The Sea Before Us (Sunrise at Normandy Book #1) by Sarah Sundin

My Review

The Sea Before Us is Sarah Sundin’s first book in her new series, Sunrise at Normandy. The story focuses on Dorothy Fairfax, a WREN (The Women’s Royal Naval Service-WRNS, known as WREN/S), and Lt. Wyatt Paxton.

First, I have to say, that the research and authenticity of the story is astounding. The time-frame is from January through June of 1944. There are so very many historical (and very sad) tidbits of information highlighting the time leading up to and including D-Day.

As you read, you are transported back to a different era and three different countries, England, France and Scotland. It’s not hard to picture yourself right in the middle of everything going on-from the urgency of preparing for a military invasion to the freneticism of trying to squeeze the last drop of normalcy from a life that seems as if it will never be normal again.

Both Dorothy and Wyatt have some significant issues in their lives and need to learn to rely more fully on the Lord. The spiritual thread is woven seamlessly into the book, with most of the truths applicable to anyone’s life.

I have always loved historical fiction, and The Sea Before Us doesn’t disappoint.

I received this book from Library Thing. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

(Release date February 6, 2018)

Publisher’s Summary

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “WREN” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen with this powerful new series.

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The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas

My Review

I was interested in the book, The Sound of Rain, because of the settings of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky. I lived and worked in Myrtle Beach just before Hurricane Hugo hit, then visited after Hugo and was amazed at the devastation to the area and changes to the shoreline. I also lived for a short while in St. Albans, West Virginia. In addition, I was interested because Sarah Loudin Thomas is a new author to me.

The story’s premise is about Judd Markley, a coal miner from West Virginia, and Larkin Heyward, the daughter of an affluent family in Myrtle Beach.

Judd leaves the hills of West Virginia and moves to Myrtle Beach after a coal mining accident left him permanently injured and killed his brother. His main reason for moving is to honor his brother’s dream of going to Myrtle Beach.

Larkin wants to move to Kentucky to give meaning to her life and help the poor who live there.

I am not sure how I feel about the book. Several elements of it are good, and other aspects made it less than enjoyable for me. The sequence of events during Hurricane Hazel didn’t seem realistic in many ways, especially considering the destruction it caused. Plus, Larkin’s deception toward Judd and deliberate disobedience to her father bothered me, too.

Overall, I felt the author tried to put too much into the book, making it feel watered down (no pun intended). There were characters I would have liked to have gotten to know better, for instance, Granny Jane, Ben and Larkin’s mother.

The Sound of Rain was interesting but not as compelling as other stories I have read.

I enjoyed reading about Myrtle Beach in 1954 and was sad to hear The Pavilion had its last season in 2006 and was demolished for redevelopment in 2007.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Review

Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother–and nearly his own life–in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company.

Larkin Heyward’s life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more–maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together.

Out of the Ordinary (Apart from the Crowd Book #2) by Jen Turano

My Review

Jen Turano’s delightful book, Out of the Ordinary, reintroduces us to Gertrude Cadwalader whom we met in At Your Request (Apart From the Crowd): An Apart From the Crowd Novella and in Behind the Scenes (Apart From the Crowd Book #1).

Out of the Ordinary is an out of the ordinary story. I laughed so hard at some sections; I literally had tears running down my eyes. I would be hard-pressed to explain which comedic moment was my favorite as they all have their own laugh-out-loud, crack up moments. However, don’t let that mislead you. There are some very serious aspects to the story.

Gertrude is paid to be a companion to Mrs. Davenport, an eccentric lady with a propensity to take things that aren’t hers, thereby creating many precarious situations for Gertrude to correct. I really felt sorry for poor Gertrude when one situation leads to a disastrous misunderstanding and a less than ideal situation for unfortunate Gertrude.

Harrison Sinclair is a lovable hero. He has absolutely no fashion sense, and his problems with being able to see colors as others do lead to some unusual combinations of clothing. He loves his family, is loyal to his friends and overall, makes a great champion for those he cares about.

I enjoyed catching up with other characters from earlier stories. In spite of the fact that there is overlap of characters in the series, Out of the Ordinary works easily as a stand-alone.

Jen Turano has written another historical novel with quirky characters, messages of faith and humor interspersed between serious subjects.

I received this book from Bethany House and NetGalley. However, I was not required to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail.