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Jill Williamson’s King’s War

King's War (The Kinsman Chronicles Book #3) by [Williamson, Jill]

One battle is over, but the war has just begun. They escaped the Five Realms and have found a home, but peace is much harder to find. The aftermath of the Battle of Sarikar should have been a time to mourn those lost in the slaughter. The enemies of Armania are many, however, and when one steps back to regroup, another surges forward in attack.

While the remnant must take responsibility for the evil they brought to Er’Rets, it would seem that something just as dark already existed in this new world. The growing struggle between Armania and Barthel Rogedoth is but a pale reflection of a far more dangerous battle for the souls of humanity.

And so begins this awe-inspiring conclusion to Jill Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles. The Hadar family and their allies prepare to make one final stand in the name of Arman. There shall be war–in Er’Rets and in the Veil–to vanquish evil or be ruled by darkness.

Review

I love Jill Williamson’s novels. Just love them. I was very excited about this last book in the series, but I’m not going to lie. It took me a minute to get really into it because of all the characters and side stories going on. Unless the character was an absolute favorite, I had kind of forgotten what certain people were doing, their relationships, and what they were involved in. However, once I got pulled in, the book didn’t let go.

I am in awe of the vision that Williamson had as she pulls together all the pieces of the Kinsman Chronicles and the Blood of Kings trilogy. We’ve got King Trevn, who I will be honest and say I knew he would be king (because of the Blood of Kings trilogy) who is learning how to rule a really messed up kingdom. I always liked him in the previous books, but he really shines in this one. You can see how he’s matured from the boy who ran from responsibilities into someone who faces them head on. Then there’s Hinck who grew from Trevn’s shadow to a man in his own right; Oli, Onika, Grayson, Kalanek…the list goes on. There were so many great characters who were allowed to grow and change and make mistakes and still be interesting while doing it. And the great part about all of them was that they felt human. Just because this is characterized as christian fiction, doesn’t mean that Williamson shied away from the realities of life.

Spiritually, I thought the book was on point as an allegory. You really see the difference between magic (i.e. witchcraft) and the power of God. I’m not sure if that was Williamson’s point, but that definitely stood out to me.

What I didn’t like

There was one character, a female, who I did like in the previous books but who completely became a TSTL character. I was guaranteed that if there was going to be trouble, she was going to be right there in the midst of it. At one point, we, the reader, are supposed to fear for her life and I was thinking if she died there would be no real loss. She just got on my nerves and I’m not sure I loved who she became.

Williamson is building towards a great battle starting with the second book in this series. She absolutely delivers. But it got so long and detailed, I did start skimming.

Romantic scale: 6

Overall, a great series! It made me immediately pick up the Blood of Kings series and do a reread. I do think the Blood of Kings was a better series, but mostly because it was focused on two povs throughout the series so you really connected with the characters. I’m not a huge fan of the multiple povs. That said, kudos to the author for doing it and doing it well. I hope Williamson isn’t done writing about this world. I’m not ready to let these people go.

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Beth White’s A Rebel Heart

A Rebel Heart (Daughtry House Book #1) by [White, Beth]

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family’s Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.

Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he’ll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel. With Selah otherwise engaged with renovations, Levi moves onto the property to “supervise” while he actually attends to his real assignment right under her nose.

Selah isn’t sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she’d do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.

Review

One of the reasons I requested this book is because I love reading about the Civil War and its aftereffects in fiction. My thoughts:

What I liked

Cast of characters. Usually I get annoyed when there are just too many characters on the pages, but White managed to create a cast of characters that were unique and diverse enough that I didn’t get lost or confused as to who I was reading. They also had very distinct personalities, making them come alive on the pages. I enjoyed Selah’s sisters and her cousin and even their relationship with their various neighbors.

Treatment of former slaves. Usually in these kinds of books, the former slaves work for their former masters with joy. I liked that there was some complex feelings here. The former slaves did not immediately jump at the chance to work for their former slave owners and everyone had to deal with hurt feelings on both sides.

Spiritually, the novel deals with forgiveness and how if you let it, bitterness will destroy you.

What I didn’t like

I hate to sound like some kind of creative writing police, but there was a lot of telling and not enough showing in this book. It wasn’t bad. It just felt like the characters didn’t go much past the surface. We are told Selah is brilliant and ‘should have been born a man.’ And yet most of the book she just seems really stressed. She doesn’t make things happen, things happen to her.

Levi is a Yankee who fought in the war and comes to the south. We are told people don’t like him but everyone (other than the obvious villain) does. He also is there to solve a mystery but half the time I wasn’t sure what it was.

The romance was too straight forward for my taste. Not bad, but not exciting.

The book only really dealt with the effect of the Civil War in a surface way. I mean, yes, the villain was a villain because of the hatred he developed as a result of the war, but sometimes the details are in the small things and we don’t really get them here

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, this was not a bad book. I think I went into this book expecting one thing and it just wasn’t as complex as I would have liked.

