“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

Friday, October 22, 2021

Beautiful "Ugly Duckling" Retelling--"Castle of Refuge" by Melanie Dickerson—Review


 


My Review

"Castle of Refuge" by Melanie Dickerson is the second book in the “Dericott Tales” series. This is a young adult “Ugly Duckling” retelling. I was very excited to read more about one of my favorite side characters in the first book of the series, Edwin.  

Audrey and Edwin are the main characters of this story. I really appreciated that this tale includes someone with scars (Audrey has a deformity), someone physically disabled (Edwin lost one arm) and someone who struggles with a mental disability (Audrey’s sister).  It is wonderful to follow along with Edwin and Audrey and see how they grieve and learn to live with their scars and deformities.  One does not see a lot of main characters with disabilities.

Besides overcoming hardships, the characters also encounter adventure, danger and romance.  I love the faith aspects in Dickerson’s books and how the characters truly rely on and grow in their faith.  The lessons are always so beautiful.  Edwin wrestles with blaming and being angry with God for the bad things that happened to him.  He realizes God does not cause evil, but may have plans to use it in ways we cannot understand.  God brings the beautiful from the ugly.  Audrey learns scars are what make her beautiful--the things she has overcome and how she stayed gentle and kind despite it all. 

As with all Melanie’s books, I think readers of middle grade and young adult novels will love this newest addition. It’s a fun, clean, faith-filled and heartwarming adventure!

Content: I give this book a PG rating.  Some examples of the content are:  there is an emotionally and physically abusive and mentally ill sister; people drink ale; a girl was physically abused in the past; mention of the devil and of being possessed by a demon; mention of a large-busted woman; mention of other masters taking advantage of their servants; mention of a concubine.

Rating: I give this book 5 stars.

I want to thank Melanie Dickerson 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

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

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Promising New Series by Beloved Author--"Court of Swans" by Melanie Dickerson---Review

 


My Review

“Court of Swans” by Melanie Dickerson is the first installment in her new fairy tale retelling series called “The Dericott Tales.”  This book is a retelling of “The Wild Swans.”  You do not need to be familiar with the tale to enjoy this sweet story.  

This story seems to be aimed mostly for the middle grade and young adult audience, but I also enjoyed it as an adult.  It is a plot-driven, quest type tale.  Our main character, Delia, must rescue her falsely accused brothers before they are killed.  I love the focus on the sibling relationships in this story and how much Delia will do for the love of her brothers.  Delia is very brave as she faces many obstacles.  She learns to be strong and courageous and to rely on God.  In the treacherous palace, she must find out who is her friend and who is her foe.  Who can she trust?  Both Delia and the other main character, Sir Geoffrey, are brave and put themselves in danger to do what is right and just.  They also pray and wrestle with the question of why God allows injustice.  I found the pacing of the story to be a little slow at times, but it is still a great read.

I love the lessons that can be taken away from this fun, wholesome read.  A big lesson the characters must learn is that sometimes God does not take away trials, but that He does walk with us through them.  Delia and Geoffrey learn about not judging others, justice, and that God is the ultimate authority.  They must learn that they have a choice as to how they respond to unfair things in life.  I love how Ms. Dickerson incorporates faith and lessons into her stories.  

Content: I give this book a PG rating.  Some examples of the content are: mention of paramours and of a man who violated a woman; some men are drunk; mention of alcohol; a man accosts a woman with the intent of raping her but is not successful and nothing really happens; someone curses, but the words are not actually written.
 
Rating: I give this book 4 stars.

I want to thank Melanie Dickerson 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

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



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Sweet Tea and Southern Charm--"Vixen's Diner" by Penny McIntosh—Review

 


My review:

"Vixen's Diner" by Penny McIntosh is “full of sweet tea, Southern charm and romance” (Goodreads).  I could not have said it better myself. Ms. McIntosh writes a contemporary romance with some magical realism.  The story takes place in a small Southern town.  I love the premise.  In the beginning, we meet Granny, who previously owned the family diner.  She wants Emmy to live the life Granny wanted for her and to not repeat the same mistakes of her ancestors.  She desires for Emmy to be strong and brave.  The only problem is Granny is dead and does not know how to contact Emmy. 

Throughout the story we watch as Emmy navigates life without her grandmother and is trying to run the family diner on her own.  We follow Emmy as she grows, makes choices and figures out who she is and what she wants in life.  Also, if you are into “book boyfriends,” I think you will really like Nick. 

