Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел хизнь вечную.
While I receive many books in exchange for review, I am never required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my very own.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Review: Along the Rio Grande by Tracie Peterson

Recently widowed Susanna Jenkins has decided to follow her family to the booming town of San Marcial, New Mexico, for a fresh start and to aid in her family's sudden change in fortune. They are tasked with managing her uncle's new Grand Hotel, and it takes all her patience to try to help her parents see the good of their circumstances and relinquish their sense of entitlement.

Owen Turner works as a boilermaker for the Santa Fe's train shops in San Marcial. He's immediately attracted to Susanna upon meeting her, but he hesitates to risk opening his heart again. Especially as painful memories are stirred up of his own late sibling when Susanna's brother is assigned to work under him.

When misguided choices put Susanna's family in an even more precarious situation, she needs someone to rely on. But if Owen can't face the past, he'll miss out on his greatest chance at love.

 It's been an embarrassingly long time since I've read any of Tracie's newest books, even though she's in my top 5 authors list. Along the Rio Grande, her latest release was a wonderful story of growth. I've never seen so many whiny characters that I wound up not absolutely despising at the end. Any Tracie fan will love picking up this brand new series. I loved the setting and the cultural aspects woven into the novel. Of course, the romance was sweet, although slow. Honestly, the first two or so pages have so much information that it's almost overwhelming, but after that the story slows way down. The pacing felt funny, but it was a quick read. I knocked it out real fast, and I was engaged the whole time. It wasn't as gripping as some of my Tracie faves, but, at the same time, I think my brain was ready for some light reading and I was never bored. I've been reading so much heavy material lately, that it was good to slow down and just have a story that's not kicking my adrenaline into overdrive. Overall, a great story, with so many wonderful spiritual truths, but not comparable to Striking a Match, Alaskan Quest, or Yukon Quest. However, if you're looking for a masterful light read, help an author out and go check out the new book baby.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Review: Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose's violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

 Not gonna lie, I jumped right into this book after reading number three in the series, and I liked it even better than Drawn by the Current. I read this in one day, stayed up past midnight to finish it. I was so drawn and captivated by the story. Sylvie is definitely one of my new favorite literary characters. And yes, I felt like smacking Rose multiple times during the book. I liked seeing a heroine who wasn't in the 18-25 age bracket. It made for a sweet change of rhythm. Plus, all the details of the World's Fair were so fascinating. Usually, if there's too much of a history lesson hidden in the book, it annoys me, but the details were so sharp and interesting that I was eating it up. I love how the story took so many turns emotionally. Some quotes that I loved: 

"God says I am His child, I am good enough for Him-- not because of what I've done, but because of what Christ has done on my behalf."

"Just because we are still doesn't mean that God is. We can rely on Him."

Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Adria Fontaine has been sent to recover goods her father pirated on the Great Lakes during the war. But when she arrives at Foxglove Manor--a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior--Adria senses wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life. 

Present day. 

Kailey Gibson is a new nurse's aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Kidnapped as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling promise from her abductors that they would return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. She'll have to risk it all to banish the past's demons, including her own. 

This is the second book I've read by this author. I love the dual timelines that are so interconnected. I love the mystery and intrigue. I like finding the normal explanation for the ghoulish tricks that inevitably happen. While I expected this book to be dark, I wasn't quite prepared for how dark this one went. I don't know how much to say without spoiling, but the feelings that Adria was having, the trauma that Kailey goes through, it's all a lot to process. I felt that perhaps there could have been a little less current events woven into the story, but that's a personal preference, not a dig on the author. Comparing this to Bonaventure Circus, I liked that one better than Foxglove, but I'm still super excited to dive into my next Jaime Jo Wright book. One of the things I like about her writing is that she's so good at keeping me from guessing who the bad guy is. I was 1 for 4 this time. Overall, a good read, but not my favorite. That being said, I really couldn't put it down, actually, reading it during my breaks and in the car and before bed. If you like spooky vibes, I say go for it.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Review: Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green

Lives depend on the truth she uncovers.
She can't give up her search.

A birthday excursion turns deadly when the SS Eastland capsizes with Olive Pierce and her best friend on board. Hundreds perish during the accident, and it's only when Olive herself barely escapes that she discovers her friend is among the victims.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Olive returns to her work at a Chicago insurance agency and is immersed in the countless investigations related to the accident. But with so many missing, there are few open-and-shut cases, and she tries to balance her grief with the hard work of finding the truth.

While someone sabotages her progress, Olive accepts the help of newspaper photographer Erik Magnussen. As they unravel secrets, the truths they discover impact those closest to Olive. How long will the disaster haunt her--and how can she help the others find the peace they deserve? 

