Book Review: The Broken Road By Richard Paul Evans

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Blurb:

Chicago celebrity, Charles James can’t shake the nightmare that wakes him each night. He sees himself walking down a long, broken highway the sides of which are lit in flames. Where is he going? Why is he walking? What is the wailing he hears around him?

By day, he wonders why he’s so haunted and unhappy when he has all he ever wanted-fame, fans and fortune and the lavish lifestyle it affords him. Coming from a childhood of poverty and pain, this is what he’s dreamed of. But now, at the pinnacle of his career, he’s started to wonder if he’s wanted the wrong things. His wealth has come legally, but questionably, from the power of his personality, seducing people out of their hard-earned money. When he learns that one of his customers has committed suicide because of financial ruin, Charles is shaken. The cracks in his façade start to break down spurring him to question everything: his choices, his relationships, his future and the type of man he’s become.

Then a twist of fate changes everything. Charles is granted something very remarkable: a second chance. The question is: What will he do with it?

The Broken Road is the first book in a much-anticipated new trilogy by beloved storyteller Richard Paul Evans. It is an engrossing, contemplative story of redemption and grace and the power of second chances. It is an epic journey you won’t soon forget.

General Thoughts: 

This story was different from the stories I tend to find myself reading. When I purchased the book, I thought it was a completely fictional tale, but upon reading it, realized that it was fiction based loosely on a true story. The story follows the life a man, named Charles James, with him telling the tale of his rise and fall from grace.

As I say this, I loved the story. The author, who was able to write this story by interviewing Charles (which is not the man’s true name, but alias), really brought Charles to life. He was able, in first person, to vividly convey the main character’s thoughts and feelings in a way that made me, as a reader, feel like I was right there with him, having a heartfelt conversation.

Though Charles loses focus, chooses the wrong priorities, and makes what some would see as unforgivable mistakes, he is a sympathetic character. Quite possibility because of knowing about his upbringing in earlier chapters, I couldn’t help but to see him as the good guy who wanted to do the right thing, but easily found himself getting caught up in the ills of modern day life.

If I have to say something that was lacking in this story, I would say it had a sort of incomplete, cliffhanger, ending. Towards the end, Charles, after his fall, sees himself having a second chance, to sort of start all over in life, and possibly mend some severed relationships. But the story ends there, with the idea of him having a second chance and with him questioning himself on what he will do with it. Now seeing that this story was loosely based on a true story—an actual man’s life, he’s not there yet—he’s not at the point where he’s actually pursued that second chance, and the author makes that known in the book. So although it was a disappointment to not know what became of Charles James, it was understandable. If it’s possible for the author to do, it would be nice for him to follow up with the man who is Charles James and see what becomes of his second chance at life.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this story to those who like character driven stories that can make one think about life, it’s purpose, and what matters.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars. I ended up liking this story despite being sort of incomplete. I believe its strength was the author’s ability to bring the main character to life, make him sympathetic and relatable.

Book Review: Deadly Proof By Rachel Dylan

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Blurb:

Standing For What’s Right Could Cost Her Everything

Tapped as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical, Kate Sullivan knows this case could make her career. What really drives her, though, is getting justice for the victims whose lives were ruined by the company’s dangerous new drug. But when a whistleblower turns up dead, it paints a target on the back of everyone involved.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James steps in to handle security for Kate. He’s still haunted by mistakes in his past and is determined never to let something like that happen again. But it soon appears someone is willing to do anything–even commit murder–to keep the case from going to trial.

As danger closes in, Landon can’t help but admire Kate’s courage and resolve–but will her determination not to back down become too great of a risk?

General Thoughts:

I have to say this story was more enjoyable than I initially anticipated it would be. Here I was starting the story and reading and reading, thinking I still had a lot left to cover, and before I knew it, I was at the end of the book. I wondered if I actually read the book that fast, which is a good thing, because it tells me that this book is entertaining—it read like a movie. It was a bit suspenseful and realistic. The author really knows how to develop a compelling story from beginning to end.

