Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung By Tamera Alexander

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Blurb:

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his father, who is dying. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream?

As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women’s hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history–but the hearts of men.

General Thoughts:

If you have been following my book reviews for some time then you may know that Tamera Alexander is my favorite author. She is effective in grasping the emotional strings of a reader and creating characters with so much depth that you feel like you’ve known them longer than you really have. And with this 3rd book in the series, she still does not disappoint. Immediately being introduced to the main character Rebekah, I connected with her instantly. I think that connection came from her determination to pursue her passion in music, especially during a time when the odds were stacked against her, simply by being a woman. With the author drawing on Rebekah’s upbringing and musical influences, including battling a broken relationship with her mother, I felt her pain and even fear. The interaction between her and Tate was believable and brought sincere meaning when things came full circle in the end.

This was definitely a character driven story. Though there were a series of subtle plots throughout the story, things that needed to be resolved and manifest, the focus was truly on Rebekah’s and Tate’s growth and development as individuals. For Rebekah, it was about being fearless and determined to make her musical dreams come to light. It was about learning to forgive and give people a chance, as she did with Tate and his family. For Tate, it was about letting go and putting someone else’s dream ahead of his own. It was about developing a humble spirit. Together, both Tate and Rebekah learned that anything is possible, even pursuing a dream that the times said didn’t exist for all.

There were no obvious negatives. With the author’s writing style, I was immediately immersed into Rebekah’s world and later on, Tate’s and Rebekah’s world together. Their interactions brought life to the story and the challenges and lessons they learned kept me turning the pages to the very end.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a bit of romance. And especially to those who are looking for character driven stories that focus on growth with relatable and encouraging messages.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. This story was an easy read and had many powerful areas. The challenges the main characters faced and the series of subtle plots added enough suspense to keep the story moving.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: The Mark Of The King By Jocelyn Green

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Blurb:

Life in This New World Requires More Strength Than She Ever Imagined


After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier is imprisoned and branded, marking her as a criminal beyond redemption. Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana. The price of her transport, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.

New Orleans is nothing like Julianne expects. The settlement is steeped in mud and mosquitoes, and there is no news of her brother, Benjamin. When tragedy strikes, she turns to military officer Marc-Paul Girard for help, but does he know more about her brother than he will admit?

With her dreams shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous land, where only grace–and love–can overcome the stigma of the king’s mark upon her shoulder.

 General Thoughts:

 I must say when I first opened this book, I thought it would be similar to a lot of historical fiction books I’ve read as of late. I thought it would be somewhat bland and predictable in the general sense, pretty much about a woman trying to find redemption a new land with obstacles every where she turns.

But I was wrong and unexpectedly surprised.

I didn’t think this story would tug on my heartstrings as it did. I didn’t think this story would bring about frightening suspense and mystery.

It didn’t take long for me to feel for the main character Julianne. Though seen as a sort of villain in the world she lives in, in my mind she was the nothing of the sort. In fact, she is like a hero for those who read this book, in that, her struggles to overcome the shame for what she did in her past affected her throughout the story. Many times, she was faced with opportunities to forgive those who offended her, and though she was tempted to not offer them forgiveness, she was reminded of her own shame and how if she could receive redemption, surely those who offended her could too.

What I loved most about this story was it was too interesting and suspenseful to put down. The author did a good job in weaving a sort of eerie mystery that made me frightened for the main characters in the story. What I liked especially was how the author ended many of the chapters on a cliff hanger, making me, the reader, tempted to continue reading from chapter to chapter.

Another thing that the author did well was paint a sincere realistic story. Not knowing much about the formation of Louisiana in the 1700s, it was nice to gain a clearer understanding about the life and social issues that took place during that time. Reading about the unfolding of Julianne’s life made me feel like I was a part of her life. Julianne’s losses were my losses and Julianne’s shame was my shame. Julianne’s ultimate struggle to find and accept redemption for herself in a world that was reluctant to give it, was what made this story’s message powerful. I’m sure many of us who struggle to let go our past shame and failures will find comfort in this.

Recommendation:

 I would recommend this story to anyone who’s struggling to find redemption for themselves or even struggling to forgive others. I especially recommend this story to those who like historical fiction, mystery, and suspense.

Rating:

5 stars out of 5. I tried to think of a negative to this book, but I couldn’t find one. It was an easy, entertaining, and moving read.

 ***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: A Tapestry Of Secrets By Sarah Loudin Thomas

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Blurb:

What is the weight of a secret? And what happens when that burden becomes almost too much to bear? For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she’s prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next.

General Thoughts:

This story to me was one of those modern day tales with a classic spin to it. It is definitely a story that builds on characters and really allows the reader to understand the character and grow an attachment to them. As I read on, I really came to love all the characters, yes, all. That is not usually the case for me, but the main characters really stuck to me and made me want to see things work out well for them in the end.

