Category Archives: Fiction

A Sparkle of Silver

A Sparkle of Silver

Title: A Sparkle of Silver
Author: Liz Johnson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2962-2

“She kept saying that there was more than treasure buried at the Chateau. She said the truth would be there too,” Millie explains in Liz Johnson’s novel, A Sparkle of Silver.

~ What ~
The first in the Georgia Coast Romance series, this three-hundred-and-seventy-page book targets those who enjoy contemporary Christian romance, missing treasure, and relationship dynamics. With no profanity, adult topics of old-fashioned improprieties may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an excerpt of the next book, acknowledgments, and author’s biography.

Set on St. Simons Island in Georgia, this tale involves Millie Sullivan, a young woman who must work three jobs to make sure her aging and forgetful grandmother’s finances are covered at an assisted living facility. When her dear grandmom mentions a diary of her mother’s that was hidden ninety years ago at the once-famous local estate, she adds another job title of actress to the mansion’s tours to search for the book.

During her snooping and sleuthing, Ben Thornton, a history professor who is a security guard there and trying to pay off debts he never caused, finds he has no choice but to partner with her to help her locate the old diary that is supposed to include a treasure map.

As the two rush to find the answers, the clock of the past ticks on, explaining more than where the treasure is but also who Millie is and how Ben can be rid of his guilt.

~Why ~
With the theme of forgiveness, this is a romantic story of finding what is most important in life. Although money acquired by finding the treasure would pay the bills to take care of her grandmother, Millie initially wishes she was related to a rich man her great-grandmother met at the estate so long ago. Through sins of action and inaction of the past and present, the two protagonists learn God is the ultimate provider, not money. I like the descriptions of decades-old societal rules and ways.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like Christian romances will pass on this story that promotes God’s mercy and forgiveness while learning to forgive others. Although no eternal plan of salvation is discussed, it does have references to the Bible and sporadic prayers to God. With a twist at the end, the romances are predictable and some of the characters continually waver on their decisions. While I have read a prior book by this author, I found this one less engaging due to its stereotypical characters.

~ Wish ~
I found some of the instances of sneaking around to find the treasure, lying to others, and conversing to oneself for assurance handled flippantly by the characters, especially those who trusted God. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a mystery of a woman’s desire to not only take care of her grandmother but also learn about her lineage, this may be a good read, but I found myself often skimming pages that were bogged down, wanting to know the outcome of the story.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on my honest opinion.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sparkle-of-silver-liz-johnson/1127953156

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Freedom’s Light

Freedom's LightTitle: Freedom’s Light
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1938-5

“Your light led me to freedom, my love. What need have I of a lighthouse when you are by my side?” Hannah is told in Colleen Coble’s novel, Freedom’s Light.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those interested in a historical Christian romance during the American Revolutionary War. With no profanity, the topics of fornication, physical abuse, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes a note from the author, acknowledgments, eight discussion questions, and the author’s biography.

Set mainly in Massachusetts in 1776, Hannah Thomas has fled from Galen Wright, a Tory who wants her only for his own, and is married to a lighthouse keeper. When her older husband joins the colonists to fight against Britain and is killed, her only option is to tend to the lights that keep the ships at sea safe. However, when injured Birch Meredith washes ashore, she nurses the captain with an agenda back to health, praying God will deal with the man’s bitterness and vengeance. More complications arrive when her younger sister becomes obsessed with Galen, not realizing how evil his intentions are.

~ Why ~
This story shows how both sides of the Revolutionary War had to deal with harassment, hatred, and hangings, while love lighted the darkness of loneliness, heartbreak, and guilt. I enjoyed seeing the struggle the characters faced when challenged with family problems, loyalty, and hiding secrets. There are unexpected twists of stubbornness and deceit as well as selflessness and tenderness. I appreciated the protagonist’s reliance on God when dealt with legalism, making major decisions, and helping others.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like wartime stories of romantic relationships may not enjoy this book. Others may feel uncomfortable reading about premarital sex, but there are no graphic descriptions, only repercussions and how society dealt with it in the colonies. Since spies were prevalent during the war, their chronic lying may be viewed as immoral to some readers.

~ Wish ~
Including a map and list of characters may help some readers.

~ Want ~
If you are fascinated with how Tories and Loyalists survived dealing with America becoming independent while including a love story with heartbreak, this is an engaging read. I found it to be one of my favorite Coble books.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/freedoms-light-colleen-coble/1127455191

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Everything She Didn’t Say

Everything She Didn't SayTitle: Everything She Didn’t Say
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2701-7

“There is more than one way to tell a story …,” the back jacket declares in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, Everything She Didn’t Say.

~ What ~
Based on an actual person, this three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those interested in a pioneering woman’s viewpoint of the American West in the early 1900s. With no profanity, topics of illness and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. At the beginning are a map and character list while the ending includes author’s notes, acknowledgments, reader’s guide, author’s interview, biography, and advertisements.

In this story written in first person that spans almost fifty years, Carrie Strahorn documents her life of getting married to Robert, a writer and railroad promoter, and traveling the American West as partners to hopelessly wanting to own a home and have children. Being one of the first pioneering women, she has fierce determination to be a lady of dignity and class as she sleeps under the same roof with twenty-six men, rides a cowcatcher, scales down a gold mine, avoids black bears, and often spends time alone, without her man.

As Carrie portrays the wilderness, mountain ranges, train trips, town start-ups, and travelers she befriends, she shares her experiences and memories in a tainted sweet light while hiding the turmoil inside of wanting to settle down and become a mother. Always putting her husband first, she commits to being with him wherever he goes, even if it means giving up her dreams.

~ Why ~
With each chapter beginning with the author’s depiction of the heroine’s thoughts, it ends with actual excerpts from Strahorn’s memoir that are interesting. I like the descriptions of the towns the couple started as most are well-established and thriving today. The explanations of what a woman had to endure societally, physically, and with her husband to survive in the West were succinct and to the point.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of a woman’s trek back and forth America to follow her husband when horses, wagons, and trains were the only forms of transportation will avoid this book. Some may think the marriage of the protagonists is stifled, showing little trust in each other as they each went about their own business, rarely sharing or divulging their wishes. With a vague plot, the ending drops abruptly, so one must read the notes to find out the real story of Robert and Carrie Strahorn. Although references of God are mentioned occasionally throughout the read, there is no plan of eternal salvation.

~ Wish
There may be more than one way to tell a story, but I did not care for this book’s way of writing a memoir of another’s memoir. I found it frustrating as the author may not know the true emotions or feelings that may never have happened as she read between the main character’s original words. I was easily irritated with the rendition of Robert as an often insensitive, selfish scoundrel while Carrie was superficial, always trying to be in her “happy lanes” by condescending to her husband’s demands. I wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction about a pioneering woman’s memoir that is rewritten with fictionalized personal inflection, this may be for you, but I struggled through it, often wondering what was real and what was not.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-she-didnt-say-jane-kirkpatrick/1127953154

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Filed under ** Think Twice - I Didn't Like It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

White as Silence, Red as Song

White as Silence, Red as Song: A NovelTitle: White as Silence, Red as Song
Author: Alessandro D’Avenia
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1706-0

“Yet it is Beatrice who opened my eyes, who made me see what I wasn’t seeing,” Leo realizes in Allesandro D’Avenia’s novel, White as Silence, Red as Song.

~ What ~
Originally written in Italian in 2010, this two-hundred-and-seventy-two-page hardbound targets those who appreciate heartbreaking teenage love stories. Using slang and curse words, topics about anger issues, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The New International Version of the Holy Bible is referenced.

In this current-day tale that is written in first person, sixteen-year-old Leo is deeply infatuated with red-headed Beatrice, yet he has barely spoken to her. Through Silvia, a mutual and dear friend, he writes letters and texts that he never sends until he learns his love is terminally ill. After giving his blood that he is convinced will save her, he cherishes their relationship that teaches him about the meaning of life and tragedy of death. Observing colors including stark white and deep red, he befriends a substitute teacher who helps him realize his dreams. As his relationship with Beatrice comes to a close, he understands how to live in the moment and love those he has depended on over the years.

~ Why ~
Focusing on experiencing first-time love, this covers the gambit of the emotions, stress, turmoil, and joy that teens encounter growing up. I liked the author’s effort at the romanticizing colors, writing letters, walking his dog, competing at soccer, or studying frustrating school subjects as he pours his eclectic thoughts out on paper.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not see the validity of believing in God, especially when someone they love is dying. Others who do not like romantic stories may think the read is predictable and unrealistic how a sixteen-year-old maturely handles heartbreak.

