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.

The Moonlight School

The Moonlight SchoolThe Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love stories with real history and real historical characters woven seamlessly throughout the story. This is one of those! I had to stop myself from turning to the back to see if this or that was fact or fiction. I prefer to wait until the end most of the time, but the author did such a good job of combining this story that I was tempted – more than once – to peek. Wrapped around Lucy’s journey to adult independence is the history of one woman’s crusade against illiteracy in the deep hollows of Kentucky’s backcountry. But my favorite character was brother Wyatt. You’ll have to read it to see why. 🙂

Knitting Yarns

Knitting Yarns: Writers on KnittingKnitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting by Ann Hood
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This one was a real disappointment. It’s a book of essays by authors who knit. Or at least, that’s how it was billed. It’s not. Most of the essays – in the first half which is all I read – are about why they don’t knit even though they learned how. I dislike books with profanity, and this one is sprinkled with it. I dislike reading gloom & doom. I like uplifting, edifying, hope-filled stories. I really don’t care about someone’s lesbianism being challenged by a knitting man with absolutely no point to the story. Or the story about someone whose nanny crocheted … in a book about knitters. Or pages filled with purple prose, the writerly attempt to thrown every word they know on the page. And if you’re in marriage counseling on your third husband and it doesn’t work out in the end, why tell the world? What was the point? There was a lot of “what was the point?” in this book.

D. Wayne

D. Wayne: The High-Rolling and Fast Times of America's Premier Horse TrainerD. Wayne: The High-Rolling and Fast Times of America’s Premier Horse Trainer by Carlo DeVito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you love horse racing and have for some time, this is a MUST READ book. It’s an older book, released in 2002, but it was a wonderful stroll down memory lane for me. The names of the trainers, the names of the horses, the races … all good to remember. But the author took me behind the scenes, filled in a lot of backstory, and plenty of controversies I’d heard only a little about. Things written for the racing world that didn’t make prime time. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Horse racing fans will too.

My Grandfather’s Son

My Grandfather's SonMy Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Just … wow. What an inspirational story. Clarence Thomas’s life is truly an amazing testimony to family and faith. He doesn’t hold anything back. He’s clear about his own failings, his bad decisions, and his fight against anger and radicalism in his school years. Thomas talks about deep south racism when it was *real.* When rope lynchings still happened. (As opposed to the character lynching he was subjected to later on.) He talks about rebelling against the grandfather who raised him and about learning to appreciate him. He talks about rebelling against God and finding Him again. He talks about the people who supported him and those who did their best to stand in his way. (I was surprised on both accounts.) This book was released in 2007, so probably written in 2005, but it’s amazing how many of the people mentioned are still entrenched in the power circles of D.C. If you like stories of those who have overcome, stories about character vs culture, and/or stories of those who have made it in the murky waters of politics, you’ll love this book.

Tidewater Bride

Tidewater BrideTidewater Bride by Laura Frantz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Laura Frantz. I’ve read all of her books and there isn’t a clunker in the bunch. However, this one is easily in the top four. I think she hit her stride here in the Tidewater. Wonderful characters, beautiful setting, authentic history, and a gripping story of struggle in a new land. I loved the authentic feel of the period, the little details that set the reader down into the story, and the realistic struggles that the characters faced in this time period. The tension isn’t contrived, the story not forced, it flows from the combination of good things Frantz peppers throughout the book. Well done!

Veiled in Smoke

Veiled in Smoke (The Windy City Saga, #1)Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book *months* ago, but I’m so behind on my reading. I don’t know if it’s Covid or what, but I have read fewer books this year than any year I can remember. Here’s hoping 2021 reverses that trend!

A good start to a new series by a favorite author! It’s a look inside the tragedy of the Great Chicago Fire and how it impacted the lives of two sisters and their Civil War veteran father. Loved the imagery, which took me to Chicago in 1871 and steeped me in that atmosphere. The characters were charming and diverse, each with their own backstory and quirks. The story is one of learning to lean on God rather than ourselves. There is no “perfect” ending – as there generally isn’t in life – but there is a very satisfying one. Well worth reading.

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane

The Thief of Blackfriars LaneThe Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite thing about this book is the characters. Kit is spunky and independent, as non-conformist as they come. Jackson is straight-laced and loyal, with a heart for justice. They come together with all the sparks you’d imagine. Their banter is witty and fun. A nice romp to read when you need a story to make you smile. This releases in January 2021 – you can preorder now!

Lessons on Love

Lessons on Love: 4 Schoolteachers Find More Than They Bargained for in Their ContractsLessons on Love: 4 Schoolteachers Find More Than They Bargained for in Their Contracts by Susanne Dietze
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Four novellas with school teachers for the heroines, but all four are very different stories. I enjoyed all of them!