The English Wife

Author: Adrienne Chinn

Publisher: One More Chapter

Release Date: June 23, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Two stories full of secrets that can finally bring out the truth!

Ellie Burgess has kept her life in order with the way she wants it to be in London with the threat of war.  She is studying art and engaged to her lifelong friend George.  But after the war begins and her best friend is killed in a bombing, she feels that she must do her part and join the fire service.  Her predictable love life also takes a turn when she meets a Newfoundlander named Thomas Parsons.  She realizes that she loves George but has never been in love with him as she is with Thomas.  She makes a decision that compromises every relationship within in her family and elopes with Thomas before he is sent off to war.  After almost of year of no correspondence after he is taken a POW, Ellie has all but decided that Thomas has perished until she finally receives a letter from him back in Newfoundland.  She packs up her belongings with their newborn son and heads across the Atlantic in a course that will forever change her life.

Sophie Parry is on a flight from London to New York for an interview with a prestigious architecture firm on September 11, 2001.  When her plan is diverted to Gander, Newfoundland and she realizes that she is not getting to New York anytime soon, she decides to call on her Aunt Ellie that she has never known.  Her mother hated her aunt and she never knew why.  Could it be fate that brought them together now?

I love a book that manages to come full circle from beginning to end.  There were quite a lot of little twists towards the end of the book, several of which were quite surprising.  I loved reading both stories, and it took having Ellie’s backstory to really understand Sophie.  I really felt for Ellie with all that she had to go through, but she was a trooper.  I also enjoyed watching Sophie’s character get developed and grow with an understanding of what to live for instead of how she was living.  There is so much going on in this novel that it would take a long time to unpack, but I feel that the reader should enjoy the gift that this book really is.  There is a lot of Newfoundland slang throughout the book that is pretty easy to pick up on.  This is the first book that I’ve read set there, but it seems like it would be a beautiful place to visit. 

There is a little bit of foul language throughout the book, but it doesn’t overpower the story.  Even so, I recommend this book for mature readers.

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

The Orchard House

Author: Heidi Chiavaroli

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Two great stories that crossover in ways you won’t expect!

Taylor has had a rough go at life.  Abandoned by her mother at a young age and left with her uncle.  The uncle ends up going to prison and Taylor is placed in the foster care system.  Then in 1995, she is adopted by her best friend’s parents and she now has not only a sister, but a family.  Even so, she still feels like she is outside of their love and is more of a hindrance than a gift.  But she and her new sister, Victoria, share a common interest: writing.  Living in Concord, Massachusetts right down the street from Louisa May Alcott’s home, The Orchard House, makes many a young girl dream of writing.  They have their ups and downs over the next few years, but one evening Victoria betrays Taylor in one of the worst ways she can imagine and there is no going back.

Just after the civil war, Johanna Suhre has become acquainted through letters with Louise May Alcott after Louisa used Johanna’s late brother John as the basis of her publication Hospital Sketches.  When Louisa decides to go abroad to Europe for a time, she offers an adventure to Johanna to come stay at Orchard House in her absence to help take care of the house.  While there, Johanna becomes smitten with the neighbor Nathan Bancroft who Louisa does not hold in high regard.  Could this romance be the end of their friendship? 

This is the first book that I’ve read by Heidi Chiavaroli, but WOW!  I was hooked at the beginning and couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened in both stories!  It’s easy to get lost in one of the stories of a time-slip novel but it takes a very talented author to get readers to lose themselves in both stories.  I loved how much detail she paid to each time period, not only the 1800s but even 1995 and early 2000s.  It was fun to have the main character my own age for a change and reminisce about how things were back when I was in high school and college.  A walk down memory lane for sure.

I related most to Taylor.  I’ve haven’t had the rough beginning that she did, but it was so easy to cheer for her when she was wronged that you didn’t want her family to pull her back.  In the end, it worked out for the best, but the process was a little messy, which made it real.  I’ve known women like Victoria and those in her situation and it is really tough to deal with.  It takes a lot of time and emotional withdraws to get someone through those times.  I loved how the author was able to use those two stories to draw similarities, but it might be in such a way that readers won’t notice until is right upon them.  She also managed to show the importance of faith and a relationship with God in a subtle yet very real way!  Great story!

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

2020 Top Time Slip Novels

One of our favorite genres is the time slip, where we get to enjoy both historical fiction as well as a present storyline. This is almost like having two novels in one and any of these books will keep you well occupied into the night!

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

A fantastic coming of age story about finding yourself in the darkest of times and learning that no matter what, everyone deserves happiness! The way the two stories of Ivy and Harvey intertwined kept us intrigued and made this an easy top choice.

Read the full review.

The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

Wright always delivers a spectacular tale that balances darkness and light and her newest release was no exception! This story is thrilling, mysterious, and moving focusing on brokenness, revenge, love, and a yearning to belong.

