Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick

Title: The Memory Weaver
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Pages: 336
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: Historical (1850s)
Publisher: Revell
Format: Paperback
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now a mother of two, Eliza faces a new kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her mother’s grave – and returning to the land of her captivity.

     Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal. As she searches the pages of her mother’s diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story.

     Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick’s latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman’s heart. Get swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

My review:

     This is an interesting historical novel.

     This is the first book I have ever read by Jan Kirkpatrick. I really liked the character development in this book. I also enjoyed the fact that as the story progressed many of the characters matured in how they handled things that came up.

     It was a great look at how childhood trauma can affect a person for years to come. It was a little bit of a revelation to see how simple things were able to cause flashbacks.

     I had a little bit of trouble with how short segments of Eliza Spalding’s (the mother) diary were inserted. I didn’t see any reference as to someone reading the diary to explain their presence in the story. Each time that I came to one of them I had to stop and remind myself of the connection before I could read it. This was the only real disadvantage for me but it is the reason that I have chosen to give this book only 4 stars.

     I am still recommending this novel because it takes a look at a true story and I found it to be a compelling telling of it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

Title: The Mistress of Tall Acre
Author: Laura Frantz
Pages: 400
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance (1783)
Publisher: Revell
Format: Paperback
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     There can be only one mistress of Tall Acre…

     The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

     Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal – you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

My review:

     An incredible heart touching historical romance!

     I connected with all three of the main characters from the very beginning. Sophie Menzies, General Seamus Ogilvy, and Lily Cate were so well written that I just wanted to see everything work out so that they could truly be a family and live a happily-ever-after fairy tale life. But this book is more about a realistic life than that.

     There were many heart-warming moments filled with love. There were also just as many heart-breaking moments. My emotions were on a virtual roller coaster throughout this book. At times my emotions were so caught up in the story that I felt like yelling at both, Seamus and Sophie, “Speak up. Tell _______ how you feel.” Much of the heart ache could have been avoided if they had only listened to me. It ended up being a story of learning how to let the past go so that they could move forward with their lives.

     I had never thought of what the political climate in America would have been like just after the revolutionary war. This book did a wonderful job of opening my eyes and my mind up to it. I knew that there had been many people living in the colonies that still believed in the British crown’s rule. I just hadn’t considered their situation after the war.

     This book is very well written and I have now found another author to put on my favorites list. I will be looking for more books by Laura Frantz to read. I am highly recommending this wonderful novel and giving it a rating of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Queen (Realms of the Infinite #2) by R. J. Larson

Title: Queen (Realms of the Infinite #2)
Author: R. J. Larson
Pages: 368
Year:  2015
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing
Format: eBook
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Bel-Tygeon, the fallen god-king of Belaal, has bowed to the Infinite and accepted life as a mortal. Now he is desperate to return to his kingdom. Hunted by his enemies, he accepts refuge among the Eosyths, at the bidding of Serena of Clan Darom. But Serena and her family are also Bel-Tygeon’s enemies, and he must conceal his true name and royal rank from them – even when he realizes that Serena is the woman he has sought for years. The woman he loves. The woman he longs to proclaim as his queen.

     Yet she can never be his.

     Serena of Clan Darom wants nothing more than to protect her family and to save her people, the Eosyths, from their many enemies. She cannot afford to fall in love with a madman. A stranger. Yet honor dictates that she much shelter Ty and protect him with her life. Will one act of kindness destroy everything she’s worked for and believed?

     And how can the unknowable Infinite, worshiped by her lord-father, ever help her in their struggle to survive?

     Child of Dust, are you My servant?

My review:

     Another fantastic fantasy novel by R.J.!

     This book is part of a “true” series. Book 1 of the series, “Exiles,” HAS to be read before reading this one. In addition to that I believe that the first series set in this marvelous Fantasyland needs to be read prior to reading this series for the full enjoyment. I have read all of them and LOVED each and every one!

     The new characters for this book, especially Serena of Clan Darom, are wonderfully well written and developed. I connected with them and felt like I was a part of the family unit with the annoyances and everything. I really liked seeing the change that had taken place in Bel-Tygeon, or Ty, since the end of Exiles.

     I also really enjoyed seeing what the characters from Exiles, those that remained in Belaal, were doing and how they had grown in the intervening time between the two books. I was extremely pleased to catch up with Araine and Nikaros.

     I loved the way that the clan was run, their traditions, and their sense of honor. They trusted their leader without question and along with him they trusted the Infinite. At times though when decisions needed to be made he didn’t just dictate what would happen. He listened to ideas and suggestions, and then decided.

     As with all of the previous books set in this wonderful land R.J. Larson worked multiple Old Testament stories into the novel. I loved trying to spot each one of them.

     I have to highly recommend this book and give it a rating of 5 stars. In my opinion you can’t go wrong if you choose to spend part of your free time reading these wonderful stories.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Gift (Prairie State Friends #2) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Title: The Gift (Prairie State Friends #2)
Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Pages: 320
Release Date: August 1, 2015
Genre: Amish Fiction
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Follow the heart-wrenching story of Adam Beachy, whose mother walked out on him and his family – and away from the Amish faith. Now he balks at the idea of ever marrying and having a family of his own. But when tragedy strikes, Adam is suddenly a father figure to his three nieces and finds himself needing a wife. Despite their differences over her practice of reflexology, Leah Mast seems the best option to fill that role. Can they make it work in a modern-day marriage of convenience?