**I received a copy from Revell. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Historical

Elizabeth Camden’s A Daring Venture

A Daring Venture (An Empire State Novel Book #2) by [Camden, Elizabeth]

As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city–but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team’s techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.

While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.

Review

 Elizabeth Camden is a favorite author of mine and not because I love every book she’s written. It’s because I know when I pick up a book by her, I’m going to get a smart, intelligent, pioneering woman (who is still a woman of her times!) matched with a unique and fascinating hero. In that regard, this book is no different. Plus it’s the sequel to one of my favorite Camden books. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Rosalind.  Some of the time. She’s a typical Camden heroine. She’s smart and gutsy. She cares deeply about others and she has this fascinating past that made me want to learn more about her.

Nick. We were introduced to him in the first book, and I was really excited to learn more. He’s also very smart and kind but also exuberant, outgoing, and yet has a temper. He’s very much a layered hero.

History. You learn so much about drinking water and chlorine. While reading this book, I had to stop and google things to see what had really happened.

The romance. It was kind of strange. I didn’t care for how some of it went down (look below), but even though this book had some definite insta-attraction, I still found myself very curious as to how everything was going to come together.

Spiritually the novel deals with forgiveness…on all kinds of layers.

What I didn’t like:

The secrets. There are just too many and I’m not a fan of how they were revealed. I really don’t like deception in books unless it’s handled well and this felt a bit too formulaic and cliche for me. Because of the secrets, it really made certain characters that I liked, look bad.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this book and most likely because I thoroughly enjoyed the first one. However, I won’t ever stop reading Camden. She always manages to provide something fresh and new to the table.

Romantic scale: 7.5

** I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Karen Witemeyer’s More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #1) by [Witemeyer, Karen]

Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

Review

Karen Witemeyer is an auto-buy author for me, and I think it’s because she never gives me the same story or the same characters over and over again. My thoughts:

What I liked:

This book had, hands-down, one of the most deeply, moving prologues I’ve ever read. I was in tears when it was over and completely invested in several of the main characters right away…one of which absolutely stole my heart and was my favorite person in the whole book: Zach. Witemeyer used his character perfectly. He’s not in every chapter, but whenever he was on the page, the story slowed down for me. He was a very interesting character. I think the next book is going to be about him and I just cannot wait!

I’m going to be honest and say that I did not love Evangeline. There was something about her constant happiness that was a tad annoying. That said, she was a fully developed character. I understood why she was the way she was and why she responded to situations the way she did. She wasn’t happy all the time and the moments when she wasn’t, really added depth to her character.

The secondary characters are amazing. I’ve already touted my love for Zach, but Seth deserves a mention. I love how unique he is for a man living in the west. Even though his role isn’t huge, by the time the book was over, I felt like I really knew and cared about him just as much as I cared about everyone else. Several times I caught myself feeling very protective of him and thinking, Seth, what are you doing? You know how you are!

I really liked the Western feel of this book. There’re saloons and high stake poker games, revenge and shot ’em out situations.

I’ll admit the romance was cute. I kind of wish it had been more complicated. I know…I hate complicated romances and contrived storylines, but this one was so straightforward to me, I didn’t really have to root for anybody or wonder how it was all going to come about.

Spiritually the novel deals with forgiveness, leaving vengeance to God, and learning your own value.

What I didn’t like:

The plot. At first it’s incredibly interesting. And then I got to the second half of the book and I was like, everything appears on the right path of being solved, where are we going with this? And then I saw where we were going with this…and I didn’t care.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, a good book. Witemeyer is obviously talented and I will keep reading her novels, but this book tilted a bit in the direction of too slow.

** I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Jody Hedlund’s Together Forever

Together Forever (Orphan Train Book #2) by [Hedlund, Jody]

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children–firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Review

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series and I was so excited about the second book. However, this book was a disappointment. It was certainly as well written as all of Ms. Hedlund’s books are. Marianne and Andrew came to life on the pages. Hedlund’s real talent though, was how well and developed the secondary cast was. And let me tell you, a train full of children is a large cast. It’s very easy for the reader to get lost in the numbers, but the author took the time to really flesh these children out (and other characters) and bring them to life. Spiritually, the novel deals a lot of with forgiveness of one’s self and realizing that God is there when you go through the difficult times.

But this book seemed to lack…a plot. It took me forever to get through it. Forever. And with every page I turned, I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. I don’t think it ever did. Instead, it felt like a never-ending road trip from…well…you know where. Perhaps if I had never read a book about the orphan trains at all, I would have found this fascinating. But this was not my first train ride, so there was no allure there. The novel starts with Marianne trying to find her sister, and while her sister is clearly on her mind, this is a thread that the story fails to really hold. And then there was Andrew and the more I learned about him, the more I actually didn’t trust him…with anything or anybody (I think the author’s point with him totally backfired). At the end of the book, I still wasn’t certain what kind of person he was. Romantically, at first it seemed like the author wasn’t going to make things complicated, and I was a huge fan of that (though I must say that I was never confident that Marianne really knew the hero that well). But then things got weirdly complicated–to the point where I almost didn’t care and when I should have been basking in the love, I was skimming paragraphs.

