Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Sound of Light by Sarah Sundin

Book cover
The Sound of Light
by Sarah Sundin


ISBN-13: 9780800736385
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: February 7th 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When the Germans march into Denmark, Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt exchanges his nobility for anonymity, assuming a new identity so he can secretly row messages for the Danish Resistance across the waters to Sweden. He poses as a slow-minded, hard-working shipyard worker while staying at a boardinghouse full of students and scientists.

American physicist Dr. Else Jensen refuses to leave Copenhagen and abandon her research--her life's dream. While printing resistance newspapers, she hears stories of the movement's legendary Havmand--the merman--and finds herslef unexpectedly falling in love with Henrik without knowing he's the Havmand.

When the Occupation cracks down on the Danes, these two passionate people will discover if there is more power in speech . . . or in silence.


My Review:
The Sound of Light is a Christian romance set in Denmark starting in 1943. Else's a brilliant physicist but didn't stand up against authority even when unjust. When her new boss gave her only busywork and bad-mouthed her, she gracefully accepted it as a way to learn humility...though he's out to ruin her career. Henrik (posing as Hemming, an uneducated manual worker) encouraged her to speak up against this injustice. Else also found the courage to fight injustice by helping print resistance newspapers. They began to fall in love despite their secrets, but Henrik worried that she was falling in love with a man that didn't exist. He's also worried that he's harsh like his father and unsuited to leadership, but Else helped him to see how much he's changed.

Since both were doing resistance work, there was the constant danger that one or both could get arrested, tortured, and executed. The historical details were woven into the story and brought the story alive in my imagination. It was interesting to see how differently things went for the Danish people. The characters were well-developed, had complexity, and acted realistically to events. They felt like real people who really lived through these events. Henrik and Else were engaging characters who helped others and supported each other. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable historical romance.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, February 3, 2023

The Cairo Curse by Pepper Basham

Book cover
The Cairo Curse
by Pepper Basham


ISBN-13: 9781636094724
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
Released: February 1st 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley have already experienced their fair-share of suspense, but when a honeymoon trip takes a detour to the mystical land of Egypt, not even Grace with her fiction-loving mind is prepared for the dangers in store. From an assortment of untrustworthy adventure-seekers to a newly discovered tomb with a murderous secret, Frederick and Grace must lean on each other to navigate their dangerous surroundings. As the suspects mount in an antiquities’ heist of ancient proportions, will Frederick and Grace’s attempts to solve the mystery lead to another death among the sands?


My Review:
The Cairo Curse is a Christian mystery set in 1914 in England and Egypt. This is the second book in a series, and you can understand it without reading the first book. However, this book did refer to many events in the first book, including potentially spoiling that mystery.

Grace is full of enthusiasm and a lively imagination fueled by books. She gets a thrill from adventure, and I love how resourceful she is in the face of unexpected adventures. However, a couple of times, she came across as unexpectedly lacking in common sense. Near the beginning, she dashed off by herself into a crowd of Egyptians rather than taking the simple precaution of bringing one of the servants with her or taking a moment to step inside a shop to tell her husband what's going on. I'm not as adventurous as Grace, but having been in Cairo once, it felt unrealistic and foolish for her to dash off like that. I wasn't even clear as to why the carriage didn't just take her on to the hotel, which would have made sense. On the other hand, the bit near the end where Grace tried to bind a wound like in a novel (showing how novels aren't always realistic) was pricelessly funny to me.

The main characters were engaging, kind, and honorable. Grace and Frederick built each other up and supported each other. Both asked questions and looked for clues--Grace in ways reflecting the novels that she's read while Frederick did more based on life experience and trying to keep Grace safe while having her adventure. There were clues and whodunit was guessable, though who was responsible for exactly what wasn't always obvious until revealed.

Grace referred to God throughout the book in little comments related to what they were seeing or doing. She had confidence in what would happen to her if she died. There was no bad language. There were no sex scenes, though there was some extending kissing and undressing at the very end. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, humorous novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Yesterday's Tides by Roseanna M. White

Book cover
Yesterday's Tides
by Roseanna M. White


ISBN-13: 9780764240010
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: January 24th 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In 1942, Evie Farrow is used to life on Ocracoke Island, where every day is the same--until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc. And when special agent Sterling Bertrand is washed ashore at Evie's inn, her life is turned upside down. While Sterling's injuries keep him inn-bound for weeks, making him even more anxious about the man he's tracking, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Evie, who seems to be hiding secrets of her own.

Decades earlier, in 1914, Englishman Remington Culbreth arrives at the Ocracoke Inn for the summer, but he doesn't count on falling in love with Louisa Adair, the innkeeper's daughter. When war breaks out in Europe, and their relationship is put in jeopardy, will their love survive?

As Evie and Sterling work to track down an elusive German agent, they unravel a story that goes back a generation. The ripples from the Great War are still rocking their lives, and it seems yesterday's tides may sweep them all into danger again today.


My Review:
Yesterday's Tides is a Christian historical set in 1914 and 1942 on Ocracoke Island in America. Both timelines have a full story, but the mystery of the 1942 timeline was about the identity of Evie's parents. Since everyone seemed to be her grandma, aunt, or uncle (even when we knew those characters weren't related), it was sometimes difficult to sort out who was related to whom in what way. Still, you could follow the basic stories just fine.

