Castle on the Rise

Castle on the Rise

Author: Kristy Cambron

Series: The Lost Castle #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Three more stories centered around a new set of castle ruins.  This series is fantastic!

 As Ellie and Quinn’s wedding approaches, Ellie’s friend Laine Forrester travels to France with her daughter Cassie to attend.  Shortly after the wedding, Ellie drops a bombshell concerning her health to Laine and explains that she and Quinn will be traveling to Ireland to visit his estranged family over a personal mater.  She asks if Laine and Cassie will come along because of her experience with antiques.  But Laine has been holding secrets of a failed marriage from Ellie as well.  Quinn’s brother Cormac has become a welcome distraction in Ellie’s life and Cassie has become quite taken with him as well.  Once in Ireland, Laine begins to learn the history behind the family’s pub that has been in business since the late 18th century and all the events that the pub has survived in the past.  When Laine discovers that the family has been left a castle estate, she begins to help catalogue the items left there, including several pianos.  But no one could believe the role this castle has played in the revolution and rebellion throughout Ireland’s history.

 There have been a lot of reviews about the controversy of this book.  First of all, this is a work of fiction.  The author did a great job portraying the time period that each of the stories are set.  The language and phrases used by the characters fit both with the location that the book is set in as well as the time period.  There was some negativity mentioned about alcohol, which is part of the culture of Ireland and the fact the part of the book is set at a pub yields that this is going to be part of the story.  I challenge readers to not get taken in by minutia, but just to enjoy the stories that have been presented to them.

 As far as the stories go, I enjoyed this book more than the first.  Laine’s story is that of a broken woman who has been dealt blow after blow in life.  She needs a strong companion, who has historically been Ellie, but with Ellie’s condition she won’t be able to fully rely on her.  Enter Cormac who is something of a dark horse that finds a way to Laine’s heart.  The companion stories of the 1916 Easter weekend uprising and the 18th century revolution also completed the story of the present in multiple ways.  If I dive to far into these I’m afraid that I’ll start to reveal spoilers, so I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book to find out more!

 The first book centers around Quinn with the second on his brother Cormac, even though neither is the primary character.  Given that this is a trilogy, will the next book be told with their sister Kiera?  I would love to see this story told with a member of their family as the primary character, but I’ll guess I’ll have to wait until next year.

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

The Sky Above US

The Sky Above UsAuthor: Sara Sundin

Series: Sunrise at Normandy #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As the series continues, more is revealed about what happened to change the lives of the Texas brothers.

Burdened by the grief of his past, Lt. Adler Paxton ships off to England as a fighter pilot with his sights set on becoming an ace against the German Luftwaffe.  But the secrets of his past weigh heavily on his mind and have caused him to turn into a hothead in confrontations.  When he learns that he will be a wingman instead of a fighter, he decides to take matters into his own hands, which leaves his partner exposed and frightfully close to being killed.  Realizing that he is on a mission of destruction, Adler turns to God to finally heal his wounds.

Violet Lindstorm has always wanted to be a missionary like her Aunt in Kenya.  To begin her career, she joins up with the American Red Cross to help with the war effort overseas.  Once in England, she becomes the manager of an Aeroclub at a new base.  While there are many challenges, one of the bright spots is the mysterious Lt. Adler Paxton who seems to quickly connect with her, but then draw away just as fast.  Maybe she can help Adler overcome the demons of his family’s past.

I was glad to find out more about the event that started the series in The Sea Before Us.  I was gripped from the beginning in that book and got about one third of the story.  Now in this installment, there is another third that is presented.  So, the whole story is getting closer, but more complications are thrown in that I didn’t know about.  Can’t wait for the next installment to fully understand everything!

As with the first book, this one deals with the main character wrestling demons from the event that split up three brothers.  In both cases, Clay seems to have been betrayed the worst, but his story is not up for telling yet.  Paxton and Violet seem destined to be together, but there are plenty of challenges to keep them apart.  And not just Adler’s past either, though that is a large part of it.  The resounding theme of this book is forgiveness on both main characters.

If you are enjoy historical fiction centered around WWII with a balance of romance, then you need to get this book!

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

Secrets at Cedar Cabin

Secrets

Author: Colleen Coble

Series: Lavender Tides #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third installment of the Lavender Tides series brings the whole family together with the most excitement and best storyline yet!

 Bailey Fleming is at a loss after her mother is murdered and she finds out the man she married has been lying to her from the beginning. When her mother’s murderers come after her, Bailey flees to a remote cabin in Lavender Tides. Once she arrives, she finds out more of her life has been a lie than she knew. The cabin she is staying at has been used for human trafficking, which brings FBI agent Lance Phoenix into her life. Lance has been working the case to try and rescue his sister, Ava, who was snatched after running away from home. When his path crosses with Bailey, he wonders if her story is really as true as she says and if she can somehow bring him in touch with his sister.

 I am sad to see this series come to an end. I have really come to enjoy these characters and the circumstances that brought them all together. In this installment, we finally get to meet Bailey and see what has happened in her life. The events that brought her to end up back In Lavender Tides are very interesting and really bring the series full circle. With her bad marriage at the beginning, it is hard to believe she will fall for anyone very quickly, but then again having a great guy like Lance come along after being burned so bad could be just what she needed. I enjoyed the interactions between the two of them and how they gravitated towards each other in the rough times they were going through.  When Bailey finds out who she really is and that she has family she can lean on in the hard times, I was really touched by the way that played out. Going from thinking you are alone to finding out you have a family in the middle of an emotional turmoil was a great scene. I would recommend reading the first two in the series before beginning this one to get the backstory of all the characters and what is happening in their lives to bring them all to the point they find themselves in during this book. Readers will be pleased with how all the loose ends from the entire series will be tied up by the last page.

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

Pretty in Punxsutawney

Pretty in Punxsatawney_RD3Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: January 15, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A great coming of age story that shows how important it is to not judge a book by its cover and find what’s beneath the surface.

Andie loves movies more than most anybody she knows. When she moves to Punxsutawney with her family right before the start of her senior year in high school, she gets caught in her very own version of Groundhog Day. Being the new kid in school is hard enough but having to live the first day at a new school over and over again is even worse. Andie gets stuck in a time loop reliving the first day of school with only her realizing the day is repeating. After watching Pretty in Pink and other classic teen romances, she becomes convinced she needs to meet her true love and get a kiss to break the curse. Each day she tries to infiltrate a new clique and finds the best in each of them she never would have seen or known otherwise. With each passing day, she learns more about her new friends but also loses hope she will end the time loop and be able to continue with her life.

Confession time, I have seen neither of the main movies it talks about here: Groundhog Day or Pretty in Pink. Even so, I knew what the stories are about and was able follow along without a problem. This was a very cute story that has a lot of heart to it. I loved the way Andie used each new day as a way to learn something and bring all that together in the end to help solve her problem instead of getting discouraged to the point she gave up altogether.  Even though I found certain parts of it predictable, it didn’t take away from making me want to keep turning the pages to find out what was going to happen. Andie’s relationship with her parents played out well, the more she continued in the time loop the more worried they became with her behavior and with good reason. I enjoyed the fact that this is a YA read that is clean and not anything I would have concern letting my children read. I recommend this book to young readers that want a fun romance with heart, and maybe even older readers looking for a little nostalgia.

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

 

Never Let Go

Never Let Go

Author: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Uncommon Justice #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

It may be a two decade old cold case but things are just heating up for the team.

 After her grandfather is killed in a hit and run and evidence starts to surface that it wasn’t an accident, Willow Anderson starts looking into his last case and trying to find a connection. The case is that of an abducted baby from a hospital over twenty years ago. The mother is dying and wants more than anything to what happened to her only child. Willow finds out her grandfather enlisted the help of her former flame, Austin McKade. Together Austin and Willow will have to deal with their feelings and all they left unsaid to try and solve a case someone is determined to keep them from solving. The clues lead them across the country from Texas to Wyoming, forcing Austin to face his past and the family he has drifted away from. It’s not only their lives they are risking by looking into this case, but also their hearts.

 This storyline is one that will pull readers in and keep them until the very last page. I was very pleased with how well this story played out. I was hooked from the very first page with the kidnapping of a baby from the hospital until the very end. Willow and Austin are a good couple to play off each other. They had good chemistry and the way Goddard used trust issues to show tension between the two really helped propel the story forward. I wasn’t sure at a few parts how things were going to play out, the back and forth viewpoints coupled with new ones added about midway through almost through me for a loop but I was able to quickly catch on and keep track of who’s head we were supposed to be in. Maybe if the chapters had been headed with who’s view point we were in the transition might have been a little smoother, but that’s just me. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Austin and Heath, his brother, which leads me to guess Heath’s story will be coming up next. There was a very good mix of romance and suspense to keep the pages turning but also keep me engaged with the characters and why I really needed to care about them. I recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense novels and looking for a great start to a new series.

