Review: “Come Back to Me” by Jody Hedlund

Today I’m reviewing Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund, the first book in her time-travel fantasy romance “Waters of Time” series. While I’ve enjoyed many historical novels by Hedlund, and she has penned a Medieval series, I was especially excited for the mashup of a contemporary heroine who finds herself in Medieval times while trying to save her family.

About the Book

The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That’s exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father’s quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He’s left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he’s crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian’s rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund is an adventure of a novel that’s one part action, one part fantasy, two parts romance, and all kinds of awesome! Subtle themes of sacrifice and the lasting impact of love weave through these characters’ interactions as they face unexpected challenges — like the hazards of life in Medieval England.

The concept of historical holy water with Biblical ties is smart and brings a good deal of real-life history to the story, as Hedlund outlines in her author’s note. I liked that real-life aspect, as well as the historical turmoil of the Peasants’ Revolt being important parts of the story. It provides a thought-provoking contrast with Marian’s perspective of life in the 21st century.

I didn’t buy into the instalove between Marian and Will at first. But, I quickly grew to appreciate their relationship as they acknowledge the progression from undeniable attraction, to a deeper heart-connection and friendship, to love as a commitment and active choice. Jody Hedlund always writes *all the sparks* and romantic tension so well, and Marian and Will’s passion is no exception. The thread of their relationship unfolds and models sacrificial love and loyalty as the most impactful story aspect.

Fans of contemporary romance and medieval times or adventurous and daring knightly heroes like Robin Hood will enjoy Come Back to Me! While it ties up the romance and lives of Marian and William satisfactorily, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next installment, Never Leave Me, as it focuses on Marian’s sister, Ellen — with a love interest I am ALREADY rooting for!

Thank you to publisher Revell and their Revell Reads program for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Only Time Will Tell” by Amy Matayo

Welcome to my blog review of the latest novel by Amy Matayo! She has recently published her second novel in her “Charles and Company Romance” series (as in Charles Dickens!). Book two: Only Time Will Tell.

About the Book

For newly published author Eliza Sterling, having her first book launch party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a dream come true. Since her book is a modern-day retelling of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and the Met is hosting a display of rarely seen Dickens’ artifacts at the same time, she chalks it up to a case of good timing.

For publicly disgraced, former best-selling author Lew McDonnell, seeing a debut author having her first book launch party at the Met brings up all sorts of resentments. Especially when the book this lady is promoting just happens to be one of his old manuscripts that she’s clearly plagiarized and claimed for herself.

When heated words are exchanged in front of a display case containing an original copy of Great Expectations, both Lew and Eliza are prepared for a fight. But they aren’t prepared for the room to shake, for the display case to shatter, or for the old book to send them both careening toward a new existence entirely.

When Lew wakes up on the floor of the Charles Dickens museum in London to see Eliza working there as a tour guide, he knows something has gone horribly wrong. It’s the same day and time, but suddenly he’s the best-selling author headlining his own book launch again, and Eliza is serving him drinks and working all hours to make ends meet. And the weirdest thing of all?

Lew is the only one who remembers their former lives.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A smart concept combines with a hint of romance in this contemporary time-shift story of two authors with a big lesson of selflessness. Amy Matayo’s sarcastic humor and skill at penning first person point of view make Lew’s predicament and Eliza’s growing hope all the more impactful.

The first book in this “Charles & Company Romance” series, Before Time Runs Out, took readers back in time to Dickens’ London. In book 2, it’s more like a time-shift takes place with a switch of circumstances for both of the protagonists with only one of them aware of the change. This clever spin on a time travel concept takes the series in a different direction: one that builds on the allure and mystery of a Dickens “first draft” featured in book 1. Both tell separate stories and can be read as standalones, but I recommend reading them both to understand the connections to Dickens!

I love that both lead characters of this series are writers! A bit of tongue-in-cheek humor about writing, romance, and social media will be funny to any avid readers or those connected to the publishing industry. Beyond their professions, Lew and Eliza are realistic and full of depth. They face circumstances that bring up important questions about selflessness, responsibility, and family.

A few more things I enjoyed about Only Time Will Tell:

  • the modern London setting (this time) and its tiny contrasts to American speaking and culture.
  • humor and CATS! and Brit Speak
  • Family and its messy, complicated joys
  • Matayo’s portrayal of the male POV. Written SO WELL it’s almost scary.
  • The way hope and faith thread through the story in subtle ways

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Before Time Runs Out” by Amy Matayo

What do you get when you combine a present-day graduate student, a veteran doctor from 1947, a mysterious book, and London in the time of Charles Dickens? A new Amy Matayo novel, of course! Before Time Runs Out is her first in a unique concept “Charles & Company Romance” series featuring some time travel, depth, romance, and, of course, humor. Read on for more about the book and my take…

About the Book

Graduate student Bree Sanders is failing the one class she needs to get her degree. So when her professor gives her an ultimatum—ace her dissertation or risk having to repeat her final semester—she knows she has to pull out all the stops. After scrambling for an idea, she decides to create her own Ghost Club, a club that blames ghosts for unsolved crimes, the same type of club originally founded two centuries ago by Charles Dickens.

