Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Promise of Home

The Promise of Home by Michele Paige Holmes

Katie and Collin MacDonald set out for Nova Scotia, leaving behind their beloved Highlands and hoping they can find a new home and peace with it--and that once they cross the ocean, they can somehow find Collin's twin brother Ian, who, after trading places with Collin, is bound for Virginia as an indentured servant.
Ian nearly died on his voyage--he would have if Elizabeth Campbell hadn't saved him and hidden him away, sneaking him food and care whenever she could. Although she's a member of the Campbell clan, whom Ian has always hated, he finds that his plan of escaping and making his way back to Scotland will be more complicated than he anticipated, because he can't just leave Eliza, and others who were forced into indentured servitude simply for being poor, to face fourteen years of undeserved indentured service. Although he yearns for Scotland, he also realizes it's time for him to look out for others and not only himself.

This is the third book in a series (and you DO need to read the other two first), and it's the best. I really loved the other two books, but this one was even better. I liked being able to see more of Katie's and Collin's story, but also really loved delving into Ian's story and seeing more about what had made him the person he is and also seeing him change and grow. Great story with a gripping plot and great characters.
Highly recommend!

5 stars.

I read a copy from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Loving Lieutenant Lancaster

Loving Lieutenant Lancaster
by Sarah M. Eden

Linus Lancaster, having spent years at sea, isn't entirely sure what to do as a gentleman. When his brother-in-law, Adam, the infamous Duke of Kielder, insists that Linus accompany him to a house party hosted by the dandy Philip, the Earl of Lampton, in order to make the trip tolerable (or, at least to keep Adam from strangling his annoying host), it gives Linus an excuse to avoid the estate he never wanted to inherit, since it should have gone to his now-deceased older brother and best friend. He soon comes to realize his sisters see this house party as an opportunity to find him a match. As he dodges their attempts, Linus finds a friend in Arabella, the dowager Lady Lampton's companion. Both used to being on the fringes in the lives of those around them, they soon come to the center of each other's lives.

Ah! I have been waiting forever to see a meeting between the Duke of Kielder and the Earl of Lampton--and this was better than I could have imagined. Loved it. That said, even though I've been eager for that particular plotline, it didn't overshadow Linus's and Arabella's story. They are both sweet and kind, and I truly enjoyed watching their friendship blossom love. True to form, Sarah Eden gives you deep characters that you wish were real, scenes and comments that will have you snorting with laughter, and polished writing. Fantastic read; lots of fun. You probably could read this as a stand-alone, but it's much better if you're read the previous books in the two series it ties together (The Lancaster Family and The Jonquil Brothers) to fully appreciate its awesomeness.

5 stars. Best of 2018.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Sons of Blackbird Mountain
by Joanne Bischof

Aven Norgaard goes to Blackbird Mountain in Appalachia, expecting to her late husband's aunt care for three young boys--only when she arrives, she finds that the aunt is deceased and the "boys" are grown men. The Norgaard brothers live a somewhat isolated life, brewing liquor and keeping to themselves, but Aven is drawn to them all--the eldest, Jorgan, is a brotherly caretaker; the youngest, Haakon is outgoing and interested in Aven; the middle, Thor, is deaf, but Aven is drawn into his world. As Aven works alongside the brothers, Aven realizes she has come to find home--and she hopes she has found love as well.

From the first time he saw her picture, Thor has been captivated by Aven; her arrival on the farm only strengthens his interest in her. Although Thor is a master brewer, creating liquors that have let his family thrive and have given Thor a purpose in life, he decides it's time to break the hold liquor has on him and see if he has finally found someone who will truly listen to him. Both his desire to quit the liquor and to pursue Aven will have profound consequences for his family, however.

Wow! This book is amazing! It's really well written, from details that pull the reader right onto Blackbird Mountain so you can almost smell the cider and the flowers, to characters who tug at your heart, to societal subjects that make you think (but don't get preachy.) Thor's struggles--from his deafness to his difficulty expressing himself to trying to break his addiction--were heart-rending. He's such a complex character--as is Haakon. Irish Aven was just terrific--compassionate and kind but with a little spunk. The subjects--alcoholism racism, brotherly relationships, hurting and healing and forgiveness--are woven into the story skillfully, which keeps it from being overwhelming (or depressing). The beautiful writing really lets the characters shine--there's a lot going on, but the plot doesn't overrun the characters, which happens all too easily with books that have a lot going on. Instead, Bischof has written about about the characters, who deal with various issues (that might not be coming across as clearly as I hope, but I mean that as a very high compliment.)

This was a fantastic book, and I can't wait for the sequel! One of my picks for the best of 2018. 5 stars!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Orphan's Wish

The Orphan's Wish by Melanie Dickerson

Aladdin escaped a merciless master who forced him to steal, when a Priest took him back home to Hagenheim. There, he lives in an orphanage but has the opportunity to receive an education--and to he meets Lady Kirstyn, the daughter of the duke of Hagenheim. They quickly become friends. As they grow older, though, Aladdin comes to realize that he doesn't want the position offered to him--to be a steward to the duke. He wants to make his fortune and, even it's a long shot, become worthy to ask for Kirstyn's hand in marriage. He leaves Hagenheim, and he does manage to find his place in the world--but before he can see if Kirstyn might care for him as he cares for her, Kirstyn is kidnapped, and Aladdin doesn't know if he'll ever see her again.

I've read all of Melanie Dickerson's books, and while there are others that I like more, I still enjoyed this newest addition to the Hagenheim series. It started out a little slower for me than some of the others and didn't hook me quite as fast as some of her others, but I think that's definitely due to my own personality and preferences (I'm pretty feisty and feel a natural connection with characters who are pretty spirited, whereas Kirstyn and Aladdin are more sweet and kind than spirited.) That said, they are both lovable characters, always trying to help others and caring about each other so much. Aladdin's worries about not being good enough and wanting to appear as perfect as possible to others was realistically developed, as was Kirstyn's sense of being overlooked within her large family (although I wish the resolution of those feelings had been shown more strongly--and acknowledged by her family), and I think those feelings of insecurity and wondering if one matters will resonate with lots of readers.

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series--a retelling of Mulan!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

4 stars.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


Unshattered by Carol J. Decker and Stacey Nash

Carol Decker had a pretty normal life—great husband, beautiful daughter, and another on the way. Then, nearing the end of her second pregnancy, Carol’s body began to attack itself. Doctors had to perform an emergency c-section to save her baby and send Carol to the ICU as she battled sepsis. In order to save her life, they had to amputate Carol’s feet and left hand. She also lost her sight. As a blind, triple-amputee, Carol faced strenuous physical therapy but also had to overcome feelings of hopelessness and insecurities, learning that although her body may have been shattered, her life was beautiful and very much worth living.

Wow. This book packs a punch. T descriptions of what Carol went through physically and emotionally are heart-rending. It’s very honest, as Carol shares her fears and worries, her frustrations, her hopes, and the lessons she learned. Carol is very inspirational, as she learns how to not only exist but to thrive and to do things that seem impossible. This was a gripping memoir.

 4 stars.

I read an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

 #NetGalley #Unshattered