Many Sparrows, by Lori Benton

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

First Thoughts:

This is the first time I’ve read a novel by Lori Benton. I’m not sure what to expect, although I’ve seen positive reviews of her previous books.

My Take:

Many Sparrows starts in the immediate aftermath of the Yellow Creek Massacre which took place on the banks of the upper Ohio River. A quick bit of research told me that this was a precursor to Lord Dunmore’s War, which I’d heard of but never really knew much about. Shame on me, for these events took place in one of my favorite parts of this country. In fact, I’d not heard of Redstone Fort, once located in southwestern Pennsylvania, before picking up this book.

In alternating points of view, we get the stories of Clare and Jeremiah’s pasts. We get to meet Philip Inglesby before his untimely death, and his attitudes and behavior provoke sympathy for Clare. A third voice is introduced in the second half of the book, with the introduction of Clare’s uncle. Alphus Litchfield will fight on the side of the white men at the pivotal Battle of Point Pleasant. It is through his perspective that the reader learns of the events happening in other parts of the country that will lead to revolution.

Clare is a mother on a mission. With her husband gone forever, she’s determined to salvage the rest of her family. Her faith is shattered: how can she believe in a God who has caused such pain? She finds surprising common ground with an Indian woman who has also experienced loss, a connection that will prove fruitful if she’s willing to trust and wait.

Many Sparrows is a fascinating look at frontier life in the run up to the American Revolution. It shows how relationships and communities can grow and then be torn apart by misunderstanding and anger. There are no clearly defined enemies, except in the historic battle, and there are many Indians and whites in it who try to bridge the divide between their people to stop the fighting and killing. This is a novel that truly tugged at my heartstrings and I actually think my life is better for having read it.

Thank you to Waterbrook Press and Litfuse Publicity for my complimentary copy of Many Sparrows, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read Many Sparrows? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 29 August 2017

Page Count: 400

Read more on:   Lori Benton’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

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


The Road to Paradise, by Karen Barnett

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow. 

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

Karen Barnett’s vintage national parks novels bring to vivid life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands, when he wrote in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter: “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

First Thoughts:

This is the first in a new historical series set around America’s national parks. I love the cover style, representative of the era in which the book is set.

My Take:

In 1927, most women of a certain status are concerned with parties, clothes, and finding a suitable husband, but not Margie Lane. This senator’s daughter has long-harbored aspirations of living and working in Mount Rainier National Park. Her dream come true becomes hard reality when she can’t light a fire in her drafty cabin and comes face to face with some of the local wildlife.

Former park ranger Karen Barnett draws in readers from the very first line. Her personal knowledge of Mount Rainier National Park shines through in the beautifully detailed descriptions of locations within the federal property. Tidbits of information about Margie and Ford’s pasts are gradually revealed, leaving the reader wanting to know more with each turn of the page. Each character experiences periods as a ‘fish out of water’ as they spend time in both the city and the wilderness. Some of the book’s pivotal scenes take place toward the end on Mount Rainier itself, as Margie and Ford let go of the past in order to have a future. I thought these were the best parts of the book and found myself staying up late to finish it because of them.

The Road to Paradise (an actual location within Mount Rainier National Park) is billed as the first in a series of “Vintage National Parks” novels. Neither Barnett’s nor her publisher’s website has any additional information. As someone who loves our national parks (I even have the NPS Passport for recording visits), I’m looking forward to seeing which location is the subject of the next book in the series.

Thank you to WaterBrook and Blogging for Books for my complimentary copy of The Road to Paradise, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Road to Paradise? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: WaterBrook (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 06 June 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Karen Barnett’s Website   WaterBrook’s Website

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

Grace and the Preacher, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

book cover GracePublisher’s Overview:

At the age of twenty-three, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires but has only met through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run from his past. Ten years ago his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now they’ve finished their sentences, but the plan for vengeance has just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, Theo has a chance encounter that could provide him with the escape he needs.

But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?

First Thoughts:

An outlaw masquerading as a preacher could be the ultimate con. I already feel bad for Grace, but I’ve a feeling grace will play a large part in the story.

My Take:

I’ve got mixed feelings about Grace and the Preacher. I liked the premise, but somehow I didn’t enjoy it. I felt the plot was unrealistic in some parts and too simplistic in others. I couldn’t connect to the main characters either.

Theo Garrison’s original plan to avoid his past was to return to his roots in Iowa, even though I felt anyone who knew him would surely guess where he’d gone. He never intended to take the preacher’s identity but it seemed like a solution to his problem when people made an assumption and I think he could’ve tried harder to correct them.  Grace Cristler, meanwhile, became obsessed with marrying a man she’d never met. At least, that was my opinion. Her fixation was too much for me and I disliked her early on in the book, even though I knew she was going to be the victim of deception. In contrast, I liked Grace’s friend, Bess Kirby, who owned the boarding house in Fairland. And I enjoyed both the physical and spiritual journey that Theo’s cousin, Earl, undertook. But it wasn’t until the end that I felt even slightly sympathetic toward Grace and Theo.

The best part of this novel is probably the spiritual theme. We learn that God has plans for us, no matter what we might think we want. This came across particularly in Bess’s story as she tried to work out her future. Then there’s the concept of grace that both Earl and Theo managed to grasp due to their interactions with strangers, but it took longer for the woman named Grace who finally had to be shown it by someone not raised in a church or God-fearing home. How sad to not even ‘get’ the meaning of your name.

Thank you to Waterbrook for my complimentary uncorrected proof of Grace and the Preacher, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Grace and the Preacher? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Waterbrook  (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 21 March 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

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