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Carry Me Home

CarryMeHomeFrontCoverFinalEndorsement-712x1024Book Review: Carry Me Home

Authors: Dorothy Adamek

Review by Grace Olson

 

The Story

Finella Mayfield hates two things: liars and thieves. And she’s determined to marry a man who’s neither. Chasing her dead father’s dreams, the twenty-year-old English bride arrives in Australia in 1875 for an arranged marriage. Anticipating her future as village preacher’s wife, she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal.

But instead of her fiancé, Finella is met by Shadrach Jones, a poor farmer sent to collect her from the busy Melbourne pier.

This is not what her father planned. And it’s only the beginning of the unraveling of Finella Mayfield ~ the bride with no groom.

All Shadrach Jones longs for is rows of mustard and chicory. He’s busy growing a farm near the Phillip Island fishing village of Cowes, and caring for Molly, his simple sister. Far from the brutal life they remember with their ex-convict father, Shadrach’s building something

new.

But he’s also made a promise to a dying friend. To collect and marry the English girl destined to never be a preacher’s wife.

Can Shadrach convince Finella she has a future with a farmer? Can he convince himself, knowing his family secrets will haunt their future?

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Wow, this book was incredible. When I learned about Carry Me Home and the opportunity to influence for it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. Reviewing a book can be a risk, especially with new authors, because I only have so much time for reading. So when I read I want to use that time wisely. I’m so glad I took the chance.

I loved how Dorothy portrayed the characters. There were times I honestly didn’t like Finella, but that was because I saw aspects of myself in her. But then I would find myself cheering for her to succeed, to change, and to see Shadrach as the man he was. Speaking of Shadrach, he was a great hero. Flawed, yes, but so sweet, thoughtful, and caring. And Molly…that ending had me near tears. I loved reading about her and her unique way of expressing love and the lessons she taught both Finella and Shadrach. Dorothy really brought to life a stellar cast of characters.

The setting was a character in and of itself. Dorothy, being a native of Australia, was able to bring to life the area in a way I’d never read before. I learned so much about this period of Australia’s history, as well as what that area would have looked like.

Out of everything in this book, the actual writing was what I enjoyed most. Dorothy has a way of painting words on her pages so that they create a breathtaking masterpiece. Each individual stroke is beautiful and only contributes to making the whole glow. Clearly, this debut author has a good handle on her craft, and I will definitely be watching for her future releases.

I was honored to be able to influence for Dorothy, and I know she’ll be an author I will hear much about in the future. If you love history, and want to take a unique, insider’s look at Australia, while being swept away by a heart wrenching romance, then please, read Carry Me Home. You’ll be glad you did.

About the Author

Biography from the author’s website: Australian author, Dorothy Adamek, writes Displacement Fiction ~ the stories of people upended by tragedy and trauma, and their struggle to belong in their new world. Couched in romance, her fiction is set in the late Victorian era. She is the author of Carry Me Home, the first book in the Blue Wren Shallows trilogy, and resides with her family in the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne.  Visit her online at http://dorothyadamek.com .

I was given a review copy of Carry Me Home from the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Shades of Doon

23433222Book Review: Shades of Doon

Authors: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s website description of Shades of Doon:

After cheating death, Veronica Welling is determined to savor every moment in her idyllic kingdom with both her true love and best friend by her side at last. At the same time, Mackenna Reid is enthusiastically building her new life and a theater with her prince. But just as their dreams of happiness are within reach, the world Vee and Kenna have chosen is ripped away, leaving them to face their most horrific challenge yet—their old lives.

