Book Review: Yesterday’s Tides

About the Book:

In two world wars, intelligence and counterintelligence, prejudice, and self-sacrifice collide across two generations
In 1942, Evie Farrow is used to life on Ocracoke Island, where every day is the same–until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc. And when special agent Sterling Bertrand is washed ashore at Evie’s inn, her life is turned upside down. While Sterling’s injuries keep him inn-bound for weeks, making him even more anxious about the SS officer he’s tracking, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Evie, who seems to be hiding secrets of her own.

Decades earlier, in 1914, Englishman Remington Culbreth arrives at the Ocracoke Inn for the summer, never expecting to fall in love with Louisa Adair, the innkeeper’s daughter. But when war breaks out in Europe, their relationship is put in jeopardy and may not survive what lies ahead for them.

As the ripples from the Great War rock Evie and Sterling’s lives in World War II, it seems yesterday’s tides may sweep them all into danger again today.

My Thoughts:

This was a great book. I generally like Roseanna White’s novels and Yesterday’s Tides did not disappoint.

The way the author wove together multiple generations and cultural challenges was superbly done. Layers upon layers of thought and emotion, rejection and acceptance, challenge and triumph, past and present gave the story richness without bogging it down. I also enjoyed the way the story touched on Roseanna’s previously novels. If you haven’t read any of them you won’t miss anything, but if you have read them then there are delightful connections that will catch your attention throughout.

There were some adult themes regarding women under oppression, both in slavery and in war, included in the book. They were very carefully presented, but still present. I was actually extremely moved by the way redemption wove into this tale and impressed by the author’s ability to navigate sensitive subjects with honesty, compassion and hope.

Yesterday’s Tides pulls together a variety of stories from across time and weaves them into a seamless and captivating tale. This books gets five stars.

I was provided with a free, unedited, digital copy of this novel with the understanding that I would share my honest opinion with my readers. I do recommend this book.

Book Review: All The Lost Places

About the Book:

1807
When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn’t until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.

1904
Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.

My Thoughts:

I sat down at my keyboard telling myself not to gush, but I just can’t help it. This book is so beautiful. I love how it captures the heart of Venice and the heart of the author of life. The writing is exquisite, each turn of phrase practically poetry. The writing would be enough to make me recommend it, but it’s not just the skillfully captured phrase that makes this book sing, it’s the depth and intricacy of the story. The way Daniel’s story weaves and overlaps with the tale of Sebastien, and of Venice itself, is a masterful work of art.

To all who have felt lost,
or faced the question that echoes within these pages:
“Who am I?”
This tale is for you.
Trovato.

Amanda Dykes

Daniel has a book. It’s one of only seven copies in the world. And the book is unfinished.

Commissioned to translate the Book of Waters, the story of Sebastien, and sent to Venice to procure the original and discover the ending, Daniel’s journey becomes a vessel through which the theme of living our own unfinished story weaves in and out of this stunning tale.

Courage keep and hope beget;
The story is not finished yet…

Dante cavellini (as recorded by S.T. in the novel)

Hope, restoration and being found are all themes intricately woven throughout this powerful story.

Let me share with you a piece of the prologue, because I couldn’t read these words without falling head over heel into the tale and I think your life would be richer for allowing this novel to find it’s way into your heart.