Another positive to this story was how easy I connected to the main character, Kate Sullivan. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this story is I felt I shared the values and personality that Kate possessed. Observing how she dealt with sensitive issues in a no-time, money and status conscious environment, it was nice how the author created a Godly character who was able to draw on her relationship with God to navigate the society she lived in. I especially like the relationship development between Kate and Landon and how Kate was able to share her faith with Landon who was still struggling to understand where he stood in his relationship with God. It all was written authentically and with a sensitivity that I believe many will appreciate.

When I think about the drawbacks of this story, I will say, it’s not as suspenseful as I imagined it to be. The mystery of who was threatening Kate’s life was obvious from the beginning, even if not specific as to whom. I wasn’t surprised to find out who was after Kate—it was really a matter of when they would reveal themself. I believed because the story seemed to be split with its focus on Kate’s and Landon’s relationship and the mystery of who was threatening Kate to back off of the case, that might have been the reason why there was less attention in developing a lot of mystery to the story.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this story to those who have an interest in law investigative stories with a bit of suspense, as well as stories that focus on character development and growth.

Rating:

3.5 out of 5 stars. The story was a fast and entertaining read and I really felt that the main character was understandable, if not also relatable. However, though I would consider it a suspenseful story, it was obvious who, from a general sense, was after Kate and why, which eliminated the mysterious aspect I was hoping for.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: Wings Of The Wind By Connilyn Cossette

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Blurb:

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage–for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

 General Thoughts:

This is the 3rd book from the author’s Out From Egypt series. If you are familiar with the new testament of the bible, specifically when God delivered the Hebrews from enslavement in Egypt, then you’ll understand the context in which this story takes place—right after the 40 year desert wandering before the Hebrews were to enter Canaan, the promise land.

With this in mind, though this story is completely fictional, I believe it brought more understanding and clarity to why the Hebrews spent 40 years wandering and why the Canaanites lost their land and pretty much perished. The strength of this story was in the main character, Alanah, who was the enemy to the Hebrews, although certainly not the villain and in fact became the ultimate hero by the end of the story. The author did an amazing job in showing Alanah’s transformation, from one of not understanding and reacting impulsively to the unjustified (as she thought) loss of her family, even to the point of inviting death to herself, to one of understanding and discovering the hidden love and blessings that God had for not only her, but even the rebellious Canaanites who refused to understand who God truly is.

The big take away I took from the story was about rejection and how there is no rejection in God’s heart for anyone, it is the individual who rejects and refuses to understand, thus facing the consequences. In the beginning of the story, Alanah struggled to understand the Hebrews and why they, especially Tobiah, would want rescue and protect her. She held stubbornly to the idea of rejecting the Hebrews because of what she thought they took away from her—her family’s lives, but later realized it was her family who gave up their own lives through rejecting and ignoring the warnings.

I’ve read and reviewed the second book from Connilyn Cossette and I have to say that she is a powerful writer with a vivid voice. Not only can she write an entertaining story that has hints of suspense and action, as this story did, but she’s effective in bringing clarity and understanding to real events in history. I definitely will be looking out for her next book.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this book to those who have an interest in history, especially biblical history and who are looking for stories that have a little bit of everything: suspense, action, vivid voices, and a strong message to take away.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. There were no obvious negatives. The story was easy to follow in that there was always something to anticipate from chapter to chapter. The author’s vivid voice made the characters, from primary to secondary, stand out. This was one of the few stories I read where I was sad to see it reach its end—I still was curious to see how Alanah’s and Tobiah’s life progressed in Canaan.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

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Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung By Tamera Alexander

Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung By Tamera Alexander

 

Blurb:

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his father, who is dying. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream?

As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women’s hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history–but the hearts of men.

General Thoughts:

If you have been following my book reviews for some time then you may know that Tamera Alexander is my favorite author. She is effective in grasping the emotional strings of a reader and creating characters with so much depth that you feel like you’ve known them longer than you really have. And with this 3rd book in the series, she still does not disappoint. Immediately being introduced to the main character Rebekah, I connected with her instantly. I think that connection came from her determination to pursue her passion in music, especially during a time when the odds were stacked against her, simply by being a woman. With the author drawing on Rebekah’s upbringing and musical influences, including battling a broken relationship with her mother, I felt her pain and even fear. The interaction between her and Tate was believable and brought sincere meaning when things came full circle in the end.