Read the full review.

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Even though it made its way onto our historical fiction list (both timelines were historical), it is still a masterful time slip by Lisa Wingate. Both stories were intriguing and it took both to find out the truth.

Read the full review.

Fragments of Light by Michele Phoenix

This book had so much raw emotion that readers can’t help but feel for the characters involved. The healing encountered in this book makes it the icing on the cake.

Read the full review.

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In her newest release, Jaime Jo Wright will blow readers away with this thrilling, mysterious, and moving tale of brokenness, revenge, love and a yearning to belong. 

Split between 1928 and present day in the fictional town of Bluff River, Wisconsin. In 1928, readers meet Pippa Ripley, whose father is the owner of Bonaventure circus. Pippa was rejected from the circus as a baby and left on the doorstep of the owners who raised her as their own. Pippa receives mysterious packages and messages from someone called the Watchman, which lead her to look for clues to her birth. Pippa joins forces with a man trying to find answers to who murdered his sister and leads them both to evidence of a serial killer associated with the circus.  Fast forward to present day and the old circus is in jeopardy of being torn down. Chandler Faulk works for her uncle at his real estate firm and has been tasked with seeing if it is worth, preserving for history or tearing it down. She moves to the small town with her young son to dive into the history of the circus depot all while trying to balance living with her newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and being a single mother. As she researches, she finds clues to unsolved murders of the past and newer murders. The more she digs into the past, the darker things seem, and Chandler must determine if saving the depot is worth her safety.

Jaime Jo Wright has done it again! The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is a stunning, thrilling tale that is hard to put down. Any time you pick up a book by Wright, you know you are going to be in for an adventure. It is hard to do a dual timeline and keep the reader engaged and not confused. The set up for this one does take a little bit longer but is worth it in the end. She developed such a great backstory for the characters that helped me connect with them on a deep level. Pippa and Chandler both have very different stories and each of them is unique but ties in by the end in such a beautiful way.  I loved the way Wright brought it all full circle. This book tackles a lot of tough issues, a character with a physical deformity and one with a chronic illness, not something that is written about enough these days considering how common it is becoming in our world. She does this in a way that doesn’t make the character seem weak, instead readers are able to see her as one of us and connect; if it were a character that had nothing wrong they would seem too perfect and be a turn off. I am thankful for the authors that tackle these difficult subjects in such a way that will leave readers thinking about it but not turned off either. If you have never picked up a Jaime Jo Wright book, I would say run, don’t walk, to your bookstore and grab a copy of this one today, you won’t regret it. Readers that enjoy stories full of mystery, adventure, a little romance and a whole lot of hope will not want to miss this one.

The Book of Lost Friends

Book of lost friendsAuthor: Lisa Wingate

Publisher: Ballantine

Release Date: April 7, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wingate again brings history to life with a tale based on real world events that will reconnect people!

Louisiana in 1875 is in the full swing of post-civil war reconstruction. Hannie Gossett is now a free colored woman, but with no place to go she remained on the Gossett Grove planation and entered into a share cropping contract with the master of the planation. But when he goes to Texas to bring back his troublesome son, it is believed that he has been felled by some ill luck and perhaps dead. One night, the half-breed creole daughter of the master’s mistress shows up to seek her inheritance. When his rightful daughter, Missy Lavina, and her half-sister, Juneau Jane set off to find out the truth about his will, Hannie knows that she must tag along to find out the truth so that she can keep her share cropping land. She could never have imagined this trip would have spanned across half of Texas and introduced her to more truth than she had ever known.

In 1987, Benny Silva has taken a teaching job in Augustine, Louisiana to assist in forgiveness on her student loan. The first day in class she learns the truth about this school, no one really cares. She is just a babysitter for a group of kids between the bells. Almost all the kids are from impoverished families and many don’t have enough food to eat. When a guest speaker spurs the movement of a project in her classroom that excites her kids, things start to take a turn for the better, until members of the community that don’t want things to change get involved. Benny decides that she will do whatever it takes to get her kids to improve their learning and participation at school, even if it cost her the job.

I love how Lisa Wingate can connect the past and present (or at least closer to the present in this case) with a book. The Book of Lost Friends centers on the Lost Friends column that was published in Southern newspapers that reconnected families separated by slavery. Several of the actual stories are shared throughout the book in-between chapters. Both stories were powerful. Hannie become the matriarch of the town of Augustine, but not before a lifetime of adventure that developed the book. Benny was able to connect seemingly worthless kids to their past ancestors and give them hope for the future. I’m not sure which story that I enjoyed better. As always, her research on the time period is spot on. I enjoyed reading about the Texas hill country during this time period with references to present day Menard and Fort McKavett.

I hope that as many readers as possible will enjoy this book as with her previous.

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

Echoes Among the Stones

echoesAuthor: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wright continues to deliver intriguing time slip mysteries, but goes a little different this time.

Aggie Dunkirk reluctantly agrees to return to live with her grandmother after she receives a letter that she broke her hip. Of course, once she is there, she finds that her grandmother lied just to get her to come. Even so, after losing her job in real estate because her team didn’t keep up their licenses, she doesn’t have much of an option. She takes a job as a secretary at the town cemetery where she will work alongside an archaeologist to remap the burial plots after a heavy rain has disturbed several areas. But as they begin work, strange things begin to happen. Files at the cemetery go missing. A skeleton appears in her grandmother’s yard. Bone fragments are delivered to both her and the archaeologist. And maybe most mysteriously of all, a pink rose continues to appear on the grave for a woman named Hazel Grayson. She wishes she could talk about it to her grandmother, but she has been acting even stranger than usual.

Decades prior in 1946, Imogene Grayson’s world is turned upside down when her sister Hazel is murdered. She worked in a beauty salon, but always dreamed of being a glam girl in Hollywood. Hazel’s death shatters her core and devastates her. Her brother is a deputy sheriff in charge of the investigation but isn’t making much progress. Genie decides to begin her own investigation and starts working at the artillery powder plant where Hazel used to work. Shortly after, the post office is bombed. Then the town hall is burned down. One day on her walk home, she is almost run over by a black pickup truck. It seems that someone is out to make sure she doesn’t find out the truth about her sister’s killer.

Having read all of Wright’s books, there were some comforting similarities that I’ve found in her previous writing. She always manages to reveal a twist that occurs in the past setting that completely shifts the train of thought about what happened. However, this particular book had something a little different too. One of the main characters is common to both time periods. She is young in the past and elderly in the present, but it is her story. This subtle change really brought the story out a little more.

A common theme in this book is learning to put your faith in God and not in a relationship. Both Aggie and Genie had such strong relationships with someone that was taken from them and it utterly devastates them both. Only when they finally manage to let God have control are they actually able to move forward. This is a hard truth to accept, but many will find this book useful.

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

Top Time-Slip for 2019

This is a new category added for the year because it is becoming such a popular genre.  All of these stories could easily fall into the historical fiction category, but it takes a good blend of past and present to make the time slip possible.

Castle on the Rise

 

1.  Castle on the Rise and The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

These two books closed out the Lost Castle series and released in 2019.  Kambron weaves three simultaneous stories in each book: one set in the 1700s, one set in World War II, and one set in the present.  Readers will find it difficult to pick their favorite!

Read the full review of Castle on the Rise here.

Read the full review of The Painted Castle here.

 

Painted castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

curse of misty wayfair

 

2. The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

It’s easy to see why Wright recently picked up a Christy award.  Her ability to blend timelines is nothing less than spectacular.  While this is a bit dark, it’s the mystery that won us over!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Woman in the white kimono

 

3. Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

Based on real events in post occupation Japan, this story played out beautifully.  We’re huge fans of literature set in Japan and this title has been one of the best we’ve ever read.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Lost Vintage

 

4. The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

This book takes place in a French vineyard in both World War II and present day.  It’s sort of a Cinderella story of the Resistance, but not all endings are happy.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Jade lily

 

5. The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

Many time slip novels are based on actual events for the historical aspect.  This was no exception as Manning brought to light the Jewish immigration to Shanghai after Kristallnacht as well as the Japanese Occupation shortly thereafter.  Combine this with a young female trying to figure out her heritage, you’ve got a fantastic book!

Read the full review here.

The Painted Castle

Painted castleAuthor: Kristy Cambron

Series: Lost Castle #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cambron does an incredible job bringing this series to a close!

In present day Dublin, Kiera Foley has returned home from a venture in New York working on art history. Her career and relationship both fell apart at the hands of the family she hoped to join.  Now working at the family pub, she has a patron that continually comes in every night, orders a pint of Guinness that he never drinks, and offers her a job proposal.  Emory Scott, also disgraced from the art world, has found what appears to be a lost copy of a famous painting of Queen Victoria.  This could be a tremendous find, but he needs Kiera to help authenticate the painting.  As the pair begin to investigate the estate that the painting was discovered, they find information linking the painting to two other time periods.  The stories that surround this painting begin to bring life back into the manor that was once forgotten.

Once again Kristy Cambon does a great job of weaving three stories that center around a common object, which is painting in this book.  The present day time period centers on the youngest of the Foley siblings, who has been mentioned in previous books but not met until now.  Kiera is young and has been recently hurt both emotionally and professionally.  She returns home to heal and figure out a new direction for her life.  Similarly, Amelia Woods, who is set in 1945 during the end of the second great war, has also been hurt emotionally by the death of her husband.  But her hurt is much deeper than just his death.  One hundred years prior, Elisabeth has been lied to her entire life and once she finally learns the truth, it shocks her to the core.

