Book Review: No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

no ocean too wide carrie turansky

Synopsis:

Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans–but was that the truth?

After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans’ home before Laura is notified about her family’s unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.

Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?

Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”.

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

  • Publisher: Multnomah Books

  • Published: 6/25/2019

  • Pages: 368

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.47 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

5 Stars

Suggested Drink Pairings:

Tea: English Black Tea

Coffee: Black Coffee w/Cream & Sugar


There had to be some way to free her brother and sisters. And she would not stop trying until they were safely in her care.
— Laura McAlister

Why I Chose This Book:

I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. This was already on my TBR so I was excited to receive a copy!

First Initial Thoughts

The story begins with Katie, her mother, brother Garth, and sister Grace all living together in London. Their mother becomes severely ill and needs to be sent to the hospital. Soon afterward due to certain circumstances the children are sent to the children’s home when they were found living alone.

At the children’s home Katie tries to reach out to her mother but the Matron did not allow it. Laura their sister soon finds out about the situation with her mother and siblings. She is currently a lady’s maid at The Bolton home in St. Albans. She heads off to London to rectify the situation and bring everyone home. However, it does not go according to plan. Soon the children are sent off to Canada thinking their mother has died and their sister abandoning them.

Andrew Fraser is a young man and heir to The Bolton home. He is a lawyer and working with Henry Dowd. Andrew and Laura’s paths cross when Laura obtains a position at a children’s home to obtain information about her sister’s and brother. I liked Andrew. I found him to be charming from the start but not over the top. He was very devoted to the Lord and it showed.

Setting

From the countryside of England to London to the remote areas of Canada, this story visits a lot of places! I really liked that this story included so many different settings as it keeps the reader interested.

I’m always inspired when I see the ocean. Who could observe such a wonder and not believe in the creator?
— Andrew Fraser

Final Thoughts

A part of the book was set on a ship and it reminded me of Titanic in so many ways - except the sinking part. ^_^

I really liked Laura in this story. She was so devoted to her family and helping them come home. I couldn’t believe the lengths she went to to help her family come home. I found it to be inspiring and moving. I also really liked her with Andrew. I thought they fit well together. They both had the same interests and goals in life.

This story really has an important message on child emigration. It is also interesting to see how far we have come from what it use to be like. I had no idea that children could be taken out of the home without the mother’s knowledge and sent to a children’s home for adoption. It was also sad to read that so many children were sent to homes that neglected and abused the children. This of course does still happen today but not nearly as often as it did back in the day.

I also found that this story is similar to what is happening today at the US border. Children are being taken away from their family and I feel this story emphasizes how important family is.

The story does kind of just end however. Though this is a brand new series by Carrie and there will be more books to come with the McAlister family!

Would I Recommend?

Yes! Fans of Carrie’s books will absolutely love adding this one to your collection.




Q&A With Carrie Turansky

The book is inspired by true events surrounding the British Home Children phenomenon. Can you tell us more about that and what drew you to write about it?

Between the years 1869 and 1939 more than 100,000 poor and orphaned British children were taken off the streets, from workhouses, and from families in crisis and emigrated to Canada to start new lives. They were sent there to work and increase the population. Some were well treated, but many of them suffered neglect, abuse, and rejection because of prejudice against orphans and those with questionable family backgrounds. Many Canadians believed the sins of the parents were somehow transferred to the children and they were “polluting” the community where they were sent. When I read about this heartbreaking chapter of British and Canadian history, I knew I wanted to write a story to shed light on what happened to British Home Children and honor their memory.

Which scene in the book did you most enjoy writing and/or researching? Which one was the most difficult?

One scene I especially enjoyed researching and writing was the first-class dinner scene when Laura is on her voyage across the Atlantic. I found the menu that was served on the Titanic and used some of those dishes. I also used the description of the Titanic dining room. One of the most challenging scenes to write is tennis game scene when Andrew and his mentor Henry are discussing the background of child emigration. I wanted the scene to sound natural and not come across as an information dump, but I thought two lawyers might have a discussion like that, and it would help readers understand the history of British Home Children in a natural way. 

Which character in the book do you most resonate with?

