Thursday, June 27, 2024

Last Light by Terri Blackstock (Review)

Series: Restoration #1
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Zondervan 
Released: January 1, 2005
367 pages
About the Book:

The first installment in a thrilling series in which a global catastrophe puts a family’s survival at risk—and both reveals the darkness in human hearts and lights the way to restoration. Birmingham, Alabama, has lost all power. Its streets are jammed with cars that won’t start and its airport is engulfed in flames from burning planes. All communications—cell phones, computers, even radios—are silent. Every home and business is dark. Is it a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or something far worse? In the face of a crisis that sweeps an entire high-tech planet back to a time before electricity, the Branning family faces a choice. Will they hoard their possessions in order to survive—or trust God to provide as they share their resources with those around them? Yesterday’s world is gone. Family and community are all that remain. And the outage is revealing the worst in some. Desperation can be dangerous—especially when a killer lives among them.

My Rating & Thoughts:    ⭐⭐⭐

I felt like I was right there with the characters experiencing the total electrical shutdown. I was on edge so many times, wondering what would happen next, and I kept thinking about this situation when I wasn't reading. I like that we are focused on one family in particular with an age span of characters. People react to the circumstances in various ways, and this leads to some dangerous happenings that feel so real. Deni's whining was a little annoying at times, and she made a reckless choice which could have turned out so much worse than it did. There were a couple parts that felt a bit too convenient to be real, but there are times in real life that God works in mysterious ways and nothing is impossible. I enjoyed the way faith was weaved in and how God provided people to help Deni when she really needed it. I have connected with this family, and some of the neighbours, that I am eager to continue to the series to see what happens next.

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Monday, June 24, 2024

Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar (Review)

Genre: Historical Fiction 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Released: February 25, 2020
338 pages
About the Book:

August 1942. Jacob and Moses Stein, two young Jewish brothers, are staying with their aunt in Paris amid the Nazi occupation. The boys’ parents, well-known German playwrights, have left the brothers in their aunt’s care until they can find safe harbor for their family. But before the Steins can reunite, a great and terrifying roundup occurs. The French gendarmes, under Nazi order, arrest the boys and take them to the VĂ©lodrome d’Hiver—a massive, bleak structure in Paris where thousands of France’s Jews are being forcibly detained.

Jacob and Moses know they must flee in order to survive, but they only have a set of letters sent from the south of France to guide them to their parents. Danger lurks around every corner as the boys, with nothing but each other, trek across the occupied country. Along their remarkable journey, they meet strangers and brave souls who put themselves at risk to protect the children—some of whom pay the ultimate price for helping these young refugees of war.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

We are following the journey of two brothers trying to escape Paris and be reunited with their parents when Paris becomes unsafe for Jewish children. The journey the boys take is filled with a lot of anxiety and scary moments. They do run into some trouble and there are many close calls, but they meet some wonderful people along the way that help them even when it is risky for themselves. I was inspired by those who assisted. At times the story felt disjointed and I had trouble following what was going on due to details being left out. There were also some parts that felt inserted for no particular reason. I struggle with understanding the actions of the parents and would have appreciated if their thoughts had been shared. The ending felt a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the future held for the boys. It was interesting to read the history notes at the end and discover that some of the characters were based on real people from and their actions.

Favourite Quotes: 
“It may be that this world just gets messier, but you'll always be able to find good people in it.”
“Love is a decision more than a feeling.”
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, June 21, 2024

Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble (Review)

Series: Pelican Harbor #2
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Released: September 8, 2020
352 pages
About the Book:

Police Chief Jane Hardy has only just been reunited with her long-lost son when she learns of an impending terror attack that threatens everything she holds dear.

A lie changed her world. Police Chief Jane Hardy is still reeling from the scandal that rocked her small-town department just as she took over for her retired father—the man who wrecked her life with one little lie. Now she’s finally been reunited with her presumed-dead fifteen-year-old son, Will, and his father, documentarian Reid Dixon.

When a murder aboard the Gulf Coast oil platform Zeus exposes an environmental terrorist’s plot to flood Mobile Bay with crude oil, Jane and Reid must put their feelings for each other aside and work together to prevent the looming sabotage.

When the terrorist puts Will’s life on the line, protecting him could be the common ground Jane and Reid need . . . until ghosts from the past threaten to ruin their fragile relationship for good. Jane has plenty of reasons to run. But what if she stays?