My review:

     This is a wonderful Amish story.

     I had not read book #1 in this series before reading this one. There were enough references to it and things from that story that it probably would have been better to do so. At the same time I was able to fully follow everything that happened in this novel without having done so. Therefore it isn’t exactly necessary to read it first.

     I loved Leah Mast and I’m guessing that she is probably one of the secondary characters in the previous book. She is comfortable with the life that she has living with her parents and giving reflexology treatments to help others. That is her whole focus in life living the way God wants her to and helping others. I was able to really connect with her on both of those points and that added to my enjoyment of the story. I wanted her to add a loving, romantic relationship to that so that her life could be even more fulfilling.

     When introduced to Adam Beachy and the story of his childhood started to come out my heart ached for all that he had been through. I can’t imagine the feelings of rejection that he and his sister would have had to deal with. I really enjoyed reading his journey as he tried to work through some of the past and the heartache with God’s help.

     I hope that we get to see more of Adam and Leah in future books so that we can see how they are getting along.

     I do highly recommend this book. I am going back to read the first book and I would suggest that if you have the chance to read it first that you do so. This great story gets a 5 star rating from me.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #2) by Dina L. Sleiman

Title: Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #2)
Author: Dina L. Sleiman
Pages: 368
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Genre: Medieval / Fantasy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Authurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.

     When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles – along with twists and turns aplenty – await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

My review:

     A thrilling medieval tale of Lords, Ladies, and Knights!

     This is part of a “true” series. To fully enjoy the story I believe that you need to have read the first book in the series, Dauntless, before reading this one.

     At the very beginning we meet Gwendolyn “Gwen” and her maid Rosalind. Though, at the time, they were involved in very unladylike behavior. Before I finished the first chapter I had already been captivated by this strong and courageous woman.

     After we get a really good look at who she is and what her family situation is we shift our focus to Allen of Ellsworth. He is one of the main characters in the first book of the series. We are caught up on what he has been doing since the end of that wonderful story. Then he sets out to follow his dream of moving to North Britannia to serve as a Knight in that dukedom. I truly admired his code of conduct before this story begins and it only grows throughout this novel. He struggles through part of the book trying to know what the right thing to do is and that only serves to make him seem more human.

     The depiction of what family life was like for the nobility was a little eye opening. But then again this story is set in the Middle Ages. I absolutely loved the descriptions of the tournaments and sword fights.

     I really enjoyed seeing how one firm believer in Christ was able to help direct others around him to start seeking God. At the same time he never tried to force anyone to believe as he did.

     If you have ever enjoyed the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table you should read this wonderful story. I am highly recommending this marvelous book and giving it a rating of 5 stars.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Exiles (Realms of the Infinite #1) by R. J. Larson

Title: Exiles (Realms of the Infinite #1)
Author: R. J. Larson
Pages: 340
Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     From the acclaimed author of Prophet, Judge, and King…

     Return to the realms of the Infinite!

     For daring to trust their Creator, Araine and Nikaros are swept from their homes into a foreign land… slaves to their enemies.

     Araine Khalome of ToronSea follows the goddess Atea. But Araine secretly questions Atea’s power as a goddess. Wrestling with her spiritual doubts, Araine finds old scrolls containing verses that come alive, beckoning her soul. Within those words, Araine senses the presence of the Infinite, the despised Most Ancient God, enemy to the Ateans, and she’s captivated – secretly risking her life to read the Books of the Infinite.

     You are forever in My sight…

     Betrayed and condemned, Araine is swept away to the kingdom of Belaal, where she is swiftly apprehended and marked as a slave. Caught up in the lethal political and religious struggles within Belaal, Araine joins forces with another slave, Nikaros, a hostage and exiled son of an Eosyth Lord. As they fight to survive the antagonistic royal court, Nik and Araine soon realize that they must also protect the despotic god-king who has enslaved them.

     But the god-king Bel-Tygeon, has plans of his own.

     Child of Dust, are you My servant?

My review:

     An incredibly well crafted fantasy novel!

     Though this is book 1 of this particular series it is my belief that to receive the maximum enjoyment from this story you should read all 3 books in the previous series, “Books of the Infinite,” before this one.

     From the very beginning my heart was aching for the plight that Nikaros and his friends were caught in. I wanted so badly to see them free from their captors. Yet shortly after their captivity starts I suddenly found myself transported to ToronSea and the home of a wealthy family.

     At first I was confused by the dramatic shift but it didn’t take long to start feeling a connection to Araine. I found myself wanting to see her realize the love of the Infinite in the midst of what seemed to me to be a cold, unfeeling family.

     As soon as Araine arrives in Belaal the intrigue in the royal court picks up. With it there is plenty of action and excitement.

     Since I have read the entire Bible I am fascinated by the marvelous way that R. J. Larson takes wonderful stories from the Old Testament and retells them within the fantasy land that she has developed for these fantastic books.

     I have got to give this spectacular book a rating of 5 stars. I am highly recommending it. I know for a fact that I will be reading the rest of this series.