Monday, March 23, 2020

Review of Star of Persia by Jill Eileen Smith


About the Book ~

Love. Duty. Fear. Courage. In the court of the king, which will prevail?

In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness.

In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes' wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther's adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.

For more information about Jill Eileen Smith and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

Biblical Fiction is such a wonderful medium to better understand the pains, heartaches, betrayals, and struggles of our heroes of faith! Star of Persia: Esther's Story by Jill Eileen Smith is another unique look at what Esther's life and struggles may have looked like --  and it's definitely worth reading!

I was truly impressed with the way the author was able to breath life into this account that's been read and told many times. While the author gives readers hope for Esther's happiness, the unsavory and heartbreaking realities of Esther's life are not idealized as a fairytale. The addition of certain historical details gives fresh insight into the Biblical account, adding unique significance to some of the key moments and choices of Esther's life. At it's core, Esther's stand and testimony -- the story we know by heart -- remains unchanged, but there are still fresh lessons to be learned, revelations to be hand, and stands of faith to be made! 

Ultimately, the character development -- especially for the people who weren't Esther -- is what impressed me the most in Star of Persia! The addition of Amestris (one of Xerxes' wives) added a powerful thread to the palace politics that could have been (and history shows they often were) at play. Mordecai was humanized, becoming a man who made fearful mistakes and also had to take a stand of faith. Xerxes was developed past his womanizing ways and intense rages, showing readers a broken man who you desperately hoped would do the right thing. And the best part is that this complex cast of characters shows just how much God's hand was at work!

Four Stars ~ Star of Persia: Esther's Story by Jill Eileen Smith blends fact and fiction with a call for action, faith, and courage. Star of Persia is a standalone, but the author has many other wonderful titles 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!


Friday, March 20, 2020

Review of The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund


About the Book ~

Haunted by mistakes in her past, will she ever again trust her heart to another?

Wealthy Arabella Lawrence flees to British Columbia on a bride ship, still bearing the scars of past mistakes. One of the few single women in the boomtown, she immediately attracts suitors, but she is determined not to find herself trapped again by making a poor choice.

Vying for her hand are two very different men. Lieutenant Richard Drummond is a gentleman in the Navy, held in high esteem. Peter Kelly is the town's baker who has worked hard to build a thriving business. He and Drummond not only compete for Arabella's affections, but also clash over their views of how the natives should be treated in the midst of a smallpox outbreak.

As Arabella begins to overcome her fears, she discovers someone in dire need -- a starving girl left behind by her tribe. Intent on helping the child, Arabella leans on Peter's advice and guidance. Will she have the wisdom to make the right decision, or will seeking what's right cost both her and Peter everything?

For more information about Jody Hedlund and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

I am pleased to report that despite the horrifying concept of bride ships, The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund is a delight!

While I've read some mail-order bride stories in the past, the bride ships in England's (at this time) British Columbia is an era of history I had not explored. This event and setting in history adds a unique twist to an already beloved trope. Additionally, the author did a wonderful job bringing this boomtown to life. As I read, I watched the upper-class try to grasp for the old ways of England as those born without privilege fight to carve a new life in this land of opportunities while the natives determine who is friend or foe. Also, I am always happy when an author is able to portray that physical attraction between a husband and wife is a good thing and created by God. Truly, the author did a wonderful job at providing readers with a sizzling yet clean story!

Arabella is a wonderful heroine to add to the Christian Fiction market! Arabella came from an upper-class family in England. While she wanted affection in her future marriage, she fully planned and expected to marry a man of a similar social station. Additionally, Arabella is a survivor of abuse. While potentially triggering, I found this to be handled with grace and tact. As I watched her break free from the restrictive chains of her upbringing while finding healing in God's love, I was blessed and convicted in my own walk with God. And Pete -- all the bookish heart eyes! I love a hero who's fighting to overcome the chains of his past sins while also making the hard choice to stand for what's right. I one hundred percent routed for Pete and his desire to be worthy of forgiveness, love, and a better life! And that ending -- gloriously happy tears!

Five Stars ~ The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund is a sweep-you-off-your-feet romance with a stirring message! The Runaway Bride is the author's second book in The Bride Ships Series from Bethany House, but this can be read as a standalone without any issue!

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, March 7, 2020

Review of A Promise to Keep by Melony Teague


About the Book ~

A Promise. A High School Reunion. And a pact that proves harder to keep.

Research librarian Savannah Sanderson wants nothing more than to escape into her happily-ever-after novels with their larger-than-life fictional heroes. But a promise to her late husband has her attending her dreaded twenty-year high school reunion, drinking ghastly punch, and taking desperate measures just to keep her vow, even if she has to hide behind the d├ęcor to do it.

Once a reckless troublemaker, Michael McCann fled town after graduation. Now a professional technical rescuer, he’s back for the reunion, but on his trip down memory lane, he soon comes face to face with unresolved issues, namely Savannah.

Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero?

For more information about Melony Teague and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

A Promise to Keep by Melony Teague is the kind of contemporary romance that will stay with its readers for a long time!

One of my favorite parts of A Promise to Keep was the adventure Savannah and Michael took! The author did an amazing job bringing these settings to life. Additionally, I loved how even when the road trip adventure was over, the adventure of the story surprised and delighted me! Getting to see Michael in his hero environment added a level of surprising intensity to the story that reminded me of a Susan May Warren novel!

Michael is such a wonderful hero! He's got that unrequited swoony factor in abundance, and his love for Savannah is so steadfast. And Savannah -- well, not even Savannah's grief could stop this fun and quirky character from leaping off the page! While the author tackles potentially triggering topics like cancer, death, and grief, the author does this with skill, tact, and realness. I greatly appreciated how the characters were so real in their emotions and struggles as they navigated these heartaches. I liked that it took work and courage to overcome their fears. And I loved how God's love shined through these perfectly imperfect characters!

Five Stars ~ A Promise to Keep by Melony Teague is a charming and heart-tugging romance! I look forward to reading whatever story the author pens 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!


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Review of Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette


About the Book ~

Strong-willed Tirzah wants to join her people in driving the enemy from the land of Israel and undergoes training for a secret mission inside the stronghold of Shechem. But soon after she has infiltrated the ruthless Aramean commander's kitchen, she makes a reckless decision that puts her and her allies in grave danger.

Fresh off the battlefield, Liyam returns home to discover his beloved daughter is dead. After his vow to hunt down her killer leads to months of fruitless pursuit, his last hope is in a family connection that comes with strings attached -- strings that force him to pose as a mercenary and rescue an infuriating woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted.

When an opportunity to pave a path to a Hebrew victory arises, can Tirzah convince Liyan to fight alongside her in the refuge city of her birth? Or will Liyam's thirst for vengeance outweigh his duty to his people, his God, and the woman he's come to love?

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

My Thoughts ~

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette is a wholly, completely, and inexpressibly satisfying conclusion to an equally satisfying series! Oh, how I adored this story!

One of my favorite parts of Like Flames in the Night is the way it continues Moriyah's story and her legacy in a way I didn't know I needed until I started reading Tirzah and Liyam's story! Moriyah (Tirzah's mother) was first introduced to readers in Wings of the Wind, and the continuation of this connection from Wings of the Wind and Moriyah's story in A Light on the Hill in Tirzah's story in Like Flames in the Night is so skillful and beautiful! Additionally, Tirzah becomes a spy like her father and brothers! And goodness, this was epic! Like Flames in the Night is an empowering story on every level, but perhaps my favorite part of this story is how Like Flames in the Night will empower women in such a Godly way!

The author has the ability to bring the Bible to life in a unique way, and Tirzah and Liyam's undercover efforts to stir the hearts of their people can't help but have the same effect on their readers! In the midst of a era and conflict I could almost see when I opened my eyes, my heart connected to the characters in a profound way. From Tirzah's need to prove herself worthy and finally finding rest in God's promises to Liyam's heart wrenching journey and acceptance of both justice and mercy, my heart was wrecked and rebuilt in the best possible way!

Five Stars ~ Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette is -- simply put -- amazing! While you can certainly read Like Flames in the Night with little to zero confusion, this is the fourth book in the Cities of Refuge Series. The historical and family dynamics will be clearer and sooo much more fulfilling if you read the previous books in the Cities of Refuge Series and Wings of the Wind from the author's Out from Egypt Series.

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, February 27, 2020

Review of More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson


About the Book ~

One night changes everything...

When Addison Kilbourn's husband is involved in a car accident that leaves a woman dead, her perfectly constructed life crumbles apart. With her husband's memory of that night gone and the revelation of a potentially life-altering secret, Addison has to reevaluate all she thought she knew.

Emilia Cruz is a deputy bearing a heavy burden far beyond the weight of her job. After a traumatic brain injury, her husband is no longer the man she married, and Emilia's determined to prevent others from facing the same hardship. When she's called to the scene of an accident pointing to everything she's fighting against, she's determined to see justice for those wronged.

Brianne Demanno is hiding from reality. She once thrived as a counselor, but when tragedy struck a beloved client, she lost faith in herself and her purpose. When her neighbors, the Kilbourns, are thrown into crisis, Brianne's solitary life is disrupted and she finds herself needed in a way she hasn't been for too long.

As the lives of these women intersect, they can no longer dwell in the memory of who they've been. Can they rise from the wreck of the worst moments of their lives to become who they were meant to be?

For more information about Christina Suzann Nelson and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts ~

More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson is a search for hope in a complex, heartbreaking world! 

More Than We Remember is an intricately woven story, one that allows readers to see into the unique life of each main character while they unravel the mystery of that fateful night. The author does a great job maintaining the pace of the overall story, and little, significant details are disclosed at just the right moments.

More Than We Remember is a heavier book. It delves into potentially triggering topics like traumatic injuries, suicide, sexual abuse, and substance abuse. While not soulmate characters for me, I greatly appreciated the author's honest portrayal of emotions in the difficult and dark places Addison, Emilia, and Brianne have to navigate. More Than We Remember highlights the need for hope; regardless of the harder topics, readers will turn the pages and find God's hope in the characters' search for exactly that! 

Three Stars ~ More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson is a story of hope in the darkness! More Than We Remember is a standalone from Bethany House, but the author has more novels 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 is the author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations and Weddings, Willows, and Revised Expectations, and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is also an avid blogger and co-founder of Snack Time Devotions. In her spare time, Joy is an unprofessional chocolate connoisseur/binger, and she loves acting crazy and drinking coffee with the teens she mentors. When Joy isn’t urging the elves that live in her computer to write, she’s hanging out with her husband, their adorable baby girl, and their socially awkward pets.