The Victor

Author: Patricia St. John

Publisher: Kingsley Press

Release Date: September 17, 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting take on Christian historical fiction that middle grade readers will enjoy.

Philo is worried about his family. His sister, Illyrica has been possessed by a demon causing their family lots of stress. When he and his younger sister hear stories of a prophet from Nazareth that has been healing the sick, they hope their sister can be healed. When they mention the prophet’s name around their sister, she goes into a fit of rage. When things are at their darkest, Philo runs away but no matter where he goes, he hears of the amazing work the Jewish prophet is doing and all his miracles.

I picked this book up at Baker Book House on a family trip and just read it. An interesting fictional telling of Jesus and the miracles performed during his short time on Earth. This is a short and quick read that is probably most appropriate for middle school or high school age kids to read and fully understand. I was able to read this in a single day and thought the writing was well done and an interesting way to tell a story like this.

The Apostle’s Sister

Author: Angela Hunt

Publisher: Bethany Hosue

Release Date: June 1, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hunt always amazes with her Biblical fiction!

Aya has enjoyed her life as a merchant’s daughter in Tarsus.  Her Jewish family is well respected among both Jews and gentiles. She has enjoyed her life of singing and learning the Torah scrolls with her brother Sha’ul before he moved to Jerusalem to become a temple scholar.  But all that changes when her father decides to have her betrothed to another scholar.  She and her brother have both of their weddings in the same week and soon she moves to Jerusalem as well.  There she hears of the workings of a man named Yeshua, but believes like her brother that he must be stopped.  After Yeshua is executed, her brother seeks out his followers to shut down the sect known as The Way, but on the way to Damascus, he has an encounter that changes his life forever.  Aya cannot believe that her brother has been converted and doesn’t know who to respond when he sends her letters.  Soon after her husband and parents die and she feels completely abandoned, but there is only one who can save her.

This is biblical fiction at its best.  It’s very subjective as Paul’s sister and son are mentioned by reference only in the bible, but it is a great work to craft a story as seen through the eyes of his sister.  Hunt placed many of Paul’s well-known stories throughout the book and gave some backstory on his time in Tarsus as well so that readers can understand how he was born a Roman citizen.  Great job with the history of that era as well as incorporating common characters.  One of the top reads of the year!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

In Honor’s Defense

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Series: Hanger’s Horsemen #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun and whimsical historical romance that fans of the genre will greatly enjoy.

Luke Davenport thought the hardest thing he would ever have to live through was his time on the battlefield. He’s fought for those around him unable to fight for themselves and now he is the only one of his Horsemen brothers left to battle his demons within. Fighting and protecting others is in his blood; when a job comes up for him to track down bandits, he knows it is perfect for him. Damaris Baxter has moved to Texas to care for her nephew, Nathaniel, after her brother passes away. Having a family was never something she wanted until it was thrust upon her, now she craves to provide support and stability to Nathaniel. When Luke tries to help Nate and grows fond of Damaris, he also finds a family he never knew he needed and wants desperately to keep.

Karen Witemeyer tackled some very tough topics with this book but did so in a way that readers won’t be turned away be the hard issues. That is a hard task for any author to attempt, let alone do well, but this is a case of an author that knows what she is doing. The Characters of Luke and Damaris lead us through the story with grace and ease, readers will feel for the characters and be drawn into the story with all they are having to deal with. This is the third in the series and the continuation of characters and their stories makes for a great read. Historical fiction can sometimes be a slow read for me, but I felt like this story went quickly and kept my attention throughout. I would recommend reading this series in order to get the most out of it. Readers that enjoy historical romance will surely want to add this to their collection.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Last Way Home

Author: Liz Johnson

Series: Prince Edward Island Shores #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Love going back to PEI and meeting new characters mixed with those readers have already grown to love!

Eli Ross returns home to Victoria-By-The-Sea after his NHL career with the New York Rangers comes to a sudden and abrupt end.  Now without a penny to his name, he strides into town just as his mother’s pottery shop catches on fire.  Unsure if his family will even welcome him back, he has no idea how long he will stay.  He owes money to a loan shark back in New York and the only job that he can find is coaching hockey for a middle school girls league.  How much farther can he fall?

Violet Donaghy ran from her past 10 years ago after a horrific accident.  She came to Victoria in hopes of starting a new life when she met Mama Potts, who took her under her wing to become an artist.  But when their shop, and her apartment, catch fire, she is left having to work with Mama Potts black sheep son, Eli, in order to get things back in place.  When hearts collide, what is in store?

