Whose Waves These Are

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Dykes, Amanda. Whose Waves These Are. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
With a storyline centered around twins Roy and Robert Bliss, Whose Waves These Are tells the tale of family, truth, hope, faith and forgiveness over years of time. Using rocks as a foundation to build something great, Robert Bliss needs to finish before it is too late. Years later, called home by her GrandBob (Robert), Annie Bliss finds herself back home in Ansel-by-the-Sea, discovering mysteries revolving around stones, a poem, and family. Working to uncover the history involved, Annie stumbles upon much more than she imagined…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Full of beautiful imagery and skillful writing, I so appreciated the manner in which this book was written. Through the word choices, the deep visualizations, the dual timeframe, and the eloquence of speech, author Amanda Dykes had me from the first few pages with her debut novel, Whose Waves These Are. Surrounding the theme of water and waves, the quote “Every wave…is a story” is carried throughout the book, resulting in a seamless circle-style story. Savoring this book while at the same time not being able to put it down, it was touching, heartwarming, sensitive and moving. Definitely a book I will recommend as well as an author I will read again.

RATING: 5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Whose Waves These Are from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink

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Harrel, Lindsay. The Secrets of Paper and Ink. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Split between England in the 1850’s and here in the present day, The Secrets of Paper and Ink travels on a journey with three women who connect in the process of finding forgiveness, redemption and love. Sophia, dealing with the guilt of an abusive relationship, Ginny, trying to pick up the pieces after her husband left, and Emily, discovered by the other women through her diary written many years ago, all relate in a manner unforeseen. With a dual timeline story surrounding a journal found in a bookstore, author Lindsay Harrel shares the struggles, challenges, heartbreaks, and friendships of life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the idea of a story involving a bookstore with lots of books, a bookstore owner hoping to keep her store, a cute literature professor and a written journal found among the shelves, I knew I had to read The Secrets of Paper and Ink. Filled with a bit of mystery, 3 interesting women characters with real-life issues, a bookstore filled with books (can you tell I love to read?), and a storyline which bounces back and forth in time, I truly enjoyed this novel by Lindsay Harrel. Reading it in just two evenings, it flowed easily, kept my interest, and was relatable to everyday life. I hope for a sequel to this novel, allowing me to catch up with Sophia, Ginny and Emily.

RATING: 4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Secrets of Paper and Ink from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Memory House

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Hauck, Rachel. The Memory House. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Another dual timeline story by award-winning/ best-selling author, Rachel Hauck.  In her newest novel, The Memory House, two women share grief, sorrow, loss, hope, love and faith through a common strong connection. Everleigh Applegate and Beck Holliday, though separated by over 50 years, find solace, answers and a future through the “Memory House”.  Set in the 1960’s yet also the present day, as the timespan starts to shrink between them, the bond grows deeper between the women while they search for forgiveness, overcome guilt, learn to trust again, and listen to their hearts…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Yet again author Rachel Hauck conquers the difficulty of successfully writing between two timeframes. Leaping back and forth while connecting the women in a common thread, I wasn’t sure she could do it again (but she did)! As a favorite author of mine, I knew I would read The Memory House and am certainly glad I did. With real characters, a strong message, an interesting connection and subtle faith, the newest novel from this author may just be her best. Beautifully written in a readable style, I am already waiting for her next story.  Success…again!

RATING: 4.75 (out of ) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Memory House from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Far Side of the Sea

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Breslin, Kate. Far Side of the Sea. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Set during WWI, Far Side of the Sea shares the story of Lt. Colin Mabry as he overcomes his war injuries, now decoding messages rather than in battle. Receiving a personal message meant for him, Colin is certainly surprised to find another person waiting for him in Paris other than the expected woman, Jewel. Johanna, Jewel’s half sister, requires Colin’s help in locating Jewel and their father; however, they soon find themselves caught in a web of espionage, not sure whom to trust nor where to turn. As uncertainty grows, feelings develop, emotions ignite, and danger ensues, the risks and mystery only continue to develop throughout the new novel by author Kate Breslin.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read other books by this author, I knew I just had to add this one to my list. Full of unexpected twists, a developing romance, historical references and subtle faith, Far Side of the Sea is actually the second book following Not by Sight, which I absolutely enjoyed (https://savurbks.com/2015/08/24/not-by-sight/). As an added interest to this novel, carrier pigeons are included as a role in the story, causing me to delve further into the subject of their use in WWI. With added notes on the period history as well as a few discussion questions, I know I made the right decision to read this book. I am already looking forward to Kate Breslin’s next book!

