Book Review: Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter

The third and final novel in the Bluebell Inn series, Autumn Skies is an absolutely wonderful conclusion to a beautifully written contemporary family saga. Three siblings renovate and run the Bluebell Inn to commemorate their parents, each novel devoting itself to one love story at a time. My review of the first title, Lake Season, can be found here.

Continuing the family story while tying up the loose ends as the Bennetts look to the future, we encounter Grace’s romance in this last installment. Engaging and heartwarming, Denise Hunter knows her audience and creates dynamic characters that you love. There is an innocence or winsomeness to Hunter’s writing that is appealing, and yet her characters and storylines have a depth to them – scars and doubts and obstacles that all must be dealt with for any healthy relationships to occur – especially as truths are exposed that make heartache a very real possibility. Set in a picturesque small town that you’ll want to visit, this is another winner for Ms. Hunter, I’m sure.

Released October 20th, you should be able to find this title at your favourite local bookseller or through the usual online distributors. If not – request it and the other titles in the series and find a quiet spot to get lost in their charm!

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

Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9780785222804



Book Review: One Little Lie by Colleen Coble

Being required to stay home with my troops has reinforced how much I need alone time for everyone’s safety. To say some days we’re a little edgy is an understatement. I’m trying to find balance between expectations and reality and still ensure we’re all getting the space and/or attention we need.

After work and chores and sometimes right in the middle, I’m making my way through my NetGalley titles. Hooray for books to keep us sane when the world is tipsy turvy. My latest read was Colleen Coble’s One Little Lie published March 3rd.

From the publisher:

“It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.”

Coble packed this novel full of intrigue, twists, and turns. More than once I questioned the tangle that must be her mind – and as she’s a talented mystery/suspense writer – I mean that as a compliment. There was so much to unravel in this novel and the pace just didn’t stop. It was gripping, emotional, and had me wondering until the very last page.

The romance element was a little lacklustre, but I think it has potential. As the story continues through a three-part series, I have hope that this aspect will develop throughout.

The characters and plot as a whole are well constructed as a suspense. with cults, law enforcement, murder, conspiracies, and a small coastal town, the romance takes a back seat to the overall quick moving insanity of the murder plot.

“I received a complimentary copy of this book courtesy of Thomas Nelson Fiction. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

Book Review: The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

Two things that remain certain in these very uncertain days ahead are 1) my need to escape into fiction and 2) my supply of books to be read. I was disheartened when I heard that the local library would be closing temporarily, but also know that my physical and digital bookshelves are fully stocked well enough to carry me through a 2 week period of social distancing if not 2 years. We’re good.

One of the recent titles to read and love was Rachel Hauck’s The Fifth Avenue Story Society. The concept, a group of individuals with seemingly little in common but an anonymous invitation to connect at a small, historic Fifth Avenue library, is not entirely original in and of itself. However, I found that the further I delved into this one, the more I found it enchanting and unique.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story line. Seriously, read this one for yourself. I will tell you that it’s not fast-paced or even particularly exciting. It is, however, emotionally engaging and you’ll feel like you’re a part of this elite and varied circle of strangers becoming friends. The individual tales weave into a beautiful tapestry of hope, healing, and second chances with a healthy dose of love, sweet love.

I believe I stated in my review of Ms. Hauck’s The Wedding Dress Christmas that it was my favourite title of her’s so far… but I was mistaken. This title while completely different, is definitely my favourite title by the author so far. The Fifth Avenue Story Society hit shelves February 4th so practice safe reading… and order online, by phone or email, from your favourite independent bookseller or retail chain… and spend some quality time with a good book away from in-person friends.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book Review: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron is the latest in the Lost Castle series. You may have read my review for the previous book, Castle on the Rise, here, back in January. I mentioned in that review that: “The modern characters weren’t as well developed (in my opinion), but it was a colourful novel…” Same goes for this one! 

That being said, I loved this book. It was even better than the second. It spans three eras and includes art, love, loss, mystery, war, and follows the stories of three women whose lives intertwine across time. If I had to pick a favourite timeline, I would say WWII countryside England… or would it be the Victorian Era portion where women of the upper class were under-estimated for any talents aside from needlepoint? I couldn’t choose. Even with my statement above regarding the modern characters, the contemporary storyline was still intriguing and enjoyable. The women are strong. Their stories are moving.

I love watching the threads unravel through the back and forth of the stories and then ultimately weave back into a beautiful tale of secrets and triumphs in a beautiful historical castle.

“I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

I would recommend this entire series for those who enjoy a poignant, heartwarming read with a strong dose of mystery to untangle. Pre-order your copy of this title so you have it on hand for its Tuesday release!

