The Lost Girl of Astor Street – Book Review

The Lost Girl of Astor Street 

By:  Stephanie Morrill

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person • Fiction • One Point of View • 352 Pages

Find clue hunt/giveaway information, plus author interview here.

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

Why I Choose this Book:

This is at least the fourth post in which I’ve talked about The Lost Girl of Astor Street in the last month, so you probably are getting tired of hearing how excited I am about it. The solution? Just read the book for yourself and see how cool it is. =)

Quick overview though: I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since Stephanie first mentioned she was writing it in 2014. I was intrigued right away, and the book did not disappoint.

What I Thought about this Book:

It was a total surprise. I’m not sure what I expected, but Lost Girl blew my ideas out of the water and pretty much amazed me. I was sucked into the world, intrigued by Piper’s point of view, and throughly enjoyed getting to know the characters better.

And, on the subject of characters, let me talk about them for a bit…

Piper – First of all, she has an incredible name, so cute. Second of all, I was pretty impressed with how very different she was from Stephanie’s other main characters. Piper was unique, experienced growth, and although I couldn’t always relate to her personally, I felt like I understood her. She was also very realistic, so yay!

Lydia – Lydia is a rather uncommon name in books, so it was a little bit weird to be reading about one (since I share the name). I’ll have to say, the plot twists with her were a total surprise to me. I liked her character, she was a good balance for Piper. It makes sense that the two of them would be best friends.

Walter – Goodness! I was caught between wishing the plot would go somewhere that it didn’t, and thinking YES! Finally, a book that gets it right! In the end, my happiness for the part Walter played in the story won out. I liked him a lot, and could relate to the relationship he had with the other characters quite well.

There are obviously a lot more characters I could talk about, but those were my top three I felt like discussing. On to the plot….

It’s a mystery. I knew that, but somehow I sorta forgot that when I began reading the book (probably because the other books Stephanie has written aren’t mysteries). It didn’t take long for the mystery part to erupt though, and erupt it did. The pacing of the book was really well done. The plot had twists. The mystery was intriguing. Altogether it was a fantastic book, and one I’m looking forward to re-reading after I receive the hardback copy I bought.

Conclusion:

I don’t condone all of Piper’s actions by any means, and there was some violence, etc…. For the most part though, it was kept vague and I was happy with it. Way to go, Stephanie!

Rating: 

I’m giving Lost Girl of Astor Street 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from the author

The Mark of the King – Book Review and Giveaway

The Mark of the King

By: Jocelyn Green

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person Narrative • Fiction • Multiple Points of View • 416 Pages

Enter Giveaway Here.

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

 

Why I Choose this Book:

I’ve read other books by Jocelyn Green that I learned a ton from. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, especially when the romance is kept in check. Some of Miss Jocelyn’s books have had a little too much romance for my taste, but those parts have been easily skimmed over in the past, so I figured this book would probably be the same.

What I Thought about this Book:

Oh my lands. Within the first several pages I was already needing to look different historical elements up to see if they had indeed happened. This book opened my eyes to a part of history I had been ignorant about, and I’m still quite intrigued.

This book wasn’t light and fluffy by any means. It wasn’t a feel-good book, and it wasn’t one where everything falls into place. In fact, there were a couple of times where I was like “Wait, what? You need something else bad to happen to them?” Really though, I’m fairly certain that it was a pretty realistic look at that era, and for that I’m thankful. It conveyed the world as being harsh and difficult, and so yay for that! (Meaning, it didn’t romanticize it or make it sound glamorous.) There’s no way I would have ever wanted to live in that environment, and I’m so thankful for having a roof over my head after reading the book. (Not to mention freedom. Cause yeah, that’s important.)

I enjoyed reading the book and learning from it. I also look forward to researching that era and that place more in the future. Miss Jocelyn does a fantastic job of making history come alive to me, and for that I’m very thankful.

Conclusion:

Although the romance felt balanced for the most part, there were a few things that I felt could be somewhat more vague. It didn’t hinder the plot any though to skim-read those parts, so overall it didn’t detract much from the story.

There was some violence, but for the time period the story took place in, I consider it to be vague and very balanced.

Overall, I liked the book a lot.

Rating: 

I’m giving The Mark of the King 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Litfuse

A Completely Befuddling Book “Of Stillness and Storms”- Book Review

Of Stillness and Storms 

By Michèle Phoenix

Find it on:

First Person • Single Point of View • Fiction • 336 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Why I Choose this Book: 

 

It’s a contemporary about missionaries – specifically struggling missionaries. It sounded intriguing.

What I Thought about this Book:

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!

 

I literally had no clue what I was getting into. Of Stillness and Storms was gloriously beautiful. Heartbreakingly honest. Terrifyingly real. Horrible, amazing, gripping, totally wrong, and completely spot-on all at once. Each page was one more waving red flag, screaming about the train wreck that was taking place, slowly, one word at a time.

