Sunday, January 17, 2021

Review of The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark


About the Book ~ 

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie's past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton--the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman--boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they've both dreamed of. But it's not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

For more information about Ashley Clark and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark is the epitome of southern charm!

This beautiful story has so much going for it, so much that makes it memorable! The author's poetic writing style is an example of perfection when it comes to similes, metaphors, and personification -- all things I adore! Each detail -- large and small -- takes on a beautiful life of its own. Additionally, this split-time story is unique from its counterparts because the historical storyline slowly merges with the present day storyline. While I felt a little disconnected from the characters at times, nothing could detract from the awe of the almost divine intersecting, crossing, and overlapping journeys of the characters! The contemporary storyline is humorous and nods to pop culture, and the historical storyline pulls at you like a haunting melody. The author sensitively and truthfully depicts the heartrending struggles, injustices, and sorrows that a biracial person would have experienced in the era. From start to finish, the complex, beautiful layers in The Dress Shop on King Street will hook you! Truly, I tip my imaginary cloche hat to the author!

The Dress Shop on King Street overflows with so many beautiful lessons and spiritual truths! However -- at its core -- it's a story about never giving up on the dreams God has given you because if God has given you a dream, then He is gonna make it happen -- you just might be a little foggy on the how (or when!) of it all! 

Four Stars ~ The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark brings southern charm to a new level! The Dress Shop on King Street is the first book in the Heirloom Secrets Series, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Review of To Dwell among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette

About the Book ~

As they fight for the soul of Israel, will they find healing for their own?

Eight years ago, after the Philistines surrendered the stolen Ark of the Covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora and her brother left their Philistine homeland to follow it to the community of Kiryat-Yearim. Though they both were lovingly enfolded into a Levite family that guards the Ark, Eliora can't stop feeling like she doesn't belong.

Meanwhile, a faction of discontent Hebrews finds Kiryat-Yearim to be an unfit resting place and believes that the sacred vessel should be in the hands of the priests who mean to restore the Holy of Holies in a new location. Under the guise of gathering Hebrews to worship together for the festivals, Levite musician Ronen has been sent by his uncle to find where the Ark has been hidden and steal it back. But Ronen never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he's tasked to deceive.

Ronen's attempts to charm Eliora into revealing the location of the Ark lead them in unexpected directions, as they must battle betrayal and fear to help establish Israel's leadership for a better future.

For more information about Connilyn Cossette and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

My feelings on To Dwell among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette can be summed up with a verse:

"It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out." Proverbs 25:2

In reading To Dwell among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette, I felt like I was not only privy to the glory that had been searched out for this fascinating blend of fact and fiction but also felt like a king as I searched through the pages of this exemplary journey for myself! Truly wonderful! 

First, let's talk about the stunning setting in To Dwell among Cedars! Not only was it lush and descriptive with nods to earlier eras, the author opened up this particular era of the Bible in ways I had never experienced! I could see the conflict, doubts, factures within the nation of Israel. I could feel the religious, political, and spiritual struggles -- everything that had led the nation to this point. I felt like a scholar as I learned through this fictional tale. I was so deeply immersed!

However good the setting, the characters and their respective yet intermingling spiritual journeys are what shined the brightest in To Dwell among CedarsEliora and Ronen's struggles and triumphs are so deeply, heart-wrenchingly relatable that I felt personal freedom through their story. The adoptive covenant with God was so beautifully reflected that I felt renewed in my spirit as a cherished child of God. And their love story -- though rift with betrayal and pain -- was a testament to God's forgiveness, grace, and redemption! I don't have enough words to describe how amazing this was! 

Five Stars ~ To Dwell among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette is an exemplary story in the Biblical Fiction genre! To Dwell among Cedars is the first book of the Covenant House Series. I can't wait to read the next book of this duology, Between the Wild Branches!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Review of The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

 

About the Book ~

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he'd obeyed his mother. Desperate for help, he runs to the mountain cabin of his mostly absentee father, frantically trying to communicate the news with his hands.

Driven away by fear and guilt over his son's deafness, Creed has played a distant part in Loyal's life and language. But when he's pulled into the murder investigation, he discovers that what sets his son apart isn't his inability to hear but rather his courage. As the impact of the murder ripples through their West Virginia town, both will learn what it took to kill a man and what it takes to become one.

For more information about Sarah Loudin Thomas and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas will startle readers with the quiet intensity of its profound message of hope!

The Right Kind of Fool is an adventure from start to finish! The story follows the three different members of the Raines family. What is possibly the most surprising and the most true to life quality of the story is that it contains a little of everything -- a coming-of-age story in Loyal, a second chance romance in Creed and Delphy's reconciliation, a murder mystery, a stirring historical setting, and an emotive, sensitive look at being deaf and learning ASL in the 1930s. While I can't say the conclusion to the mystery shocked me, I was satisfied with how it ended. Furthermore, I found the differences, similarities, and changes in the investigative process then versus now to be very interesting. However, I was particularly invested in Loyal's struggles and triumphs in addition to Creed and Delphy's reconciliation as these storylines abounded in quietly convicting truths that blossomed into profound messages of hope!

The title is an apt description of the personal journeys of growth on which the Raines family embarks. Loyal, Creed, and even Delphy discover that you can be a fool for a lot of bad reasons, but being a fool for the right reasons is an entirely different -- and altogether beautiful! -- thing! Very rewarding!

Four Stars ~ The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas possesses a quiet, simple beauty in a story overflowing with convicting lessons! The Right Kind of Fool is a standalone, but the author has other books in her backlist for readers to enjoy!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Review of Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig


About the Book ~

As Prophecies in the Book of the Wars Unfold, the Only Hope Is Uniting with the Enemy.

Leif Metcalfe is done waiting for answers and seizes control, a move that comes with a high price and a deadly risk: teaming up with the enemy. He can only pray what he uncovers will heal the wounds he's inflicted on those he loves.

Iskra Todorova refuses to believe Leif is irrevocably lost, despite evidence to the contrary. While trying to protect her daughter and track down Leif before it's too late, Iskra wonders if a member of the evil organization ArC has been in their midst since the beginning.

Torn apart by injuries and opposing views about Leif's treachery, team Reaper hunts one of their own. The only thing they agree on is not stopping but starting the final battle prophesied in the Book of the Wars.

For more information about Ronie Kendig and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

What epicness is this?

A series now laid to rest...

Oh, Reaper's fans are weeping...

In case you couldn't tell from my little song, I am both thrilled and devastated by the ending to The Book of the Wars Series by Ronie Kendig! Soul Raging more than met my bar of expectations -- it exceeded them! 

Each page of Soul Raging oozed with ooga chaka awesomeness! No spoilers on the plot, but suffice it to say it's got serious Marvel's Winter Soldier meets Jason Bourne vibes. I was in awe at the unexpected twists, and the way the author rattled the foundation of the story -- multiple times! -- shook me to my reader core. How the author managed to tangle and untangle each thread of the story is beyond me -- my head hurts just trying to imagine it! 

Readers will loose their heart to Leif and Team Reaper as they fight to reclaim souls! I've never rooted for Leif more than when he went where I both begged him not to go but where I needed to see him go and conquer! His redemption went so deep, to a depth so genuine, that in the final confrontation, his understanding of true salvation paired with his gift of mercy had me crying until long after I closed the back cover. Leif's journey from darkness to light can only be described as transformative redemption!

Five Stars ~ Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig is pure awesome sauce! Soul Raging is the third and final book in The Book of the Wars Series (which has ties into The Tox Files that's also by Ronie Kendig) and it should definitely be read in order! 

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Review of The Sowing Season by Katie Powner

 


About the Book ~

Can an unlikely friendship give them the courage to start again?

Forced to sell the dairy farm he's worked his entire life to make successful, Gerrit Laninga, now sixty-three, doesn't know what to do with himself. He sacrificed everything for his cows--his time, his health, his family--with nothing to show for it but bitterness, regret, and two grown children who want nothing to do with him.

Fifteen-year-old Rae Walters is stricken with panic every time she climbs behind the wheel. But any failure, including not passing her driver's test, jeopardizes The Plan--the detailed blueprint for high school and beyond that has her following in her lawyer father's footsteps. Though she's always been committed to The Plan, now that the pressure to succeed is building, doubts about whether she has what it takes begin to haunt her. What was supposed to unite her family in purpose could end up tearing it apart.

As their paths cross and a friendship begins to form, Gerrit's and Rae's lives change in unexpected ways. Will they discover what really matters in life and together learn it's never too late for a second chance?

For more information about Katie Powner and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

The Sowing Season by Katie Powner is a fresh and unique generational saga that will move the hearts of the young and slightly less young!

While The Sowing Season is outside of my normal genre preferences, this beautiful story is exactly the reason I take chances as a reader! The result: now I have a new author and a story I will recommend to EVERYONE! Genuine humor -- which often seems less prevalent in this genre -- bounced off the pages, especially in the scenes involving Bernard the Terrible! Additionally, the touch of romance with the teenage heroine was a delight to my romance-loving heart.

I loved the author's twist on the traditional family drama! The unlikely friendship between Gerrit and Rae flows with life. This life flows into the character's respective lives, bringing healing, restoration, and freedom! Gerrit's quest to win back his wife and finally be a father to his grown children had me crying in agony and cheering his victory from start to finish. Furthermore, his story so aptly illustrated how we may physically lose something, but we're only free when we choose to let go of it. Furthermore, my perfectionist personality could more than relate to Rae's struggles to maintain perfection. The message of freedom found in breaking the yoke of perfection and seeking God's heart for you and your life is a message I always welcome!

