Saturday, February 29, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "If For Any Reason" by Courtney Walsh

Book Summary (Amazon): Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door–turned–baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.

As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.

My thoughts...This was my first fictional trip to Nantucket, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I looked up pictures online so I could visualize the seaside homes and landscapes. Then I went on to imagine who these characters were.There were several moments in this story that I really connected with the main character, Emily. My own mother passed away a few years ago, and Emily's struggle to stay connected with someone she cared deeply for resonated with me. When you lose someone you care so much about, you cling to the words they've left behind as much as possible. Courtney Walsh really captured Emily's feelings of abandonment and fear so well...the emotions lept off the page. Not only did the heroine have a strong desire to be loved and accepted, the hero did as well. Hollis has had his share of highs and low, made mistakes, and while he has the love and support of his family, he has yet to make a long lasting romantic connection with someone. This book explores these emotions, as well as the need to have the love that will never leave us and never betray us, which is the love of a heavenly Father. Wonderful book by Courtney Walsh!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in order to give my honest opinion, which I did.**

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Way of the Brave" by Susan May Warren

Book Summary (Amazon): Former pararescue jumper Orion Starr is haunted by the memory of a rescue gone wrong. He may be living alone in Alaska now, but the pain of his failure--and his injuries--has followed him there from Afghanistan. He has no desire to join Hamilton Jones's elite rescue team, but he also can't shirk his duty when the call comes in to rescue three lost climbers on Denali.

Former CIA profiler and psychiatrist Jenny Calhoun's yearly extreme challenge with her best friends is her only escape from the guilt that has sunk its claws into her. As a consultant during a top-secret mission to root out the Taliban, she green-lighted an operation that ended in ambush and lives lost. When her cathartic climb on Denali turns deadly, she'll be forced to trust her life and the lives of her friends to the most dangerous of heroes--the man she nearly killed.

Her skills and his experience are exactly what's needed to prevent another tragedy--but in order to truly set Orion free from his painful past, Jenny will have to reveal hers. They'll have to put their wounds behind them to survive, but at what cost?

My thoughts.... I just couldn't stop until I finished this book last night! It was an action packed plot, especially in the last half of the book. Rescues, mountain climbing, danger, terrorism, romance...all on a mountain peak in Alaska. Even though these were fictional characters, I loved the way their courage was portrayed in the book. Not just courage to face huge physical challenges, but also mental and emotional challenges. Susan May Warren doesn't shy away from letting her characters have real-life issues: mental breakdowns, depression, insecurity, and trauma, to name a few. I appreciated that. I also appreciated the details related to the mountain climbing aspect of the novel. I honestly got a little lost in keeping up with all of the equipment and technique; I have no previous knowledge of any of it with the exception of the caribiner clip I used as a keychain in college. As someone who likes to form mental pictures of what's happening as I'm reading, I struggled to do that with the influx of so many things I didn't know. However, I can completely recognize the author's knowledge and research that must've went into writing it. That is to be commended. On a different note, the romantic tension provided a reprieve from all of the mountain climbing intensity. There was some backstory with each character that affected the romance, but it was given in bits and pieces. I'm not sure if some of the characters had parts in other books, or if we'll just learn more as we go through the series. I'm really looking forward to the next book!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in order to give my honest opinion, which I did.**

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "On Wings of Devotion" by Roseanna M. White

Book summary (Amazon): All of England thinks Phillip Camden a monster--a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But as nurse Arabelle Denler watches the so-dubbed "Black Heart" every day, she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their paths twist together and he declares himself her new protector, she realizes she has her own role to play in his healing.

Phillip Camden would have preferred to die that day with his squadron rather than be recruited to the Admiralty's codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved. What comes as a shock is the reborn desire to truly live that Arabelle inspires in him.

But when an old acquaintance shows up and seems set on using him in a plot that has the codebreakers of Room 40 in a frenzy, new affections are put to the test.

My thoughts... There is so much I loved about this book! I liked the first book in the Code Breakers series, but I really fell in love with the characters and storyline in this second book. Let's start with the hero. I won't lie, those dark, broody, angsty, bad boy heroes get me every time. I was sold on Phillip Camden from the beginning of this novel and I certainly wanted to know his story 'til the end. I was totally invested. Roseanna White detailed his character so well, contrasting his deep inner struggle of secretly being a man of high convictions with his outer appearance of being a handsome, yet unfeeling, man with a "black heart." Then there's the heroine, who is herself considered less than beautiful on the outside (although her cover image looks pretty beautiful to me!), but her heart is pure gold. I love the way that she is one of the only people who can see through Phillip's rough exterior to the heart of who he truly is. It's what makes this novel pretty special. My personal sense of justice struggled with Arabelle's deep sense of humility and generosity (especially when the others, in my mind, didn't deserve it), but even that became a lesson learned for me in the end. Redemption, humility, and courage are just a few of the themes in this book that I appreciated. I also appreciated the romantic tension : ). 

I would highly recommend this book for those of you who are fans of historical Christian fiction. There is a definitive Gospel moment in this book as well, which also adds to an additional theme of forgiveness. Loved it!

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**