Emmy learns some lessons along the way about not letting the past control her and that she has a choice in how she lives her life.  Be sure to read the special edition if you are sensitive to content.  There are some more serious themes in "Vixen's Diner,” especially surrounding a past boyfriend who is abusive and displays stalker-like behavior.  It is unsettling to read about his thoughts at times.  Overall, I really enjoyed this charming, nostalgic read!  I would recommend "Vixen's Diner" to anyone who enjoys Southern stories, romance, and contemporary women’s fiction. 

Content:  I give this book a PG-13 rating.  Be sure to read the special edition if you are sensitive to content.  Some examples of the content are: a woman is in an abusive relationship; women get pregnant and have children out of wedlock; the words “hell,” “sh*t,” “a**hole,” “b*tch,” and “da*n” are used; a woman is raped, but the book doesn’t go into detail; there is mention of losing one’s virginity; a man has an affair; sexual innuendos; the Lord’s name is taken in vain; characters drink alcohol and get drunk; there is a scene with a little foreplay.

Rating:  I give this book 5 stars!

I bought this book with my own money.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.


About the Author:


Penny McIntosh is a stay at wife, and mom of three. She has a degrees in Religious Studies and Teaching, and has always been drawn to the mystical and the unknown (something she tries to incorporate into all her books). She is an avid reader, and finds that the silence of the twilight hours offers the most inspiration for writing.

To purchase the book click here (make sure to get the special edition if you are sensitive to content)
To visit the author's website click here

Thursday, December 10, 2020

"An Ivy Hill Christmas" by Julie Klassen Blog Tour (Review) & GIVEAWAY!

 



About the Book


BookAn Ivy Hill Christmas

Author: Julie Klassen

Genre: Christmas Historical Romance

Release Date: September, 2020

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents many surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled–and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, and joyous songs, change his heart . . . and hers as well?

 

Click here to get your copy!


My Review

“An Ivy Hill Christmas” by Julie Klassen is a companion novella to her “Tales from Ivy Hill” trilogy.  It can also be read as a standalone.  I have absolutely loved her “Tales from Ivy Hill” novels!  They remind me of the show “Lark Rise to Candleford” or any show with a small, English village set in the country where all the residents know one another.  I became so invested in Ms. Klassen’s characters that I was so delighted to hear I would be able to visit Ivy Hill once more through this novella.  

This book is everything a lover of Regency stories would want in a Christmas novella.  It includes all the traditions and customs of the time and just has that “olde Christmas” feel to it.  I was delighted to once again meet some of my favorite characters and get to know some new ones.  My Jane Austen loving heart was excited to pick up hints or nods to “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma” throughout Ms. Klassen’s novella.  Of course, Ms. Klassen always includes beautiful sentiments and lessons.  This story has lessons on forgiveness and on learning that a person is valuable and significant just as they are.

The characters of “An Ivy Hill Christmas” are well done, and I did not feel like the story was too rushed, as is often the case with novellas.  I especially love Richard, our main character.  I appreciated his transformation from a bit of a “bad boy” bachelor to a sweet and caring man.  Of course, there is romance and a bit of a love triangle as well.  I honestly went back and forth on who I wanted Richard to end up with.  

I invite you to grab some mulled cider, your favorite blanket, start a warm fire and cozy up with this book.  You will be transported to an idyllic country village during a 19th century Christmas.

Happy Christmas!

Content:  This book is pretty much a clean read.  Some examples of the content are: people drink alcohol and smoke pipes; someone curses, but the words aren’t actually written; mention of a woman’s bosom; a man had a mistress; a person has a past of sleeping with women before marriage; a boy is physically abused.

Rating:  I give this book 5 Christmas bells.

I want to thank Julie Klassen, Bethany House, NetGalley and Celebrate Lit 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

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time. Her novels have sold over 1 million copies, and three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and a Christian Retailing‘s Best Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

More from Julie

My fascination with England began as a girl when I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, and watched A Christmas Carol. I have now been to Great Britain several times, and my affection for the place has only grown. I love the country villages with their stone buildings and thatched roofs, the narrow, winding roads (though not driving on them), the ancient churches, friendly people, plummy accents, and history. Writing fifteen novels set there has been a real pleasure.

An Ivy Hill Christmas includes all the elements of an idyllic Olde English yuletide: A charming village setting, snowfall, mistletoe, caroling, gifts for less fortunate neighbors, and festive gatherings of friends and family. I thoroughly enjoyed researching 19th century Christmas traditions and weaving them into this novella.

