Sunday, July 14, 2019

Book Review: Kind by Kellyn Roth



Okay, a group of my friends is doing a fun thing!  We're all coming together to make a surprise blog party for our mutual friend, Kellyn Roth.  She's a dedicated writer and a great encouragement to all of us and is also the founder and manager at the Reveries Company author services group.  You've perhaps read my review a few posts ago for "Souls Astray," which I really enjoyed, so for today's party I'm reviewing a short story of hers, "Kind."

 
 

Here's the synopsis:
Lt. Neil Hudson is sure to have a rotten Christmas.

How can he have anything but a rotten Christmas when he's stuck in war-torn Germany away from his family, friends, and all hope of a decent turkey dinner?

That's when the Slades come into his life.


Here's my review (which is overly short because the story is short):

5 stars

Neil Hudson is the protagonist of the tale, and I instantly bonded with a lonely military man feeling growly about Christmas away from home.  When he accidentally stumbles on a family in need, though, my heart went head over heels for him, and for what he did when he started reaching out to them.  So many books automatically portray all Germans as bad, but this view is fresh and engaging; the German people were all too often the first victims of Hitler's regime.  Here is a warm and Godly family trying to eke out survival after the total downfall of their society. 

It was also refreshing to find a Christmas story that didn't focus on romance.  I feel like the Christmas story market is highly oversaturated with Hallmark-style works (which have their place for light entertainment, but shouldn't be the only thing available) and that it leaves those who don't enjoy that style high and dry for the season.  This book avoids clichés and is even set in one of my favorite time frames, WW2! 

I read Christmas stories throughout the year, but if you're one that doesn't, perhaps you'd be in the mood to include this story in a bit of midyear "Christmas in July" in about ten days.  It's free if you have a kindle unlimited account, and of this post is just 1.99 for the ebook purchase.  I highly recommend it for personal reading and also family read-aloud.

Here's Kellyn's website:
https://kellynrothauthor.com/

Also, a lot of sweet folks wrote notes to Kellyn in a Google doc, but since I'm a serial misser-of-deadlines, I didn't get it added in time.  So, Kellyn, here is my note of encouragement!

Dear Kellyn,
You're a huge encouragement to me as a writer and I strongly admire your commitment to excellence, even down to researching the small things of life in other eras, such as how people shopped, and even to stopping for a while in editing to get that one awkward sentence right.  You take that a step further by mentoring other authors and even running a company to help writers get it right.  You're one of my top favorite indie authors, and I'm glad and proud to call you a friend.
~Hannah

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Book Review: A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

4.5 stars
Finished reading 8/17/18

Synopsis:
Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor's excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek's dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He's managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.




My review:
This is the second book in Cabot's Cimarron Creek series, set in Victorian-era Texas.  The first book, A Stolen Heart, featured Catherine quite a bit as she befriended the new-in-town Lydia Crawford, the heroine of book one.  From that book we saw her lose her mother and lose her trust in a man she had loved.

This story picks up with Catherine still teaching at the local school as she was in the first book.  She is living alone and trying not to be lonely, so when an abused boy catches her eye it's easy for her to dream of rescuing him and taking him in.  But his abuser is his drunken father, who's not about to give up his boy, and her efforts to convince the man that the boy is worth sending to school are sure to meet with some decided resistance.

Austin, the hero, is new in town.  He has more secrets than any man ought to have, and a little girl who's sure to steal everyone's heart.  He seems to know quite a bit about health and wounds for a normal rancher, but he brushes it off and goes on with hardly an explanation, which of course makes the heroine and the readers instantly wonder what he means by the knowledge and how he came to know it.

Before long Catherine finds herself acting mother to both the abused boy and to Austin's lonely little girl, and these are some of my favorite parts from the story.  I really, really enjoy such stories!  And then we also have more of the continued mystery from the first book, which I won't specify because of spoilers, other than to say how much I enjoyed getting to know Grace through this story.

We just get comfortable with the town and characters, though, when danger arrives in town, and it's time to keep those pages flying to the very end.  Wow...I didn't see some of the stuff at the ending coming!

In all, an enjoyable and suspenseful read!

Thanks to the publisher for a free reading copy.  A favorable review was not required.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Book review: Souls Astray by Kellyn Roth

Souls Astray by Kellyn Roth



I honestly jumped at the chance to be part of Kellyn’s blog tour just so I could read another of her stories early!  So far I’ve enjoyed everything of hers that I’ve read, so I knew I was in for a treat with her newest release.

I didn’t stop for a thing except work while reading this story!  It’s very easy to flip from page to page and is so well written,  I slipped into the story world and didn’t want to come out even while the characters were enduring so much.

I knew going in that there was some sad stuff in the story.  I found that Kellyn did her level best to make me cry over these characters and their troubles!  I never cry in stories but I was tearing up a bit for these.

Adele really isn’t the most sympathetic character ever in her actions, but she was so well portrayed as a hurting soul herself that I didn’t find it hard to hurt for her and excuse her for her problems.  That’s with a caviat, of course, that she will learn the error of her ways in a later book in the series!

Troy....ah, Troy.  Wee bit of a hothead, I think.  Plenty of his own issues to work through even while trying his best to do what’s right.  Troy has some growing ahead as well!

