Book Review: A Name Unknown

I recently finished reading A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White.

Oh, Rosemary, Rosemary, Rosemary, you sweet summer child. You had no idea what you were getting yourself into. Bless her heart. ūüėČ

I really enjoyed this novel. It has been a *while* since I enjoyed an inspirational romance this much. I know, I know. I am a tad bit critical, true, but still. Most novels in the genre these days have been, frankly, boring. I was starting to wonder if maybe it was time to move on to other things. (Grass is always greener, am I right?)

When I saw that the author was organizing a blogger/influencer¬†team (thank you Roseanna!), I thought to myself, “What the hay? Who will it hurt? Maybe me, but whatever. Looks interesting.” Man, was I in for a ride!

They say that the best things in life are worth the wait. Who “they” are, I have no idea, but it’s true nonetheless. I waited a hot minute to get this book, but when it came, I devoured it like a starving child. I never knew I needed something this light and carefree yet also dark and deep and thought provoking. (You’re probably thinking, “Dark and deep and thought provoking in a romance novel? Really, Alannie?” Sweetie, you must be new here.) This book was everything I wanted and more. It completely exceeded my expectations.

Roseanna definitely has a skill for writing quality characters. Every single character (even background characters so deeply shrouded in obscurity) was excellently crafted. The heroine and hero were a perfect match, and I found their interactions to be the highlight of the novel. Rosemary was completely adorable, but Peter was a freaking gem. He’s so completely oblivious yet endearing that it made me grin and blush like Sailor Moon. Needless to say, I was smitten.

Besides the actual characters themselves, I also found the character arcs to be flawless. Rosemary’s journey in particular was especially well done, and I felt like her journey to faith was a genuine and heartfelt experience. Some of you long-time readers may know how important this aspect is to me. In fact, it can often make or break a novel in this inspirational genre that I have a love/hate relationship with. Needless to say, I was very pleased with how things turned out in this story. For the first time in a while, I’m excited to see what the other novels in this series turn out to be. Hopefully as fun and spellbinding as this first one!

I received this book from the author, but I was in no way required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

 

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Book Review: Egypt’s Sister

I recently finished reading Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt. This was an interesting story that¬†definitely captured my attention. The characters, especially Chava, were the strongest part of the story. I found myself wondering exactly how everything would turn out. The main plot line¬†of the story was definitely Chava’s relationship with God, which is very unique in most inspirational fiction (although based on the name of the genre, you might assume otherwise). I appreciated that aspect of the story, and I felt that it was accomplished very well. That being said, I did not feel a particular connection to the characters, despite the fact that they were well written. I was interested in what happened to them, true, but I could have easily set this book down and never picked it up again without losing sleep over the ending. In a way, the ending contributed to this feeling, as it came out a tad anti-climactic. That being said, it might just be a matter of taste, as I do not often read biblical fiction. Overall, a well written story that just didn’t do it for me. I received this book from the publisher, but I was in no way required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Heart on the Line

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I recently finished reading Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer. This was such a fun read! I’ve always been a fan of Karen Witemeyer, and her work has never failed to bring a smile to my face and a few hours of escape to another time. Heart on the Line is no exception! I adored all of the characters, and though I would say the plot is pretty predictable for veteran inspirational romance fans, it was still an enjoyable ride! The strongest point of the book is definitely the two main characters. Their chemistry was great, and they were both endearing, charming, and relatable. I was rooting for them until the final page! I would definitely recommend if you are looking for a light and entertaining western! I received this book from the publisher and was in no way required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Under a Summer Sky

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I recently finished reading Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson. This was a very enjoyable read, and I felt like I was on vacation while I was reading it! It was a great story, and all the characters were lovable. I especially found myself rooting for Nicole throughout the novel. However, with that being said, I did feel like the ending was jilted and short. It was almost as if a few more chapters were missing from the story. It gave a final impression of the book being rushed. However, I do still feel like it was a good novel, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for a light, summer read. I received this book from the publisher, but I was in no way required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: True to You

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I recently finished reading True to You by Becky Wade. This was my first book by Becky Wade, and I have to say I’m impressed! I’m not normally a big contemporary romance fan, but this one was pretty enjoyable! Granted, there were some eye-roll worthy moments, but for the most part it was interesting and held my attention. I thought the main characters had a fun dynamic and an easy camaraderie, and the plot was intriguing and steady paced. There were even some moments that surprised me! However, the two main characters did have some unnecessary drama, and some of their interactions came across as a bit cliche. Overall, it was a light and fun read, and I look forward to continuing on in the series to see how things work out with the rest of the Bradford sisters! I received this book from the publisher, but I was in no way required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Behind the Scenes

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I recently finished reading Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano. This book was extremely fast-paced in the dialogue department. I’m talking banter like you wouldn’t believe! Normally, I’m a huge fan of witty back and forth, but I think this was a little over the top. The dialogue most of the time didn’t really do anything to drive the story forward, and I found myself skipping over some parts because I was getting tired of reading their¬†constant ribbing. The story had¬†an interesting premise, however, which is why I continued with it.¬†However, I didn’t feel like the central conflict made sense, nor did I feel that the villain was intimidating. This is partially because it came completely out of left field with not a whole lot of build up. It felt cheap and underdeveloped.

Permilia’s side job as a journalist was underplayed and discarded pretty early on in the story. From the publisher’s description, I was under the impression that her status as a journalist/wallflower would hold more bearing for the story. Ultimately, it did not play that big of a role, and was quickly¬†scrapped in favor of focusing on the two main characters “witty” repartee. This near endless stream-of-consciousness-like dialogue probably would not have been such a negative thing for me if I felt that the characters had a real connection.

