The Master Craftsman

Author: Kelli Stuart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of the best time-slip novels of the year!  This should be on your summer reading list!

Karl Faberge has been charged with creating some of the most memorable sculptors during his time, many that have become known as the Faberge Eggs, which were produced for the Russian Tsar family during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  But when Karl began to see the effect of the Tsar’s rule over Russia, he created one egg that hardly anyone knew about.  The secret keeper of this egg was none other than Alma Phil, one of the best craftsmen of the House of Faberge. 

Fast forward to present day, Ava Laine learns that her estranged father and famed treasure hunter Nick Laine has developed a fatal illness.  Encouraged by her mother, Ava visits Nick and learns that there is one last treasure that he wants to find and hopes that she will do it for him.  With little to hold her back, Ava, her mother, and her next-door neighbor team together for a wild trip to Russia in hopes of locating the missing egg.  But they get more than they bargained for when they find out they are not the only ones after the egg.

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year!  Not only was the historical fiction portion of the story super interesting, but the present-day mystery and treasure hunting aspect took the whole book to another level.  I couldn’t decide which of the two stories that I wanted to read more and they pretty well blended altogether.  Such a great story for anytime of the year.  I’ll even read it again before this year is up!

I enjoyed getting to watch Ava’s character growth throughout the book.  She went from feeling abandoned with a little self-centeredness to becoming a family member and genuine concern for others.  I don’t know if Stuart has considered making this into a series, but I would be on board for any future installments.  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.

A Hundred Crickets Singing

Author: Cathy Gohlke

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Characters from Night Bird Calling return for a new adventure set between two wars!

Old houses always hold secrets and Gardens Gate is no exception.  After a storm damages the roof, a hidden room is discovered by Celia Percy and her younger brother.  With civil war era clothing and documents, they discover that this room was once used to hide slaves making their way along the Underground Railroad to find freedom in the North, which is completely unexpected knowing that the ancestors were slave owners and Klan members.  As Celia uncovers more about the civil war, her friends Marshal and Joe are across the Atlantic preparing for the Normandy invasion in 1944.  When Marshal makes a choice that shocks not only his family, but the whole community, Celia knows it is up to her to make it so that he can return home.

Eighty years earlier, Minnie Belvidere is stuck between her two brothers, one that is for the Union, but must enlist in the Confederacy and the other who fully believes the Confederate values.  Her mother was always a proponent of freedom for all men and women, which made them an unpopular family in North Carolina.  After her mother’s death, her father’s health begins to deteriorate, she knows she must step in to continue her mother’s legacy.

I was not expecting a time slip novel from Cathy Gohlke, but I’m pleased to say that I hope she decides to write more.  She has been such a master of historical fiction that it seemed only fitting that she took this challenge to bring readers not just one, but two fantastic stories set years apart, but both at war. 

I loved seeing previous characters return for a chance to see how their stories are continuing as well as meeting new characters from a previous era.  In both timelines, the protagonist is a young female who is set on making wrongs right based on the social norms.  With love, suspense, and great characters, readers will love this book just as much as the first.  While I would say that you don’t have to read Night Bird Calling before this one, I do think it will give quite a bit of backstory that readers would otherwise miss.

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

The Souls of Lost Lake

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Jaime Jo Wright has outdone herself! The Souls of Lost Lake pulled me in deeper than the waters of Lost Lake with a magnificent story that will stay with me long after the last page.

Wren Blythe has a complicated life. She lives with her father, working ministry at a youth camp in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. She joins in the search for a little girl who has gone missing in the area causing rumors of decades old murderess, Ava Coons, could be involved. In the 1930s, Ava Coons comes out of the woods carrying an ax and covered in blood. Her family’s cabin is found burned to the ground with blood around the ground but no sight of any of her family. At thirteen years old, Ava doesn’t remember what happened to her family and the townspeople blame her for their deaths. Years pass before another murder hits the town and Ava is the prime suspect. Decades separate Ava and Wrene, but there is a wickedness in town that will bring them together to save the lives of those they love.

