The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

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Nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley in France, the Chateau de Doux Reves is a mysterious castle full of secrets that span multiple centuries.  Its opulence was at its height in 1789, where it soon became an important figure in the French Revolution.  Years later, it again takes center stage during the height of World War II. And now in present day, Ellie sets foot on its ancient stones to discover its mysteries and hopefully find answers to her own past.

I am not usually one to love split time novels, as I usually dislike having to keep track of multiple storylines.  However, this book is above and beyond any other split time story I have read.  The author does a fantastic job of weaving together the storylines in such a seamless fashion that it makes the novel easy to read and enjoy.  I found the history from three very different time periods to be incredibly fascinating and, as a result, the book was difficult to put down!  The author did a great job with her research.  The love story entwined in each time period was romantically interwoven among such an interesting setting, a castle full of broken and triumphant history, a perfect metaphor for the characters’ lives.  There were also twists and unexpected surprises.  I very much enjoyed this book from cover to cover. Most highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Pelican Point by Irene Hannon

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Ben Garrison is weeks away from retirement from the Army as a physician when he receives a call that his beloved grandfather has passed away and left him an interesting inheritance—a lighthouse in coastal Hope Harbor. Thinking that he will simply travel to the small town to sell the lighthouse before moving on to a career as a physician in Ohio, Ben is struck by the peaceful setting and quirky characters, including the feisty Marci Weber. Marci settled into Hope Harbor several years ago in order to escape her past. She does not appreciate the arrival of Ben and his determination to sell the historic lighthouse. But as Marci butts heads with Ben, she learns that there is more to this Army doctor than meets the eye.

I have really enjoyed this series and was excited to return to picturesque Hope Harbor. The characters in this installment once again have turbulent pasts that create a depth to their personalities with which it is easy to connect. I also really liked the secondary characters and their side story. This author does such a great job of demonstrating how faith grows and changes during difficult circumstances, creating applicable lessons for the reader. I really liked the plot and some interesting twists from the characters’ pasts. The romance is tastefully done. I highly recommend this novel and the whole series!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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The Golden Vial by Thomas Locke

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Near death from a mysterious illness, Hyam is vulnerable and weak. Queen Shona is determined to offer aid and travels to Hyam in an attempt to save him. Shona encounters Dally, a gifted orphaned servant girl with secretive abilities. When evil descends and darkness grows stronger, Dally braves her fears and steps forward to assist, hoping she can save the world before it is too late.

I enjoyed the first two novels and was looking forward to this third installment. Readers definitely need to read this series in order. I thought this book was a good continuation but felt more rushed than the other books in the series, sacrificing the development of the characters in the process and causing me to feel like I missed out on some important details, especially regarding Dally. However, this does not detract from the creativity once again of the plot and the interesting twists and turns of the story. I enjoyed this novel and recommend it to lovers of fantasy fiction!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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The Heart’s Appeal by Jennifer Delamere

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Julia Bernay is determined to become a doctor and will stop at nothing to forge ahead in this profession only recently opened to women. When she suddenly saves the life of a man of a train, she feels confirmation of her life’s calling. But soon she realizes that the man she saved is none other than Michael Stephenson, the lawyer charged with closing down the medical school Julia wishes to attend. As Julia and Michael spend more time together, they begin to find themselves entangled in a debate that may set the course of history.

I was excited to read this novel, as the history and time period was intriguing to me. The book contains interesting perspectives during a critical movement in history for women. Sometimes I felt like the feminist tone of the book overshadowed the story. I also have to admit that I did not like the main character, Julia. She was always in the right place at the right time with the right answers that seemed unrealistic and definitely out of the normal realm of knowledge for someone who had not yet attended medical school. I actually liked the backstory of Edith more than I liked the main story and wished that she had more of a central place in the story. Nonetheless, there were other enjoyable parts, and I also liked the mention of George Muller, one of my favorite historical missionaries. The writing was well done and I think for the right audience, it would be a good fit.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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If I Live by Terri Blackstock

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Casey Cox is still on the run, changing names and hairstyles every few days to stay off the radar and escape the law. She is grateful for the limited connection with private investigator Dylan Roberts, who believes that she is innocent and is determined to discover the conspiracy behind the murder of Casey’s friend Brent. Only the other cops on the case are dirty and now it appears that the District Attorney may also be involved. As Dylan and Casey race against the clock to gather evidence, the enemy starts to close in fast, creating a deadly game that may cost them everything.

I have been eagerly anticipating this novel since I read the second book last year and after receiving it, I read the entire story in one sitting. This series is phenomenal! I was hooked yet again from page one and could not put the book down. The twists and turns were surprising and created an explosive finish to an exciting series. I definitely recommend that you read the series in order although that should be no difficulty as the first two books are equally thrilling. I am also impressed with the author’s ability to seamlessly weave in a Christian message and theme throughout the chaos of the action. I most highly recommend this book and this whole series!

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/Zondervan Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Phoebe Starbuck is finally moving beyond carrying out her father’s whims and his desires and doing something for herself. She sets sail on an adventure out of Nantucket with two gifts from her father, one of which is a journal of Great Grandmother Mary. But soon Phoebe’s adventure is not all that she dreamed it would be. Feeling alone and disillusioned, she finds comfort in Mary’s journal. But Phoebe discovers more than simply wisdom in the journal, and the secrets she uncovers could alter the lives around her in a drastic way.

I have enjoyed previous books by this author and was looking forward to this one. This novel is full of well-written descriptions that allow me to visualize the scenery and setting well. Even though the timeline might be centuries earlier, the struggles of the characters are relevant to today. It was also interesting to read about Phoebe’s great grandmother Mary’s own story. I personally did not feel much chemistry between the key romantic characters. However, it was an interesting read and I recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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A Passionate Hope by Jull Eileen Smith

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Hannah and Elkanah are devoted to God and His tabernacle at Shiloh. They are therefore both distressed over the corruption they see of the priests and long for restoration. Hannah is also desperate for a child. But prayers for her nation and her womb go unanswered and Elkanah takes another wife to carry on his family name. Feeling alone and abandoned, Hannah relies more heavily on communication with God to endure the trials she faces.

Powerful emotion and fascinating Biblical history collide in this tale about Samuel’s mother. I enjoyed the fictional account of possible trials and feelings that Hannah may have felt and found myself drawn into her struggle. The storytelling is captivating and the book beautiful in its heart wrenching retelling of one mother’s struggle for acceptance and love. Hannah may only be briefly mentioned in the Bible, but her role in Israel’s history is important and I appreciate this author’s ability to bring her alive. I have enjoyed all the stories in this series and look forward to more by this author! Recommended to lovers of Biblical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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