Book Review: Under The Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson

under the midnight sky tracie peterson book review

Synopsis:

Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska.

The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated.

The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows?

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishing

  • Published: 01/2019

  • Pages: 315

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.43 Stars


Heidi’s Rating:

4 1/2 Stars

Suggested Drink Parings

Tea: Huckleberry Tea

Coffee: Espresso


And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
— 1 John 3 23-24

Why I Chose This Book

I absolutely adore this series. Tracie knows how to write a series that hooks you in from the start. I have been looking forward to reading the final book in this series and happy I finally had the chance to read it!

First Initial Thoughts

Tayler is a young lady who just graduated college with a degree in Botany and plans to be a naturalist and interpreter. We start the story with her as a young teenager on a camping trip with her Father. She absolutely adores her father and is what we call a “daddy’s girl”. He takes her fishing, camping, and hiking despite her mother’s pleas not too. We also are introduced to her brother and his friend, Emerson. Emerson is smitten on Tayler. And Tayler likes him too or at least she thinks she does.

As the story moves forward 10 years we find out that her father just passed away. We also find out that Emerson is not a good man. I won’t spoil the reasons but let’s just say he is an a'*!!H.

Tayler has a new position in Yellowstone but her mother and Emerson has other plans. Ever since her father passed away her mother has been acting odd. Emerson wants to marry her but Tayler absolutely does not want to marry him due to his past. Tayler finds it odd that they are both pressuring her so hard on this marriage - and her mother is being quite mysterious about her unusual actions and friendship with a new man.

We met Thomas in the previous story and in this story Thomas is all grown up and has returned from college. He is now working with Allen as a tour guide for the hotel guests. The hotel is increasingly getting more and more guests and tour requests. Because of this they need to hire more experts in the field. Thomas was quite surprised that Tayler was the new hire - at first we think it’s because she is a woman but we find out the real reason later on.

The real Curry Hotel. Image via: John's Alaska Railroad Page

The real Curry Hotel. Image via: John's Alaska Railroad Page

Setting

This series is entirely set within the Curry Hotel and surrounding area. The Curry Hotel was a real hotel in the early 20th century and very popular with the wealthy. Before National Parks were accessible to everyone, only the elite and wealthy were able to afford and visit the national parks. I have always wanted to visit Alaska, and this story brings the beauty of that state alive. Tracie does such a great job immersing us into the environment and what it was like to operate a hotel during that time.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Final Thoughts

This is the third book in the series. I felt that it could be read as a standalone in the series. However, they did bring in characters from the previous two books, so it may be slightly confusing. Though I definitely think you could read it without reading the other two books first.

Tayler grew a lot throughout this story. Not only did she have to let go of the thought that all men are spiteful but she had to learn to forgive Emerson and her Mother. This is a huge lesson we all have to go through a few times in our lives. I also liked the fact that Tracie mentioned the fact that running away doesn’t solve the issue. Tayler ran away from home to Yellowstone without resolving her issues. We all have to learn how to forgive and love those around you - even your enemies.

Thomas, the other main character in the story, he also had to learn to forgive. I liked that Tayler and Thomas were so similar to each other even though they grew up in completely different backgrounds. They both had similar circumstances in regards to their relationships prior. I think that helped them connect on a deeper level as they both could relate.

This series wrapped up so nicely and it was nice to get closure on all the character’s stories. I am kind of sad though that we won’t get an update on all the characters after all the events. But that is what our imagination is for!

Would I Recommend?

Yes! I would definitely recommend reading the other two books first, however. Anyone interested in Alaska and nature will absolutely adore this series.


