Book Reviews

The Songbird and the Secret by Celena Janton

Synopsis: 

When Katharina Simeon makes a secret promise, she never stops to wonder what consequences may come of it. Yet 200 years later, far from her home in 18th century England, that very promise is carried across time and the Atlantic to rest upon her descendant…

Melissa Benjamin discovers her eleventh great grandmother’s journal while researching her senior history project. Sent down a path she never imagined venturing, Katharina’s intriguing story leads Melissa on a quest to find the parents she’s never known even as she unravels a secret spanning generations. During her search, history buff and schoolgirl crush, Tom Berington, offers to help… but will his aid come at a price too high to pay? And what secrets of his own is Tom hiding?

The Songbird and the Secret is a blend of historical and contemporary Christian fiction sweeping from 18th century England to pre-Revolutionary America, onward to life today. As the reader discovers Katharina’s thrilling story along with Melissa, a mysterious tale weaves together the lives of these two women separated by hundreds of years but joined through an ancient family secret. When each is faced with heartrending disappointment, will she cling to the one who loves her unconditionally?

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Review: 

What a lovely read! One of my favorite aspects was the way it spanned from the 1700s to modern times. This gave it such a colorful and broad spectrum. And it was done well! Janton made each time period feel real and alive. I also enjoyed the mystery, it kept me interested and my mind was constantly trying to solve it.

There were quite a few characters which can sometimes be confusing, but in this instance, each different part of the story was kept clear. The characters were colorful and it was fun to get to know them all. Melly and Katherina were especially loveable! Although I can’t say I was a huge fan of Tom, I was not fully convinced to trust him.

Lastly, this was a clean read with somewhat of a focus on Godly relationships. I liked how Janton showed the ramifications of a marriage that is not focused on Christ vs. the blessings of one that is focused on Christ.

I recommend this book to those who love historical fiction mixed with romance, mystery, and contemporary.  

Book Reviews

The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

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What a pleasant read! Thank you, NetGalley for providing me with a free copy. (Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

The history was on point and the historical characters who were mere shadows in my mind became real and colorful. Woodhouse definitely did her research, but did not allow this to confine her imagination.

One of my favorite things was the place that Christianity had. Faith was a strong, Godly woman who was inspiring not only to the other characters in the book, but also to me, the reader. Although the romance was a bit slow, I loved how Faith and Mathew built their love off of friendship.

Moving on to the writing, it was okay. Maybe a bit plain for my taste. I think out of everything, it was what brought this story down a notch.

Altogether, this was an enjoyable and clean read. I recommend it to those who love historical romance.  

Book Reviews

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

26263487I was really excited about this book, not only because it was a paperback, but also because I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. And I wasn’t disappointed!

Blackstock didn’t waste any time getting into the action. She jumped right in by introducing us to Casey who had just discovered the body of her murdered friend. But even from the start, Casey proved herself to be a beautiful character. Despite what happened, she was still compassionate and sweet. She was also very brave and intelligent. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could avoid the cops for that long. And Dylan… My heart broke for him. He went through so much and had to make so many tough decisions. I wanted to wrap him up and give him a huge hug.

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The writing was good, I think it fit well with the genre of this book. However, I found that there were a lot of sentences that began with “I.” And at times there were two sentences in a row that started with “I.” Maybe I’m just being picky, but considering the number of books which Blackstock has written, I expected more. As far as the plot, it was engaging and well paced. The only thing I thought could have been better, was the incorporation of the missing girl. It was a brilliant addition, but it felt like just the outlines, it lacked detail. Perhaps with a little more explanation, especially concerning motive on the criminal’s part, things would have come together better.   

This was a clean read in terms of profanity and sex; however, there is of course murder and porn is mentioned as well.

Lastly, I must mention the cover… I really, really like it. It fits well with the story and is quite haunting. Hehe 🙂

Altogether, I highly recommend this book and I will certainly be reading the sequel, “If I’m Found.”   

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What are your thoughts on this book? Would you read it based on the cover?   

Book Reviews

The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson

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First… GORGEOUS cover! Very compelling. 🙂

I was super excited about this book since I have read and own the first four books in the Hagenheim Series plus The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. So yeah, I had high expectations.

I was intrigued with the way the story started, Aladdin’s mother’s death, how he was forced to steal, and how he met the priest and the knight. But I was sad that he was then taken to Germany and we don’t see the Middle East again. I had been hoping that Dickerson would integrate the rich culture of the Middle East.

It was interesting that much of the story was told from Aladdin’s point of view. I had not been expecting this at all, but it was a nice change. Aladdin was hard-working, honest, and had a firm faith in God; however, he lacked notable flaws. He was, as the other characters even state, perfect. One thing, though, that bothered me about him, was the way he compared Gethel and Kirstyn. It was all about their looks! “She was pretty, he supposed, but not as beautiful as Kirstyn. Her hair was brown and smooth, her brown eyes and mouth rather small and delicate. He couldn’t help comparing her to Kirstyn’s pale-blonde hair, her full lips, and large blue eyes. Kirstyn was also taller than Grethel.” Just NO. A girl’s outside beauty does not make her truly beautiful!

Okay, moving on. The idea behind the plot was interesting. I liked how Dickerson took the Aladdin story and made it her own. Retellings do by no means have to exactly follow the Disney version. That’s the beauty of a retelling, you can make it your own.

The writing was okay, I had hoped for something more elaborate since Dickerson is an experienced writer.

Finally, as with all of Dickerson’s books, this was a clean read and I loved that about it.

But altogether, I felt a little like the publishing process for this book was rushed. If they had spent a bit more time filling out the plot, the characters, and the setting, and embellishing the writing, it would have made this book so much better.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

What are your thoughts on this book?

Thanks for reading!

E.J. Hill

my writing, Ramblings

Thank You Thank You

I would just like to quickly send out a huge a THANK YOU to all those who have read and reviewed by book “Ashes of Glass.”

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Your words mean a lot, not just because it helps get my book out there, but also because feedback will help me in my future writing projects. It was kinda scary to put my work out there for the first time. I spent months writing and editing “Ashes of Glass” and when I hit “publish book,” there was a big part of me that was worried people would hate it. Despite this, my reviewers have been super gracious and have said many wonderful things. Here are a few highlights 🙂 

Reviews

 

Thank you again! And also, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the strength God has given me. Praise be His name. Soli Deo Gloria.    

E.J. Hill

Book Reviews

A Rebel Heart by Beth White

Image result for REbel heart beth whiteThis was a sweet historical romance with a dash of mystery. With its beautiful cover and compelling synopsis, it had me captured as soon as I laid eyes on it. Yet, my favorite part about it was trying to unravel the colorful threads which made up this story. It was one of those books that made me want to read the last page to see what happens. (I know, terrible right?!?) But I didn’t and was rewarded with a nice and happy ending.

My favorite character in this book was Joelle. While Selah was strong and independent, Joelle was absolutely lovable and I could definitely relate to her. Levi was a good addition to the story and I liked how his past intertwined with Selah’s. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance between Levi and Selah since there was not a great deal of growth. The relations with the other characters were amazing, though, especially those between the former slaves and the Daughtry sisters. Their attitude towards these people caused me to respect them and admire their compassion.    

Moving on, the writing was nice, but a little plain – I would have liked some more color and detail. And lastly, this was a clean read which was something I thoroughly enjoyed.

I recommend this book to all those who like a heartwarming romance with a touch of intrigue.

I received a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Book Reviews

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

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Happy Sunday everyone!

First off, I loved the mystery in this book. I think that out of everything, it was what got me hooked. It kept me guessing all the way to the ending; which by the way, held a few surprises (happy and sad).

The characters were so sweet!

Of course, there was a villain and a mean girl, but the others were kind and caring just totally loveable. They made me want to visit Azure Springs 🙂 Specifically, Em was selfless, hardworking, and tender-hearted. Fordham also made a point of describing her as plain and this was great! Not every heroine is stunningly beautiful. This also led to the discovery, (by other characters) that you should not let others define beautiful for you. “Don’t let anyone else decide which kind of beautiful is right for you. You find a girl who brings out the best in you. Who you can see a happy future with. That’s your kind of beautiful.”  What a profound statement! I had to read that twice because honestly, I couldn’t agree more. What are your thoughts?

Anyways, on to the writing.

Over all, the writing was okay. It was a bit cliché in places and didn’t bear too many colorful flourishes. One thing which bothered me, was the number of times Em was described as being very thin. I got the picture after it was mentioned only twice… No need to repeat. Also, I found that the dialogue didn’t always flow super well. The characters said things which came across as random and created some awkward bumps in the narrative.

Lastly, this was a clean read. There was no profanity and immorality and I definitely enjoyed this.  

Altogether “The Hope of Azure Springs,” was a heartwarming story about facing the past and learning to trust others. I recommend it to those who love inspirational romances. 🙂 I received a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading!

E.J. Hill

 

Book Reviews

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin

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“Most people’s lives were stories with mysterious endings. Mine was a story with a beginning I could never make sense of. It was like fifty different unrelated strands I couldn’t weave into a solid crystal.”

First off, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the GORGEOUS cover!

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Like wow! I read this as an e-book; however, I will definitely be purchasing a paper copy. For reasons besides the cover, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Okay, ready to continue? I’m not, but I better get on with it anyways.

The story which Franklin spun was unique in so many ways. I mean, a story peddler who creates strands of color with her hands then crystalizes those into something solid? Just beautiful. Then there were also the names of animals; for example, fluff-hoppers. Obviously rabbits, but it made these mundanes creatures seem magical. Another interesting thing was the last names. Like En-Yestin and Bo-Bradwir. It took me a bit to get used to, but this was a unique twist as well. And finally, what about phrases like, “Mind your own onions?” Honestly, I had to reread that one the first time it came up. It’s too good to be true 🙂

Okay, enough rambling… The heroine, Tanwen, was very down to earth and I could easily relate to her. I had expected her to end up as some superhero who single-handedly saves the day; however, it wasn’t like that at all. Yes, she was brave, selfless, and kind, but – to put it simply – it was natural. The other characters in this novel were colorfully portrayed as well and I quickly fell in love with each of the Corsyth Weavers as well as Princess Braith.

“I turned back to the bruised, crumpled, lovely, broken creature who lay shattered on the forest floor. And I saw my future.”

Moving on to the plot. It ambled along at a nice pace, not boring me with details and not moving so quickly I was left behind in the dust. In addition, the ending was exquisite. It left me satisfied, yet at the same time wanting to read the next book.

One thing, though, which I found slightly confusing, was the essence of the story strands. I’m still not 100% sure what they are. Are they supposed to be some sort of gifting? Some sort of magic? Art that is in the form of color? The book began with Tanwen telling a story and I realized right away that the color thingies were coming from her fingers because that’s what the cover shows, but I didn’t know why or how?

Lastly, this was a wonderfully clean read and as a result, I was able to fully enjoy it.

I definitely recommend this book! As I mentioned before, I will be purchasing a paper copy and am also waiting expectantly for book two!

Ta ta for now,

E.J. Hill

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Book Reviews

Sacred Secrets of the Cedar Chest by Angela Pisaturo

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Description:

Veronica Wheaton is a wounded adult. She has suffered severe emotional trauma relating back to her childhood. Veronica allows those childhood scars and abuses to influence her career as a reporter. She is known as ‘stone-hearted’ Wheaton in the industry because of her ruthless and unfeeling pursuit of what she deems to be the truth.
But this time Veronica cross far over the line of what her boss is willing to tolerate. Only the Bible thumping, weatherman, Roy Gibbins, recognizes the pain she is in and stops at nothing to her help, even though she does not want his help. Veronica now finds herself on the road to self-destruction.

My Review:

Firstly, let me take a moment to acknowledge the cover. It’s simple, but it’s also stunning and I think, it captured the essence of the story.

This was a beautiful story about a woman’s journey from being hurt and broken to becoming an entirely new person. At first, I disliked Veronica, the main character – I couldn’t get over how self-centered and childish she was. But I think that’s exactly what the author wanted! As I got to know the protagonist better through her everyday actions as well as through her reflections and memories, I began to understand her and even developed a soft spot for her. The bitterness that Veronica carried in her, was a result of a difficult childhood and I think this was portrayed admirably.  

The writing, while not exceedingly fancy, was precise and enjoyable. Although the plot followed a different route than what I’m used to, I found myself sucked into it. Throughout the story, I truly wanted Veronica to work through the demons inside of her and find a happy ending. Lastly, this was a clean read – there wasn’t any immorality or profanity.

It was definitely a worthwhile read!

 

Book Reviews

Season of Glory (the Remnants #3) by Lisa T. Bergren

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I’ll be honest: going into this book, I didn’t have super high expectations. It’s the third and last volume in a young adult dystopian series called “the Remnants.” The first book of which, was pretty good; however, the second was not my favorite. I found that it was in need of some major editing and there didn’t seem to be that driving force behind the story. It’s hard to describe, but I just wasn’t drawn in. Despite this, I owned the third book “Season of Glory” so I decided I should just finish the series.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The writing, while not absolutely stunning, was decent. It was a little plain which isn’t a bad thing at all especially for teen fiction; although, personally, I love a colorful manuscript. In addition, the energy the second book seemed to lack, was present in this one as the Ailith battled to bring light to the kingdom of Pacifica.

Bergren used Andriana, Ronan, and Keallach’s points of view to tell the narrative and I found this rather nice. It made me feel like I got to know each of them personally and thus, gave me a chance to fall in love with them. The only thing that really, really bugged me about the different points of view was the fonts – each of the three characters had a different font for their point of view. I get what they were trying to do with this: make it clear which character was being featured. But I don’t think it was necessary and the constantly changing fonts almost came across as messy.

Moving on, though… It was amazing how Andriana’s character grew in this book. She became stronger, finding her identity in the Maker, and I definitely admired her for this. It was interesting to have the story told from Keallach’s point of view… At first, I was a little skeptical, but I grew to understand him and almost fell in love with him too. Wait what? Did I just say that?? Sorry, no spoilers. I won’t speak another word. Hehe. Ronan, was ever the loving knight. A tad protective maybe, but I guess that was part of his job as Andriana’s knight.

Now about that ending…. Wow. Just wow. There was one point near the end where I had no idea what was going to happen and I absolutely LOVED that! Yes, call me crazy, but when I’m reading a book and the author has me questioning all of the theories I have spun throughout the past chapters, that is good writing. Again, no spoilers so I won’t say anything else.

Altogether, this was by far my favorite book of the series! As for “the Remnants” as a whole, they were a clean read which was refreshing. I didn’t care too much for the incorporation of angels and demon and the sort of twist on Christianity, but it wasn’t terrible. Maybe I’m just picky though… But if you’re into dystopia and you’re looking for something decent, you should definitely give this series a try.

Ashes of Glass CoverThank you for reading,

E.J. Hill

 

P.S. Check out my novel Ashes of Glass. 🙂

You can read the Prologue as well as Chapter 2 for free!!

It’s also available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.