Another thing I liked was the messages the author conveyed throughout the story. Those were the messages of waiting on God’s time, having patience, and putting God first. I feel that is something Ella, the granddaughter, had to learn in the story.

Although I liked the story for these reasons, there were some negatives for me. I really found the story to not have much of a significant plot or surprising secret, which is what I was expecting. It definitely was not a suspenseful story. In the beginning, it seemed like there was something Perla, the grandmother, wanted to reveal about her past to her daughter and granddaughter. I sort of knew what that was. However, I was hoping there was something more that would surprise me but what I already knew was confirmed in the end. So I was disappointed in that.

As I mentioned in the beginning regarding this story being like a classic modern tale, there is not a lot of action, drama, or suspense. It is more of a life lesson story. I think as a reader, if I’m looking to be encouraged, inspired, or increase my understanding of God, this is the perfect story.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this story for those who are not seeking a lot of action, drama, or suspense, but one that is character focused with a meaningful encouraging message.

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars. The story was good, especially in regards to its message, but I was disappointed in how the plot turned out and the lack of suspense or action.

 ***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: Courageous By Dina L. Sleiman

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Blurb:

Will They Trust God’s Call Even When It Leads to the Most Unexpected Places?


Inspired by the vision of the young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She’ll gladly give herself to the cause, as she’s haunted by a tragic mistake and feels she no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring.

Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church but has always dreamt of protecting the innocent as a Templar knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of adolescents. When faced with political intrigue and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.

General Thoughts:

I found this to be simply an inspiring story that many might find meaningful to them in some way. What I liked about this story the most was the internal struggle that both main characters, Rosalind and Randel, dealt with throughout the story. Living with deep regrets of what they’ve done in the past, they found it hard to move on and see themselves worthy of forgiveness. Because of that, they risked losing out in the blessings God had intended to manifest in their lives.

The author was good at creating mystery in this book, although I would consider this book more of a historical adventure than a mystery. She never directly stated what is was that Rosalind and Randel did to feel the way they did about themselves until the end, although as you read the book is becomes obvious. To add to that, I really enjoyed wondering who the antagonist to Randel was. As I came to the end of the book I was wrong on who the antagonist was and a little surprised at who it turn out to be.

As mentioned before, this story is a historical story. It takes place during the 1200s when the crusades took place. Besides Rosalind and Randel, there were a few more characters that were prominent in the story, one being a child named Sapphira. I loved how she interpreted God’s love to others within herself and how she responded to God’s call. All in all, I finished reading this story with the message that forgiveness is always available with God no matter how bad the offense, it is really up to the person to receive that forgiveness.

Recommendation:

This book is ideal to those who like historical adventures. More so, to those who struggle with forgiveness, especially of themselves and want to understand or learn more about God’s forgiveness and love for them.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars. This was simply a good story with a powerful message that will appeal to many, especially to those who love historical adventures.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review. ***

Book Review: From This Moment By Elizabeth Camden

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Blurb:

Stella West’s artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston. With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister’s death. Upon meeting Romulus White, a publisher with connections into every important power circle in the city, she quickly realizes he could be a valuable ally in navigating Boston society.

Romulus has been pursuing Stella for years to create art for his magazine. Her luminous illustrations are the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry, and he will stop at nothing to get her on board.

Sparks fly the instant they join forces, but Romulus is unsettled by the unwelcome attraction he feels toward Stella, fearing she might be the one woman who could disrupt his hard-won independence. He may have finally met his match in Stella, but is helping her solve the mystery of her sister’s death worth the risk to his publishing empire?

General Thoughts:

One thing I will say immediately is this story definitely exceeded my expectations. At first, I thought it would be a somewhat predictable love story, but actually, it was anything but predictable in terms of how Stella’s and Romulus’s relationship would grow. One thing I liked especially about this story was the realism it had. Finding love was not the goal for both Stella and Romulus since there were greater things on their mind to pursue, but it kind of fell unexpectedly into their laps. Both main characters were easy to connect with and like and their personalities melded perfectly together although they were unique in their own way.

Another element that made this story an easy and quick read for me was it was a mystery story. The greatest mystery was figuring out what happened to Stella’s dead sister and it was not predictable and quite surprising to find out what was revealed in the end.