I identify the most with Laura, the older sister who is determined to do whatever it takes to find her siblings and reunite her family. She faces some very difficult choices, and sometimes she takes things into her own hands and then later regrets it. She learns how important it is to trust God and follow Him where He leads rather than rushing ahead and making impulsive decisions.

What do you hope readers take away from No Ocean Too Wide?

I hope readers will think about the needs of orphaned and abandoned children and families in crisis and want to do what they can to help them. Perhaps they’ll want to become foster or adoptive parents, or reach out to help a family in crisis by providing short-term or long-term help. Several years ago we became foster parents and eventually adopted our two youngest daughters, and they have been a great blessing in our family. We also shared our home with two families in crisis, and we were stretched and blessed in those experiences. When we put our faith in action to help those in need God’s love shines through and that can have an impact on many.


I hope you enjoyed the Q&A and learning more about Carrie’s new book!

You can purchase the book —> HERE


the caffeinated bibliophile

Please Note: I was sent an ARC copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.

Spotlight: Midnight on the River Grey by Abigail Wilson

midnight on the river grey Abigail Wilson

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Synopsis:

 She knew the house was keeping secrets. If only the darkness would speak . . .

After her elder brother’s mysterious death, Rebecca Hunter vows to expose the man she believes responsible: Mr. Lewis Browning—known by the locals as the Midnight Devil and by Rebecca as her new guardian.

Summoned to his reclusive country estate to await her London season, Rebecca plans her own secret investigation among the darkened corridors of the mysterious Greybourne Hall. Yet Lewis Browning is not as she once imagined, and his motivation is horribly unclear. Recurrent nightmares and Rebecca’s restless feelings are further complicated by the shadow of her mother’s prior descent into madness and wondering if she, too, will follow the same heartbreaking path.

Even as midnight rides, strange injuries, and further murders lead back to Mr. Browning, Rebecca can’t ignore the subtle turn of her heart. Has she developed feelings for the man she swore to see hanged? And moreover, can she trust him with her uncertain future?

  •  Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • Release Date: July 2, 2019

  • Genre: Historical Suspense/Gothic Romance

About The Author

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 Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A registered nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the national parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book.

In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.

She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

CONNECT WITH ABIGAIL:

WebsiteFacebookTwitter | Instagram

PURCHASE LINKS:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Christianbook

I hope you had fun learning more about Abigail’s new release!

the caffeinated bibliophile

Please Note: I am part of the JustRead Tour for this book. I was sent a copy of this book, however, I was not compensated to promote this book.

Book Review: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Whose Waves These Are Amanda Dykes book review

Synopsis:

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.  

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

  • Published: 4/30/2019

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

  • Pages: 368

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.72 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea:

Japanese Green Tea

Coffee:

New England Coffee - your flavor choice


I didn’t feel like a whole person. Just a handful of pieces, not sure how they all fit together.

Why I Chose This Book

This was May’s pick for Bethany House Publishing Blogger Group. I finally got around to reading this one and thought I would give it a go.

First Initial Thoughts

The book starts off the year before WWII ends (1944) with Robert devastated/heart broken that his love and crush for many years married his brother and best friend. He wants to go off to war to relieve the pain. He then decides to write a poem about his heartache. There he decides to spread his words throughout town.

In the modern day story Annie is the granddaughter of Bob. She grew up in Ansel By The Sea and has fond memories of her days growing up there. However, she now lives in Chicago as an Anthropologist. I loved that the character was an Anthropologist such as I adore that field. She then is summoned to her childhood home when her grandfather has an accident and is in the hospital. There she finds something in her Grandfather’s shed that will open the doors to her family history…

Setting

Ansel By The Sea is a town that just reminds me of a Thomas Kinkade painting of those charming ocean seaside towns. It just sounds like such a peaceful seaside town to visit or retire in. But let be honest- to live in!

She watches his complete abandon, haunted by the fullness of the song of this man with two letters to his name and a million to his story.

Final Thoughts

This is Amanda’s debut book and I was quite surprised because I could tell she has been writing for years and has such a talent at writing. She has a very unique writing style that I think sets her apart from other Christian authors. What I found interesting is that she wrote in somewhat of a poetic style. And I have to be honest, that is why I gave it four stars. It was hard to follow at times as I felt some parts of the story didn’t flow together easily.

