The Runaway By Claire Wong

Most teens find themselves thinking at one time or another about running away when they cannot handle relationships, emotions and anger in their lives. Rhiannon does more than think about it she does it. After a heated argument with her aunt/guardian, she leaves, carrying herself as fast as her legs will take her into the forest. As with most impulsive actions she gave little thought to her needs and was totally unprepared to survive. Deep in nature, she struggles to care for herself. The hardship and loneliness cause her to fantasize and create her own stories to escape the harshness of her environment. Her inspiration is the folklore told to her throughout her childhood by a kind woman named Maebh. The story is a great testimony of how our actions large or small affect others not just ourselves. Much like the ripple effect of a stone after it is thrown into a pond.
Her leaving stirs up many things in the little Welsh village. Far more than just concern for her return, but the stress unearths long buried secrets, bitterness, and past failures. The villagers are forced to face the “skeletons in the closet” from the past and deal with them. To their credit they want to heal and move on, not attempt to hide them again. I saw another lesson here. You can try to cover up past mistakes, denying they ever happened, but they are still there. Someday you will be forced to confront them and make a final decision to take responsibility to make things right.
The story allows the reader to view Rhiannon’s experiences and thoughts and those of the town’s residents. The traditional stories and myths were interesting and entertaining. I must admit some parts of the book were hard to get into or moved rather slowly. It was a different kind of read for me.
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Before We Were Yours By Lisa Wingate

From the first time I read a book by Ms. Wingate, she captivated me with her stories and writing. I was very excited to read this book and it far surpassed my expectations.
I am intrigued my fictional novels that are based on true stories. The facts are true but how they are made play out in the characters’ stories lies in the hands of the author. Through Lisa Wingate’s talent and writing skill, these individuals were literally brought to life, so much so I had to keep reminding myself they were fictional!
Until this novel I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society spearheaded by Georgia Tann. From the 1920’s through 1950’s, hundreds of children were kidnapped by abduction or trickery from loving and caring parents. Until they were adopted by wealthy or famous people, for a hefty fee, they suffered unimaginable physical abuse, sexual assault, neglect, and with some even death.
In 1939 a young girl, Rill, and her siblings lived happily in poverty on a house boat with their parents. While her father and mother were at the hospital welcoming another child they were snatched away and taken to one of Ms. Tann’s “homes”. That was when the nightmare began. As if the heartbreak of being separated from their parents was not enough, Rill also felt the pain of trying to protect her younger siblings and keep them together in an environment of cruelty and violence.
My heart broke at the horrors these children encountered. I never imagined!
The chapters alternate from Rill’s narrative to Avery Stafford in the present day. Avery is 30, wealthy, privileged and the member of a prestigious political family, totally opposite to Rill’s experience. When Avery attends a nursing home tour a resident appears to recognize her. She returns to visit her. In a sepia photo in May Crandall’s room she sees a family. One of the children strongly resembles her grandmother. She cannot get it out of her mind and begins to relentlessly seek out answers about her Grandma Judy’s past. Could May be a part of that past? Due to dementia claiming her grandmother’s once sharp mind she cannot ask her questions. It’s all up to Avery. What secrets will she unearth? How will they change her and her family’s lives? I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! An incredible book with an amazing story!
Thank you, Lisa Wingate, for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. The opinions I have stated are my own.

HELLO STARS By Alena Pitts

HELLO STARS
By Alena Pitts
We have to face it. Today’s preteens are enamored with stars, music, and dreaming of being in the spotlight. The problem is most of their examples are not wholesome or Christian, This book gives young girls the chance to be a part of the fantasy of stardom but in a pure and godly way.
Lena Daniels never dreamed she would star in a movie, and certainly not with her favorite Christian singer, Mallory Winston. That is exactly what happens when she wins a video audition which she assumed the prize was to meet her idol. She quickly finds out there is much more to being a star that she ever imagined. She discovers it is not all glamour and fun but hard work and responsibility.
This book has so many wonderful features that young girls, parents and grandparents will really appreciate. The Daniel’s are a strong Christian family. They are supportive of one another and live in harmony, showing the importance of family relationships. Prayer is a regular part of their life in all areas. Scriptural concepts are applied to the situations they face as natural as breathing! Girls are able to see how important God is in whatever is happening with big or the small matters.
What is so impressive is that the author is only 13 years old! No wonder she could so accurately capture the emotions of girls as they find themselves dealing with day to day life! Minor incidents adults would think nothing of are devastating to sensitive young ladies. In reading the book I was taken back to that period in my life and how differently experiences were viewed and felt. It’s that magical window of time right before becoming a teen that is accompanied by uncertainty, confusion and innocence.
At the end of each chapter the readers get a peek at what Lena writes in her journal to herself and God. She expresses her joys, doubts, fears, at the same time seeking God. In addition to all these positive features, the book is entertaining, fun and humorous. Even though I am 50+ years past the reading audience’s age, I enjoyed it! Definitely a book you would want your preteens to read! Ms. Pitts has a great future ahead of her as a gifted writer!
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I expressed are my own.