Once upon the dawn of time, there was water.
Before there were stars, before the Maker set life into earth, breath into lungs, beast or man to roam…there was water. Dark and reaching, stirred not by wind but by the spirit of the Almighty himself.
Once upon the dawn of time, water discovered its eternal dance partners: shadow and light. The trio would waltz and wend together over time to web diamonds into depths, scatter stardust over peaked waves, spin gold over ripples.
These ancient waters, from then until now, have never left. They travel a familiar path, around and around, over and over, time without end. From sea to sky, raining back down into the hands of man.
In the centuries since, these eternity-touched waters bore up tempest-tossed ships. Retreated in shivering obedience to the command Be Still. Furled and stacked themselves into shimmering walls of parted sea to make way for an impossible escape. Have been struck from rock, sprung up from geysers, coursed through rivers, tumbled with abandon over falls…carried the fleet of the great explorer Marco Polo to the great beyond and back again to Venezia.
And then, in a time of quiet obscurity, whispered a lullaby in those Venetian canals one night as a babe slumbered, tucked safe inside a tight-woven basket. A tiny boat for a tiny boy, currents delivering him toward an orphanage beneath the midnight lament of the bells of San Marco.
But just as the basket breached the building’s reflection, a north wind tumbled through, pushing him into the lantern-glow…where a strong pair of hands pulled him, basket and all, into another life.
The waters flowed on as the babe grew into a man who would look out over the lagoon that had delivered him, once upon his dawn of time, into a life that would change the shape of the world. A story covered over until it was all but lost.

I received a free digital copy of this book for review. My honest opinion is that you should buy and read All The Lost Places. I’m rating it as my favorite book of 2022.

Book Review: Engaging Deception

About the Book:

A lively competition draws her into her rival’s blueprints–and maybe even his heart.

Olive Kentworth has spent her life hiding her interest in architecture, even though she pores over architectural books and sketches buildings. When she accepts a job on a home expansion, it’s only because her cousin Amos agrees to pose as the builder. To further hide her involvement, Olive takes a position as a nanny–not knowing that she’ll be working for her idol, Joplin’s leading architect, widower Maxfield Scott.

Maxfield is intrigued by his new nanny–she makes his home and his life bearable again. His work, on the other hand, is a disaster. An untrained builder is remodeling a completed project of his. What’s worse, Maxfield’s current client wants changes to his plans because of that builder’s work.

As the architectural one-upmanship heats up, Olive’s involvement becomes harder to hide. Will the relationship between her and Maxfield survive, or will they both miss out on building something for their future?

My Thoughts:

Engaging Deception is the third book in the Joplin series. While you don’t have to read the first two books they will introduce you to the full cast of characters and Olive herself makes an earlier appearance in those novels.

Reginna Jennings writes books that stand on the line between an easy Sunday afternoon read and a book of deep substance. The author is able to keep a light, humorous, easy reading tone while including deeper subject matter. In the case of Engaging Deception the heart of the book was actually about grief and loss, followed by a theme of being who you are without apology or ego.

Olive loves architecture. She is self taught, but gifted. Part of the novel is Olive’s journey from deception to owning her place as an architect despite her lack of education and her gender. Another part of the novel is Max learning to let go of the ego he has built around his name and reputation.

But even more, both Olive and Max are caught in their grief. Olive’s strategy is to hide and Max throws himself into endless engagement and distraction. Together they must discover what it looks like to learn to live through the pain rather than to pretend it isn’t a part of life. I found this aspect of the book stirred up a lot of deeper thoughts in my own life, which is one of the reasons I love fiction. Stories can sneak in sideways and all of a sudden you are thinking about your own life and circumstances in a new light.

I enjoyed this novel and was actually surprised how much it impacted me despite the light and easy manner of story telling. I recommend it to you.

I received a free copy of this novel for review and I’m giving you my honest opinion.

Book Overview: Learning Humility

About the Book:

In a society where raging narcissism dominates the moral landscape, the virtue of humility is often dismissed as irrelevant. Not only is humility vanishing from contemporary culture, but we are also witnessing how destructive a lack of humility has become among our churches and ministry leaders. And yet, Richard Foster, the founder of Renovaré, insists that humility is central to the journey toward character formation and spiritual transformation. For this reason he decided to spend a year studying the virtue of humility. Using the Lakota calendar as a framework, Foster provides us with a look into the insights he gathered from sources ranging from Native American culture to Julian of Norwich to Scripture to personal friends. By engaging with both the spiritual classics and Foster’s own experiences, Learning Humility provides profound insight into what humility can look like in our current cultural climate. Join Richard Foster on the journey toward a life of humility, which he says leads us into “freedom, joy, and holy hilarity.”