One thing that I found quite prevalent was that there was a lot of pain that various characters went through. However, I think in that pain they grew the most. I often find that in our hardest and most difficult times we learn the most. We learn about hope and forgiveness. Hope that better days are ahead.

I really enjoyed both stories from the different time periods. I was always looking forward to when I would get back to their story to find out what would happen next. I really enjoyed reading Annie and Jeremiah’s love grow. I found it to be sweet and inspiring.

I think Annie also grew up a lot in this story. I think she kind of lost her way in Chicago and wasn’t truly herself. In Ansel By The Sea I found that she really shined. Through the story she found out about her families history and that - every story has a wave. They go up and down - poetic and very realistic too.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! Fans of WWII and duel time periods will enjoy reading this story. Those that are not into her writing style may want to second think about it, however.


You can purchase the book —-> HERE

the caffeinated bibliophile

Please Note: I was sent a copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn

becoming us robin jones gunn

Synopsis:

From the author of the best-selling Christy Miller and SisterChicks series comes a new book of community, friendship, and tackling the hard things of life with God and loved ones around a table.

Five young moms, including beloved Gunn character Christy Miller, gather to share meals and soon become unlikely best friends. The regular gatherings provide opportunities for the women to reveal their stories, and those life stories endear them to each other. They experience their lives naturally meshing as they raise their children together in community. In Becoming Us the group find ways to challenge, encourage, and help each other become the nurturing mothers they wished they'd had when they were growing up. They unite to be remembered for what they do as moms and not for what was done to them.

  • Genre: Christian Contemporary

  • Publisher: Multnomah

  • Published: 5/22/2019

  • Pages: 302

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings:

Tea:

Herbal Tea (of your choice)

Coffee:

Skinny Latte


A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24

Why I Chose This Book

I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. I thought it was a good book to read for a change of scenery from my usual that I read.

First Initial Thoughts

Emily, her husband and daughter are starting anew in California after financial ruin and marriage issues. Right at the beginning we are introduced to Christy and her group of friends. Emily is meeting them for the first time at a house party. At first she doesn’t know what to think of the group of ladies. She feels that she doesn’t belong and that they don’t really like her. At first she decides not to pursue friendship with them but she gives it a second shot.

I thought Emily to be this shy yet sweet woman. She was definitely insecure and had some personal issues to work through. Emily’s husband, even though an integral part of the story, I found was just kind of there in the background. We didn’t really get to know him that well but I think that was on purpose, as we find out later on in the story.

I did notice that I felt a little lost at times in the beginning. Though this is the first book in the series the characters come from a previous series, Christy and Todd Baby Years. So if you haven’t read those books, you may be slightly confused as well. I didn’t find it too confusing however, and still could understand what was going on.

Setting

I don’t know too much about Southern California other than from shows and movies. The way Robin describes this area makes it sound like a nice place to be. Warm sandy beaches (but not too hot) and just a nice pleasant area. Although I have heard the opposite so it was nice to hear something refreshing and different.

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
— Proverbs 27:9

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed reading Emily develop into more of a confident woman. She was really insecure in the beginning and I think with the move and creating those friendships she truly started to blossom into the woman she truly was.

This story is really about friendship and finding those true friends. I think today with social media and the ever growing need to work more and more hours, we loose that socializing with others. Millennials (and also Gen Z) have increasingly shown to have fewer friends. I remember watching 90s sitcoms and the close friendships that many of the main characters had. This is becoming more rare these days.

I think one of the reasons, as shown in the beginning of the book, is that people are afraid to connect with others. For the fear of what they think or believe that people are just superficial. However, as Emily learns throughout the novel is that people don’t just appear as who they are on the surface.

I think it’s important to connect with other like minded woman and form friendships. It’s in those friendships we can connect, help each-other out during difficult times, and celebrate the good times too. With prayer we can ask God for help in connecting with other woman and in turn find true friendships.

Would I Recommend?

Yes. If you are looking for a light, positive, and upbeat read you will probably really like this one! It’s not my absolute favorite but I found it inspirational.

