Out of the Embers Book 1

Buy Now on Amazon Out of the Embers (Mesquite Springs)

735351: #1: Out of the Embers #1: Out of the Embers
By Amanda Cabot / Revell

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 It’s 1855 and the story opens Texas style, big and bold with great dramatic flare. An orphanage burns to the ground from the hand of a devilish arsonist. Evelyn and Polly are the only two survivors who happen on the scene after returning in their wagon from a day away on errands. Under a full moon sky, they make a run for it thinking their only route to safety is a quick escape. As they rush enroute to a new home, we’re introduced to three other plot lines. The spotlight switches to Rufus and Winnie who mourn the tragic loss of their two children. Their daughter was taken by scarlet fever and their son by the hangman’s noose. Rufus and Winnie can’t seem to claim a foothold on level ground. Their loss is overwhelming and Rufus especially seeks healing that always eludes him. At the chapter’s close, we meet Basil Marlow, the black sheep of the Marlow family driven by greed and revenge. Basil’s first action in the story is to raise a whiskey toast to the conclusion of a dastardly deed and fire his pistol. He’ll  shoot again before the story’s conclusion. Finally we meet Wyatt Clark and his mother. Wyatt is the story’s male protagonist. He’s a gem. A natural born leader with a love for raising the fastest race horses in Texas. All of this action takes place in just the first two chapters. The title of Amanda Cabot’s new book is Out of the Embers, and this story comes to life in a vibrant fashion out of these dying embers. 

     Cabot’s story is historically accurate. The United States was reluctant to admit Texas to the Union since Texas ranchers and cotton growers used large numbers of slave laborers. In 1855, the issue of slave labor was already causing a split in the U.S. The Mexican American War had already happened and soldiers who returned home lived with unpleasant after effects. One of Cabot’s characters is plagued by mental health problems following his battle experience.  

      Evelyn poses as Polly’s older sister even though Polly is a child who was just recently brought to the orphanage under dubious circumstances. Once they choose a new place to call home, they adopt new last names and carry on as sisters who always feel most at home in the kitchen. They meet many kind and generous people in Mesquite Springs. Evelyn and Polly are invited to stay with the Clark’s but Evelyn knows she must find a way to earn a living. Her exceptional baking skills give her confidence to open a restaurant. The idea is a good fit for the town and Evelyn and Polly have found a place to settle in. I thought Evelyn was a smart, independent, and courageous female leading character. 

     Several suitors compete for Evelyn’s eye, but she only has eyes for Wyatt. Marriage and settling down is not his goal when we first meet Wyatt, but eventually he realizes that a life with Evelyn and Polly will give him his heart’s desire. 

   In the middle of the story, there’s a mayor’s race. Wyatt and his childhood friend Sam are the two candidates. Wyatt pulls off a big victory which causes Sam to spiral downward. Sam follows through on some bad choices and exits the story soon after the election. 

    This is the second Amanda Cabot book I’ve read. I enjoyed the fast pace and well developed characters. If I  had to predict what book two in the series will bring I would say I’m expecting Sam to reappear. I’m lukewarm about how he left the story. To me, he is a dark horse that will send shivers down your spine when he rides back into town. 

   Her leading characters were terrific with caring hearts and interesting goals. The Clark’s are the supportive family Evelyn has been longing for since her own parents died ten years ago. I look forward to all future books in the Mesquite Springs series.  

   I received a complimentary book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Fun Christian Romance, Characters to Love

This book appealed to me because of the setting. The agriculture of Australia, the climate, and terrain captured my interest. This book transports you to another continent. You’re introduced to some Australian vocabulary, animals, and a glimpse of favorite edibles. These details are seamlessly woven into the story.

It’s a sweet romance with fun characters. One day maybe we’ll see this Christian Romance made into a feature movie for the Hallmark Channel. After all, the matriarch of the family does make her appearance just before Christmas. She’s a formidable woman, whose middle name should be “TILIS” (tell it like it is)! The twenty something main characters have real depth, solid skills, and some issues to resolve that speak to everyone. Through Sam we get a good glimpse of how adopting a risk-adverse nature can hold us back and make us too fearful to follow God’s lead. Kimberly shows us that possessing a first rate business acumen is wonderful but can be empty without a sense of belonging that is found in family. Jules shows us how blindly following after what we think we should do might not bring the rest, peace, and joy we’re meant to experience. The author shares an accurate story of agriculture and how things operate on a modern dairy farm; the unique setting adds to the story. I recommend this story for anyone who is looking for an upbeat story. I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley. This is my honest review. #AGirlsGuideToTheOutback, #NetGalley

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229615: A Girl"s Guide to the OutbackA Girl’s Guide to the Outback
By Jessica Kate / Thomas Nelson

American Omens: The Coming Fight for Faith

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291785: American Omens: The Coming Fight for FaithAmerican Omens: The Coming Fight for Faith
Author: Travis Thrasher / Multnomah

Travis Thrasher is a successful multi-genre writer with a new release expected for early 2019. American Omens: the Coming Fight for Faith is set in 2038. While it’s technically 19 years into the future, some of the plot seems underway already.

All the time I was reading it, I kept thinking of specific people I know who would delight in this book’s futuristic plot. These readers are my acquaintances who are tech savvy, love IoT (Internet of Things) and consider the possibilities of artificial intelligence with great enthusiasm. American Omens will be a must read for those who love to ponder the pros and cons of technology. The LC’s or robotic life companions are noteworthy details in the book, as wells as the SYNAPSYS form of communication and on demand interactive wall-screens.

The main theme throughout the book is the persecution and yes sometimes elimination of Christians. It’s a post-Christian world in 2038 and those in authority are determined to keep it this way. A remnant of Christian characters work to reverse this condition. A showdown is staged in Chicago where unrepentant residents ignore the warnings and suffer disastrous consequences.

A good measure of the dialogue and plot will resonate favorably with readers who are mature Christians. Words shared by key characters like Hutchence and Will are likely to stir the heart and cause heads to nod in agreement. At the conclusion, their journeys finish in a satisfying fashion while simultaneously sharing truths that are in alignment with Biblical truths. The end shows these characters more receptive to following God’s will and demonstrating trust, even when things aren’t going smooth.

There is much to think about in this book. The erosion of individual privacy and censorship run throughout the story. For me I had been on a steady diet of historical fiction, and was interested to read a selection from another genre. The characters are certainly very memorable. There are some fun references to art and music sprinkled throughout the story that keep you thinking. The Orwellian theme draws you in from beginning to end. American Omens: The Coming Fight for Faith will find its way into the hands of many readers and spark a lot of discussion.

I received an ARC of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

Sparkle of Silver

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729623: A Sparkle of Silver #1 A Sparkle of Silver #1

By Liz Johnson

A Sparkle of Silver delivers as expected. Author Liz Johnson gives us Book #1 in the Georgia Coast Romance series. You’ll be drawn into a dual timeline romance complete with mystery, laugh out loud fun, and characters that prove to be overcomers through clever reasoning and persistence. Added to all this is a fantastic setting for both plotlines. The Chateau Dawkins, a Gilded Age Mansion, boasts lavish interiors, rooms galore, manicured gardens, and secret passageways. You will follow the rich and famous through social engagements and clandestine rendezvous. At first, the present day characters seem very dissimilar. Ben Thornton is an adjunct history professor, on his own, with no memories of a stable family network. Then there’s Milly Sullivan, who is devoted to the grandparents who raised her on their Georgia farm. Her current goal in life is to provide for her aging Grandma Joy, who suffers from dementia. The Chateau and a treasure hunt bring them together. Ben and Milly push on, knowing the treasure’s discovery would reverse their dismal financial situations and solve a family mystery.  At one key point in the story, Ben’s internal dialogue reveals one truth Christians ought to ask themselves. He asks, “Why hadn’t he spent every day since he’d met Milly asking God for direction and clarity and wisdom?”  He regrets that he went headlong down the road on a unconventional endeavor without consulting God first. Instead, he did it his own way and hoped God would look favorably on his actions after the fact.

Liz Johnson’s prose is crisp and the dialogue has great momentum. Along the way you’ll meet a cast of endearing supporting characters, some helpful and others villainous.
I was supplied with a complimentary copy of this book from Baker House Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. Readers of Liz Johnson are likely to also enjoy books by Melissa Tagg and Denise Hunter.

As the Tide Comes In

as-the-tide-comes-in-cindy-woodsmall-and-erin-woodsmallThis book was delightful. The author duo used the phrase “mischief magnets” to describe a group of women friends and immediately you’re endeared to these spirited ladies. This quartet of ladies are the supporting cast to a pair of male and female main characters who are multifaceted and mature. I liked the multi generational aspect of the plot, the emphasis on how important family ties are, and the words of wisdom about showing love and kindness.

The main character, Tara, makes some outlandish decisions in the beginning. You want to call out to her, “What are you thinking?” Of course the irrational behavior is explained when you consider her physical and emotional challenges. There are tragic events that set this state of mind in motion.

This is a contemporary fiction book complete with a family mystery and romance. The mystery is resolved in a surprise ending that is foreshadowed by just a few breadcrumbs of clues. Family roots are untangled and revealed for a positive and satisfying ending. The author duo, Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall, show great skill in presenting the characters’ full slate of emotions through triumph and tragedy.

If you are a fan of Cindy Woodsmall’s Amish Fiction, you will be pleased to venture into this book with a new setting. Most of the story takes place on Saint Simons Island, off the coast of Georgia. Woodsmall has some fun with Southern dialogue and customs. You’ll be moved emotionally. I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

First Line Fridays

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“He was going to hit that pick up truck. ” 

This is the first line from Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon. It is book two in the Hope Harbor series. The first book I read of Irene Hannon’s was Fatal Judgement in the Guardians of Justice Series. I thought the pace of this Romantic Suspense was terrific. I went on to read Vanished and enjoyed this novel as well. Later I read, One Perfect Spring and thought this book was superb. It was a great multi-generational story with characters you grow to care about. So I am excited to delve into Sea Rose Lane and enjoy the rest of this series.

Thank you to Hoarding Books for sponsoring First Line Fridays

 

The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Th407900e characters struggle with contemporary issues so it’s relevant to readers. The journey protagonist Grace takes from “people pleaser” to proactive problem solver is inspiring. Her choices as the story unfolds reflect greater maturity and wisdom. Roman Velasco walks a labyrinth of unrest. He eventually lands at a satisfying destination where Biblical truths of God’s forgiveness and restoration are in clear view. Roman’s transformation is due in part to the wise and loving secondary characters that surround him throughout the story. This roster of supporting characters is one of my favorite parts of The Masterpiece.

Aunt Elizabeth, Shanice, Chet, Susan, and Brain were exceptionally vibrant characters with so much to offer the story. They didn’t respond to dilemmas with rote “I’ll pray for you!” responses. Instead they offered their time and activated their network of resources to take a hands-on approach to all snags and obstacles.

Francine Rivers weaves some unanticipated surprises into the plot. The pace of the narrative is full of momentum and readers will be anxious to see how all twists and turns resolve. The multifaceted story connects with readers on many levels. The story looks at adoption, foster care, single moms, and other mature themes. The Christian message is communicated in a heartfelt way with an emphasis on establishing a relationship with God and not simply following the practices of a religion.