The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson Review

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Synopsis:

From the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone. Until he meets Kirstyn. With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land . . . and way out of his league. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them.

Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke’s house. But he knows it isn’t enough to grant him his one desire: Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune.

But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father’s wealth take notice. Now, more than Aladdin’s background stands in the way of the future he’s worked so hard to obtain. His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well.

My Thoughts:

I have been eager to pick up a fairy tale retelling for a long time and have heard amazing things about Melanie’s writing so I couldn’t wait to dig into this book. Unfortunately, this probably wasn’t the best one to start with.

The story is supposed to be based on Aladdin, but there are very few similarities, mostly only the names Aladdin and Abu. The main theme of the story is focused on a relationship between Aladdin and Lady Kirsten, who have serious communication issues. So many things could have been resolved had the characters talked things out. It became very frustrating for me to read.

I did enjoy the setting and the time period. I love stories that are in and around castles and small villages. I also related to Kirsten in the way she didn’t always fit in with her family, but felt that Aladdin really understood her like no one else (I have my own Aladdin in my life 🙂 The faith content was also great and the story is very clean. This would be a book I wouldn’t hesitate to allow my 12 year old daughter to read, which I really appreciate.

Overall, the story was a bit bland and the story dragged on too long for my liking but I still plan on revisiting Melanie Dickerson’s books.

My Rating:

2.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli Review

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Synopsis:

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

My Thoughts:

This story was heavy…it is the kind of story that will stay with me for a long time and caused me to think a lot about the issues that were presented.

I had a hard time getting into the story…it took me about 150 pages to really start to enjoy it but once I hit that point, I flew through the book. I became very invested in the characters (past and present) and learned a lot about historical events.

I love how the author took a story from the past and present and connected them. I also loved the faith content in the story. There are many quotes from scripture and references to the Lord as our “hiding place”, which I loved.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story, it just took a bit of time for me to become invested in it (but once I did, I was hooked!).

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Julie by Catherine Marshall Review

 

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Welcome to the Julie by Catherine Marshall Blog Tour! Be sure to stop by each stop to check out what readers are saying about this New York Times Bestseller, plus you’ll get extra entry points for a wonderful Grand Prize!

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Title: Julie
Author: Catherine Marshall
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Re-Issued Date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance Fiction
*A New York Times bestseller* Will the dam hold? Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could endanger the entire community. Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.
When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?


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My Thoughts:

I was very excited to read this when I found out that it is loosely based on the Johnstown flood. Johnstown is only a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live so I am very familiar with the story of the flood and have visited the site of the dam, the clubhouse, and the flood museum several times. Unfortunately, knowing so much about the flood seemed to taint my enjoyment of the book to some extent. I found it strange that the author mixed fictional and factual places together. It also was very strange to me that the flood depicted in the book was extremely similar to the actual Johnstown flood but then the Johnstown flood was referenced in the story (throughout the book, I was assuming that Alderton was Johnstown). Had I not known all the facts about the actual flood, I think I would have enjoyed the book a lot more.

I also found that the story moved slowly…there was a lot in the book about the forming of unions, which didn’t particularly interest me. I did find the discussions about the steel mills interesting and learned quite a bit about the unjust ways blue collar workers were treated in the past.  I also enjoyed learning about the newspaper business.

Julie’s character wasn’t very likable to me…she was driven and determined, but I found something about her to be a bit off putting. I also really disliked the love quadrangle that was found in this book. It seemed like everyone was in love with this girl.

Overall, this was a good historical book but I was not really a fan. I think many people who enjoy romance would like it though.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine  MarshallCatherine Marshall (1914-1983), ͞The New York Times͟ best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel ͞Christy.͟ Based on the life of her mother, ͞Christy͟ captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders. Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in ͞A Man Called Peter.͟ A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of ͞Guideposts,͟ forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership. A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.


