For the Love of Literature

For the Love of Literature

As a bibliophile, my passion for books coalesces with a love of writing, and writing book reviews allows me to share literature with the world.

Review
4 Stars
Robbing the Cradle
The Pink Bonnet: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime - Liz Tolsma

After finishing Liz Tolsma’s “The Pink Bonnet”, book two in the True Colors series, my opinions are mixed. This story needs and deserves to be told, and yet the grimness of it is oppressive, truly making it difficult fodder. Prior to this novel, I knew of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by name only, so this story was shockingly enlightening. As with so many appalling events throughout history, this one seems incredulous in its scope and longevity. Targeting victims who were poor and vulnerable forms a sadly effective modus operandi, indicating the ongoing need for reform. In seeking to dispel the evil associated with this organization, the depth of complicity becomes evident and has far-reaching consequences that echo still today.

“The Pink Bonnet” opens innocuously enough, with a mother and her three-year-old daughter struggling to make ends meet in 1933 in Memphis, Tennessee, low on money but rich in love. Almost immediately, however, foreshadowing forms storm clouds on the horizon, and soon events come to a head. Entrusting little Millie to a neighbor for a few hours, Cecile Dowd returns to find her daughter gone, given over to the custody of Georgia Tann, the unscrupulous director of the Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society. What follows demonstrates the lengths a mother will go to in order to recover her child.

Incredibly pervasive, the extent of the corruption demonstrates the result of crony politics and the danger of being a parent in Memphis during this time period and also serves to remind us that such threats continue now as well. Child trafficking is an insidious business, and in this story Miss Tann is truly diabolical. Because of the guise under which she operates, a moral dilemma emerges: Is the child better off in an adoptive home? If the birth parents find their child and the child has a good life with their adopted parents, who gets custody? Pearl’s and Fanny’s characters offer a good balance by showing both sides of the adoption issue.

Harrowing and sinister, “The Pink Bonnet” merits words of warning. There is very little humor or lightheartedness to relieve tension, and due to the nature of the subject matter, there is mistreatment and physical abuse of a child as well as domestic violence, albeit with no graphic details. As such, I would not recommend this book for everyone. A few unanswered questions raised during the story remain, and the conclusion was more open-ended than I prefer, although part of this is attributable to the historical event itself. Faith in God does not truly become a strong contributing factor until the denouement, a fact which I found disappointing but which does point to the characters’ spiritual growth. One of the characters sums it up best: “The life, welfare, and happiness of children and their parents was priceless. Jesus had already purchased their lives with His blood. They were no longer up for sale.” Thank the Lord that none of us are orphans and that we will always be at home in Him!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
4 Stars
Three Times the Romance
The Brides of the Big Valley: 3 Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community - Richelle Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, Wanda E. Brunstetter

Three generations of Brunstetter women pen the three Amish romance tales found in “The Brides of the Big Valley”, which is fitting because the stories themselves have intertwining characters. Furthermore, three Amish communities from the Big Valley region in Pennsylvania are represented: the very conservative and plain white-toppers, the conservative black-toppers, and the more progressive yellow-toppers. This was the first that I had heard about these groups and found it very interesting that despite their differences, they lived in the same general area and intermingled, at least to some extent. Being contemporary, these stories reflect issues that affect not only the Amish, but the English world as well, which makes them easy to relate to and provides insight into the Amish way of life.

In “Deanna’s Determination”, the Amish characters are white-toppers, strictly adhering to a plain and simple lifestyle without indoor plumbing. As a widow with a young son, Abner, Deanna struggles to make ends meet. A friend shows interest in her, but when a tragedy occurs, Deanna’s world is upended all over again. So many can relate to circumstances such as these. What I appreciated most about this story was its inclusion of two central characters with significant disabilities, one of whom I will not mention in order to avoid spoilers. Abner has Down Syndrome, and I enjoyed his cheerful and loving yet sometimes challenging personality. Deanna, in my opinion, was not very determined, at least not during the majority of the narrative, but it was interesting to see how the Amish cope with disabilities.

As the title hints, “Rose Mary’s Resolve” deals with the pull and temptation that the English world can have on Amish teenagers. A black-topper, Rose Mary has grown up in a conservative Amish community. However, she finds it difficult to take a stand, whether that is with dating another Amish boy who is considering becoming English or with a young English man who suddenly appears in her life. Notable in this story is the point of view of an English outsider and the serious decisions faced by Amish young people. This tale reminds me somewhat of Rachel Good’s novel “The Amish Midwife’s Secret”.

“Leila’s Longing” had the biggest impact on me. I could empathize with Leila in not fitting in with others of her age group and with being socially awkward. As a yellow-topper, she belongs to an Amish community that is a bit more progressive. Having experienced bullying as a child, she does not trust people and has not forgiven those who hurt her in the past. When she does begin to connect with a few other young people, they are from the black-top community, which causes some tension that threatens their relationship. Beyond the germane issues of victimization and regrets, this story also deals with heartbreak and family ties.

Following each story is a recipe pulled from the narrative itself, and the alliterative titles further contribute to the charm. One aspect that I would have liked to see is more use of the Pennsylvania Dutch language. Many times, the characters call their parents “Mom” and “Dad”, with an occasional reference to them as “Mamm” and “Daed”. Consistency would add to the atmosphere and further immerse the reader in the stories. Overall, however, these tales are sweet and will appeal to modern readers, especially those who may be curious about different Amish communities and their lifestyles.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and Goodreads and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
A Marvelous Redeemer Book Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 

She knew the decision would change her life. But she didn’t know she’d have to fight to survive.
 
When Amira put her faith in Christ, she knew life wouldn’t be easy. But hiding her conversion from her Muslim family soon becomes the least of her worries.
 
Forced to leave the only home she’s ever known, she travels to the island of Gabeburough, trying her best to make a fresh start.
 
Two escaped convicts and a treasure map. A leafy paradise that becomes her home. Amira begins to wonder, where is her Redeemer when she needs Him the most?
 
Caleb Haddington is prince of Carpathia. Life should be perfect, but he can’t get a certain dark-haired girl out of his mind. Amira was his best friend when he lived in France, but her letters to him have suddenly stopped.
 
Her last letter is filled with terror that her faith will soon be discovered.
 
Only a single hope keeps him alive; when the time is right, he’s going after her. He’ll bring her back and prove to the kingdom that he’s a man.
 
But the journey proves to be more perilous than he’d ever imagined. Ridicule, comfortless days and the threat of a hurricane are just the start of his problems. Lying becomes easy for Caleb until his own life crumbles before him. Brought to his knees under the pressure of his actions, he comes to realize the sweetness of his Savior. Forgiveness, grace, and mercy are granted fully to those who ask. Caleb and Amira soon discover that they don’t just serve a gracious Savior, but a wonderful, magnificent, marvelous Redeemer.

Click HERE to purchase your copy.

