The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

the curse of misty wayfair book cover

In 1908, Thea arrives to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in hopes of uncovering why her mother left her at an orphanage when she was young.  She discovers a secretive asylum tucked into the woods and is able to gain entrance with groundskeeper Simeon and her postmortem photography skills. But as she unearths ghosts and the tale of Misty Wayfair, Thea learns that there may be more than meets the eye. More than a century later, Heidi also travels to Pleasant Valley after she receives a plea from her mother fighting dementia.  Heidi also exposes family secrets of ghosts and soon she finds herself on a journey involving Misty Wayfair and events that cause her to fear her own life.

What an exciting book! The opening line, “melancholy was a condition of the spirit and soul, but also of the mind,” draws you in with its eerie mystery immediately and the grip of the words does not let up until the last page.  This book has ghost like suspense that left me with heart pounding and eyes scanning to find solutions to the supernatural.  I love Jaime Jo Wright’s writing as it is packed with details that allow me to really envision each scene and imagine the thrilling events.  She has such a unique gift!  The characters are rich in depth with imperfections and struggles that are realistic and relatable.  Jaime Jo tackles difficult social topics in this book, including but certainly not limited to, autism and its effects on loved ones, depression and anxiety and its misconceptions, childhood trauma and its psychological aftereffects, and the treatment of the mentally ill in the early 20thcentury. What a phenomenal read!  I could hardly put the book down and stayed up much too late on several evenings to finish it (really, my only complaint here is the lack of sleep I had while reading, ha!).  The central theme of identity is clearly woven so uniquely throughout and ultimately draws on the Christian principle of identity in Christ.  I did not used to like split time novels, but Jaime Jo has a special gift to craft books that weave together a story that comes together into a well-structured and satisfying ending, and has definitely made me a fan of these books.  I truly loved this book and cannot wait to see what she pens next!  Most highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers/Jaime Jo Wright in exchange for an honest review.        5/5

The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

The Warrior Maiden book cover

As the adopted daughter of poor parents, Mulan tries to repay her family by taking her father’s place in the war against the Teutonic Knights.  She disguises herself as a young man in order to blend into the army. She meets Wolfgang, the German Duke’s son, and although their initial relationship starts as rivals, they soon form a tenuous friendship.  Mulan finds herself drawn to Wolfgang but as the battle heats up and she hears of danger at home, she must make a difficult choice.

The storyline may be somewhat familiar to some, but like her other fairytale stories, Melanie Dickerson adds unique elements and fresh perspectives that craft a story with depth and creativity.  And, of course, there is a welcome faith aspect.  She also includes subtle references to gender equality and strong, independent females.  Some portions were unrealistic, but in the background of fiction, still fun to read. I enjoyed this story and look forward to more fairytale stories!

I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Code of Valor by Lynette Eason

Code of Valor book cover

Brady St. John, a detective taking a relaxing vacation in a nearby cabin, saves Emily Chastain from a would-be killer, launching them both in a deadly race to find the villain before it is too late.  But Emily is not being forthright with Brady and soon she realizes that the secrets that she keeps may be the thing that gets them both killed.

The action began in earnest on page one and did not release its grip until the very end!  This book is definitely a page-turner as you eagerly try to find out who is the villain—and it turns out that it is not someone that you suspect.  There are suspenseful twists and unexpected turns.  I think I did not care for some of Emily’s actions because I expected her to have a little more common sense.  There was also some difficulty in keeping track of all the supporting characters with the action being the forefront of the story.  Overall, however, this is a good story for those who love contemporary suspense!

I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander

With This Pledge book cover

Elizabeth Clouston may live in Tennessee, but her loyalties lie with the North during the War Between the States.  However, when the Carnton home at which she lives becomes a Confederate field hospital, she finds herself working alongside a surgeon treating men fighting for the Southern Cause.  She makes a promise to wounded Captain Jones as she is caring for him, earning his respect and perhaps something more.  But Elizabeth is pledged to another and she soon finds her heart struggling to choose.

This novel, true to Tamera Alexander’s form, is rich and deep.  This particular story is interestingly based on real letters.  The characters are told so beautifully that as a reader you cannot help but fall in love with them and begin to feel their joys and their struggles.  It is easy to immerse yourself in the vividly detailed historical setting.  And the spiritual truths are interwoven, relatable, and meaningful.  I really did enjoy this story and cannot wait for more from this skilled storyteller!

I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

we hope for better things book cover

Elizabeth Balsam is hesitant when she is asked to deliver a mysterious box of photos to an old relative, but when circumstances at her job give her free time, she decides to take a break from the city and join her great aunt at her rural home outside of Detroit.  While rummaging through Nora’s house, Elizabeth finds connections to the turbulent racial tensions of the 1960s and 70s in Detroit and the 1860s Civil War.  The further Elizabeth digs, the more she discovers secrets from her family’s past that may alter her future.

This book is such a unique time split novel, giving readers detailed glimpses into the racial tensions of three critical social eras—the height of the Civil War, the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, and modern society.  Each timeline is crafted with great research from the time period and allows readers to get a personalized glimpse of the effects of racism in America. There were moments when the attitudes of some of the characters made me uncomfortable and I found myself asking if that was because I too harbored some deep, quiet thoughts that were not God-honoring, giving me insight that passive ignorance is as dangerous as outright racism. It was so interesting to see how attitudes may not have entirely changed despite 150 years of attempted progress. The history was very interesting and well researched.  I love books that make me think and this novel does that with its questions and its conflicts.  I enjoyed the characters and appreciated that their stories felt realistic, not entirely ending with everything tied up in a neat little bow.  I greatly enjoyed this debut book by this author and look forward to many more wonderful reads by her!  I most highly recommend this novel!

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

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

A Bound Heart book cover

Magnus MacLeish, laird of the great house on the Isle of Kerrera, remembers fondly her childhood friendship with Lark MacDougall, now keeper of the bees on the land.  When Lark’s wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves accused and expelled across the Atlantic.  They are faced with what seems like insurmountable challenges but as the Virginia colony begins to grow on them, they realize that this may be the new beginning that both of them need.

Laura Frantz pens and develops such deep and emotionally stirring characters that have flaws and realistic struggles but also become such strong and faith-filled personalities. I liked the backdrop of this book and appreciated the detailed history.  Some of the verbiage, true to the historical setting, breaks up the flow of the story, but I think it ends up contributing to the overall novel.  I liked the romance, wrought with tension, and the ending was perfectly satisfying.  I enjoyed this sweet story and recommend it to those who love historical fiction!

I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano

Flights of Fancy book cover

Heiress Isadora Delafield is tired of being pressured by her mother to marry older men, so she escapes her societal constraints by fleeing to rural Pennsylvania.  There she finds a job as a housekeeper in the house of Ian MacKenzie, a savvy businessman who prides himself on his conventional lifestyle. But Isadora is anything but conventional and as her adventures begin to involve him as well, Ian finds himself drawn to her.

Jen Turano is one of my favorite authors and I always make sure to grab her books as soon as they are released.  This novel is creative and fun with lots of hilarious scenes that made me laugh along the way. The characters are easy to like but also have a depth and development that add to the story.  And the author makes incorporating historical tidbits and Biblical principles seem easy as the storyline flows seamlessly.  I enjoyed this book and am eagerly awaiting the rest of the series!

I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.