The one thing that I was able to take away from the story was the lessons both Stella and Romulus learned, especially Stella. Coming from an idealistic background and experiencing success early on in life, her sister’s death really altered her view on God and life in general. But later on, through the trials she faced, Stella was able to discover the strength that existed within her, and found a new appreciation for God and the people in her life. In fact, that was the overall message—through tragedy, restoration and even love could be found.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this to those who love timeless mysteries and stories with witty characters. I believe the overall message of restoration through tragedy will appeal to many.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars. The characters were easy to connect with and understand. I also loved the overall message and the mystery that was a part of it.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: Flirtation Walk By Siri Mitchell

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Blurb:

At West Point, Only True Love Should Lead You to Flirtation Walk


Lucinda Pennyworth, the daughter of a con man, is trying her best to leave her father’s sordid past behind her. When he dies unexpectedly, she takes the opportunity to move to West Point to live with her aunt, ready to take on a new life and determined to marry a respectable man, a West Point cadet, to impress her relatives.

Seth Westcott, a cadet at the academy, is proud to be at the top of his senior class. But when his mother dies and his sister loses their inheritance to a swindler, Seth wants nothing more than to head west to track down the con man. But the army will only send the cadets at the bottom of the class to the frontier . . . which leaves Seth with some tough choices.

When a woman trying her best to be good meets a man determined to be anything but, can there be hope for love, or will two lonely hearts be condemned to casual flirtation?

General Thoughts:

The first thing I will say about this story was I loved the arrangement of it. Having each chapter alternate between Lucinda’s and Seth’s perspective really made me connect with these two primary characters immediately and like them. Although Lucinda and Seth come from two different walks of life, their growing relationship was believable and despite Lucinda’s rebellious past, hearing things from her perspective made me root for her—for things to turn out well for her in the end.

The story for a good part moved along steadily, really uncovering the reasons behind the actions that Seth and Lucinda took. I would say the focus for at least half of the story was about Lucinda learning to assimilate to a new life, a much different life from the one she lived, and Seth learning to take risks, dangerous risks for a greater cause.

Although I would say that this story is not one full of suspense and action, it does have its surprising moments, which turns up later on in the end. The one major thing that kept me turning the pages was its natural humor that was woven in a lot of the characters throughout the story. Sometimes while reading, I could almost visualize the scenes clearly.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this to those who like natural humor and stories that are character focus. The messages of redemption and fearlessness stand out in this story and may appeal to those who are looking for that.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars…Again, it is this story’s natural humor and likeability of characters that made this an easy read. I felt like I was able to connect with Lucinda and Seth immediately.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: Until The Dawn By Elizabeth Camden

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Blurb:

Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a rooftop weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

General Thoughts:

I would compare this story to a finely detailed woven rug, or an intricately hand painted vase. Overall, I felt this story was exceptionally written and not left without any important or meaningful information. The story began with a bit of mystery and suspense, which led me to feel like I was going to embark on a mystery. Although that was true to a certain extent, the story later took on a different feeling that made me enjoy reading it even more.

I loved getting to know one of the main characters, Sophie. I guess, in a way, I related to her personality so that is probably why I ended up liking her so much. It was nice to see how her personality transcended that of the Vandermarks, especially Quentin and even helped transform his life in the end.

One thing I can say about this story is it is definitely not predictable, which I thought it would be. I thought quite a few things would come to pass, or happen, in the story for both Sophie and Quentin, which never did, and I think this aspect alone made for an exciting read which I can honestly say I wish never came to an end.

As far as any negative thoughts, I don’t have any. The beginning of the story was met with mystery, which made it instantly difficult to put down. As the story progressed and as I began to know the characters, I was hooked.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories that focus on character transformations. I think many people, if not all, will personally relate to the characters Sophie and Quentin in some way. Also, seeing Quentin’s and Sophie’s transformation—redemption, will be inspiring to those of us who may be struggling to see that possibility in our own lives.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. I couldn’t find any negatives to this book. The characters are inspiring and the message is hopeful. Once I started reading the story, it was difficult to stop J

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: Love Everlasting By Tracie Peterson

Book Review: Love Everlasting By Tracie Peterson

Blurb:

Growing up in a Seattle bridal finishing school never prepared Abrianna Cunningham to become one of the brides, but now Wade Ackerman, who has always been the reliable boy next door, is indicating he wants to be more than friends. And even the people closest to Abrianna believe Wade is the man she should marry. So why is she having such a hard time choosing between Wade Ackerman and Priam Welby?

Watching Welby’s relentless pursuit of Abrianna is making Wade’s blood boil. Welby can offer her wealth and security, but what about character and integrity? Surely Abrianna can see past Welby’s smooth tongue and fine clothes. Can’t she?

Caught between the devil and the boy next door, either choice she makes will change Abrianna’s life forever.

General Thoughts:

When I found out that there was a new book from Tracie Peterson about Abrianna, I knew I had to read it! This book is not necessarily a sequel to the book, Refining Fire, where Abrianna was introduced, it is more like a continuation. In Refining Fire, Abrianna played more of a supporting role to the main character, Militine. In Love Everlasting, Abrianna is now the main character and her story continues from where it left off in Refining Fire.