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The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

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Synopsis:

A Former Privateer and a Desperate Heiress Join Forces to Find a Treasure
Jump on board with a brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

One hundred years after her mother’s family came to the New World on the Mayflower, Maribel Cordova has landed in New Orleans to seek the man who holds the key to finding her father’s lost treasure. Attorney Jean-Luc Valmot has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—or so he hopes as he accepts a position on the governor’s staff. But the daughter of an infamous pirate threatens all he holds dear. Can Maribel and Jean-Luc compromise so they both can hold onto what they most desire?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo.

My Thoughts:

Although this book is only 247 pages, it took me a long time to read. The story was interesting but a bit confusing at times. I never felt like the characters were developed and although we followed Maribel throughout the entire book, I didn’t feel like I knew much about her by the end.

The setting was one that I always enjoy…a ship with pirates is very interesting. I also love the cover of the book…all of the covers in this series are gorgeous.

Although I didn’t love this book, I will continue with the series as each book is written by a different author.

The books would all work as standalones as they all involve new characters.

Unfortunately, despite my anticipation of reading this book, it wasn’t for me.

My Rating: 2 stars

I received this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren Review

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Synopsis:

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined–and that’s just the start of
what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

Set on keeping her family together and saving her father’s once-great plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

My Thoughts:

This story was very interesting. I had very little knowledge of the sugar plantations in the past and this story really allowed the reader to experience the culture and challenges of that time period and place.

The story does not gloss over the ugliness of slavery or the terrible way these people were treated…there were some very difficult scenes to read but I appreciated that they were historically accurate. I also found that the author portrayed how women were viewed by men very well…it was not an easy time for women.

The author describes everything very vividly…the scenes on the boat and the island were almost like watching a movie.

I loved the sisters in the story…Keturah, Verity, and Selah each had distinct personalities but supported each other through difficult times and had some great “sisterly” moments.

Overall, this was a great story that moved at a good pace and left me eager to read the next installment.

My Rating: 4 stars

 

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Soul’s Prisoner by Cara Luecht Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Book Title: Soul’s Prisoner

Author: Cara Luecht

Genre: Historical fiction with some suspense and romance

Release Date: December 15, 2015

Chicago, Winter, 1891

Rachel is in danger. She’s seen too much.

She creeps along the cement walls through the dank underbelly of the asylum. She’d never planned to leave her quiet farm life, never thought she’d find a place in the city, never imagined she’d be in the kind of danger that would have her cowering in Dunning’s cold, labyrinthine basement.

Jenny has finally found her place. After a childhood of abuse, she has friends, a real job, and her only wish is to give her adopted son the kind of life she never had.

A life of stability, without the risk and uncertainty of a father.

But when Jeremy, Rachel’s brother, stumbles into their warehouse, asking for help to find his missing sister, Jenny’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts:

In this book, the reader experiences what life was like for a patient in an insane asylum in the 1800s. This book had many disturbing scenes, but were based on historical facts, which is heartbreaking. Nothing was too graphic but the author described everything in a way that made the setting and the experience feel extremely real. It also had a creepy, gothic feel that I enjoyed (it was a nice change from all the contemporaries I’ve been reading lately).

The subject of asylums is fascinating to me because of how they were permitted to abuse and treat people in such an inhumane way for such a long period of time. I’ve read several books that focus on asylums and this was by far, my favorite.

The writing is very clean and I appreciated the diversity that was found in the book. I also loved all the fashion descriptions found in the book, that was a fun addition.

I flew through the story and was sad to see it end. It is the second book in a series but works as a standalone (although I’m planning on buying the rest of the books in the series!) This is one of my favorite books of the year so far, I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from the author/ publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author

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Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Guest Post from Cara Luecht

The Setting for Soul’s Prisoner: Dunning Asylum for the Insane

Dunning Asylum for the Insane was built in the 1850s and housed psychiatric patients until the early 1900s. It has since been demolished, and a small park currently stands as the only remaining testament to the people who lived and died on the grounds.

The original plot of land also included a poor farm and a cemetery. A railroad used to connect the grounds to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Milwaukee. It was nicknamed the “Crazy Train”—a phrase that still survives in our language today. Those buried in the cemetery include Civil War Veterans, victims of the Chicago fire of 1871, orphans, paupers, and the residents of the asylum for the insane. Most estimates agree that nearly forty thousand people were buried on the grounds.

There is no doubt that mental illness is hard on families, but in the 1800s, having a family member who struggled with mental illness was an embarrassment. With little understanding of mental health in general, and even less compassion for those who suffered, examples of this tragic response to the threat of mental illness can be seen in the numerous inmates who were there simply due to addiction or depression. There are even cases where women were committed because their families were humiliated by their giving birth outside the bonds of marriage. Often times, challenges with mental health were synonymous with the notion of moral failure or vice. Because of this, even many charities looked the other way when corruption or abuse was exposed. Reporters sometimes wrote about the horrors of the institutions, but once the sensational story was out, and the initial outrage worn away, few worried about the people who suffered on a daily basis. And because of the moral implication of mental illness, families commonly turned over their suffering members to the county, and later simply explained to friends that the person had died.

And that is exactly what the mentally ill would do in the institution. Live there until they died, forgotten.

And that’s how the story played out at Dunning, until late in the 1900s when developers began to dig the roads and foundations for a new neighborhood on the grounds of what was once the Asylum. At that time, Dunning, and the people who had resided there, were still within living memory, so when bones were unearthed, it was no mystery how they ended up on that patch of land. What had slipped from memory was the magnitude of the collective stories of suffering and hardship.

For this novel, the people and events are fictitious. However, when examining old news stories from an institution known for corruption, it is not hard to imagine situations like the ones in the novel. The details that are true are the nearly one thousand inmates, no hot water, little to no heat in the winter, bad food, and the general feeling of living ghosts, intentionally forgotten, and doomed to never leave the grounds.

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, March 8

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, March 8

Multifarious, March 9

Remembrancy, March 9

Connie’s History Classroom, March 10

History, Mystery & Faith, March 11

Reading is My Superpower, March 11

amandainpa, March 12

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 12

Texas Book-aholic, March 13

Carpe Diem, March 14

Maureen’s Musings, March 15

Blogging With Carol, March 16

Two Points of Interest, March 16

proud to be an autism mom, March 17

A Greater Yes, March 17

Bibliophile Reviews, March 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 18

Janices book reviews, March 19

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 19

Simple Harvest Reads, March 20 (Guest Post from Mindy)

Pursuing Stacie, March 20

For The Love of Books, March 21

Bigreadersite, March 21


Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Soul’s Prisoner and sketching art supplies!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cb74

 

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett Review

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Synopsis: Stunning Yosemite National Park sets the stage for this late 1920s historical romance with mystery, adventure, heart, and a sense of the place John Muir described as “pervaded with divine light.”

Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford fashioned her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region’s wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty.

After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he’s faced with the choice of becoming a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling?

As Clark helps open Olivia’s eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park’s story as its vistas– a revelation that may bring her charade to an end.

My Thoughts: I loved the first book in this series, The Road to Paradise, so I was eager to pick this one up! Set in Yosemite National Park, this story follows Olivia, an artist with a lot of secrets, commissioned to paint scenery from Yosemite and Clark, a trail guide who works at Yosemite and is dealing with issues from his past.

Karen Barnett is extremely gifted at setting the scene…I’ve never visited Yosemite but her descriptions make me feel like I almost have. In this book, the reader sees many different sights and locations in the park.

There is a lot of adventure and some mystery to the story, which was my favorite aspect. I wasn’t as fond of the romance as it seemed a bit forced and unrealistic at times (plus I’m usually not a romance reader).

I will say that I enjoyed the first book more but this one was still fun and worth picking up. I can’t wait for the next one!

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.