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: Once Upon A Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep

I know, I know… Christmas is still months away (14 weeks, give or take a day!) However, I can read Christmas-themed novels all year round. Michelle Griep, self-proclaimed “author, blogger, and occasional super-hero when her cape is clean.” knows how to do heartwarming, wholesome historical fiction.

Heartwarming & Wholesome Historical Fiction

In her three-novella series, she provides a Dickensian-feel to bring on the Christmas cheer and leave you feel like you’ve been sitting fireside – all warm and cheerful on the inside. The three charming Victorian tales (originally published individually) included in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas are:

  • 12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about…love.
  • A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?
  • The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.

My favourite of the three was the first (12 Days at Bleakly Manor), but they were all appealing within their own right. These titles balance mystery with romance and a sprinkling of faith (but not in a heavy-handed obnoxious way.) The recipe leaves you with a delightful narrative that you’ll want to enjoy curled up in a cozy place with a tea – even better if there’s a Christmas tree illuminated in the corner. Published September 1st, and available for purchase now.

My thanks to the author and publisher, Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books. I was provided with a complimentary title via NetGalley and all thoughts are my own.

Book Review: The Erie Canal Brides Collection

If you’re a fan of historical American Christian romance, you’ll enjoy The Erie Canal Brides Collection. Touted as “7 Romances Develop Along Man-Made Waterways of New York and Ohio”, it’s written by a talented group of various authors. Each book feels complete and wasn’t a one-night read for me – it may require an investment of time. I perused a digital version so I can’t speak to the heft of the actual print edition, but there was a lot to consume in this one!

Of the seven titles, there were obviously a few stories that I preferred more than others. Titles included in the collection include:

  • The Way of a Child by Lauralee Bliss, Little Falls, New York 1817
  • Wedding of the Waters by Rita Gerlach, Goshen Creek, New York. 181
  • Digging for Love by Ramona K. Cecil, Rochester, New York 1822
  • Return to Sweetwater Cove by Christina Miller, Sweetwater Cove, New York, 1825
  • Journey of the Heart by Johnnie Alexander, Circleville, Ohio, early 1852
  • Pressing On by Rose Allen McCauley, Zoar, Ohio, 1856
  • The Bridge Between Us by Sherri Wilson Johnson, Albion, New York, 1859

With so many choices, I was exposed to authors I had never read before and dug into an aspect of history that I’ve never really thought about. Some stories were a little deeper, some a little more emotional, some more preach-y than others, but there is definitely a title for everyone who is a fan of this genre included in the pack.

My personal favourites, though very different styles, were Digging For Love (prejudice against the Irish) and Journey of the Heart (abolition.) No objectionable content in any of the stories, of course, and each included that sweet dash of romance. It wasn’t a 5-star rating from me just because I was indifferent to a few of the included tales. However, it was a nice way to spend a few cozy evenings.

This title was published on March 1, 2019 by Barbour Publishing Inc., known for being
“a leading publisher of Christian books offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement.”

I was provided with a digital copy of this title via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Noble Guardian by Michelle Griep


Taciturn & Tender –
Adventurous Historical Christian Romance

If you are looking for historical Christian fiction brimming with the characterization of a taciturn, valiant hero and a lively, generous heroine, while courting danger around every bend and the demonstration of courage in the face of disappointments, Michelle Griep’s The Noble Guardian has it all! Adventure. History. Romance. The third in The Bow Street Runners series, it’s easy to read as a standalone (but having read this title, I’ll definitely be adding the first two titles to my to-be-read stack.)

Griep has a wonderful way with words and kindly shares some of her historical research aspects with her readers at the back of the book. I have no remarks on the aspect of historical accuracy, because I’m generally reading the genre for the escape, not the realism. I’m guessing based on the facts she shared, most aspects were pretty spot-on.

Back to the story itself… two bruised individuals, an adorable cherub of a child, and well-shaped secondary characters shine. At 32o pages in the paperback format, it’s not a short book, but it’s quite the tale of longing, revenge, and as mentioned previously, danger (almost ridiculous amounts of danger, to be honest. I mean it’s fiction, but life just kept throwing one curveball after another – which of course they handled with fortitude and style.) They faced seemingly insurmountable hurdles while trying to navigate their futures and escape the wounds of their pasts while racing cross-country through Regency England.

Romance was sweetly threaded throughout and, of course, love triumphs all. One of my favourite quotes from the book was just before the half-way point, when the Captain (our hero!) insists Abby (our heroine) is more valuable than she realises and calls her a gem. *sigh* (I’d quote the exact line but my copy was uncorrected and I don’t want to get it wrong!) Honestly, coming from such a sullen man and in the early stages of their alliance it was really quite the tender and endearing scene (with a typical touch of gruffness from a pensive man.) The story was liberally sprinkled with references to faith and the characters’ development of conviction and hope. As they lean on each other, they each find safety – both physically and emotionally – as they become the family they’ve always needed.

I truly enjoyed this spin on my go-to genre and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a heartwarming historical tale of hope and redemption. You can pre-order your copy now through all major booksellers. It’s a 4.5 star for me!

I was provided with a complimentary Advanced Reader Copy of this title through NetGalley with thanks to the publisher and author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Book Review: The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

Surprise, surprise… I have another book review to share. I feel like sometimes books overtake the rest of the elements of my blog (scoff… not really… I mean… books.) Seeing as reading is a huge part of who I am, I suppose that makes sense in the whole sharing glimpses of my life thing. If you’re not a reader, I’d apologize… but I’m not sorry. Please just bear with me and on occasion browse the book reviews along with my other content. You might find a title to entice you!

Just in case you were concerned, I do actually do things other than read – like work, feed my family, go for lunch, occasionally throw in a load of laundry on repeat – but books often start my day and finish my day and fill in the little cracks of free time in between. They are comfortable friends from the days of awkward childhood.

I just recently finished Rachel Hauck‘s “The Memory House.” Now, I am a fan of the author, but I like to think I provide unbiased reviews. She hit this one out of the park. As I mentioned on Instagram, it’s “…a sweet book to read… Parallel stories in different eras and filled with grace and hope. Loved it!”

This is a novel of romance (*sigh*), adversity, second-chances, hope, and redemption. It’s sweet, it’s occasionally funny, and it’s told from different character’s perspectives in different eras – without being a confusing mess! (I loved Everleigh’s story… absolutely loved it.)

The characters are flawed and struggle with life, faith, family, what have you… but they persevere. They break. They mend. They find their way again and stumble upon love and acceptance while they’re at it. They’re far from perfect – their humanity was refreshing – but they don’t let their weakness or loss completely define them even as it refines them.

This descriptive, heartwarming fiction blends historical and contemporary intertwining tales in the sweetest way. I had a hard time putting it down because of the “heart” invested in the read. Bonus points for the beautifully-depicted home central to the plot.
This tale gave me “all the feels.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Publisher by Thomas Nelson. Publication date: April 2, 2019