Tag Archives: Tyndale House

Audiobook Review: Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Title: Land of Silence
Author: Tessa Afshar
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Published: May 2016
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Length: 10 hours, 56 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Land of Silence is a beautifully written and emotionally gripping story, told from the perspective of the only woman Jesus called “daughter” in the New Testament. Since few details are known about this woman, besides the health condition from which she was healed, the story Tessa Afshar shares is, of necessity, fictionalized. But what a story! I cried with Elianna over her losses and disappointments, and I longed for her to find peace and healing, both physically and emotionally. Her backstory and motivations were fleshed out in a way that I related to on a deeply emotional level and that fit perfectly with what is known of her true story. Vividly specific cultural and historical details were the icing on the cake, putting me right back there in Biblical times to imagine the joy of one woman’s life-changing encounter with Jesus. I would highly recommend this story in general, but particularly to fans of Biblical fiction.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Suzy Jackson’s portrayal of Elianna beautifully captures this young woman’s essence – her longing, her disappointments, and her hope. The full array of character voices are well done, including Ethan’s and those of secondary characters, but it’s the emotional connection with Elianna this reading fosters that will leave a lasting impression.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Audiobook | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

Title: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus
Author: Beth Moore
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Published: September 2016
Genre: Contemporary Mystery. Christian fiction.
Length: 12 hours, 24 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him—or her grandmother, the ice queen—in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.

What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?

Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.

My Thoughts on the Book:

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus made my Top Ten List for 2016, with its fascinating local flavor, colorful similes, entertaining characters, and thought provoking themes. It’s a mystery, complete with murder investigation, but it reads more like a work of general fiction, being so much more focused on the characters and their relationships. There’s some romance in the mix as well, though that aspect takes a backseat to other relationships in the story.

The overall book has a gritty and real feel to it, grappling as it does with some challenging situations, and presenting complex and misunderstood characters and relationships. Some of the main characters weren’t so much likeable at first as sympathetic. In fact, I thought Olivia and Jillian were downright prickly at the outset. But they drew me into the story, because of all they were going through, and because of my curiosity to see where the story was headed. And yes, they grew on me quickly, as I got to know them better.

The secondary characters, especially Adella, kept things interesting with their quirky personalities and witty sayings. In fact, some of my favorite parts of this story were the surprising turns of phrase, unexpected comparisons, and vividly idiosyncratic descriptions used in the story, most frequently from Adella’s viewpoint. Here’s just one quick example from Chapter 5: “Over the next solid hour, Olivia spilled more beans than Adella could have shoveled back into a ten-gallon can.”

This novel would make a great choice for book discussion groups. It made me laugh. It made me tear up. And it made me stop and think about brokenness, relationships, and grace.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrator, Shannon McManus, did a great job with this audiobook. Sometimes matter of fact, sometimes wry, the reading has character to match that of the text. From male to female voices, young to old, each character was portrayed with uniquely distinctive variations in voice well suited to their personalities and other characteristics. I highly recommend the audio edition to those who enjoy listening to their books.

I borrowed an electronic copy of this audiobook from my local library and received a free print copy from the publisher as part of a Goodreads giveaway. What a pleasant surprise! I was not expected to write a review, but I wanted to share my thoughts.

Quick Links: About the Book | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Book Review: The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Title: The Promise of Jesse Woods
Author: Chris Fabry
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: July 2016
Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Coming of Age, Book Club Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

My Thoughts:

This thought-provoking coming of age novel is told from the point of view of Matt Plumley, who is a 14-year-old boy in one timeline, and a young adult in the other. Over the course of the novel, the reader is right there with adolescent Matt in the 1972 portions of the book, experiencing a life-changing summer along with him. But we’re also accompanying an older Matt in 1984 as he returns to his childhood home on a journey back to understand what happened that summer and whether he can fix it. The two timelines merge well to create the perfect blend of immediacy and hindsight, as the timelines build on each other on their way to the story’s pivotal moment.