~ Wish ~
Although I liked Leo’s character, sometimes he comes across too wise for his tender age. Even with the Catholic teachings, the book does not contain the eternal plan of salvation. I prefer reading stories that do not include profanity and wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a spiritual coming-of-age story of one realizing life must involve loving others and having faith in God, you might enjoy this quick read that adults may relate to more than teens who have never been in love for the first time.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/white-as-silence-red-as-song-alessandro-davenia/1127455170

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Hidden Among the Stars

Hidden Among the StarsTitle: Hidden Among the Stars
Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Tyndale House
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1732-9

“Is it possible that Annika found treasure in one of these lakes or in a mine near Hallstatt? And if so, what happened to it?” Callie ponders in Melanie Dobson’s novel, Hidden Among the Stars.

~ What ~
At four-hundred-and-sixteen pages, this paperback targets those who enjoy historical fiction involving loyalty of friends, keeping secrets, and heartbreak. Topics of the Nazis, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers.

In this story told in chapters decades apart, thirty-year-old bookstore co-owner Callie Randall writes in first person as she tries to find the original owners of old books she now owns. When she reads cryptic notes in a famous children’s storybook, she is determined to find out who was the Annika who wrote it years ago and why, especially because it may involve hidden treasures Jewish Austrians buried during World War II.

Also told throughout the tale, chapters revert back to the 1930s near the Dornbach’s summer castle estate near Hallstatt, Austria, where young Annika Knopf, the caregiver’s daughter who lives on the property, is infatuated with Max Dornbach and would do anything for him, even if it meant giving up who she is.

As Annika realizes Max is in love with someone else, the Nazis are rounding up anyone Jewish, including Luzia Weiss, a young lady who happens to somehow be connected to Callie’s dear friend and prior owner of the bookstore. As the Germans march into Austria, not only does Annika, Max, and Luzia have secrets to keep, but the truth has to be uncovered years later by a fearful Callie.

~ Why ~
Although this story tenderly shows the turmoil and suffering the Jews faced as they were ripped away from their homes, it focuses on how love, loyalty, and forgiveness of others and oneself provide solace and peace from a tormented past. I like how the chapters jumped from the past to the present while writing one of them in first person. Including Bible verses and the eternal plan of salvation are appreciated.

~ Why Not ~
Some who do not like tragedies related to the Nazis during World War II and the horrific treatment of humans may not want to read this one. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how God is in control, even when we do not understand the hardships and devastation of life during the Holocaust.

~ Wish ~
With many characters who are threaded throughout the tale, it would be helpful if there were a brief list of names at the beginning of the book for reference.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a historical fiction about how others tried to protect Jewish friends and neighbors in Austria when the Nazis were taking over, this one that includes romance, as well as self-sacrifice, will be cherished and remembered months later.

Thanks to Tyndale Blog for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hidden-among-the-stars-melanie-dobson/1128198731

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Christian, Fiction

Lethal Legacy

Title: Lethal Legacy
Author: Carol J. Post
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-1-335-54400-1c

“If he knew Andi, she wasn’t going to give up until she had turned over every stone. She’d learn what had weighed so heavily on her father,” Bryce considers in Carol J. Post’s novel, Lethal Legacy.

~ What ~
Part of the Love Inspired Suspense series, this two-hundred-and-eighty-eight-page pocket-sized paperback targets those who enjoy inspirational suspense with devotion to a parent and love. With no profanity or sexual content, topics of physical abuse, car accidents, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book promotes that God helps us when we trust and call upon Him. An author’s note and inserts of other Love Inspired series books are at the end.

Second in the trilogy, this current-day short story is based mainly in North Carolina where divorced Andrea Wheaton has returned to her father’s beloved but worn-down cabin after her parents die in a car accident. Unable to avoid the past, Andrea encounters her next door neighbor, policeman Bryce Caldwell, who was her high school sweetheart a dozen years ago, after there is a burglary in the cabin. When she learns someone is searching for something on the old property, she tries to protect her father’s legacy and respect while staying ahead of the perpetrators with Bryce’s help.

~ Why ~
The fast-paced tale shows how a young couple wonder if the flame they felt between them years ago can be reignited or smothered by the past circumstances. I like the author’s way of portraying her broken and imperfect characters who are urged to seek God for help. Like her other books, there is no eternal plan of salvation given, but the underlying story is about trusting God to protect and save.

