Soul’s Cry by Cara Luecht

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. WhiteFire Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Soul’s Cry by Cara Luecht

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Ione is a talented dressmaker with her own successful dress shop in Chicago. She has a circle of friends who love and accept her like family, and she’s even attracted the attention of a bachelor doctor who’s considering opening a nearby practice. But when an ominous note arrives in the mail, Ione fears that the shame of her past could destroy her present—and her future—in Soul’s Cry, a novel by author Cara Luecht.

Before reading this book, the first thing that got my attention was the heroine on the cover. Historical ChristFic featuring an African American protagonist isn’t so common, and the fact that the book doesn’t happen to be about slavery or the American Civil War is an added bonus.

Once I started reading, I was immediately pulled in by the author’s knack for imagery and beautiful turns of phrase. Albeit this is the third book in the Portraits of Grace series, I was able to jump right in without feeling at all lost.

While I found it to be an interesting story overall, it also felt slow, more depressing than my usual taste, and especially redundant. Besides the occurrence of someone apparently ripping up the same letter in two different scenes (a little continuity error, I think), it seemed that I was reading some of the same information, actions, and reflections over and over, from different characters. In particular, Ione spends a lot of time inwardly rehashing her fears, regrets, and how unworthy she feels. Though I don’t expect a heroine to have it all together, of course, it’s difficult for me to get into a character who’s so decidedly down on herself and pessimistic for so much of the book.

Still, the story gripped me enough to want to see how it would turn out, and the grace that shines through the climax and ending is something to behold.

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Soul’s Cry is Book Three in the Portraits of Grace series.

Soul Painter (Portraits of Grace #1) Soul's Prisoner (Portraits of Grace #2)

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

It’s 1914 in Toronto, and Canada is on the brink of joining Britain in the great conflict overseas. Amid the rumblings of a world war, lady detective duo Herringford and Watts looks into a series of murders at home that may or may not be related. Perhaps a fight for justice here can help make Toronto a place more worthy of the troops’ return in The White Feather Murders, a novel by author Rachel McMillan.

Having now read my sixth mystery in this series, I can say that it isn’t exactly the mysteries that keep me coming back. I’m no expert on detective stories, but in these books, the mysteries themselves often feel like almost secondary aspects of the plot. There’s so much more going on about history, about immigration, about the need for social reform, about love, about friendship, about the tension between the duty to one’s family and the call of one’s professional passion.

It’s the “so much more” that most pulls me into these books.

Now, I did feel that the story here might’ve been stalling in a place or two, and perhaps rehashing the same kind of conflicts from the novels before it, without putting enough of a new spin on them. As in the other novels, the point of view seemed to float around sometimes, making it a bit challenging to follow. And I’ve never been a huge fan of the scenario where the bad guy does something like tie up the good guy in the end while the bad guy gives a big explanation, telling why and how he’s been the bad guy all along.

Still, the tension, the splashes of humor, the four central characters I enjoy watching, and the threads of poignancy woven into the story (and, gracious, this novel’s heartrending finish!) are all quite enough to leave me in anticipation of more from this series, if there will be more.

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Here’s my review of A Singular and Whimsical Problem.

  

 

Joline’s Redemption by Vickie McDonough

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to write a review.
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Joline’s Redemption by Vickie McDonough

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Since her husband left her, Joline has fallen into a life she wants out of, especially now that she’s in danger of losing her son. With nowhere else to turn, she runs to her sister’s home for help. But the man she’s running from could show up at any time in Joline’s Redemption, a novel by author Vickie McDonough.

The author handles unfortunate, “scandalous” situations in this novel with grace, and even though it’s the second book in the Land Rush Dreams series, there’s plenty of backstory included so that a new reader (like me) doesn’t end up lost. The fact that the story’s central villain does have both human and humane feelings mixed in with his unsavory mindset is a nice touch, and I particularly like the way the details of the character Jack’s past gradually unfold.

A good deal of the book lagged for me, seeming to prolong the time in between events that move the story forward. Different stretches of the characters’ reflections, especially Joline’s, rehash the same points, questions, and worries over and over throughout the book. It seems that the same story could have been told effectively in a fewer amount of pages without losing anything important.

Still, the novel’s message of hope, faith, and redemption comes through nice and clear.

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Joline’s Redemption is Book Two in the Land Rush Dreams series.

Gabriel's Atonement (Land Rush Dreams #1) Sarah's Surrender (Land Rush Dreams #3)

Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
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Egypt’s Sister by Angela Elwell Hunt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

As the Jewish daughter of a royal tutor, Chava grows up close to palace life in Alexandria. She’s sure that she’ll not be parted from her girlhood friend, the princess Urbi, not even when Urbi ascends to the throne and becomes Queen Cleopatra. But when a crushing betrayal lands Chava in slavery, she wonders what will become of her life and a promise God once spoke to her in Egypt’s Sister, a novel by author Angela Hunt.

I’ve enjoyed Biblical Fiction by this author before and was intrigued to hear that she’d be writing a series about the biblical “Silent Years.” My favorite aspect of this novel is the fact that Chava hears God during this period when He’s supposedly silent. (Yeah—I don’t believe God goes mute so much as we go deaf, but I won’t get into that.)

Now, there were some things in the novel that didn’t make complete sense to me. The process of Chava’s enslavement, for one, didn’t seem to make logical business sense. Aside from that, while this book is called A Novel of Cleopatra, the queen is off screen for most of it. She’s out there living her (now notorious) life, while Chava is left to pine and obsess over her. Eventually, Chava herself alludes to “obsessing over Urbi” for years.

I also found the extent of Chava’s naiveté to be unbelievable at times. Although she’s done some growing by the later chapters, it’s hard for me to be super-enthused about a story when I only feel so-so about the main character.

Still, the ending of the novel has put me in anticipation of the next one in The Silent Years series.

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Judah's Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees (The Silent Years #2)