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*

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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*

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*

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*

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*

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*