Thrust out of Doon, the best friends are confronted with tormentors from their past and no way to return to their adopted land. When the MacCrae brothers rush to their rescue, the girls’ situation turns from nightmare to modern-day fairy tale. But their happiness could be short lived: unbeknownst to them, someone in their closest circle is aiding the witch of Doon in her bid to destroy the kingdom once and for all.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            So at first I really wasn’t that in to Shades of Doon. Honestly, it felt like I was reading a rehashed version of the previous two books in the series. They think their problems are over, they’re angsting about whether or not to marry the two handsome princes because they’re still only teens, and then BAM, something bad happens and they have to save Doon yet again. Thankfully, the farther I got into the book, I could see some differences in plot from the other two books. But for a good portion of the book I could have sworn I was just reading text from Books 1 and 2. Another thing that I didn’t particularly like was the emphasis on the hormones experienced by these four teenagers. Yes, I understand that’s a thing. And yes, it’s relevant to the teens reading the books, but sometimes all it felt like was filler and an attempt to grab the attention of those teens.

            In all, I did enjoy some parts of Shades of Doon, but for the most part I wasn’t impressed.

About the Authors 

Biographies from the Doon Series website: Carey Corp wrote her first book, a brilliant retelling of Star Wars, at the prodigious age of seven. Since then, her love affair of reinvention has continued to run amuck. Writing both literary fiction and stories for young adults, she begins each morning consuming copious amounts of coffee while weaving stories that capture her exhaustive imagination. She harbors a voracious passion (in no consistent order) for mohawks, Italy, musical theater, chocolate, and Jane Austen. Her debut novel for teens, The Halo Chronicles: The Guardian, earned her national recognition as 2010 Golden Heart finalist for best young adult fiction.

A few years ago, Lorie Langdon left her thriving corporate career with a Fortune 500 company to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word. Her co-written four-book series, DOON, a YA reimagining of the Scottish legend of Brigadoon, will release beginning in August 2013 from Zondervan/Harper Collins.

I was given a review copy of Shades of Doon from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Mistress of Tall Acre

9780800720445Book Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre

Author: Laura Frantz

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Revell’s website description of The Mistress of Tall Acre:

There can be only one mistress of Tall Acre . . .

The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As usual, Laura Frantz pulled me into this story with her signature talent for bringing to life a world long passed. I felt as if I were truly living during the tumultuous time that followed the Revolutionary War. The Mistress of Tall Acre was set farther East than some of Laura’s novels, but that didn’t mean that the adventure in the story was diminished. Instead, the adventures and trials that these characters faced were just as dangerous and threatening, just of a different kind.

I enjoyed Sophie’s character. She was lively and spirited, yet when faced with mishaps, she wasn’t eternally (and sometimes unrealistically) strong as some heroines are portrayed to be. A little more down-to-earth, which I enjoyed. I honestly thought that the marriage was going to happen a lot sooner in the story, but anticipating that event actually compelled me to continue reading, as if I needed any encouragement. Lily Cate was a character I absolutely loved, and one I wouldn’t mind reading about in later books (please?). Seamus was a grand hero, though he does have his own share of flaws. The struggle and fight in this story to reach that happy ending was long and grueling at times, a true battle of Revolutionary War proportions for the characters. The twist at the end was unexpected and left me dreading that the story wouldn’t turn out right, which of course it still did. I loved how as Sophie and Seamus faced different difficulties they were pointed to God and His ability to help them, in realistic and natural ways. Sophie’s spiritual journey, and her need to cling to God alone, and leave Seamus in his hands, was moving to read.

The Mistress of Tall Acre had a feel that made me think of Jane Eyre, to a point, which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but wasn’t a bad thing. I was glad that this novel didn’t have quite such a bittersweet ending as Jane Eyre. If you’ve enjoyed Laura’s other novels, you’ll enjoy this as well. It’s a little different, what with the story set in civilized society, not the Frontier. But the rich settings, vivid characters, and sweeping stories that’s she’s known for carry through to The Mistress of Tall Acre.

About the Author

Biography from Revell: Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons. Learn more at http://laurafrantz.net/

I was given a review copy of The Mistress of Tall Acre from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

To Get To You

To-Get-to-You-a-novel3-654x1024Book Review: To Get To You

Author: Joanne Bischof

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Goodread’s website description of To Get To You:

To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.

A story of new beginnings and second chances.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I have this friend. I’m sure you have one like her, or maybe you are her. 😉 She’s the friend who will tell you about her favorite author and then you, with the best of intentions, assure her you’ll read a book by that author. And then you don’t, because there are so many books and so little time and sometimes we just forget important details like new author names, but I digress (I’ve always wanted to use that word!). My friend knows that I enjoy finding new authors and reviewing books, so she informed me of an opportunity to review a new release by author Joanne Bischof. I’m so glad that I finally got a chance to read a book by Joanne, because oh-my-word, I was blown away.

To Get To You is different than the usual Christian Young Adult book. It’s written from the guy’s point of view. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, but I ended up loving it. I felt I was really able to get to know Riley.

To Get To You started out with a romantic bent, but this book brought so much more to the table. Riley’s relationship with his dad was so authentic and difficult, that it was nice, in a strange way, to read. Probably because of the honesty there in their interactions and reactions. Riley’s relationship with Becca was so sweet, and I loved every minute of it.

Sometimes a book closes and you’re left thinking, “Well, that was nice.” but you feel like the author didn’t quite nail it. Well, Joanne nailed it. Here’s a quote from near the end of To Get To You that I absolutely loved:

“…there are some things you can’t go back from. You just lay the broken pieces down and then there’s grace and its glue, and in a strange way, you’re more whole than before, because this time…this time it’s not your own doing.”

I cannot recommend this book enough to both young adult readers as well as the older readers who love a good story that touches the heart. Reading To Get To You was a joy, and I hope you take the chance to try it out.

About the Author

Biography from Goodreads: Christy Award-finalist and author of The Cadence of Grace series and This Quiet Sky, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for heartfelt stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. Find her online at http://www.joannebischof.com/

I was given a review copy of To Get To You from the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Hope Harbor

51-cykMBlOL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review: Hope Harbor

Author: Irene Hannon

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Revell’s website description of Hope Harbor:

Come home to Hope Harbor—where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. Now she’s home again–with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hope Harbor is the first book I’d read from Irene Hannon, so I was excited to give a new author a try. Unfortunately, I picked a busy time to try to read this book. I’m currently back at college, where reading anything aside from the assigned textbooks is rather difficult. So, I’m sad to say, I struggled to finish this book. Here’s what I liked:

Cranberry farming is something I know nothing about. Zilch. Nada. So reading about a cranberry farmer as the heroine of the story was really interesting. I love novels that I can learn something from and Hope Harbor was one of those for me. The complexities of the characters and the past failures and current dilemmas were all well thought-out. Irene took her characters on a difficult journey. Guilt can be very difficult to eradicate, depending on the past experience, but Irene handled this in a wonderfully realistic and hopeful way.

As far as things I didn’t like…there really wasn’t anything in particular. Part of the reason I had a difficult time finishing this book was the busyness of the season. I also lost interest as I neared the end of the story, which may be because of the time I had to spend away from the book when life got in the way of my reading time.

In all, I did enjoy Hope Harbor and I am glad I tried out a new author.

About the Author

Biography from Revell: Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series, along with That Certain Summer and One Perfect Spring. Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. Find her online at http://www.irenehannon.com

I was given a review copy of Hope Harbor from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Not By Sight

23411528Book Review: Not By Sight

Author: Kate Breslin

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Not By Sight:

In the spring of 1917, all of Britain’s attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.

A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country’s cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.

But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have heard so many good things about Kate Breslin and her debut novel, For Such A Time. So when I was offered the opportunity to read her latest release, Not By Sight, I didn’t even have to give the idea much thought. Now, after reading this book, I can’t believe I waited so long to read this author.

Not By Sight is a thrilling adventure, with mystery abounding. I loved how the characters were so often in the dark, and that I learned right along with them on many things.

I’ve read a good deal of fiction set during WW1, but not much that has to do with suffragettes and how women helped on the home front, aside from working what used to be the jobs men occupied. So I really learned a lot while reading.

The characters in this book are really what shines. The setting, the plot, the historicity are all wonderful, but the characters… Grace is flawed, and those flaws get her into trouble more than once. So seeing her grow and change and realizing in what ways I’m like her and need to grow and change was eye-opening. And, there’s the fact that Grace is a writer…so that was pretty fun too since we share that passion. 🙂 Jack is just as complex of a character, with hurts that are more than skin-deep. He messes up, yet he’s also a hero. His struggle to see that there is a God, and that He cares for him, was also well-done, without coming across as heavy-handed. Then there are Grace’s ‘sisters’, all colorful characters that I would love to read about later on (maybe?).

Don’t make the same mistake I did by waiting so long to get to know this author’s writing. Not By Sight kept me up at night, captured my thoughts during the day, and snagged my attention until the very last passage. This is a must-read.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House: A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is the author of For Such a Time and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at http://www.katebreslin.com.

I was given a review copy of Not By Sight from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Summer By Summer

_240_360_Book.1561.coverBook Review: Summer By Summer

Author: Heather Burch

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Book Look Bloggers’ website description of Summer By Summer:

When Summer took a job as a nanny for a couple vacationing in Belize, she imagined it would be a fresh start before starting college in the fall. And while she adores her charge, Josh, she can’t say the same for her employers’ oldest son, Bray. He’s cocky, inconsiderate, and makes her feel she’s a chore he has to put up with. In short, he’s everything she dislikes in a guy.

Bray had a plan for the summer: party, hang out with friends, and forget all the responsibilities waiting for him back home. But every time he’s forced to be around Summer, her dour, serious mood sets him off. Not to mention she has a habit of picking up on what he already knows is wrong with him.

Then the two find themselves on a dive trip gone wrong, stranded on a remote island. As they focus on survival, their differences melt away, and they find being together may be what both needed all along.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summer by Summer is the first book I’ve read from Heather Burch, and I fell in love with this author’s writing style, the characters, and the setting. This novel is a YA adventure/romance. Heather did a magnificent job of pulling off both adventure and romance, keeping my attention throughout the entire book. I read it in two days, folks. Two. Days. It would have been shorter, but you know, work and stuff. Here’s why I loved it:

The style. There was never a lull in Summer By Summer, never a dull moment. There wasn’t one time where I yawned and set the book aside. I was engaged and pulled in by Summer and Bray’s uniquely written perspectives, which leads me to…

The characters. Bray and Summer were both flawed, in big ways. Yet at the same time, they had good things about them that made me cheer for them. This book is in the first person point of view, which I really enjoyed, since it included Bray’s perspective. I identified with Summer in several ways, which made the book all the better. Being on the island is a time for each of finding out who they truly are and who they want to be. This is a story about working through your pain and knowing you’re not alone, almost a coming-of-age. Summer also works through her anger toward God and finding that she really does need him. Bray…well his relationship with God wasn’t really explored, which I would have liked. He seemed more along for the ride on that one.

The setting. It’s super cool, guys. I mean, c’mon, Belize? Then the fact that they’re shipwrecked intrigued me. I’ve read shipwreck stories in Historical Fiction, but not in Contemporary, so that was fascinating.

The extras. The mystery in this book that made things even worse on the island was well done, I enjoyed that.

Summer by Summer is a well-written novel, and a good read for an older teen. The ages of the characters and what they’re struggling with will be a great fit for a teen or just-into-college reader. Or if you’re just looking for a great, relaxing story, then you might just want to get yourself a copy of Summer by Summer.

About the Author

Biography from Book Look Bloggers’ website: Heather Burch, the author of the popular Halflings series, spent the last seven years in Southern Florida but recently returned to her hometown in the Ozark Mountains. Her books have garnered praise from USA Today, Romantic Times, and Booklist magazine. When not working on her latest novel, she can be found hiking in the hills or planning a trip to the beach with her husband, John, who is her hero in every way.

I was given a review copy of Summer By Summer from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.