Review: Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate. Before We Were Yours. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2017.

For many of the novels that I review here on the Books and Biscuits Blog, I can honestly recommend them to anyone.  However, some books have more appropriate audiences than others.  This week’s book is an incredible and poignant read, but I would not recommend it to those people (including some in my own family) who are easily bothered by stories in which parents and/or children are hurt or lost.

Before We Were Yours is based on the true story of the cruel operations of Georgia Tann and her adoption agency that used its connections to adopt poor children from Tennessee to the wealthy, leading to one of the greatest scandals of its kind in American history.  The novel presents two interconnected stories, one set in Depression-era Tennessee and the other based in the present day.  As a federal prosecutor in Maryland, Avery Stafford has made a name for herself, separate from her family’s connections and father’s career as a senator.  When her father receives a cancer diagnosis, Avery returns home to South Carolina to assist him with his campaign, leading her to encounter a mysterious family history that she never knew.  During the Great Depression, Rill Foss and her siblings were kidnapped from their home on a Mississippi River shantyboat.  Their experience living at an orphanage run by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society ripped apart their family and changed their lives forever.  Bridging past and present, Rill’s story reveals her attempts to reunite her family and the powers at work trying to keep the truth hidden.

Acclaimed author, Lisa Wingate, writes a compelling story about the secrets of a past generation and the tragic story of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage.  Her characters jump off the page, making this incredible tale come to life.

Overall, I was very impressed with Before We Were Yours.  Although it’s not released by the Christian publishers that I normally read and review, I depended on the fact that Ms. Wingate is a long-time author within the genre.  The novel does not have any outright Christian themes, but remains relatively clean in terms of language and theme.  The story itself would not be considered G or PG rated, although I was impressed at how Ms. Wingate did write it in such a way to leave much to the imagination, without any graphic scenes or descriptions.  From a historical perspective, the novel is absolutely fascinating and very well researched, with Ms. Wingate utilizing her characters to add an emotional depth to the facts behind the Tennessee Children’s Home Society scandal.  While I am not typically a person to read a book about children placed in a cruel situation, the novel provides enough resolution to that storyline through its contemporary plotline to leave the reader well satisfied with the novel overall.

Fans of Ms. Wingate’s previous work may find Before We Were Yours to be well worth reading.  Additionally, those who appreciate the split historical/contemporary storyline format may also enjoy this novel.

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Review: A Matter of Trust – Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren. A Matter of Trust. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2017.

Happy Fourth of July!  With the holiday landing on a Tuesday this year, the Books and Biscuits Blog is featuring an excellent new novel about some of America’s local heroes, search and rescue.

A Matter of Trust serves as the third novel of Ms. Warren’s acclaimed Montana Rescue series.  Gage Watson fills an integral role in the PEAK Rescue team, while also specializing in mountain rescues for the local ski resorts.  However, his career once revolved around his talents as a champion backcountry snowboarder before a tragic accident and a devastating lawsuit forced him to rebuild his life in a different direction.  Years ago, Ella Blair thought she might have a future with Gage, having bonded over a shared love of snowboarding.  However, her friend’s accidental death led to her involvement as one of the attorneys in the case against Gage ended their relationship for good.  Ella now holds the evidence that could have saved Gage’s reputation and career.  She reluctantly returns to Gage’s life, in order to save her brother when he attempts a nearly impossible trek through Glacier National Park.   Together, Ella and Gage must figure out how to trust one another to pull off a nearly impossible rescue attempt in the face of blizzards, avalanches, and deadly terrain.

Ms. Warren returns to her Montana Rescue series and the PEAK Rescue team in A Matter of Trust.  Filled with fascinating details of competitive snowboarding and mountain rescues, fans of the series will be fascinated with the continuation of the team’s story.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Matter of Trust.  The entire Montana Rescue series builds around the PEAK Rescue team, developing the characters and their stories across multiple volumes.  In addition to Gage and Ella’s story, the novel continues to add to the backstories of the other characters, while building up a storyline that Ms. Warren indicates with be continued in the final novel of the series.  A Matter of Trust stands apart from the other novels of the series based on its focus on Gage as a former competitive snowboarder and his work on the ski patrol and related rescues.  As someone generally unfamiliar with the sport of backcountry snowboarding, I found Ms. Warren’s detailed descriptions of Gage’s work to be unexpectedly fascinating, yet easy to follow.  Additionally, I enjoyed seeing the development of Ella’s character, as she offered new insights into Gage’s background and fills a vital role in the general storyline of the series.  Based on the buildup of the story across the series, I am excited to read the conclusion in the upcoming release, Troubled Waters.

Fans of Ms. Warren’s previous work, especially the other books of the Montana Rescue series, will definitely want to read this novel.  Additionally, readers who enjoy books focused on winter sports and contemporary Christian fiction may also find this novel to be worthwhile.

Ms. Warren releases the fourth book of the Montana Rescue series, Troubled Waters, in January 2018!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Revell for the advanced copy of A Matter of Trust!

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Amazon – A Matter of Trust

Review: A Name Unknown – Roseanna White

Roseanna M. White. A Name Unknown. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Reading a new series is always a risk.  Even for a much-loved author, a new series offers an entirely different set of characters, settings, and situations that may be more or less appealing than their other stories.  However, I also find it to be a great opportunity to see an author’s growth as a writer.