The side characters were colorful and interesting in their own ways and I hated to say goodbye to most of them.  I loved Lola and Millie in particular and couldn’t stand Adele’s mother.

I can’t wait to see what happens next and am so happy that I can read the next book soon!

Be sure to grab your copy of Souls Astray right away.  I’m sure you will love it!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Quickie review: A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

The synopsis:
From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners--like her. Lydia won't let that get her down, though. All will be well when she's reunited with her fiancé. But when she discovers he has disappeared--and that he left behind a pregnant wife--Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?
Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites readers back into Texas's storied past to experience love and adventure against a backdrop of tension and mystery in this first book in a brand-new series.






My review:
5 stars
5/27/17

I really enjoyed this story, set in 1860s Texas!  It reads smoothly and is interesting from start to finish.  I loved Lydia's sweets shop and her relationship to Aunt Bertha.  Travis is a nice, manly sheriff, and their romance is sweet and realistic.  It was a nice surprise for me to find a strong mystery thread in the story, with a mysterious person attacking people, stealing items, and engaging in other criminal mischief.  

I loved that the romance wasn't all touchy-feely sensual, but was about two mature adults coming to care for each other in a way that wasn't merely physical lust.  I also was glad to find no profanity or crude speech as well.  

The one thing that bugged me was that someone forgot that measles patients were always subject to quarantine.  :)

Thanks to NetGalley for a review copy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Book review: Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin

Far Side of the Sea, Kate Breslin: 5 stars

Finished reading 2/10/19
Synopsis:
In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life--a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel's half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.



I devour Kate Breslin books like potato chips, so no surprise that I loved this one!  Here's my review:

What a treat to read another Kate Breslin book!  I've really struggled this year to read any ebooks, but this one was a quick and absorbing read and kept me flipping pages despite that difficulty.  While there isn't a lot about faith, it's clear they are steadied by their belief in God.

The twists and turns in the plot left me reeling.  We met Colin in Not By Sight very briefly, but this book stands alone.  I loved seeing more of Marcus in this one!  Colin is an interesting young man from the very beginning, and I found it easy to care about him and Johanna from the very beginning.  I guessed one plot facet at 53% and thought "there--I got it--that's the big reveal!" only to have it told to me at 62% and have plenty of book left to read.  :)  So the plotting was extremely well done and very absorbing.

I do love a good spy story and this one is one I'd easily recommend. 

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for a free copy.  A favorable review was not required.

Quickie Review: The Laird O' Borrans by Harold Bindloss

The Laird O' Borrans: 4 stars



Harold Bindloss has been a favorite author of mine for awhile.  He wrote about 40 novels between 1902-1945 and I have about twenty of them to date.

Here's my review:
2/17/19
3.5 stars
I have to say, this is the very slowest and calmest spy story ever written!  It's one of Bindloss's last novels and set in the Border area of Scotland during WW2.  As a picture of the home front it was fascinating, with just a mild spice of danger from the intermittent spy activity and related murders in the area.  There were lots and lots of characters to keep up with, but eventually I got used to them.

If you're interested in home front Scotland in WW2, grab a copy.  If you're looking for your next spy thriller, though, this isn't a thriller!

Quickie Reviews

Introducing...Quickie reviews!



Since February 2013, I have been reviewing nearly every book I read on Goodreads.  That total is a nice chunk of reviews, and I've made a lot of close friends through my time there.  It has come to my attention, though, that because of some major changes in Goodreads over the past few years, my bookshelves may not remain accessible in the way I want them to be, as they work toward getting rid of traditional desktop view.

So, why not use my space as a blogger?

As I get used to adding my reviews here, I'll warn of several things: there are going to be A TON of them at first.  I have years of reviews (six years!) that I hope to transfer over here.  There may be many posts a day on days I have time to work on it.  I apologize in advance to what I will be doing to your inboxes.

Longer reviews will be given a regular post of their own in the style I've previously posted in.

When I can, I'll include links to free ebooks when applicable for older novels and classics.

I'll be using tags to help with finding books, such as:
Author
Genres or subjects
Star rating 
and so on.

My star ratings explained: (two negative and three positive classes)
1: Dislike or despise.  A book I don't want to ever read again and don't recommend.
2: It was okay.  Others might like it, but I'm underimpressed.
3: Good.  This is an enjoyable read, a story I may read again, and one that will stay on my shelf and might get recommended.  This is my default rating for enjoyable books, the equivalent of a B in a college class.
4: Very good.  Books from favorite authors generally fall into this category, and my most common rating generally ends up closer to four because I keep trying to look for five star reads. Grade A.
5: Excellent and/or favorite.  Books that sweep me away, that make me think, that haunt me for months afterward.  Books that make me love them so much that I forgive every single flaw they might contain.  A+ rated books.

Half stars: for when I can't decide between the above.
Emotional ratings: for when I love or hate the story so much that I forget everything else.  These are generally one or five star books.  😉

Questions and comments: 
I'd love to get lots of these!  Please bear with me, though, as I don't always have access to a computer with a browser that Google approves of, and thus may be unable to comment back quickly.