Honestly, I felt like this book was just a bridge to get to the third book. It felt like the author was setting up pieces that she plans to move on the chessboard at some point.  Will I read the third book? Probably. But I won’t be waiting as eagerly for it as I did for this one.

Romantic scale: 7

**I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

 

 

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Lisa Bevere’s Adamant: Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions

Adamant: Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions by [Bevere, Lisa]

By ancient definition, the adamant was known as both a diamond and a mythical stone of indestructible wonder. In more modern terminology, it describes a posture of unshakeable resolve and determination. If there was ever a time for us to be adamant about love and truth it is now. God is Love. God is Truth. Both love and truth are timeless, transcending our current trends and opinions. Sometimes the most loving thing we will ever do is to speak the truth, but speaking truth begins with living it.

Using the mediums of Scripture and story, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Bevere takes readers on a journey into the Mountain of God, to the one place they can learn not only to abide in God’s unshakeable truth and love, but become adamant–people who are unmovable, determined, and steadfast. With conviction and passion, Lisa unpacks the concept of the adamant for readers, linking together the grand story of Scripture and God’s purpose in their lives. Readers will see that God’s plan is revealed as we dwell in him, it is there that we are forged and shaped. As we abide in Christ our Cornerstone we are shaped into the image of the adamant.

Review

Five Reasons You Should Read This Book:

  1. A New Approach-A lot of times in the Christian walk, you hear words like steadfast or ummovable, but I had never heard the word adamant–and certainly not in the way that Bevere uses it. She really goes into the historical and the spiritual uses of the word Adamant and shows how it’s always been there in the scriptures…most people just haven’t noticed it.
  2.  Personal Narrative-I found her points to be more impactful when she shared from her personal story. Throughout the book, you will encounter stories that provide examples in her own life where she had to be adamant…and they will stay with you.
  3. Contemporary. This book is very much in line with the times. Bevere discusses social media and the way Christians should and shouldn’t engage on various platforms and the idea of tolerance which is so prevalent in our society and how to address it.
  4.   Scripture. The book is very much grounded in scripture. Any point that Bevere makes has scriptural foundation. She’s not just giving her opinion, but revealing something that has been there all along.
  5.  Easy read. It’s an easy read. I found the pages turning very quickly as I read this book and every topic is broken down in such a way that I never left a chapter confused. This can’t be said for every non-fiction book!

The only quibble I would have is that some times the writing felt a bit choppy. But, overall, a really good book that I found myself using as a devotional in the mornings to remind myself to be Adamant for Christ!

**I received a copy from Revell. My opinion was not affected in anyway!**

 

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Becky Wade’s Falling For You

Falling for You (A Bradford Sisters Romance Book #2) by [Wade, Becky]

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

Review

I’m a huge fan of Becky Wade. Ever since I read My Stubborn Heart in a matter of hours at a bookstore, I’ve always been excited about her novels. My thoughts:

What I liked

Willow and Corbin. Since I had read the first book, I was aware of the fact that there was a history between Willow and Corbin…and one where that led to them not liking each other. I will admit to being worried that the reason they weren’t together was because of something silly. There is no reason to worry. It completely made sense to me why they were so angry with each other in the beginning. The romance was handled with a deft hand and even though Willow and Corbin almost hate each other in the beginning, you slowly begin to see them fall for each other. It was lovely.

Contemporary. This book dealt with contemporary issues and concerns. Everything that they encountered and discussed felt real. I love that Wade can write a contemporary christian book without avoiding certain topics and without inventing problems.

Mystery. The small mystery that Willow and Corbin are solving was rather fascinating. While some of it was predictable, I still found myself invested in every layer that was revealed.

Secondary characters. I love Willow’s sisters and I’m so excited for the next book. Also, I’m not a huge fan of kids in books, but Corbin’s niece stole the show several times.

Spiritually, the novel deals with forgiveness and not just forgiving others but forgiving yourself.

What I didn’t like

It was actually very difficult for me to put my finger on what didn’t quite work for me (and not everything worked), but I think it’s that this book is…a bit slow. It’s very character driven (which I usually really love) as opposed to plot driven and so sometimes that meant that things moved along in such a way that made me wonder where it was going.

Also, even though the romance did not quite fall under the category of ‘missionary dating,’ it felt like missionary dating. There were moments I wasn’t sure why they were spending so much time together if they weren’t exactly on the same page when it came to certain…things.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I did enjoy this book. It was different, but if you like Becky Wade and contemporary romance, worth reading.

**I received a copy from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**