In 1914, Louisa was poor, did the inn's handyman work, and wasn't sure if she had a black grandma. Remington's rich and visiting on a vacation, but he's intrigued by the beautiful, skilled Louisa. He knew that her ancestry and social status would make it hard for her to fit into his world, but he's attracted to her personality and character. She's also attracted to him, but his relatives will go to cruel lengths to keep them apart. As WWI begins, the war also threatens to separate loved ones.

In 1942, Evie lived in America but helped the British crack enemy codes by using the local Coast Guard telegraph for communication. When British spy Sterling survives a U-boat attack and washes up on her beach, she helped keep his secret and nurse him back to health. She agreed to help him track down an enemy spy (though they spent little time actually doing that). While Evie's willing to answer any of Sterling's questions about her life and past, he's determined to poke around instead and piece together clues until he can figure it out. When the Coast Guard brought Evie coded telegrams, he suddenly suspected her of being an enemy spy...who somehow managed to fool every local resident and Coast Guard into trusting her yet also was the Worst Spy Ever in terms of keeping her "enemy" telegram communications a secret. His belief that she was an enemy when all her actions pointed toward her being an ally made no sense.

Overall, though, the stories were suspenseful as the dangers of two World Wars and relationship tensions stressed the characters. I understood why Remington and Louisa were attracted, though Evie and Sterling seemed more like mild friends until suddenly they realized they loved each other. The characters trusted in God through difficult circumstances. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, January 27, 2023

What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson

Book cover
What Happens Next
by Christina Suzann Nelson


ISBN-13: 9780764240409
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: January 17th 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Popular podcaster and ex-reporter Faith Byrne made a name for herself telling stories of greatness after tragedy--but her real life does not mirror the stories she tells. While her daughters spend the summer in Hawaii with her ex-husband and his new wife, she must manage life on her own. All of that changes when she's asked to spotlight her childhood best friend's missing person case on her podcast.

Dora Crane has never accepted that her younger daughter could be dead, keeping her home looking the same as when her daughter disappeared. But when her husband leaves her and her older daughter intervenes, she agrees to counseling and to pack up her missing daughter's belongings under one condition: Faith Byrne comes to Deep Valley and sheds light on the cold case.

As the long-abandoned investigation moves forward, old wounds and long-buried secrets are exposed. Will these two women, whose lives have never been the same, finally get the answers they need to reconcile the past and the future?


My Review:
What Happens Next is a Christian general fiction with a mystery set in two times. There were several point-of-view characters: The missing girl's viewpoint set in 1987 mostly showed how life was changing for a ten-year-old and the people around her. It's not until the end that the reader can pick up clues about what happened to her and then learn exactly what happened. In the present day, Faith dealt with her life changing in painful and unexpected ways while looking into a summer that ended so badly for her family. In helping to find answers to what happened to her friend, she also found answers to things that were going on with her family at the time. We also got Dora's viewpoint, the grieving mother who can't move on from the pain. She finally moved toward healing as Faith searched for answers.

It's not until the second half of the story that the general fiction feel turned a bit more into a mystery as clues were found and the truth finally unearthed. Despite the hard topic, the story didn't have a depressing feel. Even Dora still had hope, and the others had found some healing. The main characters were well-developed, complex people that acted in realistic ways. There was a Christian element woven into the story, like the 10-year-old girls being surprised that the boy didn't know how to pray before eating and one of the girls repeating a dinnertime prayer said at her home. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this meaningful story about healing from the many types of grief encountered throughout life.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Alaskan Mountain Search by Sarah Varland

Book cover
Alaskan Mountain Search
by Sarah Varland


ISBN-13: 9781335587503
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: January 24th 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the Alaskan wilderness, police captain Bre Dayton needs to track a serial killer and she asks one-time close friend, K9 search and rescue worker Griffin Knight. With her niece missing and possibly kidnapped, Bre has to find the murderer known as the Echo Pass Hunter—fast. Even if it means trusting the man who broke her heart…and putting herself in the killer’s crosshairs.


My Review:
Alaskan Mountain Search is a Christian romantic suspense. Griffin blames himself for the death of a woman he was trying to save. He saw her right before a human-triggered avalanche buried her. He wasn't as careful as he should have been so is sure he caused the avalanche. He refuses to do a search and rescue again (or be there for his long-time friend Bre) because he's sure he'll mess up so badly that it's better to hurt others by withdrawing his help than by chancing failure. Bre's life has been full of people leaving her, so it's not surprising to her that Griffin abandoned her when she needed him. But the last family she has left, her niece, is missing and probably the victim of a serial killer. She pesters Griffin to help her until he agrees. As they work together, both come to realize just how insecure the other feels.

Bre respects Griffin's knowledge of how to use K9s for searching while Griffin clearly respects Bre's knowledge and skill as a cop. So it seems like they ought to be a good match in terms of long friendship and mutual attraction and respect. It just saddens me that Bre isn't interested in any man except for the one who doesn't like to open up about what's bothering him and so leaves her baffled by why he keeps leaving her feeling abandoned. They do start working through these issues and improving their communication. It's: run from the killer, then work through their issues while forced to spend time together, repeat.

Bre didn't believe in God because of all the brokenness she's seen in the world. Griffin tried to explain why he still believed in a good, powerful God despite living in a broken world. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romantic suspense.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Kidnapped in Texas by Virginia Vaughan

Book cover
Kidnapped in Texas
by Virginia Vaughan


ISBN-13: 9781335587534
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: January 24th 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After witnessing an abduction, FBI agent Luke Harmon vows to return the teenage victim safely to her aunt, his ex, Abby Mitchell. But Abby has a secret—the girl is their daughter. To rescue his child from a human trafficking ring, he’ll partner with the woman who deceived him. But can he forgive the past before Abby becomes the next target…and his family is lost forever?


My Review:
Kidnapped in Texas is a Christian romantic suspense novel. I liked that Luke and Abby had genuine issues to work through before they could work as a couple. Abby grew up looking out for herself and wanting to be in control. Luke grew up in a situation that left him unforgiving and doubtful about a good God. When Luke learned that Abby didn't tell him about their having a daughter (who was just kidnapped), the trust from their childhood friendship was broken.

Luke accused Abby of not trusting him. He's skilled at working abduction cases, but when Abby didn't see immediate progress, she investigated on her own with mixed results along with increased danger. She came to realize that she didn't really trust Luke (or God) though she cared about him. Luke still cared about Abby but wasn't sure that love was enough for a relationship to thrive without more trust between them. He had to come to value this second chance more than holding on to his anger. This relational conflict continued between the two until nearly the end, so I thought resolving these issues might come too abruptly. However, it worked out believably.

I liked that Abby could think quickly in an emergency. She was often able to rescue herself and others from a burning house and the other suspenseful encounters with the bad guys. Luke tended to show up at just the right moment to help, so he still was a rescuing hero. Abby learned to trust God (rather than feeling like it all came down to her), and Luke learned to give and accept forgiveness. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romantic suspense.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Hearts of Steel by Elizabeth Camden

Book cover
Hearts of Steel
by Elizabeth Camden


ISBN-13: 9780764238451
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: January 17th 2023

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Maggie Molinaro survived a hardscrabble childhood in the downtrodden streets of Manhattan to become a successful businesswoman. After a decade of sacrifice, she now owns a celebrated ice cream company, but when she offends a corrupt banker, she unwittingly sets off a series of calamities that threaten to destroy her life's work.

Liam Blackstone was once a common laborer but is now on the board of US Steel, committed to overhauling factory conditions for the steelworkers of America. Standing in his way is the same villain determined to ruin Maggie. What begins as a practical alliance to defeat a common enemy soon evolves into a romance between two wounded people determined to beat the odds.

A spiraling circle of treachery grows increasingly dangerous as Liam and Maggie risk their positions for the good of the city. It will require all their wit and ingenuity to navigate the dangerous waters ahead, and their crusade could cost them everything.


My Review:
Hearts of Steel is a romance set in 1902 in America. I keep reading this author's novels because she brings the time period alive in my imagination. The historical details were woven into the story and events from that time impact and motivate those in the story. It's very suspenseful, too. However, I felt so frustrated with the main characters. While they were complex and realistic, they didn't really grow as people.

I loved Maggie's strength of character to keep on working to recover when facing setbacks and her willingness to stand against an evil, powerful man and to sacrifice for the betterment of others. However, Maggie was careful with money to the point of being very frugal. Money made her feel secure. Money and how it's spent became a source of conflict in Maggie and Liam's relationship. Liam assumed she was interested in him because of his money, so she's careful not to ask money from him even when he offered that help. But it's also a pride issue. Look at what SHE did through her own hard work! At the end, she finally accepted some money offered as a gift, but she just couldn't enjoy what that money bought so she demanded that the person allow her to pay it back as a loan. Frankly, I assume Maggie and Liam will be fighting over each other's spending habits for the rest of their lives.

You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, but they'd help you to understand Liam. I liked Liam better in the previous two books, where he made a real effort to do what it took to gain his goal of helping others even when it was hard for him to make changes. In this book, he's single-minded in his desire to get revenge on his rival. Helping others was done mainly so he could look better than his rival. He used other people (including Maggie). He demanded things be on his terms even to the point of pushing Maggie to eat expensive food when she had good reason to not want to. He never did learn to tame his quick temper and even admitted that he didn't want to (despite the potential consequences) because it felt good. In the end, he only stopped pursuing his vengeance because family members forced him to stop.

Maggie sometimes prayed the rosary. Liam didn't believe in God but started reading his father's Bible. Liam had a moment when he realized that he did good things for the wrong reasons and liked how he felt when bullying his enemies. Maggie immediately told him that "You need to stop thinking of yourself as a bad person....you've been trying to do the right thing....Sometimes you will stumble, but you always pick yourself up and try again, and that's all God asks of you." No mention of Jesus or of confessing sin to God or of asking God for help. There was no sex or bad language.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.