I really enjoyed Eli and Violet’s story more than I did that of Oliver and Meg in the previous book.  Not sure why, but maybe it was the hockey??  Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the banter that these two had and the unlikely situations that Eli kept finding himself in, especially when he became the coach of the middle school girl’s hockey team, The Stars.  He had a lot of growth during that period that matured him a lot.  I also loved that Eli and Violet made a stop at the Red Door Inn and I got to check in on some of my favorite characters from that series! 

This is a story of redemption for both Eli and Violet from their past mistakes.  I love that the element of forgiveness was the basis for this book with a bit of the theme of the Prodigal Son (and daughter).  This story can be read as a standalone, but it will shine light on other characters backstories. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Out of the Night

Author: Susan May Warren

Series: The Epic Story of RJ and York #1

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: August 9, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in the RJ and York series gives fans of the Montana Marshalls family just what they have been longing for with this amazing couple!

York Newgate has one thing on his mind, proposing to the love of his life, RJ Marshall, but nothing in his proposal is going as planned. Trouble seems to follow them wherever they go making it difficult to get down on one knee. As they are in Paris. RJ spots a terrorist they helped put away out in the open. If it really is Alan Martin, what is he doing out and what will it mean for the happy ending RJ and York?

If you have been a fan of Susan May Warren’s Montana Marshall series, you are familiar with RJ and York and their relationship. This series is going to make readers very happy seeing this fun couple go through all kinds of obstacles just to be together. In this first book in the series, the action starts right off the bat with RJ and York trying to track down escaped criminal Alan Martin and stop whatever evil he is up to. I really enjoyed the dynamic between RJ and York, she is used to her brothers trying to protect her and now York is doing the same. She wants to prove that she is fully capable of doing all that they can do but doesn’t have the same training causing her to end up needing saving frequently. This book has non-stop action with tension in all the right places and the right amount of humor between the characters to keep the story moving along. Fans of the Marshalls will not want to miss out on this one. An easy day read for fans of romantic suspense.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Lifemark

Author: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Chris Fabry and the Kendrick Brothers, LLC team up again to bring another fantastic heartwarming story!

Melissa had a tough life after her parents divorced.  She stayed with her dad, but after he remarried, he spent less time with her and more time with his stepchildren.  Before long, she decided it was best to leave home behind and move in with her boyfriend, Bryan.  What she never counted on was getting pregnant.  After much turmoil, she decided it was best to put her baby up for adoption so that he could have a better life than she could give him, but she never forgets about him, thinking of him often. 

Susan and Jimmy Colton have had heartbreak in earlier pregnancies and trying to adopt a child.  On a whim, Jimmy decides to resubmit their application letter when they receive a call that a mother in Indianapolis has chosen their family to be the recipient of her baby.  Both Jimmy and Susan have always been open with their son, David, about his adoption and have been supportive if he ever wanted to reach out to his biological parents.

David has always kept the topic of his adoption closed except for the people who are closest to him.  When he gets a call from the legal team of the adoption agency that the birth mother has updated her contact information, he decides to make contact to appease his parents.  He never expected the flood that would be released in the future!

As usual, the Kendrick Brothers idea mixed with Chris Fabry’s storytelling makes for a fantastic story!  The plot is a pro-life story and the good that can come out of choosing adoption over abortion.  It is predictable, but a story like this is intended to be, especially because of the bigger audience, but someone might find this book who is in this situation and be riveted to see what can happen when you look at a bigger picture.  I love to read books before watching movies and this will be no exception.  There will likely be a little bit of storyline removed for the movie, but only enough that it won’t be that noticeable.  It was easy to relate to the characters and Melissa’s predicament was well written.  I love the way this story comes full circle from beginning to end!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Walking in Tall Weeds

Author: Robin W. Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 19, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Robin W. Pearson tells it like it is in her newest book!

McKinley Baldwin is returning to his childhood home of Hickory Grove, North Carolina after he fled to Philadelphia over a year and a half ago.  His parents aren’t bad, just stubborn with their traditions.  Now he has big news to tell, he is planning to ask the love of his life for her hand in marriage but knows that it will be a difficult step to take with his parents.  With a black dad and white mom, McKinley has learned all about the difficulties a mixed race can bring, and his future fiancé will be no exception to that as a white woman.  What complicates things even more is that she is the daughter of the furniture company that his dad works at and has a grudge against the family for years after they stole his grandfather’s land.  Can past hurts be healed?  Or will grudges be just as stubborn as traditions?