All in all, I felt there was too much going on in this story to be truly enjoyable. Everything that happened came across as trite and over the top, whether it was story, dialogue, or character dynamic. While I have enjoyed Jen Turano’s work in the past, this is not one that will be sticking around on my shelves for long. I received this book from the publisher, but I was in no way required to leave a positive¬†review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Pursued

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I recently finished reading Pursued by Lisa Harris. What a page turner! I think this was my favorite book in this series! Nikki Boyd is back, and with an even more complex and intriguing mystery than ever before! I really enjoyed following along as Nikki put all the pieces together and refused to back down from the case. The plot and mystery in this book were unpredictable and fast-paced, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. While I’m normally a big romance fan, this particular series doesn’t do much for me in that department, despite the efforts. There’s just something about the two main characters that doesn’t stir in me a strong connection or investment in their relationship. For instance, the main romantic conflict¬†in this book I found to be a tad trite. To me, it felt that Nikki wasn’t putting enough faith in their relationship. Although I can imagine a situation like the one presented would be difficult, I never once felt that her worries were rooted in reality. With that being said, I still enjoyed the main portion of the story, and I would recommend it to fans of thrillers and mysteries. I received this book from the publisher, but I was in no way required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth

I recently finished reading A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd. Unfortunately, I was not blown away by this novel. If you have spent any significant length of time reading inspirational romance, you will know what I mean when I say this book was a little too cliche, and not in an endearing way. The story itself starts out interestingly enough, but the mystery element was underwhelming. Now, I am not Nancy Drew by any means, but with a little deductive reasoning and practically from the moment the mystery arc was introduced I guessed the ending and the culprits. There was potential there, granted, but it ultimately fell flat.

My other issue was with the characters and their dynamic. They all seemed one-dimensional to me and didn’t possess any of the life and passion I have felt from even some of Ladd’s other works. Annabelle seemed nice enough, but she ultimately felt¬†artificial. There wasn’t anything I found to be relatable¬†about her, and none of her thoughts or feelings felt genuine. She seemed to me merely a paper doll–lifeless and boring after a few minutes. Owen, I feel like I barely got to know (perhaps that is the issue with all these characters, who knows?). Every time I interacted with him, he was too busy worrying about poachers to¬†reveal anything deeper than surface level issues with his late wife. That backstory could have used more explanation as well, as it was teased a little, but I ultimately wasn’t made to care very much for the situation at all.

I don’t know that I would call this a romance novel. The two main characters hardly interact with one another in any significant ways, and their relationship felt too convenient. Yes, he helps her out. But do they necessarily fall in love? I read the entire book, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you they did if they hadn’t said so at the end. Why should they love one another? It didn’t make sense to me, and it felt too¬†tropey. There was no spark, and for me, I feel like this is more a story about the dangers of poaching than anything else. Perhaps, if you are into that, you will enjoy this book, but I feel like I wasted my time.

As far as the faith element, I’m not sure there was much of one. Prayers are mentioned by a few of the characters, but it didn’t seem like it was much of a priority. It was more like an afterthought. Annabelle’s ¬†journey to faith (I say journey very loosely) seemed more like a driveway that cut off too soon. I honestly cannot say that she even had a faith journey, frankly. Now granted, I don’t necessarily expect every character to have a miraculous faith experience by the end of one novel, but if your genre is faith-based fiction, you should use faith as more of a foundation than an addendum.

The main point I keep coming back to is that I did not connect with this book at all–not the story, the characters, or the writing. The long and the short of it is that it didn’t possess that je¬†ne sais quoi. It was lifeless, flat, one-dimensional, and ultimately a let down. This may seem harsh considering it is “just a romance novel”, but to me, there is no such thing. Every piece of literature, no matter the target audience or genre, can build up a person, teach a lesson, and provide an escape to another world if only for a few hours. A Stranger at Fellsworth failed in this respect for me, and because of that, I’m afraid I cannot recommend it.

I received this book from the author, and I was in no way required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review:¬†An Uncommon Courtship

 

I recently finished reading An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter. I was not extremely thrilled with this novel. Even though I’ve read other books in this series, I felt at a complete loss at this story’s opening scene. I had absolutely no idea how the two main characters were connected, how they had met, and why they were being tossed into a seemingly random and unnecessary marriage. I also felt that these issues were never fully expounded on or explained very thoroughly, and that left me feeling disconnected from the characters and not fully invested in the story itself. Perhaps it was just my personal tastes, but this novel did nothing for me. I found myself skipping over entire paragraphs simply because their contents held nothing entertaining for me. Another aspect that didn’t jive very well with me was that I couldn’t identify or relate to any of the characters. To be quite honest, I just didn’t care what happened to them or if they worked out their inane issues in order to overcome their rushed marriage that was never really explained. I don’t think I would recommend this book. There are many other Christian romances out there that excel at what this book barely scraped at, and you are probably better off reading one of those than this mess that I suppose can be called a novel. That may seem harsh, but it’s the truth. I received this book from the publisher, but I was in no way required to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

 

I recently finished reading The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen. This was such an excellent story! I’ve always adored novels with an ensemble cast of characters, and The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill hits the nail on the head in that department! I adored every one of the characters, and I felt that they all added something to the story. Normally I’m a little wary of series, as I find that the stories they exhibit¬†can often be aptly told in one novel, However, in this instance, I found that I couldn’t get enough of the people of Ivy Hill! I felt myself rooting for their success and sharing in their sorrows at every turn, a sign of excellent story telling on the part of Julie Klassen. The quirkiness of the town and the beautiful setting brought to mind gems such as Cranford¬†and¬†North and South. I really enjoyed interacting with all the individual storylines, and I can’t wait to see how things turn out in the following installments! Overall, an excellent and worthwhile read for fans of Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austen that I could not recommend more! I received this novel from the publisher, but I was in no way required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.