Monday, August 14, 2017

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse, A Review

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Book Description

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?
Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.
Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.
But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.
Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.
Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

There is something so real and raw and authentic about the characters in Prowse's work. This is the second of her books I've read this year. She went on my favorite author list after completing The Idea of You earlier this spring; her spot is cemented after reading this book.

Nina loses her husband unexpectedly due to a car crash and before she can fully comprehend that he isn't coming home, she learns that not only is the stronghold of their family unit gone, they entire life system is gone and she must figure out how to survive.  With two sons, she can't hide in bed as she desires - instead, Nina digs deep and finds a source of strength and aptitude to take each day and fight to provide stability and security for her sons, Conner and Declan as they each seek to find a new normal while grieving in their own individual ways.

Nina loves flowers and there is one scene where her teenage son left a mason jar of dandelions on the counter for her to cheer her up one evening. Everything leading up to that moment was so intense - I could not help crying as I read that (it even makes me teary eyed now).

I love how the book begins with Nina's insecurity and anxieties and ends with her so strong and determined and a real sense of knowing what she is capable of.

I highly recommend this book. It is on my Best of 2017 list.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing me to review an eARC of this book.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it


Want to Know More?
You can visit Amanda Prowse's youTube channel where she has several videos posted a few years ago that talk about a past release as well as one on her writing habits.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor, A Review

12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1)
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Book Description

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancĂ©, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

I'm a sucker for a second-chance love story. This book follows Clara and Ben as they battle to overcome past hurts and bitterness. Several times, Clara asks: "Why God, why?" for various hardships and disappointments that she must face. This resonated with me since I think it's something we can all identify with in one way or another. Early on in the reading, as characters are introduced and the plot progresses, it felt like a cross between Clue (the boardgame) and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I felt sure that the master of Bleakly Manor would appear, but alas, Griep only gave a slight tease as to who he was.  Overall I enjoyed this story very much; I love sweet Christmas romance stories and this one with a mix of intrigue was refreshing.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Want to Know More?

I haven't read any of Griep's work previously but will be checking out her other work after reading the 12 Days at Bleakly Manor. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

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Book Description

Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

Rachel Hauck is one of my favorite authors and her newest book did not disappoint. The Writing Desk follows modern day Tenley Roth as well as Gilded Age heiress Birdie Shehorn. While the book jumps between their points-of-view, it wasn't difficult to keep track of the time period or their perspective. There was a third character's  (Eli, Birdie's love interest) point of view thrown in but not as consistently; while this didn't make it hard to follow along, it did seem slightly random. 
Tenley comes from a line of authors who have achieved great critical and commercial success. She has one best seller and is facing a looming deadline for her second book with a severe case of writer's block, which is fueled by her lack of confidence in her abilities and ultimately, her purpose in life. Birdie is a privileged young lady of means whose father sent her to Wellesley but upon her graduation is expected to make a good marriage match based on money and social power. She has submitted a novel to a publisher who declined her manuscript which has gone missing. As the story progresses, we learn that Birdie continues to write yet never receives recognition for her work. In addition to this, both women have strained relationships with their mothers; and both must determine the importance of love in a marriage. Hauck did an incredible job exploring these issues. As always, her books have an element of faith and Birdie and Tenley both come to know Jesus in a more personal and real way. Sometimes this can feel very forced in a book. Hauck weaves the women's relationship with God and their growing faith into the storyline in a natural way.  
I loved The Writing Desk! The parallels between Tenley and Birdie are so strong despite the fact that their story is not exactly the same.  While I was given the opportunity to review this book by the publisher, I intend to add this to my permanent collection. 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it


Want to Know More?
Visit Rachel's website for more information on her books or follow her on Instagram where she posts many inspirational quotes.

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I first discovered Rachel Hauck with Once Upon a Prince which is the first book in The Royal Wedding Series. Read this book too - and then the rest of the series. The heroines are spunky and strong and the heroes are true throwback gentlemen.