Mama’s Storytime – So Great a Love

Today I present to you my second episode of Mama’s Storytime! I hope you enjoy it!

No time for the video or not in a place where you can turn the sound on? Here’s the written version of my review for So Great a Love by Kristie Wilde:

So Great A Love cover image

about-the-book-2

“Does God really love me?” This delightful children’s book helps little ones understand how God loves them.

Each beautiful, engaging, two page spread is a full color illustration revealing a diffrent aspect of God’s love through a specific animal — God protects you like a mama bear, He wants to cover you like a hen covers her chicks, etc.

The detailed illustrations go beyond the text and explore the animal in it’s natural setting, encouraging imagination, exploration and conversation.

So Great a Love is the second book in the Joyful Creation series.

My Thoughts

First of all, I just love the illustrations in this book. The artistry is right up my alley. The author has signed the title page for me and I appreciate the personal touch. I also like the bookmark which features a portion of the illustrations from the Koala page in the book.

The first page of the story begins with a two-page landscape illustration of the mountains and the deserts declaring, “Higher than the mountains and wider than the desert . . . so great is God’s love for you!”

The next two page spread shows a mother hen gathering her newly hatched chicks and compares the hens desire to gather her chicks to God’s desire to gather us.

A page featuring rambunctious bear cubs and two adult bears, including one on its hind legs with little cubs peaking out from behind her, tells the reader, “He will protect you . . . just like a mama bear protects her cubs!”

The koala page is next and tells us about God helping us like the koala helps her young. This is followed by my favorite page depicting a swallow-like bird spreading her wings to cover her baby chicks. The text reads:  “He’ll hide you in the storms . . . as the bird hides her babies.”

I love the idea here, that the storms will come, the trials, the troubles, the stresses, the hard parts of life . . . they will come. But God will be with you. He will take care of you. He will lift you up and shelter you (when He thinks it’s wise) within those storms.

As a Christian I don’t believe we’re exempt from life’s trials and troubles, but I think that this book is a reassuring story for children. It tells them that God loves them and will be there for them. It tells them that He will watch out for them like their mom and dad should.

I think this book is a good starting place for parents to have those kinds of discussions with their kids. Discussions that admit there are still going to be storms, but God will be with you through them all.

I really like this book and definitely recommend it. If you have a chance to pick it up . . . I would.

Additional Information (not included in the video):

Other featured animals include a lioness, a camel, and an otter. Breaking from the animal theme, the book also compares God to a shepherd watching over his sheep.

The final page of the book encourages the readers to run to God, promising that, “He will always love you!”

As the mother of a transracial family, I am sensitive to how our Lord is depicted in art of any kind. For those who might wish to know:

The illustration on the final page shows children of all ages running  to a man who primarily has his back toward the viewer. Only about 1/4 of his face is shown, but he is illustrated in the typical western depiction of Jesus with pale skin and long, wavy brown hair. (The shepherd mentioned before is depicted similarly.) He is shown lifting a child into the air in a playful manner.


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  View My Promise To Readers HERE.

Do you have a favorite Children’s Book? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!

Rapid Review Roundup

Rapid Review Roundup - Blog Header Image

Ahh! Where has this year gone? How are we already past the middle of December? *Sigh* I don’t know about you, but I had so many grand plans that simply did not come to fruition this year. Don’t get me wrong. I had many amazing successes and blessings, but I tend to dream big and plan accordingly. Therefore, no matter how much I wish to accomplish some things, life happens and time moves on, and those things just don’t get done. So here I am with Christmas on the horizon and I’m so far behind on the reviews I’d planned to write for you all, that I’ve lost hope of actually completing them before the year’s end.

However, these were some truly amazing books and I so dearly want to share them with you that I have decided a compromise is in order. I just don’t have the time to write my full reviews for these books, but I can at least summarize my thoughts and share the highlights for each of them so that you can decide if they sound like something that might fit your particular reading tastes. So here goes my first ever Rapid Review Roundup:

The Lady and the Lionheart

The Lady and The Lionheart by Joanne Bischoff

This year’s (tie) winner of the Christy Award for Historical Romance, it’s no surprise that I absolutely fell in love with this book. From the moment I opened the first page I felt I had stepped into this heroine’s world. I could see, hear, feel, and taste what it was like to live the life of Bischoff’s heroine. I never would have thought the circus would be such a compelling setting, but getting to know this unique subculture of the past was incredibly delightful and I would love to visit it again. Definitely one of my top five favorite books of the year, I cannot say enough how highly I recommend The Lady and The Lionheart!

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

At Love’s Bidding by Regina Jennings

The opening of this novel just drew me in. There is a hint of story-telling quality to it that appeals to me, which is ironic since that usually isn’t a style I go for. If story-telling isn’t usually your style either, I encourage you to give this book a try anyway. At least find somewhere to read the first few pages. This novel is worth stretching your comfort zone. The characters are charmingly flawed and courageous in their own ways. The plot keeps a steady pace and I recall especially enjoying a twist near the end which I didn’t anticipate.

One of the things I liked most about this novel was its subplot involving of the heroine’s grandfather and his slip into dementia. Without bringing the story down from its light and laughter, the author gave us a peek into what it’s like for the family members of a person experiencing such a life change. I especially enjoyed noting the subtle differences of such a change for a man and family of this time period vs now.

For The Record cover image

For The Record by Regina Jennings

This novel was just plain fun. Don’t misunderstand me. That isn’t an implication that this novel lacked depth. The layers and the writing skills were absolutely there, but when I think back on this novel I can’t help but smile. The hero and heroine in this story were my kind of people, not afraid to go after what they want and not too proud to apologize when they were wrong. This story isn’t an all-out action story, or edge-of-your-seat-suspense, but you won’t want to put it down either. It’s a little small mountain town and a little wild west. There are real troubles and real adventures had by characters who feel real and engage your emotions. Although this is a sequel to At Love’s Bidding, this novel can definitely stand on its own.

Against the Tide

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

This book stood out to me not only due to its excellent writing and compelling story, but it manages the unique feat of strongly involving the shipping industry without any of the characters stepping foot on a ship (outside of the prologue) – at least not “on scene” (so there are some memories of being on ships and discussions of travels, but no actual scenes happening on ships in “present time.). While I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to whether or not this is an enjoyable book, I found it an interesting quirk. Aside from that, I found the characters to be emotionally engaging and complex. The plot certainly held my attention (keeping me from sleep on more than one night) and the ending was most satisfying. I highly recommend Against the Tide.

(Incidentally, one of the other novel by Camden which I read this year, From This Moment, was a finalist for the Christy Award in Historical Romance. Needless to say, I highly recommend that one as well.)

Never Forget

Never Forget by Jody Hedlund

I enjoyed the emotions this novel provoked in me. As a reader I couldn’t help feeling compassionate toward the heroine and the mess she gets herself into. I wanted to keep reading and discover how it all turned out. Would it blow up in her face or would she find a smoother way out? In the end, the author surprised me and I loved it. The hero is no less of a mess and must make some significant decisions of his own. I enjoyed reading along to see what became of these two characters. I definitely recommend this novel.

An Improper Proposal cover image

The Improper Proposal by Davalynn Spencer

This is the first book I have read by this author. I can’t remember where I heard of this book, but I am so glad I picked it up. The premise drew me in and the story kept me reading. The author has a unique voice which I am looking forward to reading more of. This story brings you into the lives of two genuinely good, though flawed, people learning how to live in God’s strength through difficult and unexpected circumstances. Better yet, the love that grows between them is the warm and true kind you want to wrap up in. Not your typical marriage of convenience story, you’ll wish this book didn’t end.

psst

If you enjoyed these rapid reviews, be sure to sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to receive quarterly emails in which I share more reviews like these as well as other bits of information and news you may find interesting, not to mention the giveaways only KRC members are eligible for. In fact, I’ll be writing my winter email and sending it out tonight with an extra special Celebration Giveaway you won’t want to miss, so sign up today if you aren’t already a member!

Christmas 2017 KRC Giveaway
Open ONLY to members of Kathleen’s Readers’ Club, so join today!

So what do you think of my rapid reviews? Would you like to see more of these or do you prefer my longer, more in-depth reviews? Which of these books most appeals to you?

My Review – His Frontier Christmas Family

My Review - His Frontier Christmas Family

about-the-book-2

A Family Made at Christmas

After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of.

Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?

Why This Book:

If you’ve read my bio or followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a sucker for stories involving the fatherless.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Near Seattle, Washington Territory
December, 1874

Someone was watching her.

First Impressions:

The first chapter of this novel was uniquely compelling with its combination of one family’s life upheaval and an underlying sense of mysterious danger. I was never quite sure if Callie’s family was truly safe or what they might do next and I kept reading to find out.

Characters:

California “Callie” Murphy – Every male in her family has been struck by gold fever and Callie’s been left to pay the price for it, despite the best of intentions.

Levi Wallin – Made a mistake in his youth that continues to haunt him despite his faith and recent calling to become a pastor.

Frisco and Sutter Murphy – Callie’s 9 year old twin brothers, named after San Francisco and Sutter’s Mill. They are about as rambunctious and mischievous as you could want or expect two boys of their age to be.

Mica Murphy – Callie’s toddler niece; the son of her brother, Adam. Mica has a delightful disposition.

There is a whole Wallin family involved, with many brothers, a sister, and several sister-in-laws, not to mention Levi’s parents. However, they all spend about an equal amount of time “on screen” and we don’t get to know any of them in depth. Nevertheless, they still ring true as well-developed characters and you do get the sense there is more to their stories, which hints at the other books in the series without leaving you feeling you are missing any vital information regarding the story at hand – the story of Levi and Callie.

As is almost always the case, there are two or three more main characters whom I cannot identify without giving away their significance and possibly spoiling some of the intended surprise.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This story was a slow, steady burn. It didn’t hurry me through, but it didn’t put me to sleep either. The characters were unique, sweet, and unpredictable enough to maintain my interest in what happened next in their lives.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

While I have no family members struck by gold fever, I felt I could relate to Callie’s situation of having been repeatedly burned in relationships and feeling reluctant to put herself back out there. I also liked seeing the true-to-life struggle of two people learning how to parent together when their individual natural inclinations don’t always entirely match.

Themes:

The theme of this novel is turning one’s eyes from the past and learning to appreciate the present while looking toward the future with optimism. Another way to put it would be:  Focusing on the past wastes the present and poisons the future.

Ending:

While there was a certain amount of predictability, I can’t dislike the predictability. I think it’s what we look for in this particular type of book. Also, the ending did hold a bit of a surprise for me as there was such a gap between particular events I’d nearly forgotten about the thread which created the twist.

Overall Rating:

3.5 out of 5 stars

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleHarlequin

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Other Books in the Series


About the Author

Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first novel until she had learned a bit more about writing such as vocabulary, sentence structure, and plot. After numerous short stories and articles in magazines and trade journals, she got serious about her novel writing. The Unflappable Miss Fairchild was her first novel to be published (March 1998).

Besides her novels, Regina Scott has had published three Regency novellas (“The June Bride Conspiracy” in His Blushing Bride, “Sweeter Than Candy” in A Match for Mother, and “A Place by the Fire” in Mistletoe Kittens). Two of her novels, A Dangerous Dalliance and The Twelve Days of Christmas, have been translated into German. A Dangerous Dalliance and The Incomparable Miss Compton have been translated into Italian. Starstruck and Perfection have been translated into Dutch.

Regina Scott and her husband are the parents of two sons. They reside in the Tri-Cities of southeast Washington State and are members of the Church of the Nazarene. Born in 1959 and raised in the Seattle area, Regina Scott is a graduate of the University of Washington. She comes by her writing talent naturally–both her parents are excellent writers in their vocations as teacher and electrical technician. Her mother envisioned the plot for “Sweeter Than Candy,” the novella which was written as a tribute to her.

Regina Scott is a devout Christian and a decent fencer; owns a historical, fantasy, and science fiction costume collection that currently takes up over a third of her large closet; and has been known to impersonate an independent consultant specializing in risk communication.

WebsiteBlogGoodreadsFacebookPinterest


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Tour Schedule

December 4th:
Launch
underneath the covers
Becky on Books
Author Kathleen Denly
December 5th:
Nicole’s Book Musings
Rockin’ Book Reviews
Book Lover in Florida
Heidi Reads…
Jorie Loves A Story
December 6th:
Deal Sharing Aunt
Hearts & Scribbles
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
December 7th:
Reading Is My SuperPower
Paulette’s Papers
Christy’s Cozy Corners
I Am A Reader
December 8th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews
Backing Books
Locks, Hooks and Books
Inside the Mind of an Avid Reader
Janices Book Reviews
December 9th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

1 winner will win an autographed print copy of His Frontier Christmas Family along with a set of rustic burnt-wood Christmas decorations the Wallin family would be pleased to own.
US only
Ends December 13th

Enter Here Button

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!

 Let’s chat!

Have you ever faced an unexpected roadblock or life event that completely changed your plans for the future?

TWEETABLES:

Focusing on the past, wastes the present and poisons the future. #Romance #BookReview

Check out this #BookReview of Regina Scott’s latest novel, His Frontier Christmas Family!

My Review – Love Held Captive

My Review - Love Held Captive

about-the-book-2

After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.

Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.

Why This Book:

My first attempt at a historical fiction novel was set in early nineteenth century Texas, so the setting of this novel immediately caught my attention.  Then the premise of a man falling for the woman whose home he previously raided absolutely hooked me. Guess that’s why they call it a “hook.” 😉

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

The Menger Hotel San Antonio, Texas
Thursday, October 31, 1867

She never should have had her back to the door.

First Impressions:

Above I shared the first line from the first Chapter because I felt it stood stronger as a stand alone sentence than the first sentence of the prologue. However, the prologue takes us through Ethan Kelly’s raid of Lizbeth Barclay’s home. For me, this prologue was the ultimate test of the author’s skill – to make us understand and care for a man raiding the home of an innocent, vulnerable, and clearly traumatized starving young woman. Fail here and I may despise the hero, leaving me no reason to continue reading. (Who wants to read a romance where an innocent woman falls for an evil man and that is the happily ever after?) Well, I am thrilled to report that Shelley Shephard Gray navigated this minefield with success and finesse. By the end of the prologue I may have questions about Ethan’s choices, but I don’t despise him and I want to see him succeed. So I keep reading.

Quote Image - Love Held Captive - Door

Characters:

Captain/Major Ethan Kelly – Son of a wealthy family, he has trouble adjusting to normal life after the war.

 

Lizbeth Barclay – Lost everything in the war – her home, her family, her sense of safety & self worth. Her dreams. When her path reunites with that of Ethan Kelly’s she isn’t living. She’s still just surviving.

Captain Devin Monroe –  A loyal friend, and the choosiest man I’ve ever read about, no woman has ever caught his fancy. Till he meets Julianne Van Fleet.

Julianne Van Fleet – Though she never approached the battle field, nor had her home raided, the war has left her with scars nonetheless. Hers just aren’t the visible kind.

Colonel Daniel Bushnell – (Yes, I know the description names him “Adam Bushnell”, but I assure you, in the novel his name is Daniel.) A twisted man with his own agenda, the power of his military rank went to his head and he isn’t ready to let the power go.

Quote Image - Love Held Captive - Spark

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

The stories behind these characters is emotionally powerful and as a reader I became immediately invested in seeing them succeed in finding healing and happiness. The story had me firmly in its grip all the way through to the end. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t want to say goodbye when it was over.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

The unique premise of this book is what hooked me and the author didn’t disappoint in her execution. Not only did this author present unique situations, but she provided fresh feeling characters to experience them.

Quote Image - Love Held Captive - Truth Ally

Themes:

Recovering from tragedy and making sense of it in the context of God’s goodness.

