King’s Shadow

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Hunt, Angela. King’s Shadow. The Silent Years Series- Book 4. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
As King Herod’s only sister, Salome lives her life full of resentment, selfishness, and uncertainty. On the other hand, Zara, Salome’s handmaid, is full of compassion, selflessness, and humbleness. With a storyline that alternates between characters, King’s Shadow, written by the New York Times bestselling author, Angela Hunt, demonstrates the struggles of each woman. Set in the years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, both women must survive their different positions during King Herod’s rule.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Giving voice to a quiet time in history, author Angela Hunt fills in the gaps in a story-like fashion. Certainly not an easy, light, fast read, rather this novel is deep, strong and full. With a convenient format of each chapter being labeled, not only was the book interesting but it also kept me reading to reach the next chapter as I followed each woman. (Sometimes, I even jumped ahead a bit if I just couldn’t wait.) Absolutely a book for fans of Biblical Historical fiction (which I generally am not), I think it may also offer a substantial Bible study. Not having read all the previous books in The Silent Years series, the story was able to stand alone fine but may have been even heartier if the other books were read before. Definitely a thought-provoking and well written book.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of King’s Shadow from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review*

The Number of Love

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White, Roseanna M. The Number of Love: The Codebreakers-Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2019.

SUMMARY:
Margot De Wilde spends much of her time in Room 40 deciphering codes of German telegraphs during the Great War. Taking place in Great Britain, The Number of Love shares the mysteries and secrets associated with such an activity. Seeing her world through numbers which portrays Margot as quirky, intellectual, winsome and perhaps a bit eccentric, Margot prefers digits to people. That is until Drake Elton appears and tries to change her mind…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Drawn to the book by the cover as well as the riddle of the title, though not an author I read regularly, I was a bit uncertain of the book within the first few pages. Thinking perhaps I had missed something, I did restart the book and was able to follow along a bit better. I did find the history of the codebreakers to be quite interesting and allowed the story to revolve around those events for me which made the struggle in the beginning worth finishing the book. Not having read the previous novel in which Margot was introduced, I do not think I necessarily missed anything except her earlier childhood. Intrigued enough to watch for the next book in The Codebreakers series, I hope to learn even more of the activity that took place in Room 40 during World War I.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Number of Love from Bethany House Publishers 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*

With This Pledge

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Alexander, Tamera. With This Pledge: The Carnton Series- Book 1. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2019.

SUMMARY:
As a governess to the MacGovock’s young children, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Clouston is very capable of handling difficult situations. Yet, when faced with the daunting, heart-rendering job of overseeing wounded soldiers who have overtaken the MacGovock’s home, Lizzie is tested to the limits of her inner strength and feels quite helpless. Set during the Civil War, With This Pledge also follows Captain Roland Jones’s journey as he attempts to save both his limbs while strongly sharing his beliefs. Author Tamera Alexander writes an emotionally intense, historically grounded, and undeniably romantic story in the first book of her new series…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Beautifully portrayed while heartbreakingly experienced, With This Pledge is perfectly told in true Tamera Alexander style.  With full characters, an interesting storyline, and an intended message, I had trouble putting this book down once I started it. Already a fan of this author, I wasn’t disappointed in her newest novel and am glad it is the beginning of a series. With the Civil War full of immense casualties, the backdrop for this story flowed through the characters as they found the necessary strength while exploring and standing behind individual beliefs, creating the heart-tugs this author is known for. Well-written and definitely enjoyed, I will continue to seek out this author in the future.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of With This Pledge 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*

The Weaver’s Daughter

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Ladd, Sarah E. The Weaver’s Daughter. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2018.

SUMMARY:
The Dearborn family has stood firm in their loyalties and determination for keeping the family’s legacy alive as weavers for generations. The Stockton family, though linked to the past through their wool mill, also strives forward with new technology in running the Stockton Mill. Kate Dearborne and Henry Stockton find themselves caught in Britain’s Industrial Revolution while struggling with their own loyalties, beliefs, commitments and emotions. Though they hold different and rivaling ideas, living within the same community forces Henry and Kate to consider options, perhaps even those pertaining to their hearts.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
One of my favorite authors, Sarah E. Ladd writes yet another satisfying and complete story surrounding one of my favorite time periods. As a Regency novel, this book was historically interesting, contained developed characters, created a bit of suspense and shared a sweet, clean romance. Just like this author’s previous books, I was truly engaged and didn’t want the book to end. I look forward to reading even more from Sarah E. Ladd as I so enjoyed The Weaver’s Daughter. Well done!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Weaver’s Daughter from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Lacemaker

Frantz, Laura. The Lacemaker. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2017.

SUMMARY:
As the “bride” of historic Williamsburg, circa 1775, Lady Elizabeth “Liberty” Lawson, does most everything her father, the British Lieutenant governor of the Virginia colony, demands of her…including a prearranged, high-society marriage. Spending her time continuing the generational task of making lace, Liberty soon finds herself accused of being a spy, saved only by Noble Rynallt, the cousin of her ex-intended. Treason, betrayal, trust, honesty and suspense all entwine together to create a novel not soon forgotten.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
With detail, language, customs and characters specific to the timeframe, author Laura Frantz obviously researched the time period carefully. Though it took a moment to become embedded in the language which slowed the start of the book down some, once familiar with the verse, my reading did quicken. Drawn to the gorgeous cover, held by the historical story within, and disappointed when it actually ended, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lacemaker. Already a fan of this author, I must admit, I am even more so now. Beautifully written with charming names of characters, I can only hope this might be a continuing series. (I appreciated the recipes at the end- quite interesting!)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Lacemaker from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

With You Always

Hedlund, Jody. With You Always: Orphan Train Series- Book 1. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Having lived on the streets previously with her younger siblings, immigrant Elise Neumann must find a way to support them. Boarding a train from New York to Illinois in the hopes of finding a job, Elise makes an acquaintance with Thornton Quincy, a member of New York’s elite society trying to build a new town along the Illinois Central Railroad and in the process of hiring skilled workers. When an attraction sparks but threatens progress, Elise and Thornton must make choices which may affect more than just their own futures…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reading anything author Jody Hedlund writes, of course I knew I would read her newest novel, With You Always. In her true style, she writes a heartfelt, moving, compassionate story which ends way too soon but thankfully, is only Book 1 in the new Orphan Train series. Appreciating the research into the time periods as well as the Author’s Note at the end of the story where she explains the history, I applaud her for telling the story from the different perspective of women during the time. A strong introduction to a new and interesting series!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies