Book Review: The Brideship Wife by Leslie Howard

Those who know my reading tastes know I grew up on historical fiction – Laura Ingalls Wilder was a close companion in my formative years, alongside Anne of Green Gables, and others as the year went by. Even now as I’ve matured (ha!) my reading tastes have expanded to some degree, but a well-written work of historical fiction will always have a special place on my shelf, and of even more prominence if it has ties to Canadian history.

Simon & Schuster Canada approved my NetGalley request for the soon-to-be-released title, The Brideship Wife, by author Leslie Howard. Inspired by the history of the British “brideships,” this captivating historical debut tells the story of one woman’s coming of age and search for independence—for readers of Pam Jenoff’s The Orphan’s Tale and Armando Lucas Correa’s The German Girl.

Amid mad bursts of baking and a well-overdue tidy & sort project, I have spent the last few days curled up in the company of Charlotte and a supporting cast of characters as they travel from the upper echelons of British society with it’s restrictive double-standards and scandals to the lawless lands of early British Columbia with promises of independence and opportunity. This novel was illuminating, heartfelt, infuriating, heartbreaking, and overall just so delightful to read.

The author touches on so many aspects of history that it’s easy to forget about in the romanticism of days gone by. She brings to light little-known aspects of the settling of British Columbia and history of Canada – not all of it as wonderful as we would like. Her characters are well-developed, the story is well-paced, and every page is a wonder of descriptive narratives that will move you back in time. This is a highly recommended read and I truly hope to see it on a number of bestsellers lists across Canada, perhaps keeping company with The Forgotten Home Child – another beautiful work of historical fiction from a Canadian perspective. Regardless of whether you’re from our Great White North or any far reaches across the globe, you’ll enjoy this peek into a women’s quest for independence and the experiences that shape her.

Leslie Howard grew up in Penticton, British Columbia, where she developed a passion for the province’s history. A graduate of Ottawa’s Carleton University in economics and political science, she now divides her time between Vancouver and Penticton, where she and her husband grow cider apples. The Brideship Wife is her debut novel. Connect with her on Twitter @AuthorLeslieH or on her website LeslieHoward.ca.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to read and review this title. Watch for it to hit shelves on May 5th!

Book Review: The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear

The Daughters of the Mayflower series has been a collection that I’ve been enjoying off and on. I haven’t read all the books yet, but I’ve picked up a title here and there. Thankfully, each book has been easily read as an independent publication, but as a whole they work well highlighting different eras and situations in American History from the landing of the Mayflower to WWII. I recently read The Blizzard Bride – one of the upcoming titles in the series, to be published in February. (Spoiler: it was great!) Further back, I was provided with an Advanced Readers Copy of The Rebel Bride and it was also great.

An Enjoyable Wholesome Piece of Historical Fiction

Once in a while, you will find a title or two that will trigger some nostalgia of days gone by. The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear did this for me. It brought me back to anti-social evenings as a young teen, curled up in my bed, ignoring my family, quite lost in fictional tales of American history with incredibly strong female leads and their often heroic male counterparts – the books that led me to believe that woman can persevere through anything, and that while a man isn’t needed, he is a wonderful sidekick in the struggles of life.

The Rebel Bride is set in Tennessee during the Civil War. Our heroine is a quiet, peaceable woman who is caught between the Union and the Confederacy as the tensions of war literally camp on her doorstep and flood her home. Not only must she deal with wounded soldiers from both sides, her family is suffering a number of losses and hardships. She is a remarkably strong woman with pain and fear and struggles who can pull up her bootstraps when needed. She’s often stubborn and more impulsive than she ought to be – acting in the best interest of her family, but not always being able to control the outcome.

Without giving away the whole story, I can say that this one captured my interest. It was fast-paced, heart-wrenching, and even frustrating at times. Watching the characters struggle with loyalties, issues of faith, and the delicate tendrils of a mismatched romance in a dangerous time pulled the heartstrings. The action in the story provided enough danger and excitement to keep things interesting.

Ms. McNear did a remarkable job of creating a picturesque novel of courage – overcoming stereotypes and presenting a vivid recreation of the emotions one might face in such an uncertain era. While it wasn’t a dark tale (and I’m sure the Civil War left a big ol’ cloud of darkness and despair behind every battle) it was an emotional journey of strength with a happy ending in a not-so-happy element. A recommended read for those who enjoy wholesome historical fiction – with drama, danger, and romance aplenty.

Publication Date: December 1, 2019
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc. | Barbour Books

I was provided with a complimentary Advanced Reading Copy of this novel via NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

I was first introduced to Patti Callahan Henry’s writing through an ARC I won via Goodreads a few years ago called “And Then I Found You.” It earned a 4 star rating from me. Since then, I’ve read a few others and I have “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” sitting on my bookshelf waiting for a weekend when I don’t have ARCs to dig into. When I saw “The Perfect Love Song” was available to request for read and review on NetGalley I jumped on it! The early hype reads “Just in time for Christmas, escape with a perfect love song, a perfect love story, and a perfect dose of holiday magic… Can one song change the course of a life?

I loved the overall idea of this one, but it took me a bit to get into it. I didn’t “click” with the characters or the dialogue. The story as a whole is sweet and magical for the holidays without being so sugary you gag. It touches on themes of home, heartache, belonging, and forgiveness…following your dreams, being true to yourself, honouring commitments… but I didn’t love it. It was “okay” – a way to pass the time and I didn’t dislike it – but it doesn’t make me want to gush. It was an easy read, but not too deep and didn’t grab me by the emotions.

Now, I don’t want to say take my opinion as set-in-stone, cannot be denied truth – this book has a 4-star rating on NetGalley. It obviously had that gush-factor for some people and maybe if I read it in another time, another mood, I’d have been giving it 4-stars as well. However, as it stands, it was just a 3-star for me – a middle of the road novel that didn’t really impact me one way or another. Grab a copy if you want, or borrow a copy from the library, feel good as things are resolved… but I’m not sure it’s a life-changing, delightfully moving read.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a digital advanced copy in exchange for review. All opinions are entirely my own.

Book Review: Not My Daughter by Kate Hewitt

In my last book review, I believe I mentioned that I’ve not been reading as much in exchange for some actual rest. This in turn means that I haven’t been reading as much… but I started the recently-published Not My Daughter by Kate Hewitt late last week and finally wrapped it up last night. In a very basic understatement, it was an amazing book.

Reminding me of my appreciation for Jodi Picoult’s novels, this is an emotional depiction of parenthood, family, friendship, love, life, and loss. While the characters weren’t always likeable, they were very real. As a couple struggles with infertility, this heart-wrenching novel explores raw struggles and the sacrifices we make for those we love. In an emotionally charged presentation, Hewitt challenges the reader as relationships are tested and decisions are made as a longed-for, much-loved child faces a terrible diagnosis.

Tears streamed down my face as I read the final chapter. As I put my reader down, I turned to my husband and said, “That was a horrible book.” But I didn’t mean it as a negative – I meant it was gut-wrenching, compelling, thought provoking, and just incredible – it grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I definitely recommend.

I was provided with a complimentary uncorrected advanced readers copy from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own. .

Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: May 2, 2019

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

Book Review: The Bradford Sisters Romance

One day about a month ago I worried that I might run out of books to read. This convinced me that a trial of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited was in order. Now, keeping in mind that this is not my only source of reading material, I may have borrowed 4 titles total and one remains unread. It’s good in theory, but I think I need to pare down my to-be-read pile significantly before it’s something I will consider on a permanent basis.

One huge plus from this trial was the finding of Christy-award winning author Becky Wade’s series “The Bradford Sisters.” I’ve read books 1 (True to You – Nora) & 2 (Falling for You – Willow) and eagerly await Britt’s story. This series is delightful – it’s contemporary Christian romance, but it’s not cheesy or preachy. It’s all about real (fictional) characters in real (fictional) situations dealing with real emotions and struggles in life and faith – the kind of people you want to hang out with in real life, because they’re so, you know, real….

True to You | Bradford Sisters Romance |
Book 1 | Becky Wade

That being said, the sisters’ lives come across as remarkably pristine and fairy-tale-ish at first glance. They’re wealthy, they’re beautiful, they come from a well-respected family and every opportunity has been handed to them on a golden platter, or so it would seem. They’re enjoying more privilege than most of us will encounter in a lifetime. However, first impressions aren’t always accurate and as Wade digs deeper into their lives, you realise that they’ve encountered their share of struggle and heartache.

The stories are filled with some awesome supporting characters, fascinating adventure and mystery, snippets of humour, and the much-beloved romance. This trio of tales – although I’ve only read the first two, are fantastic and perfect for fans of Rachel Hauck or even Debbie Macomber or other inspirational authors who know their romance. I can’t wait for the third installment – Sweet On You – coming out April 30th. (Hint: It’s available for pre-order now!)

Book Review: The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea by Jaimie Admans

It’s been one bumpy week. I haven’t been feeling great which has translated into not sleeping great which has translated into dull migraines on top of not feeling great. To cap it off, it’s the busiest week of the year with one of my clients. Unfortunately, it’s also a week that we packed a ton of extra stuff into and while I want to do the things, there is the exhausted introverted part of me that’s had enough and wants to huddle up with some good books all weekend and do nothing – and I mean nothing – but read – like from now until Sunday night bed time. Is it the end of the world? No. Do others have it worse? Of course.

Charming & Quirky

I did get sometime in between all the busyness and that’s vital – it keeps me sane. I read a few quick and easy books and this one, The Little Vintage Carousel by the Sea, written by Jaimie Admans, actually had me chuckling out loud on occasion. It’s so far-fetched and the characters are adorably awful. The book is rife with humour and awkwardness – it’s a ridiculous love-at-first sight type of tale – but it works. I was charmed by the entire thing!

Parts of it were repetitive – heavy reliance on references to a classic film and song, certain turns of phrase, internal dialogue, but overall it was exactly what I was looking for – a sweet and easy romance. It was a (mostly) cheery contemporary British love story that begins in London and takes you seaside to an over-the-top little village that you can’t help but want to visit – nosy seniors and all. It wove a historical, mysterious thread through the entire plot that was relevant to the conclusion. The title is available for pre-order now – it would make a great little holiday read. 3.5 stars from me – it wasn’t epic, but I enjoyed it!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher and/or author via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: HQ Digital
Publication Date: April 3, 2019