The difficulty of discerning right and wrong in tragic circumstances.

Forgiveness of self and others.

Ending:

Without giving too much away, I will say that I loved the twists the author took on her way to this novel’s conclusion. It’s very tempting to say more, but I don’t want to give anything away. Just trust me, you won’t be disappointed by the ending of this novel.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Did I mention Love Held Captive releases TOMORROW? 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Let’s chat!

Which part of this novel most appeals to you?

Have you ever encountered a hero you couldn’t stand? Did you finish that book? What makes you despise a hero?

If you’ve read this novel:  This author handles matters thoroughly dipped in gray – no black or white here – how do you think she did?

TWEETABLES:

He raided her home. Can he earn her trust and win her heart?

Will their past destroy their future?

He won’t let his power go. How many will pay the price?

Rising from tragedy, they must fight for their future.

I didn’t want to put it down, nor say goodbye when it was over. 

This story had me firmly in its grip all the way through the end. 

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

My Review – All of You

My Review - All of You - Monzon

about-the-book-2

All of You is a dual-timeline romance.

Maryland, Present Day

Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.

England, 1944

With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.

Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.

Why This Book:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the pleasure of meeting Sandra Barela in June at the SoCal Christian Writers Conference where she invited me to join her Celebrate Lit Team. When I saw the opportunity to join a Celebrate Lit tour for Sarah Monzon’s latest book, All of You, I was immediately excited because I had previously read and enjoyed Monzon’s award-winning debut novel, The Isaac Project. Signing on to this tour was a no-brainer.

Opening Line:

Present Day, 100 Miles off the Coast of Virginia

Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington pulled up the zipper of his green flight suit and stared at the mass on the opposite rack.

First Impressions:

As a dual-timeline novel, this book felt as though it had two first chapters – one for each timeline. Starting with the contemporary timeline was a clever move by Monzon since that scene held the most drama. Beyond that, she did an excellent job putting the reader on a naval ship and showing us what it meant to “Finch” to be there. In a very tangible way, it shows the readers exactly what is at stake and leaves us wanting to know what happens next. Monzon’s second chapter, which reads as the first chapter for her historical timeline, has more dialogue and less action, but does a good job introducing us to another main character, Alice Galloway, and getting us settled in the realities of her world. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is from the second chapter:

She peered down the harbor line looking for any evidence that reality wasn’t a nightmare. That the tension-charged air she’d breathed on the voyage and the hushed whisperings of U-boat threats were due to her falling down a rabbit’s hole like the Alice in Lewis Carrol’s storybook.

Characters:

Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington –  A young man who’s grown up knowing exactly where he belongs and what he wants from life . . . until a freak accident forever separates him from everything he wanted and expected. He’s forced to reexamine not only his life’s goals, but his very identity. Anyone who has ever grappled with identifying their purpose in life, or faced unexpected tragedy and struggled to make sense of it, will easily relate to this character.

Jacquelyn “Jack” Rodgers – A confident airplane mechanic who specializes in restoring old planes. Capable of caring for herself, her depressed father, and her older brothers, Jack’s not afraid of much . . . except her abusive ex-boyfriend Mitch Stavros. Wanting to believe she can handle anything, Jack fights her fear and resists the assistance Michael and her family try to offer her.

All of You - Shoe Image Quote

Henry Caldwell – A well-liked, confident newspaper reporter with his own agenda, he is attracted to Alice (and she to him) from the start. He won’t take no for an answer when he asks if he may show her around town. His actions following this show him to be good and noble, but he is often away and an unplanned encounter with Alice threatens to destroy their budding relationship.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

While both timelines have their share of action to propel the reader forward, it’s really the character development that kept me reading – especially as regards the contemporary timeline. The author did an excellent job of giving me enough answers to keep me from feeling frustrated while still leaving me with enough questions that I didn’t want to put the book down.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I especially enjoyed the fully-developed characters and watching them grow and change in this book. Michael and Alice were both characters enduring or exploring roles in life which I have not read about before (rehabilitating amputee & WWII female pilot), and I always enjoy uniqueness such as that.