Jaime Jo Wright is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I was slow to pick up her books because she writes part of her stories in the past and historical fiction has not been one of my top go to genres. But when you write in the way Jamie Jo Wright does, it doesn’t really matter if it is past, present, or future; the story is so good it takes time out of the equation and puts the reader deep within the story. I am finding with each of her books that I read it is better than the last and The Souls of Lost Lake is no exception. Both the past and the present timelines are so intriguing with characters readers will have no choice but to fall in love with and want to desperately find out how their story turns out. I have never enjoyed historical stories much, just hard for me to get into and relate to the characters, but here I have fallen in love with even the secondary characters and can’t wait to turn the pages and see what happens. I started this one while in a reading slump, not even wanting to read for a few weeks, which is very unusual for me, but this book turned me around and I flew through the pages devouring the story within. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great mystery that will be hard to put down and accomplish anything else. One of the rare books I wish I could give more than five stars.

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

Count the Night by Stars

Author: Michelle Shocklee

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: March 8, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Terrific historical time-slip centered around the historic Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville!

Tennessee in 1897 was the place to be.  The state was celebrating its centennial anniversary and everyone came to Nashville to celebrate at the exposition.  Priscilla Nichol’s father was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Tennessee and took full charge of the exhibit, which brought their family to Nashville for the exposition.  While there, Priscilla befriends their young carriage driver Luca Moretti and his younger sister Gia.  But Nashville, like many large cities, has a dark side that people don’t want to talk about.  Priscilla learns that people that run in her family’s circles aren’t always the ones you should keep company with.

Almost seventy years later, Audrey Whitfield is helping her father run the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville.  It’s not the crown gem that it once was, but it still has several residents as well as guests.  When Ms. Nichols, one of the longtime residents, has a stroke and is admitted to the hospital, Audrey begins going through her personal items and finds a scrapbook from the Centennial Exposition in 1897.  The more she goes through the scrapbook, the more she uncovers a mystery of the woman that she never really got to know.  Who was she?

There is nothing quite like a good time slip and when both periods deal with historical fiction, you have a very happy reader.  Shocklee did a great job tying in major historical events to both timelines with the exposition in 1897 and the hotel fire in 1961.  Both storylines were very intriguing and I keep devouring each chapter to discover what was going to happen next.  It’s not often that I get that involved in both timelines, but they were interwoven so well that I just had to know what was going to happen!  I loved the character growth of both Audrey and Priscilla and really wanted to know more.  Great read for springtime!

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

The Winter Rose

Author: Melanie Dobson

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: January 11, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Check out the Q&A with author Melanie Dobson!

What a great time-slip novel to kick off 2022!  A fantastic read for the new year!

Occupied France in 1943 is a dangerous place to be, but when smuggling out Jewish children into Spain, it becomes treacherous.  Grace Tonquin was born into Hollywood fame and fortune but wanted nothing to do with it nor her mother.  After a party goes awry, Grace is taken in by her grandparents, Quakers in Oregon.  She loves the Quaker lifestyle and originally goes to France in the 1930s to help Spanish refugee children during the Spanish civil war.  She never imagined that just a few short years later, she would be smuggling children back into Spain for safe harboring.  When it is no longer safe for her to return to France, Grace accompanies two children across the Atlantic to meet their uncle, who is later found out to be non-existent.  As their primary guardian, Grace takes them back to Oregon to shelter them from the trauma of war and the Holocaust.

Several decades later, Addie Hoult lives a life of reckless abandon until she is given the choice of jail time or a fresh start at a girl’s home in Tennessee.  Through this second chance, she turns her life around with the help of the home’s parent couple.  Now a widow with a baby on the way, Addie’s father figure Charlie Tonquin has a rare cancer that requires a bone marrow transplant from a relative.  Though Charlie has no interest in sharing his past history, Addie finds a photograph of a young Charlie at a lake in Oregon.  In an effort to save the man who essentially saved her life, Addie takes the plunge into uncovering what happened to Charlie’s family.