The writing, the storyline, the whole concept, was exceptional. The tension between the main character (Lauren) and her husband’s (Sam) understandings of how God works and the compound effect of those views was expertly told.

Sam. Ugh. He changed so little throughout the book. His idealism at the beginning is basically the same at the end. Only the settings changed. His fierce desire to live largely and his devotion to his own convictions ironically make him appear predictable and stagnant by the end. You just know he isn’t going to change, and Lauren’s palpable frustration is shared. In spite of – perhaps because of – her mistakes, she seems like the most living character in the book, because she’s acting like a real human. Sam’s single-mindedness glazed his vision, and his undoing was when he stopped taking Lauren’s input into whatever equation he was using to find God’s will. He ended up being an absentee control freak – which sounds like an oxymoron, but is so true.

It was intriguing because it’s not easy to tell exactly where everything fell apart. You can see the seeds early on (the book contained large portions of flashbacks), but the only real barometer we have is Lauren’s response. If Lauren and Sam were completely united in their mission, the story would look completely different. What’s disconcerting is that Sam could still be a stubborn control freak and no one might ever know. He would probably look like a great missionary and person to most people, and Lauren’s support would validate that. As it is, our sympathy with Lauren’s humanity cues us that something is off with Sam, and by the end of the book, it is tragically obvious.

 Conclusion

This book is by far the best one I’ve ever read in regards to TCKs (Third Culture Kids) and the challenges they go through. I’ve grown up around TCKs, and many of my closest friends are TCKs. Sometimes I feel like one myself. It came to my attention a few years ago (when visiting some missionary friends), how there are so many misunderstandings when it comes to TCKs, and that can be a huge problem.

With my job I have the privilege of hanging out with missionaries a lot. I’ve heard stories that are comparable to this one, but with incredibly beautiful grace and mercy filled endings. I’ve seen how real the issues this book dealt with can be, and how much heartache can spring forth when miscommunications take over. This book handled the topic so vividly that it made me want to recommend it to everyone.

Unfortunately there were some borderline issues in this book – a couple scenes that I’m not comfortable recommending, as well as several words. There were also a couple of places that I couldn’t tell if they were using God’s name in vain or not (you’d have to see the writing style to know why it was confusing), so that was a disappointment. Also, the whole premise is rather disturbing (but, in like a really honest, needed type of way). Therefore I can’t exactly recommend it to everyone. But! Depending on your personal guidelines, you might want to check the book out.

Rating 

I’m giving Of Stillness and Storms 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book free from Litfuse*

“Counterfeit Comforts” {Book Review}

Counterfeit Comforts

By Robia Scott

Find it on:

First Person • Non-Fiction • 208 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb) 

How do we overcome what we are being overcome by–whether depression, anxiety, overeating, a negative view of ourselves or any other stronghold–in order to experience the freedom that is available to us in Christ?

When the pressures of life become overwhelming, we often find ourselves turning to food, shopping, alcohol, television or whatever our “counterfeit” might be in search of the relief, release and peace we are longing for. These choices are not necessarily bad, but the satisfaction is merely temporary. Before we know it, we can find ourselves enslaved by addictive and destructive behaviors, but there is a way out.

With grace and warmth, author Robia Scott shows how true healing and lasting satisfaction can be found only as we learn to transfer our dependence from counterfeit comforts onto our one true Comforter: the Holy Spirit. Drawing from the experience of battling her own counterfeits–primarily her tumultuous relationship with food and obsession with dieting, weight and body image–Robia leads you step by step through the process of transformation. It is through learning how to experience and connect with the Person, the presence and the power of God that we discover who we truly are, and acquire freedom to live the life of purpose that we were created for.

Why I Choose this Book: 

It’s a subject I’ve thought about for a while. Even though I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the stuff the book talks about, I do know I have the habit of turning to the wrong things for comfort.

What I Thought about this Book:

Wow. There were some really amazing chapters in this book. The author writes in an easy to understand way while being open, practical, and willing to draw upon her own life for stories without bogging the book down. I appreciated seeing how her life was transformed through God and His Word, and then reading the hope that she’s passing on to others. I can only imagine how many people have been blessed through this book.

There was one point where I thought “Oh, well I wish she would have added this to what she’s saying” and sure enough, the next paragraph added it. The book was well thought-out, encouraging, based on Scripture, and extremely practical. (If you haven’t noticed, I’m big when it comes to practicality.)

Along with all the great stuff there were some things I didn’t agree with 100%, but it was mostly that she stated those things more strongly than I would agree with, not that I utterly disagreed with her.

Conclusion 

I’m pretty sure I’ll be re-reading at least some of these chapters from time to time because they were incredibly helpful, spot-on, and full of God’s truth. I recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves turning to counterfeit comforts.

Rating 

I’m giving Counterfeit Comforts 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers*

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