Robin Pearson has penned another impressive story tackling many of today’s toughest issues.  Set in North Carolina, Fred and Paulette are a mixed-race couple that have an only child, McKinley.  Pearson brings to light the issues that many mixed-race couples face from both a public and private perspective.  Possibly the most difficult issue are the issues with outside family members who can’t seem to hold back their thoughts and opinions throughout all the time these two have been married.  There is not a tremendous amount of spoken dialogue throughout the book but focuses more on intrinsic issues with thoughts that occur and how different people deal with those thoughts.  I love that Pearson has always managed to bring things to light that people deal with to help readers gain insight into what different people go through.  Great book as usual!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

In Search of a Prince

Author: Toni Shiloh

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A surprisingly fun and entertaining read that was far more enjoyable than I expected!

Brielle Adebayo has a good life; she works as a middle school teacher in New York City where her mother works as a surgeon. She has never known her dad, who died before she was born. One day her mother takes her to lunch and tells her a secret she had been keeping all her life, Brielle is a princess in a kingdom off the coast of Africa. Her grandfather, the king, is sick and wants her to come meet him and prepare to assume her position to become Queen when he passes. Even with the shock of finding out she is a princess, Brielle decides to go and visit her grandfather and see the kingdom she is set to one day rule. Not everyone is happy Bri is going to be Queen; the Royal Council lets her know that she can’t become queen without a husband. First, she finds out she is a princess and now she learns she must find a husband quickly. With everyone judging her every move Bri must be careful she doesn’t make the wrong decision in life and love.

I must admit, I have never read a Toni Shiloh book before and am kind of kicking myself for it now. In Search of a Prince was a fun read that reminded me of The Princess Diaries which I have always loved. The way the story was written with Bri coming into a new country with many against her and the way she relied on her faith and friend to help her through the difficult transition helped move the story along. The tropical setting was beautiful and left me longing to put my toes in the sand and warm up in this warm and inviting country. Brielle isn’t written as someone that is perfect and comes in thinking she can do no wrong, she is nervous and really has a longing to prove she can learn and do what is needed to make sure she is the right person to lead the country. If you go into reading this as a fun rom-com you will get exactly what you want and enjoy a delightful read. It was a very inspiring story that readers will enjoy and leave wanting more from this tropical paradise.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Hart of Noel

Author: Chautona Havig

Series: A Heartstrings Novella

Publisher: Independent

Release Date: October 4, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Just like the previous in the series, this is a fun, fast read that was full of all the feels for me. Loved the setting, characters, and story so much! I foresee myself reading this one over and over again!

Josh Hart wants nothing more than to see his little bookstore succeed. If you looked out the front window of his store, you would think sales would be great with a full parking lot. Unfortunately, the cars are there to get into the bakery across the street and enjoy all the goodness baked by Honey Potts. Josh and Honey clash over the parking spots when Josh asks if she will park her own large SUV somewhere else so that people can actually see his store. Milton Coleridge comes to town with his parrotlet, Atticus and quickly sees that Josh is in desperate need of his help if he is going to keep his bookstore afloat.

Hart of Noel was everything I was hoping it was going to be: fun, entertaining, and just right to sit down and lose myself in fiction for a few hours.  Chautona Havig has a way with crafting characters that are easy to all in love with and want to see them succeed. Her stories are quick and well written with characters that readers can relate to and feel themselves in the story. This story was perfect, especially for the holiday season and I am thankful to have had this to read and take myself out of the world and lose myself in fiction for a few hours. Josh was flustered from the start and with good reason, the start of his relationship with Holly was rough but it led to a way for them to work through it and find a good relationship that could lead to something. I recommend this book to those looking for a fun holiday read and with great characters and an even better storyline.

Never Leave Me

Author: Jody Hedlund

Series: Waters of Time #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a follow up!

Ellen Creighton lost her sister and father to a worthless pursuit to find flasks of holy water to free her from a genetic disease that will end her life at a young age.  She decides that she would rather spend her last days on her terms and her friend Harrison Burlington’s estate.  When Harrison manages to locate two of the holy water flasks, Ellen refuses to take part in his scheme because she believes she has lost so much.  But after he drinks one of the flasks and she watches what happens, she can’t refute the power of the water.  But what awaits her beyond the water is nothing short of the imagination!

If you thought the first book in the series was a wild ride, you haven’t read anything yet!  Never Leave Me picks right up where Come Back to Me left off and it is even more of a wild ride!  Whether this is because readers have already developed a connection with some of the characters or just the storyline gaining intensity, I was much more invested in the romance and suspense played out in these pages.  I couldn’t put it down until I was finished and now the waiting begins.  Ugh!  All said, the time travel aspect is still interesting, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.