This was definitely a character driven story. Though there were a series of subtle plots throughout the story, things that needed to be resolved and manifest, the focus was truly on Rebekah’s and Tate’s growth and development as individuals. For Rebekah, it was about being fearless and determined to make her musical dreams come to light. It was about learning to forgive and give people a chance, as she did with Tate and his family. For Tate, it was about letting go and putting someone else’s dream ahead of his own. It was about developing a humble spirit. Together, both Tate and Rebekah learned that anything is possible, even pursuing a dream that the times said didn’t exist for all.

There were no obvious negatives. With the author’s writing style, I was immediately immersed into Rebekah’s world and later on, Tate’s and Rebekah’s world together. Their interactions brought life to the story and the challenges and lessons they learned kept me turning the pages to the very end.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a bit of romance. And especially to those who are looking for character driven stories that focus on growth with relatable and encouraging messages.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. This story was an easy read and had many powerful areas. The challenges the main characters faced and the series of subtle plots added enough suspense to keep the story moving.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: The Mark Of The King By Jocelyn Green

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Blurb:

Life in This New World Requires More Strength Than She Ever Imagined


After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier is imprisoned and branded, marking her as a criminal beyond redemption. Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana. The price of her transport, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.

New Orleans is nothing like Julianne expects. The settlement is steeped in mud and mosquitoes, and there is no news of her brother, Benjamin. When tragedy strikes, she turns to military officer Marc-Paul Girard for help, but does he know more about her brother than he will admit?

With her dreams shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous land, where only grace–and love–can overcome the stigma of the king’s mark upon her shoulder.

 General Thoughts:

 I must say when I first opened this book, I thought it would be similar to a lot of historical fiction books I’ve read as of late. I thought it would be somewhat bland and predictable in the general sense, pretty much about a woman trying to find redemption a new land with obstacles every where she turns.

But I was wrong and unexpectedly surprised.

I didn’t think this story would tug on my heartstrings as it did. I didn’t think this story would bring about frightening suspense and mystery.

It didn’t take long for me to feel for the main character Julianne. Though seen as a sort of villain in the world she lives in, in my mind she was the nothing of the sort. In fact, she is like a hero for those who read this book, in that, her struggles to overcome the shame for what she did in her past affected her throughout the story. Many times, she was faced with opportunities to forgive those who offended her, and though she was tempted to not offer them forgiveness, she was reminded of her own shame and how if she could receive redemption, surely those who offended her could too.

What I loved most about this story was it was too interesting and suspenseful to put down. The author did a good job in weaving a sort of eerie mystery that made me frightened for the main characters in the story. What I liked especially was how the author ended many of the chapters on a cliff hanger, making me, the reader, tempted to continue reading from chapter to chapter.

Another thing that the author did well was paint a sincere realistic story. Not knowing much about the formation of Louisiana in the 1700s, it was nice to gain a clearer understanding about the life and social issues that took place during that time. Reading about the unfolding of Julianne’s life made me feel like I was a part of her life. Julianne’s losses were my losses and Julianne’s shame was my shame. Julianne’s ultimate struggle to find and accept redemption for herself in a world that was reluctant to give it, was what made this story’s message powerful. I’m sure many of us who struggle to let go our past shame and failures will find comfort in this.

Recommendation:

 I would recommend this story to anyone who’s struggling to find redemption for themselves or even struggling to forgive others. I especially recommend this story to those who like historical fiction, mystery, and suspense.

Rating:

5 stars out of 5. I tried to think of a negative to this book, but I couldn’t find one. It was an easy, entertaining, and moving read.

 ***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Book Review: Shadow Of The Storm By Connilyn Cossette

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Blurb:

In the darkness of the storm’s shadow, only truth can light her way.

Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mount Sinai. When the people rebel by worshipping a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to assist a midwife. When the experience awakens a new desire in her, she defies her mother’s wish for her to continue in the family weaving trade and pursues her heart’s calling as an apprentice midwife.

But when a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself in an impossible situation and bound to a man who betrayed her. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira comes face to face with the long-hidden pain of her past. Can she let go of all that has defined her to embrace who she truly is and believe in a hopeful future?

General Thoughts:

This story was something new and different from all the other stories I’ve read in the past. If you are familiar with the Bible, this story takes place after the Exodus and really goes deep in illustrating and explaining the social issues that existed among the Hebrews during their journey to the Promised Land. The story focuses on Shira and the struggles she faced especially within herself to see and believe in her worth. Having faced a tragic past that left her barren, she couldn’t see her value, especially to others. Even when she realized her love of being a midwife, she struggled with believing if she was good enough to be one.

I love how the author used Shira’s character to show how God can turn someone’s life around, especially into something far beyond what one would expect to be possible. Although I found Shira’s story the most compelling, there were other characters like Dvorah and Ayal, who had personal inner battles as well. I love how for Shira, she couldn’t see what good would come out of her life, but how God surprised her with what I believe was nothing but amazing.

For me, this is the most powerful story I read if not ever, then in a long long time. I think everyone will find a bit of Shira in them, maybe doubting their worth and strength, their ability to offer anything meaningful in the world. But as Shira came to find, that’s not true. After reading this story, I too, began to believe in myself more.

I truly have no obvious negatives about this story. Although the story is historical, it is very much a fictional story, focused on the personal challenges Shira faced with herself and those around her. I think this story is one that could appeal to even those who may not be interested in historical stories.

Recommendation:

I would definitely recommend this story to really anyone. Simply because of issues like self worth, overcoming negative pasts, and finding strength and confidence. I believe these issues are quite universal and will be relevant to so many.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t find this story dragging, boring, or difficult to read in anyway. Though I didn’t touch on this earlier, this story was also suspenseful, as there were a bit of frightening challenges that occurred and for me, I could not predict how they would turn out and how characters, like Shira, would overcome them.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Shadow Of The Storm: An Excerpt

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Hi friends,

I’ve come to the end of this book and I have to say that it is really one that has been the most meaningful to me out of all the books I’ve read recently, if not ever. For those of you who are looking for your next book to read, specifically one that offers encouragement as well as intrigue, I want to share a link to where you can read a substantial except of this book. I will also be posting a book review on Monday, so stay tune 🙂

Shadow Of The Storm Excerpt

Favorite Book Quote: Shadow Of The Storm

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Currently, I’m reading Shadow of the Storm, and I’m finding the overall story, especially the character of Shira, inspiring. More about this story will be shared in a upcoming book review, but for the time being, I wanted to share this quote. To me, this quote is about finding strength: coming out of the shadows and learning to be strong, brave, and in the end, yourself.

Book Review: A Tapestry Of Secrets By Sarah Loudin Thomas

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Blurb:

What is the weight of a secret? And what happens when that burden becomes almost too much to bear? For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she’s prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next.

General Thoughts:

This story to me was one of those modern day tales with a classic spin to it. It is definitely a story that builds on characters and really allows the reader to understand the character and grow an attachment to them. As I read on, I really came to love all the characters, yes, all. That is not usually the case for me, but the main characters really stuck to me and made me want to see things work out well for them in the end.

Another thing I liked was the messages the author conveyed throughout the story. Those were the messages of waiting on God’s time, having patience, and putting God first. I feel that is something Ella, the granddaughter, had to learn in the story.

Although I liked the story for these reasons, there were some negatives for me. I really found the story to not have much of a significant plot or surprising secret, which is what I was expecting. It definitely was not a suspenseful story. In the beginning, it seemed like there was something Perla, the grandmother, wanted to reveal about her past to her daughter and granddaughter. I sort of knew what that was. However, I was hoping there was something more that would surprise me but what I already knew was confirmed in the end. So I was disappointed in that.

As I mentioned in the beginning regarding this story being like a classic modern tale, there is not a lot of action, drama, or suspense. It is more of a life lesson story. I think as a reader, if I’m looking to be encouraged, inspired, or increase my understanding of God, this is the perfect story.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this story for those who are not seeking a lot of action, drama, or suspense, but one that is character focused with a meaningful encouraging message.

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars. The story was good, especially in regards to its message, but I was disappointed in how the plot turned out and the lack of suspense or action.

 ***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***