Sunday, July 16, 2017

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

Cover Art



A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a cafĂ© . . . or so it seems. Eve’s most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.

When a plane crashes as she’s en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and she risks her life to conceal the pilot from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgium alive?
(excerpt from back of book)

With so many historical fictions based during WWII I had to go back and read the description again when I realized Kate Breslin's newest novel is actually based in WWI. Once I cleared up my generational confusion I found myself plunged into a world with intrigue, romance, and wartime redemption.

I confess, WWI is not in my wheelhouse of studies so  for those readers looking for historically accurate details I cannot confirm or deny anything. For readers looking for an engaging page turning I can heartily confirm this book is worth looking into.

I loved the complexity of Evelyn in this novel. While she bares many of the normal traits I'd expect in a heroine she had layers of complexity as she works through her regrets stemming from wartime decisions and her connection to the downed pilot. I enjoyed the realism  Breslin works into her characters dreams and fears as well as the timeline (though most of it is pre-story).

Speaking of story, I loved  the story and found Breslin's decision to include a back and forth between the main story and three years earlier was one that both heightens  character development and interest as well as the intrigue of the stories. Thanks to the slow unfolding of Marche's reasons for guilt just feels natural and shows Breslin's skill as an author.

One thing I did notice about Breslin's work is that, while her main characters are delightful and complex, I found the secondary characters to be less dynamic in their own stories. I had no problem viewing this book as a one-shot as there wasn't enough interest in the other characters to draw the story further.


Overall, High as the Heavens was an exciting page turner  that soared above my expectations.

4 out of 5 stars  




"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Friday, July 14, 2017

Night Night, Train by Amy Parker


Night Night, Train is a unique children's tale following a family of dogs taking a trip to Sleepytown and all the things they see and do along the way.

At first, I was a little confused by the structure of the page. Each set of pages has two sections of text. One is in simple rhyming pairs of to the side of the  page. The other is a large block of text giving a more detail account of the dog's train based adventures. I was a little confused as the differing structures and rhyme schemes do not lend themselves to easily move from one segment to the next. However, separately they are brilliant. The easier rhyming section is perfect for my two year old's love of rhythm and shorter attention span while the larger story section fits my older child's skill and interest. While I'm not sure if that was the intended purpose it makes this book far more interesting for our whole family (especially as Mama and Daddy aren't reading the identical text every time, hurrah for variety)

The pictures really set the stage no matter how the story is read. With bright, inviting colours Night Night, Train welcomes kids into the story. I especially enjoyed how there were multiple pictures highlighting the exterior and showing kids exactly how the train looks. As Mom to a train obsessed kiddo it's surprising how often train books don't include good pictures of the train itself and as my 4 year old will tell you that's kind of the point.

For readers looking for a strong biblical lesson, this won't be your book.  Although a Tommy Nelson book, Biblical matters are mentioned in only two places choosing to focus more on the train adventure than anything more consequential.

That said, once you get over the differing structure schemes of the text Night Night Train proves to be a charming bedtime adventure that will help your kids get ready for bed.

Mama gives 3.5 stars while my little one gives it 4.5 stars out of 5 because, well, trains :)


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, July 10, 2017

On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancĂ©, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.
(excerpt from back of book)


I started reading On Love's Gentle Shore with mixed feelings. By all accounts, this appears to be the last installment in the Prince Edward Island Dreams series and I am not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to the characters and world of North Rustico. Keeping that in mind, On Love's Gentle Shore was a great read and easily suitable for new and old fans of the series (although I highly recommend new fans find books 1 and 2 so that they can get a full appreciation of the little details Johnson resolves).

For older fans of the series, Johnson has beautifully woven in the characters we love with Marie, Caden, and Aretha all making strong appearances in the third novel, each adding to Natalie's story without taking away from her central focus. I love how Johnson is able to stay true to her characters and world while extending the story outwards as each of these ladies still shine in their roles. For Marie, On Love's Gentle Shore brings so much change, I love how her story line is brought to a resolution that seems so fitting. Aretha really shone for me, however. Although earlier books have talked about her past, Natalie's reappearance in North Rustico allows readers to see more of Aretha's character during the past. While it had direct impact on the plot it also felt like a bit of a shout out for Aretha lovers and I was so grateful to see this lady have her moment in the closing pages of the novel.

For newcomers, Natalie O'Ryan and Justin Kane provide a rollercoaster of emotions as they work out forgiveness, redemption, and relationships. Natalie is a fiery character who Liz has softened with realistic vulnerabilities. Natalie's backstory is painfully realistic and adds a sharper edge than some readers may expect from a Christian romance. That said, I think Johnson handles each issue and dimension she adds into her story with care and the mess her characters find themselves in make the second chance all the sweeter.

Speaking of which, the love story. Natalie O'Ryan finds herself in an odd love triangle throughout most of the book and I loved every minute of it. I normally hate triangles but it this case it really helps highlight the dimensions and choices in Natalie's life. This  definitely isn't a flowery romance novel but I loved the realism of it from flying potatoes to late nights at the lighthouse. This realism made the themes of forgiveness and second chances all the more powerful as readers were invited into flawed characters trying to make sense of big concepts and messy scenarios. 

Prince Edward Island Dreams is a series that only disappoints in it's lack of a 4th book ;) I highly recommend to fans of Christian fiction or P.E.I.

4.5 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Revell and Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest opinion."