You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you been to Alaska? If so, share your thoughts/experiences in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile

Book Review: Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews

of fire and lions mesu andrews book review

Synopsis:

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin's Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear--until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone? 
Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

  • Genre: Biblical Fiction

  • Publisher: Waterbrook Press

  • Published: 3/15/2019

  • Pages: 400

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.71 Stars

Of Fire and Lions Mesu andrews book review
In that moment, I knew my greatest failures as a mother hadn’t been protecting my children too fiercely or even holding back secrets. My most dire mistake had been neglecting to trust Yahweh’s power and sufficiency in both their lives and my own.
— Belili

Why I Chose This Book

I am part of Mesu Andrew’s BFF Program so I was told about this book a few months before it came out. I was absolutely excited to read Mesu’s book because I always found the Book of Daniel interesting and inspiring.

First Initial Thoughts

When I first opened this book, there was 3 pages list of characters. I was like… oh boy. I have to remember all these people?! Sometimes, a story with a lot of characters can be overwhelming and a little confusing.

The beginning of the book we start off with the invasion of Jerusalem (how many times does this city get invaded?!). Abigail (later known as Belili) is taken prisoner and is made maid for Daniel and his best friends. During this time they become fast friends and are very close. But that was only for so long.

As the story progresses though we see Belili be taken again and eventually married to a man named Gadi. Before she became his wife, she was a high priestess. These are women who served in temples. During this time she was so ashamed of her life- and who wouldn’t blame her. Gadi is a good man. I actually did like him. He wasn’t mean or spiteful. They had a son together named Allamu, and he has an important role later on in the story.

I liked Daniel. He was so sweet, kind, and loyal to everyone he met, despite his status. He truly had so much faith in God, and that was very inspiring.

Setting

The last time I ever read a book about Babylon was The Odyssey back in High School. So it’s been a few years. I remember learning briefly about Babylon in my Archaeology classes but it wasn’t taught extensively. Mesu brings Babylon to life. It’s rich culture, traditions, and people were well researched and I felt like I was there right along with the characters. Also, fact of the day if you didn’t know. Babylon was once located in the present day Iraq - about a few miles south of Baghdad. I personally don’t know too much about that region so it was interesting to learn more about it.

Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
— Daniel 9:24

Final Thoughts

Poor Belili. Mesu is a master at emotion in a book. I really felt Belili’s pain throughout this book. I won’t spoil anything but I just wanted to give her a big hug! She definitely went through some major and traumatic events in her life but she kept on going. I really admired her for that. She was so ashamed of her past as a Priestess that she was too blind to see the faith she had in God all along. I am sure some people in that circumstance wouldn’t be able to carry on afterward because of the shame.

I loved how Mesu wrote the two stories we learned as a child about Daniel. The first one being of the fireplace and God saving Daniel’s best friends from the fire. And the second being of Daniel in the Lion’s den. These stories are stories of faith and trust in God. Trusting in God when all things could go wrong.

Speaking of trust, Daniel was ever so faithful to God the entire story. I also think he helped Belili restore her faith and provide an example of true faith. I also really liked them together. The only thing I found kind of odd was that they both loved each other at the age of 10. I just found that kind of…interesting. I for one don’t think that one could really understand love at age 10 but it was a different time back then and many women were married off by the age of 14. However, in the story their love stands the test of time throughout the entire book- so that was reassuring.

Even though this book is only 400 pages, I felt like it was a long epic story. Some sections of the book dragged on a little too long but I think that was done on purpose to create a backstory and suspense. Even though there were a ton of characters, I didn’t feel like I forgot who each person was and how they were important to the story.

Would I Recommend?

Oh yes! Fans of the story of Daniel and the Lions will absolutely love a take on that story. Even though we learned about this story as a child, I would say this is the more adult version. It definitely has some violence so I would only suggest for ages 16+.



You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you read the Book of Daniel? If so, what were your thoughts?



the caffeinated bibliophile

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

Book Review: Glory Road by Lauren K Denton

glory road lauren denton book review

Synopsis:

The only thing certain is change—even in a place as steady as Perry, Alabama, on a street as old as Glory Road.

