Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Searching for You" by Jody Hedlund

Book Summary (Amazon): Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he's in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?

My thoughts...This book is the third in the Orphan Train series, fourth if you include a prequel novella. You could read these novels as stand-alone, but I would suggest reading all of them in order. Each book tells the story of the three individual Neumann sisters. Searching for You is about Sophie, who is the youngest of the three. This last book in the series is honestly my favorite.
   The vivid descriptions of what life was like in the mid-1800s for orphaned children who were forced to do whatever they could to survive tugged at my heart. Hedlund takes you on a journey right in the middle of the harsh reality of living on streets: crime, prostitution, abuse, separation from your family, older children taking on the role of parents, and more. All of this is written in a way that you get a picture of what it was like without it being too graphic. As all three Neumann sisters were orphaned, this is part of all of the novels. I found this book especially compelling as Sophie was so young herself as she cared for two infants. Sophie's love and devotion to the two children was also beautiful, yet the conflict she went through to have wisdom to parent and fight for their survival was heart wrenching. Often she had to make some very difficult choices.
     The softer side of this story is the relationship between Reinhold and Sophie. Reinhold is introduced in the previous novels as a friend and protector of the Neumann family. I thoroughly enjoyed the romantic moments....Jody Hedlund is SO good at writing scenes like this!! It's not only the physical interaction between the characters that I enjoyed, but also the struggle they go through to feel loved, accepted, and experience the peace that only God can give.
     This novel is an excellent conclusion to this series. I couldn't put it down when I started. I would definitely recommend not only this book, but the others in the series. 

Personal takeaway...Even when your circumstances seem hopeless, cling to God and His promises. His provision may come in ways that we least expect. 

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

Monday, December 3, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Liberty Bride" by MaryLu Tyndall

Book Summary (Goodreads)...Lieutenant Owen Masters and Emeline Baratt meet on a British warship as sworn enemies. Where will Emeline place her loyalties when forced to spy against her country?
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

War Forces a Choice Between Love and Country
A trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy—until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him or her love for her country.

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall.

My thoughts...Warships. Spies. Fighting for freedom with the Star Spangled Banner flying in the background. This is just a snippet of what you'll find in The Liberty Bride. MaryLu Tyndall is an expert at taking her readers right on the decks of a ship, describing the sights and sounds with such detail that you feel like you're there. This is why I really wanted to read this book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series. But this story doesn't begin and end on the water. You also journey into the wild landscape of early America, experiencing a small part of the struggle of the early colonists trying to make a life amidst so many hardships. Even in fictional stories such as this, I'm still amazed at the true story of how America defeated a powerhouse like Great Britain to become an independent country. Faith in God, and His intervention, played a part in that endeavor as faith also plays a part in the plot of this story.
     This novel also had romantic tension along with the adventure, which I always enjoy. That's another aspect of Tyndall's writing that I like. She knows how to create a balance between the action and romantic moments. I appreciated the hero and heroine in the story, both showing courage and patriotism. 
     The plot was exciting, well paced, and kept me more than interested throughout the novel. Moving from water to land was unexpected, yet I really liked the change in setting. I personally liked the connection to Washington DC, Baltimore, and the true historical events that took place there intertwined with the fictional ones in the novel. 
     I have reviewed several novels in this series and this is one that you don't want to miss! 

Personal takeaway...We can call on God to provide the courage and wisdom we need to endure the hardest circumstances. He is ultimately in control and His will cannot be thwarted, even if it seems impossible. With God, all things are possible.

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