I jumped right into book three of this series, not unusual for me, let's be honest, but I can honestly say that it was totally fine. In fact, I enjoyed the characters so much that I started book 2 immediately after finishing. (Yes, I'm reading backward. It'll be fine, I promise.) I have only read one of Jocelyn's books before, and I loved it, so I had high hopes for this story. And yes, I loved Drawn by the Current. I think that Olive and Erik were both really fleshed out characters that had so much depth and growth going on. Olive realizing that being useful was not the entirety of her personhood was so powerful. I enjoyed the little bit of intrigue going on. I will say that I was surprised that the love interest didn't really show until about a quarter of the way in, which is unusual. I was about to chalk this one up as a non-romance, and you know what, I was okay with that, because the story was interesting and engaging. I think the portrayal of the accident was so moving, and the many storylines that took. At one point I know there were at least four different angles I was following, which kept the story moving. Now, here's where I may lose some of you who have read it, but I didn't care for Claire all that much. She just didn't have the emotion I expected to see, not until the very end. Overall, though, I think this series is probably going to be a favorite for lots of people. I'll tell you how books two and one go when I'm done reading them. Bottom-line, if you enjoy early 1900s romance, lots of mystery, Chicago, and sooooo many classical literature references, then you'll like Drawn by the Current. Have you read it? Who was your favorite character. Let me know in the comments.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Review: The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.

Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own? 

This has been on my TBR list since I read The Shattered Vigil in 2017 or something like that. I love the fantasy world that Carr built and I drunk in every single ounce of description he gave. I would recommend reading the books in order, because there are so many characters and the world building is so extensive that it is very easy to get confused. The different POVs presented in The Wounded Shadow were incredible. I'm fascinated by the gift of domere, and Pellin is incredible. Watching Mark and Elieve interact was probably one of my favorite things, but in all honesty, with even one piece missing from the story, it wouldn't have been whole. I loved the allegory going on, even if I didn't understand it all. If you love escaping to another world and delving into gifts and callings, well, this series might be for you. The books are long, but worth it. I only wish the series hadn't come to an end. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Review: In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh

It seems like a dream come true . . . until it forces her to question everything.

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops a bombshell–Brielle is really a princess in the island kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, off the coast of Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, the king, is failing.

Distraught by all the secrets her mother kept, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before her coronation, or the crown will pass to another. Brielle is uncertain if she even wants the throne, and with her world totally shaken, where will she find the courage to take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring?

 Toni is a new-to-me author. I'd heard of her for years, but never got around to reading her work. Boy, am I glad this was my first. I'm not really into the fantasy kingdom in the real world contemporary stories, but I started this book last night and finished it today. It's been a while since I've read a book in just one POV and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It really helped to get me into the story, and while at first I was distracted by too many details, I was all in before too long. I think this book did such an awesome job of sharing culture and adventure and God's peace. There were a few heavy on the romance portions, but overall, I enjoyed reading this princess book, and now I think I need to go ask my parents some questions just in case there's some hidden royalty in my family tree. If you're looking for a sweet romance with a hint of whodunit, a best friend who's absolutely over the top, the sweetest grandpa ever, and some awesome Princess Diaries vibes, go for it.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley but all opinions are my own. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Review: To Disguise the Truth by Jen Turano

"When Arthur Livingston seeks out the agency to find a missing heiress, Eunice Holbrooke realizes her past has finally caught up with her. In order to avoid Arthur and conceal her real identity, Eunice goes undercover on another case. But will the truth she uncovers set her free or place her-and her heart-in peril's way?"

 It has been too long since I've picked up a book by Jen Turano, even though I know I love her. The wit and humor in her books always have me in a good mood, and even laughing out loud in inopportune moments. I wish I had started reading this particular series from book 1, as I have no doubt I would have loved the characters and their development exponentially, but picking up in book 3 did not detract in any way from the delight that I found in To Disguise the Truth. A defining characteristic in Jen Turano books is women who know their own mind, and Eunice sure fits that mold, even down to sneaking into an insane asylum. I loved getting straight to the heart of the conflict from the very first words, and the author even snuck in a mystery surrounding the reading of a will in a way that gave me Agatha Christie vibes towards the end. (If AC were, you know, funnier...) Every single twist of this story made it more endearing, and I was laughing so hard. And what's great is that somehow every single character had a multi-faceted personality just to surprise you. A splendid first read of February. Bottom line? Go for it if you enjoy witty humor, independent ladies, romantic fellas, and the Gilded Age and Wild West shaken into a delightful cocktail. 

 (PS no matter how annoyed you are with your father, maybe Sunshine isn't the best revenge legal middle name to give your kid...)

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley but all opinions are my own.