Saturday, October 28, 2017

Reviewer's bookshelf: Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander

Book Summary (from Goodreads): A novella to launch a brand new three-book series . . .

In the midst of war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas, the cost of love . . . and of loving again.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. About to be evicted, she sees an advertisement for the Ladies Aid Society Auction and applies for a position—only to discover it's been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity. And friendship. But can she trust him? Is Jake Winston the man he appears to be? Having lost everything once, Aletta is determined to guard not only her own heart, but also her son's.

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffers a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Ladies Aid Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of "crinolines" isn't his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop of the real history of Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored . . . at Christmas.

My thoughts... I have read all of Tamera Alexander's books, with the exception of a novella she previously wrote in a collection. Why? I'm not really that big into novellas. I always feel like everything is so rushed...the romantic connection between the characters, the plot...everything. And I realize it has to's a novella. So why did I read this one? I didn't realize it was a novella when I signed up to read it! 
: ) It was a mistake I do not regret!

I may not be convinced to pick up all novellas, but I will pick up this author's. Even with a shorter book, the characters were well developed. The pace of their interaction and building relationship was just right. Enough to satisfy by the end, but not so much that it was totally unrealistic. Quite enjoyable!

I am also excited about the beginning of a new series by Tamera Alexander. She is able to intertwine real historical events and places with fictional characters with skill and creativity. In Christmas at Carnton, the horrors of war, but also the way people came together to support one another, was a big part of the novella. Friendship and unity among people of different race, background, and social status was really the central theme, which I loved as well. 

Get ready for the holiday season by picking up Christmas at Carnton!

**I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did**

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thoughts as I read through the Bible

     I've had several personal blog posts swirling around in my mind lately, just waiting for me to take some time to jot them down. This week I'm on fall break and trying to commit some serious time to rest, rest, and more rest. It's the first week off that I've had, without being sick, since I taught summer school last June. I've been physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted...and after a while, it takes a toll! So this week the kids have been in school and I've had time off to read, go to the library, go grocery shopping, have lunch with a friend, and more. One of the things I've been catching up on is my daily Bible reading. I joined a group of ladies several months ago who are coming together to read through the entire Bible in a year and discuss it as we go. When I joined this group, it was for a lot of reasons. One was because it's been several years since I've read the Bible completely through. Another was because my Papa (grandfather) and his wife, my "Nanny", read through the Bible every year for over 30 years. I am using the same type of Bible they did, and it reminds me so much of their love for the Word and all that reading through the Bible taught them. With all that we've had going on lately, I have gotten way behind...but I'm not giving up! 

    Today as I was reading, I was reminded of just who our Biblical ancestors were. I've only read through Genesis and part of Exodus, but so far we've got...
deceivers, and slave traders.

We also have...
grace extended by a patient and loving God,
a God who forgives again and again,
a God who spares lives and prospers families...
a God who would sacrifice His own Son so that we could experience a relationship with Him.

Another thing that I love about all the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful in the Bible? That God included it all in there. God didn't cut all the sin and disobedience out of His word...He didn't sugarcoat it. Didn't make the status of the men and women after God's own heart based on their good works...because all of them were sinners. So are we. Thanks to Jesus' sacrifice, we are now after God's own heart. We are His heart.

One of my conclusions: there is so much hope for all of us in the pages of God's Word! I was listening to a song by Lauren Daigle and it really expresses this truth: He, alone, has the power to redeem. All people, all circumstances.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Blind Spot" by Dani Pettrey

Summary (Goodreads): FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life--but isn't sure exactly what he's chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that "the wrath is coming," Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She's sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there's anyone who can help him, it's Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can't deny, and she's pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell--and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming "wrath" that could cost thousands their lives.

My thoughts...This series by Dani Pettrey is fantastic! This is the third book in the series, and it only keep getting better. I kind of wish they were able to be released closer together because it's hard to wait so long to see what happens next! : ) But I'm thankful for all of thought that Dani puts into these novels because they are full of detail and indepth plot lines.

I'm finally starting to be able to keep up with all of the characters in this series : ). I'll admit, there are a lot of them, as there is a family feel to the group of characters and they're in each novel. This story focuses in on Declan Grey and Tanner Shaw and their role in trying to solve a muli-tiered, multi-murder mystery. Some of the circumstances are carried over from the previous books in the series. You still get to see other familiar characters as well, as they all work together to solve crimes.

The plot is action-packed from the beginning. There is never a dull moment as Declan and Tanner are being chased, shot at, and followed as they try to solve not only the circumstances surrounding the death of some friends, but a bigger terrorist plot that is brewing among them. Throughout all of this, the romantic tension between them is also building. I also enjoyed learning about their past and who they really are, especially Tanner. I loved her backstory : ).

You really can't go wrong with a Dani Pettrey book! I would definitely recommend Blind Spot!

*I am grateful for a copy of this book so that I could share my thoughts and opinions*

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "A Dangerous Legacy" by Elizabeth Camden

Summary (Goodreads): Lucy is determined to keep working as a telegraph operator at a news agency, even though the arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith threatens her position. When she discovers Colin's shocking secret, she agrees to assist him if he helps her find her family's stolen inheritance--not realizing that the trail leads into a web of treachery, danger, and conspiracy.

My thoughts...I've read all of Elizabeth Camden's books and I've loved some, and others I didn't connect with as well. A Dangerous Legacy fell into the "love" category! A typical Camden book often has an event in history as the backdrop, and many times the setting becomes central to the book with the characters falling in behind it. In this novel, the setting added to the characters instead of taking over. I really liked that. I also liked that the characters in this story were involved with the telegraph machine at rival newspaper offices, which was interesting and helped to create some of the tension. There was also another side plot, which contributed to the intrigue and suspense in the story.

Romantic tension also plays a part in Lucy and Colin's story, and I really loved the way that the characters didn't fight their attraction to one another. However, circumstances didn't allow them to pursue one another the way they would've liked. The honesty that they had with one another, even if it showed their personal weaknesses, was refreshing. 

The way the plot was woven together, with a lot of layers that were revealed a piece at a time, kept me turning pages and built up the suspense. I loved the way that a dangerous situation that Lucy was involved in helped her to have a moment of self-discovery and affected the outcome of the story. Her journey also affected the way Colin saw the direction his life was going.

I would definitely recommend this to fans of historical Christian fiction. An excellent story!

**I am grateful for a copy of this novel so that I could share an honest review, which I did.**