As much as I enjoyed this novel, I must be candid in saying that the scene in the forest between Alice and Henry (and to a lesser extent the events immediately leading up to it) made me cringe a bit. I just didn’t buy it. For two reasons: 1) WWII is definitely not my area of historical expertise and I don’t read a ton of fiction set in WWII, but this particular sequence seemed just a tad beyond my sense of plausibility. That said, sometimes reality defies belief, and I would love to learn there is a historical basis for the events described. 2) I just didn’t buy the way Alice and Henry reacted in this scene and the way it all unfolded between them from that point.

Themes:

For both timelines, there is an overarching theme of self-discovery and finding ones’ purpose in life.

Ending:

As I mentioned above, the WWII timeline lost a little of its shine for me near the end. Those concluding events and reactions just felt a bit too contrived. I also felt Henry and Alice needed more time than they got after that forest scene. However, it was by no means a terrible ending, and I was very pleased with Jack and Michael’s conclusion and how it played out.

Overall Rating:

3 out of 5 stars

BONUS Mini Review:

Although the books in Monzon’s Carrington Family Series can be read as stand alone books, I prefer to read a series in order whenever possible. Therefore, I made a point to read Monzon’s Finders Keepers before reading All of You, and boy am I glad! Finders Keepers was a fun and fast-paced read with some seriously swoon-worthy moments and true heart! I highly recommend it!  (P.S. If you’ve read it, am I the only one who mentally cast Chris Hemsworth as Trent?)

What do you think of dual timeline romance novels? Can you relate to these characters’ struggles to identify their life’s purpose and/or make sense of tragedy?

TWEETABLES:

Relatable characters make sense of tragedy and find their purpose. #BookReview

Character development that keeps you reading. #BookReview

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the above photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

All of you FB banner copy

About the Author

bio photo(1)

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 Selah award for contemporary romance.

Guest Post from Sarah Monzon

I’m so excited to be here today and getting this opportunity to hang out with y’all in this virtual world. If you are anything like me, you devour books faster than my son drinks orange juice (and he really loves orange juice!). Because of that, it is sometimes hard to come across a book with a unique premise or a message that you haven’t seen incorporated a thousand times before. As a writer, I always try to bring something fresh to the table.

In the first book of the Carrington Family Series, Finders Keepers, neither of my characters were Christians. What? No Christians in a Christian fiction novel? Most Christian fiction books usually have at least one or both main characters a Christians. Don’t worry, they both found their way to Jesus. With All of You, however, I wanted to take yet an even different approach.

I’ve ready lots of books where the main character is angry or upset with God for such-and-such thing that happened in his/her life (I’ve even written a character like that), but I hadn’t really read a story about a character that, no matter what life threw at him/her, he/she was going to trust in God no matter what. As a life-long Christian, this is a message I can identify with. The “If not, He is still good” resonation that is sometimes harder to hold on to in the midst of pain and struggles.

So, as with all my books, I hope the freshness of the story and the realness of my characters will inspire and uplift you as you travel along with them on their journey.

God Bless.

Blog Stops

September 12: A Baker’s Perspective

September 12: Quiet Quilter

September 13: Books, Books, and More Books

September 13: Jeanette’s Thoughts

September 14: Cordially Barbara

September 14: Smiling Book Reviews

September 15: Avid Reader Book Reviews

September 15: Carpe Diem

September 16: Inklings and notions

September 16: Christian Bookaholic

September 17: Christian Chick’s Thoughts

September 17: Artistic Nobody

September 18: Bookworm Mama

September 18: Remembrancy

September 19: Back Porch Reads

September 19: Kat’s Corner Books

September 20: Just Jo’Anne

September 20: Margaret Kazmierczak

September 21: The Power of Words

September 21: Mary Hake

September 22: 100 Pages per Hour

September 22: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

September 23: Zerina Blossom’s Books

September 23: Simple Harvest Reads (spotlight)

