Tag Archives: christian historical fiction

May 2019 Book Review

4 Jun

Now, if you’re wondering by my picture — if I really only read three books in May, no, I read more than that. Double that – plus a few I’m still reading – actually. But, some are part of a series, and one you have to wait a little longer for! You’ll be able to tell that I started and am actually still in, a genre read. It’s been fun pairing light, historical fiction novels with the meatier, slower read of Robert Jordan.

~While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.~

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~I don’t know why it took me so long to pull this off of my TBR shelf but it quickly shot up to my historical-fiction-favorites list. It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I’m already ready to read it again, honestly. (I can’t though, I’ve far too large of a TBR pile) I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters – When Sonja Parker receives an inheritance from her grandmother, she buys a popular coffee shop in a small town in Wisconsin’s Door County. She eagerly leaves behind her disappointing city life and settles into the new one of business owner and coffee maker. But she quickly learns that there’s more to owning a business than serving up a good cup of coffee – repairs must be made to the building, and to her heart.  Can she make a go of this new business? And can she find her way back to the God that she’s left behind?

~I received this free in exchange for my honest review and I have to tell you, right now, it’s not a great review. I didn’t connect with Libby at all (her actions/thoughts felt more in line with someone much younger). I made it halfway through the book before giving up on it. And that took at least two weeks to get that far on it. BUT! I’m passing it on to my mom to read and then I intend on giving it another shot. 

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake – Ruth Caldwell has tried hard to live up to the expectations of her mother. But no matter how hard she tries, she always ends up doing or saying just what she shouldn’t. And she unknowingly steps into another scrape when she travels out to the Broken P Ranch. Josh McCain is stunned to learn that Ruth has a legitimate claim to the ranch, the one he was all set to inherit. His future at the ranch suddenly precarious and as ‘accidents’ around this green-eyed beauty turn sinister, Josh has to decide just who he trusts- and loves.

~Hake is now officially one of my favorite authors in her genre. Of course, I’ve read books by her before but this (and the Gooding series below) have cemented her place in the Favorites category. This is a great first book in the series, although it’s a great stand alone novel. I liked Ruth’s inclination to pitch in and help (even if things don’t necessarily go as planned) and how she gets creative to meet her goals. Even though she doesn’t fit in the mold that society has cast her in, she still is herself. The twists this story took were so unexpected that I kept gasping in surprise and shock! I enjoyed getting to know Gavin O’Sullivan and his family as well (he’s a main character in the second book -review next month!). You definitely should read this one if you are in the mood for a make you laugh and cry faith based novel. 

Serendipity (Only in Gooding #5) and That Certain Spark (#4) by Cathy Marie Hake – Apparently I’m reading this series back to front. But I’m okay with that as I’ve read all of them before. You’ll get a series review when I’m done with them. Trust me though, This series is just as much fun as you hope for.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier – click here for a full review of one of my favorite series! I have to add that I showed considerable restraint by only grabbing the first book from the library but when I went back with the intent to get the second one, it wasn’t there! It was probably for the best though, as I am still making my way through Lord of Chaos…

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells- watch for a separate review!

 

Currently Reading:

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

The Binnies and the Dogs and Cats from Everywhere by Jo Ann Stover

 

To Read:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

and 3 Cathy Marie Hake books I just got from the library =)

As you can see, this has definitely been a month of reading for me! What have you been reading lately?

~Laura

Love Comes Softly Series Review

9 May

This is one of those series that is very dear to my heart. I grew up reading this set of books and am currently trying to find/buy the last two books in the matching 2-in-1. Wish me luck. I’ve tried once and they sent me just a copy of book 7… Eesh. Anyway, that’s not why you’re here!

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If you’ve been around SGL for a while, you know that I enjoy Janette Oke’s books for their themes of faith, realistic trials and warm fuzzies that you end up with. I’ll share those posts with you at the end of this review.

I’ll also state very quickly that, While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers. Thankfully, as these are Oke novels, there isn’t anything to be worried about in that instance. I started reading this series when I was, oh, about 12? Is that about right, Mom? =)

The series starts out with Marty losing her husband in a terrible accident and having to make the tough decision to marry widower Clark Davis so she has a way to survive the winter. The deal he offered her was, if she’d be a mama to his young daughter, he’d pay her passage back east come spring. But, wonderfully, these two hurting people fall in love and the series follows their growing family and the celebrations and trials they go through. Times weren’t easy for these pioneers, stuck out in the middle of the prairie, far from civilization. Their sincere faith finds them with a secure foundation through all they go through – and trust me, there’s many trials that hit me in the gut as I read them!

You might recognize this from the tv series of the same name (I especially love the first one. I think they portrayed Clark perfectly.), but as with most shows, they changed the story quite a bit! So if that’s put you off of reading them, don’t worry – you don’t truly know the whole series.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, I highly recommend this series for younger reader on up. It’s a touching read that will stay with you.

Other books by Janette Oke:

Seasons of the Heart

Roses for Mama

~I have to admit that I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed more of her books! I have such a stack of them that… well, this will just have to be remedied!

If you like Oke’s books, you’ll love:

Series Review – Tucker Mills Trilogy

California Pioneer Series by Elaine Schulte

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The Collection

Do you enjoy novels of the pioneers? I’m thinking more and more that I’d like to write at least one, myself. There’s something about novels set in that time, isn’t there? If you like Janette Oke, be on the lookout for more of her books being reviewed here! Also, if you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen on my stories that I’m currently reading two novels that will be reviewed as soon as I finish them! I think you’ll like them, I’m enjoying them so far.

~Laura

~As a side note, I just took back book 8 to the library yesterday. YESTERDAY. I’ve had it for two weeks and never thought to take a series shot until the book was gone. Sigh.~

Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series Review

14 Feb

I’m excited to be sharing this series by Robin Lee Hatcher with you guys today. I know I promised this review to you way back in December but it’s finally here! And it’s definitely worth the wait. Trust me. I actually heard about this series from my aunt who found it at her local library.

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A Vote of Confidence, When Gwen Arlington complains about the mayoral candidate for their small town of Bethlehem Springs, she is encouraged to run for office herself. Although she’s unsure about upsetting her cozy life as a piano teacher and writing for the local newspaper, she decides to go for it. Unknown to her, newcomer Morgan Mckinley also decides to run for mayor. The health spa that he’s trying to build has stalled and he’s decided that being mayor will help cut through all the red tape. As both Gwen and Morgan try to prove that they are the best candidate for the job, not only to the residents of the town but to each other, sparks fly. But Gwen’s fiercely protected independence and Morgan’s guarded heart may just keep them as adversaries instead of allies.

Fit to Be Tied,  Cleo Arlington isn’t your typical young woman. She can rope, ride and wrangle a horse with the best of the outfit on her father’s ranch. But in 1916, those qualities aren’t what men are looking for in a wife. Her dreams of being married and having a family of her own look grim. So when Sherwood Statham comes to their ranch, she has a hard time with his uppity attitude. This English aristocrat isn’t there in Idaho by choice, but by order of his father. Cleo and Sherwood’s every encounter leaves one or the other mad as all get out. There’s no way he’s the one she’s been waiting  for, is there?

A Matter of Character, Writing dime novels isn’t what people expect of an heiress, so Daphne Mckinley keeps her hobby to herself. But the stories are a hit and the readers keep asking for more. Daphne eagerly obliges, continuing the saga of her villian Rawhide Rick, who is loosely based off local lore. But when Joshua Crawford comes to town in search of the man who has slandered his grandfather’s good name, Daphne learns just how powerful words are. She also has to make a choice on using her gift and just what she wants her life to be.

 

This series was so much fun. I love the time period – starting in 1915 – and Hatcher describes just enough of the world that you can picture it without there being too much reminding. Know what I mean? (there really can be too much description in a book. . .) The main characters are great, although I have to admit to liking Daphne the most (although I do remember getting frustrated at her a few times…) but I suppose that’s no surprise as she’s a writer and I’m a writer.

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aren’t these covers just perfect?! I’m in love

Anyway, this series was SO much fun, my friends. I read them all so quickly and was sad when they were over! Faith was an aspect of each book, but not overly done. (there can also be too much preaching in books…)  There is something so fun about reading novels set in this time period – the newfangled contraptions of typewriters and automobiles. The dresses, gloves and hats. (happy sigh)

The twists and turns were great as well, keeping me in suspense as to just how each book would end. I highly recommend this series, from teens on up! This series is definitely on my re-read list (we all have one of those, don’t we?)

Also, I have reviewed another of Hatcher’s books, The Shepherd’s Voice. Go check it out! It’s also set in Idaho.

~Laura

 

Nov 2017 Book Reviews

8 Dec

Hello again! I read varying types of books this month – and am sad to say there are a few that I didn’t care much for. I do love how much I was able to read this past month though! I have already more than met my Goodreads goal of reading 52 books this year.

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Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore 

~This was a fun book that tells about the history, composition and encouragement to enter the world of essential oils. To make it even better, there were several do it yourself recipes for the home, personal care and cooking.

Jewish Roots by Dan Juster

~ As an introductory book about Messianic Judaism, this book (originally printed in 1995 I believe) did a nice job of answering a lot of questions. It was easy to read. I recommend this as a good starting place if you’re curious about how it got started, where it was at at the point of printing and the basic beliefs and traditions. It would go well with God-Fearers as well.

Beside Still Waters by Annalee Conti  When Violet Channing’s aunt, her sole relative, dies, she isn’t sure what she’ll do. She certainly doesn’t want to continue working in the Boston garment factory, so she takes a job in the Yukon Territory as a live-in teacher for a sick child. As she’s traveling, she falls in love with a Yukon riverboat captain. But, tragedy strikes again and Violet has to decide if she’ll become bitter or learn to love again.

~I received this book free from Ambassador International for my personal review. I was excited for this book as it’s set in the early 1900s and in Alaska, no less! After receiving it, I realized that it’s the third book in the Alaskan Waters Series. Perhaps this is why I didn’t get into the book until I was three-quarters of the way into it. I couldn’t connect with Violet well. It was interesting and fun to find out the history of Alaska that is sprinkled throughout the book. Some of the side characters I really liked and would have liked them to have an even bigger part! (like Cally).

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann – When Trevor MacDaniel rescues a toddler from a cougar, he inevitably meets sculpter Natalie Reeve.  But trouble comes at them from all sides, including a twisted mind seeing him as an adversary. Can the hero save himself?

~I tried to like this one so much! My mom recommended it and let me borrow it but… I got a quarter of the way through (barely) and haven’t picked it up in weeks. I normally like Heitzmann’s books so I really want(ed) to like it but it just hasn’t hit the right note for me I guess.  I felt like I couldn’t get connected to one character before being introduced to another one; it almost felt like I was expected to already know a few of the characters; the main character felt like they should be more of a minor character (and then with talking to mom, apparently someone else is the main character so now I’m really confused). Anyway, since I have it for a few more months I’ll keep trying it but it might be a lost cause. Which makes me sad.

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia #2) and Voyage of the Dawn Treader (#3) by C.S. Lewis

~I will be doing a separate post on the Chronicle series (how have I not done it yet?!) but for now –  I love the completely different people they meet and  ‘worlds’ and they enter as they travel! And Reepicheep. Always Reepicheep.

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The Mermaid in the Basement (Lady Trent Mystery #1) by Gilbert Morris – In London, 1857, Lady Serafina Trent has one goal – prove that her brother is not a murderer. In order to do this, she must ally herself with people outside of her social class. But nothing will stand in her way.

~This book is probably in my top ten historical fiction list now. It’s also a mystery which, let’s be honest, makes it even better. I haven’t read much of Morris’ novels ( mostly just The Price of Liberty series, which I reviewed a little of here and here) so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I quickly got pulled in and found it hard to put down! I highly recommend this novel. (fun fact: this is one of almost a dozen books my mom and I got for $1!!)

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For Women Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

~I read this right after we got married and did a short review on it . I’m planning on reading the accompanying book For Men Only next and want to do a separate review for both – so here’s hoping! Suffice it to say that this book is well worth the read!

 

Currently Reading:

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

The Horse and His Boy  by C.S. Lewis

For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

 

To Read:

Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson

Samantha Among the Brethren by Josiah Allen’s Wife (printed 1892)

Next Narnia book

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

 

I hope you found something to add to your to-read list! Happy December!

~Laura

 

Book Review – June 2017

3 Jul

Ahhh time for book reviews again. I am trying to write more separate posts but what with the pain levels ever increasing, many end up here instead. I went through my library recently and pulled out some novels to read again to see if I actually want to keep them or not. (I was surprised to be able to pull a few off and easily send them on their way out the door.)  With my limited space, I’m trying to be a bit pickier on what novels I keep (especially since we live so close to Powell’s bookstore and classics keep coming home with me). A few of these I read back in May, so no, I didn’t read this many books this past month.

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Because – Have you seen the length of Brandon Sanderson’s novels?!?!  (the one I’m currently reading is 552 pages, aka 236 thousand words) 

Timber Ridge Reflections by Tamera Alexander – click the link for my full review!

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My Life in France by Julia Child – When Julia and her husband, Paul, moved to France in 1948, she knew no French and nothing about food. Her experiences with superb food had her soon signing up for cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. Her passion for learning the secrets to what made each dish delicious ended up changing her life – and turning her into one of the most beloved cooking teachers and writers.

~ This memoir was enjoyable in every way.  Child shares her travels throughout Europe along with the meals that made such impressions on her. It reminded me of a goal that I had years ago – that of cooking my way through her Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but alas, with all these food allergies, that will never be possible.  Her dedication to detail in her recipes revolutionized the cookbook industry. A fun read about one of the most endearing American personalities. Bon Appetit! 

~These next four novels are the ones I read to decide to keep them or not. All four are getting passed on to my mom! ~

Sweet Blessings by Jillian Hart – Heath Murdock never expected anything more than a hot meal and a dry place to sit for a while when he entered the small diner. He ended up earning the trust and love of independent Amy Mckaslin when he steps in and helps out.

~This is the second book in the Mckaslin series, but the only one I’ve ever read. It’s a sweet story of learning to let go of the past, forgive yourself and accept God’s love. It being a novella, I feel like the story could go deeper but Hart still brings depths to her characters. 

The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake – Clara Fields can’t believe that her and her widowed aunt were abandoned by their wagon train on the way to Oregon. When help is offered by the owner of the general store in Buttonwood, Clara strikes a bargain that in exchange for marrying his son, she’ll get the house so that they will be independent of any man. But when she meets the son, a handsome doctor, sparks fly.

~A short story, the characters are engaging and the story is well-written. The struggles that Clara faces – inward and outwardly – as well as the son, a Dr. Reed, are often in opposition to the other, creating tense or confused moments! A fun, light read. 

Secrets by Robin Jones Gunn – Jessica Morgan just wants to live her own life and forget her past. She heads for a small town in Oregon to teach at the high school, hiding her true identity. She finds it harder than she had imagined when she meets a caring paramedic who just wants to help her and a devious woman who’s trying to destroy her. Will she let fear or love win in the end?

~ This was a sweet christian romance story that I read in one day. I’ve read it before, a few years ago so couldn’t remember it too well. The faith portion was well-shared and the plot was sweet and happily resolved. I’d recommend this if you’re searching for a light read! .(I just realized that it’s book 1 of a series but I don’t think I’ve read any more of the series)

Forgotten Justice by Lois Richer – All John Riddle can remember is a date – October 29th. He knows nothing else – not who he is or where he’s from. He’s found a temporary home in Camp Hope and a friend in the beautiful and determined lady in a wheelchair. As time goes on though, he wonders, is his presence at Camp Hope putting her in danger?

~ This is #2 of the Camp Hope series, but is still enjoyable as a stand-alone. I liked how Richer slowly revealed things in this romantic suspense. Near the end of it, I thought I’d figured out who John Riddle was but was totally wrong! Which, is always fun when they keep you guessing til the end. I told my OH that I’d love to read it as a lot longer story – maybe as 500 pages? I feel like there could be so much depth added to it! But it is a fun, quick suspense just as it is. 

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Revision and Self-Editing : Techniques for Transforming your First Draft into a Finished Novel by James Scott Bell – This was SUCH a great book on self-editing! I grabbed it from the library on a whim one day but really think I’ll end up buying it. It had some great tips throughout along with exercises to do so that you can practice what he’s teaching. I took a whole lot of notes on it, and this is the only time I wrote on on my novel in June – working off his suggestions. I highly recommend this as a book to help you polish up your novel! 

Messianic Jewish Manifesto  by David H. Stern – click for a full review!

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Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson ( watch for a review soon!) – I know guys, I know, I’m not going to tell you a thing about this series until I finish the third book. If you really can’t wait, google it. 😉 

What I’m Currently Reading:

When God Doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Once Upon a Summer by Janette Oke

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss ( I’m still listening to this on audiobook, might have to get it from the library so I can actually finish it)

Linking up to The Reading Roundup again!

Reading Roundup

What are you reading lately? 

~Laura

Series Review – Timber Ridge Reflections

22 Jun

Hello friends! I have a quick series review for you today. You simply must check this series out. You Must!

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From a Distance – Eastern photographer Elizabeth Westbrook hopes that Colorado will prove to be a place where she can not only further her career, but also be cured of the illness that’s threatening her life. Loner Daniel Radcliffe only wants to protect his land but when he’s called on to repay a debt, his carefully guarded secret is threatened.

 

Beyond This Moment – The small Colorado town of Timber Ridge represents a chance for Dr. Molly Whitcomb to start over. But being a Professor in Romance Languages doesn’t prepare her for the new life she’s forced to invent. Sheriff James McPherson has always been able to read people – and he knows that Molly has a secret. But when he learns what it is, it threatens his position in the town and what he’s always known about himself.

 

Within My Heart – Rachel Boyd and her two sons struggle with running their ranch without their late husband and father. When her only recourse is to trust Dr. Rand Brookston, she balks at it. He is a doctor, just like her father was. Dr Brookston came to the Colorado Territory with a dream of opening a proper clinic but trust, and money, are both hard to come by.

 

While at the library one day, I stumbled upon this series and am so glad I did! It is now on my ‘favorite series’ and ‘favorite author’ lists. I adore historical fiction novels and Alexander does a fabulous job of describing the times just enough so that you’re engrossed in it but doesn’t overdo it to where you’re bogged down with descriptions. The plots of these three books were enjoyable and there was at least one point in each that I teared up. She throws surprises in that I did not see coming – which makes them even more fun! They are set in the late 1800’s, which is one of my favorite time periods.  The descriptions of the dresses made me long to actually see them. (And wear them!) 

I also liked that Elizabeth was working in a field that was still largely a male career ; that Molly’s story highlighted how different the expectations/ repercussions were for men and women; how Rachel fought to keep her ranch afloat despite the physical labor and frustrations. You continue to see/get to know the characters from the previous book and I love when authors do that. 

I highly recommend this series to anyone wanting a great series that has a message in each book! I can’t wait to read more by Tamera Alexander! 

~Laura

Have you read any books by Alexander? Who’s your favorite historical fiction author?

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