First Line Friday – 07.12.19

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Welcome to First Line Fridays! The day we grab the book closest to us and share the first line. Join the fun and discover your next read!

Today I’m featuring, the first line of Tara Johnson’s latest masterpiece, Where Dandelion’s Bloom. And masterpiece is not a word I throw around. I’ll be sharing my official review here on the blog later this month, but I *just* finished reading this novel and can’t resist letting you all know that if you haven’t grabbed your copy yet you need to!

Where Dandelions Bloom

Here are the first lines:

June 4, 1851
New York City

Gabriel Avery hit the unforgiving pavement with a grunt. Above him, the thin, dirty faces of his foes looked down on him with sneers.

about-the-book-2

Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

Amazon

Don’t forget to enter!

If you haven’t already heard, I’m sharing some BIG BIG NEWS and hosting my best giveaway yet! The giveaway will go live at 12:00AM PST on 07/12/19 (my birthday)! Check it out:

HR 5 Bk Giveaway

https://kathleendenly.com/2019hcrgiveaway

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

My Review – The Number of Love

My Review - The Number of Love

about-the-book-2

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network–field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy who just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the intelligent Margot, but how can he convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amid biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.

Amazon

Why This Book:

Roseanna M. White wrote it. I have yet to not enjoy anything she has written.

Opening Line:

Old Admiralty Building
London, England
25 September 1917

The numbers marched across the page in a glory all their own.

First Impressions:

I’m not such a fan of this opening line, actually. Maybe its because I’m not a numbers person, but I thought it was rather ho-hum. That being said, the next sentence gained my interest. By the bottom of the first page I could feel the tension in the room. By page 15 I was hooked.

In case you’re curious, here are the second, third and fourth sentences:

Margot De Wilde stared at them for a long moment, looked back at the German telegram sitting on her desk, and then scratched a new number onto the column. Almost there. Almost. 

Main Characters:

Margot De Wilde –  Yes! I LOVE Margot! I loved her when we first met her as Lukas De Wilde’s little sister in A Song Unheard and I adored getting to know her better as the heroine of this novel. There can be no debate that she is a character with an utterly unique personality and perspective on the world. I am extremely impressed with how well Roseanna pulled off writing this character. Margot never once acts or thinks in a way that doesn’t seem to fit her. She is consistent with who she is while also continuing to grow as a person over the course of the story. This is a heroine you won’t soon forget.

Book Quote - The Number of Love

Drake “Dragon” Elton – He has another name, but I won’t give it away here. 😉 He’s a very engaging character with a strong sense of right and wrong that is tested in ways only war can do. I love the way he responds to Margot’s unique personality and habits. He’s a hero you will love reading about.

Dorothea “Dot” Elton – Drake’s younger sister is another unique character I loved getting to know. Thanks to war-related trauma she has fears connected to leaving her home. Seeing how she handles these fears and how they impact her relationships adds depth to this story.

There are four or five other characters I’d like to name here, but since they aren’t introduced until later in the story, or are integral to twists in the plotline, naming them here could be perceived as spoilers. So I’ll simply add that the other main characters are equally well developed and you will enjoy reading about them.

Book Quote - The Number of Love - Babies

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This is definitely a suspenseful read that will keep you turning pages, but it doesn’t sacrifice emotion for action. As I mentioned above, the characters in this story are all so well-written that you can’t help but care about what happens to them. Roseanna even managed to evoke compassion for a villain that has done some truly horrifying things.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I love how many honestly unique characters Roseanna managed to fit into this novel without making any of them seem like gimmicks or cartoons. They each feel real and relatable despite their uniqueness that, at times, borders on the extreme.

Theme:

The balance of control between the head and the heart.

Ending:

Oh, I was grinning from ear to ear. I think I even gave a very delighted little giggle when certain events occurred near the end and the only reason I didn’t clap was that I was still holding the book and didn’t want to set it down until I’d read the very last word.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

What part of The Number of Love‘s premise intrigues you? What is your favorite era to read about? Do you enjoy math?

TWEETABLES:

A suspenseful read that doesn’t sacrifice emotion for action.

Twists you won’t see coming. Characters you won’t soon forget.

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


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.

Netgalley Image

First Line Friday – 7.6.19

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Welcome to First Line Fridays! The day we grab the book closest to us and share the first line. Join the fun and discover your next read!

Today I’m featuring, the first line of Roseanna M. White’s latest release, The Number of Love. I’ll be sharing my review of this novel on Monday (the day it releases!), so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to my blog HERE. And while you’re at it, if you enjoy nineteenth-century historical romance make sure to join my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club because I will be sharing

BIG BIG NEWS

with my KRC Members very soon and announcing a new KRC exclusive giveaway in my next email! EEEE! Seriously. You don’t want to miss this!