Abrianna definitely met my expectations in this story from her personality to all the excitement that usually followed her. To be honest, if you haven’t read Refining Fire, I urge you to do so before reading Love Everlasting to fully understand her backstory and the events that occur in this story. In short, Abrianna and Wade’s relationship becomes more defined and serious, but with her case between Priam not being completely settled, Priam seeks to destroy not only Abrianna and Wade’s relationship, but also the lives of everyone close to her. The challenges that Priam creates for Abrianna forces her to consider her commitment to Wade and give God complete control for once, since she is always seeking to be in control.

This story is interesting and full of sentimental moments but also some thrills from beginning to end. Because of the constant drama, I found it to be an easy read. What I also liked about this story was how the characters maintained their authenticity. The Abrianna in Refining Fire was the same Abrianna in Love Everlasting.

Recommendation:

I would surely recommend this story to anyone who’s interested in stories that have strong relatable characters, natural humor, and lots of drama.

Rating:

4.5 out of 5 stars. Overall the story was good and easy to read, and the characters were relatable and compelling.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: The Lost Heiress By Roseanna M. White

Blurb:

Sweeping Romance and Mystery in the Edwardian Era



Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. When her friend Justin uncovers the fact that she is possibly a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea and the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close–but will their loyalty come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother?

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that their friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession–and those who can save her still aren’t sure whom to trust.

General Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this story. From a general point of view, I think the story was well written and represented the era in which it took place well (early 1900s in Western Europe). However, what was challenging with this story is I struggled to connect with the main characters, Brook and Justin. In fact, I connected with their side characters, such as Deirdre, Brook’s maid, more.

This story focused a lot on Brook’s and Justin’s growing friendship, often reflecting on their childhood, and following their growth and development as time passed and challenges came up. I liked seeing their friendship grow and it felt genuine. Also, seeing Brook unite with her biological father and reclaim her birthright was nice. It was nice to see things come together for her when it was very realistic for it to not to.

The thing that threw me off with this story and it could very well be different for others, was Brook’s personality and behavior. In some cases, she seemed joyful and careless, not really paying much attention to what was going on around her. But in other cases, she seemed stern and brave, challenging anyone who crossed her path. I think that is what made it difficult for me to connect with Brook—I didn’t really know who she was. The conflict between her and Justin also seemed to be all over the place. I feel like they struggled to get their points across and thus their problem was made into a bigger deal than it needed to.

This story had a lot of suspense and a little bit of mystery, which I generally like, but I felt it was predictable to me. I sort of knew who was behind all of the problems that popped up throughout the story. In the end, although I can definitely see a sequel to this story, I felt things came full circle and ended well.

Recommendation:

Despite some things I said, I would still recommend this story because I believe it was well written and depicted the era well. Also with my thoughts on connecting with characters and predictability, that may be different for others. If I take away those 2 things, I will say that the story was pretty good.

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars. The story was interesting and written well. It had enough suspense to keep me wanted to know how things turned out in the end.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: To Win Her Favor By Tamera Alexander

Blurb:

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance–and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder–Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail–Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

General Thoughts:

Tamera Alexander is one of the authors who rekindled my interest in reading years ago. With every new book I read of hers, she does not disappoint. And I can honestly say, that this book did not disappoint.

To Win Her Favor is a historical romance/drama fiction that takes place after the civil war in Nashville, Tennessee. Maggie, a young woman and horse rider, has lost most of her family—mainly due to the war, and only has her father left, who is near death. They risk losing their estate, due to financial struggles, but her father comes up with an idea that could prevent that from happening, which is for Maggie to marry someone who she not only knows, but no one would expect her to marry: Cullen McGrath.

Throughout the story Maggie and Cullen face several challenges, personal, societal, and even financial, that in a way forces them to settle the differences they have between each other and become close. In the end, I like how Maggie comes to realize her own prejudices and learns to put herself in others’ shoes, so much so, that she even considers stepping away from the one thing that is important to her—racing her horse.

The one negative thing with this book was the detailed romance scenes between Maggie and Cullen. Had this book not been labeled as Christian fiction, I believe it wouldn’t be a problem, since they were not what I would consider graphic. But I know the scenes will be unsettling for some. For me, I think the story would still have been good without them. But despite that, I can say that Tamera’s writing gets better—more real, each time a read a story of hers. I felt like I was watching a movie and I like how she weaved “wisdom” or “life lessons” throughout.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this book, especially to those who like historical American fiction that includes a little bit of romance.

Rating:

 3.5 out of 5 stars. Due to the detailed romance scenes and also because I felt the story became somewhat predictable in the end. I confidently knew how things were going to turn out. That may or may not be a bad thing for some.

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