~ Why Not ~
Similar to the prior book in the series, this one is as predictable regarding romance between two hurt people. Those who do know Jesus Christ personally may not appreciate the undertone of Christianity being a relationship with Christ, not a set of rules. Some may not care for the similarities in accidents portrayed and that the answer to her father’s dilemma was provided early in the book and easy to spot.

~ Wish ~
Since this short novel barely allows its characters to develop fully, it is good that there is a final book in the series that may bring conclusion, although there is little updating of the characters from the first book in this one.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a suspenseful fiction that includes romance and dealing with one’s past, this one shows how determined a daughter can be to clear her father’s name.

Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lethal-legacy-carol-j-post/1127887382

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Formula of Deception

Formula of Deception: A NovelTitle: Formula of Deception­­­­­
Author: Carrie Stuart Parks
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7180-8385-4

“Hey, and listen. Be careful. Three people connected to this case are dead,” Murphy is warned in Carrie Stuart Parks’s novel, Formula of Deception.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those who enjoy a Christian suspense fiction about a series of murders in Alaska. With no profanity, topics of abuse, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an author’s note and biography, acknowledgments, eight discussion questions, and advertisements.

This tale set in current day Kodiak, Alaska, Murphy Anderson is hiding from a serial killer who she thinks has her sister. When she listens to an Alaskan hunter’s death bed confession, she pretends to be a forensic artist who draws his haunting memories of men who mysteriously died on nearby Ruuwaq Island. By assisting the local police, she helps uncover a World War II Quonset hut that may have been used for producing biological warfare. As those she meets tell her she is a “soul searcher,” those who are connected to the mystery are killed, forcing her to wonder who is on her side.

~ Why ~
This is a fast “who-done-it” read that makes the reader keep guessing and wondering as Murphy tries to stay one step ahead of the killer who is trying to keep the past buried. I like that it was well written without any errors.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories that contain a belief in God or are a mystery suspense will not be interested in this book. The romantic interlude between the protagonist and a cop was brief. Some may get confused by the plot as it jumps around with Murphy being the only one to figure things out before anyone else does.

~ Wish ~
I wish the last third part of the book was not rushed or scattered with the characters being tossed about as possible perpetrators. The conversations in Murphy’s head of her sister talking to her were confusing and disruptive to this reader.

~ Want ~
If you want to learn about some Alaskan World War II events that are shrouded around a murder mystery with one woman solving the crime, this may be a good read for you, but I finished it with a foggy brain, wondering how it was put together.

Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am not obligated to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/formula-of-deception-carrie-stuart-parks/1127455177

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Filed under *** OK - Don't Love It, Don't Hate It, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Thief of Corinth

Thief of CorinthTitle: Thief of Corinth
Author: Tessa Afshar
Publisher: Tyndale Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2866-0

“I was not planning to make a life of thieving. My actions would be an aberration,” Ariadne confesses in Tessa Afshar’s novel, Thief of Corinth.

~ What ~
At four-hundred pages, this historical Christian novel targets those interested in a fictionalized story that includes the Apostle Paul from the New Testament. With no profanity, topics of thievery and rape may not be appropriate for immature readers. Using the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible, the NIV and NLT are also referenced. The ending includes a chapter of another book by the writer, author’s note, acknowledgments, ten discussion questions, and the author’s biography.

Written in first person, this engaging Biblical-backed tale is told by sixteen-year-old Ariadne, a young girl who has run away from her mean, unloving mother to her lonely father in Corinth, who has a deep secret that she unwittingly learns. Desperate to keep her father from being found out as the city’s infamous Honorable Thief, she emphatically assists him until the stakes become unbearable. As more family secrets are uncovered, she must decide what her and her family’s freedom will cost, especially when they met and befriend Paul, a Jewish convert with a fresh and unusual outlook on love and forgiveness.

~ Why ~
This love story not only shows the devotion between a daughter and father as well as a friendship of two who grew up together, but it also conveys how God’s grace and love conquers all, even when one has to forfeit and give up something they want. I enjoyed reading about the stadion races, community baths, luxurious pompous living of the wealthy, and broken family interactions. The budding romance between the Ariadne and a friend over the years was sincere and believable.

~ Why Not ~
Although the book is loosely based on Paul and I Corinthians 13, Ariadne is not a real character. As a predictable read regarding romance, it does have contain interesting historical content.

~ Wish ~
I wish more novels were written that promoted the Word of God and what it teaches in a venue that is Biblically related.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a fictional story that includes intrigue, romance, and Biblical application of God’s love, this one may grip your senses and make you think of your own relationships that need mending through loving and forgiving one another.

Thanks to Tyndale Blog Network for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thief-of-corinth-tessa-afshar/1127416123

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Monster Boogie

Monster BoogieTitle: Monster Boogie
Author: Laurie Berkner
Illustrator: Ben Clanton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-1-4814-6465-9

“Everybody does the monster boogie, the monster boogie, the monster boogie,” Laurie Berkner writes her song in her children’s book, Monster Boogie.

~ What ~
This forty-page oversize hardcover book is targeted toward children ages four to eight years old, especially those who like to sing, dance, and are not afraid of pretend monsters. With no scary scenes, the colorful but sophomoric illustrations by Clanton cover the pages.

In this short story that is in rhythmic verse adapted by a song by the author, a supposed scary monster visits two children as they are in their dark bedrooms at night. The purple creature states he is the biggest monster they have ever seen, with purple eyes, green teeth, and one who is scary. While one child is frightened, the other is happy, the monster starts dancing a boogie around the room. When the monster tells the children they can do the boogie too, all start dancing. The monster repeats most of the song, changing a few words, and they all do the monster wiggle around the room until the purple animal and his monster friends leave.

~ Why ~
This book is a nice, light read in itself with lots of repeated words that new beginner readers can recognize. Although the child is frightened at first, the ending expresses how fun it is to dance the monster boogie and monster wiggle. The colors are bright and noticeable.

~ Why Not ~
Children who are afraid of the dark and monsters may not appreciate this book at first, but it can become a helpful tool about monsters being fun by seeing them dance. Others may prefer books with more details and background designs to look at while someone reads the book to them.

~ Wish ~
While I like the idea that under the jacket cover the hardbound has sheet music to the song with the same name, I wish the book included a free CD or online link to download since I am unaware of the song so will have to play it for my grandchildren when they visit and I give them the book.

~ Want ~
If your preschooler to early elementary school grade child is into dancing and loves monsters, this may be a good section for them if they already know the song.

Thanks to Waldmania for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monster-boogie-laurie-berkner/1127208821

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Fiction

A Daring Venture

A Daring VentureTitle: A Daring Venture
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: BethanyHouse
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1882-8

“It was going to be a challenge to get him to reconsider the filtration plant, but it had to be done,” Rosalind determines in Elizabeth Camden’s novel, A Daring Venture.

~ What ~
The second of three in the Empire State series, this three-hundred-fifty-two-page paperback targets those who like historical fiction with suspense and romance during the early 1900s regarding chlorinating water for the first time in New Jersey. With some slang words, its topics of impropriety, physical abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. A historical note, ten discussion questions, sequel information, author’s biography, and advertisements are included.

Set in 1908, twenty-eight-year-old Doctor Rosalind Werner is one of the few women biochemists who has a passion to cure water-borne diseases in drinking water. Upon coming to America, she hides her tainted past and works with Doctor John Leal to secretly add chlorine to New Jersey’s water, despite how New York’s newly-appointed water commissioner, Nick Drake, is vehemently opposed to the groundbreaking idea.

Between the lies and hidden truths of the doctor’s past and the professional’s uneducated background and anger issues, they wonder if they can fall instantly in love without compromising their core beliefs in how to have clean, healthy water for the people.

~ Why ~
I enjoy historical romance stories where I learn something new, and this one offers details about underground water systems, chlorination, and filtration. How the judicial system got involved and maintained decorum between the opposite approaches to the state’s water problems was interesting.

~ Why Not ~
Like the first book in the series, this one also contains a family feud dragging decades long and includes dealing with greed and personal wealth to gain status or favors. Others may not like the limited use of slang words. Again, there is little Christian influence mentioned in the story.

~ Wish ~
To me, it seems this tale has the same cookie-cutter format as its predecessor with the beginning interesting, informative, and engaging while the abrupt ending is about restoring relationships, family dynamics, and resolution.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a historical fiction dealing with overcoming shame due to the past and questioning mistakes made, this second in the series may interest you more than the prior one.

Thanks to Bethany House for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-daring-venture-elizabeth-camden/1127179090

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Fiction