Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Heretic... a book review

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Available: September 26, 2014
Lion Fiction Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-78264-095-0


I love good, historical fiction; fiction that bring life to bygone eras.  I looked forward to reading The Heretic from Henry Vyner-Brooks which opens in March 1536 during the reign of King Henry VIII – a time when true Christians suffered for their faith.

This book is written and published in England.  The style of writing is much different from the style of many American writers.  The Heretic is written in third-person which allows the reader to “read the thoughts” of the characters; yet, at times, you may come across numerous paragraphs of just the character’s thoughts.  Further, Henry Vyner-Brooks  assumes the reader knows the bigger historical context while he focuses on the day-to-day storytelling. 

The publisher’s description states:  The Heretic is based on historical events and real people.”  It would be wonderful if the author added a preface with historical details of the times and a more in-depth description of the main historical characters.  This would be especially helpful for those unfamiliar with English history regarding the Christian church.

Overall, the novel sheds light on the daily hardships of the believers during the mid-1530s.  It is not a light read, but needs to be read intentionally.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars             B-

I received a complimentary copy of The Heretic from Kregel Publishing for my honest review.

Blessings,

    Ellen

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Love Unexpected... a book review

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Love Unexpected
Available: December 2014
Beacons of Hope Series, #1
ISBN: 9780764212376
Publisher’s Description:
All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, Michigan, she’s left destitute and with no place to stay.
Then a traveling preacher comes up with a solution that will help both Emma and another: marriage to the local lighthouse keeper. He’s just lost his wife and needs help caring for his child. After a hasty wedding, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger and his toddler.
Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife’s death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.
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I enjoyed the Beacons of Hope series prequel Outof the Storm which introduces the reader to the lives of the lighthouse keepers stationed on Michigan’s Great Lakes in the mid-1800s.  Love Unexpected picks up in June 1859 with Patrick Garraty maintaining the Presque Isle Lighthouse.  Jody Hedlund continues to show the reader the hardships of living and maintaining a remote lighthouse.  How does a single father keep up the rigors required of a keeper and raise an energetic, strong-willed toddler at the same time?
Jody reminds the reader that we all have baggage from the past – some stays in the past while others resurface.  She has woven a story of God’s grace and forgiveness around the story of Patrick and Emma; one that we can learn from.  God does forgive us when we ask, but we also need to seek the forgiveness of those we love.
Although this book is not listed as historical fiction, Jody Hedlund based this series around real people and their stories.  She did weave in fiction to enhance the storyline.  All in all, this is a great read!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars       A+

I received a complimentary e-copy of Love Unexpected from Baker Publishing and NetGalley for my honest review.
Blessings,
     Ellen

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Dream of Home... a book review

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http://covers1.booksamillion.com/covers/bam/0/31/033/585/031033585X_b.jpg

A Dream of Home

By Amy Clipston
ISBN 978-0-310-33585-6
Fiction / Christian / Romance / Amish
Series: Heart of the Lancaster Grand Hotel, #3
Zondervan Publishing

 

After the unexpected death of her fiancĂ©, Madeleine finishes her tour of duty as a US Air Force flight nurse and returns to the only childhood home with roots and happy memories – her late grandparents’ home in the Amish community in Paradise, PA.  Although her mother left the Amish faith before becoming a church member, she never felt a desire to return.   As the storyline progresses, Madeleine is straddling the fence between the two worlds – Amish and English.  Saul, her closest neighbor, is raising his daughter Emma all alone.  As Emma seeks out Madeleine’s companionship, Saul forbids her from continuing the relationship.  Neither Emma nor Madeleine understands the harm in their friendship. 

 

Amy Clipston has woven a wonderful story giving the Englishers an inside look into the Amish faith and beliefs – without and judgment or condescension to either way of life.  Although A Dream of Home is the third in the Heart of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series, I never felt lost in the storyline or confused regarding the characters.  Amy Clipston included a glossary of Amish terms and the family trees of the main characters in the book.  If you are reading this with a reading group or friends, you will enjoy the Discussion Questions at the end of the book

 

My rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars,  A

 

Heart of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series:

A Hopeful Heart #1

A Mother’s Secret #2

A Dream of Home #3

A Simple Prayer #4 [release date May 2015]

 

I received a complimentary copy of A Dream of Home from Zondervan Publishing and their BookLook Bloggers program.

 

Blessings,

  Ellen

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Light in the Darkness... a book review

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A Light in the Darkness


By Jane Kirkpatrick
ISBN: 9780800722319
Historical Fiction / Christian
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Revell Publishing

Publisher’s Description –

Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read--as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere--even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. This multilayered story from bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick will grip readers' hearts and minds as they travel with Letitia on the dusty and dangerous Oregon Trail into the boundless American West.

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Historical Fiction is a genre that weaves a story within a particular time and place.  As a home educator, my children read historical fiction to gain a better understanding of the life and times of different cultures and eras.

