Book Review: A Castaway in Cornwall

Every once in a while a reader will stumble across an author that is such a great match for their reading interests that you know no matter which title you pick up, you’re going to love it. Julie Klassen is one of those authors for me. Her books aren’t always fast paced, but there’s just something about them that works time and time again.

A Castaway in Cornwall was published in December but I just got around to reading it a few days ago. I was not mistaken – I was met, as expected, with a work of fiction that hit all the right notes for me at the right time. It’s an atmospheric telling, obviously about a castaway in Cornwall – a shipwreck survivor – and the woman who nurses him to health, a castaway in her own right. That’s an overly simplistic capture of the plot, but I don’t want to spoil the story – I want to encourage you to read it for yourself. Inside you’ll find a lot of coastal or sea-worthy jargon with an emphasis on flotsam and jetsam (do you know the difference?) and a reflection of the Cornish history of smuggling and wreckers woven into the period piece.

The lead characters in this novel have some depths to them – secrets, pasts, scars – but they’re steadfast – which is not to be confused with boring. The book as a whole is not fast paced, and it’s not a romp – it takes its time to get from cover to cover, but it’s an enjoyable journey nonetheless. I would classify it as historical inspirational fiction with intrigue and an innocent, slow-burn romance. Bonus points for the cover art – I just absolutely love the colour palette and soft design. This title felt quite a bit like a novel written just for me.

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

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764234224

Book Review: The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep

We’re well into the third day of the first month of a brand new spanking year that we as a family brought in much like we do every other strike of midnight – sleepy, contemplating bed for the adults, and wide awake, gaming, for the teens. You’d think for someone who spent more time than usual encamped at home this year that my reading goals would have been a breeze to meet, but I miscalculated and by the last of 2020 had not met my benchmark at all. Oh well! A new year… a new book… some new reading goals!

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep was the perfect official inaugural read for this booklover. While I technically finished another title prior, that title straddled the line between years and is accounted for somewhere in a reader’s no-man’s land. This smashing work of fiction, however, was published January 1st and seemed the exactly right title to start my new book year fresh. I finished it in the wee hours of the morning, being fully ensconced in this sweet, mysterious, and fast paced romp, aided in part by a miscalculated (but enjoyable) coffee at 9 p.m. last night. As I put my Kindle to sleep around 3 a.m., and contemplated sleep myself, I remembered again how much I truly enjoy Griep as an author of historical Christian fiction. Why do I not read her work more often?

I was swept back in time and settled in for a delightfully vivacious adventure. The author crafts a beautiful word picture that will immerse you in the action, location, and emotion on every page. The romance lends itself to sweetness and naivete, while the need to meet a deadline lends a sense of urgency and need to engage. Through this clever and compelling novel with elements of faith and trust, I was transported through the smelliest, darkest parts of London where danger and deception lurk to the glittering ballrooms of the wealthy (where danger and deception lurk) to the noble halls of the historic metropolitan police. A 5-star read to start the year off right. What a delight!

Publication Date: January 1, 2020
Publisher: Barbour Fiction

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

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: 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.