Journey to ChiYah

Journey to ChiYahJourney to ChiYah by Kimberly Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me say upfront, if you assumed from the title that this book is a fantasy about an alternate China, it’s not. Yeah. That threw me too.

Journey to ChiYah is an allegory, like a modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress. Admittedly, not my normal type of read. (But – yes – I do occasionally climb out of history long enough to read something else.)

This is a self-published book, and having read a number of those, I have to say that this one is a cut above most. It held my interest throughout, there was a full character arc to the story, and ended with a solid finish.

The main character, Jade, is thrown into a journey and takes the reader along with her. It’s an important journey, one every Christian should be able to identify with, and one non-Christians may wish to explore.

I can recommend this book to people who enjoy allegories, to Christians who can identify with a spiritual journey, and to those who are seeking a bigger picture or greater meaning in their lives.

The Scarlet Pen

The Scarlet Pen (True Colors)The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a true-crime story woven into a historical fiction novel. I’m a fan of author Jennifer Uhlarik, so no surprise that I liked it, but there was a lot to like. The characters were believable and relatable, not perfect. The Christian faith element was strong and prominent throughout the story. The actual history was deftly blended into the fictional characters’ lives. The gruesomeness of the crimes was portrayed adequately without being gratuitous or glamorizing the evil. And it was a historical event I knew nothing about! That’s always a nice plus. This book releases on July 1st, pre-orders are up on Amazon now.

Butterfly Cottage

Butterfly CottageButterfly Cottage by Carrie Fancett Pagels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you enjoy women’s fiction that is uplifting instead of gloomy, this is your book. Told in three points of view, it explores the lives of a grandmother, a daughter, and a granddaughter with their generational differences, challenges, and goals. It’s heartwarming and realistic, you’ll feel as though you know these women by the end of the book, and you’ll hate to see them go as you close the final cover.

Avoiding Marriage

Avoiding Marriage: A Practically Married NovellaAvoiding Marriage: A Practically Married Novella by Karin Beery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fun read! I love it when minor characters from one book are brought back and fleshed out into their own stories. It’s even better when a not-so-admired character comes back to redeem themselves. You don’t need to read “Practically Married” first, but I would.

Bent Tree Bride

Bent Tree BrideBent Tree Bride by Denise Weimer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this type of story! Lots of real history, a healthy sprinkling of historical characters, and woven all through it, a beautiful love story filled with all the angst and danger and difficulty that keeps the reader turning each page. A clash of cultures with the backdrop of war is not the place to fall in love, but few people on the early 1800s frontier had the luxury of picking the time and place. Sometimes love happens amid the chaos and against the rules.

If you’ve read Weimer’s “The Witness Tree,” you will recognize a few of these characters. While a stand-alone novel, it is nice to revisit some of the friends made in that novel as well. If you haven’t read “The Witness Tree,” you should.

The Stranger from the Sea

The Stranger from the Sea (Poldark, #8)The Stranger from the Sea by Winston Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I understand why the Masterpiece Theater series ended when it did. Book 8 – this one – takes a huge jump into the future. Jeremy is in this early 20s, Clowance her late teens. That would have been something to pull off in a TV show, because they’d have had to age Ross and Demelza by 20 years.

But it’s fun to read on and see what the ‘kids’ are up to. Geoffrey Charles makes an appearance as well. The country is changing although still at war with France. There is a new power in government. New innovations are being explored. And yet, some things stay comfortingly the same.

Looking forward to Book 9, but I think a little break to catch up on some other reading first.

The Angry Tide

The Angry Tide (Poldark, #7)The Angry Tide by Winston Graham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This might be the best book yet in the Poldark series. It’s a looong book at 612 pages, but so worth reading if you’ve loved this series. This book corresponds with season four of the Masterpiece Theater TV series, but it goes so much deeper than the TV version could – as good books always do. The ending was just as heart-grabbing as the TV version, but with deeper meaning, I think.

Now I venture into new territory! Books 8 – 12 were not included in the TV version. (Season five of the TV version was not based on any of the books – book 8 jumps forward 10 years from book 7.) Let the adventures continue!

The Duke and I (Bridgerton)

The Duke and I (Bridgertons, #1)The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

People were gushing on social media about the Netflix (I think it was Netflix) show based on this book. I enjoy a good period drama, but I don’t have Netflix, so I borrowed the audiobook and listened. The story itself was fine, I could have enjoyed that, but the mommy-porn in the second half was so unnecessary. I like a good romance, but not a how-to sex manual, which is what this morphed into. I finished the book, but I won’t read or listen to any of the others in this series.

Undaunted Hope

Undaunted Hope (Beacons of Hope, #3)Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this story! Full disclosure, I’ve been to this lighthouse and love the setting, so it would have had to be a real goose egg for me not to like it, but I more than liked it. The characters are diverse and interesting, the plot is unique, and the setting … did I mention that I love the setting? And overall themes of sacrifice and redemption are beautifully handled without knocking the reader over the head. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

A Dance in Donegal

A Dance in DonegalA Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel and it won’t be the last of hers that I read. A delightful tale full of the textures of Ireland. The author has lived there – obviously – and really brought the reader onto its emerald shores. The characters’ dialect is reflected in their dialogue, and their old-world superstitions come to the fore. The story has romance, intrigue, and a complex set of characters that will keep you turning the pages.