A Dangerous Legacy


My last Elizabeth Camden book pulled me in thoroughly, so I was quick to get a hold of this one as well.  A Dangerous Legacy is first in a series Camden has named “Empire State.”  The characters drew me in right away.  I finished the book in two days.  I actually had even planned to spend New Year’s Eve reading it, but…. that would have been anti-social so I opted to be a decent human being instead 🙂

Like I said, I loved the characters.  Siblings Lucy and Nick Drake are endearing, hard-working, and brave.  I loved that about them!  Sir Colin Beckwith appears to be arrogant, but he’ll grow on you so quickly!  There are sinister characters at play too, though, and Lucy and Nick have to fight hard against a dangerous family fight waged before they were even born.

Telegraph operator Lucy Drake is a master of Morse code and has made herself a valuable asset to the Associated Press news agency. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Colin is talented, handsome, insufferably charming–and keeping a secret that jeopardizes his reputation.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy can’t deny that Colin has the connections she needs to give her family an edge in the long legal battle they’ve been waging over their rightful inheritance. But when she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, the web of treachery they dive into proves to be far more dangerous than they ever could have known.

I loved seeing the inner workings of Reuters and the Associated Press agencies in their earlier years, and the part of me that always wanted to be a writer/journalist growing up wistfully imagined a life where I got to send transmissions into one of the agencies that I’d picked up from somewhere around the world.  I love the life I have, so I quickly put the thoughts to bed, however, it didn’t stop my love of this plot line in any way.  I also loved the historical details put into the early years of indoor plumbing.  I found it fascinating, especially having just finished another book set in Chicago in the 1890s (ten years prior to this one) where tenement housing was a reality for a couple of the characters.  Tenement housing (I had to look it up) was housing complexes built where multiple families shared tiny spaces, and there was no running water.  Families often had to walk good distances and up or down many flights of stairs for access to pumps to get water, and it was often unclean and the source of sickness and death.  This story involves pressurized valves that allow hot and cold water alike to flow up multiple stories in a building, and it was fascinating.

If you have a love of historical fiction as I do, please check out this book.  It’ll be a quick, short read if you give it a go.  I love love loved it!  Stay tuned in 2018 for Empire State # 2, which switches its focus to be more about Nick than Lucy.

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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Where We Belong


Oh my stars, this book.  This beautiful, wonderful book.  Historical fiction is my jam to begin with, so I knew I was going to like this book.  But I didn’t know I was going to adore and devour this book.

Where We Belong is the story of two sisters, Rebecca and Flora Hawes, who do not fit the mold of the 1890s Victorian era society they were born into in Chicago.  They’re well-read, they’re intelligent, and they’re adventurous; and they’re determined to find what God’s purpose for their lives might be.

The story, crafted wonderfully by Lynn Austin, details so much of the adventure, in pieces woven expertly together.  Just when you feel like you need more information in order to understand what’s about to happen, Austin goes back and delivers exactly the information you need to continue.  The story criss-crosses through the lives of the sisters, plus their butler, Soren, and their ladies’ maid, Kate, as the crew travels across the Sinai Desert to find a rumoured ancient biblical manuscript.

I can’t give you more information than that, but I can tell you that at times I was so enthralled by this book that I couldn’t imagine having done anything but read.  It’s a good thing it’s Christmas break, because I spent the majority of my last 3 days (including being up WAY too late last night finishing) reading it.  I related so deeply to the characters, especially to Rebecca, that I couldn’t stop.  If I’m being honest, I have a bit of a book hangover now that it’s finished and I blasted through 470 pages so quickly.  I’ve taken a break for most of today, though I may start the next adventure tonight.  Time will tell.

There wasn’t a lot of romance, though there was an element of that woven throughout the characters’ stories… but I appreciated the lack of romance in this one.  I really wanted the adventure and the history, and I sure got both.

This is my first Lynn Austin book, but if the rest of her historical fiction is as delightful as this was, I’ll certainly be back.

I was even more surprised and delighted to find that the story, while truly a work of fiction, is based on the lives of two real-life sisters.  I won’t give you any more detail than that, because to do so would give away important plot points, and I know you don’t want me to do that.  But I promise, when you get to the end of the book, you’ll want to read the very last page at the back that gives you the details of the real-life sisters that Lynn Austin based her work of fiction around.

“Join two incomparable sisters on adventures that span the decades and cross the globe.”

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

Heart on the Line


Two years ago today, actually, I wrote a review on my first Karen Witemeyer book.  It was SO good!  Well, my second Karen Witemeyer book was no different.  I’m not usually a “devour a book in 30 hours” kind of reader.  Granted, it IS summer, and I AM on vacation, but I digress — it usually takes me at least a week to knock one off.

I loved this book.  So very much.

Witemeyer has a knack, as far as I can tell, for crafting beautifully spunky, independent, resourceful, and clever young female characters who don’t actually need the men they come across, but are sure glad to have found someone who complements their lives nicely.  Given that she’s writing books set in the late 1800s in Texas, it’s refreshing and I love it.  The characters are easy to relate to, and they draw you in almost instantly.

There’s enough suspense and “oh no!  Now what’s gonna happen!?” in this book that I honestly could not stop reading.  I read while walking with it a couple times if I had to switch rooms for something (I don’t recommend that, folks…. it’s a trip hazard), and on the second last night of my vacation, I told my mom “I’ll get up when I get up — I’m gonna finish this book!” with about 130 pages left.  I didn’t actually finish that night, as I didn’t want to sleep away my whole last beach day, but I was sad that I had to stop.

I think my favourite part of this book was the telegraph courtship — it’s like online dating before online dating was a thing!

Apparently this is the second “Ladies of Harper’s Station” novel, so I’ll have to check out number 1 and add it to my “wish list” on Amazon — which is where I go to grab one book at a time whenever I’m not quite there for free shipping.

Here’s the synopsis for this book:

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

I highly, highly recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Westerns or historical fiction, but absolutely if you’re a fan of spunky, witty writing that’ll draw you in and won’t let go.

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

High as the Heavens


Oh my stars.  I know I start a lot of book reviews with the words “oh my stars” because I just don’t think a book can be topped, and then, sure enough, it is — but this one.  Oh my stars.

I confess, because I read a fair bit, and my books come at me for free, sometimes I forget who wrote what, and the lines between authors and book names blur.  That happened with this one.  I saw this book in a list of choices, and I saw Kate Breslin’s name, and, knowing that I’d read a book of hers before, but thinking it was a different book, and I got very excited.  Her other book I’ve read, “Not by Sight,” I found I didn’t fall in love with right away.  It definitely grew on me and I LOVED it by the end, but because of how long it had taken me to get into it, I was disappointed when I opened up High as the Heavens and saw that Kate Breslin and Sarah Sundin are not the same person.

But.  This book.  Like I said.  Oh my stars.  I couldn’t stop.  I read the first 2/3 of it in one sitting.  I was so hooked.  I don’t know if it was the time period, or if it was the World War 1 setting (World War historical fictional romance always gets me), but this book had me from page 1.  The drama and the story all built in with the intrigue and suspense and the secrets and the danger …. I don’t want to spoil any little tiny bit, but I want to tell you so much, all at the very same time!  I laid on a couch at my parents’ while on vacation and read this book for the majority of a chilly, rainy Alberta afternoon.  I couldn’t/wouldn’t stop, and I highly recommend that you pick it up for yourself and see why.

A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a café . . . or so it seems. Eve’s most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.

When a plane crashes as she’s en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to recognize the badly injured pilot as British RFC Captain Simon Forrester. She risks her life to conceal him from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgium alive?

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

To the Farthest Shores


I took this book everywhere with me while I was reading it.  I even got a kick out of taking some ironic pictures with the book in the basket of my bicycle with the river that’s nearly right behind my house in the background…. not exactly the farthest shore, but the book was always with me so that if I found a quiet bench in a park, I could read there, too.

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I hadn’t read an Elizabeth Camden book before, though when I mentioned it to a friend, I was informed that Camden is an excellent author, and if you like historical fiction (which I do), I’d love all of her books.

I can’t say that To The Farthest Shores played out how I was expecting — in fact, it truly didn’t, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.  I never once knew what was coming, and right up until the end I couldn’t figure out how it was going to wrap up.  I have high levels of respect for an author who can not only create likeable characters, but also deliver an engaging plot line AND make it clear that she knows her historical stuff.  I’d hope that Camden does, given her credentials as a Research Librarian with Masters degrees in both History and Library Science.

It turns out to be a beautiful love story about reconciling past to present, forgiveness, and perseverance.  Camden weaves all of the elements together fluidly, and once I got into this book, I didn’t want to stop.

Naval officer Ryan Gallagher broke Jenny’s heart six years ago when he abruptly disappeared. Now he’s returned but refuses to discuss what happened. Furious, Jenny has no notion of the impossible situation Ryan is in. With lives still at risk, he can’t tell Jenny the truth about his overseas mission-but he can’t bear to lose her again either.

I highly recommend this book, and now I’m off to add some Elizabeth Camden to my Amazon “saved for later” cart 🙂

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Book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Baker Publishing Group.

Sins of the Past


I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Novellas are my new favourite way to read.  Probably not really, but I loved the short bursts of intense, suspenseful stories compiled into “Sins of the Past.”

I’d already read other books by Lynette Eason and Dani Pettrey, but Dee Henderson was a new author for me.  I own a couple of her books, but I haven’t gotten a chance to read them yet.  I will get to them as soon as I’m done this month’s review commitments though, that’s for sure.

In Dee Henderson’s “Missing,” a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident, and a race against the clock begins.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with “Shadowed,” introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector.

Lynette Eason’s “Blackout” delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found–but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her?

I would have a very hard time deciding which of the three I liked the best.  What I liked most about “Missing” was that the romantic theme to it was so subtle.  The bulk of the plot had to do with the sheriff’s missing mother, and the quest to find her.  I did not predict the story unfolding the way that it did, and that always makes me happy!

“Shadowed” was interesting.  Set in early post-war Alaska, quite close to the Russian border, the suspense was thrilling.

“Blackout” comes with one bump in the road after another, after another, after another.  A woman who desperately needs to remember details, when the key to solving the problem is locked up inside her head when her brain has closed the details off.

I highly recommend that you check out this collection!  I blew through it in about 30 hours, and was sad when I finished it.

Have you read anything by any of these authors?  What did you think?

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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Cold Shot


I loved this book.  From page one to the very end, I was guessing and sharply taking in breath…. “who did it?  Will they be ok?”

If you like a book that will keep you up half the night, promising yourself “just one more chapter,” wondering if the beloved characters will make it out alive, then I promise you, you’ll like Cold Shot, the first of the Chesapeake Valor series by Dani Pettrey.

There was also just enough history in the book — uncovering what they thought would be Civil War remains, until it turned out they weren’t…. to keep this history nerd happy.  What was nice though, is that the historical details didn’t overwhelm the plot of the book, which wasn’t historical.  I’ve visited that area of the States, purely for its history, so it was fun to relive it through someone else’s eyes as I read this novel.

Here’s the synopsis:

Four Best Friends.
And Then One Went Missing . . .

In college, Griffin McCray and his three best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore Police Department, Declan Grey would head to the FBI, and Parker Mitchell would study to become a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world–and friendships–crumbled.

Now years later, Griffin has left the police and his friendships behind. Still trying to forget a case that went bad when he was a SWAT team sniper, he’s living a quiet life as a park ranger at Gettysburg. Quiet until skeletal remains are uncovered near Little Round Top–and they aren’t Civil War-era.

Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott discovers evidence pointing to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Grey steps in to take over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he’ll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he–and those he cares about–are going to escape a downward spiral of crime, danger, and murder.

Side note:  Can I tell you how much I love the name Declan?  I always have…. and the fact that I now have a character as a namesake who’s a little tamer than an IRA sniper (The Jackal, 1997 — with Richard Gere and Bruce Willis) makes my heart happy.

I digress.  The only real fault I found with this book was that I found the female characters were constantly being protected.  To an extent, that’s nice.  It’s romantic and all, but nearing the end of the book I was feeling exasperated for them, and particularly for the main female character, Finley, because Griffin was very protective of her, as if there were no indication that a leading forensic anthropologist could take care of herself.  It reminded me a bit of the TV show Bones…. and perhaps that’s why I found the female lead a bit too helpless for my liking.  If you’ve seen the show, you’ll understand what I mean.

If you like TV shows like Bones, though, this book will be a great read for you.  And if you swoon when men are protective of the women they care about, then my mild fault finding mission won’t even matter!

Have you read it?  What did you think?

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Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

The Memory Weaver | A Book Review


Most of the time, when I read a book and there are lines in it that really hit me, I either underline them, take pictures of the page with my phone, or stick sticky notes in the book.

This book had so many deep, thought provoking lines in it about how we weave memories together, whether the memories are real or somehow got twisted in our brains as time passed, but ….. I couldn’t write any of them down or do anything about them.

This month got away from me, and in order to finish this book by the appropriate review deadline, I downloaded an audio book version of it so I could listen to it in the 11 hours I’ve spent in my car in the last 5 days.  I could not have read the book that quickly, so I am very thankful this month for a free trial of the Amazon Audible app, which gives you one free audio book and a month’s use for no charge.  If you try it out though, you’ll want to remember to cancel your Audible membership afterward if you don’t intend to keep it, otherwise it’ll be one of those things that slips onto your credit card without your remembering it happened until you get the bill.  I’m not speaking from experience on this particular experience, but it happened to me with Amazon’s PRIME free trial, so…. off I go to cancel my membership, haha.