September 24: Blossoms and Blessings

September 24: Moments Dipped in Ink

September 25: Kathleen Denly

September 25: His Grace is Sufficient

Giveaway

amazon gift card 25

To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bd52

 

My Review – Under the Blackberry Moon

My Review - Under the Blackberry Moon

about-the-book-2

Just a few days after she gives birth alone in the Northwoods, a recently widowed young Chippewa woman stumbles into a nearby lumber camp in search of refuge and sustenance. Come summer, the camp owner sends Skypilot, his most trusted friend, to accompany Moon Song and her baby on the long and treacherous journey back to her people. But when tragedy strikes off the shore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness, Moon Song and Skypilot must depend on each other for survival. With every step they take into the forbidding woods, they are drawn closer together, until the tough questions must be asked. Will she leave her culture to enter his? Will he leave his world to enter hers? Or will they walk away from a love that seems too complicated to last?

With evocative descriptions of a breathtaking landscape, Under a Blackberry Moon will sweep readers into a wild realm where beauty masks danger and only the truly courageous survive, even as the sweet love story along the way tightly grips their hearts.

Why This Book:

I read the first book in Serena B. Miller’s Michigan Northwoods series, The Measure of Katie Calloway, three years ago and it’s one of those books that has always stayed with me. I couldn’t tell you why that one stands out among the dozens (possibly hundreds) I’ve read in the last few years, but it does. And I knew immediately that I wanted to read the next book to see what became of Skypilot, Moon Song and her little boy. It just took me far too long to get around to it.

Opening Line(s):

Bay City, Michigan
May 15, 1868

“Whose squaw are you, girl?”

The hand gripping her upper arm belonged to a man with bad teeth and foul breath.

First Impressions:

As you can see, I couldn’t resist sharing the second line above and it just gets better from there. The novel starts off with a confrontation that had me engaged from the very beginning. Perhaps this was partly due to the fact that I remembered Moon Song from the first book and cared about what happened to her, but I believe any reader would be immediately grabbed by the predicament Moon Song finds herself in in the first scene.

Under the Blackberry Moon Quote Image 2

Characters:

Moon Song – A young Chippewa widow and mother of Ayasha with more determination, strength, intelligence and sheer willpower to survive than anyone could possibly ask for. Without going into the implausible, this woman embodies my idea of a true life Super Woman. Not without her faults, her courage, loyalty, honesty, and love make her a character you can’t help but admire.

Skypilot – A man out of his depth, he is nonetheless determined to act as Moon Song’s protector until she reaches her people. It’s just too bad for him she doesn’t need one. What’s more, she winds up protecting him most of the time and it’s a sign of how well-suited they are for each other that he handles it so well.

Isabella – The wife of Colonel James Hatchette and mother of infant Archibald. She meets Moon Song and Skypilot on a steamship. There lives intertwine in a surprising way which I won’t reveal, but her personal journey will take you from laughter, to fury, to the verge of tears.

Under the Blackberry Moon Quote Image

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

If you’ve read my character descriptions, you’ve undoubtedly picked up on my emotional connection to the characters in this story. Unique from any other story which I can remember reading, this book will take you on an emotional journey you’re not likely to forget any time soon. It’s vivid setting descriptions will have you feeling as though you’re right there with the characters, experiencing every uplifting, heart-rending,  grit-testing moment. I would describe the pacing of this story as a strong and steady urgency to discover what happens next.

Under the Blackberry Moon Quote Image 3

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I don’t read many books with native american heroes or heroines. They just aren’t usually my cup of tea, but this book is one of the exceptions. I actually really liked that Moon Song came from a different cultural world than the typical historical heroine. Seeing that time and place through her eyes made the entire experience unique.

Themes:

Under the Blackberry Moon explores the question of what to do when your life plans go completely awry, how to seek God’s will above your own, and what it means to share the gospel of Christ without masking over another culture. Grief and loss and how different people handle those things in their own way is also a topic addressed in this story.

Ending:

This story didn’t hurry to tie everything up in a nice neat bow. It took its time getting there and I truly appreciated that. Just when I thought I was nearing the end, the author threw in something unexpected that delayed the story’s conclusion in a way that felt natural and satisfying, not at all frustrating. Much like a good chocolate you want to savor, this story takes the time to follow the twists and turns life naturally throws at people. So that when the story finally did conclude, you felt you were able to enjoy every moment and closed the book with a sigh of contentment.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

What’s the last romance novel you read with a native american as one of the main characters? Have you read any of Serena B. Miller’s other novels?

TWEETABLES:

Seeing 1868 Michigan through the eyes of a young Chippewa widow makes this a unique read. – Click to Tweet!

I closed this book with a sigh of contentment. #bookreview @Kathleen Denly – Click to Tweet!

Any reader will be immediately grabbed by the opening scene of this novel. – Click to Tweet!

 

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

My Review – A Name Unknown

My Review - A Name Unknown

about-the-book-2

Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

Why This Book:

Having previously read and enjoyed Roseanna M. White‘s Ladies of the Manor series, I felt confident that I would enjoy this A Name Unknown as well.  Added to my confidence in the author was the uniqueness of a heroine who is a thief and a hero who writes novels. Such a unique combination promised an interesting read.

Opening Line:

London
May 1914

Rosemary Gresham may have been a thief, but she was a thief who preferred to work in broad daylight.

First Impressions:

This novel pulled me in the from the very first line. The first scene throws the reader immediately into danger and the first chapter adeptly sets up the rest of the novel. We immediately understand what is at stake and are given strong reasons to care about the heroine and root for her despite her profession. The second chapter introduces the hero and we immediately connect with him and his plight as well. The fact that the hero and heroine are secretly (at least on her part) at cross purposes, yet you want to root for them both, makes for quite a compelling start.

Book Quotes - A Name Unknown - silence cloaks monsters

Characters:

Rosemary Gresham is a deservedly complex heroine, with a well-developed backstory that supports who she is and why she makes the choices she does. She cares for her “family” to a point of self-sacrifice and it’s this very love which causes her such internal conflict as she begins to grow and change throughout the story.

Peter Holstein is a quieter style of hero. In fact, he and the heroine do a significant amount of communicating through hand-written notes because his stress-aggravated stutter makes speech difficult for him. It could be annoying reading stuttered dialogue throughout an entire book, so when I first realized he had a stutter I was on guard. However, I am happy to report that his stutter in no way detracts from the story, and in fact is handled so well, it becomes a positive quality in this character which highlights his positive virtues. Peter is a noble yet human hero you can admire, sympathize with, and root for.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

From the first scene, this novel held my attention and I never wanted to put it down. While it didn’t make me laugh out loud or cry, I cared strongly for the characters and wanted to see things work out for them in the end.

Book Quotes - A Name Unknown - fiction is truth

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I especially enjoyed seeing street life in 1914 London through Rosemary’s eyes. Her views on social injustices struck similar chords in my mind and heart and made me root for her all the more.

Peter’s unique position as a man with both German ancestry & royal friendships during a time of impending war provided a very interesting perspective on the events leading up to the first World War. Though I am unsure if it was a conscious intention of the author, I did note that several of the issues he faced were eerily similar to certain things going on in the United States currently or which have occurred here in the past. It provided solid food for thought.

Ending:

This ending came as a surprise to me – or at least, the way everything happened was surprising. The author managed to throw in some twists that I did not see coming, yet they still made complete sense in hindsight. That is certainly my favorite type of ending, but extremely difficult to pull off. If you ever read this, well done, Ms. White. Well done.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars (I honestly can’t think of a single thing I would change about this novel.)

Have you read A Name Unknown? Share your thoughts!

What other novels have you enjoyed which featured a hero and heroine at cross purposes?

TWEETABLES:

5 STARS for this compelling Christian romance with history & suspense! – Click to Tweet!

Treasure was never where one sought it. #ANameUnknown – Click to Tweet!

#BookReview- An Edwardian female thief, an author hiding his identity, & impending world war! – Click to Tweet!

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !