Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review Thursday: Out of the Ashes by A.M. Heath

Ancient Words #3

Goodreads Blurb:
"Sometimes peace is won through battle.

Haunted by the memories he can't escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn't understand why he's forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He's desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?"

I received a copy from the author. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

1.  The setting.  I really wanted to address this first because it's one of my favorite parts of this series.  This is a historical fiction novel set during the Civil War and the settings are in both the North and South which makes the dynamic of the novel really interesting.  I loved how the author chose to jump between places and she does such a good job of creating the right kind of atmosphere for each place.  And, of course, I love all the descriptions of the pretty dresses.

2.  The theme.  This book is focused a lot on the differences that inspired the Civil War (if you're not super familiar with US history, it's the time when the northern continental US wanted slavery abolished (think Abraham Lincoln) and the south wanted it to remain in place because much of their local economy (and group thought) relied on it).  The differences, set in the different settings, made for such an interesting read.  Families are split in half ideologically and somehow have to overcome their differences.  The first two books are set during the war but this one takes place after the war has ended, leaving a lot of uncomfortable emotions in it's wake.  I never really explored the impacts of the 'end of slavery' so to speak and how uncomfortable and quite honestly, horrible, those first years were for all parties involved.  Obviously this sounds like a rather heavy topic (and it is) so the author mixed in quite a bit of romance as well which I thoroughly enjoyed.

3.  The romance.  As I said above, the romance provides a welcome reprieve from the heaviness of the more serious themes.  There are several going on at once and at first, I was having trouble keeping up with them all but it's also been a hot minute since I read the second book in the series.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed each of the romances.

4.  The characters.  I think the author did a rather lovely job with the characters as well.  In developing the theme, she had to also increase the complexity of the characters which really made them shine.  I was very disappointed in the last book because a certain favorite character of mine didn't make it but overall the book was enjoyable without them.

The Final Verdict:
An adorable novel with splashes of darkness; perfect for reading on a sunny porch.
4 stars

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Agatha Christie Review Round Up: Part Three

I've been reading more Agatha Christie!  If you don't follow me on Instagram, I posted a picture a while ago of my new Agatha Christie shelf.  As a birthday present, my parents gave me something like 35 Agatha Christie books; most from the Hercule Poirot series (which is my favorite).  Suffice to say there will be a lot more Agatha Christie around for the rest of the year!  I'll be posting round ups of my reviews (since I don't have too much to say about each one so far) with 3 books in each.

Hercule Poirot #2

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Blurb:
"On a French golf course, a millionaire is found stabbed in the back... An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course. But why is the dead man wearing his son's overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse..."

In general, I really enjoyed this mystery!  There were plenty of twists and turns and the ending is very unexpected!  I actually had to read it a second time to truly understand everything!  It isn't my favorite Agatha Christie, though, because there was a bit more of Hastings being... well, Hastings, and he started to get on my nerves by the end.  I love Hercule Poirot, though, so I quite enjoyed it overall!

The Final Verdict: A plethora of twists and turns with some slight Hastings annoyance.
4 stars

Hercule Poirot #3

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads Blurb:
"The very first collection of superb short stories featuring Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings...First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond! then came the 'suicide' that was murder! the mystery of the absurdly chaep flat! a suspicious death in a locked gun-room! a million dollar bond robbery! the curse of a pharoah's tomb! a jewel robbery by the sea! the abduction of a Prime Minister! the disappearance of a banker! a phone call from a dying man! and, finally, the mystery of the missing willl. What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!"

As much as I wanted to like this, I just couldn't get into the short story construction.  My favorite part of Agatha Christie books is the build up and the continued mystery as I try to figure out the killer alongside Poirot and Hastings.  These mysteries are the definition of short and sweet which makes them good for something to read before bed but for me, they were just too quick.  I love complex mysteries so these were just meh for me.  There is more of an opportunity to get to know Poirot and Hasting's personalities, though, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

The Final Verdict: Short and sweet = not my cup of tea.
3 stars

The Big Four by Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot #5

Rating: 4.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:
"Framed in the doorway of Poirot's bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man's gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell.

Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about 'Number Four'."

I really enjoyed this one!  It's set over a rather long period of time and it deals with a very expansive crime (basically a string of connected crimes and mysteries) which was so fun and cool to read about.  I think that nearing the end I was wearying a bit of the prolonged mystery, however.  The four characters (crime-lords/ladies if you will) were incredibly fascinating and I loved how Poirot made a point to understand the psychology of each.  It made for a much more interesting narrative and story!  I'll definitely be rereading this one!

The Final Verdict: Quite lovely and complex.
4.5 stars

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