What she doesn’t expect is to find an original copy of one of Dickens’ early works, or to be transplanted into Dickens’s actual ghost club meeting, circa 1870, the instant she picks it up.

When Bree shows up in nineteenth-century England wearing cut-offs and an old t-shirt, her only option is to hide. The Cambridge of 1870 won’t look kindly on a woman dressed like her. So, when Theodore Keyes finds her tucked behind a bookcase at the Trinity College library and immediately demands to know where she came from, she knows he doesn’t belong here either. Turns out she’s right; the same book caused him to time-travel from 1947 almost three months ago and he’s been stuck in England since.

Together, the two vow to work side-by-side in their search for the lost book that will take them home. But as their feelings for one another deepen, Theo and Bree are caught between a desire to return to the lives they each left behind, and the knowledge that if they find the book, they won’t be able to leave together.

In the end, they each must decide which sacrifice is worth making—the one that will cost them their hearts, or the one that could cost them their very existence.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Author Amy Matayo bravely tackles a neat concept in Before Time Runs Out, a FUN time travel romance for fans of book lovers and Victorian England. With the snark and surprise hit-you-in-the-feels depth I’ve come to expect from her, this adventure is a unique experience in examining what-ifs and the contrasts between eras with humor and romance.

Matayo’s authorial voice shines through in the juxtaposition of time periods and characters. It highlights the differences of the eras with humor and deep meaning. Some of my favorite elements and examples include: corsets, pop culture references, candles, books, crimes, walking sticks, top hats, SIBLINGS, responsibility, Google (and the historical lack thereof), grace and second chances.

While there are many facets of this novel to enjoy, I love the heroine and hero the most. Bree is smart, sassy, and driven, with relatable emotional baggage revealed along the way. Theodore (or THEO as Bree calls him) is courteous, strong, and capable, with a backstory I was eager to hear more about. I like how he proves the character of a gentleman is a timeless asset, no matter the decade or century. In a sly way, Matayo uses their pairing to contrast with today’s societal norms in illustrating the qualities of a true romantic hero/heroine and the importance of respect and trust in such a relationship. Their whirlwind of a friendship-turned-romance is fraught with challenges, adventure, and some fantastic heart-sharing moments that make their unlikely situations believable and something to root for.

I recommend this book for any fans of Dickens, literature, sci-fi time travel, Timeless the TV show!, and Amy’s everyday snark 😉 (if you follow her on social media, you know). I’m so excited this is a series — I’m already looking forward to more time spent in the era of Dickens in the next book!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Interview with the Author! Lynne Gentry, “Healer of Carthage”

I’m so excited today! The author of Healer of Carthage, Lynne Gentry, is here visiting my blog! She’s answered some interview questions about her latest book. If you haven’t yet, check out my review of Healer of Carthage, the first book in “The Carthage Chronicles” series. It’s a must-read!

About Healer of Carthage:

The first in The Carthage Chronicles series, Healer of Carthage launches Dr. Lisbeth Hastings into third-century Carthage. Desperate to survive in this unknown world, Lisbeth is forced to grapple with slavery, religious persecution, and disease. Against this dark backdrop, romance, justice, and courage take center stage. 

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Lynne, what inspired you to write Healer of Carthage?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they look back and ask themselves, “could I have done something differently?” and “If I had, what would my life look like now?” I was at that point when the notion came to me of Time Travel…going back and having a redo, so to speak. An interesting thing happened when writing this book: I realized I’m exactly who God intended me to be and there wasn’t a single thread of my life that I wanted pulled … not even the hard times, for those hard times had built my character. I wouldn’t be me if I’d done things differently. I believe I am on the road to becoming exactly who God wants me to be.

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with Healer of Carthage?

The entire Carthage Chronicles series is about courage. Courage as individuals and as a collective body, i.e. the church. But Healer is about mercy. The mercy we extend to others. The mercy God extends to us. And the mercy we can learn to extend to ourselves.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in this time period?

Authors love to research the places they write about. Want to write a beach story set along the Carolina coast? Actually traveling to a beach on the east coast can really help an author set an accurate tone for the story world. Obviously, I couldn’t return to third-century Carthage or even the considerable amount of ruins left behind by that civilization. The volatility in that part of the world is too great. So, all of my world building had to take place through the painstaking process of reading, reading, and reading some more. Some of those ancient scholars are extremely boring and difficult to read.HiResHealerCover

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies? 

I love to walk my dog and read something off of the New York Times bestseller list.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

I really think I would like to give living in the third century a shot. But if we’re dreaming here, I might as well dream that I’d go back to the third century as a pampered patrician’s wife, not a slave girl. 🙂

Thank you so much, Lynne, for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such a beautiful story!

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. Her newest novel, Healer of Carthage, is the first in The Carthage Chronicles series. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright with several full-length musicals and a children’s theater curriculum to her credit. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer whose first love is spending time with family.