Too Deep for Words By Andrea Boeshaar

Until I started reading the book I did not realize it was a sequel to A Thousand Shall Fall. To say I was excited is an understatement! The first book was one I thoroughly enjoyed. This one did not disappoint either.
Once again Ms. Boesharr does an excellent job of portraying the emotions, struggles and lives of those living during the Civil War Era.
Carrie Ann has found the love of her life with Yankee officer, Peyton Collier. After living a life of deprivation and abuse she finds herself a privileged lady of means.
Life is near perfect, except for the war. She knows she could lose her husband at any time. After only 19 days as Mrs. Collier, her Peyton is called to deal with small military occurrence promising to be back for breakfast the next day. He never returns and the military reports to her that he is missing in battle and probably dead. Carrie cannot give up the gut feeling that he is alive somewhere. His aunt, her sister and their beloved house keeper try to persuade her to accept the fact he is gone, but she refuses.
Passionately she begins an exhaustive search of hospitals where wounded men have been taken. Finally there is lead that the soldiers in that battle have been taken to a certain hospital but it is a Confederate one in Virginia. She and her sister travel there on a ruse putting their lives in danger.
Carrie’s emotions are all over the place and she goes from doubt to certainty her much-loved husband is alive. In the midst of her confusion is her husband’s best friend, Eli, a confederate soldier, with whom he appointed executor of his estate should he die. Peyton also ask him to look after Carrie and his family. Eli has always been in love with her and begins to woo her. She is told she is a widow, yet she doesn’t feel like one. Should she begin a new life or continue the quest for husband? Should she listen to others or her heart?
A well written novel filled with suspense, mystery, romance, and characters that draw you into their life. I cannot wait for the sequel!! This book can be read alone but you will definitely want to read the first book!!!!
I was provided a copy of this book Kregel Publications, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Stolen Heart By Amanda Cabot

A Christian, crime, mystery, romance, historical novel, who would think it could be done!? Author Amanda Cabot did and she has succeeded with this wonderful novel!
The author really showcased her writing skills with this new book!
Poor Lydia Crawford uproots herself from her New York home, quits her job as a school teacher, and heads to Texas to meet the love of her life, finance, Edgar. Upon arriving with engagement ring in hand, not only does she find that Mr. Right has disappeared but has also left behind a pregnant wife! In the face of the shock and pain of this betrayal, she also finds that even though the civil war has been over for 15 years, the hostility of the town people toward Yankees had not abated.
Little did she know the handsome and very helpful sheriff, Travis, who meets her at the stagecoach, was going to be her protector and new romance? As the story progresses you see how perfectly matched they were to each other, both, kind, giving and caring people. He senses her dilemma and immediately finds her a place to stay and work with his great Aunt Bertha. Aunt Bertha is rich, and has strong influence. Someone the residents dare not cross. This gives Lydia protection from the cruelty and acceptance in the community. An added blessing is the closeness the two quickly develop. Lydia is a strong woman of faith. She trusts God and believes she was brought her to here for His purpose, but she has no idea what that is.
Though the town is small it harbors many mysteries and Lydia aims to discover them. Soon after her arrival a string of minor crimes begin to occur. She teams up with Travis to get to the bottom of it. The characters were well fleshed out and delightful. You feel as if you knew them personally. The descriptions of the town and activities of the characters were vivid. I like feeling as if I am there and a part of the story. The plot was entertaining and intriguing. You will be kept guessing! A great book. I was very happy to see that this is a trilogy so more books are to come!
I was provided a copy of this book by Chosen books, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill By Julie Klassen

I know when I open one of Ms. Klassen’s books I can be sure I am in for a good read! This novel is proof again! The setting is Wiltshire, England, 1820. Jane was suddenly widowed a year ago when her husband was in an accident. He ran a family inn named, the Bell. She had no part in the business but thanks to the laws, suddenly finds herself proprietor and owner. She knows nothing about running such an establishment and has no desire to. The Inn means everything to her mother-in-law, Thora Bell, as it belonged to her parents. Thora moves back to the Bell in hopes of helping out. To make a sticky situation even worse, Thora has never really liked her daughter-in-law. Her brother-in-law, Patrick, also resides there and has his own agenda for the Bell. The inn is in great need of repairs and deep in debt. At first she feels she has no choice but to manage the inn has she has no other means of income. Later she realizes that is about more than just her, and the success of it affects many lives. I overwhelmed for Jane in all she had to learn and do. I found it very interesting the workings and running such a business in that era, it was hard! Definitely not like our Holiday Inns now!
She sets goals to bring new life to the business but not without opposition from some. Without finances this certainly seems impossible. I admired Jane’s perseverance even in the face of resistance and insurmountable odds. There are mysteries concerning her husband’s death she wants to solve in addition to her mounting responsibilities.
The book has a wonderful cast of complex characters that the author brings to life in detail and personality. This makes it a very in-depth story. There are many surprises, twists and turns on different levels and within each characters life. I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next sequel.
I was provided a review copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Mark of the King By Jocelyn Green

History is among my favorite subjects; therefore historical fiction is at the top of my genre list. This book is exceptional! I never knew what a rich beginning Louisiana had. In fact, I knew very little about its beginning as a settlement. The deprivation, cruelty, and hardship of those first brave settlers shocked me. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned. Ms. Green weaves the historic facts and life in that era, seamlessly with her characters and their experiences.
The story begins in 1719 in Paris, France. Julianne Chevelier is a midwife and though young very skilled. An older midwife once her teacher is placed under her for the delivery of a wealthy patient which conjures up jealousy. When the mother and child die in childbirth the old midwife accuses her of murder and she is sent to prison. Julianne receives a tattoo of the Fleur de lis, which will brand her for life as a murderer. Instead of being imprisoned for life, she manages to be sent to the settlement of New Orleans. They are in great need of more people to work and establish the area. What she was hoping in the promise of new found freedom turned out to be difficulties, injustice and suffering beyond what she ever imagined.
She is forced to marry another convict and consummate their marriage in barn before leaving. She found her and the other prisoners were being sent simply to populate the colony. The details not only of their voyage to America but the beginning of their new life in Louisiana were graphic and dreadful. Lacking in supplies, food, building materials the new arrivals were expected to make a home with nothing. They lived more like animals than people, while the military was comfortable and lacked nothing. To make matters worse there were Indian wars not only with the French but also between tribes. It was a dangerous situation.
Marc-Paul Girard is a respected soldier of the King of France. Unlike the others he had character and a strong faith in God. After the death of Julianne’s husband, Marc-Paul tries to protect and help her. Romance very slowly blooms but the path it follows is not a flowery one. Instead of infatuation theirs is based on character, trust, courage and strong faith. This book will surprise, astonish, and entertain you in the very best of ways!
I was provided a review copy of this book by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Treasures in Dark Places By Leanna Cinquanta

I couldn’t wait to read this book! I hate child trafficking and love to read about rescues and the new lives they receive. The first chapter started off with a bang! I devoured it as my interest was strong and couldn’t wait to read more. Then that was it. I was so disappointed. It wasn’t until the end of the book once again a part was told of one girl’s story that ended in suicide.
Very little of the book is about these precious little souls. The majority of it is about the author’s childhood, and life leading her to her ministry. Not what I was hoping to read. I could understand her sharing her testimony, but to make it the focus of the book made for me, the title misleading.
She also jumped around a lot about visions and dreams she had as she was being led into her life service. I am a Christian but this type of supernatural events made me feel uncomfortable. This book is definitely not what I was expecting.
I was provided a review copy of this book by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Elusive Miss Ellison By Carolyn Miller

Ms. Miller is one of my new “want to read and look forward to new books” authors.
If you like the writings of Jane Austin, you will love this book! It is 1843, the Victorian Era but the setting is in small village in England instead of a big city.
Lavinia Ellsion is the minister’s daughter. She lives with her father and her Aunt Patience who came to live with them after her mother’s tragic death. She steps to the beat of a different drummer than her friends. She casts aside the fluff of dress and stuffy conduct that her peers dote on. She thinks nothing of working in the garden without a hat or taking walks alone in the country. Both are big social faux pas for a young woman of that era. Her concerns are more with helping the needy and the poor.
The village is all a twitter with the coming of the new Earl of Hawkesbury, Nicholas. All the mothers are preening their daughters in hopes of making him their new son-in-law. Lavinia has no interest in finding a husband. Her concerns are more that the new earl does more to care for the poor and alleviate their suffering, one of his duties that came with the position. Nicholas is prideful, arrogant and selfish. He loathes the new job forced upon him by his social position.
No two people could be more opposites!
Lavinia is disgusted by his smugness and haughtiness. I found it amusing that she had the same attitude but hers came from her religious and strong sense of duty to the destitute, whereas his came from his sense of entitlement and no sense of duty to the people.
You can imagine the strong personality clashes as they are thrown together in many situations. We never know what circumstances life might throw our way or who will enter in that will challenge and change us. Such was the case with Lavinia and Nicholas. Tragedy opens the doors to their hearts and minds that would have otherwise stayed closed. Even as love blossoms, their Lavinia’s strong personality and stubbornness consistently sprouts misunderstandings and hurt.
A beautiful love story filled with surprises. I had no idea that earls had any more to do than have their titles and be rich. It was fascinating to learn about the operations and expectations in a small village during that era. I so enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one.
I was provided a review copy of this book set by Kregel Publications, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Amazing Animal Facts Postcards By Maja Säfström

These post cards are such a clever idea!! I enjoyed all the very interesting facts about the different animals. I love science, animals, and studying about them so I was surprised at how many facts on the cards that I knew nothing about!!!
I was somewhat disappointed that there was not more coloring and the pictures were super simple. None the less it is a great set. They would be wonderful to send notes to friends and definitely an unusual surprise. The cards come in a very sturdy box and are have dividers to section the cards in groups of Sea, Forest, Field, Jungle, and Sky.
I had the idea of using them for children and in classes to learn these lesser known animal facts. That would be such fun, and kids love animals. A super gift for adults, children, or just yourself!
I was provided a review set of these post cards through Blogging for Book, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.