What a great time-slip novel to kick off 2022!  It doesn’t get much better than this!  Readers will love reading between time to discover the connection between the two stories and finally seeing the outcome so desired through the whole story.  With descriptive French scenery, both present day and war-torn Europe, as well as rural Portland, readers will be transported throughout out space and time.  Addie has tremendous character growth as a young woman, even from the start of the story.  Charlie too shows that characters can grow when they are nearing the end of their life span.  Multiple elements of faith, doubt, hurt, and love show up throughout the story.  A great read for the new year!

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

2021 Top Time-Slip Novels

Do you want to slip away to another time? Or prefer the present? Or both? Fortunately, there was no shortage of stories that allowed readers to do just that! Here are our top picks!

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Amanda Cox shows how secrets tear a family down instead of keeping it secure. Told from two point of views at different times, this story is sure to be a repeat read for many!

Read the full review!

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

What’s better than a time slip with set in two time periods? One set in three time periods! This masterful work is told from three different viewpoints spanning decades apart and the central character isn’t any of the POVs!

Read the full review!

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime Jo Wright will probably always make the top of our list with her writing that is both dark, yet enlightening. She always manages to weave two seemingly separate storylines into one that readers will be tearing up the pages to discover the connection!

Read the full review!

The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli

Not only is this a great story about Louise May Alcott, but another time slip set in three periods. The author paid so much detail to the time periods that I felt like I was back in high school during the 90s. With great character development, we would love to see a continuation of this.

Read the full review!

The English Wife by Adrienne Chin

Set in Newfoundland in both current day and September 11, 2001, this story shows why secrets are a dangerous thing. This book manages to truly come full circle.

Read the full review!

The Secret Keepers of Old Grocery Depot

Author: Amanda Cox

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amanda Cox knocks it out of the park with a story that has all the feels in just the right places! An emotional and inspiring story that is beautifully written and perfect to the very last page!

Set in both present day and the past, The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery follows Sarah Ashby as she returns to her childhood home after her husband’s death. Along with her mother and grandmother, she works at the family grocery story she loved so much as a child. Her mother, Rosemary, announces that the store is closing much to the dismay of Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, who work together to save the store. Rosemary worked her whole life to make sure Sarah would have a different life than the one she grew up with and hates to see her daughter follow in her footsteps.

In 1965, Glory Ann confesses to her family that she is pregnant out of wedlock and the father was sent to war and killed. She is then married to a man she has just met to save the reputation of herself and her family. Glory Ann promises herself she will never love again but it ends up being a promise she can’t keep.

Amanda Cox has done it again with a contemporary novel that blew me away with its complexity, emotional moments, and perfect mix of past and present problems that converge to a perfect ending with beautiful moments throughout. Usually a contemporary novel, especially one with half the story set in the past, is a slow read for me that has trouble holding my interest. Amanda Cox has become one of the exceptions. There was a solid connection between me and the characters. Sarah and her family are solid leads that are written in a way that readers will want to see them succeed in whatever their hearts are wishing for. I loved the way the past and present lined up to give glimpses of what was going to happen and lead to little surprises at the end. So much to love about this novel, the pacing, the relationships; nothing felt rushed, and the feel-good moments throughout. I recommend this book to readers that want a feel-good book with nothing too heavy or anything that you have to think too hard about.

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

The Nature of Small Birds

Author: Susie Finkbeiner

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Finkbeiner’s story telling shines in this tale of love, family, and discovery!

Bruce and Linda have been trying for years to have a second child with no luck.  They decide that the best option would be to adopt a little baby boy who needs a family, but when the call from the adoption agency comes in, it is not what anyone expected.  A little girl named Minh was a child airlifted during the fall of Saigon and the family who initially took her in has returned her to the agency.  Bruce and Linda have no qualms taking this child into their family but know that other family members won’t feel the same since Bruce’s brother died during the war and his sister’s husband returned home with war torn memories.

