“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Murder and Mayhem, O My!--"Murder at the Flamingo" by Rachel McMillan--Review





Murder and Mayhem, O My!   If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan is a little out of my reading comfort zone (as far as the time period and it being a murder mystery).  So I am pleasantly surprised by how much I did enjoy this book!

The story is a great one that focuses a lot on the characters and not a whole lot on the actual murder, blood and grime, etc.  Our main characters, Reggie and Hamish, are both looking for adventure and really trying to find themselves, each in their own way.  Hamish is not the usual hero, but one I think many readers will love.  Hamish deals with panic attacks and anxiety (mental health is addressed in such a loving way through Hamish’s character).  Hamish is very relatable, sweet, bookish and a real gentleman.  I really like Hamish’s love of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the way he uses passages from the book to help calm his anxiety.  I enjoyed Reggie’s character as well.  She is very adventurous and independent.  I didn’t like how Reggie has a boyfriend (who is back in her home town), but at the same time she is sort of developing a romance with another man. 

Mystery and suspense readers will find much to love in the story of Luca (Hamish’s cousin) and his nightclub, where the mysterious murder takes place.  I enjoyed the literary references in Murder at the Flamingo and reading about the pop culture of the time.  This is published by a Christian publisher, but there isn’t any overt faith content (except characters visit a church and mention it as a safe haven for all religions) but it is still very clean and has Christian themes, such as sacrificial love.

Overall, this is a great read!  I listened to part of it through an audiobook which I highly recommend, due to the narrator who does all of the different accents.  Murder at the Flamingo presents wonderful themes of family loyalty (characters struggle with how far one should go in being loyal as compared to choosing one’s conscience), being the hero of one’s own story and learning to live in the moment.
Content:  This is a clean read.  I would rate it PG for some minor content.  This is a murder mystery that takes place in nightclubs during the 1930s, so keep that in mind.  Some examples of the content are: the main character deals with panic attacks and anxiety; references to alcohol; a man makes unwanted physical advances on a woman but is unsuccessful; a mention of the devil and hell; a mention of cursing, but the words aren’t actually written; a woman is a man’s mistress; violence and talk about the mob; a murder takes place; a lot of drinking and smoking in the nightclubs.
Rating: I give this book 3.5 stars.
Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction; Romance
I want to thank The Fiction Guild, Rachel McMillan and Thomas Nelson for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.


About the Author:

 There is nothing better than exploring the world --near and far:  whether with a notebook and passport  at the ready or in the pages of a book. 
 
 I currently explore 1930s  Boston in my noirish mysteries starring Hamish DeLuca and Reggie Van Buren set in the city's historic North End.  My Sherlockian-inspired series featuring lady detectives Jem Watts and Merinda Herringford took readers around Edwardian-era Toronto. 
My passion for all things Europe infuses my contemporary romances,  including the Vienna-set Love in Three Quarter Time.
Stay awhile and explore. I'll always have new book recommendations as well as tips and tricks on how to find the world far away--or in your own backyard. 
I live in Toronto, my favourite film is Master and Commander, I am obsessed with Hallmark Christmas movies, Broadway musicals and Starbucks.
 
To purchase the book click here
To visit the author's website click here

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Dashing Romance!--"Magnolia Summer" by Melanie Dickerson--Review



What's that?  Another Melanie Dickerson book?!  Why, yes, yes it is!  Magnolia Summer is the first book in Melanie Dickerson’s brand new Southern Seasons series.  Ms. Dickerson changes things up from her usual fare by taking us to the 1880s in the Deep South of the United States.  Instead of a fairy tale retelling, Ms. Dickerson writes a dashing and heroic story filled with romance set in the South!

Magnolia Summer grabs you right from the start with a gallant and heroic action scene!  Parts of the story remind me of Zorro and Robin Hood.  Ms. Dickerson does a great job describing the South.  I especially love reading about how people in the South all take care of each other.

Readers will fall in love with our independent and sometimes high strung heroine, Celia.  And the hero, Truett?  I have a feeling many girls will love him!  He is dashing, heroic, a little cocky and super sweet.  I like seeing the characters praying and talking to God. 

Ms. Dickerson writes a great story and her characters are complex and multidimensional.  What are you waiting for?  Grab yourself a copy of Magnolia Summer, sit on your front porch with some sweet tea and enjoy this wonderful story! 

