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.***

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Book Review: Shadow Of The Storm By Connilyn Cossette

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Blurb:

In the darkness of the storm’s shadow, only truth can light her way.

Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mount Sinai. When the people rebel by worshipping a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to assist a midwife. When the experience awakens a new desire in her, she defies her mother’s wish for her to continue in the family weaving trade and pursues her heart’s calling as an apprentice midwife.

But when a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself in an impossible situation and bound to a man who betrayed her. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira comes face to face with the long-hidden pain of her past. Can she let go of all that has defined her to embrace who she truly is and believe in a hopeful future?

General Thoughts:

This story was something new and different from all the other stories I’ve read in the past. If you are familiar with the Bible, this story takes place after the Exodus and really goes deep in illustrating and explaining the social issues that existed among the Hebrews during their journey to the Promised Land. The story focuses on Shira and the struggles she faced especially within herself to see and believe in her worth. Having faced a tragic past that left her barren, she couldn’t see her value, especially to others. Even when she realized her love of being a midwife, she struggled with believing if she was good enough to be one.

I love how the author used Shira’s character to show how God can turn someone’s life around, especially into something far beyond what one would expect to be possible. Although I found Shira’s story the most compelling, there were other characters like Dvorah and Ayal, who had personal inner battles as well. I love how for Shira, she couldn’t see what good would come out of her life, but how God surprised her with what I believe was nothing but amazing.

For me, this is the most powerful story I read if not ever, then in a long long time. I think everyone will find a bit of Shira in them, maybe doubting their worth and strength, their ability to offer anything meaningful in the world. But as Shira came to find, that’s not true. After reading this story, I too, began to believe in myself more.

I truly have no obvious negatives about this story. Although the story is historical, it is very much a fictional story, focused on the personal challenges Shira faced with herself and those around her. I think this story is one that could appeal to even those who may not be interested in historical stories.

Recommendation:

I would definitely recommend this story to really anyone. Simply because of issues like self worth, overcoming negative pasts, and finding strength and confidence. I believe these issues are quite universal and will be relevant to so many.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t find this story dragging, boring, or difficult to read in anyway. Though I didn’t touch on this earlier, this story was also suspenseful, as there were a bit of frightening challenges that occurred and for me, I could not predict how they would turn out and how characters, like Shira, would overcome them.

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

Shadow Of The Storm: An Excerpt

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Hi friends,

I’ve come to the end of this book and I have to say that it is really one that has been the most meaningful to me out of all the books I’ve read recently, if not ever. For those of you who are looking for your next book to read, specifically one that offers encouragement as well as intrigue, I want to share a link to where you can read a substantial except of this book. I will also be posting a book review on Monday, so stay tune 🙂

Shadow Of The Storm Excerpt

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: 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: Love Everlasting By Tracie Peterson

http://www.traciepeterson.com

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.***

Seraphine’s Escape CH.10

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Brief Synopsis—Influenced by The Wizard of Oz, a story of a young woman who becomes trapped in her own dream, but does not want to leave. Can her guardian friend convince her before time runs out?

Chapter Ten—Someone Cares

The fashion show was a success. Seraphine got a new job–runway model. She was getting several deals, making friends, and eventually moved to a nice bay house by the ocean. Her mother and siblings soon moved into a nice house next to her. Things were starting to get better.

Late one evening, Seraphine decided to eat out with a friend at a small cafe in the park. As she was throwing something in the trash, she saw a young man–he looked familiar.

“Hey sir, stop!” Seraphine said.

“What?” The young man said.

“Haven’t we met before?” Seraphine said.

“I don’t think so.” The young man said.

Seraphine paused.

The young man continued…

“Um, I have to go.”

“Do you work here?” Seraphine said.

“Yeah, I just started.” The young man said.

“Then maybe we will meet again.” Seraphine said.

“Yeah maybe, well, bye.” The young man said.

“Bye.” Seraphine said.

The young man walked off into the dark along a path of lamp posts.

Seraphine did not stop watching him until he disappeared thinking if he was real or just a dream.

~The End~

*To read the previous chapter, click here.

Seraphine’s Escape CH.9

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Brief Synopsis—Influenced by The Wizard of Oz, a story of a young woman who becomes trapped in her own dream, but does not want to leave. Can her guardian friend convince her before time runs out?

Chapter Nine—Result

Although it seemed like Seraphine had been gone for 2 days, she was actually in a coma for a month.

When she opened her eyes, she was by her friend Mike and mother Jane. She finally realized she was in a hospital and asked them what happened to her, because she couldn’t remember anything. They told her about the accident and how she was to be rewarded $50,000.00 for damages, time out of work, and pain and suffering. Seraphine couldn’t believe it!

That evening, she invited her mother and friend over for dinner. She told them about the Great Lily Forest, and all that happened while she was there.

“Oh mother, I didn’t want to leave. That place was perfect.” Seraphine said.

“Seraphine, but I’m glad you did. I would miss you.” Jane said.

“Yeah, we thought you were not going to make it.” Mike said.

Seraphine eventually reduced her working hours. With her injuries, it was difficult to work a full day. Soon the first signs of her luck–what Guardian Mari promised, started to show.

One day, while in a department store, she was approached by a posh elder woman.

“Excuse me miss, but I can’t help wondering…are you a model?” said the elder woman.

“Oh no! I’m not.” Seraphine said.