About the Author

 

ALEIGHA C. ISRAEL writer of inspirational fiction and poetry is an author of multiple books and enjoys sharing God’s love through the powerful art of storytelling.

Aleigha loves being a Community Assistant at the Young Writers Workshop and teaching writing classes to her talented students.
 
When she’s not daydreaming about a new story idea or playing with her sidekick “Marley” (a Pomeranian mix) she can usually be seen traveling with her family’s gospel bluegrass band, “Fret Not” or making personalized author swag for her business Literary Treasures.
 
She doesn’t have to search very hard for inspiration.
 
Living in the Israel household, it’s guaranteed there’s an adventure waiting around every corner!
 

More from Aleigha

 

I’m beyond excited to finally share Caleb’s Song with you all!!
 
Something I love doing with my stories, is writing songs that become the character’s life songs.
 
I’ve done it for most of my books.
 
In A Marvelous Redeemer, Caleb suffers his way through learning several valuable lessons. But His Redeemer never left his side for a single moment.
 
We don’t have to try and make it through this world alone, because Jesus walks beside us all the way.
 
Through Jesus, we can find freedom, victory, peace, love and forgiveness. We can find ultimate joy in the sweet presence of our gracious, Marvelous Redeemer.
 
I hope you enjoy Caleb’s Song! You can also check out his song on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXykDvOTGVc
 
And read an exclusive interview with Caleb Haddington and more of the royal family on my blog: https://thepenofthewriter.weebly.com/character-fun.html
 
(And even have the chance to ask Caleb a few questions of your own!!)  

Caleb’s Song:  

“A speck on the horizon, nothing big, nothing tall.
Just an ant on this earth,
trying to break down this wall.
A trembling wind, a small ship on the sea,
Understanding this world is not all about me.
 
Trying to fix all my problems, trying to right all my wrongs.
I just need someone stronger to carry me along.
I can build up walls, and hide within,
but the pain is still there, with no way to win.
 
I need love,
I need a Savior,
I need the Prince who was born in a manger.
I need strength, in all my weakness.
I need a light to chase all my darkness.
I need Jesus, I need Jesus.
 
My well is so empty, my spirit is dry.
No relief from this pain, though I try and I try.
I can’t do this anymore, my life is a mess,
I just want to win this battle, nothing more, nothing less.
 
This world offers answers that only appease for a day.
But I’ve finally found my life source, the only One, the only Way.
My burden’s now been lifted, I’ve found a life boat on the sea.
My walls are broken down, I’ve found victory!
 
In His love, in my Savior, in my Prince
who was born in a manger.
He is strength, in all my weakness.
He is the light to chase all my darkness.
I’ve found Jesus, I’ve found Jesus.
 

My Review

 

“Never did I imagine that a single choice could affect my life with such intensity, and why because of one choice, my life would never be the same again.”

The third and final book in A Light for Christ Trilogy, Aleigha Israel’s “A Marvelous Redeemer” skillfully draws the series to a fitting conclusion. One of the best things about following fledgling authors along their publishing journey is witnessing the maturation and development of their writing. This growth is evident here. With each story, the author has added more detail and more complexity, so that this last book is a beautiful compendium of the characters’ journeys.

Whereas book one focused on Anna Haddington’s narrative and book two dealt with William Caverly and Charlotte Porter, “A Marvelous Redeemer” brings them all together to tell Amira Allee’s story. A young Muslim girl who has placed her faith in Christ and been turned out of her home because of it, Amira makes her way to Gabeburough Island, initiating a chain of events that find her involved with dangerous men and a treasure map. Her friend Caleb, now Prince of Carpathia, has been struggling with his faith and is worried about Amira, so he decides to take reckless action, catapulting himself into a perilous situation in which both he and Amira discover the Savior’s incredible redemption.

Despite the use of multiple viewpoints and settings, all of the characters are explicably connected and the writing flows cohesively. Furthermore, the characters are both realistic and relatable. Each has their own flaws, and it is in recognizing and acknowledging their mistakes that they grow in their relationships with one another and with the Lord. The Christian element is very strong and dominant throughout the narrative, with Scripture verses included multiple times and as an appendix at the end for reference, but it does not come across as sanctimonious. Rather, it springs forth naturally and peacefully, an apt counterpoint to the story’s suspense. I highly recommend this novel and the trilogy as a whole to both younger and older generations so that they too can become a light for Christ!  

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Aleigha is giving away a grand prize package that includes “My Foolish Heart” by Susan May Warren, “The Blessing” by Wanda E. Brunstetter, “Hidden Treasures” by Aleigha C. Israel, Song of the Mountains candle by @BookBurnCandles, a $10 Amazon gift card, and chocolate!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e2a7/a-marvelous-redeemer-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
The Amish Widow's Rescue Book Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 

Book: The Amish Widow’s Rescue
 
Author: Rachel J Good
 
Genre: Amish Romance
 
Release Date: May 28, 2019  

The perfect family awaits…if only he’ll risk his heart.

Pregnant and recently widowed, Grace Fisher is determined to provide for her family on her own. Thankfully, her jam business is popular in her Amish community. But it’s difficult keeping up with her work, her farm chores, and her two mischievous children. Especially now that they’ve taken to idolizing their neighbor Elijah. While the handsome farmer is kind and generous, he seems intent on holding Grace and her little ones at a distance…
 
Elijah Beiler has always admired his neighbor Grace. So standing by while she struggles to support her family isn’t an option. Offering to take over her farm duties, Elijah is determined to help while remaining detached. He knows all too well that love only leads to heartbreak. Yet the more time he spends with Grace and her children, the harder he finds it to leave each day. But can Elijah overcome past hurts and open his heart to this ready-made family?
 
”A beautiful story of forgiveness and second chances.” -Shelley Shepard Gray, New York Timesbestselling author, on The Amish Teacher’s Gift

Click HERE to purchase your copy.

About the Author 


Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The bestselling author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for many of her stories. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farms and attending family events. Rachel has more than 40 books in print or forthcoming for both children and adults under several pen names. Find out more about Rachel and her books at her website and by signing up for her newsletter.
 
Rachel’s Amish series include Sisters & Friends (Charisma House & Harlequin), Love & Promises (Hachette/Grand Central), Hearts of Amish Country (Annie’s Book Club), and the forthcoming Unexpected Amish Blessings and Surprised by Love series (Kensington). She also has several anthologies in print as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Book.

More from Rachel

 

The story idea for The Amish Widow’s Secret came to me after I’d just finished reading stories to my Amish friend’s children to give her a little break. She was expecting a new baby, and while we sat in their kitchen enjoying a snack, her husband came in.
 
The tenderness in his eyes as they talked made my eyes well with tears. It was obvious how much they loved each other, and they both supported each other. A perfect companionship. Not everyone gets to experience that bond, that caring.
 
It made me wonder what she’d do without him, and the seeds of a story was born. I decided to explore how a widow would cope with a pregnancy and two children alone. In the Amish community, of course, no one is ever left on their own. Everyone chips in to help.
 