My Thoughts:

You might have noticed that I titled this post “overview” instead of “review.” That’s because this book is rich with insight and I am unwilling to rush through it. I can’t actually give you a review of a book that I haven’t read, so I’ll give you my preliminary thoughts based on both the book and a one hour seminar that Richard Foster gave about the book.

I picked this up and started in about a month ago. I was initially a bit confused by the format of the book. What you are reading are journal entries where the author is processing his thoughts. It’s not quite as straightforward as an author arranging his thoughts for an audience of readers. There is, however, a beauty to joining Foster in the curiosity of his exploration of humility.

In the very beginning of the book he refers to a classic work of spiritual literature and it’s thoughts on humility. I ended up setting this book down to dig that book out and re-familiarize myself with that work. Then I went on to engage with Richard’s pondering on the connections. Again, this is why I’m not giving you a review. I’m still only partway along the journey of exploration. Could you read the book straight through? Of course. But I found myself very resistant to the idea.

I think that is because the book is an exploration. You aren’t meant to take away a three point sermon on why humility is important or general knowledge on how to practice it. You are meant to learn, to live, humility.

I’m enjoying the journey. I’m curious as to where it will take me. A couple of year’s ago Jess Ray’s song “Humble Heart” became the theme of my year. One of the lines in the song is “Oh, how I have so much to learn.” I’m sure that will be true for the whole of my life, but I’m thankful for a guide on the journey. If you are ready to engage with a journey of the, mostly lost, gift of humility I think this book might be an excellent place to start.

I received this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Daughter of Arden – Exile

About the Book:

“I will give you three days in which to choose your fate.”

No matter which choice Maleen made, it appeared bondage was the life her father lay before her.

In this retelling of the Grimm’s tale, “Maid Maleen,” war advances on the nation of Arden. To keep Princess Maleen safe, the king gives her two options: marriage to a prince she doesn’t love or retreat in a tower protected by the work of a Stone Sage.

Hoping that her beloved Prince Melanor will come rescue her, Maleen chooses the tower. In Exile, Maleen must not only come to terms with her decision, but with her family, her country, her place in old prophecies, and, ultimately, the heart of the Mighty One.

Daughter of Arden – Exile is the first in a trilogy following Maleen’s story and the fate of Arden. Wandering and Promise will release in 2023.

My Thoughts:

This book grew on me with each page I turned. At the beginning I wasn’t sure how I felt about Maleen and her perspective on the world. There was also a prophecy that the author introduces to us that seems to hover over and intertwine with all the other elements of the story.

As the story moves forward Maleen makes her choice. Choices define outcomes and following Maleen’s “exile” her perspectives begin to shift, hope starts to rise and the Mighty One is further introduced taking on a more active role in the tale. As Maleen grew so did my investment in the story and I found the ending satisfying enough to hold in the waiting, while also rich enough to long for the next book in the series.

Exile is a book about a young woman growing into her own. Follow Maleen’s journey as she discovers what is of real value and where the heart of the kingdom is to be found.

I received a free digital copy of this book for review. I am giving you my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Book of Enoch for Beginners

About the Book:

Embark on a journey through the Book of Enoch

The Book of Enoch is a fascinating yet often misunderstood apocalyptic text. It contains unique material on fallen angels, the great flood of Genesis, the final judgment, and the prophecy of a future messiah. This guide provides you with the necessary historical framework to examine and understand it, delving into the key events and figures of its stories, from The Book of Watchers to The Epistle of Enoch.

  • An engaging introduction—Dive right in with an overview that clarifies Enoch’s non-canonical status, explains how the work was rediscovered, and breaks down its place within Judaism and Christianity.
  • All five books—This guide explores all five books of 1 Enoch, providing valuable insight into the development of early religious beliefs.
  • Thoughtful examination—Divided into easily digestible sections, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of Enoch through a combination of smart summaries, key verses, and enlightening commentary.

Demystify the Book of Enoch with this comprehensive and compelling guide.