As the years pass, the family becomes more accepting, but little do they know all the challenges that Minh, now called Mindy, has faced in her upbringing in a small Michigan town during the 1980s and 1990s.  She recently discovered that an organization is working to restore the children lifted out of Saigon with their families.  With her family’s support, Mindy decides to reach out and discover more about her past to learn who she really is.

Wow!  Can Susie Finkbeiner write a story that makes you feel like you are part of the family and come away as friends.  Her ability to draw readers into the characters is such a gift.  Picking the book up for the first time makes it feel like you are about to read a classic story that you love, even though you’ve never read it!

The story is told from three perspectives at three different times.  The first is from Linda’s (mom) point of view in 1975 when they initially adopt Mindy and the challenges that they face during that time.  Fast forward to 1988 with Sonny’s (older sister) POV when she and Mindy and in high school and roommates.  Lastly is Bruce’s (dad) POV in 2013 when Mindy has discovered the possibility of reconnecting with her family.  It was fun to see the minor characters develop in one story and then mature in another. 

The theme is about family and supporting each other through difficulties.  I want to dive into this so much more, but its really better if you read it for yourself.  Easily one of the top books of 2021! I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor

Author: Jamie Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Jaime Jo Wright does it again!! I could not put this book down. Such a fantastic back and forth story that will grab your attention at the very beginning and make you feel like you are on the edge of the cliffs.

In 1885, Adria Fontaine is on a mission to retrieve what her father has pirated and return it to him. She must go to Foxglove Manor, a house on the cliff overlooking Lake Superior. This mission is the only way to keep her father from putting her into an institution and Adria is determined to find the treasure. Standing in her way is the mistress of Foxglove, a cruel old woman with more secrets and danger than Adria left behind at home. In present time, Kailey Gibson finds herself and her autistic brother at Foxglove, which has been turned into a senior home, as the new nurse’s aide. When she was younger, her family took a vacation to Foxglove when it was a rental and shortly after she was kidnapped for a day and returned home safely. She has repressed memories of this time but is hoping returning to Foxglove will help her figure out what really happened. To get to the truth, she is going to have to uncover deep, hidden secrets the manor doesn’t want exposed to the world.

Anyone that has ever read a Jaime Jo Wright book knows that you are going to have to set aside a good chunk of time to read and not be bothered. These are the types of books you want to read and never put down. I devoured this book as there is so much good within the pages. Not only am I floored by the way she takes two different timelines and weaves the stories together flawlessly, but each story also holds my interest equally. Some writers focus more energy on only one of the timelines, causing the other to be more dull, but not Wright!. Each of the characters, no matter if they were minor or not, had me vested in their story and wanting to see it turnout for the best. Jaime Jo Wright is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and keeps me aching for more stories and worlds to lose myself in. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a beautifully crafted mystery with lots of depth to it and has a lot of time to set aside to devote to the story.

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

Come Back to Me

Author: Jody Hedlund

Series: Waters of Time #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun twist to a time slip with some time travel!

When Marian Creighton receives a phone call from one of her father’s colleague’s in Canterbury telling her that he has fallen into a coma, she hops on the first flight across the pond to find out what is wrong.  Her family has been a mess since her mother had a rare genetic disease that was fatal and was passed along to her sister.  She quickly discovers that this may be connected to his lunacy in searching for a single cure for all diseases.  As she begins to uncover his research, she discovers he has some artifacts that are tied to holy water stored centuries ago.  She also finds that she is not the only one looking for items that he left hidden.  When Marian ingest some of the residue from the artifact, she finds herself transported back to the middle ages, during a very inconvenient time to be without protection.  Can she find her way back to the present?  And will she want to?

For my first Jody Hedlund novel, this was quite a ride.  I’ve read several time slip novels, but none that have the same character split centuries apart.   It was a little bit romance, a little bit time travel, and a little bit time slip, but it was quite entertaining.  For those that enjoy the unlikely romance aspect in a novel, this one is for you.  And if you enjoy a little bit of high stress situations with some suspense, this will fall into your favorites as well.  Hedlund did a great job of both character development and world building.  It makes me look forward to what is going to happen in the second book of the series!

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