Published by: Thomas Nelson Fiction
Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Book Review: The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

…(a) descriptive and endearing narrative on the struggles of life and treasures of friendship

I am so far behind in my NetGalley book reviews… but I’ve been choosing sleep instead of reading in an effort to improve my health. The sacrifice has not yet been worth it – just sayin’.

One of the books I completed a some days ago and thought deserving of a full-fledged review was “The Printed Letter Bookshop.” It’s a Thomas Nelson title – so fairly wholesome, although the characters definitely have their issues. It focuses on a determined young lawyer who inherits her aunt’s bookshop, and the two local women who assist in the shop – a divorcee, and a do-it-all mom.

Through personality clashes, obvious character flaws, family secrets, and a good deal of “searching” I would classify this as a novel of growth, with a dash of sweet romance. It was probably a pleasure to read because of the main feature – the charming little bookshop – a delight for readers who dream of an actual day-to-day connection with books (i.e. me…) just inhaling the scent and discovering new pieces of printed wonder. It’s a testament to the impact one individual can make. It’s a story of hope and new beginnings.

I’ve not read Katherine Reay before this NetGalley copy provided in exchange for my opinion, but I have most definitely added other titles to my to-read list. This was a delightful, easy-to-read, descriptive and endearing narrative on the struggles of life and treasures of friendship. This title was published May 14th – so go pick up a copy from your local independent bookseller (or Amazon if all else fails…)

Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

For those of you who migrated from my old blog by the same title (hosted elsewhere), to those who followed me even further back, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in hospitality and care, in transparency and connection. I’m also a firm believer in acts of kindness – actions speaking louder than words – and that “lifestyle evangelism” should be the base of every professed Christ-follower’s testimony. Life should be about building relationships and putting people first and love in action is a HUGE thing.

When I read the synopsis provided for blogger-turned-author Shannan Martin’s The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I was hopeful that it would “click” in a very real way and I was not disappointed. Overall, Ms. Martin presented a thought-provoking meandering memoir that felt like sitting down to chat and get real with an old friend.

It was a poignant reminder that there is a whole great big world of people craving connection right in our own backyards. Foreign mission fields and big campaigns aren’t for everyone, but in today’s society with it’s sprawl and heated differences, it can be difficult to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Sometimes, we get so much out of being the answer, the solution, the giver, or the one who knows best that we forget that there is experience in blessing in serving others and allowing oneself to be served. There are blessings and opportunities in all the ins and outs of our boring, everyday lives.

There is so much beautiful reflection in this book of encouragement and inspiration encouraging us to be neighbours and friends. It is not new information, just a real-life reflection on how the author was uprooted from a comfortable situation and had to find opportunities and connection in a new environment. It was non-fiction that I couldn’t put down – she spoke to my heart in an authentic lyrical way.

My only slight disappoint was that some of the stories reflected upon weren’t very “deep” or “gritty” but I pushed that aside as perhaps they weren’t the author’s stories to tell and she kept them superficial for anonymity purposes. Overall, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of this one if you want to expand your fences, listen carefully, and learn to see opportunities in the ordinary and mundane.

Published by Thomas Nelson. Publication Date: October 9, 2018

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher and/or author. All opinions are my own.

#TheMinistryOfOrdinaryPlaces #NetGalley

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


Book Review: Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by James Markert

Colourful Cover & Descriptive Writing

This week I took the opportunity to crack open my copy of Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by James Markert. It’s published by Thomas Nelson and sounded fascinating when I requested it from NetGalley. However, I only gave it a 3-star rating on Goodreads. I waffled back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, but something about the book just didn’t synch with me.

Loaded with mythology, art, beauty, damaged souls, and so many memories, it was an incredibly descriptive work. Colourful, lyrical prose flowed beautifully – Markert has an aesthetic way with words. Differences in theology aside – there were a lot of reliance and parallels to ancient mythology which worked with the artistic references and theme of the novel – the pictures painted in my mind were vivid and from that aspect, I was more than satisfied.

The storyline, however, while magical left me feeling a little lost at the end. (and in the beginning, and in the middle….) Part of me wonders if this was intentional considering the subject of memory (and/or subsequently, memory loss) and the effect on the human soul. At times, it was a little dry and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. Emotions were invoked, but as I set my tablet down when I finished the book I was figuratively scratching my head with a “huh.” It was a good book… but a strange book. It just didn’t hook me as an absolute favourite. One thing I loved, however, was the question of whether we should live our numbered days with fullness, or extend our days and live with less wholeness – is the return of memories lost worth it? My creative disposition appreciated the beauty of the arts so deeply woven throughout. The novel as a whole… enjoyed it? Yes; Liked it? Yes; Really liked it? Just not quite. 3.5 stars from me.

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

Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Publication Date: April 9, 2019