Category: Books

Book Reviews: The Wingfeather Saga

About the Book:

Now in hardcover for the first time, featuring all-new illustrations! Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog, Nugget.

Janner Igiby, his brother, Tink, and their disabled sister, Leeli, are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that they love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang, who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice. The Igibys hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art.

My Thoughts:

Read! And be delighted!

When I began the book , I literally laughed out loud just reading the introduction. Then I found myself immersed in the saga of the Wingfeather children. The method of storytelling bordered on ridiculous at times, in the way that only a fanciful tale can do, and for me personally that creativity is what made the book so delightful. I could imagine my own grandfather narrating such a story. Peterson’s storytelling and creativity truly shine creating these delightful tales for youth and adults alike. I highly recommend both On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and its sequel North! or Be Eaten. (Books three and four will be released in the autumn and they wrap up this series with a beautiful depth of truth and love that makes these stories a true gift.)

Book Review: The Brightest of Dreams

About the Book:

Quinten Aspinall is determined to fulfill a promise he made to his deceased father to keep his family together. To do so, he must travel to Canada to find his younger siblings, who were sent there as indentured workers while Quinn was away at war. He is also solicited by his employer to look for the man’s niece who ran off with a Canadian soldier. If Quinn can bring Julia back, he will receive his own tenant farm, enabling him to provide a home for his ailing mother and siblings.

Julia Holloway’s decision to come to Toronto has been met with disaster. When her uncle’s employee rescues her from a bad situation, she fears she can never repay Quinn’s kindness. So when he asks her to help find his sister, she agrees. Soon after, however, Julia receives some devastating news that changes everything.

Torn between reuniting his family and protecting Julia, will Quinn have to sacrifice his chance at happiness to finally keep his promise?

My Thoughts:

When I received this book for review I did not realize that it was the third book in a series. Initially I did not have any trouble following the story, however in the last couple of chapters, there were interactions between characters that I did not understand that were clearly referring to back-story of which I was unaware. Therefore, I would recommend you read the previous novels in the series.

That said, I enjoyed the book despite these brief moments of confusion. Perhaps enjoyed is too strong of a word. Intrigued might be more accurate of a description. Some of the subject matter was quite heavy, including abuse of several varieties. I don’t enjoy reading about such things. Yet, the book offered hope and a future for its characters, with a suitable happily ever after ending.

Before reading this novel I was unaware of the number of British children who were sent to Canada as indentured servants. I appreciate the author’s research and the way that she has uncovered this rather dark segment of history and made it come alive in novel form.

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

Book Review: Cry of the Raven

About the Book:

Lady Selene Ravenwood has come into her full power as a dreamwalker–a power greater than any in history. She embraces her new role as Nightwatcher, able to intercede for her people in the dream world, but the dark shadow of war draws ever closer.

Working together, the Great Houses come up with a plan to secure the borders from the approaching Dominia Empire. But dissension, conflict, and suspicion threaten to destroy their tenuous treaty, and as the empire burns a path across their lands, Damien Maris starts to lose his ability to raise the waters, leaving the lands vulnerable to the empire’s attacks.

The only one who can keep the Great Houses unified and restore her husband’s power is Selene. But it will require that she venture deep into the dream world to confront the enemies of her past who will do anything to stop her power. Will it be enough, or will both worlds fall under the empire’s might?

My Thoughts:

Cry of the Raven is book three in Ravenwood Saga. In order to fully appreciate this story you will need to begin with book one, Mark of the Raven.

I don’t want to say too much or give away any spoilers so I’ll just say that all in all I found this to be a very satisfying completion to an excellent trilogy, fully rounding out character development, trying up loose ends and even bringing unexpected redemption.

I recommend this series to you.

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

Book Review: On Wings of Devotion

About the Book:

All of England thinks Phillip Camden a monster–a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But as nurse Arabelle Denler watches the so-dubbed ‘Black Heart’ every day, she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their paths twist together and he declares himself her new protector, she realizes she has her own role to play in his healing. Phillip Camden would have preferred to die that day with his squadron rather than be recruited to the Admiralty’s codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved. What comes as a shock is the reborn desire to truly live that Arabelle inspires in him. But when an old acquaintance shows up and seems set on using him in a plot that has the codebreakers of Room 40 in a frenzy, new affections are put to the test.

My Thoughts:

On Wings of Devotion follows The Number of Love in the Codebreakers series. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend that you first read the Shadows Over England series. In this series you will be introduced to the characters and learn back story that I would argue is fairly essential to a full understanding of this series. Then move on to The Number of Love where you will be introduced to main character Phillip.

Roseanna White writes captivating stories that always keep me turning the pages. I really enjoyed Phillip and Arabella’s story. And kudos to the author for writing about a woman who is not physically attractive as the main character. It was a real story that truly showed how interior beauty can be completely captivating and that the connections that are born in the soul are the best foundation for a relationship.

I also appreciated the very human fallibility of the characters and the beauty of redemptive grace in the midst of intrigue and suspense. I loved the book and can’t wait for the next installment in the series.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: In Want & Plenty

About the Book:

Although our circumstances vary, we all ache with a longing for something more. We are born with dreams, and some of us even have detailed plans about how to make them happen. Yet we all come to a point in life when we realize that we are not in control. A loved one gets sick, a tragedy occurs, our plans backfire. What we may not realize is that even if we can’t depend on our circumstances or even ourselves, there is One who will always provide what we need, just when we need it. With compassion and enthusiasm, Meredith McDaniel invites you to walk alongside God’s people in Exodus as they wake up each morning to manna, God’s provision for them in desert places. As she unfolds their story of complete dependence on their Creator, you’ll discover through guided journaling how God is providing for you right now, where you are in your own unique story. Along the way, you will develop a comforting awareness that you are seen, guided, protected, and filled by a good God in the person of Jesus.

My Thoughts:

Before I talk about the content of In Want & Plenty I want you to know that it is a different kind of book. I wish we had a genre to describe it. I’d almost call it an interactive life study. The first time I read an interactive book I had just boarded a plane for an international flight and I opened my copy of Crazy Love. And as I was asked to go look this or that thing up online (back when there was no internet on flights) I thought, “I’ve picked a good book for the wrong time.” And maybe that’s why I want you to know more what this book is like so you can pick this good book for the right time. This book has songs to listen to and reflect on.  It has questions to journal about.  And they aren’t just stacked up at the end of the chapter where you can skip ahead and ignore them, they are scattered throughout the writing.  I love it, especially the songs, but I also was selective about when I chose to read this, so it is a point to consider.

Now, on to the content: It’s great. The questions asked and the ways the author tells stories, both personal and Biblical, are engaging. And she is addressing a topic that we all need to engage with. How do we remember and live in the reality that God is enough? What does that look like when we are in want? What does it look like in abundance? What did that look like for Israel? What does that look like for me, with my history and my challenges? In this book you’ll be exploring your story and discovering where hope can be found.

If you are wondering where your story is heading or how to find a better way forward, this treasure hunt for God’s manna may be just the place to start to put your feet onto the path of hope.

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

Book Review: The Major’s Daughter

About the Book:

Caroline Adams returns to Indian Territory after tiring of confining society life. She wants adventure, and when she and her friend Amber come across swaggering outlaw Frisco Smith, they find his dreams for the new territory are very persuasive. With the much-anticipated land run pending, they may just join the rush.

Growing up parentless, all Frisco Smith wanted was a place to call his own. It’s no wonder that he fought to open the Unassigned Lands. After years of sneaking across the border, he’s even managed to put in a dugout house on a hidden piece of property he’s poised to claim.

When the gun sounds, everyone’s best plans are thrown out the window in the chaos of the run. Caroline and Frisco soon find themselves battling over a claim–and both dig in their heels. Settling the rightful ownership will bring these two closer than they ever expected and change their ideas of what a true home looks like.

My Thoughts:

Regina Jennings writes fun and lighthearted historical novels with a fair amount of ironic humor thrown in. They are always a good choice for curling up on the couch and relaxing on a Sunday afternoon.

The Major’s Daughter is the third book in the Fort Reno series. It could easily be read as a stand alone novel, but there are characters from the previous books (including Caroline) who are introduced without their background info, so there are things that you would only know about them if you have been reading through the series.

I found myself really enjoying the in depth look at the Oklahoma land rush. The author introduced some of the darker elements of the contest without bogging the book down with them. The romance developing between Caroline and Frisco, as they learned to look past the surface to the hopes and dreams of another, was a sweet story that rounded out an interesting read.

All in all, I’d recommend The Major’s Daughter as a light and engaging read with a good entertainment value. I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of the novel.

Book Review: The End of the Magi

About the Book:

Following his vision of the coming Messiah, the prophet Daniel creates a select group of men who will count down the calendar to the arrival of Israel’s promised king. Centuries later, as the day nears, Myrad, a young magi acolyte, flees for his life when his adoptive father and others are put to death by a ruthless Parthian queen.

Having grabbed only a few possessions, Myrad escapes the city, and searching for a way to hide from the soldiers scouring the trade routes, he tries to join the caravan of the merchant Walagash. The merchant senses that Myrad is hiding secrets, but when the young man proves himself a valuable traveler, an epic journey filled with peril, close escapes, and dangerous battles begins.

With every day that passes, the calendar creeps closer to the coming Messiah. And over everything shines the dream of a star that Myrad can’t forget and the promise that the world will never be the same.

My Thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Patrick Carr’s writing, so of course I was waiting on pins and needles for his newest book. The End of the Magi represents a shift from the genre of fantasy to the realm of historical and I think that Carr did an excellent job of navigating that shift.

The characters were extremely engaging and complex, which I have come to expect from Carr’s writing. I also appreciated how human the Magi were, especially in their varying expectations of the Promised One. The historical setting was fascinating and descriptive. In many ways I felt like I was living Myrad’s story, which I think is the ultimate goal of a novel.

I will say that the pace of the novel is slow and thoughtful. This isn’t a galloping suspense novel as much as it is a suspenseful journey of mystery and waiting: waiting for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy and waiting to discover what that meant for the individual lives of the characters. It’s a perfect read for the season of Advent or honestly for the season of Lent as well, since Carr takes the story of the Magi beyond the birth to the final days of the Long Awaited One.

Overall, I’d say the book was unexpected. I’ve read a number of Magi stories and this one was like no other and yet it was also entirely relatable, perhaps even more so than other tales that have been told. And while I have to say my preference for Carr’s fantasy novels remains, I was impressed by this journey into historical fiction and I would recommend it to you.

I received a free digital copy of this book for review (after I had already ordered a paperback copy) so I’m giving you my honest opinion as a fan who purchased a book and as a reviewer. This book is worth reading.

Book Review: Adorning the Dark

About the Book:

Making something beautiful in a broken world can be harrowing work, and it can’t be done alone.

Over the last twenty years, Andrew Peterson has performed thousands of concerts, published four novels, released ten albums, taught college and seminary classes on writing, founded a nonprofit ministry for Christians in the arts, and executive-produced a film—all in a belief that God calls us to proclaim the gospel and the coming kingdom using whatever gifts are at our disposal. He’s stumbled along the way, made mistake after mistake, and yet has continually encountered the grace of God through an encouraging family, a Christ-centered community of artists in the church, and the power of truth, beauty, and goodness in Scripture and the arts.

While there are many books about writing, none deal first-hand with the intersection of songwriting, storytelling, and vocation, along with nuts-and-bolts exploration of the great mystery of creativity. In Adorning the Dark, Andrew describes six principles for the writing life:

  • serving the work
  • serving the audience
  • selectivity
  • discernment
  • discipline
  • and community

Through stories from his own journey, Andrew shows how these principles are not merely helpful for writers and artists, but for anyone interested in imitating the way the Creator interacts with his creation.

This book is both a memoir of Andrew’s journey and a handbook for artists, written in the hope that his story will provide encouragement to others stumbling along in pursuit of a calling to adorn the dark with the light of Christ.

My Thoughts: GET THIS BOOK

Honestly, I had pre-ordered a copy before I had an invitation to review this book and I want to buy copies for all my friends. This is a beautiful book on life and beauty and community and the creative process.

I’m not a songwriter or an author. I’m a visual artist who loves beauty and art and adorning the dark. And this book is entirely relatable to me.

I have been moved by the discussions of place-making (even as I continue to wrestle with the transient life of “sojourner” that God has called me to). I have journaled chapters about what it looks like to root myself in the soil of the kingdom and in the uncertain spaces of rented flats. I wept over the beauty of a life that wants to declare the dominion of God to every place within its reach and I spent a whole week re-reading just one paragraph. This book has sparked so many thoughts!

I’m reading this book slowly and I have no qualms about reviewing a book I haven’t quite finished, because the portion I have read has been filled with seeds of beauty planted in the soil of my heart. This is not a book to be rushed, nor is it a book to be shuffled off to a specific group of artists. This book is beautiful and I think it has worth for every reader and especially for those who have chosen a Creative vocation.

I bought the book first, but I also got a free copy for review. All my opinions are my own.

And if I haven’t convinced you to buy the book yet, here is a fabulous interview by The Cultivating Project that you should read.

Link to Interview

That anyone at all in the world would set their sad heart and tired hands to working beauty out of chaos is a monument to Grace. It reminds us of light and high beauty, and it laments the world’s great sorrow. It gives the heart language to rejoice and language to mourn.

Creation groans like a woman in labor? Even so. And we know every birth is a tight-wound cord of fear and joy, pain and pleasure, striving and surcease. Let those who can, tell that story. Let those in Christ whose hands paint worlds, whose tongues limn loveliness, whose ears hear astral strains–let them make, and make, and make. And let the made things adorn the dark and proclaim the coming Kingdom till the King himself is come.

Andrew Peterson – Adorning the Dark: An Artist’s Benediction

Book Review: The Thief of Lanwyn Manor

About the Book:

In this sweet Regency romance, Julia knows Matthew Blake, copper mine owner and very eligible bachelor, is the gentleman she should set her eyes upon. But why can’t she steal her gaze away from his younger brother, Isaac?

Cornwall, England 1818—Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. Lanwyn Manor is at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks in the home’s ancient halls.

As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood—and the livelihood of those around them—the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made his intentions to court the lovely guest clear. And Isaac knows his place.

When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and items go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their own best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.

My Thoughts:

Sarah Ladd writes intriguing and suspenseful historical novels and The Thief of Lanwyn Manor is no exception.

While the book is the second in the Cornwall series it stands entirely on its own.

I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. While the first book in the series focused in on smuggling, this tale turned its focus to the mines and the livelihood of mining towns in Cornwall, which I could really envision after watching Poldark.

The suspense and mystery of Lanwyn Manor, the eerie atmosphere surrounding the house, the vivid character development, the fears, challenges and growth points all made this novel one that I stayed up entirely too late reading.

This is definitely one of my favorite of Sarah Ladd’s stories and I would recommend it.

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

Book Review: A Pursuit of Home

About the Book:

In early 1800s England, Jess Beauchene has spent most of her life in hiding and always on the move in an effort to leave her past far behind her. But when she learns the family she thought had died just might be alive and in danger, she knows her secrets can only stay buried for so long.

Derek Thornbury loves the past, which has led him to become an expert in history and artifacts. He knows Jess has never liked him, but when she requests his help deciphering the clues laid out in an old family diary, he can’t resist the urge to solve the puzzle.

As Jess and Derek race to find the hidden artifact before her family’s enemies, they learn as much about each other as they do about the past. But can their search to uncover the truth and set history right lead to a future together?

My Thoughts:

A Pursuit of Home is far and away my favorite book in the series. It may, in fact, be my favorite book by Kristi Ann Hunter.

The Haven Manor series begins with a short novella, A Search for Refuge, continues in book 1, A Defense of Honor, follows with book 2, A Return of Devotion, and finishes with this book, A Pursuit of Home, which releases November 5th. If you haven’t read the previous books you can start now and be up to date by release day. If you have, you can pre-order now and you are in for such a treat!

We first meet Jess briefly in the Hawthorne House series and she plays a secondary character role in the earlier Haven Manor books, but finally she gets a book all her own and it is a splendid tale full of adventure, intrigue, art, a challenge to overcome fear, the beauty of true friendship and the realization of what love really looks like.

Derek is also finally fully developed as a character and he is a fascinating man who manages to elevate the story to another level as he learns to read people the way he reads art.

All in all I can’t recommend it enough. I would recommend reading the whole series and if you are so inclined, meeting Jess and the Duke of Marshington in the Hawthorn House series gives a more fully developed context for the tale, though I’m sure the story would also stand alone.

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