Paper Roses

Paper Roses by Amanda CabotPaper Roses by Amanda Cabot begins with Sarah Dobbs journeying from Philadelphia to San Antonio with her little sister Thea to marry Austin Canfield, the man who has wooed her with his prosaic letters. She not only accepted his offer of marriage because of the beautiful words he wrote her but because she needed to escape the gossip and recrimination she has faced back East.

When Austin’s brother, Clay is the one to greet her, Sarah knows that something is not right. And it isn’t because Austin is dead. Sarah knows she can’t go back East. Not after what happened. She has to find a way to survive in this new town and provide a home for her sister.

Clay doesn’t know what to do with Sarah. He never wanted her or her sister to come in the first place. Clay is stuck working his father’s ranch, something he can’t wait to leave behind. But he can’t do that until he has gotten revenge for his brother’s murder.

This was a book about the importance of forgiveness. Both Sarah and Clay carry around a deep hurt and have turned that into anger at those who have caused them this pain. In doing so, they are not only hurting themselves but preventing anything from happening between them.

Both Sarah and Clay were very strong people with real problems. They had to deal with a lot and did it well. Their struggles were real and their approach was incredibly human. It took time and support to help them heal their wounds. This book had mystery and love and adventure. The supporting characters were well developed and added greatly to the story. I loved the faith woven throughout this book. It had the perfect presence without being too overwhelming. This was a beautiful story and one I heartily recommend.

Hope’s Promise

Hope's Promise by Tammy BarleyHope’s Promise by Tammy Barley is the second book in the Sierra Chronicles following Love’s Rescue. The story of Jess and Jake picks up a few months after the last book left off. They are now happily married and back home on their ranch. Their life is not without problems though. Jake is worried that the life will become too hard for Jess to bear especially since they are in the midst of a terrible drought. He fears that he would not be enough to keep her at the ranch. Jess feels terrible because she believes that their long absence and idea to turn the ranch into a horse farm has jeopardized the ranch Jake has worked so hard to build. She also is in great pain about her seeming inability to conceive the child she so desperately desires.

The ranch is suffering with the drought and the illegal selling of half of their land while men are attacking the Paiute Indians who work and live on the ranch.

I completely devoured this book the moment I had it in my grasp. All the characters, even those secondary to Jess and Jake, are so well developed with such distinct personalities. I love the drive everyone has to make the ranch work and to protect the people who have made it their home against the prejudices and hatred of others. Jess and Jake are incredibly strong characters who fit perfectly together. Jake’s patience and gentle manner perfectly balance out Jess’s stubbornness and outgoing personality.

I loved watching their relationship grow as a married couple. I loved how they dealt with the problems with the ranch and their own inner problems. I also love how faith-filled they both are, never despairing for too long because they knew they were protected in God’s hands.

This is an incredibly compelling book and just as good as the first. There are so many twists and turns and unexpected events to keep a reader interested. The characters are wonderful, and you can’t help but fall in love with them, especially Jake! Though you don’t necessarily have to read Love’s Rescue to read this one, you would be missing out on a great book and the first chapter in the story of Jess and Jake.

The Moonflower Vine

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta CarletonThe Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton is the story of a family living and growing in rural Missouri. Matthew and Callie have four daughters, each one distinct, following a path truly her own. Matthew is a schoolteacher, more than willing to escape into his work and books even if it means his family comes second. Callie is loving, hardworking and wants nothing but the best for her family. Jessica is the tomboy of the family. Leonie is the good girl, wanting nothing more than to please her parents and do what’s right. Mathy is the wild child, not content unless she’s off exploring the world. Mary Jo is the baby of the family, growing up in a time so different from the rest of her sisters.

This is a timeless novel where each character carries a secret burden. Each comes to terms with his or her faults and learns to live with them and sometimes in spite of them.

This was the most realistic novel I have ever read in my life. The characters jumped off the page and became part of this world. As the novel went on Jetta Carleton revealed more and more about her characters from multiple points of view so that each layer was peeled away. This novel was rich with life and so incredibly captivating. I’m so glad I listened to the reviews saying that this book will stick with you because I feel changed by this book, and I know that I will remember it always. Do yourself a favor: go out and read this book. You will not be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t!

The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina SimonsThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons took my breath away. Absolutely and completely took my breath away. The story opens on June 22, 1941, the day Russia goes to war with invading Germany. It is on this day where everything is in chaos that Tatiana and Alexander meet. Tatiana is a young, innocent girl, and Alexander is an officer in the Red Army. Nothing is certain in their lives except for their love for each other.

Tatiana struggles to hide her love from her sister Dasha who is convinced that Alexander is the one for her. Add in the blockade of Leningrad, and Tatiana and Alexander have incredible hurdles to get over. I don’t want to say anymore, plot-wise as I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I won’t even tell you how they meet because it’s just so magical and carries throughout the entire book (and series for that matter).

I have loved this book since the instant I began reading it. Tatiana and Alexander climb from the pages and into reality through Simons’ words. You go through their struggles, their hunger, their longing, and their love. You feel every emotion as if it were happening to you. You cry with them, and laugh with them, and love with them. Their story is truly epic. One that will survive forever.

You will not want to put this book down once you start. I brought it with me everywhere. I read it at the gym, at stoplights, on work breaks, before bed, eating breakfast. I wanted to read it again the instant I finished it. And the last few lines are so beautiful that you won’t be able to stop your tears. Don’t worry I won’t spoil them for you.

I spent such a long time trying to find some quotes to share with you that won’t lessen the magic of the story, and I could only come up with one:

“They kissed as if in a fever…they kissed as if the breath were leaving their bodies.”

I think it embodies the relationship between Tatiana and Alexander perfectly. So beautiful. So incredible. So amazing. If I could experience a life such as theirs, I don’t know if I could survive, but if I have a man who loves me the way Alexander loves Tatiana nothing could tear us apart.

Please do me a favor, do yourself a favor, and read this book. You will not be disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells gave rise to the immortal cell line HeLa. Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family right along side the story of the HeLa cells. As we learn more about Henrietta’s life, we learn more about what HeLa cells have contributed to the scientific community.

Henrietta Lacks died from ovarian cancer, but not before some of her tumor cells were removed and grown in culture. Her family never knew her cells lived on and were responsible for so many medical advances including the polio vaccine. Rebecca Skloot not only learned about Henrietta from her family but also taught the Lacks family about HeLa.

I thought this was a wonderfully written book. I didn’t want to put it down once I picked it up. It was fascinating to learn about Henrietta Lacks and her family along with how HeLa cells have impacted the scientific community. I’m so glad Rebecca Skloot went through the effort to get to know the woman behind these cells and help her family understand the impact these cells have had. I would recommend this book to everyone but especially those in the scientific community.

The Love of Her Life

The Love of Her Life by Harriet EvansThe Love of Her Life by Harriet Evans was another novel I loved by this author. Kate Miller has run away from her life to New York to live with her mother and stepfather. Three years after a broken engagement and the loss of her job, Kate returns to her home in England when her father falls ill. She must face what she left behind and the events that drove her away.

The novel switches between the past and present, and with each flashback, we get closer to finding out the reason for Kate’s hasty departure to New York. The big question is whether she is ready to face her problems to continue on with a life which has reached a standstill. Kate is a strong character whom I couldn’t help rooting for.
I really enjoyed this novel. I read and loved A Hopeless Romantic by the same author and was eager to read this one. I enjoyed it almost as much. The mystery kept me reading, and I laughed as much as I wanted to cry. I would recommend this to everyone, especially those who have read and enjoyed her other novel. I’m eager to read more by her.

Across a Hundred Mountains

Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna GrandeAcross a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande told the story of two girls, one American and one Mexican who meet up in a prison in Tijuana. Juana’s father has traveled to America in an attempt to make money for his family to get them out of the small shanty that they live in. Having not had any word from him in years, the people around them say horrible things about how he must have found a white woman and forgotten all about them. Juana doesn’t believe a word they say and sets off to find him.

Adelina is now in her 30s and has returned to Mexico to find her own father, leaving behind the man she loves to do so. She has no idea if her father is dead or alive but needs to find out before she reunites with her mother whom she hasn’t seen in years.
This was a very poignant novel which switched points of view between young Juana and Adelina. Although the meeting of the two doesn’t actually occur until almost the end of the novel, they are both tied together by the journeys they take. Grande captured so much feeling with her words and had me crying and feeling the pain of Juana and Adelina.
I was enraptured by this novel and couldn’t stop until I found out what became of both Juana and Adelina. I got to experience Mexico and the hardships which some people there face. It was eye opening. This was a wonderful story which encompassed all emotions and touched me deeply.

As Sure as the Sun

I loved As Sure as the Sun by Anna McPartlin Sure as the Sun by Anna McPartlin. Harriet Ryan has just had an anxiety attack before her second wedding attempt to the same man. She has no idea why it’s happening because she loves her fiancé James and wants nothing more than to have a life with him, but something inside her seems to be holding her back. She just doesn’t know what.

Harri’s twin brother George has a feeling that her attack is a lot more than just cold feet so he brings it up to his parents who finally admit to hiding a secret that has the potential to completely tear their family apart.
Along with the story of Harri and George, we get to read the diary entries of a teenage girl who has seemingly nothing to do with the main plot line except for the connection of a couple of characters.
I discovered my love for Anna McPartlin when I read her first novel, Pack Up the Moon. She has a wonderful way with words and creating characters who are far from perfect and usually have deep issues that need resolving before they can continue on with their lives. Her books are more journey’s for her characters to come to terms with themselves so they can continue on with their lives.
This novel was just as moving as her other two novels. I fell in love with all the characters as the supporting cast was given as much depth as the main characters. And each person had their own problems and had to find a way to deal with those as well as be there for Harri when she gains the shock of her life.
I cannot wait to read Anna McPartlin’s next novel. She’s such a dynamic writer whom I am unable to get enough of. I encourage you to read this one along with Pack Up the Moon, andApart From the Crowd. All three are excellent novels.

Stately Pursuits

Stately Pursuits by Katie FfordeStately Pursuits by Katie Fforde tells the story of Hetty who has just found her boss whom she’s having an affair with in bed with another woman. So jobless, carless (due to a fit of rage), and homeless, Hetty allows her mother to convince her to housesit one of her elderly distant relative Samuel’s stately home while he recovers from surgery. Once there she finds new friends in Caroline, a woman who knows everyone and anyone, and Peter, a carpenter who develops a huge crush on Hetty. With their help and that of the rest of the community, Hetty sets out to save the manor which stands to be torn down and turned into an amusement park by Samuel’s nephew and heir, Connor.

When Conan the Barbarian, as the town affectionately calls him, arrives unexpectedly, Hetty finds herself in a bit of a predicament. She has fallen in love with the house and will do almost anything to save it. But she’s also getting to know Connor and learning he’s not as bad a person as she thought he was. And now she doesn’t know whose side she should be on or who is even on her side.
Hetty is a wonderful character who is full of life and is trying to find herself when all around her people are telling her what to do. I really admire all the hard work she puts into fixing up the manor, and I think her feelings for Connor grow in a very realistic way. And I love Connor as well as he is revealed not to be a barbarian as everyone thinks but just as human as the rest.
I thought this was a wonderful book. I couldn’t help but love Hetty and understand all the conflict she goes through in trying to find her way.
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