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Where the Fire Falls–Yosemite National Park

Where the Fire Falls

by Karen Barnett

Where the Fire FallsThemes abound in Karen Barnett’s work of historical fiction, set in Yosemite National Park, and they intertwine and work together well. In Where the Fire Falls, the Park itself almost seems like a character as it and its God-created beauty are central to the book. The novel has the Christian focus of man’s relationship with God through His grace. The two main characters have pasts they are struggling to both hide and overcome: Olivia, a rising watercolor artist, and Clark, a former pastor and currently a guide for tourists who want to mule pack into the wilderness.

The main characters are likable and the plot is surprisingly complex with some chaste romance throughout. Supporting characters include socialite patrons, an art agent, rangers at the park, other workers at Yosemite, a hermit, and Olivia’s two younger sisters and her Aunt Phyllis. Olivia has to overcome fears of the past, her inexperience with the outdoors, and her own naiveté. She has to peel off the mask she has created as a shield for herself and as a tool to promote herself in the art world. Clark seeks God’s guidance and direction but is unable to hear it because he feels unworthy.

The descriptions in this book are so well written that I can imagine standing at the various scenic spots as I am taken in by the beauty. Likewise, I can almost picture Olivia’s priceless watercolors that attempt to evoke an emotional response rather than provide a realistic depiction.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first in the series as the plot held more puzzles and surprises. The characters in the two books do not overlap so each actually is a standalone. It is my hope that the author will continue the Vintage National Park Series with new characters in a different national park.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to WaterBrook (Random House) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Christian

Notes : A Vintage National Parks Novel

 

Publication:   June 5, 2018—WaterBrook (Random House)

Memorable Lines:

The impulsive decision now hung on her like a dress two sizes too large.

“Scripture says faith can move mountains, but I’ve found time spent in the mountains sometimes moves us toward faith.”

“God saved up the best bits of creation and spent them here.” Viewing it from this angle, she could almost imagine a divine artist smiling as He carved the valley away from the giant monoliths.

Dis-grace is a human term, Clark. God invented grace. No one can take it from you.”

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Murder in Disguise–murder in the golden age of movies

Murder in Disguise

by Mary Miley

Murder in DisguiseMurder in Disguise opens with a murder set in Hollywood in the golden theater/movie  days of Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. During the course of the murder investigation, we learn about movie production, vaudeville, prohibition, corrupt law enforcement, gangsters, and the plight of orphans and women workers.

Jessie Beckett, working as an assistant script girl, has a knack for noticing things that others don’t, a talent which she attributes to her vaudeville background. This ability enables her to solve crimes, and she solves this one with the help of one of the few honest cops in L.A., Detective Carl Delaney, who is interested in getting to know Jessie better.

Jessie comes from a difficult background, but wants to leave mistakes of the past behind. Will her boyfriend David stick with his promise to do the same? Can the murderer stop with one crime? How does Jessie relate to a deaf and dumb girl left with one of Jessie’s roommates? The action keeps the plot moving; the characters and setting maintain a high interest level. The time period is well researched and the author includes words such as “copacetic” from the period adding to the authenticity. She follows up the novel with an “Acknowledgments” section that adds notes about the era and several interesting YouTube links.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Roaring Twenties Mystery Series, but good as a standalone

Publication:   August 1, 2017—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Rumors were passed around like Christmas candy and devoured with the same enthusiasm.

La Grande was one of the largest depots of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe line, a great cavern of a place where the footsteps and shouts of a thousand rushing people echoed from the polished floor to the ceiling before being drowned out by the snakelike hiss of steam and the earsplitting squeal of brakes as the monstrous engines pulled into their tracks.

“There’s always another job on the horizon,” my mother used to say. I looked up the street toward home. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the horizon from where I stood.

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