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Far Side of the Sea from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

Almost Home

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Luesse, Valerie Fraser. Almost Home. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Owning a boardinghouse in Blackberry Springs, Alabama, Dolly and Si Chandler welcome guests into their home as America enters into World War II. With a mixture of boarders from different locations, varying ages, diverse beliefs and various backgrounds, the dinner table tends to be full of numerous lively conversations. As friendships grow and healing takes place, a mystery is uncovered from the past. As a historical romance, Christian fiction and heart-warming novel, author Valerie Fraser Luesse writes a story which makes everyone feel Almost Home

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Instead of a fast-paced novel, Almost Home took time to reveal the characters, create emotions and provide that cuddly, homey feel. I enjoyed meeting the characters and learning their stories, watching where the mystery might lead, and sipping my hot chocolate while I lingered through the book. Though not necessarily my favorite time-period to read, I found the guests interesting and the home-owners delightfully charming. A slower read yet perfect for the coziness of winter, I read this book at just the right time of year. Definitely a warmhearted book, I may continue to watch for this author in the future. (I did also like her previous book, Missing Isaac.)

RATING:
3.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Almost Home from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Who I Am With You

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Hatcher, Robin Lee. Who I Am With You: A Legacy Of Faith Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
Dealing with the sudden and tragic death of her husband and daughter, Jessica Mason is not only grieving but awaiting the birth of her next child. Hiding from the media, Ridley Chesterfield takes refuge in Hope Springs, not intending to meet anyone while he is there. Through invitations, consequences, unexpected situations, a generational Bible, and an adorable dog named Kris, Ridley and Jessica connect in present day but Jessica also makes a connection with her past. Forgiveness, faith, and friendship soon help hearts heal…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Told alternately between two time periods, a connection grows deeper with the past while affecting the present and determining the future. Well written, as well as gracefully told, Who I Am With You tugs on the heartstrings while being enjoyable to read. Though not an enormous fan of contemporary fiction, the mixings with the past provided an interesting storyline with just the right sprinkling of surprises to keep me engaged to the end. Romance, forgiveness, healing, and strength all combine in the first book of the new A Legacy Of Faith series by author, Robin Lee Hatcher. Definitely a series I will continue reading.  (Side note: I absolutely love the title of this book!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Who I Am With You from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Auschwitz Lullaby

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Escobar, Mario. Abernathy, Gretchen (Translator). Auschwitz Lullaby. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2018.

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SUMMARY:
Based on a true story, Auschwitz Lullaby follows Helene Hannemann and her family into the concentration camp at Auschwitz. German herself yet separated from her Gypsy husband, Helene and her five children must survive the hallows of the camp- physically, mentally and emotionally. When her background and skills are discovered, Helene is forced to open a daycare and school for the many children within the camp. Through heartbreaking decisions, difficult circumstances, and desperate measures, strength, heart, patience, faith, and compliance are tested.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
An emotional read based on an actual story, Auschwitz Lullaby shares the lengths a woman and mother will go for her children and family. Exceedingly protective of the children in her care, I so empathized with Helene as a mother. Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, deplorable yet strong, despairing yet inspiring, author Mario Escobar takes readers on quite a journey. Not easy to read but not a book to be missed, I am glad I took the opportunity to read this one. Discussion questions, a glossary, an author’s note and acknowledgements truly add to the impact of the story.  You will never know your own strength until you have no other option.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Auschwitz Lullaby from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

We Hope for Better Things

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Bartels, Erin.  We Hope for Better Things.  Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing.  2019.

SUMMARY:
Taking place in three different time periods, with three very different characters, and three exceedingly different points of view, We Hope for Better Things intertwines all of these while tackling social issues, cultures, politics, generations, and beliefs. Meeting Mary during the 1860s, Nora from the 1960s, and Elizabeth in the present, through research and history, a common thread emerges. Heartbreaking yet inspirational, togetherness yet loneliness, unique yet brilliant, author Erin Bartels makes a dramatic entrance with her debut novel.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Wow. Filled with emotional baggage, We Hope for Better Things provides a journey across a vast timeline. Able to control that timeline effectively, as well as create well-developed characters with a deeper message within, debut author Erin Bartels does an excellent job with her first novel. As a photographer and artist, her work carries over into her writing as she paints the story. (She even reads with a spastic Chihuahua-mix on her lap…we have one of those, too!) Truly a book I enjoyed reading and an author I look forward to reading more of; so very well done!

RATING:
4.75 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of We Hope for Better Things from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Under a Cloudless Sky

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Fairy, Chris. Under a Cloudless Sky. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Moving smoothly and logically between 1933 and 2004, best-selling author, Chris Fabry, pens a fascinating novel surrounding a mining town in West Virginia. With a character involved in both time periods who is harboring a secret which could change everything, the believable plot takes twists and turns that spin until the end. With an embedded message about a relevant topic, this novel is full.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read several of Chris Fabry’s previous books, his newest one, Under a Cloudless Sky, was definitely on my list to read. As with all of this author’s books, the message is deep, the writing is solid, the story is interesting and the book is captivating. Not a “fluffy” read but one with a message concerning aging parents, the characters, plot, events and surprises all seem as if they could be real. Complete with discussion questions for group use, this would be wonderful for a book club, a library or perhaps even a ministry. Excellent author; excellent book!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Under a Cloudless Sky from Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review*