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.

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – Before We Were Yours

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!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – A Matter of Trust

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!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – Beyond Justice

Review: When Love Arrives – Johnnie Alexander

Johnnie Alexander. When Love Arrives. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

Many fans of Christian fiction particularly appreciate relaxing and enjoyable stories that focus on fascinating characters.  Those readers will definitely welcome Johnnie Alexander’s most recent release, When Love Arrives, the second book of her Misty Willow series.

Following the events of Where She Belongs, When Love Arrives focuses on the story of Brett Somers.  Based on the positive influence of his cousin, Brett is seeking forgiveness for his past actions, even while actively making changes to his once questionable lifestyle as a confirmed bachelor.  When he encounters Dani Prescott, he finds a kind heart and someone who makes him want to be a better man.  Unknowingly, he manages to befriend the one woman who was most hurt by his former life in the news.  Under the positive influence of Brett and his family, Dani soon begins to find healing from her own scarred past, even as she must choose whether or not to bring her connection to Brett to light.  Together, Brett and Dani consider the price of their secrets and fears, even as they discover the Truth that may offer them both a second chance.

When Love Arrives serves as a close sequel to Where She Belongs, continuing the Misty Willow series and the story of its much-loved characters.  Readers will particularly enjoy the continued narrative focused around the history of Misty Willow and the family of characters at its heart.

Overall, I found When Love Arrives to be a relaxing read.  Without a series of strong external events, much of the novel focuses on character-driven plotlines.  As a result, the book has a slightly slower pacing than many of the other novels that I typically read in the genre.  However, I really appreciated a nice, clean novel, especially during a series of cold, wet days.  Ms. Alexander builds upon her core cast of characters from Where She Belongs, even as some new readers to the series may feel slightly lost without the detailed explanations found in the previous book.  Fans of the previous novel will be very pleased to see that Ms. Alexander continues to include a significant focus on Misty Willow’s history and related characters, as the historical components have previously been a strength of her other stories.

Readers who have enjoyed Ms. Alexander’s Misty Willow series, including Where She Belongs, will find When Love Arrives to be a worthwhile read.  Likewise, fans of contemporary Christian fiction with a strong focus on character development and related plots will also find this to be a good book.

Ms. Alexander will release the next book in the Misty Willow series in the summer of 2017!

Special thanks to Revell Reads Blog Tour for the advanced copy of When Love Arrives!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – When Love Arrives

Review: From This Moment – Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden. From This Moment. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

June has already been a landmark month here at the Books and Biscuits Blog.  May had some extraordinary books and June just keeps getting better, with new releases by other award-winning Christian authors.

Elizabeth Camden’s newest release, From This Moment, builds on a group of characters first introduced in the “Summer of Dreams” novella. Romulus White and his cousin, Evelyn, rebuilt Scientific World from a floundering publication list to an internationally-acclaimed magazine.  As close as brother and sister, these cousins are determined to succeed in their business, even if their idiosyncrasies have gotten in the way of their personal lives.  In the hopes of further improving the magazine, Romulus has made it his mission to finally hire Stella West, an American artist living in London, to bring the best in color illustrations to his publication.  However, Stella has left her art career behind and arrived in Boston to solve the mystery of her sister’s sudden death.  After a chance encounter, these two forceful personalities come to an arrangement: Romulus’s political connections for Stella’s famed artistic talent.  Together, they finally have a chance to solve a mystery and take a chance on trusting someone else with their greatest secrets.

Ms. Camden creates yet another historical masterpiece with From This Moment.  The novel explores the riveting political battlegrounds of nineteenth-century Boston, even as it develops a riveting romantic plot that will leave readers sighing for more flawed, yet brilliant, characters.

Overall, I was absolutely thrilled with From This Moment.  Ms. Camden continues to expand and improve her ability to develop a dynamic story, even while creating compelling and intelligent characters.  This novel also involves a complex cast of powerful characters, with intriguing motivations and backstories of their own.  Ms. Camden masterfully interweaves vital historical details into the novel’s plot, bringing the age of scientific discovery and engineering marvel to life, including the building of Boston’s subway system.  Based on the storyline and character development of the “Summer of Dreams” novella and From This Moment, I would definitely recommend reading both stories.  While most novels and novellas can stand independently, I thought that much of the context required to understand the backstories of From This Moment’s main characters originates in “Summer of Dreams.”  Personally, I understand why Ms. Camden created a separate novella.  However, readers will much better appreciate From This Moment after reading the novella, too.

Fans of Ms. Camden’s previous novels will definitely want to read From This Moment.  Additionally, readers of 19th century-era historical fiction novels by Christian authors and publishers will find this book to be a fascinating read.  Ms. Camden has a slightly denser style than some other authors in the genre and oftentimes utilizes far more historical detail.  Additionally, she has made a name for herself in her development of highly intelligent characters, including actively-employed and brilliant women, who are oftentimes ahead of their time within the settings of her novels.

Special thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of From This Moment!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – From This Moment