Review: Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

I was excited to read this new book by a new author set in the San Juan Islands off the Washington Coast. Though I have family living in Washington State, I’ve never visited this area.

The first part—probably about the first quarter—of the book was hard for me to get through. Authors are told over and over again to “show, not tell” but that can be taken to an extreme. In Ascension of Larks, Rachel Linden spends so much time describing everything in the first 25% of the book, it bogged the story down for me a bit.

Yes, I get that Maggie is an artist and her attention to detail is what makes her an excellent photographer and it’s part of her personality to notice these things. And others may enjoy that much detail but it slowed me down a bit.

Ascension of Larks Rachel Linden

With that said, it did get better. As Maggie settles into her new reality, the story turns from details about her surroundings to the emotional aspect of what she’s experiencing. Personally, drawing me into a character’s emotions is what makes a story great.

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Review: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

 

Often in fiction, the story ends and readers are left to assume the happily ever after. It’s usually at high point—a declaration of love, an engagement, a wedding. But what happens after the last first kiss? After the I do’s? When real life encroaches on the high of falling in love? What happens when there are hiccups in the happily-ever-after?

In her latest book, Denise Hunter explores this concept while delicately balancing on the line of realities of life and the hope of love while weaving the main characters’ history with their current-day situation.

Noah and Josephine had a whirlwind romance, one that seemed to set them up for a lifetime of love. But it ended too soon…or has it?

Josephine didn’t completely open herself up to her husband while Noah hadn’t wanted to push his wife whenever he saw that expression of sadness cross her features. Yet, in successful relationships—ones that last lifetimes—communication is so key.

Forced together due to a storm, Noah and Josephine must fast their failures and faults in their relationship while admitting there is still something between them. Will they allow past hurts and angry words to overrule God’s grace, forgiveness, and healing? Sweetbriar Cottage presents a picture that reminds the reader that only God’s love is limitless. That people make mistakes and errors that hurt deeply but unconditional love is not something we earn, it’s something given freely.

My Rating:

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Review: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

Admission: I have read the popular mainstream YA bestsellers. In fact, I try to read most of them before the movie comes out. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, The Fifth Wave, and more are books I’ve read and (for the most part) enjoyed. And I am often in awe of the worlds their imaginations create.

Mary Weber’s is no exception. Her newest offering takes elements from several of these—aliens, hackers, games of skill—and combines them into a creation that draws readers in.

As the book opens, Sofi’s sole focus is on her brother. A fact readers soon learn is more of a way of life for her. When things go awry, Sofi’s one goal is to find her brother. Between rebelling against her CEO-focused mother and her protection of her brother, some of her choices are not the best. But, you see and understand the motivation behind those poor choices.

What I loved about this book is how fast it moved. There is some good action with the FanGames, but there are more nuances that keep the pace.

Sofi’s past heartbreak where Miguel (the youngest ambassador in earth’s history) is concerned; her relationships with her team, her mother, and her brother; and the question the Delonese people’s motivation all kept my interest. Add in that I never quite knew who to trust, and this one was a page-turner. Continue reading

Review: The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.

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An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray

An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shephard Gray (available now)

 

About the book

 

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one-year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two-hundred-acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

 

 

My thoughts

 

Let me start with the most important information. I loved this book!! I’ve only read a couple books written by Shelley Shephard Gray but after reading An Uncommon Protector, I’m a fan.

 

The development of both Thomas Baker and Laurel Tracey in this book were spot on. The author manages to introduce the reader to a man who has lived a hard life and is currently in prison in such a way that they sympathize with him instead of disliking him. Thomas Baker has a past but he also is a man you can respect. While readers get a glimpse of Laurel’s bravery from the first chapter, as the story continues, the layers of her character are revealed.

 

The attraction between these two is evident from the first time they see each other and only builds throughout the book. But that’s not what the book is really about. Both Thomas and Laurel are struggling to stand on their own two feet, to find their places in life. But maybe standing beside each other is better than standing on their own.

 

 

 

Disclosure statement:

 

I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.