“I think it would be great, if you were included in my next month’s fashion show in New York.” said the elder woman.

“Really!” said Seraphine.

“Yes. Here is my contact information. Please, do not wait to call me.” said the elder woman.

“I won’t!” said Seraphine.

Seraphine could not believe it. If this modeling thing worked out for her, she could leave the waitressing job.

The next day, another sign appeared when she woke up and saw an object by her nightstand. It was the clock that prince Arthur had given her. Now she knew she was not dreaming. Now she knew there was such a place like the Great Lily Forest and she had really been there!

*To read the previous chapter, click here.

Seraphine’s Escape CH.8

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Brief Synopsis—Influenced by The Wizard of Oz, a story of a young woman who becomes trapped in her own dream, but does not want to leave. Can her guardian friend convince her before time runs out?

Chapter Eight—Real World

It took them an hour to get to the palace. It was magnificent and great.

“It’s 11:30 p.m. We must find Guardian Mari.” Gwine said.

As both girls searched every room and floor, a thought of Seraphine’s past flashed…

When she was a child with her mother…

Moments she spent with friends…

And she realized how she had taken all those things for granted. Now she was fighting—running to give herself a second chance to find happiness in her world. Happiness could be a reality.

It was 11:45 p.m. when they found Guardian Mari.

“It is time, though you are late, it is time.” Guardian Mari said.

They rushed to the portal that was located in the cellar.

“Hurry, you must go.” Guardian Mari said.

As Seraphine walked near the portal, she paused and looked back.

She looked back at her friend Gwine and Guardian Mari, and a place she had come to call home.

A tear ran down her face, for at least once in her life she was carefree. She was leaving the one place that was her sanctuary, only to enter a place where there was no comfort, only misery.

She had come to trust Guardian Mari’s words—her promise that this was the best choice and only good things would come out of this.

There were no words said as Seraphine entered the portal. She knew this was not the last time she would be seeing them.

*To read the previous chapter, click here.

Seraphine’s Escape CH.7

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Brief Synopsis—Influenced by The Wizard of Oz, a story of a young woman who becomes trapped in her own dream, but does not want to leave. Can her guardian friend convince her before time runs out?

Chapter Seven—Seraphine’s Choice

Seraphine couldn’t sleep at all that night. She was just thinking about all she heard. The next day she felt troubled. How she longed to be here, but at the same time, how she longed to see her mother—she knew she had to leave this place, her comfort zone. “I knew this was too good to be true”, Seraphine thought. “Why maybe this is all a dream.”

At evening, as Seraphine and Gwine prepared for the ball, Gwine, who was excited, noticed a deep sadness on Seraphine’s face.

“What troubles you, Seraphine?” Gwine said.

“Oh Gwine, I just can’t help to think that soon I will not be here.” Seraphine said.

“Seraphine, do not worry. Though you were not here for long, you have been in our hearts forever. Do you not know of us? We are not strangers to you.” Gwine said.

“I know. You are people from my past and present.” Seraphine said.

“Yes, you may not know it now, but this night will not be the last we meet. Now I know how much we mean to you—how important friendship is to you. You are willing to leave such a beautiful place as this to spare our lives.” Gwine said.

Suddenly Seraphine smiled and said, “You know if this is my last night, let’s have fun. I’m not going to think about it anymore.”

When they arrived at the ball, held at prince Arthur’s castle, Seraphine was stunned by its appearance—the heavenly walls, cascading floors, mystical sculptures. There was already an abundance of people there. Food was being served, people were dancing. And everyone was dressed so elegantly.

Gwine reminded Seraphine to meet her at 10:00 p.m. so they could go to the palace to meet Guardian Mari. They went their separate ways.

Seraphine started to wander the castle, looking at sculptures, when she heard a voice…

“Excuse me, miss. May I help you?” said Arthur jokingly.

“Oh!” Seraphine started to laugh.

“How do you like it here?” Arthur said.

“This place is quite nice. You are lucky for a prince.” Seraphine said.

“Lucky on what account? My possessions? My status? Oh, I do not dwell on such things.” Arthur said.

There was a silence…the prince continued to talk.

“Shall I have one dance?” Arthur said.

“Sure why not.” Seraphine said.

They danced for a moment. Later on, out on the gazebo, they sat and talked.

“Seraphine, I know of your parting, for I was told by the great Guardian Mari.” Arthur said.

“Oh,” Seraphine paused.

“But I do not want you to leave. You have become a great friend of mine.” Arthur said.

“Why thanks. I feel the same way too.” Seraphine said.

“Then stay, don’t go.” Arthur said.

“Arthur, do you not know about the reason why I should go?” Seraphine said.

“Why?” Arthur said.

“If I stay it is only a month we will have. Our time in this world is temporary. If I go you can be spared.” Seraphine said.

“But I will not see you again.” Arthur said.

“I was told that leaving is the best thing I can do, that I will see good things.” Seraphine said.

“Do you not care for us?” Arthur said.

“I do, more than you know, and I believe this is not the last we will see each other.” Seraphine said.

Seraphine looked at the time.

“Oh no! It’s 10:30 p.m.! I must go now!” Seraphine said as she quickly ran down the stairs.

“Wait, I must give you something to remember me by.” Arthur said…

Seraphine met up with Gwine.

“You’re late. We still have time though.” Gwine said.

*To read the previous chapter, click here.