the familiar Bible story to life with historical details that are shared with authenticity. We meet Ruth and Boaz just before each of their lives are about to change drastically and witness their grief and transition as they adjust. I loved Ruth's relationship with Naomi and the wisdom she learns from her. Ruth's loyalty and devotion to Naomi speaks of her character and does not go unnoticed by Boaz. Their relationship develops as Boaz protects Ruth and the various members of their families urge them each to remarry. The emphasis on faithfulness and virtue as desirable attributes in a wife and kindness and goodness as desirable attributes in a husband was refreshing and made me admire Boaz and Ruth for the choices they made. A wonderful Biblical novel that made me appreciate the sacrifices and lives of these historical individuals.


 Did you make it to the end??? 
What are some of your favorites from 2017?