Populated by quirky and memorable characters, and featuring an emotionally poignant storyline, realistic dialog and beautiful prose, this story is a keeper. Book clubs in particular will appreciate this book for the wealth of discussable topics it addresses and the excellent discussion questions included in the back of the book. But it’s the little unexpected and vivid details scattered throughout the book in dialog, description, and characters’ observations that really drew me in to the time and place and made the book stand out for me.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author (see my review of the audio edition of Not in the Heart). I have to say I’ve been impressed by both books, and plan to seek out more of his work.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Title: Secrets She Kept
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrators: Morgan Hallett and Suzy Jackson
Published: September 2015
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction
Length: 13 hours, 34 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah determines to unlock the secrets of her mother’s mysterious past and is shocked to discover a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father is quickly ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, and a proper marriage for his daughter could help advance his career. Lieselotte is in love—but her beloved Lukas is far from an ideal match, as he secretly works against the Reich. Yet Lieselotte never imagined how far her father would go to ensure her cooperation.

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who is hiding wartimes secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past and how their legacy will shape her future.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I had the pleasure recently of listening to the audiobook edition of Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. This book has won a Christy Award and an INSPY Award, and this audio edition was a finalist for an Audie Award. Some impressive accolades, yes?

My impression? There’s vivid storytelling here, alongside close attention to historical detail, and the overall emotional impact is powerful. I loved the dual first person storylines and timelines, particularly the way the stories meshed and played off of each other. Hannah’s quest to understand her family’s past made an interesting modern-day frame for the story of her mother Lieselotte’s experiences during World War II. Questions are asked and secrets are gradually revealed to both Hannah and the reader throughout the course of the book in such a way as to deepen the emotional impact. Thematically, characters wrestle with issues surrounding forgiveness, and I thought the appearances by Corrie Ten Boom within the plot were a lovely touch, helping to drive home the book’s message in memorable terms.

Much as I admired and enjoyed reading this book, there was one aspect of the ending that bugged me. [Will try to be vague here so as not to spoil anything…] When all the secrets were revealed, I found myself skeptical that one character’s perceptions of another could have been so skewed in the way they were… despite the explanations given… and I didn’t really get why those misconceptions couldn’t have been corrected earlier. [Anyone else who’s read it feel the same way? Or am I maybe overthinking this?]

Anyway, while I can’t say this was my number one ranked read of the year, or my favorite title from this author (loved Saving Amelie so much!), I can say that this is an excellent book, well worth the read, particularly for anyone with an interest in World War II era stories.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrators for the audio edition did a great job conveying the story in an engaging and dynamic way. And yes, I did say “narrators” plural. There are two narrators for this story, one for each time period and its first person viewpoint character. That is to say, Suzy Jackson tells Lieselotte’s portions of the story set during World War II, while Morgan Hallett relates Hannah Sterling’s more modern-day rediscovery of the past. I felt this arrangement worked fabulously for this story. The two narrators have distinctly different voices and styles, which seemed well matched with the personality of the main character they each portrayed. As an added benefit, when returning to the audiobook after a break in listening, it was easy to tell within a brief soundbyte which time period and which character’s world we’re visiting, simply by recognizing the voice of the narrator. Overall, a great listening experience, and highly recommended.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | On Goodreads | Author’s Site | Discussion Guide

Book Review: Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

Title: Saving Amelie
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Published: May 2014 by Tyndale House
Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Book (publisher’s description):

Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.

Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.

Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally—who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives—and asking others to do the same—for those they barely know but come to love.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Saving Amelie is a powerful look at how individuals are impacted and their characters are shaped by the circumstances they face and the people they encounter. It also explores God’s grace, and His provision through people willing to serve Him by helping others, even at risk to themselves.

This book takes place in Germany against the backdrop of World War II, and brings to light details of the eugenics movement of the time period, as well as the plight of the physically handicapped under that regime.

The Amelie of the title is a young girl, deaf since birth, whose need to escape the country propels the story forward. But it’s Rachel, a privileged American woman visiting Germany with her father, whose life and whose character changes most dramatically over the course of the story.

“She did not believe in God – had been raised to view such belief as a crutch for the weak. And she, a member of the elite, was not weak. But for the first time in her life she wished she did believe. She knew she was weak, and she needed help.” (page 96)

And that’s just the beginning of Rachel’s faith journey. I was impressed with the gradual and subtle way such deeply meaningful changes could be presented. But it’s not just about Amelie and Rachel. Over the course of the story, Rachel, Jason, Lea, Amelie, and a whole cast of other complex and interesting characters lend their points of view to the telling of this emotionally moving tale.

