Erin Bartels’ “The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water” ~ a Revell Reads Review

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I was so thrilled to get to read Erin Bartels’ newest! Revell Reads kindly sent me a digital e-book version of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. I admit, I was captivated by the cover before I even knew what it was about. As it turned out, the book was as gorgeous and as haunting as the cover is.

My impressions of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water

I’ve heard it said that writers should never read reviews of their work. Something akin to that is the problem, the weight, that Kendra Brennan is carrying around: a letter from someone signed as, A Very Disappointed Reader. Now. That’s not disheartening, is it?

There’s also another weight. Kendra is the author of a best-selling book. Her first one, as a matter of fact, and such a success that her second book has already received an advance. The only problem? She hasn’t been able to get any words down on paper. And the time is ticking by…

For many years of her childhood life, Kendra spent her summers at her grandparents’ cottage on the remote Hidden Lake in Michigan. She met her best friend there, after Cami’s adoptive parents brought her home from China. Kendra’s and Cami’s summers were spent in utter happiness there together; in the water, on the sand, in the canoes, or on their special island. Robert and Beth, Cami’s parents, adopted Tyler, an older boy from China. And the once-besties-type of friendship between the two girls begins to erode. Eventually, Kendra stopped coming to the lake. And Cami and Kendra haven’t spoken, or seen each other, in years.

So, Kendra, who’s lost her grandmother and grandfather, is returning to the empty cottage in the hopes of jump-starting her writing. Of breaking the writer’s block that has stymied her efforts. Her first book, which was fiction, was viewed by many as autobiographical, with obvious villains and heroes. But after receiving the unhappy reader’s letter (which has never left Kendra’s possession) her well of words has dried up. Maybe her book was autobiographical. The letter’s words, “Your book…is the work of a selfish opportunist who was all too ready to monetize the suffering of others…” are branded on her mind, ever-present in her days and her nights, serving as a painful roadblock. Its intimate words make her believe that the author has to be someone from Hidden Lake. Someone who knows.

But then.

A German translator, Andreas, arrives at the lake, there to get her words just right in the translation of the bestseller. Robert and Beth are there. Tyler arrives. But Cami is still missing.

Sometimes the past really is shrouded in mystery. We see faintly the moments of our own histories, but we wrestle with their pain, especially if they are childhood pains. I found Kendra’s struggle, with so many missing pieces that she feels she desperately needs to know, to be a true and honest one. The reader hopes beyond hope that she will find peace, and restoration, even when Kendra’s path might take her places she really doesn’t want to go. Perhaps Kendra will find the Very Disappointed Reader. Or maybe not. In any case, don’t miss The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. You won’t be able to put it down. Erin Bartels excels at bringing the reader along in her protagonist’s journey. There is beauty and brokenness here; but there is also a truth that we all need to know.

This is a book worth reading. And when you do read it, don’t miss the author’s note at the end of the book.

–Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

“Lights Out” ~ a Revell Reads review

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be introduced to author Natalie Walters, courtesy of Revell Reads, with Natalie’s brand new suspense thriller Lights Out. What a read! Let me tell you more!

About the book

Brynn Taylor, who’s been with the CIA for 8 years, is especially excited about her new anti-terrorist project. Her idea, to gather intelligence officials from other countries and train them to work together to ferret out terrorists BEFORE they have a chance to strike, is approved by her superiors and is progressing swimmingly.

Until, that is, one of those intelligence operatives disappears. The Egyptian intelligence officer, Riad, has gone completely off the grid. The CIA doesn’t know why he’s missing; but he should have remained on base with the other officials meeting and working together. Brynn, her promising project, and perhaps even the U.S. are in danger.

With Riad still missing, Brynn promises to find him. Yet her boss informs her that the search is being handed over to the SNAP Agency; but that she can work along with them. She is appalled at what this might mean for her career, much less for the U.S. She doesn’t even know that her heart might be affected.

Until she walks into SNAP’s offices and sees the man that she rejected for the CIA position she was hired for, eight years ago. But whom she has never forgotten.

