National Parks and Historical Fiction

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Ever Faithful

 

My husband and I have spent the last few years trying to see as many National Parks as possible with our kids. So far we have traveled to 23, including Yellowstone! I was so exited to learn about this book series by Karen Barnett. Barnett does a lovely job of writing about Yellowstone in a historical setting with interesting  details of the park. More than that, she tells a heartfelt story about two people from different places that are brought together through the park and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

As part of FDR’s New Deal, young men were paid to enlist in the CCC.  They traveled to many of our nations’s parks to improve their conditions. The parks benefited as did the young men who were previously without work. Barnett writes about a young man, Nate Webber, who enlists in the CCC and is assigned to Yellowstone.  It is there that he meets Elsie Brooks, a ranger’s daughter.  Nate and Elsie have a slow but steady relationship. Their story is believable, just a bit slow at times. This book begins with back story, and lots of details to help build the foundation for Nate and Elsie. There are also quite a few characters to get to know.  I found myself getting a little impatient with the plot, but I am glad I stuck with it!

Ever Faithful is an excellent read for anyone who loves historical fiction.  It is definitely appropriate for all age of reader from tween to adult. There is no language or inappropriate scenes.  I requested a copy of this book to review from the publisher based on the cover and the topic. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions are my own.

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The Middle Matters by Lisa-Jo Baker

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The Middle Matters

 

“The middle is worth remembering while you are actually living it, because you won’t pass by this way again.” -Lisa-Jo Baker

I can clearly remember my dad’s over-the-hill party like it was yesterday. He turned 40 when I was in middle school. Now, I have a middle school son and I am staring 40 in the face. Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book, The Middle Matters, is the refreshment and encouragement I have needed! It is a reminder that this part of life is sweet, important, and can be just as fantastic as the 20’s felt.

I was first introduced to Lisa-Jo Baker on Instagram from another author’s mention. From there, I began to listen to her Out of the Ordinary podcast that she does with author Christy Purifoy. ( It is such an uplifting, cup-filling podcast! You should listen!) When Lisa-Jo announced she was releasing a book this year, I knew I had to have it! I was so right!

The Middle Matters is a collection of essays by Lisa-Jo about everyday, ordinary life. The book is divided into eight parts. There are essays about marriage, parenthood, faith, failures, body image, and friendship, Reading these essays is like sitting down with one of your closest friends and hearing their heart.  I feel like Lisa-Jo hits on so many things I have been feeling. The ordinary, everyday life stuff matters. Even in the middle.

I requested an advanced copy of this book from the author and publisher. If I had not been selected to receive a copy, I would have bought it!! All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated in any way.

What is the Next Right Thing?

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The next Right Thing

 

Weighty decisions are apart of life. And these days, I feel like one is waiting for me around every corner. I knew when I saw the title of author Emily P. Freeman’s new book The Next Right Thing, I needed to read it. I have the tendency to get caught up in the future, and the fallout I feel my decisions will have on life.  Freeman’s take on decision making is practicle, applicable, and very helpful. I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to pin down a right choice, a critical step, or making a life-changing decision.

There are a few chapters that were stand-outs for me in The Next Right Thing. Chapter 5, Look for the Arrows, was especially poignant. Freeman explains that sometimes, listening to your personal desires and those of your spouse can help you discern your next step. It isn’t always that easy, but our hearts often lean in the right direction before our minds do. I also loved Chapter 13, Don’t Rush Clarity, where Freeman points out that we should let go of our timeline, and our expectations of certainty.  Certainty of outcome is maybe the biggest roadblock for me personally with concern to decision making. Lastly, Freeman suggest finding co-listeners in Chapter 15. Co-listeners are trusted people in your life who are able to listen objectively that can be trusted and are a safe place. I love this idea so much. There is something to be said for wise counsel!

I requested The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman from the publisher because I was looking for some guidance in descision making. At this point in my life, I thought all of my big decisions were over and done. Not true! What school is right for my kids, should we move, are our careers the right choice, and is it time to move on from where we are? Those are just a few things keeping me up at night! I received an advanced copy of this book to read without the requirement to leave a positive review. I have not been compensated. All opinion are my own.

 

 

Something New from Jocelyn Green

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between two shores

 

Jocelyn Green is an author of some pretty amazing historical fiction. In fact, I am always sure to be aware of when she has a new release! I was truly excited to read Between Two Shores. Having said that, this novel was not my favorite. I am not sure I can put my finger on it, but I have a few ideas.

Between Two Shores began with a series of flashbacks that tell the back story of the main character, Catherine, her family, and Simon (a man she once loved.).  I somehow got lost in the flashbacks. So much so, I was afraid there might have been a prior novel and I had failed to read it! I thought for certain I had missed something. Secondly, I was a little disappointed in the big plot twist I for sure did not see coming. Had I not been so far into the story…i might have thrown in the towel.

Somewhere in the story…i really tried hard to find it again…Green writes that sometimes stories don’t end the way we think they should. This is true for me for this book.  Here is the thing, just because this book wasn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean it won’t be yours. If you love historical fiction, a war-time story, and strong female characters, this could be your favorite book all year! I requested a copy from NetGalley to read because I know I love Jocelyn Green books. I was not required to give a positive review and I was not compensated.

Reading a ROMCOM!

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flights of fancy

 

There is no one else who writes like Jen Turano! I feel like she needs her own genre in the Christian Fiction category of Romantic Category.  Flights of Fancy is laugh-out-loud  funny, flirtatious, and fantastic story telling! If you are looking for something fresh to read to get you out of your reading rut, this book is for you!

In Flights of Fancy,  American Heiress Isadora Delafield flees home to escape marriage to a dangerous Duke.  With the help of a few friends, Isadora, “Izzie,” makes her way to Pennsylvania to answer a posting for a housekeeper at Glory Manor.  Hoping to hide out long enough to escape her mother’s plans for her life, Izzie finds herself  neck-deep in all sorts of shenanigans. Mostly she discovers a handsome self-made man, Ian, who is unlike any society bachelors she has ever encountered.

I love, love, love, the page time author Jen Turano gives to Ian and Izzie. Page after page, Ian and Izzie get to know one another and spend time together. It’s absolutely fantastic!  This book is definitely a love story, but also a mystery, historical fiction, and a comedy! i requested a copy of this book from NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.

New From Tamera Alexander!

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with this pledge

 

This novel is exquisite storytelling and a must read for all historical fiction fans! Inspired by the real love letters between Captain Roland Jones Ward and Miss Elizabeth Clouston, Tamera Alexander tells a beautiful story of love and loss.  With This Pledge is taken from the pages of our country’s most turbulent time, the Civil War.

Miss Clouston, “Lizzie”,  is a governess for the Carnton family near Franklin, Tennessee.  Everything about Lizzie’s life is in turmoil.  Her heart hopes slavery will meet its end in this terrible war, while her fiance fights for the Confederacy.  The war arrives at her front door when the Carnton home is unexpectedly turned into a field hospital.  Among the wounded is Captain Roland Jones, a handsome Confederate soldier with whom Lizzie finds an unexpected attachment. As the story unfolds, Lizzie is forced to come to terms with who she loves and what her life will become once the war ends.

There is so much wonderful in this book.  Tamera Alexander tells a riveting love story against the back drop of a dark and grim time in our history.  Not only does she help us know the circumstances of the characters, but she also guides us through the two sides of the conflict.  It must have been a difficult task to write about such tumultuous period in history. She did such an amazing job of stepping into Lizzie’s and Roland’s shoes to allow us to see their life through their own eyes.

I never miss a new release from Tamera Alexander and you shouldn’t either!  With This Pledge is a must read for this year!  I know with great certainty that it will be on my Best of 2019 list! I requested a copy of this novel from NetGalley to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. NetGalley gives readers an opportunity to read books in advance of their release. Check them out at NetGalley.com!

Lady of a Thousand Treasures

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Lady of a Thousand Treasures

 

Reading Sandra Byrd’s A Lady of a Thousand Treasures was a much needed change of pace for me. It is a lovely Victorian Age historical filled with mystery, treasure, interesting history, and love. Many years ago I was an avid reader of all things Victoria Holt. Byrd’s novel reminds me so much of those lovely historical fiction books I read as teenager.

Both young and older readers will enjoy A Lady of a Thousand Treasures.  If I had to give it a rating for appropriateness for a younger audience, I would fall somewhere between G and PG. While there is a love story in to book, it’s mild and respectful. This lovely story is about an equally intelligent and beautiful Eleanor Sheffield. She is unique in that while she is associated with the upper crust of society, she is a woman who earns a living by evaluating antiquities. She learned her trade from her father and uncle. Early in the book, we learn that Eleanor must evaluate the worthiness of her former love interest, a baron’s son named Harry. Harry stands to inherit his father’s fortune of treasure if Eleanor finds him to be honorable and true.

While I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction, there were a few chapters where I definitely had to push through. I would have enjoyed more page time spent with Eleanor and Harry together. However, I did enjoy getting to see a peak at their past as Eleanor flashed back throughout the story. I requested a copy of this book from its publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This is the first time I have read a book by Sandra Byrd and I am happy to say I am excited to read her other titles.

Summer’s Best Surprise

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sons of blackbird mountain

 

This book was one of those books that made me sorry I gave other books five stars. I am flabbergasted by the amount of love I have for this book! It is such a great story!! I couldn’t get it to download onto my e-reader, so I literally read the entire thing on my tiny i-phone 6 with my Kindle app. There are not many books I would do that for outside of  a few long-standing favorites.  I am a long time reader of historical fiction and I cannot fathom how I have missed books by this amazing author. I am feel like I have found a new favorite author and I so excited to read her other titles.

What makes this book so special is the way Bischof brings you into the story immediately. I did not have to read two or three chapters to feel like I knew and loved the characters. The book flowed so well and from the beginning I found myself cheering on Aven in her journey to a new beginning. I loved the set up, the setting, and the other characters- especially Aven’s love interest,  He is not your typical hero and has a few obstacles to overcome. As soon as I read the last page, I knew I would read this book again. I highly recommend it!

I requested this book from the publisher because I love historical fiction. I was not compensated for reviewing this book and all opinions are my own.

A New Favorite!

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engraved on the heart

 

This book is such a good example of why you should read new authors! Tara Johnson wrote an outstanding debut novel with Engraved on the Heart. It has all the essential historical fiction components: an interesting historical subject, a strong heroine, love, and a dashing hero.

I read this book in giant chunks, staying up too late to get just a little bit further.  This novel centers around the beginning of the civil war and the work of the underground railroad. A young lady, Keziah Montgomery, is the daughter of a Confederate family in Savannah. She reunites with an old friend, Dr. Micah Greyson,  who shares her heart and her desire to help enslaved people escape to freedom. Keziah does all that she can to protect their secrets, including agreeing to marry a man of her father’s choosing.

There is nothing lacking in this first effort by Tara Jacobs. I can’t wait to read her next book that should be out next summer.  If it has been awhile since you tried a new author, this one is for you. I requested a copy of this book from the publisher because I love historical fiction. I was not required to give this book a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.

From the author of The Mountain Between Us!

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Send Down the Rain

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin was a risk I am so glad I took! This novel is far outside of my normal reading genre of historical fiction.  I chose to read it based on the fact that Martin is the author of The Mountain Between Us.  I enjoyed the turmoil and intense relationship between the characters in the movie and figured I would give this novel a try. Send Down the Rain did not disappoint!

The central character in Send Down the Rain is Joseph, Vietnam Vet who has spent most of his life in anguish.  He has lost everything including the love of his life. This story is riveting, fast-paced, action-packed, and a page turner! It is also centered on a life long unrequited love story.  If you are looking for a novel to hold your interest this summer, Send Down the Rain is your book! If you are in a reading slump (happens to the most devout book lover), this is your book!

I truly enjoyed Charles Martin’s new title Send Down the Rain. I requested a copy from BookLookBloggers in search of a new favorite author and I feel as though i was successful. I was not required to give this title a positive review. All opinions and enthusiasm are my own.