Ms. White releases the first novel of her new Shadows Over England series with A Name Unknown.  In the months before World War I, Peter Holstein faces suspicion due to his German heritage.  As the British monarchy considers changing their family name to something less German, Peter must also prove his loyalty to England.  In an effort to justify his land holdings and citizenship, he hires Rosemary Gresham to find the family documents in his chaotic and disorderly library.  Unbeknownst to Peter, Rosemary arrives on his doorstep with ulterior motives.  She has been hired as a known thief to masquerade as a librarian to determine Peter’s allegiance to either England or Germany.  As Peter and Rosemary work together to find the family’s history, Peter’s activities behind locked doors raise suspicion.  However, the truth of his past and present activities may just be the key to his and Rosemary’s future.

A Name Unknown offers an intriguing storyline with a combination of romance, suspense, and humor that will delight fans of Christian historical fiction.  Rosemary, Peter, and the story’s other characters provide a fascinating perspective of the months leading up to the start of World War I.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Name Unknown!  While I had somewhat mixed feelings about Ms. White’s previous Ladies of the Manor series, this new release presents a significantly stronger example of her writing.  The concept behind this new series appears to be much more intriguing, capturing the imagination of the reader from the very beginning of the novel.  Additionally, A Name Unknown reveals a significant improvement from Ms. White’s previous series in terms of the quality of her historical research and ability to incorporate these details into the storyl.  With a strong plot, cast of characters, historical basis, and an unexpected sense of humor, this book serves as the whole package, presenting a new high for Ms. White’s work.  I look forward to seeing how she continues to build out this new series and her future novels, based on the level of excellence found in A Name Unknown.

Fans of Ms. White’s previous novels, including those found in her Ladies of the Manor, will definitely want to read A Name Unknown.  Additionally, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a touch of mystery and intrigue will also find this novel to be well worth trying.

Ms. White continues the Shadows Over England series with her release of A Song Unheard in January 2018!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of A Name Unknown!

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Amazon – A Name Unknown

Review: Beyond Justice – Cara Putman

Cara Putman. Beyond Justice. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.

April kicks off an entire set of very busy months here at the Books and Biscuits Blog.  As we approach the summer, many of the great Christian publishers and their authors are releasing an extraordinary number of new books.

Cara Putman turns to her extensive personal experience as a lawyer to develop the story and characters of Beyond Justice.  Hayden McCarthy spends endless hours of her day focused on her career as an attorney at a D.C. law firm.  After winning a challenging case, Hayden is assigned a case by one of the firm’s partners that may be impossible to win.  However, she may have figured out a way to win the wrongful death case, even if it means pursing a legal battle against the federal government.  With the help of some friends from her law school days and her roommate’s cousin, the son of a Congressman, Hayden just may have enough evidence to win her case, assuming everyone involved stays alive long enough to testify.

Ms. Putman releases her newest novel, Beyond Justice, as a great example of the Christian romantic suspense genre.  Readers familiar with Ms. Putman’s work will have likely seen an introduction to this series in her novella, Dying for Love, released in January.

Overall, I thought that Beyond Justice was one of the better stories that I have read from Ms. Putman.  Her extensive experience and knowledge of legal topics grounds this novel and her characters, while offering a compelling plotline that will keep readers riveted.  While some of the novel’s pacing felt slightly uneven and somewhat dense at times, Ms. Putman focuses on strong suspense elements to drive the overall story.  I am very pleased to see that many of the characters featured in Beyond Justice will reappear in Ms. Putman’s future novels, as some of the secondary characters were quite interesting and well worth exploring within their own stories.

Fans of Ms. Putman’s work, especially those with a romantic suspense emphasis, will definitely want to read Beyond Justice.  Likewise, those who enjoy reading Christian novels of the legal thriller variety will also find this book to be well worth reading.

Ms. Putman’s fascinating cast of characters from Beyond Justice will return in Imperfect Justice, which will be released in December 2017!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the advanced copy of Beyond Justice!

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Amazon – Beyond Justice

Review: Because You’re Mine – Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble. Because You’re Mine. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.

With a new year upon us, I have been busy researching and planning out future blog posts and book reviews for the next few months.  With an extra week in January, I am excited to have an opportunity to feature Colleen Coble’s latest Christian suspense release!

Ms. Coble steps away from her previous series in her most recent novel, Because You’re Mine.   Alanna and her Irish band have started to make a name for themselves internationally, travelling to America for a sold-out tour.  After their show in Charleston, tragedy strikes as Alanna’s husband and fellow musician is killed.  With a baby on the way, Alanna first turns to her husband’s family for help.  However, they are determined to take away the baby by force in the face of their grief over the loss of their son.  Instead, Alanna turns to a new-found acquaintance, who offers marriage and U.S. citizenship, the ideal solution to her current problems.  When strange events become an increasingly-common part of Alanna’s life, she must choose between trusting the members of her band or her new husband.

Because You’re Mine offers an intense suspense story filled with Ms. Coble’s notable characters and excellent writing.  Fans of the genre will appreciate the riveting setting and unexpected plot twists found in this story.

Overall, I found Because You’re Mine to be an interesting read, somewhat different from my typical reading material.  While I have read quite a few of Ms. Coble’s previous novels, Because You’re Mine seemed to be significantly darker than her other writing.  As a result, I was less eager to keep reading the book, which made it feel slower in pace than her other stories.  Generally, the story relied upon character and plotline development consistent with Ms. Coble’s previous work, which will make it popular with many of her fans.  Personally, I would have been interested to see more focus on Alanna’s Irish band and related secondary characters, as they seemed more interesting than some of her primary characters.  However, fans of intense Christian suspense will likely love this example of the genre.

Fans of Ms. Coble’s previous novels will want to try reading Because You’re Mine.  Additionally, those who enjoy psychological thriller-type novels found within the Christian suspense genre may also find this novel worth reading.

Special thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for an advanced copy of Because You’re Mine!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – Because You’re Mine