Author of Sweet Hope and Happy Endings

Category: Fiction Reviews (Page 1 of 32)

BOOK REVIEW: The Vanishing at Loxby Manor

Book By: Abigail Wilson

A secret society outlawed decades ago. A woman gone missing. A family who isn’t all they appear to be. The Vanishing at Loxby Manor is a chilling read – make sure your lights are on for this one.

Charity Halliwell has returned to England after being whisked away by her parents five years prior. Instead of heading to America with her family to visit her older brother, Charity begs to return to the home she left. Her wish is granted. If only she’d gone with her family…

I won’t spoil the story and give more detail than that.

The easy narrative pulls the reader in to a time and place where legends were created and brought to life. Loxby Manor and the people who reside in it are hiding secrets. Is no one to be trusted? Charity is pulled into intrigue and has a personal stake with the woman who disappears the very night Charity arrives. The novel is spent searching for the woman, questioning those who last saw her and chasing leads that brings her nowhere.

There are twists and turns that the reader may not easily predict, which makes this a delightful experience. There are enough clues sprinkled throughout the pages to help readers draw their own conclusions and then quickly squashed as Charity uncovers the truth.

If you enjoy regency romance with a whole lot of intrigue (and don’t mind murder), you’ll enjoy this read.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

BOOK REVIEW: The Butterfly and the Violin

BOOK BY: Kristy Cambron

What a poignant story of finding beauty in ashes.

This dual time story takes the reader to Vienna, Austria from 1939-1945. Adele is Austria’s Sweetheart, a violin prodigy and daughter of a high ranking Third Reich officer. Her future is bright in a world that is rapidly changing. Her faith is strong and her compassion for others something to admire.

In present day Manhattan, Sera is obsessed with finding the original painting of Austria’s Sweetheart – a painting she’s searched for since she was eight years old and saw it hanging in an art museum in Paris. When a lead brings her to the home of a business mogul, she is shocked to learn that her very life’s work is caught in the middle of a multi-million dollar estate dispute.

Kristy Cambron weaves the past and the present in an intricate pattern of intrigue. These two women’s stories will collide in a beautiful finale of healing from the pain of the past.

A beautiful narrative. A horrendous event. A delicate balance between past and present. A story of hope, and beauty, when all seems lost.

I loved it.

BOOK REVIEW: THE CURATOR’S DAUGHTER

Book By: Melanie Dobson

A captivating, thought-provoking read by Melanie Dobson – her best novel yet.

Be prepared to experience the heartbreak of the stories of the Jewish people during WW2 and the people who tried to help them. And don’t be surprised at how much our world hasn’t changed since then.

A young, ambitious archaeologist working for the Third Reich is eager to make a name for herself in a world where women are expected to abide by the 3Ks – kunchen, kirche and kinder (kitchen, church and children). When she’s pulled from the field and reassigned to curate treasures others have found, it’s only the beginning of a series of twists and unexpected turns neither Hanna, nor the reader anticipates.

A young, teenaged girl is caught in a modern cult, fighting for the same purity of the Aryan race. She will spend the rest of her life fighting the hate that dictated her early teens and left her with a trauma that haunts her dreams.

Both these women are intricately linked – but the connection is not easily seen by the reader. And once all is revealed, hang on to your page! It will leave your head spinning.

There are so many great things about this novel. I think what struck me the most about it, is that it’s a novel relevant to our time. Like, this month. With all the rioting and messages of hate that have been regularly reported on, The Curator’s Daughter is releasing at the right moment in our history. There was evil in the world back then, there is evil now.

A beautiful thread of hope, forgiveness, and second chances is sewn together through the end. It’s a story about discovering your roots, preserving the stories of those who have gone before us and overcoming the past.

Go buy the book! You won’t be sorry you did.

I received an ecopy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

BOOK REVIEW: ALL THAT WE CARRIED

BOOK BY: Erin Bartels

The author has a special talent in pulling the reader into the setting of the story. Almost the entirety of the novel takes place in the Porcupine Mountains where characters are hiking, camping and trying to work through issues they’ve ignored for the past decade. This story is very much character driven, with internal struggles causing much of the friction between sisters – Olivia and Melanie. I appreciated the beautiful and polished narrative.

If you are used to reading Christian fiction with a strong faith thread, you will get that here but unlike what a Bible-believing reader has come to expect in the Christian Fiction market. Religious faith, New Age faith, agnosticism and everything in between is discussed as characters grapple with their internal struggles. When Melanie and Olivia started discussing Tarot cards and what they meant and believing in reincarnation, the enjoyment of reading completely left. The question of the existence of God continues throughout the novel, with minor characters feeding into the discussion (who by all appearances believe in the existence of God). The dialogue doesn’t resolve the questions satisfactorily – and sometimes is left completely unfinished, an abrupt change in conversation – and invokes more questions than answers. At the end of the novel, neither sister has resolved their issues with faith – or have they? The reader is left wondering.

As well, a sort of friend/love triangle happens which causes more friction between sisters. That kind of trope isn’t my cup of tea, though other readers will love it. It is handled relatively well – but again, it’s just not my thing.

The biggest disappointment for this reader was the faith thread. If this book had been marketed for the general fiction market, I likely would have enjoyed it more. But with the expectation that this is marketed as Christian Fiction, it is lacking in the essentials. Hope and pointing readers to Truth.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

BOOK REVIEW: THE DRESS SHOP ON KING STREET

BOOK BY: Ashley Clark

The Dress Shop on King Street is a story that brings together the unified dreams of a young girl and her mentor.

I had heard so much about this book, I finally decided to request a copy to read and I’m happy I did. This time slip novel (weaving the past with a contemporary story) is an interesting survey of living in the South during the 40s and 50s, up to present day. The heroine is of African and Caucasian heritage in a place where she has already lost a father due to hatred. Her father was murdered because he had a child with an African woman. Millie is faced with a choice her entire life – hide one of her heritages and speak to no one of where she comes from.

The sensitivity to which the author tackles this issue is commendable. It takes the reader back to a time when hatred was left unpunished and people of mixed heritage were forced to choose which one to embrace. If one chose unwisely, s/he would suffer what no one should go through. The author brings the inner struggle of Millie to light, which begs the reader to ask themselves a simple question. What would I have done in Millie’s place?

She is able to hide her heritage until she gives birth to fraternal twins – one who is white, and the other who is darker skinned. Millie and her husband make a desperate choice which takes her to the end of the story to find redemption.

The contemporary story sees a much older Millie mentoring a design protégé who reminds Millie of herself. Harper’s story will be intricately woven with Millie’s by the end.

It was a challenging read in the sense of the issues tackled in this book. It was an enjoyable read for the ability of the author to bring the reader into Millie’s world.

I’m glad I listened to the recommendations of others and look forward to reading more from this author.

I received an ecopy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

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