Content:   This is a clean read overall.  I would rate it PG for some minor content.  Some examples of the content are: a mention of rape; a woman is pregnant out of wedlock; reference to tobacco; a woman deals with depression; a man smokes a cigar; mention that a man is drunk and looks at a woman’s figure; a trollop is referred to.

Rating: I give this book 5 stars!

Genre: Christian fiction; Historical fiction; Romance

I want to thank Melanie Dickerson and GraceFaith Press for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

 

About the Author:

Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author who combines her love for history, adventure, and romance. Her books have won a Christy Award, two Maggie Awards, The National Reader’s Choice Award, the Christian Retailing’s Best Award, the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Golden Quill, and the Carol Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught children and adults in the U.S., Germany, and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing stories of love and adventure near Huntsville, Alabama.

To purchase the book click here
To visit the author's website click here

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Romeo and Juliet Story During the British Civil War--"Yours, Dorothy" by E.B. Wheeler--Review





Blurb:

Based on a true love story from the British Civil War.

Dorothy Osborne's family has sacrificed everything for King Charles of England, living in exile in France after the king's defeat by Parliament. Dorothy knows it is her duty to marry well and help her family, which means finding a wealthy suitor: Royalist, or maybe French, but never a Parliamentarian, and not someone of her own choosing.

William Temple struggles to commit to his father's Parliamentarian cause, making his family wonder if he'll ever commit to anything. William wonders too, until he meets Dorothy Osborne. The connection between them is instant, but their families will go to any length to keep them apart. Can their love survive separation and the upheavals of the British Civil War?

My Review:
 

Yours, Dorothy is a highly romantic story of two star-crossed lovers based on real life events.  The narrative is set during the time of the British Civil War, when fortunes rise and fall at the drop of a hat and there is much political unrest.  The story reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, although not quite as tragic. 

I don’t know much about this particular time period, so I really enjoyed learning more while reading the story of Dorothy and William.  I appreciate Ms. Wheeler’s extensive knowledge of the time period and subject that she shares with her readers.   At the end of the book, Ms. Wheeler explains what’s true to real life in every chapter and gives little historical tidbits that tie in with the story.

Both Dorothy and William struggle with whether they should follow duty to their family, conscience or heart.  Their families are on opposite sides in the war and they face a lot of pressure from their family to marry well and form the right connections.  I find it romantic that their story spans years, (and there are long periods where they don’t hear from or see each other) yet they still can’t stop thinking about the other.  Time and distance can’t quell their love.  I also really like all of the history and how Ms. Wheeler tries to stay historically accurate.  It might have been helpful to have a family tree and to see who was on what side of the conflict at the beginning or end of the book.

Yours, Dorothy is a beautiful story of love and war.  At times though, the story moved a bit slowly for my taste.  History buffs and lovers of the British Civil War will especially appreciate this well-researched story! 

Content: This is a clean read.  There is some very minor content.  Some examples of the content are: a woman has a low cut dress; men are drunk; mention of gambling.

Rating: I give this book 3 stars.

Genre: Historical Fiction; Romance; England

I want to thank E.B. Wheeler and Rowan Ridge Press for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
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Author Bio:

E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She attended BYU, majoring in history with an English minor, and earned an MA in early modern history with an emphasis on British religion and popular belief, as well as an MLA in historic and cultural landscapes, from Utah State University. Her first novel, The Haunting of Springett Hall, won the 2015 Gold Quill award from the League of Utah Writers for best YA fiction, and her adult novels Born to Treason and No Peace with the Dawn (with co-author Jeff Bateman) won the Silver Quill and Gold Quill awards in 2016. Born to Treason was a 2016 Whitney Award finalist in historical fiction. She was also the League of Utah Writer’s 2016 Writer of the Year. She’s a member of SCBWI and LDStorymakers. Her YA fiction is represented by Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary.
 
E.B. Wheeler is also the author of several award-winning short stories, magazine articles, and scripts for educational software programs. Her essay “Imperfect Instruments,” about faith and living with Brown-Sequard syndrome resulting from a spinal cord injury, won the 2015 Segullah Award for Excellence in Creative Nonfiction. In addition to writing, she also consults about historic preservation and teaches Utah history at Utah State University. She has worked on projects for the National Park Service, the LDS church, and the USU Museum of Anthropology. She currently serves on the board of directors for the League of Utah Writers. She lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband, children, and various pets. If she had spare time, she would spend it playing harp and hammered dulcimer, gardening, hiking, shooting archery, knitting, and reading.
 
 
To visit the author's website click here
To purchase the book click here

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Sweet Romance with Lots of History-"A Love Restored" by Kelly Goshorn-Review




Book Blurb:

She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.