I’ve so enjoyed this series and am sad to see it end. Each story has centered around a strong female lead that isn’t looking for romance, but always manages to find it at just the time it is needed.  I love the history that she weaves into each of the books.  Readers will be able to tell that her passion is writing during the World War II era as it shines through each of the books.  The previous books centered around a castle and this one centers around an English estate, but still has plenty of charm.  I recommend this book to readers who love different history periods as well as great time slip reads.

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

The Glass Ocean

Glass OceannAuthors: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Very intriguing time-slip mystery that will keep readers turning the pages to discover the truth!

Set between 2013 and 1915, three women find themselves entangled in the tragedy of the RMS Lusitania.  In 2013, Sarah Blake is beginning to see that she is running out of money from her big-time book deal five years ago.  She was enjoying being offered talk shows and interviews, but now must settle for the occasional book club.  Her mother has Alzheimer’s and the nursing home bill is looming over Sarah.  When she opens her great-grandfather’s trunk that was found in the wreckage of the Lusitania, she discovers that a new chapter in history could be written.  Unfortunately, she will have to obtain help from a disgraced member of British parliament to do it.

In 1915, Caroline Hochsetter yearns to return to her home of Savannah, where she can enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the south.  Unfortunately, she is stuck in New York with her husband who seems to be out to prove that he is just as well off with his self-made fortune as the old money families.  He decides that they need to set off to England in first class accommodations aboard the Lusitania to sell an unfinished piece of classical music that also happened to be a gift to Caroline.  Caroline tries to convince him to not sell the piece nor make the trip to England as the war is escalating between the Germans and Britain. The only bright spot is that a good friend of hers is also on the ship, whom she discovers she has developed romantic feelings for, but can Caroline take charge of her own happiness?

Con artist Tessa Fairweather is trying to get out of the family line of work, but there always seems to be one more job she gets pulled into.  When her sister convinces her to steal a music manuscript from Caroline Hochsetter, she believes that she can finally put the past in the past.  Unfortunately, the manuscript isn’t where it should be the night she enters the house and in order to obtain it, she will have to board the Lusitania.

This was an incredibly interesting story.  Sometimes three points of view can be a little intimidating, but it worked great in this case.  Each story was uniquely crafted and brought out great character development for each of the main characters.  I often found myself wanting to continue one of the stories further but realized that I was going to have to read the next chapter in a different point of view to really get the whole picture.  Everything wound together perfectly spiraling toward a collision until the truth was discovered.   Great story.  Would love to read another book by these three authors.

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

The Lost Vintage

Lost Vintage.jpgAuthor: Ann Mah

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fantastic story that is not easily put down until it is finished!

Kate has set her life to achieve one goal: become a master of wine.  Given three opportunities to pass the exam, she has already failed twice.  Now she is more focused than ever, but seems to be continually outfoxed by French wine, which happens to be her native homeland even though she hasn’t been there in years.  As the head sommelier at a local San Francisco restaurant, there isn’t as much time as she would hope to dedicate to studying.  But when the restaurant unexpectedly closes its doors, Kate suddenly has time on her hands.  At her mentor’s urging, she reaches out to her cousin in France to see if it would be ok to come for a visit.  As it is time for the grape harvest, he happily agrees and looks forward to seeing her soon.

Being back in France brings back difficult memories.  She and her cousin’s wife were college friends that visited France during a semester abroad.  One thing led to another and her friend stayed behind while she returned home.  Now she is helping clean out the family cellars under the house.  While much of it is junk that has been stored throughout the years, she stumbles upon some photographs in a trunk of a young woman she has never heard about but bears a striking resemblance to herself.  As she begins to pry into the family history, her uncle shuts down the investigation at every turn.  One day, she discovers a hidden cellar behind a false wall that contains numerous bottles of rare wine.  But will this discovery open a door that can never be closed?

This book taught me more about rare wine that I had thought possible.  I had no idea all the different requirements for storing, handling, and more that must be taken into account.  However, this wasn’t the most interesting part of the story.  That was the time slip portion set back in occupied France during World War II.  I love these stories and all that it brings out historically.  There is always more to learn and Mah did a great job on researching this topic.

The character development was spot on as well.  Kate was instantly likable and felt like a close friend, even though she tends to shut people out.  I enjoyed getting to know her better and was really pulling for her relationship to blossom.  All the supporting characters fleshed out great as well.  Nothing felt forced and even though there were some antagonists, it played out like a great story.

There is some very mild language throughout the book, but nothing that would take away from the story.  I recommend this book to people who love time-slip novels concerning World War II and those that just enjoy a great story.

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