Book Review: A Single Spark by Judith Miller

If you are a fan of historical inspirational fiction or Judith Miller in general, you’ll love this new release from Bethany House! A Single Spark, coming out on June 2nd, captures a pivotal era in American history and I actually learned more about the war efforts from the perspective of women left behind during the Civil War and the danger they faced while lending support to an epic cause.

Wanting to do her part in the war effort, Clara McBride goes to work in the cartridge room at the Washington Arsenal, the city’s main site for production and storing of munitions. She’s given the opportunity to train new employees and forms a friendship with two of them. All seems to be going well, especially when one of the supervisors shows interest in her.

Lieutenant Joseph Brady is an injured army officer who, no longer able to lead troops into battle, has been assigned to a supervisory position at the Washington Arsenal. While Clara has caught his eye, he also makes it his mission to fight for increased measures to prevent explosions in the factory.

But when suspicions rise after multiple shipments of Washington Arsenal cartridges fail to fire and everyone is suspect for sabotage, can the spark of love between Joseph and Clara survive?

Judith Miller sparks interest through her lively and easy-to-read historical offerings. This title in particular, has characters you’ll love, characters you’ll despise, emotion, and mystery! The gentle romance weaving its magic between the pages will endear you. Overall, it’s a 4-star read for anyone who enjoys clean, simple historical fiction with a dash of love and strong elements of faith.

I received a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks. Opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Every once in a while you’ll find yourself lucky enough to pick up a book that speaks to your very soul in heartrending yet remarkable ways. Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese was such a book for me. I started to read it before bed a few nights ago without re-reading the summary and had totally forgotten what it was about. I selected it because the cover led me to mistakenly think it would be an easy, breezy read. I was so far mistaken that I read well into the early hours of the morning, caught half a night’s sleep, and then dove right in again as soon as my other responsibilities were taken care of because it tied a string around my heart and roped me in until the very last page. It was a fend for yourself, kids, type of day.

As for the easy, breezy I was only half right. It was such an easy book to read, but it gripped me too – I cried more than once at the tenuous tightrope of desires that Lauren, the lead, found herself trying to balance on while trying to honour a commitment to her future child while trying to suss out the right choices in life. There was nothing breezy in the subject matter despite the at first glance, lighthearted appeal of the potential romantic interest, Joshua, and the author’s picturesque humourous situations.

Deese did a wonderful job of painting a not-always-rosy picture of the process of adoption and even issues post-adoption, but she also did a wonderful job of infusing the story with a beautiful yearning and deep heart felt love. She broached family dysfunction and forgiveness, loss, grief, acceptance, faith, trust, hope, healing, complications, connection, commitments, and so much more in this touching, emotional read. This inspirational title was poignant and complex and absolutely splendid all the same.

My thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley. Opinions expressed are my own.

Published By: Bethany House
Publication Date: March 31, 2020

Book Review: Stay with Me by Becky Wade

As we’ve come to love Becky Wade as a leading author of inspirational contemporary fiction, Stay with Me, her soon to be released novel, pulls no punches when it comes to the delivery of a relevant and moving tale. Permeated with real-life struggles, family secrets, and a scintillating romance, this newest title conveys all you would expect and more.

Tackling tricky issues like the balance of public image and faith, addiction, family secrets, and old wounds, Stay with Me is a poignant and compelling work of contemporary fiction. Well-developed characters, strong emotional ties, dynamic chemistry, and threads of intrigue furnish a well-written novel in a beautiful setting. Sam and Genevieve are soulful and real as the hero and heroine struggling with facades. Both must fight their own demons while learning to heal and trust in this touching gem of inspiration.

Stay with Me will be released on May 5th and is the keystone to what should be an engaging new series (Misty River.) Wade delivers hope and redemption wrapped in a charming and artful package you won’t want to put down. Elements of humour (hello, nod to Goldilocks), a lively romance, and tugs to the heartstrings make this title work for me!

My thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Bethany House
Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Book Review: Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano

This will be a pretty quick review – no small talk before I jump right in. This is mostly because I finished this title last night and want to share my thoughts “fresh.”

Bethany House approved my NetGalley request for Jen Turano’s upcoming novel, Storing Up Trouble. It’s the third installment in the American Heiresses series, but can very easily be read as a standalone. (I know this because I’ve not read the previous titles but most definitely will be adding them to my to-be-read list!)