Q&A with Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn
  1. Your new novel, Becoming Us, focuses on developing strong friendships.  Why do you think it’s important to build community with other women?

One of the prompts for me to write Becoming Us came from a tag line on an article in Simple magazine April, 2015.

Have we replaced real friendships with Facebook likes and are we too far gone to fix it? Here’s why face-to-face connections are so crucial.

The piece gave sobering statistics based on a study out of Duke University conducted over the last twenty years showing the changes in how we experience community.

- People who regularly invite friends over 30% drop

- People who join clubs and civic organizations 58% drop

- People who lack a close confidant and friend 25%

- People who are one friend away from social isolation 50%

- People who move away from their hometowns 60%

The article included a photo of a group of young women from Kentucky who started a book club but then changed it to a “non-book club” since so many of the women didn’t have time to read the book and then wouldn’t come. They switched to reading magazine articles instead and gathered to discuss them. One woman said, “We now share our deepest hopes and fears. I’m not sure any of us were expecting that level of connection.”

I’ve written several series of novels over the last few decades. All of them focus on a strong sense of community between the women. Christy Miller has her “Forever Friends”, the Women of Glenbrooke gathered together throughout the 8-book series and the Sisterchicks novels highlighted the benefits gained when traveling with other women. 

Over the last few years I’ve been paying attention to how this generation of young women is connecting and the ways they speak into each other’s lives. It’s different than the way their grandmothers did when they gathered to play bridge or the way their mothers joined a book club or a Bunko group. These women check each other out online before they get together. They can view images the other women post of their children, spouse, new sofa and what they made for dinner. 

What draws them together is the need to experience the non-verbal communication that can only be experienced when face-to-face. They want to be known. They want to share experiences. They want personal antidotal advice beyond Web MD for why their child won’t eat apples. They want to belong.

The characters in Becoming Us are fictional but their life stage is familiar to me because my daughter and daughter-in-law have shared what their socializing looks like and what they value. I’ve been invited to slip in to local gatherings of young moms and have been warmed by the depth at which the women share with each other. 

Life issues haven’t changed over the generations, but the way women gather and share those experiences has. Becoming Us takes readers into a world that will feel familiar because of the interaction between the characters. But the story also shows ways that women can beat the current statistics and develop meaningful friendships.

2. Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen and several other characters from your previous novels return in this book. What has it been like living with a character (Christy) for 30 years? What have you learned?

I’m not sure I have much to say about living with a character for 30 years, other than to say that Christy and Sierra sure seem real to me! But I definitely feel as if I’ve lived with the readers for over 30 years and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve heard their voices in emails, letters, social media posts and face to face every single week for the last three decades. The interaction with them has never let up. They tell me what they want – what they need – what’s missing in the other books they read and the movies they watch. 

Christy and Sierra have felt like real people and true friends to these Beautiful Readers. They want to be reunited with them and learn from them how to navigate the next season of life.

3. You introduce a new main character in this book, Emily Winslow. What was it like writing the story for a brand new main character and trying to blend her into the world of Christy and Sierra? 

The interesting thing about Emily was that I didn’t know her name as I was crafting the story. My process is to create binders for all my books and collect pieces long before I start writing. I saw a picture of a woman in a clothing catalog and immediately knew she was going to be the first-person voice telling the story in Becoming Us. I cut out the picture, pasted it on a piece of paper and put it in the binder. 

As I spend time with the cast of characters before I start writing, I listen until I can hear their voice in my imagination. I could hear Emily’s voice. I knew all about her life, her personal struggles, her husband and daughter. But she wouldn’t tell me her name. 

I started writing the book and when I got to the scene in the first chapter where Jennalyn, the hostess of the Christmas party introduces everyone, I watched my fingers type as Jennalyn introduce her as Emily. I stopped typing and said out loud, “Well, hello, Emily. So nice to finally meet you.” I remembered thinking that Emily was even more shy than I realized and I loved her for her timidity. That character quality played out in the book and endeared Emily to me all the more. We’ve all been Emily’s at some point. It was so healing to watch my ole’ friends Christy and Sierra encircle Emily and invite her into their group. Who doesn’t want to be invited to belong?

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

the caffeinated bibliophile

Please Note: I was sent a copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.