Five Stars ~ The Sowing Season by Katie Powner is a stunning story! The Sowing Season is a standalone and the author's debut. I'm looking forward to reading whatever the author writes next!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Review of The Conqueror by Bryan Litfin

 


About the Book ~

AD 309. Rome teeters on the brink of war. 

Constantine's army is on the move. On the Rhine frontier, pagan Germanic barbarian Brandulf Rex joins the Roman army as a spy. Down in Rome, senator's daughter Junia Flavia finds herself embroiled in anti-Christian politics as she works on behalf of the church.

As armies converge and forces beyond their control threaten to destroy everything they have worked for, these two people from different worlds will have to fight together to bring down the evil Emperor Maxentius. But his villainous plans and devious henchmen are not easily overcome.

Will Rex and Flavia live to see the Empire bow the knee to Christ? Or will their part in the story of Constantine's rise meet an untimely and brutal end?

For more information about Bryan Litfin and his books, check out his website here!

My Thoughts ~

The Conqueror by Bryan Litfin takes history, war, and romance to bold, epic levels!

I appreciated how the author sought to accurately align with history in the portrayal of the early Christians who had recently come out of intense persecution, early church theology, the grim realities of war, and the debauchery of Roman culture. I'm always grateful for authors who are not afraid to tackle subjects like this. However, that brings me to my next thought...

TRIGGER WARNING! If you have had sexual abuse, trauma, and/or betrayal in your life, then please be aware that there is a lot of content that is VERY triggering!

While the pacing made it harder for me to be connected to the events of the story, the author has a strength for historical detail, particularly with political games and battle scenes! Though the characters weren't soulmate characters for me, I would be interested to know how their story progresses in the following books of the series. Hopefully with a happy ending after that cliffhanger! Ultimately, it is the characters' individual reconciliations with the costs and joys of following Christ that add a deep profoundness to their journey in The Conqueror!

Three Stars ~ The Conqueror by Bryan Litfin is an adventure in history! The Conqueror is the first book in the author's series, Constantine's Empire.

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Review of The Kissing Tree Novella Collection

About the Book ~

In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak's bark.  

Regina Jennings - "Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts"
When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is put on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer - "Inn for a Surprise"
Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise. 

Amanda Dykes - "From Roots to Sky"
WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they've shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese - "Heartwood"
Abby Brookshire's world is turned upside down when the historic tree she's strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she's been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?

For more information about the authors -- Regina Jennings, Karen Witemeyer, Amanda Dykes Nicole Deese -- and their books, check out their websites by clicking their name!

My Thoughts ~ 

The Kissing Tree is everything I love in a novella collection! Each story is pure loveliness!

I adore when each novella continues to build on the previous stories in the collection! As we follow these four sweet stories, readers get to stay connected to the continuous generations of Oak Springs and the characters who are destined to capture many hearts! However, the detail that truly sets this novella collection apart is the Kissing Tree itself! From origin story to the bittersweet end, readers get to be part of the Kissing Tree's life in each of these beautifully crafted moments through the decades! 

Regina Jennings - "Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts"

"Broken Limns, Mended Hearts" was a wonderful story to brand the romantic oak tree of Oak Springs as THE Kissing Tree! I also really enjoyed the way new technology with respect for the past was melded into the fabric of the couple's conflict! 

Karen Witemeyer - "Inn for a Surprise"

"Inn for a Surprise" was so much fun! We join the story as the newly-built Kissing Tree Inn is being prepared for its first guests. I adored the witty banter between the couple and learning of the different couples who found their way to the Kissing Tree, thus inspiring the creation of the Kissing Tree Inn!

Amanda Dykes - "From Roots to Sky"

"From Roots to Sky" is tale with as much perseverance as there is romance! We rejoin Oak Springs and the Kissing Tree after hard financial times, war, and grief have reached their unapologetic hands into the community. I loved the way the community worked together and the poetic way the couple found both their roots and their wings in life!

Nicole Deese - "Heartwood"

"Heartwood" is the perfect balance of bittersweet, second chances, and new beginnings to close out this novella collection! The apt portrayal of how grief can affect even the sturdiest of relationships hit me in the feels! I adored the chemistry between the couple as they found their second chance at a new beginning! However, the beautiful message of how letting go -- symbolically and literally -- can never remove the legacy carved into our heartwood is what makes this conclusion so perfect!

Five Stars ~ The Kissing Tree is one of my favorite novella collections to date! Additionally, each of the authors has a plethora of novels in their respective backlists!

Disclaimer ~ In accordance with FTC regulations, I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not compensated, nor was a positive review required. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via www.vjoypalmer.com!