Liar’s Winter, by Cindy Sproles

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark–and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.

Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Set in the wild and beautiful Appalachian Mountains of nineteenth-century East Tennessee, Liar’s Winter is an unflinching yet inspirational exploration of prejudice and choice. 

First Thoughts:

This novel sounds like it’ll be difficult to read. But I read Sprole’s debut novel a couple of years ago and it turned out to be amazing.

My Take:

When I read Cindy Sproles’ debut novel a couple of years ago I found it easy to give it five stars. Second novels are either equally as brilliant or fall flat in comparison. I wasn’t sure which I’d get with the next of Sproles’ Appalachian novels, but I’m happy to say I was not disappointed. Lochiel (pronounced Low-Kill) has encountered very few people in her 19 years, having been kept hidden away by her adoptive parents. She thinks their treatment of her is normal and, therefore, something she should expect from others; that’s if they don’t run screaming from her first. When she’s rescued by strangers – and continues to be helped by them – she wonders what they want in return. Instead, they introduce her to a loving and trustworthy God, one she’ll turn to when all seems lost.

Liar’s Winter was an engrossing read from the beginning. It’s written in the first person, and Lochiel’s ‘voice’ came through clearly. She was heartbreakingly ignorant of the world around her and I recognized a form of Stockholm Syndrome every time she said that the Ogle family had treated her well and that she felt guilty for “leaving them.” There were moments in this book that left me momentarily stunned, breathless with the turn the narrative had taken. The tears were streaming down my cheeks as I finished the final page.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of Liar’s Winter, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Liar’s Winter? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 27 June 2017

Page Count: 264

Read more on:   Cindy Sproles’ Website   Kregel’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race, by Michael H. Mizrahi

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Chattanooga society goes on tilt as a young woman has the audacity to ride a bicycle—in bloomers!

It’s 1895 and Anna Gaines struggles to get past her insecurities and discover her calling in life. When she’s drawn to the new sport of bicycling, a scandalous activity for a proper southern young woman, she faces opposition, misunderstanding, and scorn. Southern women just did not engage in activities meant for men.

To determine if women will share the same rights as men, Anna must race the president of the cycle club. But more is at stake than the outcome of a race.

  • Will Anna make the right decisions about her life?
  • Will true love find a way?
  • Will Anna choose to live a quiet, traditional life as a housewife and mother? Or will she pursue college and become one of the “new women” emerging into the 20th century? 

Faith, patience, and courage in adversity help a young woman become the person she was meant to be. 

First Thoughts:

Something about this book’s description appealed to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m often to be found watching my husband compete in bike races.

My Take:

Did you know the first dedicated bicycle path in the United States opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1895? This was new information to me as I read the opening pages of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race. This is the location where Anna develops her love of cycling, which she then takes home with her to Chattanooga, Tennessee. She decides to continue her love affair and is aided by various family members and friends, but there is opposition from both men and other women. Not everyone is as they seem, however, and some people oppose for reasons which have nothing to do with her personally.

The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race Mike MizrahiThe actual bike race of the title doesn’t take place until the final 30 pages of the novel. It wasn’t quite what I expected when I first picked up the book, but that might have been due to my personal experiences of bicycle racing. The majority of the novel focuses on Anna’s experiences in her home town, the opposition she faces, the way her life changes, and the town meetings leading up to the race. We also see inside the lives of people who support and oppose her, including one woman you want to immensely dislike but instead find yourself feeling sorry for her.

Although the bicycle is the main focus of the book, I preferred a secondary story involving a former slave woman and her family. It’s 30 years since the end of the Civil War, but Reconstruction has come and gone. Anna befriends Hattie Washington and learns that her husband had disappeared while looking for work in a neighboring state. Peter Sawyer, local businessman and president of the Cycling Club, gets involved and the resulting storyline is an eye-opening one about how former slaves were often treated in the south after the policies of Reconstruction ended. This is definitely an historical novel about how the south had to face change, in more ways than one.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Redemption Press for my complimentary copy of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour  

Have you read The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Redemption Press

Publication Date: 10 April 2017

Page Count: 344

Read more on:   Mike H. Mizrahi’s Website   Redemption Press’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

My Take:

I always look forward to a new Rachel Hauck book so it was a delight to get my hands on a copy of The Wedding Shop. This is the third in the Wedding Series, following The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel. As with the other two books it is a considered a standalone, but I highly recommend reading those first as this is the book that ties them together. The Wedding Shop takes place in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, location of The Wedding Chapel and Charlotte and the dress from the first book also make an appearance or two. Readers of Hauck’s Royal Wedding series might also see a small connection.

The Wedding Shop opens with a nostalgic scene of two young friends playing pretend in a deserted store front, and it gives a small hint of things to come. Ten years later, Haley is determined to follow through on a promise made that day and recruits Tammy’s former fiancé, Cole, to assist her. But Tammy’s shadow hangs over them…

Haley’s story alternates with that of Cora’s and, as the narrative moves forward, we learn that they’ve been through comparable circumstances. There are a couple of twists I didn’t expect and a development that led me, briefly, in the wrong direction. The combined stories follow the set up Hauck established in The Wedding Dress of looking at the past and present and then pulling all the strands together.

As I said, I look forward to Rachel Hauck’s books and I’m happy that The Wedding Shop didn’t disappoint. They’re easy reading, but they’re enjoyable to read. I’m delighted to recommend Rachel Hauck to anyone who asks.

Thank you to TNZFiction and Celebrate Lit for my complimentary copy of The Wedding Shop, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Celebrate Lit blog tour

Enter to win copies of The Wedding Series. Click the image for information.

wedding-series-giveaway

Have you read The Wedding Shop? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 16 August 2016

Page Count: 384

Read more on:   Rachel Hauck’s Website   TNZFiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com