So, what if the handsome and reclusive bachelor next door felt obligated to help, but wanted to avoid getting involved? Would he eventually soften his heart toward children and love?
 
As I wrote, I wondered if Elijah Beiler could get over a previous heartbreak. He needed to face his past before he moved forward, so I gave him that opportunity. A surprise visit and unwelcome news force Elijah to rethink everything he believes about parenting and love. And about the person who destroyed his world. He also needs to face the bitterness he’s been harboring.
 
Sometimes learning more about the circumstances or reasons of the person who has hurt us causes us to see the whole situation in a new light, making it easier to let go of the hurt. That’s what happens to Elijah.
 
I hope his journey will encourage readers to consider the places in their lives where they’ve been holding onto pain and reevaluate those experiences in the light of God’s forgiveness and love. To write this story, I needed to do that too.

 

My Review

 

Rachel Good spins another compelling Amish story in book three of the Love and Promises series, “The Amish Widow’s Rescue”. Having read book two, it was nice to see a brief appearance by Leah in this latest installment, which helps connect the stories and increases the overall cohesiveness. “The Amish Widow’s Rescue” made a deeper impression on me because of the main character Grace’s plight and her children. Grace must overcome the unexpected passing of her domineering husband while running her jam business and caring for her two little ones, a daunting task made all the more so by the fact that she is pregnant with her third child. As she moves forward, she learns the power of second chances.

One of this book’s many strengths lies in demonstrating that everyone wrestles with similar issues, even the Amish. Grace finds it very difficult to accept help, which is something that so many of us struggle with. We want to be capable and independent, but the truth of the matter is that God created us for community, and He does not expect or want us to face life alone. We need to not only accept Him into our hearts, but also be willing to allow others to help us when the need arises. And we should do the same for them, following Elijah Beiler’s example in this novel to help widows and orphans in their distress. Furthermore, another point that is made several times throughout the narrative is the importance of going to God first and foremost with our problems rather than trying to fix them ourselves or immediately taking them to someone else.

Miriam is my favorite character. She struggles with her own heartache and jealousy during her aunt Grace’s pregnancy, and although she steps back at times, ultimately she proves to be a selfless teenager. Her former period of rebellion proves advantageous to the present circumstances, illustrating how the Lord works all things together for good. Both Miriam and Elijah grapple with their own past trauma and its lingering effects, but healing comes in unpredictable ways. Seemingly impossible situations attest to the powerful working of God in hearts and minds, giving evidence of His endless grace and mercy and of how He continually rescues us. An intriguing plot combining past and present events and a laudable attention to detail make “The Amish Widow’s Rescue” a touching story that resonates with emotion.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

 

Blog Stops

 

Quiet Quilter, May 28

A Reader’s Brain, May 28

Maureen’s Musings, May 29

Through the Lens of Scripture, May 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 29

Among the Reads, May 30

The Avid Reader, May 30

janicesbookreviews, May 30

Emily Yager, May 31

Lighthouse Academy, May 31

Bigreadersite, June 1

THE BECCA FILES, June 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 1

Carla Loves To Read, June 2

Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, June 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 3

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, June 3

Vicky Sluiter, June 3

For Him and My Family, June 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 4

Inspiration Clothesline, June 4

Miss Tina’s Amish Book Review, June 5

For the Love of Literature, June 5

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 6

Retrospective Spines, June 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 7

Mary Hake, June 8

Inklings and notions, June 8

Pause for Tales, June 8

EmpowerMoms, June 9

Texas Book-aholic, June 9

Genesis 5020, June 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, June 10

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize of autographed copies of The Amish Midwife’s Secret and Big-City Amish, a copy of an Amish cookbook, and an authentic Amish headscarf!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e2ab/the-amish-widow-s-rescue-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 
Review
4 Stars
I Dare You!
The God Dare: Will You Choose to Believe the Impossible? - Kate Battistelli

Kate Battistelli, author of “The God Dare”, is the mother of Grammy Award-winning artist Francesca Battistelli, who writes a foreward for this book. Kate puts together a work of love that challenges the reader to put feet to their faith and to trust God through every circumstance and season of life. The God Dare comes when God calls us to step out of our comfort zone and do something that will bring Him glory, something that the world needs and that we are specially equipped to provide. Because a God Dare is not something that we could ever accomplish in our own strength, but rather would be impossible without God’s providing and intervention. When we step out in faith and wholeheartedly pursue whatever God is calling us to, we can rest assured that He will provide for us and make a way forward.

Throughout “The God Dare”, Battistelli explores familiar Biblical figures and their God Dares. These are people who ultimately changed history because they responded affirmatively to God’s call. One of the beautiful facts about their journeys is that each was beset with hardships, some self-inflicted and some not, which provides inspiration and hope for our own God Dares. We can learn from their examples, knowing that “God calls us according to our destiny, not our history,” so no one can be disqualified! The retelling of these Biblical stories dovetails well with the personal experiences which Battistelli shares, emphasizing both a Biblical basis and a continual working of God among us today.

Arranged with an engaging format, this book is useful for both individuals and groups. It can even be used as a devotional study. Each chapter ends with “Scriptures to Think About”, “God Dare Secrets” that summarize the chapter’s content, and “Discussion Questions” that challenge readers to truly immerse themselves in the Word of God. There is quite a bit of repetition throughout the book, but this does help to reinforce the stories and ideas, and I appreciated that Jeremiah 29:11 appears many times. I did have one bone of contention with regard to the section on Job, because I do not believe that God Himself takes away, but that rather He allows the enemy to take things away from us, ultimately for our good and His glory. I would recommend this book to those searching for their place in the world and to those who are doubting, especially those who have dealt with infertility, miscarriage, or abortion.      

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

About the Book

 

Book: A Reluctant Bride (The Bride Ships #1)

 

Author: Jody Hedlund

 

Genre: Historical Christian Romance

 

Release Date: June 4, 2019

 

Living in London's poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she's offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.

Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship's surgeon, he's in charge of the passengers' welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love. 

With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?

 

Buy your copy HERE.

 

About the Author

 

 

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and finalist for the Christy Awards, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

 

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

 

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

 

Visit Jody online at jodyhedlund.com.

 

My Review

 

“Our whole lives are going to be filled with challenges, and our job is to keep growing and seeking after what God has next for us.”

 



Jody Hedlund ranks among the top Christian fiction authors in my book, and “A Reluctant Bride” is the perfect illustration of why. Her writing impeccably integrates plot, history, characters, and setting to create a stunning journey that sweeps the reader into the story right from the first page and stays in mind long after the last. A seamless coalescing of elements breathes life into each chapter, both informing and resonating with the reader. Fans of such authors as Connilyn Cossette, Tessa Afshar, and Kate Breslin will not want to miss out on Jody Hedlund’s own repertoire, and “A Reluctant Bride” is an excellent starting point.

 



Based on a true story, “A Reluctant Bride” opens in London, England, in May of 1862. While she keeps the narrative clean, Hedlund does not shy away from the gritty details, which is so important not only in maintaining historical accuracy but also for the sake of appreciating the characters’ perspectives and drawing contemporary parallels. This is Dickens’ London, with its rampant disease and strife, its destitute population, and its permeating hopelessness. It is this milieu from which the aptly named Mercy Wilkins emerges, a tenderhearted young woman forced to make her way in the world apart from her family and the life that she has always known. Encountering Lord Joseph Colville, a physician running from the pain of his past, the two would seem to be polar opposites. However, circumstances draw them together and cause them both to examine their lives.

 



One of the best aspects of this novel is the fact that the main characters’ faith is not deeply rooted to begin with but grows and matures throughout their journey as a result of their struggles. Moreover, all of the characters are three-dimensional and authentic, with plausible motivations. Two of the secondary characters, Miss Lawrence and Mrs. Moresby, particularly intrigued me. Given the time period, concerns regarding women’s propriety and social class disparities pervade the story. How Mercy responds reflects her subservient upbringing and serves as a call to action for readers today: “Don’t get stuck thinking you don’t matter or you’re not important enough. God didn’t create some people to be better than others. He created everyone to have equal value.”

 



Infused with a strong faith component, “A Reluctant Bride” encompasses several prevalent themes. The romance is swoon-worthy yet clean, and it does not fall into the typical formulaic patterns of so many love stories but rather embodies a stirring complexity. The story encourages readers to challenge the status quo in a world where compassion and loving one’s neighbor goes against the grain. Helping the downtrodden and putting others before oneself reap eternal rewards and can change the world, one person at a time. As Joseph ponders, “Would not the world be a better place if a man simply lived in humility and loved his brother or sister as himself, regardless of one’s birth?” Most importantly, “A Reluctant Bride” emphasizes surrendering everything to God, a habit that requires continual practice and that brings true peace and contentment. For a thought-provoking, inspiring, soul-stirring read, look no further than Jody Hedlund’s “A Reluctant Bride.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and the publisher and was not required to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Review
5 Stars
An Ever-Present Help in Trouble
The Noble Guardian (The Bow Street Runners #3) - Michelle Griep

If Michelle Griep wrote it, I want to read it. No questions asked. I first discovered her writing last year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This is one author whose works I would read regardless of what they were about. “The Innkeeper’s Daughter” introduced me to the Bow Street Runners trilogy, and I was intrigued by the whimsical characters and the undeniable plot tension. I did not think that these details could be matched, but I was wrong. Michelle Griep does it again, and even better, in the trilogy’s conclusion!

Set in Regency England, “The Noble Guardian” turns a cross-country road trip into a breathtaking, spinetingling trek. What would seem to be a rather straightforward journey becomes a prolonged adventure with unrelenting suspense and a beautiful tapestry of faith unfolding throughout. The book cover alludes to this as well. At first glance, the commanding sight of Samuel Thatcher astride a horse catches the eye, but a closer look reveals a carriage enshrouded in a layer of fog. Indeed, within the story itself, circumstances are often not clear-cut, and neither are the characters themselves. The reader is challenged to view things from a different perspective and to learn along the way.

Griep excels in both scenic description and character development. Readers ride along in the cramped, bumpy carriage through rather desolate environs and with occasional stops at roadside inns. The issue of propriety and its importance with regard to a woman’s reputation is a point that is made evident, contrary though it may be to twenty-first-century sensibilities. The villains are ruthless and lend a continuous air of danger, while the protagonists have their own personal issues to work though. A scene at a country fair, reminiscent of a circus, adds some levity and offers a connection between Regency and contemporary society. The narrative progresses via the shared third-person omniscient viewpoint of Abigail (Abby) Gilbert and Captain Samuel Thatcher. Abby is naïve and yet she possesses amazing fortitude and a compassionate heart: “She’d learned long ago while enduring the hurts of her stepmother that only through prayer would she find peace.” Samuel has a jaded worldview shaped by his years as a lawman and culminating in his role of protector. Both experience an emotional faith journey that speaks across the centuries to the hearts of readers today, reminding all of us who “The Noble Guardian” truly is.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
Shadow Among Sheaves Review and GIVEAWAY!

 

 

About the Book 



Book: Shadow Among Sheaves

Author: Naomi Stephens
 
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction  

Release Date: April, 2019  

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz
 
The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.
 
Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.
 
Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author


Naomi Stephens is a bookworm turned teacher turned writer. She received a M.A. in English from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and now lives in Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a rascal of a dog named Sherlock.

More from Naomi

 

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz
 
The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death.
 
Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own. Which will he choose? Find out in Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens.
 
Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Shadow Among Sheaves:
 
She smiled, stepping closer and placing her hand on the horse’s wet snout. Samson was a pretty beast with wide, ponderous eyes and a few splotches of gray around his nose. The soft puff of air Samson snorted into her palm brought a delighted smile to her lips, and she gasped as he bowed his neck to nuzzle his nose against her stomach. She felt her smile leap into a grin. It was a delightful change, to feel joy so deep it finally showed.
 
Barric circled around Samson to stand beside her, his hands never leaving the reins. “He’s fond of you,” he remarked as Samson dropped his snout against her hip.
 
“Unsurprising, I suppose. Though he could also be searching you for a carrot.”
 
Surprised to hear Lord Barric speak so teasingly, and pleased by the gentle light she found in his otherwise tired eyes, Rena laughed her faint agreement. “That will teach me to come empty-handed, won’t it?”
 
Their smiles both dropped as a young, lanky stable hand came rushing out to take Samson, and Barric relinquished his hold on the reins, nodding his silent thanks.
 
As soon as the stable boy had disappeared with Samson, Barric glanced back at Rena. “Are you going home?” he asked, nodding toward the dusty road looping down the hill to William’s house.
 
She stepped back, realizing she had dawdled longer than she’d first intended. “Yes,” she answered. “I often come this way to avoid the other workers.”
 
“Might I walk with you?” He turned to hang his whip on a peg. “Just a short stretch of the road?”
 
Stunned by his request, and a bit suspicious of his motive, she nonetheless nodded. “Yes, of course.”
 
Barric drew up beside her, his even strides betraying no unease, though he was silent for some time as they made their way down the golden-colored hill.
 
“You have seemed tired these past few days,” he observed. Rena did not bother to deny it. She’d been working hard to keep up with the others, as Barric had told her she must, and felt wearier for it. She had tried to split her days in half, the mornings spent binding sheaves with the women and the afternoons spent picking for her own stores, but the work was backbreaking, and, as he had already pointed out once before, she was not used to hard labor. “I realize I haven’t really asked you how you are settling in,” he went on.
 
“Perhaps you’ve been too busy provoking me,” she answered before she could stop herself.
 
Barric’s eyebrow inched up as he slanted an approving smirk down at her. “Perhaps.”
 
Rena cursed her honest tongue. She must have been more tired than she thought, to speak so freely to a man of title. “I have been well,” she tried again, a bit more diplomatically. “The house suits us, if that is what you are asking.” “The people here do not speak to you unkindly?”
 
“The people do not speak to me at all.” She had meant to sound casual, unaffected, but heard the hurt in her own voice she hadn’t been able to weed out. As Barric’s expression tightened, she hastened to amend, “Except for you, my lord. Of course. And the Wilmots.”
 
“They are good people,” he agreed quietly. “And will you be coming with them to the festival this evening?”
 
She hesitated. According to Alice, harvest home was a yearly tradition, a night of raucous drinking and dancing to celebrate the close of the harvest. All of Abbotsville would be there—landowners, stewards, even tenant farmers and common laborers. But Rena was none of those things, and she and Barric both knew it.
 
“Come,” Barric teased, “do not tell me you are afraid to go. I would never have thought it of you.” “I am not afraid,” she insisted. “I just had not thought about it.”
 
At her defensive tone, he smiled—a true smile—one that pinched the corners of his eyes and pressed grooves along the outer edges of his mouth. “You ought to come,” he decided. “Everyone in Abbotsville is welcome, and many are the men who would feel lucky to dance with you.”
 
But, of course, Lord Barric knew this was not true. The men in his fields regarded her mostly with contempt and made no secret of it— they would not count themselves at all lucky to dance with her. Was Lord Barric trying to offer her words of comfort? Or was he trying to convey a message?
 
Did he want to dance with her?
 
This was hardly a safe question, and so she asked another. “Do you dance, Lord Barric?”
 
When he met her gaze, so direct, she was all the more glad she had not stammered in her reply. The man walked a dangerous line whenever he deigned to speak to her. Far too close, she’d think, and then stern enough to cool her blood with a word.
 
He surprised her with another smile, this one a faint twist at the corner of his lips. “Perhaps you would have to come to find out.”

My Review


Naomi Stephens’ debut novel, “Shadow Among Sheaves”, is every bit as poetic and brooding as its title. This is certainly an author whose work I will be following! Expecting a gentle love story and perhaps some sappy sentimentality, I was utterly surprised to discover quite the opposite. I am familiar with the poignant Biblical story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz and think of it as a stirring example of loyalty and love. However, I have never really considered it more deeply—until now. Stephens taps into one of the main reasons that I love Biblical fiction and retellings: it causes me to explore beneath the surface of the story and to consider the characters in depth and in the context of their historical and social situations. “Shadow Among Sheaves” does just that, focusing on the sacrifice and hardship facing two widows now seemingly alone in the world.

 From the start, this historical retelling made me uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory, which enabled me to learn new information about England in the 1860s and to empathize with a new character set. The somber tone of the novel never felt too oppressive, as Stephens interjects some relief just when it is most needed without detracting from the gravity of the tale. Culture and religion collide in the aftermath of the Great Indian Rebellion of 1857, and Rena Hawley is caught in the middle. Following an impromptu marriage to a British soldier in her native India, her husband’s and father-in-law’s unexpected deaths cast shadows on Rena’s future, even as she determines to follow her mother-in-law, Nell, to England. There her identity is further obfuscated by prejudice and xenophobia: “In India, she was her father’s daughter, beloved and shrouded; here she was bruised, a worthless girl with foreign eyes whose only wealth was in the abundance of her own grief.”

This eye-opening allegory paints a sobering portrait of life as a foreigner and a destitute widow. Rena is a fascinating character because of her complexity. She is confused by English customs, and I appreciated how Stephens presented the Indian way of life with respect, despite how barbaric some aspects of it sound to our modern sensibilities. This paved the way for a better understanding of the difficulties Rena faces in trying to reconcile her old life with the new one she has chosen. Furthermore, Rena is not depicted as a moral paragon. She struggles and clings to the past, rejecting the faith of both her mother-in-law and former husband, which ultimately makes her journey all the sweeter. The same can be said of Lord Barric. His gruff exterior also serves as a shield against pain and grief, and the impact of his initial encounter with Rena creates a ripple effect that influences both of their reputations and their futures. Impressive secondary characters add to the moving panoply. For anyone on their own journey out of darkness, or who enjoys a though-provoking historical romance and redemption story, “Shadow Among Sheaves” is a must read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.

Blog Stops

 

Godly Book Reviews, April 30

Mary Hake, April 30

Worthy2Read, April 30

Back Porch Reads, May 1

Inspirationally Ever After, May 1

Fiction Aficionado, May 2

Splashes of JoyMay 2

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, May 2

BigreadersiteMay 3

Inklings and notions , May 3

Blossoms and Blessings, May 3

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 4

janicesbookreviews, May 4

Just the Write Escape, May 5

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, May 5

Truth and Grace Homeschool AcademyMay 6

For Him and My Family, May 6

Kat’s Corner Books, May 7

Pause for Tales, May 7

Aryn The LibraryanMay 8

Faery Tales Are Real, May 8

Hallie Reads, May 8

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 9

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 9

Through the Fire Blogs, May 10

The Becca Files, May 10

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 11

Older & Smarter?, May 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 11

Texas Book-aholic, May 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 12

A Reader’s Brain, May 13

For the Love of Literature, May 13

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Naomi is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a finished paperback copy of Shadow Among Sheaves!!
 
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/deb9/shadow-among-sheaves-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
4 Stars
Strike the Mark Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 

Book: Strike The Mark
 
Author: James W. Goll
 
Genre: Christian non-fiction, prayer, spiritual warfare
 
Release Date: May 7, 2019

Prayers that strike the mark are specific prayers authorized by the Holy Spirit and endowed with divine power to accomplish the will of God in your life and for the needs of the world. On the cross, Jesus fulfilled the ultimate answer to all of our prayers, but He awaits our invitation to come into our situations and circumstances. When people of prayer intercede, they create a meeting place between the heavenly Father and His children. God comes upon the person who is praying and moves them from the natural to the supernatural. Empowered by God, the intercessor has the authority to cut down enemy forces and pick out “targets” for God’s lightning bolts of glory, bringing victory and breakthrough.
 
Intercession could be called “extreme prayer” because it links extreme needs with the extraordinary power of God. Inserting ourselves into the gap between God and a need, we call upon the Holy Spirit, our Helper, who is ready to move us from finite ability to infinite ability, take hold of difficult situations, and help accomplish the will of God. We have the great honor of being called to “paint targets” on cities, churches, ministries, family members, contemporary “Sauls” (those who persecute or cause difficulty), and even ourselves. Our believing, persistent prayers will Strike the Mark!

He covers His hands with the lightning, and commands it to strike the mark” (Job 36:32 NASB).

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Author

 



JAMES W. GOLL is the president of God Encounters Ministries and has traveled around the world sharing the love of Jesus, imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry, and life in the Spirit. He has recorded numerous classes with corresponding study guides and is the author of more than forty books, including The Seer, The Discerner, Releasing Spiritual Gifts Today, Passionate Pursuit, The Lost Art of Intercession, and The Lifestyle of a Prophet. James is the father of four wonderful children with a growing number of grandchildren, and makes his home in Franklin, TN.
 

My Review

 

Did “Strike the Mark” hit the mark with me? Yes and no. This reads as more of a regulation handbook, and as such I felt that it has several dry spells and some points with which I did not entirely agree. I was expecting it to be more dynamic and affirming. The author does inject a few personal stories into the narrative, and that does make it more relatable, but overall I honestly had a difficult time staying focused and interested. Much of the language seems to be aimed at a theologically-trained audience rather than the everyday prayer warrior. However, I did appreciate the abundance of Scripture verses and prayers, particularly in the resources section at the end. Also, the prayer at the end of each chapter is a nice summary and pinpoints the focus of that chapter.

In my opinion, “Strike the Mark” is best suited to a church study group. Reading it as an individual detracted from the experience, at least for me. The author’s points make sense, and I understand that prayer is more powerful when more people are involved. However, I got the impression that private prayer was somewhat downplayed. I think that the title should include the word “group” because that is really the main focus. Nevertheless, several parts of the book caught my attention. The author discusses twelve types of prayer that he together categorizes as the “orchestra of prayer”, as well as the various types of intercessors. Confessing generational sin, as exemplified by Daniel, Nehemiah, and Ezra in the Old Testament, encourages us to identify with the sins in our cities and institutions and to act as ambassadors to effect God-honoring change. Another concept mentioned is that of praying at particular sites, be it for blessing or for the extraction of evil. Overall, this small but compelling book is a good guide for groups looking to take their prayer ministry to the next level.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Blog Stops

 

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate his tour, James is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e2ac/strike-the-mark-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
3 Stars
All Things are Possible to Him Who Believes
Imagine... The Giant's Fall (Imagine) - Matt Koceich

Number four in this Bible adventure series, Matt Koceich’s “Imagine: The Giant’s Fall” tackles some weighty issues. Wren Evans recently lost her mother to cancer and arrives home from school to see her house engulfed in flames. The key Bible verse for this story is Matthew 19:26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” When Wren suddenly finds herself in ancient Bethlehem, this Scripture takes on new meaning. She meets a shepherd boy named David and embarks on a treacherous journey into the midst of a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, the principle fighter of which is—you guessed it—Goliath.  

Unfortunately, this book fell a bit flat for me. While I understand that this is a kids’ adventures series, I wish that it had spent more time on the Biblical aspect. The overall message about trusting God and having faith is good, but the execution is lacking. Wren definitely takes center stage, and David is just a peripheral character. He has very little role in the story, which surprised and disappointed me. Wren’s venture seems disconnected from David’s narrative, and her time in Bethlehem passes very quickly, without allowing the reader to be truly immersed in the setting. Furthermore, the spiritual warfare aspect of the tale is interesting but again does not fit well with the rest of the story. One of the central figures is a female angel, which is not Biblical, and the end of the story seems to make reference to the book of Revelation, but I was confused with some of the details, which again do not seem to line up with Scripture. Overall, this is an interesting read for young kids and pre-adolescents who enjoy exciting stories, but take note that it is not Biblically accurate.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
Leaving a Legacy
The Inn at Hidden Run (Tree of Life #1) - Olivia Newport

Not sure what to expect from this book, I was happily surprised to find two intertwined stories and plenty of interesting circumstances that made the narrative flow smoothly and quickly. “The Inn at Hidden Run” is book one in the new Tree of Life series, and I love the series title. It manages to tie in all of the major aspects of the story: genealogy, family, growing, and faith. Genealogy fascinates me. I have always loved history, but since struggling to find extant historical records for my ancestors for a project in the eighth grade, I have had a special appreciation for family trees. There is such a treasure trove of knowledge awaiting us in our lineages, shaping us into who we are today and who we hope to become.

Olivia Newport creates a contemporary small-town world centered on quirky characters and a light mystery that ties into the past. Meri’s plight adds family drama and generational legacy into the plot. Her dilemma and reactions were realistic, and the subsequent consequences and conversations were well-handled by the author. The faith component was subtle and could have been a bit more prominent. Nolan’s role as a lawyer and mediator made him an obvious fit for the novel, and his daughter Jillian’s occupation as a work-from-home genealogist intrigued me. I enjoyed learning the investigative aspect of genealogy and the various resources that genealogists draw upon in their research, as well as the various scenarios in which their skills are engaged. Jillian was the character to which I related the most because of her interests and her introverted nature. Following along as she placed puzzle pieces of the past together was fascinating.

An unexpected dual timeline enhanced the genealogical element and added a layer of danger, transporting readers to the burgeoning 1878 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee. The horrors that Eliza Davies faced in the midst of the outbreak as she strove to aid those afflicted were not graphic but vivid enough to evoke heartache. Her story did not conclude as I was expecting, and the connection between Eliza and Meri’s family dovetailed gracefully for a fitting conclusion. The past informs our present in many ways, and understanding where and who we come from allows us to navigate life’s trials and stand firmly in our own convictions.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
5 Stars
Come Forth as Gold
Beauty by the Book: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You - Nancy Stafford

A book on beauty is one of the last things I would normally pick up as reading fare. Honestly, I have never worn makeup and I rarely dress to impress. Since becoming chronically ill several years ago, comfort has become the name of my game, and various surgeries and treatments have left me with scars and other battle wounds. Anyone who knows me would raise their eyebrows at the thought of me reading a book entitled “Beauty by the Book”, and yet it’s the subtitle that really drew me in: “Seeing Yourself as God Sees You.” That is the heart of the matter. Of course we are all familiar with the clichéd phrase that it’s what is on the inside that counts, and yet it is rarely that easy in day to day life.

In “Beauty by the Book”, Nancy Stafford takes readers beyond the trite phrases and the worldly definitions of beauty in order to encounter the only One whose views on the issue truly matter. Part of what makes this book so much more compelling than the plethora of other Christian nonfiction out there is the author’s authenticity and relatability. Christian reference books and guides are valuable resources and have their rightful place in the literary canon and in our personal libraries. However, as with any obstacle in life, sometimes it is just such a relief to know that someone else has been there and has overcome (or is still overcoming). After all, we are instructed to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Nancy’s book is like having a cup of coffee with a friend. There are many of those “Me too!” and “I thought I was the only one!” moments while reading. By sharing her own life experiences, both joyous and tragic, she demonstrates that our vulnerabilities can be the launching pad for a deeper connection with the Savior of our souls and the most beautiful One of all. The enemy tries to discourage us with lies, infiltrating our culture with unattainable beauty standards and discontent, but the Lord patiently woos us and tells us how exquisite we are in His sight because we are made in His image!

Crossing several genres, this book genuinely speaks to the woman’s heart. It can be classified as Christian nonfiction, part memoir, part devotional, part scriptural study, and definitely all heart. Every chapter is divided into short sections, each of which begins with a scriptural epigraph and contains pertinent quotations from various well-known individuals, and ends with a prayer. Peppered throughout are “Reflections of His Love”, which demonstrate personal encounters and conversations with God. A reference guide at the end lists Bible verses and what they say about God and about who we are in Him.

For a relatively short book, “Beauty by the Book” certainly packs plenty of wisdom and encouragement into its pages. Normally I would finish a work of this length in a day or two at most, but I found myself lingering over and prayerfully pondering each section, and I intend to read it over again from the beginning soon. As Nancy writes, “As followers of Christ, we, most of all, are free to celebrate and express God’s unique creation in ourselves and others.” And that is what true beauty is all about!

 

Buy Links:

NancyStafford.com

 

ChristianBook

 

Amazon

Review
4 Stars
I Once Was Lost But Now Am Found: Book Review of A Dim Reflection by Aleigha Israel

 

Blurb

William Caverly can't seem to understand the unsettling feeling that has been nagging him for far too long. Memories of a baby sister are forever haunting his waking hours, and as he sleeps at night, he is repeatedly awakened by nightmares, confusing ones that he'd rather forget. His baby sister died. He saw her little body laid to rest beside their mother. But that doesn’t explain the dim remembrance he has of an event that happened not too long after that.

 

Charlotte Porter's days are full and busy as she diligently teaches her young art students at her mother's boarding school, and tries desperately to stay away from an annoying suitor. Painting has been her passion and dream ever since she could hold a brush, but lately she has begun to question her mission and calling in life. What is her real purpose? And why does she know so little about her father, who supposedly died before she was born?

 

William thinks he's discovered the hidden link that has kept him from his sister for over fifteen years. But then she's kid-napped, leaving William no choice except to find her and get her back. Once and for all.



Author Bio

ALEIGHA C. ISRAEL writer of inspirational fiction and poetry is an author of multiple books and enjoys sharing God's love through the powerful art of storytelling.

 

Aleigha loves being a Community Assistant at the Young Writers Workshop and teaching writing classes to her talented students.

 

When she's not daydreaming about a new story idea or playing with her sidekick "Marley" (a Pomeranian mix) she can usually be seen traveling with her family's gospel bluegrass band, “Fret Not” or making personalized author swag for her business Literary Treasures. 

 

She doesn’t have to search very hard for inspiration.

 

Living in the Israel household, it’s guaranteed there’s an adventure waiting around every corner!

My Review

Following closely on the heels of “A Higher Ransom”, this sequel continues the story and takes the readers on a lively quest to recoup lost relationships and faith. “A Dim Reflection” calls to mind 1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” This is a fitting title for a tale in which the characters are revealed for who they truly are, good and bad. It is also a reminder that the Lord knows us completely, even better than we know ourselves, and that He knows each person’s true character.



Although there is more action in this sequel, like its predecessor it is a character-driven novel. Aleigha Israel nicely constructs the circumstances to bring the various players together throughout the course of the narrative, creating a nice segue and unveiling more backstory for the central characters. William Caverly’s new life in the tranquil town of Chasahburough is haunted by recollections of his baby sister and what happened one fateful night so many years ago, and his pursuit of this shady period of his past brings him back in contact with Anna Haddington. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Charlotte Porter has questions about her own past and faces a crisis of faith in the midst of great turmoil. A kidnapping sets everything in motion and establishes an ultimate collision point, testing everyone’s faith and courage.



Another charming, faith-filled book, “A Dim Reflection” speaks to the young and young at heart with universal Christian themes and plenty of Scripture, addressing issues that continue to burden hearts today. Charlotte’s struggle during an emotional trial is one to which so many of us can relate: “Everyone else seemed to have such perfect faith in God. They trusted Him fully, so why couldn’t she?” This story excels at driving home Scriptural truths in situations that we often find ourselves facing today, and the characters seem to step out of the pages and into readers’ hearts with their suffering and honesty. For pre-teens and grandparents alike, this series offers excitement, endearing characters, and most of all solid faith in the One who knows our hearts best of all.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.



Social media links:

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Aleigha-C-Israel-1588459018111009/

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aleigha_author

 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aleighacisrael_author/?hl=en

 

Blog: https://thepenofthewriter.weebly.com

 

Email list: https://thepenofthewriter.weebly.com/subscribe.html 

 

Book Purchase Links:

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dim-Reflection-Light-Christ-Collection/dp/1541341171

 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-dim-reflection-aleigha-c-israel/1126432996

Review
5 Stars
More Precious Than Gold
The Golden Bride  - Kimberley Woodhouse

As with each installment in the Daughters of the Mayflower series, “The Golden Bride” does not disappoint. Kimberley Woodhouse has written earlier books in this sequence, and this one delivers just as much vigor and dynamism. These books are fairly short for novels, but they are nevertheless overflowing with spiritual truths and faith in action. Aligning the plotlines with significant events in American history underscores the Christian foundation of our nation and its perseverance throughout times of war, personal trials, and provincial struggles. Realizing how much our forebears overcame provides strength for our own journey and an illuminating perspective for dealing with contemporary issues.

Indeed, the world of California in 1849 as illustrated in “The Golden Bride” bears a striking resemblance to today’s world. Corruption and immorality run rampant in the territory as people, mostly men, flock to the fields in search of gold. San Francisco is a lawless den of iniquity when newly widowed and heartbroken Olivia Brighton arrives in search of her brother, Daniel. He owns and runs Livingston’s Restaurant, and along with his best friend, Joseph Sawyer, serves as a beacon of hope in the face of evils such as gangs, brothels, and human trafficking and slave labor. Olivia joins their efforts to uplift and redeem the town despite opposition. Their ministry is deeply inspiring because they are able to truly make a difference in their community through determination, sacrifice, and most of all a strong reliance upon the Lord.

Olivia’s development as a character spoke to me more than any other. At the beginning of the novel, she is filled with self-loathing and guilt, but reading journals from her ancestors, who were women featured in previous stories in this series, positively influences her faith journey. One of my favorite passages describes so many of us: “she’d prayed for help but kept tight hold of the reins of her life.” We so often do the same. We carry burdens that were never meant for us and we allow fear to control us instead of trusting in the One who promises to work all things together for our good. As Olivia comes to realize, He has a plan and a purpose for each of us and can bring about goodness and blessing from every situation if only we will surrender to Him and trust Him.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Review
4 Stars
The Governess of Penwythe Hall Review and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book 

 

Book: The Governess of Penwythe Hall
 
Author: Sarah Ladd  

Genre: Historical Romance
 
Release Date: April 16, 2019

In the first of a new series from beloved Regency romance author, Sarah Ladd, Delia, a governess to five recently orphaned children, would risk anything to protect them . . . even her heart.
 