Jack Hudson has never forgotten her either. It’s hard to forget someone who both betrayed him AND broke his heart. Neither of them has a choice though; they, along with Jack’s SNAP (Strategic Neutralization and Protection) team have been assigned the task of finding Riad. Which includes a computer genius-level hacker, an EOD expert, a logistician, and Jack, who’d trained for the CIA along with Brynn.

None of the group has any idea that the task before them, and the hidden dangers within it, has the potential to cost them their own lives. Or really, the magnitude of this task; that it not only could affect Washington D.C., but the whole United States, and even the world. If they can survive the poisons, the weapons, kidnapping, and worse, that is.

And if they can keep their own hearts under control.

My thoughts

So, one word: Wow.

What a story! I absolutely fell in love with Brynn and Jack, along with the fabulous SNAP team. Their chemistry, their teamwork, their fascinating skills and abilities, and even their pop-culture love, captured my heart. Each was so believable, with rich backstories that made their choices and interactions make perfect sense.

And, since I love (and have loved since high school) a good spy mystery, Natalie’s mastery of the genre made my first foray into her books a joy. She not only crafted characters that I was happy to cheer on (and hope that they survived!), she built an exceptional thriller. And, even better, I couldn’t predict anything! But I couldn’t put down the book either.

I loved every chapter, and every character (well, except for the bad guys). It’s a clean read, with a tiny bit of romance, great dialogue, and action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I can’t wait for the next book in Walters’ series about the SNAP Agency; and I’d recommend not only that you be on the lookout for it but that you read Lights Out too.

It’s inconceivable to me that you wouldn’t love it as well!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

“Tacos for Two” ~ a Revell Reads Review

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Revell Reads was kind enough to send me Betsy St. Amant’s newest contemporary fiction novel, Tacos for Two. I love Betsy’s breezy style and ability to tell a story from both the heroine’s and the (potential but maybe or maybe not) hero. Let me tell you more about this charming read!

About the book

Rory Perez is the not-culinarily-equipped owner of a food truck. Fortunately for her (and her sales!), she has an exceptional cook in her dear friend and employee Grady. Rory hates cooking, hates owning a food truck, and even hates cilantro. But there is one very important reason that she has to keep the business going; an absolutely vital one.

Fortunately for Rory, she has begun a lovely online chat with a potential new beau, which really helps her relieve the strain of her work days. He doesn’t know her, and she doesn’t know him, really; just what they’re revealing slowly online in their conversations. That are really just IMs. But they’re fun! Exciting! And still very restricted to their online connections. And it’s not that Rory is afraid for her beau to see her; she’s quite lovely. But there is much more to her than a pretty face, and she doesn’t want to meet her online beau until she’s quite ready. And meanwhile, she’s got to keep her unloved business raking in the dough.

Almost-attorney Jude Strong is also loving his online flirtation. As much as he is hating his job. The bar exam is just around the corner, and while he’s prepared for it, he is NOT prepared to join his family’s firm. His father and brother are extremely good at what they do; but his father refuses to lose. And he’s not unwilling to play ugly to get there. And the idea of spending the rest of his life working for his father, under those circumstances, really turns Jude’s stomach. What he’d really rather do is open a food truck.

And then, Rory’s and Jude’s small Texas town announces a food truck cook-off with very appealing cash prizes. Maybe this is the way for Rory to make the money her family needs. But it also might be the way Jude can step away from his father’s expectations and into a life that brings joy to him. The only problem for both Rory and Jude? They’ll be competing against each other.

And they still haven’t discovered whom they’re communicating with online in their romantic, but still-anonymous, IMs.

My thoughts

So. I adore Mexican food, whether it’s Tex-Mex, continental Mexican food, or even fast-food (yes, I’m looking at you, Chipotle!). And, I love contemporary chick lit novels. Also, my family has enjoyed viewing recent television shows and films about the food truck life and experience. So naturally, when I saw Betsy St. Amant’s new Tacos for Two, you can see why I couldn’t wait to pick it up! She describes food preparation in mouth-watering ways (and reminded me that I had all the ingredients for fresh salsa in my fridge). And made it very clear that the dishes that various characters were creating were those I wished I could step up and order myself.