A Light in the Darkness is a wonderful story of the hardships of a freed slave, Leticia, in the states (Kentucky and Missouri) and in the unknown Oregon Territory.  History books give a one-sided view - facts only.  YET, Jane Kirkpatrick weaves this story from the perspective of a freed woman who is not seen as a full person anywhere.  We meet Leticia in 1842 when she received her freedom papers and follow her life through 1856 and beyond.

The book is slow to grab your attention; but as the reader gains a fuller understanding of Leticia’s situation, you are pulled into the story and begin speculating how her life story ends.  I enjoyed learning more details about how women, especially freed slaves, were treated not only during the long trail ride but also after they reached a supposed “free” territory. 

Jane Kirkpatrick shares her research and information at the end of the book.  She put great thought and research into her writing to portray Leticia’s life as truthfully as possible.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars      A-

I receive a complimentary e-copy of A Light in the Darkness from Revell Publishing and NetGalley for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Out of the Storm... a novella review

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Appalachian Serenade

by Jody Hedlund
Beacons of Hope series
Bethany House Publishing
141 pages
Available Now!  FREE!


Publisher's Description:
Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Presque Isle Lighthouse, Michigan, 1854
"'Everyone's dead.' 
Isabelle Thornton shuddered at her father's words......Flotsam littered the beach around them, the remains of a steamer that had been ripped apart by the thrashing squall" (Chapter 1, page 2).


The novella introduces us to the Beacons of Hope series.
From the opening paragraph to the closing chapter, Jody Hedlund captured the harsh reality of living on the shores of the Great Lakes in Michigan.  The dangers, both natural and human, are woven into the story allowing the reader to gain a glimpse into the life of an 1850's lighthouse keeper.
 
Overall, I enjoyed the novella's setting, characters, and plot.  I was disappointed in the few romantic scenes that did not seem as believable as the rest of the story.

Enjoy Out of the Storm for free!  



I look forward to reading more about the life and times of the Great Lakes' lighthouse keepers and their families in the series first book Love Unexpected in December 2014.
Cover Art
Happy reading!
     Ellen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spectrum... a book review

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Spectrum

by Alan Jacobson
The Karen Vail Series #6
ISBN: 9781497641938
Available: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Open Road Media
Genre: Mystery / Thriller


Publisher's Description:
New York City: home to world-renowned museums, theater, restaurants, iconic sports franchises. Central Park. Wall Street. And an infamous serial killer who’s terrorized the Big Apple for decades.

The year is 1995 and the NYPD has just graduated a promising new patrol officer named Karen Vail. The rookie’s first day on the job is anything but easy when she finds herself at the crime scene of a young woman murdered in an unusual manner. Vail is unsure of what she’s looking at or what it means—but it’s a case that will weigh on her mind for nearly twenty years.

As the years pass, Vail’s career takes unexpected twists and turns—as does the case that’s come to be known as Hades. Now a skilled FBI profiler, will Vail be in a better position to catch the killer? Or will Hades prove to be Karen Vail’s hell on earth?

The character who has captivated readers worldwide—and who won the praise of literary giants Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Nelson DeMille—returns in a story that captures the experiences that shaped the revered profiler and made her the top cop she is today.

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This is the first Karen Vail Series that I have read.  I was not disappointed!  Since the storyline followed her law enforcement career from rookie cop to FBI profiler, I did not feel lost at all.  Having never lived in NYC, Alan Jacobson has written this book so realistically that I feel as though I am a local New Yorker.  His research into not only the setting and characters, but also the crimes and police work shine through in this terrific novel.

The multiple storylines, which at first seem odd, are woven together so well.  I can't say enough about this book.  I will be reading the first 5 books in the Karen Vail series very soon!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A+ all the way!

I received a complimentary e-copy of Spectrum from NetGalley and Open Road Media Publisher for my honest review.

Blessings,

    Ellen

Miracle in a Dry Season... a book review

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Miracle in a Dry Season

ISBN: 9780764212253
Bethany House Publishers
Available: July 29, 2014
Genre: Fiction / Christian / Romance






Publisher's Description:
In a Drought, It's the Darkest Cloud That Brings Hope
It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.


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1954 - - - an unwed mother - - - -  a mysterious gift
I enjoyed the first novella, Appalachian Serenade, by Sarah Loudin Thomas.  This novella introduced some of the characters found in Miracle in a Dry Season.  As we get reacquainted with the original characters, Sarah Loudin Thomas introduces us to more of the townspeople of Wise, West Virginia.  The characters are well-developed and their behavior gave a true sense of the life and times of the Appalachian people.  The story made me miss the simpler times when people spent time together – square dances and community suppers.

As much as I enjoyed Perla’s “gift,” it did not fit with the rest of the story.  Overall, I look forward to reading more of Sarah Loudin Thomas’ novels in the future.

My rating:  A-

4 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary e-copy of Miracle in a Dry Season from Bethany House Publishing and NetGalley for my honest review. 

Blessings,
    Ellen

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