Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Right Kind of Fool
By Sarah Loudin Thomas
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he'd obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined. 
The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal's absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family's basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it's his father he runs to tell--shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn't his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family's hearts again. 

Oh man, this book! This book! Right from the get-go it totally tugged at my heartstrings. I'm totally a character-driven reader, so if you don't give me good characters, you've lost me. Well, with this book, there are so many characters to absolutely fall in love with. 
There's 13-year-old Loyal, who is bright and loving and wants to fit in despite being deaf--and who also wants to both make his parents proud and do whatever he can to help them. 
There's Creed, Loyal's father, who blames himself for Loyal's deafness and has retreated from his family, living and working on a nearby mountain and only visiting his family periodically. 
There's Delphy, Loyal's mother, who is desperate to protect her son and who wishes her husband would come back while simultaneously wishing she didn't care about him so he couldn't let her down again. It's tough to pick which character to love the most; they all were so REAL and their pain and worries and hopes were so vividly portrayed. 
Take such beautiful characters and weave them together, and wow, what a great start to a story. I loved reading every single one of their interactions, as the three of them are trying to figure out how to interact with each other. They're all good people who are trying hard so you know it's going to turn out all right in the end, but it was still so touching to read each moment. 
 So, take amazing characters (I won't get into the secondary characters other than to say they were great, too) and then add in a really interesting plot (I couldn't wait to find out whodunit!) and a setting that is so well-written that you just immediately feel like you've slipped into West Virginia in 1934, and you've got one heck of a book! 
This is one of those books that will stick with you. I adored it from start to finish. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year! 
An easy 5 stars on this one!
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Mary and Martha

Mary and Martha 
By H.B. Moore 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2020 

For prosperous landowner Lazarus, hard work, and extensive travel are a means to comfortably support his family, including his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Following a journey to sell his wares, Lazarus stumbles upon an opportunity to assist a stranger in need, delaying his return home. Through Lazarus's selfless act of service, he, Mary and Martha find themselves standing witness to miracles they never dreamed possible in the presence of a man who will forever change them and those they love-a man called Jesus of Nazareth. 

Experience as never before the accounts of those who knew Christ, not only as the Savior of the World but also as a friend. 

I always love reading H.B. Moore's Biblical fiction because it's so well-written, with amazing details that really transport me to the past, and characters who draw me into the story, and this book was no exception. I loved her imagining of Mary and Martha and what their lives may have been like. I especially enjoyed the fact that she portrayed them as caring deeply about each other; it's so easy, based on the few Bible verses about them, to envision them as rivals or constantly being frustrated with each other. Moore showed them differently, though, and as I was touched by how much they supported each other even though they had different personalities and different interests. I also really loved the dash of romance incorporated in the story, as both Mary and Martha find someone who is drawn to them for their unique gifts. This was a beautiful story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 
4.5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Beguiled (The Fairest Maidens #2)

Beguiled (The Fairest Maidens #2)
By Jody Hedlund
Published by Northern Lights Press
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020

Princess Pearl flees for her life after her mother, Queen Margery, tries to have her killed during a hunting expedition. Pearl finds refuge on the Isle of Outcasts among criminals and misfits, disguising her face with a veil so no one recognizes her. She lives for the day when she can return to Warwick and rescue her sister, Ruby, from the queen’s clutches.

 Amidst his royal testing on the Isle of Outcasts, Prince Mikkel of Scania has kept his identity a secret. Captured by a warring band of outcasts and condemned to die, he finds himself making friends with an intriguing but feisty young veiled woman. Intending to win her trust and gain her help to escape, he soon finds himself coerced to wed her.

Mikkel reluctantly agrees to the union to save his life, and Pearl hopes the marriage will provide protection for her and Ruby. But the queen is more determined to kill her daughter than either Pearl or Mikkel realizes and has a sinister reason neither expects—one that could rip their new love apart forever. 

Another great novel from Jody Hedlund! Snow White has never been one of my favorite fairy tales, but I found this retelling to be captivating. I've always thought of Snow White as kind of bland--pretty and kind but bland nonetheless. Well, Pearl is awesome--she's determined and fierce, a fighter who will do anything she can to protect those she loves. I also really liked how she wanted to find someone to love her because of who she is and not what she looks like. Mikkel was a great character as well; he irritated me sometimes at the beginning (he definitely had some growing to do), but he had a good heart, and I appreciated the moments of self-reflection and how he grew throughout the story. I also really liked how he and Pearl had a good friendship. With terrific characters, fast-paced action, a great message about caring about more than outward appearances, and of course, the romance, this book is a lot of fun to read and will appeal to lots of readers. 
4.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Light at Wyndcliff (Cornwall #3) by Sarah E. Ladd

The Light at Wyndcliff (Cornwall #3)
By Sarah E. Ladd
Published by Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 13th, 2020


In the third book of this sweet Regency Cornwall series, one young man must search for truth among the debris of multiple shipwrecks on his newly inherited property. 

When Liam Twethewey inherits the ancient Wyndcliff Hall in Pevlyn, Cornwall, he sets a goal of fulfilling his late great-uncle’s dream of opening a china clay pit on the estate’s moorland. When he arrives, however, a mysterious shipwreck on his property—along with even more mysterious survivors—puts his plans on hold. 

Evelyn Bray has lived in Pevlyn her entire life. After her grandfather’s fall from fortune, he humbled himself and accepted the position of steward at Wyndcliff Hall. Evelyn’s mother, embarrassed by the reduction of wealth and status, left Pevlyn in search of a better life for them both, but in spite of her promise, never returns. Evelyn is left to navigate an uncertain path with an even more uncertain future. 

When the mysteries surrounding the shipwreck survivors intensify, Liam and Evelyn are thrown together as they attempt to untangle a web of deceit and secrets. But as they separate the truths from the lies, they quickly learn that their surroundings—and the people in it—are not as they seem. Liam and Evelyn are each tested, and as a romance buds between them, they must decide if their love is strong enough to overcome their growing differences. 

This book is very well-written, with so much depth to it. You can feel the tension as Liam is trying to figure out what is really happening on his property and who he can trust. Liam was very endearing and I really liked him. I thought Evelyn was well-developed, with her strained relationship with her mother and her conflicting feelings about her grandfather. At the same time, I found her to be a bit bland and liked her more toward the end of the book when she started to stand up for herself more. This isn't your typical Regency, with balls and such, and I appreciated the originality. I will say that it was a bit hard for me to get through, but I think that's due to the heaviness in the real world right now; at another time, I think I would adore this book. So, if you need something lighter to read, set this one aside for now--but come back to it when you can because it's definitely worth reading. 
4 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.