In the story, a confirmed bachelor is determined to remain aloof from the celebrations going on around him—and from his mother’s matchmaking schemes. But divine hope, friendship, and unexpected romance change his heart…and his mind.  I love a transformation story; don’t you?

If you’ve read the TALES FROM IVY HILL series, you will enjoy returning to the village and spending time with favorite characters. But rest assured, the novella is a standalone, meaning you can enjoy it whether or not you’ve read the other books, as these reviews attest:

“[A] standalone novella that not only beautifully captures the kindness, hope, love, and faith of Christmas but also skillfully evokes the period holiday atmosphere of Regency England.”  —Booklist

“This feel-good tale of love and redemption will delight Klassen’s fans and new readers alike.” Publishers Weekly

And if you like the novella, I think you will like the other books as well. An Ivy Hill Christmas would also make a lovely gift for a reading friend.

Finally, if you want to add a British flair to your own modern-day celebrations, buy (or make) mince tarts or Christmas pudding, place Christmas “crackers” (pull-apart gift tubes) on your table and wear the included paper crowns. Refer to Father Christmas instead of Santa; and instead of “Merry,” wish everyone a hearty, “Happy Christmas.”

Happy Christmas!

 

Blog Stops

Through the Lens of Scripture, November 30

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 30

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 30

Christian Bookaholic, November 30

Andrea Christenson, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 1

KarenSueHadley, December 1

Robin’s Nest, December 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 1

Blessed & Bookish, December 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 2

Mia Reads, December 2

Wishful Endings, December 3

lakesidelivingsite, December 3

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

For Him and My Family, December 3

Just Your Average reviews, December 3

She Lives To Read, December 4

Remembrancy, December 4

deb’s Book Review, December 4

Writing from the Heart Land, December 4

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 5

Quiet Workings, December 5

Blogging With Carol, December 5

Spoken from the Heart, December 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 6

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 6

Connect in Fiction, December 6

Artistic Nobody, December 6 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Worthy2Read, December 7

Genesis 5020, December 7

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 7

Life of Literature, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Connie’s History Classroom, December 8

Batya’s Bits, December 8

Labor Not in Vain, December 8

Hallie Reads, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 9

Older & Smarter?, December 9

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 9

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 9

Betti Mace, December 9

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10

Faery Tales Are Real, December 10

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 10

Mary Hake, December 10

Daysong Reflections, December 11

Bigreadersite, December 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 11

Splashes of Joy, December 11

Vicky Sluiter, December 12

To Everything There Is A Season, December 12

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 12

Blossoms and Blessings, December 12

The Write Escape, December 12

A Baker’s Perspective, December 13

Bizwings Blog, December 13

Simple Harvest Reads, December 13 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Pause for Tales, December 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Julie is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of An Ivy Hill Christmas and the other three books in the Ivy Hill series, plus the winner’s choice of Bingley’s Tea!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103f5/an-ivy-hill-christmas-celebration-tour-giveaway

Friday, November 20, 2020

An Ode to the Motherhood Journey--"Reflection of Me" by Penny McIntosh—Review

 

My review:

"Reflection of Me" by Penny McIntosh is a contemporary novel sprinkled with magical realism.  From the exciting opening, Ms. McIntosh instantly drew me into her novel.  The main character, Callie, is a wife and mother who is feeling unappreciated and struggling with her role in life and with her marriage.  She is given the chance to see her future and what she will become if she does not change her ways.  It’s fascinating to see how things play out.  I love the touches of magical realism and there are definitely some surprises along the way!  Ms. McIntosh masterfully portrays the emotions that many stay-at-home moms feel.  

You don’t have to be a mom to relate to Callie’s life and struggles.  Part of the story is about her journey as a mom and a wife.  Callie must learn to find peace and joy from within.  She has shut people out and kept them from helping her.  Can she learn to let people back in before it is too late?  Or is she destined to become the person the mirror portrays?  What if you were shown the future?  Do you think you would be able to fix things and change the outcome?  Find out what happens to Callie!  This book kept me turning the pages to find out what became of Callie and in the end it encouraged me to not take my husband for granted, to seek peace and joy within and make sure I am present in each moment of each day.  

Make sure to get the special edition that has all the “F” words removed if you are sensitive to language.

Content:  I give this book a PG-13 rating.  Some examples of the content are: a woman commits suicide; the Lord’s name is taken in vain; words “as*,” “bi*ch,” “sh*t,” “hell,” and “da*n” are used; a character drinks alcohol; a quick fade to black scene of a married couple

Rating:  I give this book 5 stars!

I bought this book with my own money.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.


About the Author:


Penny McIntosh is a stay at wife, and mom of three. She has a degrees in Religious Studies and Teaching, and has always been drawn to the mystical and the unknown (something she tries to incorporate into all her books). She is an avid reader, and finds that the silence of the twilight hours offers the most inspiration for writing.

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

Friday, October 30, 2020

A Unique and Lyrical Story! --"The Love Note" by Joanna Davidson Politano—Review

 

My review:

Have you ever felt a story is so beautiful that it touches your soul?  "The Love Note" by Joanna Davidson Politano is one of those stories.  I still cannot find adequate words to fully do this book justice.

I love how unique Ms. Politano’s books are.  This one is a standalone.  You can really tell the author wrote this story with God, letting the Spirit guide her.  There are so many nuggets of divine truth throughout.  This book is not your normal love story; although, there is a mysterious love note that is passed around to the people living in a house that the main character, Willa, is working at.  I loved seeing how the note affected, touched and changed each person who received it.  This is a house devoid of love, but slowly things change because of one note and one persistent nurse (Willa).  This book speaks not just about new love; but broken love, lost love and stale love.  I love this quote from a member of the household: “When you truly love someone, you find what’s good about them and say it.  It’s all a matter of where you focus.”

This is a story about the cracks in people’s lives and how the love note brings out different things in each person.  It’s also about how only God can truly fill those cracks.  I also recognized how this love letter can be symbolic of God’s love letter to us through His Word.  If we truly allow ourselves to believe what He says about us and imagine ourselves as He sees us, then our whole life and outlook can change.  

I highly recommend this book and author!  Prepare to be deeply moved and encouraged.

Content: I give this book a PG rating.  Some examples of the content are: an allusion to prostitution; alcohol is mentioned; talk of someone being illegitimate; mention of a baby born out of wedlock.

Rating:  I give this book 5 stars.  

I want to thank Joanna Davidson Politano and Revell 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’m a work-from-home mom of two fun and adventurous littles and we’ll soon be homeschooling. I married my hero Vince, who is my love and my polar opposite. I write, he tears it up with the red pen. I break cars and other mechanical things, he puts them back together. He’s nailed the “speak the truth” thing, and I bring the “in love” part. But the real spark to our marriage is that he does not like chocolate and I…  like it a normal amount. We love and live from our little house in the woods near Lake Michigan.

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

Friday, October 23, 2020

Intrigue, Romance and Magic! --"The Camelot Betrayal" by Kiersten White—Review

 



My Review

I am a sucker for anything related to Camelot and King Arthur; and just a good retelling in general.  “The Camelot Betrayal” by Kiersten White is both of those things.  It is book two in the “Camelot Rising” trilogy.  I would recommend reading these books in order.  I loved the first two and am now dying for the third installment!

“The Camelot Betrayal” is really Guinevere’s story.  I think the first book, “The Guinevere Deception,” set up a lot of things for the rest of the series.  In “The Camelot Betrayal," Ms. White zeroes in on Guinevere and the path she takes.  I found the beginning to be a little more slowly paced than I prefer, but then it really gets going, right up to the mind-blowing ending (and I still need answers!)!

Guinevere must make a lot of hard choices and find her place as a queen and a witch.  She really grapples with balancing those two things and finding herself and her place in the world.  At first, I was upset by and frustrated with some of her choices.  But I think that is the point and Guinevere has to learn some hard lessons.  She struggles with whether she should use her magic, even if it will hurt others.  Is she just like Merlin?  She does not feel like she belongs—either as queen or even in Camelot.  There are a lot of twists that will keep you guessing as to what will happen next.  There is also a bit of a love triangle and I am interested to see how it plays out.  

If you love historical fiction, Arthurian legend and retellings, you will want to grab a copy of "The Camelot Betrayal!”

Content:  I give this book a PG-13 rating.  Some examples of the content are: LGBT characters; sexual innuendos; words “da*n,” “hell,” “bastard” and “sh*t” are used; people are drunk; people consume alcohol.

Rating:  I give this book 5 stars.

I want to thank Kiersten White, Delacorte Press and NetGalley 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

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling and Bram Stoker award-winning author of the And I Darken trilogy, the Paranormalcy trilogy, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth FrankensteinSlayerThe Guinevere Deception, and many other novels. Kiersten lives with her family in sunny San Diego, California, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.


To purchase the book click here