Author Contact info:

Website: http://lynnegentry.com/

Facebook: Author Lynne Gentry https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Lynne-Gentry/215337565176144

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynne_Gentry

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lynnegentry7/

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Imh1AwR698Y

Simon & Schuster: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Lynne-Gentry/412732530

 

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Review: “Healer of Carthage” by Lynne Gentry

(After reading this review, be sure to check out my interview post with author Lynne Gentry here!)

The latest novel from Lynne Gentry, Healer of Carthage, has all of the proper elements for an entertaining plot: an aspiring doctor, Lisbeth, struggling to overcome her mistakes, dealing with uncertain family problems, and uncovering long-hidden family secrets. An aspiring political leader, Cyprian, working to reconcile his newfound Christian faith with the politics and leaders that could destroy it. Throw time travel in to the mix with a 3rd century plague, main characters (and love interests) from different centuries, and you have a thrill-ride of a novel that will keep you turning pages as fast as you can.

Plot Synopsis:HiResHealerCover

First-year medical resident Dr. Lisbeth Hastings uses her father’s bizarre summons to escape her tragic mistake.

While Lisbeth searches the haunted cave of her father’s archaeological dig, she falls through a hidden portal. When the currents of time spew her onto the slave auction block in third century Carthage, her arrival ignites a fierce bidding war.

Unable to escape, Lisbeth becomes the property of Cyprian Thascius, a wealthy Roman enta
ngled with a group of people under siege from political persecution and a deadly plague.

Lisbeth resists using her medical skills to combat the epidemic until she stumbles upon a buried secret. To save her family, she must unite with Cyprian to save Carthage. But every revolutionary step they take in the past threatens their future.

My thoughts:

While torn between finding her way back to the 21st century and helping those she can in Carthage, Lisbeth finds herself caught in the middle of the politics of Cyprian and his clandestine group of Christ-following friends. As Lisbeth and Cyprian see that a solution to many of their problems could lie in joining forces, they begin to discover a love that stretches the boundaries of time. The mystery and secrets Lisbeth and Cyprian uncover in the past could serve to change the future of Rome and the future of Lisbeth’s family.

Lynne has authored a gem of a novel, successfully depicting a modern heroine amidst 3rd century Egypt politics and classes of people. I enjoyed the way she blended bits of modern language and expressions from Lisbeth’s character. Her peers in the 3rd century humorously did not know what to think of this intelligent woman with medical knowledge and an odd vocabulary.

Healer of Carthage exhibits the drama and political quagmires of the Roman Empire through the eyes of Lisbeth, someone foreign to such brutality and customs (think gladiators and the persecution of the early church). Her role in aiding unfortunate innocent people begins to give her character focus and purpose after her failings in modern medicine. With scenes like a dramatic medical thriller, Lisbeth practices “modern medicine” in the 3rd century AND finds help and encouragement in the most unexpected places. Cyprian plays a role in Lisbeths cause, too, and his character grows and matures through the story, as well.

Overall, Healer of Carthage is an exciting, fast-paced drama and love story packed with history, archaeology, and the struggles of a people notorious for their persecution of early Christians. It’s beautiful that these characters discover and renew their faith in God while they witness the strength and sacrifice of love. The only thing I’m NOT happy about is waiting until so long for the next book in The Carthage Chronicles series, Return to Exile!

Find this book on Amazon or Goodreads.

Healer of Carthage Quote

Mini Review of “Divergent” & latest Empty Shelf Challenge Reads, including “Healer of Carthage”

My latest reads this week are Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry and Divergent by Veronica Roth. (They are books 13 and 14 in my Empty Shelf Challenge!) Two TOTALLY different books. I loved them both for different reasons.

Later next week, I’m excited to post a review of Healer of Carthage AND an interview with author Lynne Gentry. She’s just fabulous!
Empty Shelf Reads 13 & 14

Here are my thoughts on Divergent, also posted on Goodreads.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Never a dull moment. That sentence best sums up my thoughts on “Divergent”.

It is a skillfully written, fast-paced adventure, exploring themes of bravery, selflessness, sacrifice, and the strength of love. From the beginning, the reader is plunged into the story of Beatrice and her world. Veronica used a proper combination of action and feeling to convey each scene. I loved getting to know the characters through the course of the book.

The only reason I did not give it 5 stars was my dislike of some of the content. Mild profanity, depictions of drinking, and some of the suggestive content cause me to hesitate. I would give it a “PG-13” rating. The violence I expected, but some of the other content I did not, considering its popularity among young teens.

Despite the reasons above, I still thoroughly enjoyed “Divergent” and would recommend it to YA, Dystopian, and Sci-Fi fans alike. Because I typically read Christian or Inspirational fiction, I would caution someone reading “Divergent” to keep in mind that it IS secular fiction.

I definitely plan to finish this series – I can’t wait to see what predicaments Tris gets into next!

View all my reviews on Goodreads

 

Have you read either of these books? What are your thoughts, from a Christian perspective, on Divergent? Have you seen the movie?