Monday, February 18, 2019

A Return of Devotion - Review

A Return of Devotion (Haven Manor, # 2)

By: Kristi Ann Hunter

Expected Publication: February 5th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers

352 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed—loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she's come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford's main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

They've spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?

Daphne was such a relatable and likeable character in A Defense of Honor. I have only over the last year or two increased the amount of historical fiction that I've been reading, and I haven't yet read a book about a girl who got pregnant outside of marriage. One of the things I love about this particular time period is that the culture does so much to avoid even the appearance of men and women having inappropriate relationships outside of marriage. Yet, come on, this is life and human beings have always made mistakes. And so having sex and getting pregnant outside of marriage isn't only a problem of today's time. And I think we can all relate to having made a mistake that has quite heavy consequences for us.

Understandably so, Daphne's experiences have caused her to be quite fearful of life. She was always a shy girl who struggled with society and the social functions of the time period. Having Benedict allowed her to retreat from society. Even though the description indicates that Daphne has held the position of housekeeper for Haven Manor for quite some time, she's not really been acting in that position. The house has now changed hands and the new owner wants to make the house his main home, and so Daphne now has to take on the roll in an official capacity.

William's father has recently passed, and he's inherited the marquis title--as well as all of his father's property. He arrives at Haven Manor (unaware of the house's name) and is completely thrown off by his housekeeper. She's unlike any housekeeper he's ever had, and she can't seem to remember that she's not his social equal. When he meets Benedict, William can't move on without getting the entire story from Daphne.

I enjoyed A Return of Devotion. I read it quickly and didn't really want to put it down when I needed to. Yet I'm finding it hard to describe how I felt about the book and the story. I enjoyed it, but something held me back from loving it. Maybe it was Daphne's habit of daydreaming or dwelling on fantasy. Maybe it was the extremely slow build of the relationship between Daphne and William. I can't find anything really negative to say about it. It was good, but something was just missing for me to love it entirely. I can't wait to read Jess's story though--I can't believe I didn't connect her to A Noble Masquerade. And I do love how this series has taken a topic that isn't expected from this time period as the overall theme for the series. A Return of Devotion gets 3.5 Stars. Have you read A Return of Devotion? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Post & Stacking the Shelves - 02/17/19

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Well guys, I can finally tell you about my side project that I've been working on since September. I've opened an Etsy shop selling original design, hand-drawn stickers. I don't have as many sets available as I'd like, but I basically only have an hour and a half a day (semi-uninterrupted) to work on drawing and each drawing takes several hours for me to complete. It may not be as efficient as creating them digitally but the hand-drawn look is what I'm going for. Anyway, I started working on the shop in September when fall was coming on so that's why pumpkins are one of my first completed sets even though it's February. So yeah, that's what I've been doing any spare moment I have. As far as books go, I'm deeply hooked into the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones, and this is the first week I've had a children's book to review.

THIS PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of Verity by Colleen Hoover (4 Stars)
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of A Return of Devotion (Haven Manor, # 2) by Kristi Ann Hunter
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday?
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Wednesday

Don’t forget to link up for the 2019 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15th, 2019 to sing up. Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with an end of the year giveaway too! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Just in Case You Ever Wonder

By: Max Lucado (Illustrations: Eve Tharlet)

Expected Publication: August 6th 2019 by Thomas Nelson (first published October 20th 1992)

32 pages

Genre: Children's, Picture Books

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--This book assures children of God's love through all their experiences—including during hard times such as being afraid of the dark or being bullied—and gives assurance that the parent was there when they were first born and will be with them even in heaven.

Max Lucado's classic book Just in Case You Ever Wonder has made its way into hearts and story times around the world. This award-winning book about the love between a parent and child

has sold 1.7 million copies, touching lives for more than 25 years;
now includes new, breathtaking art from Eve Tharlet;
is perfect for children ages 3–7; and
reminds children of Jesus’ unconditional love.

Whether you have treasured this classic book for years or are reading it for the first time with your little ones, this timeless reminder of the love between a parent and a child—and ultimately, between God the Father and us—will come to hold a special place in your heart and home. Children long to hear they’re special and loved. Just in Case You Ever Wonder assures them that as they grow and change, in both good and bad times, you—and their heavenly Father—will always be on their side . . . just in case they ever wonder.

Bible Journaling for the Fine Artist

By: Melissa Fischer & Kate Peiffer

Expected Publication: March 26th 2019 by Walter Foster Publishing

144 pages

Genre: Non-fiction, Arts & Crafts

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Explore your faith artistically with Bible Journaling for the Fine Artist—a guide that goes beyond doodling and lettering to teach you to make fine art prayer journals, daily devotionals, and more.

Beginning with a brief introduction to Bible journaling, this valuable guide explores various media, including colored pencils, pen and ink, brush pens, and watercolor paint, and how to use them. You will find dozens of step-by-step tutorials for drawing and painting beautiful artwork related to meaningful Bible passages, as well as plenty of ideas and techniques for applying lettering, flourishes, icons, and embellishments to your artwork for maximum impact.

There are tips for creating compelling layouts, reworking and embracing mistakes, and several step-by-step projects for you to incorporate into your own Bible or prayer journal. Two talented and dynamic artists show how they integrate their own style and artistry with their faith through a variety of art journaling projects, from full-page masterpieces to smaller artwork in the margins and on the covers of their journals.

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can't Wait for Somewhere Only We Know

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

Somewhere Only We Know

By: Maurene Goo

Expected Publication: May 7th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

320 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Of course, I've got to read the book that has the same title as my blog! What are you guys waiting on this week? Let me know!

Can't Wait for Call It What You Want

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

Call It What You Want

By: Brigid Kemmerer

Expected Publication: June 25th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA

384 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship...

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

What are you guys waiting on this week? Let me know!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Verity - Review

Verity

By: Colleen Hoover

Publication: December 7th 2018 by Hoover Ink, Inc.

397 pages

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, releasing December 7th.

Some background including some spoilers for some of Colleen Hoover's previously published books (no spoilers for Verity). I've been reading Colleen Hoover books since I originally saw Slammed available for review on NetGalley and took a chance. I was blown away. And the next couple of books that followed were just as good. (Point of Retreat and Hopeless specifically.) I didn't love Maybe Someday because there's a bit of cheating, and I also felt like Ridge only ended up choosing Sydney when Maggie was no longer an option. For Ugly Love, I didn't like that Tate and Miles built their relationship upon a foundation of friends-with-benefits. Yet the formatting of this book was beautiful. I did really enjoy Confess. I'm still not sure how I feel about the story elements of It Ends With Us despite a 5 Star review. I cried so that boosted my rating. But there were several pieces I just felt iffy about. Without Merit has been by far my least favorite Colleen Hoover book. I didn't like any of the characters, but specifically, I didn't like Merit. So it's hard to root for a character or a relationship when one of the characters isn't likable. All Your Perfects was good, but I felt like the letters at the end covered a bit too much ground. And here we are at Verity.

I always try to avoid spoilers or reviews before picking up a book. But being a member of Colleen Hoover's CoHorts on Facebook inundated me with post after post about how great Verity was, how "twisted", etc. I couldn't really avoid seeing these posts. And I feel like seeing so much of this really boosted my expectations. Plus I mean Colleen Hoover. That being said, I started this book with extremely high expectations as well as fear and paranoia concerning the twistedness of the book and characters. In the end, I felt a little letdown. Let me try to explain without spoiling anything.

Lowen and Jeremy meet at the scene of an auto versus pedestrian accident in New York City. Obviously shaken by the events Lowen needs a moment to compose herself and Jeremy steps in to help at that moment. As fate would have it, Lowen and Jeremy were headed to the same meeting where Jeremy and his wife Verity's publishing company would be attempting to contract Lowen to write the remaining three books in Verity's popular suspense/thriller book series. Due to Lowen's financial situation, she's also about to be homeless and agrees to visit the Crawford home in hopes of finding some outlines and research Verity might have concerning her plans for the remaining three books in the series. As the description says, while sorting through Verity's office, Lowen finds an autobiographical manuscript written by Verity. And here's where the twisted bits come into play.

Verity's manuscript will make you cringe. It will make you angry--furious. It will make you cry (possibly...I didn't, but I can see how someone might). It will make you want to vomit. It will make you want to hug any and every child you might see passing by on the street--especially your own children should you have any. How a person could be so callous and devoid of proper emotion is just beyond believable. Yet these people do exist. I hate to think that these people exist, but they do. With every chapter that Lowen reads, it got worse. And worse. I was even telling my husband about it after I finished the book and his words were "I want to vomit." This is truly the worst part of the book. The manuscript. And well one more part...but spoilers you know.

I don't want to spoil anything so I'm trying to be vague. But I guess I'd built things up so much that my imagination was worse than the truth. I expected a serial killer in the wife or the husband or a combo-couple team. I expected more scariness I guess. There were a few moments that were creepy and chilling no doubt. But my imagination got the better of me I guess. I think part of that is due to not being able to read Verity immediately upon release and form my own thoughts before the opinions of others started pouring out. But real life prevented me from reading sooner.

There's a twist at the end that has caused some debate, but it was intended to do so. I won't say more than that it comes in the form of a long, detailed letter. And while I don't want to discuss the contents of the letter, I do want to discuss that this seems to be a repetitive plot point through several of Colleen Hoover's books. I specifically mentioned the letters from All Your Perfects earlier. I know there have been other letters too, Slammed/Point of Retreat had them, It Ends With Us, probably others. But I feel like it just ties things up in a bow too nicely. The letters cover too wide a range of topics in an attempt to address all of the pieces and sometimes cover up holes in the story. I don't doubt Colleen Hoover has things planned from the beginning to end and even if she didn't in the first draft, but the time the manuscript goes through several passes of editing, she knows how it'll all end. And this means that sometimes decisions are made that lead the reader and characters in one direction, but then a nicely worded letter toward the end of the book is supposed to redirect us. It's hard to explain without getting into specifics or spoilers. Regardless, I hope CoHo decides to re-evaluate using this as a tool for her future books.

Favorite quotes:

-Caring for your body is no different from caring for a child. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it sucks, sometimes you just want to give in, but if you do, you'll pay for the consequences eighteen years down the road.

-If an attraction is present between two people, those two people can only be one of two things. Involved or not involved. There is no in-between.

I don't read suspense/mystery/thrillers often. There's a reason for that. The night after reading the first 50% of the book I didn't sleep well. I was paranoid about what was to come. Of course, I found that my imagination was worse than what the book included (in terms of what would happen to Lowen). Verity will still go down as the most disturbing book I've read in 2018 with one of the most memorable characters (Verity herself). I took issue with a few other things (the frequency of the f-bomb and the frequency of descriptive scenes, as well as a moral repulsion to some things discussed within the book). Verity wasn't a perfect book for me. I can't say I'll ever want to re-read it. But due to the experience and emotions, I felt while reading Verity, it deserves 4 Stars. Have you read Verity? What did you think? Let me know!