I really liked Rory and Jude even as I was very nervous about them discovering that their online amours were the people they were arguing with and offending on a regular basis. I wanted them to meet…even as I wanted to put it off as long as possible! The supporting characters were also fascinating: Jude’s ruthless lawyer relatives; Rory’s dear friends and family; and additional town characters like the mayor, the local hair stylist, and others. And, the main voice of reason in the book was both unexpected and delightful.

St. Amant did a fantastic job creating some (clean) romantic tension and moved the story along at a great pace. It was easy to imagine the food (as I’ve alluded to) as well as the character interactions. And the story device of including the IMs that were exchanged in the mystery romance were so appealing; you could totally understand why ColorMeTurquoise and StrongerMan99 were attracted to each other!

If you loved any of the romantic blockbusters starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, then Tacos for Two is right up your alley! Betsy St. Amant’s clean contemporary romance features appealing characters, delectable food (yum!), and an online romance that might not make it in the real world. Or, maybe it will! You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

“The Healing of Natalie Curtis” ~ a Revell Reads Review

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Revell Reads was kind enough to send me Jane Kirkpatrick’s newest novel to read. The Healing of Natalie Curtis is another of the author’s exceptional books about actual American women on the frontier. It is so worth your while; let me tell you more!

About The Healing of Natalie Curtis

Natalie Curtis had always planned for a career in music. An accomplished pianist and vocalist, Natalie had planned to tour the world making music…until circumstances brought her plans to a very sudden, public, and painful stop. It affected her physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Natalie stayed in her parents’ home for several years. She did improve a bit physically, but each day, it felt desperately difficult for her even to get out of bed. And she had no idea what she could do instead of being the performer she’d spent over half of her life learning and preparing to be.

Until, one day, her beloved brother George returned home from the West. Once a librarian, George’s asthma induced him to move to the western U.S. He returned home for a visit a strong, vibrant, and happy man…and, he invited Natalie to return with him, hoping that the bright and dry climate, and its beauty, might restore his sister to the joyful and dynamic woman she’d been.

The idea perked Natalie right up, and eventually, she traveled west with George. And, the adventure Natalie had been preparing for all her life (unbeknownst to her) began. Beauty, music, relationships, and a fight to preserve Native Americans’ (or First Nations’) music became Natalie’s life and purpose…with unbelievable experiences before her.

My thoughts

I have loved Jane Kirkpatrick’s books since I first discovered them years ago. She conducts and presents impeccable research into the lives of intrepid American settlers, travelers, photographers, and now, musicians, to readers in the form of novels. And, did I mention, her protagonists are all women? And, they’re women who lived amazing lives, facing dangers, prejudice, societal constraints, and various other difficulties. But they all crafted lives with richness and immense purpose.

If these were just history books, they could be dry indeed. But Jane Kirkpatrick really does bring her characters to life. They are all human, of course; but the author endows them with such personality, vibrance…and PERSEVERANCE. Each of her characters experiences difficulty; but, over and over, she shares the lives of women who overcame their troubles and continued on.

Now, as I said, I have loved all Kirkpatrick’s books and characters. But Natalie; well, she is my favorite! I adored her personality and purpose. I loved the sense of God’s grace as He drew her out of what she might have perceived as her most enormous failing (in her musical career), in the depths of despair…into a calling that no other had ever attempted, with passion, love, and an ear that enabled her to record the music and beauty of many First Nations of America. What an incredible person.

Don’t miss this lovely, rich book. You’ll be entranced as Jane Kirkpatrick’s musical ear and artistic eye (and amazing storytelling ability) captures the life of a most unusual woman. And, you’ll never forget Natalie Curtis!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are honest and my own.

“A Midnight Dance” ~ A Revell Reads Review

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Revell Reads so very kindly sent me a copy of Joanna Davidson Politano’s brand-new A Midnight Dance to read. I picked it up on Saturday and didn’t stop reading (except for dinner) until I turned the last page. O my heart!!

About A Midnight Dance

Ella Blythe has been raised in poverty by her mama, a former ballerina, in 1830s London. After being scarred in a theater fire, Ella’s mother left her onstage work to live in obscurity, hidden away so definitively that her former colleagues thought she was dead. Her love for ballet still beat in her heart, however; and she taught Ella, who lost her own heart to dance irrevocably. When she sees an achingly handsome male dancer about to be accosted by drunken thugs, she saves his life by a well-thrown shoe. And, her heart is lost again. He promises to dance with her someday, on the stage. And the years pass…

…and Ella is suddenly part of Craven Street Theatre as a dancer. The principal male lead is none other than the one she rescued years ago: Philippe Rousseau. Ella, of course, is one of the many dancers who dance in the background. And while London society regards ballet dancers as immoral and loose, Ella is convinced that the God who saved her and loves her brought her here for a purpose.

Ella works daily until she is exhausted; convinced that her work will save her yet again. If she is perfect she will be even more appreciated and loved by God. Philippe has had a conversation or two with her, yet the role of dancing alongside him seems incredibly far away. Plus, there is the company “bad boy” who seems to have his eye on Ella, even though many of the other dancers call her the nun.

There are secrets in the ballet company even as there are in Ella’s life. But only one of those secrets might just take Ella’s life.

My thoughts

This is the ballerina book I have been waiting for my entire life.

Like many little girls, I took ballet lessons in my early years. (Sadly, I did not continue.) But the beauty of ballet has always remained with me; the adoration of the light, airy steps, the beautiful orchestral music, and of course, the tulle and ribbon! I understand now what I didn’t as a child; that all of that beauty is achieved only by the hardest of work. That doesn’t make me love it any less.

But oh, Ella! The girl with a secret regal (ballet royalty, anyway) background, whose heart is set on realizing a moment of romance from long ago. Ella, who truly loves God but who thinks that His love is only won by her unstinting, hard work. Ella, who has joined the ranks of my most-loved literary heroines (yes, Elizabeth Bennet will have to move over to make room!).

Joanna Davidson Politano has created a most gorgeous story. Her heroine is real, will do anything to prove to God that she loves Him and is worthy of Him, and has a destiny to dance out that could become an unimaginable story of love and life. If she can just avoid danger and keep herself alive.

In closing

If, like me, you love ballet and tulle; if you adore a good mystery; and if a life of faith is a life of beauty to you, you must read A Midnight Dance. It truly is a tour de force, and it will captivate your heart and your soul!

Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLAIMER: I received this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

Lynette Eason’s “Hostile Intent” ~ a Revell Reads review

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I always enjoy Lynette Eason’s suspense thrillers, and I was so excited to get to read her newest in the “Danger Never Sleeps” series, Hostile Intent. I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads, and it was a wild ride of a read. Let me tell you more!

About the book

A horrible crime has just been committed; sadly, against an entire family. FBI agents Caden Denning and Zane Pierce are called to the scene. There don’t seem to be any obvious suspects, but there is a security camera recording that shows evidence (except the perpetrator, of course). Caden and Zane discover, however, that there is a similarity between these murders and a number of others that have been committed across the U.S. What is the connection between the families, and who could have committed such terrible acts?

Ava Jackson enlisted in the Navy and loved her time there. However, when her mother was hospitalized due to dementia, she left the military to be with her mom in her final days. But an attempted kidnapping of Ava in the hospital parking lot is prevented by her skills and Caden’s being there at just the right moment. Who would try to kidnap Ava; and what does that have to do with the other killings? There is a connection, but it just isn’t visible yet.

The question is, can the crimes be solved before a vital witness–and Ava–are attacked as well? And will the sparks that fly between Ava and Caden develop into anything?

My thoughts

I love suspense and thriller novels. Especially when they involve secrety-agent stuff between nations and individuals. Hostile Intent totally fits into those categories, and I couldn’t put it down! Lynette Eason understands how to pace a story; how to create characters and situations that hold the reader spellbound; and how to weave in a little romance to brighten everything up. I found Ava’s character to be fascinating and sympathetic. She’s a tough woman, and that strength not only came from her Navy career but her unusual family life. It also helped that she’d had almost a lifelong crush on Caden, all-around great guy and FBI agent. Special agent, that is. Their mutual attraction is appealing (will Ava FINALLY get the guy??) and their faithful fight against cruelty and evil is something the reader can totally get on board with.

The crimes, results of years of global and national politics (and poor decisions here and there), are horrible but also understandable (from the villains’ points of view, anyway). And they certainly remind us that the pursuit of revenge because of personal pain doesn’t really go well for anyone. Eason’s gradual unfolding of the secrets from the past that are still affecting the present not only kept my attention but kept me racing to the finish.

Hostile Intent is another fantastic addition to Eason’s “Danger Never Sleeps” collection. Appealing characters, fun love story, and fantastic suspense will please readers both old and new.

Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are honest and my own.

Susie Finkbeiner’s gorgeous new “The Nature of Small Birds” ~ a Revell Reads review

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Revell Reads offered me the opportunity to read and review Susie Finkbeiner’s newest novel, and before I read a word of it I was captivated by both the title and the cover. And fortunately, my initial impressions were fulfilled completely as I read. Let me tell you more about it!

About the book

In the mid-1970s, Bruce and Linda Matthews, moved by the plight of Vietnamese orphans and children airlifted to the United States, set out to adopt one of those children. They have one daughter, Sonny, and had hoped to have more children. Little Minh, or Mindy, who’s around 4 or 5 (but still very tiny), comes to live with the Matthews. Of course, she’s terrified (and doesn’t speak English yet), but her tender adoptive parents help her to begin to feel part of the family. Sonny is thrilled to have a younger sister that she can love, protect, and boss around.

Not everyone is as thrilled to have a new child in town whose biological roots are in a nation that America has been at war with. Yet over the course of the years, Mindy settles in and the family’s connections grow rich and deep as they do life together.

Told by Bruce, Linda, and Sonny, The Nature of Small Birds addresses so many issues by showing the reader how one loving family sought to work through them as they raised their children. The longings of children who haven’t yet met their birth parents; teenage woes; difficult family relationships and losses; God’s care, provision, and love for every human in spite of their own foibles are experienced by the family, always in a natural and unforced manner. The Nature of Small Birds is most of all a novel about love; of family, of spouses, of siblings (sisters especially!), and how those work out over the years of life.

My thoughts

I was as captivated by the reading of The Nature of Small Birds as I’d originally been with its title and cover art! I enjoy books that move between timelines, and in Susie’s book we get to experience three of them, expressed by three narrators; dad Bruce (in 2013), mom Linda (in 1975), and big sister Sonny (in 1988). Each character is very appealing and you can tell that the author loved her characters as you read their stories. Although each narrator has a distinct personality, each fits perfectly into the novel and you can visualize their lives as you read.

I wish I could fully express how very warmly I feel about this book. I love how richly and fully the characters and their times were brought to life. I was a child and a teen in the 70s and 80s, and there were so many moments that I’d read something and say, “Yes!” as the author described life, fashion, or even food from those eras. I felt so affectionate toward the narrators and also to Minh/Mindy. I loved the sense of freedom that the parents extended to their children, allowing them in many ways to be the kids they were and to grow up into who they were meant to be; all while supporting and encouraging them.

I also appreciated the honesty with which the grandparents were depicted, and the ways that they overcame their own struggles and issues. Families can be difficult! But in The Nature of Small Birds we get to see relationships and choices made over a lifetime, and how one family both extends grace but also speaks the truth.

I finished The Nature of Small Birds, and as I turned the last page I felt crestfallen that the story of these lovely people was coming to an end. I really wanted more of Mindy, Sonny, Bruce, Linda, and even Ivan, the grandfather. Susie Finkbeiner enchanted me with this book. It is a beautiful, and beautifully-written book.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Jody Hedlund’s gorgeous new “Come Back to Me” ~ a review

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Revell Reads recently sent me Jody Hedlund’s gorgeous new Come Back to Me, a dual-timeline novel that’s the first of her new “Waters of Time” series. I adored it!

Medical research scientist Marion Creighton has long been on a quest that completely fills up her days (and some of her nights). Her beloved sister Ellen is fighting a disease for which there’s no cure, and that threatens to steal Ellen’s life prematurely. But when Marion hears that her father has fallen into a coma, she drops everything and flies immediately to England to see if there’s any way she might be able to help.

When she arrives and discovers that her father’s home and lab were broken into, she wonders why. From her father’s coworker and friend, Harrison, she learns that her father was working on developing a drug that would not only cure her sister’s illness but basically, any other disease. That would be a temptation for thieves of any kind. But then she hears something about time travel, the space-time continuum, and…the Tree of Life? Marion can’t believe that at all…but when she ingests the residue from an ancient ampulla of holy water, she opens her eyes to find herself in the Middle Ages. And so, her adventure begins.

My thoughts about Come Back to Me

Let me tell you, I LOVED this book! But writing about my love for Come Back to Me and its characters without ruining the story for you (no spoilers!) was very difficult! I have written sentences and backspaced over them A LOT as I’ve considered how to share my thoughts with you. So…let’s see how I can communicate without verging into spoiler-land.

First, let’s talk about the author. Jody Hedlund is exceptionally gifted in recreating the past–its appearance, manners, clothing, and personages–in ways that enable the reader to imagine “what life was like back then.” I’ve loved so many of her books for that very reason. In Come Back to Me, she accomplishes that feat again, magnificently. As Marion travels to the past to find a substance that could cure not only her sister but her father, she experiences life in ways that she’d never considered. And life in the 1300s looks nothing like life in the twenty-first century!

Second, the characters. So many interesting ones; but I particularly enjoyed Marion and Will, the knight she meets in the past. They are very different, as you’d imagine; but the way they meet and the experiences they encounter and move through ring true to their times and their persons. Their character journeys are fascinating and satisfying.

Third, the time travel. It’s presented in such an interesting way, and one I’ve never encountered in books before.

Basically, I loved Jody Hedlund’s newest novel, and I loved it more, the further into the book I read. It captivated me and truly left me wishing I already had book 2 (currently unpublished) in my hands! If you’re a reader that loves historical fiction AND fantasy works; if you’d love a clean love story with beautiful romantic moments and lots of adventure, then Come Back to Me is for you!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.

Ann H. Gabhart’s newest: “Along a Storied Trail” (a review)

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I was so excited to receive Ann H. Gabhart’s newest inspirational fiction book from Revell Reads, Along a Storied Trail. I loved it, just as I have all of her other books. If you’re looking for your next engaging read this summer, and enjoy historical fiction, this may be right up your alley!

Tansy Calhoun was immensely fortunate to be hired as one of Eastern Kentucky’s “packhorse librarians” during the depression. Not only does Tansy get to work with books and for the library (her most-loved pastime, in a life that didn’t allow much time for hobbies), she gets to bring books and periodicals to the people in her community, in the remote areas of the county. Each weekday (and sometimes on the weekends), she saddles Shadrach, the horse she leases from the local preacher, places a load of books on his back, and rides out among the forests, hills, and streams of rural Kentucky. She “loans” the books to adults (and their children) who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access reading materials, and returns another day to pick up those books and exchange them for new ones. Other days, she works in the Booneville library with the other packhorse librarians, and their supervisor, the town librarian, to repair damaged books and even create printed storybooks for children. She loves her job and is grateful to help provide for her mother, brothers, and sister, during such lean times, especially since her father left looking for work and hasn’t been heard from since.

Caleb Barton, after a season of creating trails in the Smoky Mountains for the Civilian Conservation Corps, has returned home to a family dealing with enormous loss. His brother, Reuben, has left behind a young widow and children. His mother is determined that Caleb should step in and marry Reuben’s widow, although Caleb has had his eye on Tansy for years.

Old Aunt Perdie (and her often-sharp tongue) lives alone with her feisty black cat, Prissy , until a young woman with a secret and family problems ends up at her door. An unusual circumstance connects them with Tansy and her family. Aunt Perdie’s sharp eyes discern Caleb’s unspoken care and attention for the packhorse librarian; but Tansy’s attention is drawn towards the New York writer who’s come to Booneville to interview and record the interesting history and personal stories of the locals. Will Tansy be drawn away from her beloved job and community, just as Caleb is hoping for more than friendship?

My thoughts about Along a Storied Trail

As I said earlier, I’ve long enjoyed Ann H. Gabhart’s excellent inspirational fiction. She is so gifted at creating characters and placing them in stories that are a delight to read. As a book-lover myself, I loved Tansy! She is a strong young woman, whose heart delights in bringing the books she loves herself to others in her country community who can’t access libraries on her own. She’s old enough to work, but is still somewhat naive about relationships with men who take notice of her; although her faith and upbringing (and character) aid her as she steps forward. Although truly, she’s not quite experienced enough to really know how to look below a handsome face to see what’s truly underneath.

Caleb is also very appealing. He is a faithful man of good character, who’s so willing to help his bereaved family; but who holds hopes and dreams in his own heart for a future.

All the other characters, from Caleb’s and Tansy’s families to the community members (and Aunt Perdie!), are fascinating and engaging. It’s a wonderfully-drawn picture of what life was like in Depression-era Kentucky country; and it’s an inspiring look at the unexpected ways prayers are answered.

I loved Along a Storied Trail and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys inspirational historical fiction. Even though it’s about a difficult time in the lives of those who lived in the Depression, I found that I savored every single word. Ann H. Gabhart can always be depended upon for a well-written and encouraging novel about people who almost seem to stand in front of you, they’re so clearly described. Don’t miss this lovely book!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

“Never Miss” a Revell Reads book review

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About Never Miss

Kadance and Lyndon meet by chance at a self-storage. She’s selecting a new identity and documents from her safe (the only thing in her storage area), and he’s attending an auction for the contents of abandoned units. They’d had a brief conversation as he walked toward the unit; then, as she returned to her perusal of the apartment rental listings book, she notices a brief glint in the building overlooking the units. Great. Now rescue is on her daily list of chores.

Kadance drives over to Walter, the auctioneer of the units, who’s talking with Lyndon. She attempts to draw Lyndon away, but the Walter nudges him further away from her. So she gives Lyndon a good shove.

Just before a bullet hole appears in the wall of the unit, where he’d been standing.

This chance meeting, between Kadance, Lyndon, and Mac (her very, very large pet/companion) launches them on the pursuit of his attempted killer, and of the thief who ransacked his apartment and stole his computer which contains important scientific research. Lyndon has been tracking data that indicates that the Ebola virus is being prepared to be used in a bioterrorist attack on U.S. soil…but by whom?

Kadance brings her exceptional skill set (she carries her sniper rifle with her at all times) and Lyndon, his gifted scientific mind (and multiple advanced degrees) along with Mac (the best pet/friend/extra set of eyes and ears ever) on a cross-country run to stop the attack and find the person behind it. Along the way, they both just discover a caring relationship, old hurts healed, and a faith reborn…as they hope to save not only the United States, but the world. And they might just have both the skills, and the contacts, they need to stop a tragedy.

The question is, will they get there in time?

My thoughts

I absolutely loved Never Miss! I’m a huge fan of suspense thrillers with brave and genuine characters; and if they have faith to compel them, it’s even better. Author Melissa Koslin wrote a fascinating book with truly appealing protagonists; trained assassin Kadence (with a mysterious, unusual backstory) and brilliant scientist Lyndon, who has quite the family history himself. The story is compelling, fast-paced, and utterly timely, as we’ve all seen a powerful virus (which is, I admit, less devastating than Ebola) infect a global population. Lyndon and Kadence are utterly sympathetic and the reader will cheer them on through dangerous and nail-biting situations. And of course, there’s also Mac, who’s officially now one of my all-time favorite animals in fiction!

If you’d like a fabulous, suspenseful clean read with elements of the Christian faith, you will love Never Miss. Melissa Koslin is a fantastic world-builder, character creator, and storyteller!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All these honest opinions are my own.