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.  

Click here to purchase your copy.
 

About the Author



Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever. Visit her online at SarahLadd.com; Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor; Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor.

 

More About The Governess of Penwythe Hall

 

5 things to know about Cornwall, England:
  1. Throughout its early history, Cornwall’s inhabitants called the country Kernow.
  2. Early inhabitants largely spoke their own language known as “Cornish,” which became nearly extinct in the 1800s
  3. The country has a long and rugged coastline and there were frequent shipwrecks.
  4. Fishing was a major industry, with herring, mackerel, and sardines being common catches.
  5. In 1870, novelist and poet Thomas Hardy called Cornwall “the region of dream and mystery.”
 
Imagine yourself in The Governess of Penwythe Hall with these pictures of 19th Century life in Cornwall:
 
 
 
 
 

My Review

 
A slowly unfolding Regency tale of loyalty, love, and ghosts of the past, “The Governess of Penwythe Hall” contains a smattering of elements to satisfy a variety of readers. From the shadowy prologue, Sarah Ladd creates a story that is starkly somber and yet infused with surprisingly delightful moments and emotions. Echoes of “Jane Eyre” resonate throughout, highlighting the subdued tone. All things considered, I think that the cover should reflect this a bit more rather than being so bright and vibrant, but that is it is just my personal opinion, and as it is, the book jacket is nonetheless beautiful.

“The Governess of Penwythe Hall” is a book that does not over-romanticize life in early nineteenth century England. Tragedies abound and affect all of the characters, from the wealthy to the working class. Death is a frequent, albeit unwelcome, visitor, leaving upheaval in its wake. To the characters’ credit, they adapt to change admirably despite the normal setbacks that occur along the way. As Charlotte Angrove, former mistress of Penwythe Hall, sagely notes, “Time reveals all, heals all. Don’t lose heart. God’s ways are not ours.” Bearing that in mind, the five children were a high point of the story for me. Ladd did well in handling their grief and the subsequent concerns and insecurities that they feel, especially as they apply to the oldest child, Liam. The uncle under whose care they find themselves, Jac Twethewey, is a landowner who works alongside his employees on the grounds, a man thrust into guardianship just as he tries to bring his plans for financially stabilizing his estate to fruition. Meanwhile, governess Cordelia (Delia) Greythorne’s mysterious past unravels one thread at a time, ultimately leading to the story’s climax.

While this book is not necessarily a suspenseful page turner, it demonstrates its strength in other ways. Although the setting is a little over 200 years ago, the issues remain germane to contemporary society. Grief, loss, shifting and uncertain living arrangements, and custody disputes all continue to affect families today, and readers can learn a bit about how to minister to the children involved through Delia’s example in this story. The inescapable consequences of the past also figure prominently in the narrative, as does that common, unsettling emotion, anxiety: “Fear seemed to be the dictating force in her life, especially since the loss of her family.” After a cloudy, stormy forecast, “The Governess of Penwythe Hall” concludes as the sun finally breaks through thanks to something that Delia has learned, that we need to put our faith not in other people or in ourselves, but in God, who works all things together for good.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

Blog Stops

 

Back Porch ReadsApril 11

LifeofLiterature, April 11

Moments, April 11

Genesis 5020, April 11

Maureen’s Musings, April 12

The Power of Words, April 12

Mary Hake, April 12

To Everything A Season, April 12

KarenSueHadley, April 13

EmpowerMoms, April 13

For the Love of Literature, April 13

Inklings and notionsApril 13

The Avid Reader, April 14

Blogging With CarolApril 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 14

Rachel’s Back Talk, April 15

Wishful Endings, April 15

Simple Harvest Reads, April 15 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Kat’s Corner Books, April 16

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 16

Daysong Reflections, April 16

The Becca Files, April 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 17

Blossoms and Blessings, April 17

Remembrancy, April 17

Worthy2Read, April 18

By The Book, April 18

Texas Book-aholic, April 18

Just the Write Escape, April 19

Stephanie’s Life of DeterminationApril 19

Debbie’s Dusty DeliberationsApril 19

Babbling Becky’s Book Impressions, April 20

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 20

For HIm and My Family, April 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 21

Inspiration Clothesline, April 21

Pause for Tales, April 21

Through the Fire Blogs, April 22

BigreadersiteApril 22

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 22

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, April 22

Inspired by fiction, April 23

A Reader’s Brain, April 23

Hallie Reads, April 23

Henry Happens, April 24

Connect in Fiction, April 24

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 24

janicesbookreviews, April 24

 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away a grand prize of a finished paperback copy of The Governess of Penwythe Hall!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/de80/the-governess-of-penwythe-hall-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Review
5 Stars
Painting the Heart
The Artful Match (London Beginnings #3) - Jennifer Delamere

A suitable finale to the lives of the Bernay sisters, “The Artful Match” is the third and final book in the London Beginnings trilogy. As it turns out, it was also my favorite. This surprised me because at first I was not even sure that I particularly cared for Cara, who seemed flighty and capricious. However, beginning with that “perfectly imperfect day” when her life irrevocably changes, she demonstrates a laudable strength of character and adaptability. Jennifer Delamere adroitly brings this series to a satisfying close by drawing together certain points concerning Rosalyn and Julia as well as Cara. Astute readers may pick up on a few of these details if they have read books one and two, and as such, while “The Artful Match” can be read as a standalone, reading this trilogy in order is highly recommended.

This novel forms an intriguing portrait of life in 1881 London and its environs. As its title suggests, the art scene serves as a primary catalyst for the first part of the story. Given that this was a time of both the celebration and liberation of art, the intertwining of history and fiction provides a fascinating panorama for the reader. From the esteemed Grosvenor Gallery to the humble artist’s studio, the art world shines with novelty. Although not shockingly avant-garde, the bohemian lifestyle of many artists during the Aesthetic Movement offers a unique foil to the more conventional society, and placing Cara among them allows her to develop a more independent nature and to pursue her own artistic bent.

Family affairs encroach upon the more lighthearted aspect of the narrative and ultimately pave the way for transformation and healing. Langham Burke stands apart from his aristocratic family because of his artistic endeavors and irresponsible lifestyle, the misunderstood artist, and the beauty of his acquaintance with Cara bears fruit throughout the storyline. Her godly influence on the stern and noble Lord Morestowe and especially his ward, the unruly Amelia, prove to be a means of healing for all of them. As the prototypical problem child, Amelia is one of my favorite characters because of her insight and precocious depth of understanding. As modern readers we can learn much from how she is treated by various people in the story. Furthermore, although the faith aspect is mostly subtle, it still forms the foundation for the changes which the characters undergo. Lord Morestowe’s acumen sums up what we should all realize and attain to: “The future was, as it always had been, in God’s hands. He would keep working, and he would keep praying for help and guidance.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and NetGalley in exchange for a review. A favorable review was not required. All opinions are my own.