A Delightful Whirlwind of Enjoyment

Turano is known for her humour and inspirational stories and this title does not disappoint on that front. If it were a person, I’d describe it as that loud, sweet, somewhat chaotic friend that brings liveliness and occasional puzzlement in every encounter. It’s a delightful whirlwind of enjoyment!

With a blend of adventure, snicker-inducing scenarios and dialogue, danger, oddball characters, and sweet romance this book is a fast-paced get-ready-for-a-ride work of art. It also manages to romp through the very pivotal history of suffrage and worker’s rights in North America in a delicate balance of important facts and quirky situations.

As it is inspirational fiction, faith and purpose play a foundational role in the overall story. It is a clean, sassy, sweet work of historical romance. Overall, I can do nothing but recommend this title. My only complaint is that I binged my way through it and now I feel a little lonely.

Published by Bethany House. Publication Date: May 5, 2020

My thanks for the complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

When I read this title last week, the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t really hit our shores yet. I mean, we were all aware of what was going on remotely, and were being told to be cautious, but we weren’t in a state of panic. That all seemingly changed all the night – and blame media, blame government, blame who you will – the very real fact is that humanity didn’t respond as they might, but I’m seeing bright lights in all the darkness. Ironically (or not, I never quite know if something is truly ironic…), when the schools were shut down and the locals went mad over toilet paper, bananas, and shelf stable pantry basics, I was reading a fictional account of a historical event (one of my favourite genres!) and I was struck by the panic and helplessness that imbued so many of pages. It made a far off distant event relatable because of the unease that we too seem to be experiencing.

Here is a description of Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green, straight from the publisher:

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not dealing with PTSD, I didn’t lose my home, no one in my family has been committed to an asylum, nor have I been dealt a blow like the Chicago Fire and it’s wake of destruction. Somehow, though, I felt like I could relate to all the emotions and challenges the sisters were feeling and I attribute this to the gifted writings of the author.

There was a lot going on in this book – like crazy amounts of pressure and so many issues to resolve – but it worked. The mystery surrounding the crime wasn’t unexpected, but the journey to the final resolution kept you with a niggling little grain of doubt – maybe you knew, maybe you didn’t, and even a conviction that you were right, but you didn’t quite get the how. All figured out and tied up in a neat bow by the final chapter.

Overall, I’d recommend this title as it’s set in a wonderful accounting of a great historical event (and I even learned something reading the author’s notes at the end….) It deals with so much more than just “the fire” while creating not-always-likable-but-very-real characters in some devastating circumstances. Great descriptions, good flow, and elements of surprise lead to a well-rounded, but intense, piece of fiction with some hope, some heartbreak, some history.

My thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a complimentary download of this title via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Bethany House
Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Book Review: Sweet on You by Becky Wade

A few weeks ago, I posted about The Bradford Sisters Romance trilogy by author Becky Wade. It’s contemporary Christian romance, with a heavy dash of mystery, and no heavy-handed preachiness – just well-written stories with likeable characters. I have been eagerly anticipating the third and final title, Sweet on You, detailing the relationship of best friends Britt Bradford and Zander Ford. I was thrilled when I realised that the title was available via NetGalley and the publisher approved my request with a complimentary pre-release copy for preview. It did not disappoint.

Perfect summer read!

Britt is the youngest of the Bradford sisters, and if you know the background on the family, you can understand that although she’s just as pampered as the others, she carries a little bit of unwarranted guilt that leads to a ridiculous independence and need to stand on her own two feet. Zander has been her best friend harbouring a love interest in Brit since high school and she just doesn’t see it. As they continue into adulthood, he’s had enough and realises that he can’t stand the pain of watching her flit in and out of meaningless relationships. Cue the dramatics as they explore whether a real romance is in their best interest and the suspense as they explore the suddenly exposed knowledge that Zander’s recently deceased uncle was concealing many dangerous secrets.

Wade does a remarkable job of balancing the fear and angst of a friendship heading into romance with the hope that all will flourish. She weaves a perfect blend of drama, romance, and suspense into a well-rounded, easy-to-read novel that tips into delightful with the must-have happily ever after. The whole series, including this title, are engaging and absolutely perfect for lakeside reading this summer! Watch for it to hit retailer shelves next week!

My thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
All opinions expressed are my own.

Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: April 30, 2019