Disappointment aside that I didn’t get to write down and share some of the stellar quotes about weaving our memories through our consciousness with you, I can tell you that I really enjoyed listening to this book.

I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed reading it, but I guess I’ll never know, now!

Here’s the excerpt:

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.

I love that this was based on a true story — the story of a strong woman fighting to sort out which of her memories of a traumatic past actually happened, and which are the result of twisted details and some imagination.

It was really interesting to me how Jane Kirkpatrick literally wove the memories through the story of Eliza’s present, mixing her past in so well with the current plot timeline.  It was also interesting to me how well edited the book was — making sure that the diary entries from Eliza’s mother were included in just the right places, which gave me as the reader/listener insight into Eliza’s life that Eliza hadn’t gleaned yet.  It was like learning about Eliza as she learned about herself.

I highly recommend this book if you like interesting writing.  The details were vivid, truly painting a picture.  For me, if I’m going to visualize a book, I need those details because my brain will otherwise not bring out a picture.  This is the first book where I’ve been able to picture the setting and the characters in a long time!  I found, too, that the details helped me bond with the characters.

I’m sure that so much thought, research, and time went into the writing of this book, and I have a huge respect for that.

If you’re looking a deep, thought-provoking read, head on over to amazon or your nearest Christian book store and pick this up.  I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Also — can I have the dress that Eliza’s wearing on the front cover of the book?  I know it’s not a real thing…. and I know it’s not in fashion right now, but I’d wear that everywhere…. except when I missed my sweat pants or my flared, intentionally tattered and ripped jeans.  I love 2015 🙂

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I received this book as part of the Nuts About Books program with Graf Martin Communications, Inc. in conjunction with Baker Publishing Group, and was not required to give a positive review.

Not By Sight | A Book Review


I was gone all summer, and while I was gone I read 11 books.  I thought I had created this great new habit in myself, until I got home and discovered that the only reason I was able and willing to sow such a great habit was that I didn’t have the Internet available to stream Netflix.

Before I left, I started reading “Not By Sight” by Kate Breslin.  As much as I read so much so quickly in the two months between school ending and starting back up, this book was not one of them.  I found that it started very slowly.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a feminist and I love how far we’ve come as a gender in gaining recognition as not being sub-human.  So when I read the description of a book about a suffragette who desperately wanted to help with the war effort in World War 1 England, I was very excited.  I was a little disappointed though because it started off so slowly.

It did pick up.  Once Grace joins the war effort in her own way, and her life gets entangled into Jack’s (I won’t say more than that), it does get interesting.  I dare say that Kate Breslin has quite a way with words in the way she has Grace use them.  I loved that part.

It struck me very much as reminiscent of Downton Abbey, which I like but don’t find it has enough action to it… and that’s probably where my review comes from as well.

Once the book got to the end, I found I was left wanting more.  I suppose what I wanted was more World War 1 detail, and more battle-style conflict.  To me, when I read a WWI or WWII era historical novel, I always revel in the historical details.  This being a historical romance though, that wasn’t the focus and I understand that.  The book was decent if you stick through the slow start, I just wish there had been more action.  The historical details were thoroughly researched, and Breslin paints a brilliant picture of what Britain would have looked like in 1917.

If you’re looking for a good romance with characters that will fight their odds and the circumstances that life throws at them, then “Not By Sight” would be a good choice for you.

This review was written in exchange for a copy of the book, provided by Graf Martin Communications, Inc. and Bethany House Publishing.  I did not have to provide a positive review.

Through Waters Deep


Through Waters Deep met all of my requirements for a perfect read.

Combine history (well-researched, and really well-detailed), suspense, intrigue, and romance, and I’m a happy reader.  This book had all of it.

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

Unfortunately, this book also had some awkward relationship struggles in the middle, which I found I grew tired of by the end, but they resolved well and I was really pleased with how the book ended (which, don’t worry, I won’t spoil!).

The character development, which for me is always something I’m very picky about, was excellent!  The historical details were well-explained, and lent really well to a strong military plot line.  I’m fascinated by war history, especially naval history, and this book hit it right on the head.

Jim and Mary found their way into my heart quite quickly, and by the end I could not put the book down.  What a great read!  There were many times that I was just right at the edge of my seat, not able to stop, because if I stopped it would be hours before I knew how a conflict would resolve!  And we can’t have that!

Sarah Sundin is an excellent writer, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for other books of hers as well.  If this one is any indication, I’d love to read them all.  The end of the book had some advertising pictures for other series she’s written.

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I received this book free from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review, in association with Graf-Martin Communications.