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants—operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo. When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions—particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future. Once again, Jessie feels her protected and predictable life shifting.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

  • Genre: Christian Contemporary

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • Published: 3/19/2019

  • Pages: 368

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.47

Praise For Glory Road:

“Rich colorful characters capturing my heart, combined with a story that kept me up till the wee hours, Glory Road is a perfect read. Lauren Denton has done it again!” —Lisa Patton, bestselling author of Rush and Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter

“Once again Lauren Denton brings her lyrical writing and compelling characters to a story that will enthrall readers from page one.” —Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, author of Only Ever Her and co-founder of She Reads, for Glory Road

Glory Road lauren denton book review
But if I learned anything in my life, it’s that real love is always worth the risk
— Jessie

Why I Chose This Book:

This is my first time reading a book from Lauren Denton. I have promoted her books before on my Instagram account but never had the chance to read them. So I was excited to get the chance to review her new release.

First Initial Thoughts:

Jessie is settling into Perry quite well with her garden business with her daughter Evan and her mother, Gus. I found it really interesting that she had a garden business. I never heard of someone just having their own single garden business in their own property before. I found that to be quite unique and stood out for me in this book. I liked that Jessie was independent and free spirited but she also guarded her heart. Not only did her heart break once but twice - so I could see that she was guarded and wary of letting anyone into her life/heart.

Ben, we don’t meet till later on in the story but we get his backstory early on. Jessie and Ben were in High School together and overtime they both developed feelings for each other but didn’t admit to each other till it was too late. I think Ben feel for her hard more than Jessie did however. He comes back into town after 20 years being away. He comes back with his son Nick in a house down the road from Jessie.

Gus is Jessie’s mom. I absolutely adored Gus. She is that Grandmother that you would turn to advice for because she always has the best advice- even if it’s that advice you don’t want to hear.

Setting:

Perry definitely sounds like the kind of town I would eventually like to settle down in later in life. Maybe just not in Alabama- I do not like the southern heat one bit. The small town atmosphere where everyone knows everyone and life goes at a slower pace. It just seems like the ideal place. I absolutely loved the house and nursery business Lauren created for this story. Quiet, charming, and small - just the way I would like my house to be.

I knew there was more—Mama loved to remind me of that—but Glory Road was what I knew and loved.
— Jessie

Final Thoughts:

First off, this story kind of reminds me of one particular popular movie- The Notebook.

Both Ben and Jessie met in High School and fell in love over time and then meet again in their mid 30’s. One particular moment in the story, she mentioned when she got engaged to her Ex-Husband, Chris, Ben flashed across her mind. Remember that moment too in The Notebook?

Later on in the story we meet Sumner, he approaches Jessie to create wedding flowers for his daughter’s wedding. She doesn’t do flowers nor weddings. So she is hesitant at first, but she also needed the money. So she agrees. Sumner is a very rich man and his house has appeared in many magazines. Despite the house and his money, Sumner was actually a really nice man. I also liked his daughter, Olivia. She wasn’t this Bridezilla. So I appreciated that none of the characters were really annoying or appeared to be “rich snobs”.

This story reminds us of second chances at love. I appreciated that Sumner was a good man. He was sweet, charming, and a perfect gentleman. But he wasn’t right for her. And I am glad that Jessie that too. She had a relationship with Ben that couldn’t be matched. Personally I think they really understood one another and it was natural for them to be together. Especially after 20 years, they were able to re-spark their relationship after that long. If that doesn’t say something…

I also really liked that we got perspective of the story from each character. I think this gave the story depth and feeling. I don’t think this kind of book would have suited well from just one point of view. However, we never got perspective from Ben’s mind. I would have liked to see at least a few chapters with his perspective.

Another thing I found interesting, and really liked that Lauren included in the story was that Gus was suffering from Alzheimer’s. I think we don’t see that too much in novels today and I liked how raw and honest Lauren was about the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Would I Recommend?

I definitely think anyone would just about love this story. It’s sweet, romantic, and just a feel good story. Perfect for the upcoming spring/summer season!

