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Sweetbriar Cottage

 

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah? (From Publisher)

This title can be read as a standalone. The story is a quick read and a page turner like most of Denise Hunter’s novels. It, however, is darker than most of her novels.  While it was enjoyable because it was a little darker, Sweetbriar Cottage was not the warm and fuzzy read that most fans of Denise Hunter have come to expect. Having said this, it still is a worthwhile read but if the reader is expecting warm and fuzzy, might they might come away a little disappointed. Ms. Hunter through her character of Josephine explores some darker subjects and the consequences that can arise by not trusting ones partner. As always, Ms. Hunter gives depth to her characters which make the reader emphasize with them and ultimately root for their success. Give this title to readers whom like a little edge to their reading and who can identify with some real hardships in a persons life.

Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Thomas Nelson for an honest review.

Unblemished

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Unblemished by Sara Ella

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her like he does: normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird. Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself? (from publisher)

The story starts slow but those willing to stick through the first few chapters will be rewarded. Eliyana is a strong character, who although does not view herself in this light, allows the reader to see beauty goes beyond the physical. The reader learns though Eliyana’s journey that  even though you see yourself as not beautiful or capable of accomplishing much, it is what is what is on the inside and who you truly are that makes you able to accomplish things you never thought you could.

For those readers who like fantasy and a little romance, this novel will feel comfortable. As stated previously, the novel started slow and was confusing when it went into an alternative world, but as the story progressed it became clearer to the reader. The author slowly built the characterizations and the plot had several twists that this reader did not anticipate. Hand this read to any teen reader who likes fantasy or who devoured Cassandra Cass’s Selection series. Readers will anticipate the next in the series .

 

Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Thomas Nelson for an honest review.

 

With You Always

With You Always by Jody Hedlund
Elise Neuman has been taking care of her sisters since both of their parents died. Living in New York City as a seamstress she as been able to support her family until the financial crisis hits in the 1850’s. She finds herself not only homeless with her sisters but the added responsibility of two small orphaned children. Thanks to the generosity of a preacher and his well to do fiancee, Elise finds work and a place to live. That is until the financial crisis also hits the well to do and forces the close of their charity. Elise then sets out west to a job leaving her family behind. While living in New York Elise meets a wealthy young man, Thornton. Thornton has been forced to a competition with his twin brother for the control of his father’s business. Thornton and Elise meet back up in Illinois where Elise shows Thornton the life of a working class person.
This story tells of the plight of young women unable to support themselves or their family. Ms. Hedlund writes characters in such a way that you can identify where they are in life. Whether it be the well-to-do Thornton or the working Elise. The relationship that ensues between Thornton and Elise. This relationship is a great vehicle to illustrate the difference between the classes and the hardships of the working class during this time period. The readers finds themselves learning more about the orphan train and the difficult decisions many had to make to survive. Readers will find themselves rooting for Thornton to win the competition to better the community he has founded. Those who like historical fiction will feel satisfied this quick read.
Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Bethany House for an honest review.

Hello Stars

9780310760597, Hello Stars, Alena Pitts

Hello Stars by Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts

Lena Daniels always wanted to meet movie star Mallory. She has an opportunity to win a chance to meet her and star in a movie . She just needs to make a video telling why this would be her greatest desire. Of course, that’s not exactly how it all happened. Lena’s video is not anything that she was proud of and she figures her chance to meet her idol is out of reach. Lena gets her chance and leaves her home, family and friends for her great adventure toaster in a movie with her idol.

Lena is identifiable for many young teens. They can relate to Lena’s desire to meet their idol and wow what an adventure to star in a movie! The reader gets a glimpse on how it is to work on a movie set though Aleyna’s eyes, having worked on a movie herself. The adventures Lena experiences in the book keep the reader engaged and laughing. This book is refreshing, showing a tween who has a relationship with God that her choices influence and can impact their life. It illustrates how a person’s relationship with God can be through journaling.  Hand this book to any tween looking for a fun filled adventure. Girls who are walking with the Lord will find a new “friend” in Lena and will eagerly await her next adventure.

Note: I was given a copy by publisher, Zondervan  for an honest review.

 

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden.

Mariah and her little brother Zeke are freed from slavery and the life they have only known. Mariah for years yearned to be free from her Master and when suddenly freed, joins Sherman’s army on their march through Georgia. Mariah meets a free black, Caleb and begins a friendship with a possibility of a new free life together. This story is based on a real life event which is not known to many, until now.

Ms. Bolden draws the reader into this true event. The reader quickly gets drawn into the character Mariah’s journey on the march and her struggles to her new found freedom on the road. The friendship between Caleb and Mariah builds throughout the story. Teen readers will be drawn into the budding romance of Caleb and Mariah. Ms. Bolden writes in such a way that the readers can start to feel like they are along for the journey throughout Georgia. The ending is shocking but done tastefully.

This read makes the civil war feel a little more personable and might spark additional study of this event and the personal effect of the civil war on the persons of this time period. This book would be a great discussion on how the war touched both sides of the war and the impact upon the free black and slaves.  Hand this book to fans of historical fiction or readers who enjoyed Laurie Halse Anderson’s Seeds of America series.

Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Bloomsbury USA Childrens  for an honest review.

 

 

Treasured Grace

Treasured Grace (Heart of the Frontier #1)

Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson

Grace Martindale has known more than her share of hardship. After her parents died, raising her two younger sisters became her responsibility. A hasty marriage to a minister who is heading to the untamed West seemed like an opportunity for a fresh start, but a cholera outbreak along the wagon trail has left Grace a widow in a very precarious position.

Having learned natural remedies and midwifery from her mother, Grace seeks an opportunity to use her skills for the benefit of others. So when she and her sisters arrive at the Whitman mission in “Oregon Country,” she decides to stay rather than push on.

With the help of Alex Armistead, a French-American fur trapper, Grace begins to provide care for her neighbors, including some of the native populace. But not everyone welcomes her skills–or her presence–and soon Grace finds herself and those she loves in more danger than she imagined possible. – from the Publisher

Author Tracie Peterson is back writing historical fiction. This is the good news about Treasured Grace. The novel places the reader among the true incident of the Whitman massacre and through the events of the novel, the reader sees how such an event could affect both victim and community. The subjects touched on are not light but true to the historical time.

The character of Grace did not seem as developed or written in such a way that this reader did not have investment into her. There was a little bit of a romance but it did not seem to be the focal point of the story. For those looking for romance, another Tracie Peterson novel would suit the reader’s taste. For readers who like historical fiction and learning about an event not well known outside of the west, take this read for a spin.

Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, Bethany House for an honest review.

The Daniel Dilemma

The Daniel Dilemma: Real Courage for Real Life

The Daniel Dilemma by Rand Hummel

The Daniel Dilemma: Real Courage for Real Life is a Christian teenagers’ survival guide for not getting eaten by lions in a world that rejects God and expects them to reject Him too. From this study, teens can find the courage to overcome the daily peer pressure that threatens to pull them away from their faith. Rand Hummel uses his more than twenty years of Christian camp experience to formulate fourteen Laws of Courageous Leadership from the book of Daniel and apply them to the real-life situations young people face today. (From the publisher)

This study of the book of Daniel takes the reader through this book as a survival guide to be used to navigate the world today. Mr. Hummel does a great job by comparing what Daniel and his friends went through to a variety of situations that teens today face each day. This makes this study and the book of Daniel relatable to the teen reader. The majority of the chapters address a single subject that Mr. Hummel says is a law such as humility, prayer, rejection, etc. This study fits a niche in the publishing world. There are not many bible studies that are focused on one book of the bible that is targeted to teens. This is a great start to introduce teens to a single book of the bible study. Each chapter of the Daniel Dilemma could be taken as a day’s study. The one criticism was that the author uses the King James version of the bible. For your average teen, this version of the bible is very hard to read and apprehend. Give this book to a teen who is desiring to get deeper in their walk and wanting to get deeper in the Word. Just have either a bible app or another bible version handy so the teen can get a better understanding of the verses Mr. Hummel covered.

Note: I was given an electronic copy via Net Galley and the publisher, BJ Press for an honest review.

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