My Thoughts:

When I was in Bible College I was given a fifteen-minute overview on the Book of Enoch which generally dismissed it as not being worth reading. Many years later I delved into The Book of the Watchers more deeply to try to understand the general knowledge and worldview of the Jews of Jesus day. I was particularly interested in how the Book of Enoch might have shaped the thinking of the apostles considering how it is referenced and quoted in the New Testament. There are all kinds of varying opinions on the work and when I saw this book available for review I thought it would be worth a read.

The author begins with the history of the book, when it was lost, how it was found and then gives an overview of how it was rejected as being part of the canon of Scripture by all but the Ethiopian church. The author also ventures to show why, even though the book isn’t itself Scripture, it is valuable for understanding the Jewish framework in viewing many theological ideas, some of which are included in the canon of Scripture. He also makes a point of illustrating how much the book is incorporated into modern ideas, entertainment and philosophy.

This text is exactly what it says, it’s a book for beginners. The book does not include the entire text of the book of Enoch, but instead pulls out key quotes. The author makes a simple and straightforward overview of the sections of the book. I was hoping for a little more depth and discussion of some of the things that are debated about the book, but again, this book is what it was advertised to be.

The book is written so that you don’t have to read it cover to cover, but can jump around through the sections. My full disclaimer is that I haven’t read all of the book. I read the sections I was most interested in. I also read through the full text of the book of Enoch alongside the chapters of this book so that I would have the full background to what the author was discussing.

If you’ve never heard of, or never engaged with the book of Enoch, but find yourself interested, then this might be a good place to start.

I received a digital copy of this book and in exchange I am giving my honest opinion in this review.

Book Review: Holding the Line

About the Book:

Can she find the strength to heal the wounds of her past–and open her heart again?

A widow at just thirty years of age, Rose Finlay is determined to put all ideas of marriage and family behind her and pursue an independent life. But when she notices a young woman about to be led astray by a roguish aristocrat, bitter memories from her past arise, and she feels compelled to intervene. The unintended consequences of her efforts will ultimately force Rose to reexamine her life in a new light.

As the guardian of his two widowed sisters’ financial and domestic affairs, John Milburn carries heavy responsibilities for a single man. But he’s faced with his biggest challenge when his headstrong niece falls prey to the attentions of a powerful man who could ruin both her and her family.

When Rose and John join forces to protect his niece, they put everything they hold dear–including their growing attraction–in jeopardy.

My Thoughts:

Holding the Line is the third book in the Love Along the Wires series. While it can absolutely stand alone, you will get to know all the characters better if you start at the beginning of the series.

Of the three books, this one was my favorite. Perhaps it was the opening lines that I could relate to so well.

“There wasn’t too much in life that seriously chafed Rose Finlay,

unless it was someone trying to overlay their brand of happiness onto hers.”

Rose’s story is one of overcoming. While the books in this series are all about love and romance, Rose’s story is just as much about living with loss without letting it steal your compassion or your joy. In book one, Alice’s story is about love and independence. In book two, Emma’s story is about love and romantic perceptions. And in this third novel, Rose walks through a journey of translating pain into becoming a blessing and finding that maybe there is still joy to be found on the other side of injustice and betrayal.

This series is easy reading, with a dash of challenge and a lot of happily ever after.

I received a free digital copy of this novel and in exchange am offering my honest opinion.

Book Review: Hidden Manna on a Country Road

About the Book:

Connect with God in new and unexpected ways, seeing hidden manna all around you as you learn to pray while walking outdoors.

Prayer can be an intimidating mystery, even when we have practiced our faith for years. Yet God has hidden prayer prompts for us in nature, right outside our doors. These simple treasures can inspire deep connections with God as you uncover the spiritual truths hidden inside them. 

Sarah Geringer discovered many prayer prompts in nature during the worldwide pandemic. On walks with her beloved dog Memphis, she spotted reasons to pray scattered all around her, like the manna God provided for Israel’s sustenance in the wilderness. His loving provision of connections via nature lifted her faith during that challenging time. The metaphors she discovered will inspire your own prayers, whether you live in the country or city. The beautiful truths you encounter will sustain your faith through all four seasons of the year.