 Twenty-year old Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. She would rather read Jules Verne or teach Negro children to read and write than join the Women’s Benevolent Aid Society or practice her voice lessons. Her pert opinions and less than perfect figure keep many suitors away. When Ruth Ann accepts a position teaching at the new Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer she is likely to receive. Should she risk life as a lonely spinster or reinvent herself to accept a proposal from a man she does not love?

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. All he needs now is a woman to share his promising future. When Benjamin has a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, he is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?
 
My Review:


A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn is a historical romance set in 1870s Virginia during the Reconstruction Era in the United States.  Readers will love the heroine, Ruth Ann, as she is very relatable.  It’s nice to have a main character that is flawed and struggles with different issues.  Ruth Ann wrestles with body image and self-worth.  She is on the heavier side and wants to be loved and accepted for who she is.  I think every woman will be able to relate in some way to her struggles.
 
There are so many great lessons in this story!  Ruth Ann teaches at a Freedman’s School and deals with a lot of racism.  Through her dealings with racism the lesson is taught that people should think more about what they have in common than focusing on their differences.  And throughout there’s also the message about body image, self-worth and learning to love who you are.  The heart is what matters the most and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. 

If you’re looking for a historical romance filled with faith content, this is the book for you!  Ms. Goshorn has written a wonderful debut!

Content:  I would put this book in the edgy Christian fiction category and give it a PG-13 rating.  Some examples of the content are: the word Negro is used in historical context; mentions of a woman’s curves and bosom and a man trying not to look at them; a man smokes a cigar and another chews tobacco; men make alcohol and play poker; a bit of physical abuse; a man has slept with a woman he’s not married to; a man attempts to physically assault a woman; some scenes are a little steamy as the couple tries to resist temptation.

Rating: I give this book 4 stars!

Genre: Christian fiction; Historical; Romance

I want to thank Kelly Goshorn and Prism Book Group for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.


 


Author Bio: Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, received recognition as the winner of the 2015 COTT Olympia Contest and as a semi-finalist in the 2015 ACFW Genesis Contest. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever- after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 27 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

 You can connect with Kelly on:
Her website: http://kellygoshorn.com/
 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kelly.j.goshorn/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyGoshorn

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KellyGoshorn/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyjgoshorn/



Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Haunting and Evocative Dual-Timeline Romance--"Bellewether" by Susanna Kearsley--Review



Susanna Kearsley writes yet another lush saga in her newest novel Bellewether!  Ms. Kearsley has become an “auto buy” author for me ever since I discovered The Winter Sea a few years ago.  I love that these secular novels are fairly clean with such amazing writing.  I have devoured all of her work since and my only complaint is that this novel took so long to be released!

Ms. Kearsley includes evocative descriptions and the setting (an old house on Long Island, New York) is almost like a character in and of itself.  This is the type of story for when you want to sit back and be immersed in another time and place.  It is slower paced and Ms. Kearlsey takes her time describing particular settings and historical circumstances in minute detail.  But that richness of detail is one of the things her readers love about her books.

This is a dual-timeline novel, where one story takes place in the present and the other in the past; but both stories are connected.  The love stories are so romantic and they take so long to develop that you can feel the tension between the characters.  It’s also very touching how love builds between two people who can’t speak the same language.  The contemporary story reminds me a bit of Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls and their relationship.

There are so many great themes and messages that one can take away from reading Bellewether.  Both the present and past stories have similarities and echo these same themes.  Bellewether shows how wars can divide families, and deals with issues of slavery and racism.  There is an amazing message of not turning your back on your family, especially when they need you.  Bellewether also conveys the message of not dwelling on the past so much that you miss what’s in front of you and of learning to be happy with the life one’s been given.  I absolutely loved this story and recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and romance!
 
Content: This is a fairly clean read for a secular novel in this genre.  Overall, I would give it a PG-13 rating for some mild content.  Some examples of the content are: mention of men drinking ale; minor curse words are used; mention of a woman possibly drowning herself; men speak curses but the words aren’t actually written; people drink alcohol; a man struggles with what seems to be PTSD; a man beats a slave; the N word for an African American is used in historical context; mention of past sexual and physical abuse, but nothing is described in detail.
 
Rating: I give this book 5 stars!
 
Genre: Historical Fiction; Romance; Dual-Timeline
 
I want to thank NetGalley, Susanna Kearsley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.



