Mom's Shelf

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Love on a Whim (Suzanne Fisher Woods)
Brynn Haywood's impulsive marriage to a man she'd known less than 24 hours leaves her with deep regret. She flees to Cape Cod, finding refuge with her loyal friend, Dawn Dixon. As Brynn grapples with her emotions, Dawn acts swiftly, eager to help secure a lawyer for her through her mother Marnie's good friend, Lincoln Hayes. However, Lincoln's preoccupation with his daughter's lavish wedding brings unexpected challenges.  The arrival of Lincoln's estranged son, Bear Hayes, stirs the waters further. Alarmed by his father's extravagant generosity toward the Dixon family, Bear ignites friction between Marnie and Lincoln. As the wedding day arrives, Lincoln vanishes--and an unwelcome guest makes a surprise appearance.

The third in the Cape Cod series, this was my least favorite so far. It's still a good summer read, but wasn't as good to me as the others, partly because it seemed to be a bit of 'rinse and repeat,' where the main character experiences a tragedy and comes to lick her wounds...and ice cream...and then finds love and lives happily ever after. It's great for one book and maybe two, but after a while it just becomes derivative. While Fisher is usually pretty good at weaving religious sentiment into her stories, too, this one was considerably more overt, and while that doesn't bother me so much I know that there are a lot of spiritual-but-not-religious folks who will find it over the top.

These Tangled Threads (Sarah Loudin Thomas)
Seven years ago, a hidden betrayal scattered three young friends living in the shadow of the great Vanderbilt mansion. Now, when Biltmore Industries master weaver Lorna Blankenship is commissioned to create an original design for Cornelia Vanderbilt's 1924 wedding, she panics knowing she doesn't have the creativity needed. But there's an elusive artisan in the Blue Ridge Mountains who could save her--if only she knew where to begin.  To track down the mysterious weaver, Lorna sees no other way than to seek out the relationships she abandoned in shame. As she pulls at each tangled thread from her past, Lorna is forced to confront the wounds and regrets of life long ago. She'll have to risk the job that shapes her identity, as well as the hope of friendship--and love--restored.

"Lorna supposed her life had been in ruins ever since she lost them with no hope of ever being a family again. She just hadn't known it before. And now that she did, the only thing she could think of worth doing was gathering the threads of someone else's family, so it could be woven together again."  Set against a backdrop of Biltmore House during its glory period of the teens and twenties, this book follows Lorna, Gentry, and Arthur through struggles, loss, and a weaving together the tangled threads of life to make something new, flawed, and beautiful. The story is told from multiple viewpoints and multiple time periods, which makes it difficult to follow at first, but once you get a handle on it, it's very easy to hear the character's voice. Many historic events are woven into the plot, and there are themes of confronting the past and facing the future. A great clean read for fans of historic fiction!

When the Flames Ravaged (Rhonda Dragomir)
Evelyn Benson’s husband perished in the Bataan Death March but not her faith. The World War II Gold Star widow is taken in by her brother and soothed by the love of his wife and children. Evelyn refuses to cower to grief. She may not understand God’s mysterious ways, but she has never questioned Him—until the circus fire.  The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train chugs into Hartford, Connecticut, on a sweltering day one month after the Allies invaded Normandy. Among the roustabouts is a reluctant clown, Hank Webb. He may hide from his murky past behind grease paint as Fraidy Freddie, but God wants to offer Hank a chance to be found. Though first, what little Hank believes about God will endure a fiery trial.  On Thursday, July 6, 1944, a devasting blaze of unknown origins consumes the circus tent along with Evelyn’s hopes and Hank’s anonymity.  

Exactly one month after D-Day, history was made again, for a tragic reason without any positivity. July 6, 1944, the Hartford Circus Fire occurred when a fire broke out in a tent during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance in Hartford, Connecticut. One hundred sixty-seven people died in one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history. The story features Evelyn, who has already suffered tragedy during WW2, and then meets Hank, a clown in the local circus. Hank is battling his own demons, but tries to help Evelyn with her struggles. They grow close and then endure a harrowing night when the circus tent catches fire during a show. This book is such a tragedy, and based on a true story, but it's also a story of strength, hope, and faith. It is part of a series, but each book in the series works as a standalone.