About Lauren Denton

Lauren Denton

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, THE HIDEAWAY, was a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, HURRICANE SEASON, released in spring of 2018, is a USA Today bestseller. GLORY ROAD will release in March, 2019.

Connect with Lauren

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Did you grow up in a small town? Or would you like to move to a small town one day?

the caffeinated bibliophile

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

Book Review: The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

the women in the lake by nicola cornick book review

Synopsis:

London, 1765

Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.

Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…

250 Years Later…

When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can't tell what is real and what is imaginary.

As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.

  • Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

  • Published: 3/1/2019

  • Publisher: Graydon House

  • Pages: 320

  • Goodreads Rating: 3.64

the woman in the lake nicola cornick book review

Why I Chose This Book

What I found unique about this story is that it is centered around one dress. What is the mystery of this dress and how does it connect the two stories? I haven’t seen too many stories like this, so I definitely wanted to read and review this one.

First Initial Thoughts

There are two time periods in this book. I found it interesting that this book was set right as the American Revolution started against the colonies and the British. However, no war was actually mentioned but I am not sure how much England was affected at this time.

Isabella is a married woman in the elite society. She is married to a horrible man who abuses her. One day her husband gifts her this beautiful golden gown. After an event she wants to destroy it and sends her maid, Constance to destroy it. But some how it still survives. I really liked Constance her maid - she was there for Isabella when her husband was cruel. During this time - it was hush hush when it came to domestic violence. I found it quite sad.

Set in the modern time we meet Fenella. We first meet her when she is 14 and is on a trip to a historic home in London. When she was younger she had an impulse to steal- little things here and there. There she sees the golden gown. She steals the gown and leaves the home. When she comes home she stashes it away because of the odd feeling it gives her.

Then the story flashes ahead to 10 years later when she is in her mid twenties and divorced. She is a survivor of domestic violence. I loved how Nicola brought us attention to how Fenella acted in daily life. Afraid, lonely, suspicious, etc. This is very common for those that are victims of domestic violence. They often think that their ex partner is still out there to get them. And they also have a hard time trusting others again.

Setting

I love any story set in England. It’s one of my favorite settings for a book. And this book delivers. Nicola immerses you into both time periods so well and seamlessly goes back and forth in time. This book definitely had that eery feeling - and almost a feeling of confusion when either Isabella or Fenella was wearing the gown. Nicola definitely knows how to write a scene and make you feel like you are there right along with the characters.

Final Thoughts

The two woman in this story were so similar in their situation. Isabella and Fenella both had to deal with cruel husbands. However, we could see the differences as Fenella could get out of the marriage and Isabella had no choice. Isabella was stuck in the marriage and really only had Constance to lean on.

What really made this book was the characters. I absolutely adored Isabella. I liked Fenella but I felt more connected to Isabella. Nicola did such a great job in character development. As you all know good character development is on my top 5 must have in a book. I did find that the story was a little slow but if not for the characters I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

This book was quite chilling and suspenseful. I noticed there was a supernatural element throughout the book. Specifically the gown was the main supernatural piece. it wasn’t too much though (not like a horror movie) and found it interesting how the gown connected the two woman. Secretes, betrayal, murder, deceit, and such more were found within the pages of this book. I really enjoyed reading this story and reading how it developed over the pages.

The only question I have, is how did the gown survive all these 200+ years? Nicola made it seem like it was in pristine condition.

Would I Recommend?

Yes and no. There are supernatural elements to this story - so for those that don’t particularly like that may want to pass on this one.

About Nicola Cornick

Nicola Cornick

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over 40 historical romances and now writes Gothic time slip for HQ and Graydon House.

Nicola’s writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and by her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola’s addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher’s Weekly have described her as a rising star and her books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

Nicola lives near Oxford with her husband and dog. When she isn’t writing she enjoys long walks in the countryside, singing in a choir and volunteering as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs.

Connect with Nicola

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

the caffeinated bibliophile

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