One wild and mysterious ghost town. Two second-chance love stories. And the century-old legacy that binds them together.
Upon arriving in Kenworthy, California, mail-order bride Juniper Cohen is met by the pounding of the gold mine, an untamable landscape, and her greatest surprise of all: the kind and loving man who awaits her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband, John, vanishes, Juniper is left to fend for herself and her young daughter in the dwindling boomtown that is now her home.
Juniper pens letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost. Perhaps worse, rumors abound claiming the man she loves could be an outlaw. Surviving in a ghost town requires trusting the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and Juniper’s survival depends not only upon these friends but also the strength of heart she must fight to maintain.
Present day. Trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his children and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in what was once known as Kenworthy, California, in the San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers Juniper’s letters and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name—and as a love story from the past touches his own world, Johnny might discover yet that hope and resilience go hand in hand.
Generally, I’m not into the Wild West gold miner kind of novels. For whatever reasons, my historical fancies prefer urban settings. But so many ladies at our church library, along with students on YWW who would ordinarily never read this book either swore by it that I gave it a try.
It really is a beautiful book. First off, I appreciated that it realistically represented divorce. Divorce is a taboo topic in Christian fiction (unless of course, they get back together in the end). It was nice to see all the emotions that divorce brings represented. We saw how it hurts the person involved. Instead of simply labeling Johnny an adulterer because he was divorced, the author showed how he had to make a hard choice for the good of his family overall. And it was a noble choice.
I felt like Johnny was a good character who broke a lot of the male stereotypes. While he liked the rock climbing and everything, he wasn’t constantly athletic. While he definitely wasn’t intelligent, he wasn’t like the brilliant genius. He struggled with big things and small things, but also was extremely capable. His voice was interesting to read.
As for Juniper’s side of the story, I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen. The first chapter opens along the same lines of about a dozen other women’s historicals. But then she turns those expectations on their head and takes the story in her own direction. Her journey to forgiveness was real as well—showing that it’s often a jumbled confused mess and it can take a while to get where you need to be.
Sonoma was a good addition to the story. I loved how she represented her heritage and brought a new sort of joy into Johnny’s life. She was a beautiful character who greatly enhanced the story, even as a side character.
I learned a lot about the culture of gold mining towns and ghost towns as well. The world was very well immersed in the history, and it was very intriguing. California doesn’t seem to play a part in a lot of historicals, and the unique setting enriched the story.
Honestly, the only thing I was unhappy with was one scene with Sonoma. And it’s such a little thing. But seriously? Sonoma wasn’t smart enough to tell that it was a pine branch clunking underneath her car like that? Based on how intelligent her character was, I felt like that was really insulting to her and a surprising play into female stereotypes.
I also would have liked to see more of Oliver Conrad in Juniper’s story. He was played up to be really important at the beginning, and I loved that he represented people with speech impediments. But after the first five chapters, he kind of just dropped off the face of the earth and I wondered why we’d had all that set up with him.
The Gold in These Hills is gold of its own kind—a novel that addresses hard topics and emotions realistically and sympathetically, while also shattering stereotypes along the way.
Lillian’s city is dying. Slowly. Strangled by dust, drought, and oppressive laws that cut down commoner and noble alike. Even Lillian, as daughter-in-law to the Governor, can’t help them.
When a stranger climbs through Lillian’s window with the mythical knowledge needed to spin heat into rain, it seems too good to be true.
But the first real storm in months hardly means the drought is over. With the demand for more rain on one side, and threats from encroaching enemies on the other, Lillian’s choices are limited.
Except maybe the stranger is more than he appears. And maybe the city needs more aid than simply a change of weather.
A Rumpelstiltskin retelling, The Stormbringer’s Name blends timeless elements of unspoken names and bitter sacrifice with clouds of treason, betrayal, and a fine-spun gold thread of courage.
The fifth novella in the Legends of the Light series, this short novel is a stand-alone story and contains a handful of allegorical themes.
I have been so excited for this book to come out! It was one of my handful of most anticipated releases for 2022 and it did not disappoint.
Oh my goodness, all the characters were so well-developed. I didn’t feel like there was one that I was rolling my eyes going, “Ugh, I have to read their chapter before I can go back and figure out what so-and-so’s doing.”
Lillian’s dynamic of being part of the nobility, but feeling as if she didn’t have a voice to speak, resonated deeply with me and drew me into her struggle. Royce’s remorse was presented so deeply and his internal struggle made me love him even more.
Each of the characters, both main and side, had their own motivations and goals. It didn’t resort to the normal “I’m an evil bad guy ha ha ha” tropes; the villain’s motivation was very unique and not what I would have guessed.
While you technically don’t have to read the rest of the series to understand this book, it will be a lot more fun if you have. Cameos from previous books pop up everywhere—one of the amazing plot twists revolved around one of my favorite characters from an earlier Legends of Light, which made the twist all the more excruciating. In the best way possible, I mean.
Did I mention the amazing plot twists? Nothing played out quite as I thought.
The theme and message is so dang deep. I can definitely see that a lot of thought and life experience went into it. It dug deep into my own mind and made me think and wonder long after I finished the book.
The prose is gorgeous. The imagery was spot-on and so unique to the world. Even the sentence lengths seemed used to their very fullest potential. (Coming from a writer who struggles to remember to vary her sentences at all. That would be me.)
Did I get to all the things I wanted to rave about in this post? I think so.
Due to my general inexperience with fantasy of this type, I did struggle occasionally to keep up with what was happening. (I honestly hesitated to put this under the negatives section because it’s not really the book’s fault.)
You absolutely CANNOT miss this book, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy. Even if you’re not a fan of fantasy, I think you should give it a try. All around solid and well-developed, from the characters to the plot to the worldbuilding to the theme. But it doesn’t stop there. It keeps pushing deeper.
Lives depend on the truth she uncovers.
She can't give up her search.
A birthday excursion turns deadly when the SS Eastland capsizes with Olive Pierce and her best friend on board. Hundreds perish during the accident, and it's only when Olive herself barely escapes that she discovers her friend is among the victims.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Olive returns to her work at a Chicago insurance agency and is immersed in the countless investigations related to the accident. But with so many missing, there are few open-and-shut cases, and she tries to balance her grief with the hard work of finding the truth.
While someone sabotages her progress, Olive accepts the help of newspaper photographer Erik Magnussen. As they unravel secrets, the truths they discover impact those closest to Olive. How long will the disaster haunt her--and how can she help the others find the peace they deserve?
I couldn’t put this book down! I had to keep turning “just a couple more pages” to figure out the answer to all the clues they’d found—but then that answer would open up more questions that I had to keep reading to discover! At some points, it’s pretty mindbending. Who knew insurance agents had such interesting lives?
The theme was very applicable and resonant. Olive’s struggle to find herself outside of what she does, outside of how she helped people reminded me of some situations in my own life and opened my eyes along with hers. Her struggle as a woman in a male-dominated field was also portrayed with sympathy for both sides and without being extreme feminist either.
I had never heard of the Eastland disaster, and the book was very informative without pulling away from the story. Olive didn’t just get over her grief and trauma in the snap of a finger, either. The author took the time to take her on a hard healing journey.
I loved that domestic abuse was given a realistic, but hopeful portrayal. It’s one of those topics that seems to be “off-limits” in Christian fiction, and I appreciated seeing that representation done with care and compassion.
Drawn by the Current does more than draw you in. You are fully immersed and splashing in it.
Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.
Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.
But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.
Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?
Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.
First off, THOSE COVERS. That's worth getting the whole series just to line them all up and see the big picture.
This book has one of the most realistic and detailed representations of PTSD I’ve ever read. (Disclaimer: I do not have PTSD or know someone who does, so I don’t have first-hand experience.) Dylan was presented as a strong character even though he happened to have this struggle, but the struggle was also portrayed in a real-to-life and sympathetic way. These are the kinds of representations I aspire to.
Casey was actually smart. Strong female characters with both compassion and smarts are sorely lacking. You either have to settle for one of the other. Casey wasn’t just blindly running into situations and doing stupid things. She was thinking through her options, making plans, and pulling it off–while also caring for other people and usually saving them. XD
I could. Not. Put. These Books. Down. It’s a good thing I had all three on my hands! What did people do when only the first one was out? Yikes! They never slow down. I seriously struggled to put them down when I needed to go do other things. Perfect pacing, without sacrificing either action or reaction times. The characters had time to fight and to think. And so many twists! When I thought I had it all figured out, another layer or twist was thrown into the works and I was like, “OH NO THIS JUST COMPLICATES EVERYTHING”.
If I Run isn’t one to miss. Just make sure you have the entire trilogy on hand. ;)
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!