The Number of Love

Here’s the first line:

Old Admiralty Building
London, England
25 September 1917

The numbers marched across the page in a glory all their own.

about-the-book-2

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network–field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy who just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the intelligent Margot, but how can he convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amid biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.

Amazon

Don’t forget to join!

Honestly, my upcoming newsletter will contain

MY BIGGEST ANNOUNCEMENT EVER

and best giveaway yet!!!

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

My Review – Truly Yours, Thomas

My Review - Yours Truly Thomas

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For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people’s mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more–a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn’t expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny’s undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring–perhaps too much–for the one who wrote it.

Amazon

Why This Book:

I absolutely LOVED Rachel Fordham’s debut novel, The Hope of Azure Springs. Deciding to make another visit to this lovely fictional town courtesy of such a talented author was a no-brainer.

Opening Lines from Chapter 1:

Washington DC, 1883

Dear Clara,

     I lied. 

First Impressions:

I fell in love with Penny Ercanbeck on page one of the prologue! Honestly, she is a delight to read about and from the very first page I wanted to know more about her journey. By the time I’d finished the first chapter, I was hooked. These characters and this story had my heart and my attention.

Book Quote - Yours Truly Thomas - Gift Just For You

Main Characters:

Penelope “Penny” Ercanbeck –  She reminds me just a bit of Anne Shirley in the sense that she is a hopeless romantic with an incredibly strong imagination and a heart that bleeds for others–even complete strangers. Which is exactly what gets this adventure started.

Thomas Connor – Perhaps it is because we first see Thomas through Penny’s eyes as she reads his letter, but from the first time I “met” Thomas, I just wanted to reach through the book and give him a hug. This poor man has had to learn life’s lesson in a very difficult way. Thankfully, we have an amazing Lord who works all things for the good of those who love Him.

Book Quote - Yours Truly Thomas - Dying Slowly

Margaret – The mildly eccentric owner of the Azure Springs boardinghouse. I remembered her from The Hope of Azure Springs and it was hilarious getting to know her better.

Dinah – A needed contrast to Penny’s dreamy outlook, Dinah is a very down-to-earth girl who pursues life on her own terms. She reminded me a bit of Jane Austen’s Charlotte, though I think Dinah is more fun.

Hugh – Another character I recognize from The Hope of Azure Springs, Hugh becomes Thomas’s closest friend. (Rachel, if you’re reading this, I think I’d enjoy reading more of his story in a novella. Just saying.)

Clara – The mysterious woman to whom Thomas writes those letters that wind up at the dead letter office.

And, of course, we get to see a bit of how life is going for the hero and heroine of The Hope of Azure Springs:  Em and Caleb. But I won’t give any of that away in case you haven’t read it yet. (But if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?! Get to it!)

Yours Truly Thomas - It will all be made right

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

While this isn’t a suspense novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat, there is plenty of mystery and action to keep those pages turning. Really, though, it’s the relationship between Penny and Thomas that had me hooked. I really connected with these characters and I didn’t want to put the book down until I knew how their story was going to end. (Or begin, depending on how you look at it.)

Book Quote - Yours Truly Thomas - Never fit in

 

This story took me through the whole gamut of emotions. Some parts had me choked up, others made me want to smack certain characters around a little…or a lot (I know, I know violence isn’t the answer), and other parts had me belly-laughing.

As for the mystery, I must admit I did not see the answers coming. I expected something different entirely but when it all came out, it made perfect sense. Which is what any good mystery is supposed to do, right?

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

Learning how the dead letter office worked from the perspective of a clerk was fascinating. I felt as though I were right there in the room with the workers there.

And, as I mentioned above, I love revisiting this amazing little town “not on the way to anywhere” and getting to know its inhabitants better.

Theme:

The power of the written word (or Word as the case may be).

Ending:

As I mentioned above, the mystery was perfectly executed. As for the romance… it was beyond swoon-worthy. Honestly, I could not have asked for more from the ending of this novel. And I will even add that in the time since I finished reading it, I have found myself wanting to go back and revisit Fordham’s world. With so many exciting new novels to read, I rarely find time to reread any, but this is a novel I could definitely see myself rereading.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Your Truly, Thomas releases TOMORROW!!! Preorder your copy today! 

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read the Hope of Azure Springs? Do you still mail handwritten letters?

TWEETABLES:

Characters that grab your heart and a perfectly crafted mystery will keep you turning the pages of this beautifully written historical romance!

Check out this 5-star review of Rachel Fordham’s novel, Yours Truly, Thomas

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


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.

First Line Friday – 6.28.19

first-line-friday-3

Welcome to First Line Fridays! The day we grab the book closest to us and share the first line. Join the fun and discover your next read!

Today I’m featuring, the first line of Rachel Fordham’s upcoming release, Truly Yours, Thomas. I’ll be sharing my review of this novel on Monday (the day it releases!), so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to my blog HERE.

downloadfile-1

Here’s the first line:

Washington DC, 1883

Dear Clara,

     I lied. 

about-the-book-2

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people’s mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more–a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn’t expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny’s undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring–perhaps too much–for the one who wrote it.

Amazon

Don’t forget to join!

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

My Review – Ever Faithful

My Review - Ever Faithful

about-the-book-2

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Amazon

Why This Book:

After reading Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett, I knew I would be reading more of her books. All of her “Vintage National Parks Novels” are entirely stand-alone novels, but they are tied together by the fact that they are all set in national parks. Each features its own cast of characters, its own romance, and its own mystery.

Opening Lines:

April, 1933
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Elsie closed her eyes for a moment and breathed in the steamy air, imagining she stood beside Grand Prismatic Spring instead of the massive laundry boiler in the back of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge.

First Impressions:

I hate to say it, but the beginning of this book did not grab me. In hindsight, I can see how it was setting the reader up for the rest of the novel, but it just didn’t snag my attention the way the author’s first two vintage novels did.

Main Characters:

Elsie Brookes–  A young woman haunted by a childhood tragedy struggles to forgive and open up to new relationships.

Nate Webber – A hard-working man of integrity whose efforts to do the right thing lands him in trouble through no fault of this own. The secret hinted at in the book’s description is also no fault of his own. He is a hero you can root for.

Ranger Vaughn – The newest ranger in the park who forms an immediate and intense emotional attachment to Elsie.

Mary – A friend of Elsie whose penchant for chasing boys stirs up more trouble than she bargains for.

Rose – A soft-hearted young woman, feeling lost after the loss of her long-time boyfriend.

Graham – The cousin Elsie would be happy never to see again.

Note about the characters:  Don’t let my sparse descriptions fool you. These characters are written in a well-rounded manner, but who each of them truly is, deep inside, is revealed so subtly and gradually throughout the story that to write more about them here would spoil part of the enjoyment of the story.

Book Quote - Ever Faithful - Blue Geyser

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This is not a forest-fire read. It is a slow and steady burn (pun fully intended). This is not a book to have you sitting on the edge of your seat (except toward the end). But that isn’t to say it’s boring. It’s just a different kind of read. It’s the kind of book you cuddle up with in a blanket next to a warm fire with a cup of cocoa and your fuzzy socks on. It’s the warm sun on your face as you lean out the car window and feel the wind rush by. Is there suspense? Yes. As with the first two novels, there is a definite element of suspense. But for most of the story, the suspense doesn’t feel like the focus in this novel as much as it did in the first two.

As for emotional engagement, it’s definitely there. The first kiss between Nate and Elsie had me grinning like a silly fool and wanting to hug Elsie the way I would any friend who’d found such joy. By the time we reached the climax I was whipping through pages eager to see how it all worked out. And let me tell you about the ending…

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

What I especially liked was the opportunity to learn new things about Yellowstone and visit vicariously through Barnett’s characters. I haven’t been to Yellowstone since I was eleven and now I’m chomping at the bit to take my kids and experience more of our national treasure.

My absolute favorite part of the novel, though, was the incorporation of the California Conservation Corps. My first real job (not counting babysitting) was working for the Youth Conservation Corps at Joshua Tree National Park. It was an experience I’ll never forget and always be proud of. While mine was a vastly different situation than the original CCC members, I was blessed to have the opportunity to help improve one of our national treasures and it left me with a special fondness for the programs. Getting to read more about its history through the eyes of these fictional characters was a unique treat.

Theme:

Forgiveness is not earned, it’s bestowed.

Book Quote - Ever Faithful - Anger Rotting Tree

Ending:

Oh! I wish I could tell you about it! I did NOT see it coming until almost the last second. I was SO sure I knew what was going to happen–that I had it all figured out–and then the author surprised me with a completely different reveal that made perfect sense. LOVE IT!!!

Overall Rating:

3.75 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of Karen’s Vintage National Parks novels? What are your thoughts on forgiveness?

TWEETABLES:

The kind of book you cuddle up with in a blanket next to a warm fire with a cup of cocoa and your fuzzy socks on.

Check out this review of @KarenMBarnett’s Ever Faithful!

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


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.

First Line Friday – 6.21.19

first-line-friday-3

Welcome to First Line Fridays! The day we grab the book closest to us and share the first line. Join the fun and discover your next read!

Today I’m featuring, the first line of Karen Barnett’s latest release, Ever Faithful. I’ll be sharing my review of this novel on Monday, so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to my blog HERE.

Ever Faithful

Here’s the first line:

April, 1933
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Elsie closed her eyes for a moment and breathed in the steamy air, imagining she stood beside Grand Prismatic Spring instead of the massive laundry boiler in the back of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge.

about-the-book-2

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Amazon

Don’t forget to join!

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating: