Monday, April 26, 2021

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy


A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Don’t you love that cover? Gorgeous! This novel is the sequel to A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy. See my review of that novel here.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie's English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn't forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

And now, my review:

I enjoyed A Mosaic of Wings, also set in India, so I looked forward to reading this novel as well. I found great prose and rich setting details here, as in book one. But I also found several unfamiliar words in another language without the benefit of translation, which was a bit frustrating.

The theme of racial prejudice seemed timely, even though the novel is set in 1886. A timeless theme. I loved that the heroine was a professional embroiderer. I enjoy that hobby so it was great to read of a woman making an income by embroidering for hire. It seemed a well-researched book. You really feel immersed in that setting as you read.

Once again, as with several novels lately, the heroine’s deepest wound is her mother’s recent death, a challenging ingredient, especially if it's relatable to readers.

Overall, the story felt very heavy. I didn’t find enough light in the opening chapters to keep me reading. Maybe it’s the pandemic or other aspects of life in recent months, but this story's emotional weight didn’t motivate me to keep reading. Also, romance was absent in the opening pages. If the story had been lighter, I may have kept going to find that element. What I couldn’t be sure of was a thick enough Christian thread woven in. A hopefulness or brightness, given the tone of the earliest scenes.

Though this book wasn’t for me, I wish the author and publisher all the best.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.   

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter


Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter

Another bookshop novel! I love this trend! And isn't that a charming cover? 

Here’s the summary:

Sophie Lawson should be enjoying her sister’s wedding day. But nothing could have prepared her to see the best man again.

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

And now, my review:

Our heroine is a dedicated, giving, maternal older sister who saw her family through some tough hardships. I liked her strengths but it was tough watching her family members take advantage of her willingness to help them. The hero saw through their manipulation but our heroine needed to learn to set boundaries. It was a little hard to believe she would parent/nurture her twin, but since he let her, that makes it more believable. Age isn't always a factor where need and roles are concerned.

The bookshop setting is a favorite, both to write and to read!

The hero’s sense of humor and sarcasm were fun and once again, Denise delivers a strong story. She includes insightful nuggets about how to treat others and how God sees us, which I highlighted. I'd quote them, except I read the ARC and the wording may have been changed in the editing phases.

Our hero is trying to outrun abandonment, which was a theme throughout, and an issue for each. Overcoming it will take courage and honesty and even transparency. Readers will relate if they’ve had to overcome a past wound.

Another theme was how the heroine gave herself in the care for others, but neglected herself, even putting her own life at risk to do something for them that they could learn to do for themselves. People often take the easy way out if you let them.

I liked how Denise tackled relatable issues in a delightful, seaside bookshop location. This is a charming and enjoyable read.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham

Hope Between the Pages

I love books about bookshops and libraries! (No wonder there’s a trend. I’m even writing one myself!)

Let’s begin with the summary:

Uncover the story behind a one-hundred-year-old love letter.

Walk through doors to the past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

And now, my review:

Readers will relish this bookish story. We get to watch our heroine fight to retain her family’s bookshop. We also get to travel both in time and place. In the historical thread, we reside in the famous North Carolina mansion, the Biltmore, and work in its library. Yum! There’s even a pen pal element, which I adore in fiction.

Like bookshop-set novels, dual-time (split-time) novels are also a trend, and Pepper does a great job managing the story lines. We watch two romances develop, and we care about the main characters in each place. Their lives intersect across time. It was a little tricky to discern which timeline we were in without dates as headers, but the historical is written first-person, which solved that problem. Also, I read the ARC, and the headers may have been added later for clarity.

One of the themes is seeing others for who they are inside, and another theme is being seen. One of the characters is scarred but that doesn’t disqualify him from love and a full life. This aspect was meaningful to me, and I believe readers who may have worried about being disqualified for whatever reason will resonate with the truth, hope, and promise of unconditional love. In our superficial society, it’s a comfort to know unconditional love exists and the truly exceptional people will see past "flaws" to the hidden heart. God does. 

Another, related, theme was class distinctions, particularly in the historical story line. But in this thread, the roles of acceptance were reversed—a clever way to mirror a poignant theme of looking past the exteriors to the interior. Well done, Pepper!

Such an enjoyable story! Recommended! I'm already looking forward to book two in this new series.

Check this out! You can read a FREE e-book preview, available on Amazon.