 
 
About the Author:
 
I had the good fortune to be born into a family of readers. My mother was reading Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic when I was born, so it was perhaps no surprise that Mrs Stewart became my own favourite author.
 

I can’t remember when I began to put words on paper myself, but at seven - after reading Little Women and deciding that I wanted to be just like Jo - I started writing first chapters, and wrote continually through my teenage years. After studying politics and international development at university, I sidestepped into museum work and at the age of twenty-two became a curator.
 
In that same year, my sister dared me to stop writing first chapters and produce a book. I’d never been able to resist a dare! By the end of that summer I’d finished my first novel, and I was hooked. My ‘hobby’ had become a vocation.
 
I left the museum to waitress and write. Working mostly late at night, I wrote my second novel, Mariana, and submitted it to Transworld Publishers’ Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize competition. Four days before Christmas, I learned that I’d won. The very best of Christmas presents, and one that truly changed my life - not only the £10,000 prize, but major international publication of a book that continues to find its own life.
And more than twenty years later, I’m still feeling fortunate, doing the thing I love best...telling stories.


To purchase the book click here
To visit the author's website click here

Friday, August 3, 2018

Ms. Afshar paints a vivid picture of the Biblical time period!--"Thief of Corinth" by Tessa Afshar--Review




Beautiful.  Moving.  Fast paced. All the feels.  “The Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar is all these things and more!  I took two courses specifically on 1 and 2 Corinthians in college, so my heart has a special place for these books of the Bible.  Paul is also one of my favorite Bible characters, so I loved reading about him in this book as well!  Ms. Afshar truly makes first-century Corinth come alive!  She adds so much detail of the setting and time period that I could vividly picture this bustling city. 

Ms. Afshar uses a more edgy writing style and tries to be true to the time period by showing the good and bad.  Corinth was a very corrupt place.  I think Ms. Afshar does a good job of being realistic but not too graphic. 

I love that the story is told from a younger girl’s point of view (Ariadne) and reads more like a Young Adult novel, in my opinion.  But it can be enjoyed by young and old alike.  Ariadne faced a lot of rejection in her life and is part of a corrupt, fractured family, torn apart by divorce.  Even though the book takes place in Biblical times, teens and adults will find the themes very relevant today.  Some of these themes are family dynamics, searching for a parent’s approval, wanting to be popular, dysfunctional families and reconciliation.  I highly recommend this book!

Content:   This definitely falls in the edgy Christian fiction category.  I would give it a PG-13 rating.  See my above paragraph on my thoughts regarding the content.  Some examples of the content are:  a mention of men being drunk; men drink wine; a scene showing a slave girl has been raped; a mention of a child having been beaten; talk of prostitution at the temple of Aphrodite; talks about men competing in sports in the nude; a man committed suicide; mentions that people swear, but the word isn’t actually written.

Rating: I give this book a solid 5 stars!

Genre: Christian fiction; Biblical fiction; Historical

I want to thank Tessa Afshar and Tyndale House Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.




About the Author:
Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel, Land of Silence, was voted by Library Journal as one of five top Christian Fiction titles of 2016, and nominated for the 2016 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Inspirational Romance.

Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category.

Her book, Harvest of Rubies, was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category.

Her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, won her “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011.

Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever.

Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She serves on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being addicted to chocolate.

Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com or on Facebook at: facebook.com/AuthorTessaAfshar.

To purchase the book click here

Thursday, August 2, 2018

"By the Waters of Babylon" by Mesu Andrews Spotlight

 
Experience the psalms like never before - through heart-pounding fiction! 
 

When Babylon destroys Jerusalem, as Yahweh warned through his prophets, the captives' bitterness and grief pours out in the Captives' Psalm

 
"[By the rivers of Babylon] we sat as exiles, mourning our captivity, and wept with great love for Zion. Our music and mirth were no longer heard, only sadness. We hung up our harps on the willow trees." (Psalm 137:1-2, The Passion Translation)
A young Israelite woman is among them, captured by a mercenary Scythian prince. Driven toward Babylon by both hatred and hope, she endures captivity to reunite with her husband.
But will he be there when she reaches Babylon? Will the prince risk the Scythian throne--and his life--to believe in the Hebrew God? Can they both find what they seek when they meet the prophet Ezekial. . . by the waters of Babylon?”


AUTHOR BIO: MESU ANDREWS is the award-winning author of Love Amid the Ashes and numerous other novels including The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam. Her deep understanding of–and love for– God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband Roy and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.
 
To visit the author's website, click here

To purchase the novella click here, only $0.99 until after the first week of August!