What I Promise You (Liz Tolsma)
Noémie Treves, a young, pregnant Jewish woman, had her entire world shattered when she is arrested and taken to the Camp de Rivesaltes transit camp in Southwest France. No sooner does she arrive, though, than she assists in helping two young girls scheduled for transport escape to a nearby maternity hospital. The matron there befriends her and changes her name to help hide her. But nothing goes according to plan, and Hannah finds herself doing the unimaginable to save one precious life.

Caitlyn Laurant is haunted by recent events in her life and hopes becoming a nurse on the mission field will help her forget. While in training, she and her friends travel to France where her grandfather was born. What should have been an easy search for his birthplace turns into anything but and reveals secrets that no one alive has ever heard.

What a heart-wrenching read for any mama out there!  This is a three-timeline book that was a little difficult to get into, just because of the multiple sets of characters and times, but once the reader gets a grasp on those, the book is impossible to put down.  A story of resilience, sacrifice, courage, and strength of character, the central character is the little baby who grows up to be an older man dealing with dementia and impending death.  We meet the women who loved him during our three timelines - the women most pivotal in his life - and watch as they grapple with what is best for him.  Set in World War 2 and post-war France, as well as modern day America, this is a mystery that you'll want to curl up and finish in one super long night!

As the German army invades the Netherlands in 1940, Aleida van der Zee Martens escapes to London to wait out the Occupation. Separated from her three-year-old son, Theo, in the process, the young widow desperately searches for her little boy even as she works for an agency responsible for evacuating children to the countryside. When German bombs set London ablaze, BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood reports on the Blitz, eager to boost morale while walking the fine line between truth and censorship. But the Germans are not the only ones Londoners have to fear as a series of murders flame up amid the ashes. The deaths hit close to home for Hugh, and Aleida needs his help to locate her missing son. As they work together, they grow closer and closer, both to each other and the answers they seek. But with bombs falling and continued killings, they may be running out of time.

I love Sarah's novels, but this one was even better than my favorites from the past! Set amid World War 2, this book begins in Denmark and moves to England, both London and the countryside. It's early WW2, before and during the Battle of Britain, and revolves heavily around child evacuees and the politicization of that movement. There's a little bit of romance, but largely two separate yet intertwined mysteries that must be solved...and the ending will surprise you!

Some of Yvie's Favorite Reads

Mary (Shannon McNear)
Immerse yourself in the “what if” questions related to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. What if an English boy and a native girl met in the wilderness? The push-and-pull between two very different worlds begins as one seeks simple friendship and the other struggles to trust. And can it—dare they—allow it to be more?  Sparks fly between Mushaniq, free-spirited daughter of Manteo, and Georgie Howe, whose father was brutally murdered by undiscovered native warriors before they’d been on Roanoac Island a full week. As Georgie struggles to make sense of his life and to accept that not all they call “savage” are guilty of his father’s death, Mushaniq grapples with her own questions about who Manteo has become. As tentative friendship becomes more, forged in the fire of calamity and attack upon their community, both must decide whether the One True God is indeed who He claims to be and whether He is worthy of their trust.

This series has overdelivered with every single book! As someone who loves both history and the Outer Banks, I was intrigued by the premise of these historically-based stories of women from early America. In Mary, we learn much more about the Croatoan people and their customs, as well as how the English are integrating with them. It's a most fascinating depiction of our nation's first interracial couples and the murkiness that came along with them. The author does a fantastic job of weaving obscure historic facts with speculation to create a riveting read!

When the Day Comes (Gabrielle Meyer)
Libby has been given a powerful gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different lives. In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal Governor, trying to provide for her family and support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any hope of love--are put in jeopardy. Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. But the only work she cares about--women's suffrage--is discouraged, and her mother is intent on marrying her off to an English marquess. The growing talk of war in Europe only complicates matters. But Libby knows she's not destined to live two lives forever. On her twenty-first birthday, she must choose one path and forfeit the other--but how can she choose when she has so much to lose in each life?

I read a few hundred books each year, and enjoy time-travel, historic fiction, and mysteries....this is a combination of all of the above, with a bit of romance thrown in, too. It's almost like reading two books at the same time - one set in Colonial Williamsburg and one set in WWI England - until they begin to intertwine toward the end. And the ending...oh my heart! There are so many different facets to this book; it could have been a hot mess, but author perfectly weaves together each and every one of them to create a masterpiece. I look forward to seeing what comes next in this series!

The Master Craftsman (Kelli Stuart)
In 1917, Alma Pihl, a master craftsman in the House of Fabergé, was charged to protect one of the greatest secrets in Russian history--an unknown Fabergé Egg that Peter Karl Fabergé secretly created to honor his divided allegiance to both the people of Russia and the Imperial tsar's family. When Alma and her husband escaped Russia for their native Finland in 1921, she took the secret with her, guarding her past connection to the Romanov family.  Three generations later, world-renowned treasure hunter Nick Laine is sick and fears the secret of the missing egg will die with him. With time running out, he entrusts the mission of retrieving the egg to his estranged daughter, Ava, who has little idea of the dangers she is about to face. As the stakes are raised, Ava is forced to declare her own allegiance--and the consequences are greater than she could have imagined.

Wow! This wasn't exactly what I expected -- it was so much better! Fans of Dan Brown or the National Treasure movie series will love taking a treasure hunt across time, through Imperial Russia, in search of a priceless, lost artifact. There are twists and turns all along the way, some intellectual sleuthing, and soul searching for many of the characters. What's the real treasure here? You'll have to read to find out!

Peggy Witherspoon, a widow, mother, and pilot flying for the Women’s Airforce Service in 1944 clashes with her new reporting officer. Army Air Corp Major Howie Berg was injured in combat and is now stationed at Bolling Field in Washington D.C. Most of Peggy’s jobs are safe, predictable, and she can be home each night with her three daughters—until a cargo run to Cuba alerts her to American soldiers being held captive there, despite Cuba being an “ally.” Will Peggy go against orders to help the men—even risk her own life?

I loved everything about this book! Growing up in an aviator-family, the author's descriptions of airplanes and aeronautic maneuvers, with the lingo, felt like slipping into a warm, comfortable blanket. She has definitely done her research on the world of aviation as well as on the WASPs and even the weather of this time! Like any good air show, the book took twists and turns, appeared as though the protagonist would fall to her death, and then recovered at the very last moment to bring cheers from the audience....ahem, readers. A must-read!

The Newcomer (Mary Kay Andrews)
After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate
entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me—it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.” So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road WITH A TRUNKFUL OF EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE and her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring—but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel. THE NO VACANCY SIGN IS FLASHING, & THE SHARKS ARE CIRCLING . . .And that’s the good news...

A lazy read for a lazy summer's day....Mary Kay Andrews has another hit with this murder mystery! The cast of characters illustrates the differences between northerners and southerners, and their quirks will draw you into their 'family.' At times flashing back to earlier moments, it tends to be a fairly straightforward and easy read. The reader will be rooting for Letty and Maya, wanting to have their questions answered, and occasionally surprised by a twist! Overall, the perfect beach read.

Dear Miss Dupre (Grace Hitchcock)
Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father's unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, she is forced into a different future. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan--find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the business empire.  Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society's elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is told to to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn't expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets a gentleman who captures her attention, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.

I read about a book a day, and this was one of the most entertaining books I've read in quite some time! In a Victorian-age Bachelorette, Willow is being forced to find a husband as quickly as possible. It truly plays out like the Bachelorette tv show, with hijinks, underhandedness, and multiple affections...but this a Christian romance, so it is clean. It ended the way I had hoped, and I cannot wait for the author to write the next book in the series....I sincerely hope it is about Flora and the runner-up (did you think I would reveal the winner?), as they deserve their happily-ever-after, too!

Reviews Published
*I received some of these books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.*