My Thoughts:

When I got this book I thought that it was a book about prayer walking. It’s not. It’s a book of devotionals that grew out the author’s prayer walks. If you are completely new to the idea of prayer walking then you might find some of the Sarah’s suggestions helpful. There are some references to what prayer walking looks like for the author and some suggestions/examples of the types of prayer walks that she takes, but the devotional content is the heart of the book.

The devotional entries vary vastly in content as the themes were prompts that arose through the author’s walks on a country road. The devotionals were laid out with reflection questions and overall I found the content engaging.

While I read a lot of books on prayer, I rarely read these type of devotional books so I’m not an expert on what’s on the market or how it compares to other offerings. I appreciated the author’s curiosity and the way that she shared the things that the Lord has been teaching her. I do think there are treasures of manna hidden away in this book.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

And by the way…if you found yourself on this post looking for a book on prayer walking you might try Long Wandering Prayer by David Hanson.

Book Review: The Lost Melody

About the Book:

When concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant’s father dies, he leaves to her the care of an adult ward she knew nothing about. The woman is supposedly a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. The woman’s portrait is shockingly familiar to Vivienne, so when the asylum claims she was never a patient there, Vivienne is compelled to discover what happened to the figure she remembers from childhood dreams.

The longer she lingers in the deep shadows and forgotten towers at Hurstwell, the fuzzier the line between sanity and madness becomes. She hears music no one else does, receives strange missives with rose petals between the pages, and untangles far more than is safe for her to know. But can she uncover the truth about the mysterious woman she seeks? And is there anyone at Hurstwell she can trust with her suspicions?

Fan-favorite Joanna Davidson Politano casts a delightful spell with this lyrical look into the nature of women’s independence and artistic expression during the Victorian era–and now.

My Thoughts:

Politano is a gifted writer and I always appreciate her novels. I will say that there was a point in this story when I wondered why in the world I was reading this book. Honestly, the author made the story of Huntswell come alive in a way that I could practically feel Vivienne’s panic and helplessness. But taking a deep breath to separate myself from the character, I kept reading and found within this story a beautiful melody of hope and healing.

Vivienne found that God’s ways and plans were so much richer and fuller and more fulfilling than she could have ever imagined. Rich with melody, and harmony, this novel speaks to how each of us can bring light into the darkness right where we are through the mercy and grace of God. It was a beautiful and emotional story worth reading.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Bookshop of Secrets

About the Book:

A collection of lost books holds the clues to her family’s legacyand her future.

Hope Sparrow has mastered the art of outrunning her tragic past, learning never to stay anywhere too long and never to allow anyone control over her life again. Coming to Wanishin Falls in search of her family’s history already feels too risky. But somewhere in the towering stacks of this dusty old bookshop are the books that hold Hope’s last ties to her late mother—and to a rumored family treasure that could help her start over.

Only, the bookshop is in shambles, and the elderly owner is in the beginning stages of dementia and can’t remember where the books lie. To find the last links to the loved ones she’s lost, Hope must stay and accept help from the townsfolk to locate the treasured volumes. Each secret she uncovers brings her closer to understanding where she came from. But the longer she stays in the quaint town, the more people find their way into the cracks in her heart. And letting them in may be the greatest risk of all…

My Thoughts:

The book was well written, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The “tragic past” mentioned isn’t just something that has been outrun, but it plays a front and center role to Hope’s story. Then you add in Ronan and his own tragic past and it becomes clear that the secrets aren’t the fun to discover kind, but the hard to survive kind.

Weaving through themes of trafficking, family feuds, dementia, old grudges and the fight to rebuild a life the story slowly builds at first and then picks up the pace and intensity.

For all the hard themes, the book is clean and not overly descriptive of sensitive content, which I appreciated. The literary ties the author includes throughout are very well done and engaging to any bibliophile. As I’m a big fan of choosing the right book for the right time I’d describe this as an intense and layered kind of read rather than a light, Sunday afternoon type of novel.

I received a free digital galley of this book for review.