My Rating & Thoughts:    

Book opens with us learning of a possible threat to an oil rig and someone going missing. Police Chief Jane gets alerted to the threat and the missing person. While investigating, she receives a threat against her son Will and must decide how to proceed. Jane and Reid must work together to protect their son. Due to the events from book one we know there is tension in that relationship. At times, the story was faced paced, and I questioned if they could stop the threat in time, but other times, I felt it dragged by having the same character conflict come up time and time again. I had suspicions about who was involved, but it turned out I was wrong. However, the ending felt rushed and solved too quickly. I would have liked to see more police work done. The story felt much more focused on the relationships between the various characters (friends, family, and possible romance) than the actual case. I did really like the part with Reid and his grandparents. I will be finishing the series because I want to know if Jane gets some answers to her personal quest.

(I borrowed this book from the library; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano (Review)

Series: Supper Club #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House 
Released: February 5. 2019
393 pages

About the Book:

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-cafĂ© in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

My Rating & Thoughts:    ⭐⭐

I initially read this as an advance reader copy back in 2019, but I recently purchased a copy and read it for the second time. I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. I fell in love with Melody and Justin once again and hanging out with the girls. I'm not a person who loves to cook or bake but that hasn't turned me off from this series. I may not relate in this way but I could be Ana and just enjoy the food that Rachel and Melody make.

Original Review - With the main character being a baker, it comes as no surprise that quite a bit of time is spent in the kitchen. All the mouth-watering goodies will have readers drooling. Melody has dreams of opening her own bakery and being able to choose what she makes but can not see a way to achieve that goal. But then she receives an unexpected inheritance, and her dreams seem to be within reach. However, she has just met Justin, who already has plans in place that will entail him moving across the country. Justin is intrigued by Melody and wants to spend time with her, but the timing is off. How dangerous is it for their hearts to spend more time together even though their lives are heading in different directions?

After meeting Melody in book 1 of the series, I was looking forward to getting to know her more. I was drawn to Justin he has a caring heart and will do anything for his family. I appreciated that he was honest and upfront about his feelings and situation. These two don’t seem like an obvious match, but I liked them together. There was a point in the story where I found myself really frustrated with Rachel her attitude and treatment of Melody felt very selfish. I was pleased that Melody stood up for herself and that they were able to work through the issues, and this one incident didn’t ruin their relationship. I felt their friendship was stronger in the end.

As I became more invested in the story, my attachment to Justin and Melody grew. I tried to figure out things would turn out for them, but I couldn’t see a scenario where they would both be able to achieve their dreams. Would one of them have to give up their dreams, and if so, would they regret it? I was intrigued to see what was going to happen. The story took me on an emotional journey, but it was one I enjoyed.

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Positively, Penelope by Pepper Basham (Review)

Series: Skymar #2 
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Released: August 1, 2023
391 pages
About the Book:

Penelope Edgewood is practically positive in every way, so when, fresh out of college, she is awarded a paid internship to help save a century-old theater on the island of Skymar, she jumps at the chance. After all, a crumbling theater needs the special touch of someone who reveres all things vintage and adores the stage.

Unfortunately, not everything is as it seems at Darling House Theatre. Finances are in shambles, the local theater group is disenchanted, and the two brothers, Matt and Alec Gray, can’t seem to see eye-to-eye about how to run their theatrical business. So, of course, it’s the perfect place for Penelope to shine her own personal brand of sunshine.

With a little help from GK, the person emailing her encouragement along the way, she puts all her heart into helping the Grays save Darling House. But between Matt’s ever-present skepticism, Alec’s tendency to treat Penelope a little too much like the “princess” she thinks she wants to be (until someone actually started treating her that way), a grandfather who is stuck in his grief, and a mysterious person stealing Penelope’s marketing ideas, she’s not sure her optimism is enough to make a happily-ever-after of her own story, let alone The Darling House’s.

Between an adorable little girl, a matchmaker, a sea monster or two, and a copious amount of musical references, can Penelope draw enough confidence from her faith, her family, and her adoration of all things Julie Andrews, to find the thief and save the theater . . . without getting her heart broken in the process?

My Rating & Thoughts:    ⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book! The characters and the setting just made me fall in love with this story. Penelope has a passion for theater and has arrived in Skymar to complete a 3-month internship at the Darling House (a long running family theater), to assist them in marking and revitalizing the theater. As she gets to know the Gray family she finds out the roots of the theater are deep in their souls, but due to family losses they are struggling. She makes it her mission to see this theater succeed meanwhile it seems they may have a mole inside sharing their plans with the other theater in town. Penelope struggles with homesickness and the challenges facing her but she always tries to find the positive side of things. For example when working with grumpy Matt she makes it her mission to make him laugh. I loved watching the friendships develop and seeing how Penelope was able to influence those around her in a positive way. This story is told through a mix of emails, text messages and in the moment narrative. There are quite a few references to musicals and movies and in particular Julie Andrews and Sound of Music (which I love), even if I hadn't seen the shows mentioned I understood the reference. This book just put a smile on my face while reading and made me feel happy and positive. There are struggles, but I knew that the characters would figure it out.

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)