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

How the Light Gets In

how the light gets inAuthor: Jolina Petersheim

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The emotional conflict is so intense throughout this book that I couldn’t put down.

Ruth has been living in Ireland with her mother and two daughters while her husband has been in Afghanistan with his father working as doctors for a relief organization.  One night, the hospital that they are working at is bombed, killing both men.  Ruth takes her daughters and travels to Wisconsin to a Mennonite community to bury her husband and father-in-law.  Ruth hopes that being in the community will give her a chance to grieve and let her girls get to know their grandmother, Mabel.  Her husband’s first cousin, Elam, allows Ruth and Mabel stay in his house during this time.

Elam is a quiet, introverted man who has overseen the cranberry farms production for years but has never settled down to make a family of his own.  When Ruth asks Elam to allow her to work during the cranberry harvest, he allows her to work even though he doesn’t really need her.  Her work ethic impresses Elam and he and Ruth begin to build a friendship with the promise of blossoming into something more that they both have been missing.

With a promising future on the horizon, Ruth receives work that her husband may not be dead after all, which threatens the true happiness she has found with Elam as well as Elam’s fulfillment from Ruth’s companionship.  What is the right path to choose?

Jolina Petersheim has always had a knack for writing stories that stir up controversy amongst her readers.  But she has really elevated the sense of conflict within this book.  I love conflict; it is what moves a story along and keeps the reader engaged.  This particular book has some of the best figurative examples of these emotions splayed across the pages that I was hooked from the beginning.  The opening paragraph begins with the burial of her husband and by the second page there is already conflict between Ruth and her six year old daughter Sofie.  And it only escalates from there.  And it was such an emotional conflict that I couldn’t help but feel as though I was Ruth and was experiencing the same things in life.  On part of the flashbacks, I had personal experiences of what Ruth was describing, so it made it even easier to connect with this fragile woman, who had been broken long before her husband’s death.

I enjoyed how Petersheim paralleled the story of Ruth throughout the book.  From being widowed and living with her mother-in-law to gleaning cranberries in a bog in Wisconsin rather than wheat in a field.  The tragedy and redemption was told quite well throughout the story.  However, just when there seemed a happy ending in sight, something had to crop up and suddenly make life more difficult.  And this happened several times, which had me close to tears.  At one point I had to put the book down because I was just plain mad that Petersheim would do this to a reader.  But as I read along, she redeemed the story just as Ruth was redeemed.  Funny how she was able to even bring me into the story of redemption personally.

This book will definitely wreck you as you read it, but it is worth it.  I’ve loved all of her books, but this one is in a category of its own.  This will be one of my highest recommendations of the year!

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

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

brunch

Author: Carla Laureano

Series: Supper Club #2

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A sweet savory treat that will leave the reader’s palate thirsting for more of this scrumptious tale.

 After seven years living in Denver, Melody Johansson feels she is going nowhere. Baking is her passion, more so than her love life. As she is working late one night at a chain bakery she meets Justin Keller, a private pilot who has been stranded when his car gets stuck in the snowstorm. She is instantly attracted to him, but her luck hasn’t always been the best and is afraid to have another disaster. Justin is also attracted to Melody but doesn’t want to start anything new at the moment. His luck hasn’t always been the best either and he is fixing to try and open a new business in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law. Trying to deny their attraction to each other is no use, Melody and Justin begin a full-on romance, but when Melody falls into an unexpected sum of money she uses it to open her dream café with her best friend. Now she must decide if she has made the right choice in her dream job and if it is worth the cost of losing her dream guy.

 I guess when I started this I didn’t realize it was second in a series. However, having not read the first didn’t affect my enjoyment of this in any way. The story was cute with a great romance that played out very efficiently and I really enjoyed the way the characters came about finding themselves with the difficult choices they were facing. Melody is a strong independent woman who doesn’t need a man to feel a sense of accomplishment. When she meets Justin everything seems right, except for the fact that he is fixing to move away and since she is starting her own business she can’t go with him. It gives just the right amount of tension to draw the reader in and keep them intrigued throughout the story. The secondary characters were all well fleshed making me want to go back and read the first book in the series to fully see Rachel’s story, and anxious to see what happens in the next with Ana. One aspect that really played out well was the relationship Melody had with her mother. For most of the book, I didn’t think much about it but the last interaction they had really made me smile, it was written really well, and I think if it hadn’t been in the book would have been lacking. Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I recommend to readers who enjoy a good contemporary read with a romance that will leave happy hearts everywhere.

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