I was particularly impressed by the historical details included throughout this story, some of which I was previously unfamiliar with. I have to say that after “meeting” the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer through his fictionalized appearances in this story, I am curious to learn more about his life and writings.

I highly recommend this book to book discussion clubs and individuals looking for a thought-provoking, faith based story. The characters and historical detail in this one make for a fascinating read.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a paperback copy free of charge.

Audiobook Review: The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

Title: The Prayer Box
Author: Lisa Wingate
Narrator: Xe Sands
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Genre: Christian Women’s Fiction

Book Description (from the Tyndale House Web site):

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper—the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

My Thoughts:

The Prayer Box is a lovely novel, delving into the lives of two women, one recently deceased, and another struggling to pick up the pieces of her own life and make a fresh start. As those two women’s lives intersect through the prayer boxes Tandi discovers when cleaning out Iola’s house after her death, Tandi learns some valuable lessons about life and love, and how significantly one life focused on service can impact others.

I found this to be an unusually introspective novel, delving deeply into the thoughts and feelings of Iola (through her letters) and Tandi (the main viewpoint character). It set a leisurely, sometimes meandering pace that allowed the reader time to get to know the characters well and care about them.

I enjoyed the beautifully crafted, often poetic language of this story, as well as the metaphors employed. My favorites were Iola as a lighthouse helping to “point the way” and “guide many ships” (page 174) and Jesus as “the white berry that removes the stain” (page 368).

Overall, a great choice for those who enjoy Women’s fiction.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio edition and would highly recommend it. The narrator, Xe Sands gave a wistful and emotional performance that was well suited to the introspective nature of the story. There was a soothing musical quality to her voice that was a perfect complement to some of the more poetic passages in particular. Lisa Wingate is quite a wordsmith and Xe Sands’ narration was the icing on the cake.

Book Review: Oath of the Brotherhood by C.E. Laureano

Title: Oath of the Brotherhood
Author: C.E. Laureano
Publisher: Tyndale, TH1NK
Published: May 2014
Series: The Song of Seare, Book 1
Genre(s): Fantasy, Christian Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

In a kingdom where the Old Ways hold fast and a man’s worth lies entirely in his skill with the sword, Conor Mac Nir is a scholar, a musician, and a follower of the forbidden Balian faith: problematic for any man, but disastrous for the son of the king.

When Conor is sent as a hostage to a neighboring kingdom, he never expects to fall in love with the rival king’s sister, Aine. Nor does he suspect his gift with the harp (and Aine’s ability to heal) touches on the realm of magic. Then his clan begins a campaign to eliminate all Balians from the isle of Seare, putting his newfound home in peril and entangling him in a plot for control of the island that has been unfolding since long before his birth.

Only by committing himself to an ancient warrior brotherhood can Conor discover the part he’s meant to play in Seare’s future. But is he willing to sacrifice everything—even the woman he loves—to follow the path his God has laid before him?

My Thoughts:

Oath of the Brotherhood is the first book in C.E. Laureano’s The Song of Seare fantasy trilogy. Featuring relatable characters, dire circumstances to challenge those characters, and a vividly described storyworld with a mediaeval Celtic feel, this book does a great job drawing readers in to the series.

Conor and Aine make likeable leads. Clearly their hearts are in the right place, but we get to see a lot of character growth over the course of this book, and I look forward to seeing where the rest of the series will take them. Romance readers will enjoy the way Conor and Aine are drawn together even when separated by circumstance, and adventure fans will appreciate the story’s suspenseful backdrop of good vs. evil magic and of clan warfare.

Both Conor and Aine grapple with waiting for God’s timing (He’s referred to as Comdiu in this allegory), and preparing themselves to use their talents when called to do so. A large portion of this book is devoted to exploring Conor’s training with the Fíréin brotherhood in music and military skills, which sounds like it could be boring, but which I actually found to be quite fascinating.

I thought the Celtic-sounding names for people and places were a nice touch, lending authenticity to the storyworld. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover the glossary and pronunciation guide at the back of the book until I had finished reading it. Oops! Never would’ve guessed “Eoghan” sounds like “OH-in” or that “bean-sidhe” sounds like “BAN-shee,” although those pronunciations do make so much more sense than what I was saying in my head. LOL! I’ll be sure to consult the glossary as I read the next book so I can get those names right.

For anyone else just starting to read this series, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t have to wait for Books 2 and 3. Beneath the Forsaken City and The Sword and the Song are both available now, so you’ll be able to read the trilogy in its entirety with nary a pause between books if you wish.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

Book Review: My First Hands-On Bible from Tyndale House Publishers

Title: My First Hands-On Bible
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Published: September 2015
Edition: Pretty Pink deluxe edition
Publisher’s Suggested Age: 3-6

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

This Pretty Pink deluxe edition of My First Hands-On Bible is the preschooler version of the popular Hands-On Bible, which has sold nearly one million copies. Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations; My First Hands-On Bible uses the same experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way.

My First Hands-On Bible is a fun and simple, yet meaningful way to engage preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten children (ages 3–6) with the Bible while helping them build a solid faith foundation. Each lesson focuses on a specific Bible point through a variety of activities in order to reinforce and help young children remember the stories and lessons. Using common household items, you can help your children have a “hands-on” learning experience while engaging them in 85 key stories from the Bible.

My First Hands-On Bible doesn’t just retell the Bible stories; it also includes actual Scripture from the easy-to-understand and easy-to-read Holy Bible, New Living Translation. In addition to the stories and activities, there are fun illustrations, prayers, and a special Jesus Connection feature.

My Thoughts:

When I first saw this Bible, I was drawn to the adorably pink cover. [Note: it also comes in blue imitation leather as well as standard paperback and hardback editions for the less pink-enthusiastic among us.] I presented it to my four-year-old daughter, who was thrilled to have her own Bible, and even more excited that it was pink. With the imitation leather cover it looks like a “real” Bible, versus a storybook, which makes her feel all grown up.

We’ve been reading this Bible together for a while now, and my daughter recognizes the pictures of Pockets the kangaroo (who appears in the margins with her hands folded in prayer), and tells me that it’s time to pray. Too cute. The prayers are well-written, short and sweet with easy vocabulary and sentence structure. Best of all, they relate the story we just read back to the child’s life. I read a short phrase at a time and my daughter repeats it after me. I think this may be our favorite part of our Bible reading time.

For the most part, the hands-on activities included within the story (and marked in the text with a colorful handprint) are pretty simple, fun, and easy to incorporate. We’ll do some and skip others (or save them until the end of the story) depending on my daughter’s level of engagement at the time and what’s involved. Examples include pretending to be animals, rocking like you’re on a boat, identifying/counting things in the illustration, making sound-effects, acting out parts of the story, etc. They’ve been great for keeping my daughter actively involved.

This is the first Bible I’ve owned in the New Living Translation. This version does seem easier to read and understand than many other translations, as advertised in the product description. And I love the fact that this is a children’s Bible that goes verse-by-verse using big sections of a standard translation of the Bible to tell the individual stories. That said, it’s not uncommon for us to come across words and phrases in the text that are unfamiliar to my four-year-old, and I find myself pausing to explain or rephrase. I would’ve loved to see simple definitions of some of these words included in the margins alongside the hands-on activities. Not a deal-breaker in my opinion, but maybe something to consider in a future edition?

I look forward to continuing to read this Bible with my daughter on a regular basis. And I’m thinking of getting a blue copy of the Hands-On Bible (meant for older kids, ages 6-12) for her big brother. If you’re in the market for a children’s Bible, My First Hands-On Bible could make a great choice.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary copy of this Bible for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Publisher’s Web Site

Book Review: By Your Side by Candace Calvert

Title: By Your Side
Author: Candace Calvert
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: February 2015
Genre: Medical Romantic Suspense
Series: Crisis Team, Book 1

About the Book (from the Publisher’s Web site):

ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

My Thoughts:

Here’s a romantic suspense novel with lots to love – witty banter, sigh-worthy romantic moments, great descriptions, and a suspenseful storyline to draw you in and keep you engaged. This is the first book I’ve read by Candace Calvert, and I look forward to reading more.

We meet Macy and Fletcher in the midst of a dangerous situation, and get to know and like them more and more as the story goes on. They’re both caring professionals out to make a difference. They each have a heroic side, and yet they come across as real people with flaws, histories, and challenges.

My favorite part of the story was the development of the romance between them. Sweet romantic moments lightened the mood between more dramatic and suspenseful incidents, bringing a smile to my face. Likewise, numerous examples of witty banter between the characters made me laugh with delight. “I’m a cop. We have great flashlights,” from page 197 was among my favorite lines of dialogue (though you kind of have to read the scene to fully appreciate it).

The main characters have different but parallel faith and life journeys that tie into the book’s overarching theme – trust. I thought those journeys were believably and beautifully rendered. Regarding trust, there’s one line of dialogue from page 245 that I simply have to share because it asks such a great and challenging question:

“Now is the tough part. When you’re forced to ask yourself that hard question: Do you fully trust God, or do you simply trust him not to let something bad happen?”

Wow! What a question, right? Definitely one that bears thinking about.

Many secondary characters, including Taylor, Seth, Charly, and Andi, also felt well fleshed out with their own problems, perspectives, and growth over the course of the story. I enjoyed the glimpse into emergency services and crisis chaplaincy afforded by this story and its characters and I look forward to seeing more as the Crisis Team series progresses.

Occasional scenes from the villain’s viewpoint added tension and foreboding to an already intense story. I’ll admit, there was one point in the plot where coincidence played a bigger role than I was expecting, but that factor didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. In the end, I thought the epilogue did a really clever job of wrapping things up while calling to mind some delightful scenes from earlier in the book.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Web Site | Discussion Guide

Find this Book: Goodreads | Amazon

Audiobook Review: Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Title: Mark of Distinction
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 12 hours, 47 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: May 2014
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 2

Thoughts on the Story

If you haven’t read the first title (Born of Persuasion) in this three-part series yet, go read that review (and that book or audiobook) before this one, because you HAVE to read this series in order. It’s all sequential like one extra-long story with intermissions between the acts. And once you do read that first one, trust me, you’ll know if this series is for you, and I really doubt there’s much I could say, pro or con, to change your mind about whether to continue with the second book.

That said, here are my thoughts on Book 2 (Mark of Distinction) anyway. Because you’re here. And because I want to share.

In short: Fascinating. Completely and utterly fascinating.

The longer version: Like the earlier book, this one features complex characters, vivid settings, hidden motivations, shifting political and social alliances, and surprising plot twists and turns, all against the backdrop of Victorian society.

I enjoyed seeing Julia’s faith journey continue to play out in this book, as questions and doubts war with personal experience, and she considers the implications faith would have on her future choices. I like the way this aspect of the story is integrated into the tale as a whole, arising naturally from the events taking place in her life.

If Book One had a love triangle, then this one must have a love quadrilateral (Is that even a thing?), making things that much more complicated for Julia and for the reader. Gotta say, the new guy, Lord Dalry is all-around amazing, though the handful of scenes with Edward are some of the best scenes in the book (in my humble opinion). And then we can’t forget the dangerous and alluring Mr. Macy with the potential to spoil everything.

The ending, while satisfying for now, feels like a stopover on the way to the real ending still to come. There are already hints of problems to be faced in Book 3 (Price of Privilege), and I’m intensely curious what else the author will do to shake up her characters’ lives in the final installment and where they’ll end up when it’s all played out. Must. Keep. Reading. :)

Thoughts on the Audio Edition

I have thoroughly enjoyed Amanda McKnight’s performances thus far in this series and I am pleased to see she’s the narrator for Book 3 as well. Her lovely voice and British accent complement the characters quite well, particularly Julia, our heroine and first person narrator. I’ve enjoyed the distinctions between the voices of various characters, as well as the way “stage directions” included in the text are followed in the reading. My favorite example from this book is when Forrester garbles his words around a mouthful of food. A very nice touch on an already excellent performance.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links:  About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on:  Goodreads | Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio