Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The GENTLEMAN AND THE THIEF by Sarah M. Eden



ABOUT THE BOOK

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he's smitten. Even though he's from a wealthy, established family and she isn't, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father's business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced the family fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the "Phantom Fox." She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis's brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, but working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

REVIEW

Sarah Eden has a knack for great dialogue and great characters.  I think that's what I enjoy the most about her stories.  Hollis Darby and Ana Newport are both unusual characters, which made it delightful to read about them.  Hollis appears to be a gentleman in every way and yet he has interests and activities that upper level society would not approve of in the slightest.  He writes penny dreadfuls, printed stories that society considers "low" literature but which many people read and enjoy.  He also belongs to a secret society that works to help the poor and needy, especially those in trouble with a criminal mastermind known as the Mastiff.  Ana's family has fallen from grace as a result of her father's partner's misconduct.  She's turned to thievery in order to retrieve items of value to her that were stolen from her family after their fall.  It turns out that Hollis and Ana have more in common than either one imagined and their going to need each other in order to take down a dangerous gambling ring that endangers Hollis's family as well as others.

Sarah Eden has written a marvelous book with lots of fun interactions between the characters as well as shorter "penny dreadful" like stories mixed in with the Hollis's and Ana's story.  The settings are beautifully described and the characters are fascinating.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about this story is the fact that most of the characters aren't upper class.  Many of the regencies I've read focus on the upper classes.  It's nice to read one that focuses on the struggles and challenges of life for those who aren't well off.  Although it's heartbreaking as well to read about children being bought and sold and turned into thieves.  Sarah Eden has written another superb tale well worth reading again and again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY: 10 LITTLE DISCIPLES by Sierra Wilson

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ABOUT THE BOOK
 
Ten little disciples walking in a line.
One stops to lend a hand...
now there are nine!

Follow along as ten little disciples practice serving others and loving like Jesus in this rhyming, counting tale of true discipleship.
 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Sierra Wilson is the author of several books for children including I Can Be Like Jesus, The Atonement of Jesus Christ is for Me, and Standout Saints: Church History Heroes from Around the World. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her wonderful husband, four kids, two cats, two fish, and a bearded dragon. She loves hiking, skiing, working with children, and trying every day to be a better little disciple.

Social Media/Contact Info:
IG: @sierra.arts.poems
Twitter: @SierraTWilson
 
REVIEW
 
This adorable picture book not only teaches counting down from 10 to 0, but also demonstrates in a sweet way what a disciple of Jesus Christ looks like in terms of following his teachings.  The text runs smoothly and makes for easy reading.  The illustrations show the disciples on their journey as one by one they stop to help people along the way.  Eventually they meet up again to listen to the Savior teach.  This is a cute book, perfect for helping children learn about what following Jesus Christ really means.  Several scriptures describing some of Jesus' teachings are included at the end.
 
PURCHASE LINKS
 
 
GIVEAWAY
 
 
TOUR SCHEDULE
 
August 12th - My Book a Day
August 14th - Heidi Reads
August 16th - Bookworm Lisa
August 17th - Geo Librarian
August 18th - Rachelle Christensen
August 19th - Books are Sanity
August 20th - Singing Librarian Books
August 23rd - Life is What it's Called
  

 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

AN ENGAGEMENT OF SORTS: A Regency Romance by Alene Wecker

An Engagement of Sorts


ABOUT THE BOOK

Much to her mother's dismay, spirited Anne Fletcher spent her youth seeking her father's approval by hunting and riding. More comfortable in breeches than ball gowns, Anne sees the freedoms she once enjoyed slowly taken from her in the name of fashioning her into an eligible young lady. When her parents try to force her into marriage, Anne makes a desperate attempt to salvage her last vestige of independence. If she is to marry, she will do so on her own terms.

Anne strikes a deal: if she cannot secure a man for herself, she will agree to marry the husband her parents approved. She soon finds herself in the last place she would every choose—that stifling parade of etiquette, the London Season. Anne's plan is in motion. Now all she needs is a man willing to masquerade as her fiancĂ©.

REVIEW

An Engagement of Sorts presents readers with an enjoyable story that manages to blend serious issues with plenty of humor.  The two main characters carried the story with their unique characters and interactions.  The plot proved to be compelling and thoughtful at the same time.

Anne, the heroine, is a spirited young woman who has been told her whole life that she isn't good enough. Her mother considers her a trial and constantly tells her reign in her emotions.  After a lifetime of criticism, Anne has determined never to marry.  Her friend, Will, the local vicar, however, has other plans. He wants to marry her and goes to her father and gets permission to marry her without talking to her first.  Anne, in desperation, makes a deal with Will.  If she can't find a man in London within a month's time, she will return and marry him.  Meanwhile, she also has to deal with the offensive attentions of Mr. Smith, an acquaintance of her father's.

Several encounters with a colorful Mr. Thomas Paling add to Anne's stress.  His constant flirtations mask his fondness for her and her antics.  Desperation leads Anne to confide in the man and his suggestion of a false engagement is her only hope of preventing Mr. Smith from causing further harm to her and her friends and family.

One of my favorite aspects of the story is the humorous interactions between Anne and Thomas.  Her spiritedness combined with his delightful sense of humor and flirtatiousness make for a very entertaining combination.  And yet the two also come to understand each other through some serious conversations as well.  I especially like the fact that Thomas sees Anne as a person worth paying attention to, which Anne herself appreciates as well.

Issues related to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse run throughout the story which unfortunately would have been very common at the time.  Anne's helplessness in the face of horrible threats induced a great deal of sympathy in me.  The fact that women of the time had little recourse is rather sickening.  

Overall, the story is well-told with lighter, entertaining scenes mixed in with the more serious, intense scenes.  An emotional story that takes the reader from laughter to anger and back again.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

HISTORICAL (time-traveling) ROMANCE BOOK REVIEW : Time's Dagger by Margot Hovley

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ABOUT THE BOOK

After a rough stint at work in the ER, Dillon Kelly is more than a little ready for a vacation when he packs his bags and sets off on a camping trip in the wilds of Ireland. But when a mysterious dagger covered in druidic markings appears in his backpack, Dillon finds himself hurtled into the fourteenth century. Thrust into the legends and politics of ancient Ireland, he is rescued from suspicious locals by a beautiful young woman named Ailish.

Ailish has always dreamed of being a bard, but there’s just one problem: women aren’t allowed. Determined to follow her heart, Ailish has fooled everyone into thinking she’s a boy—everyone, that is, except for Dillon. He’s agreed to keep her secret in exchange for her help in finding his way home to his own time. Despite the impossible barriers between them, feelings beyond friendship soon blossom. But more than just their budding romance is in danger. Ailish isn’t the only one who recognizes the dagger’s druidic significance, and there are those who would stop at nothing to harness its time-bending powers.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Hovley grew up a country kid in Washington State, where she filled the tedious hours of farm chores with an overactive imagination. She loves her work with her church’s international magazines, but fiction writing is her favorite creative outlet. Time’s Dagger is her third published full-length novel. She lives in northern Utah at the foot of her beloved mountains, where she chases chickens and grandchildren and teaches piano to the somewhat willing. Helping run the family business is hectic, but she loves working with her husband, Art, and several of the Hovley children. How she finds time for writing is both a miracle and a mystery.

REVIEW

Time travel can be a tricky plot device to get right.  It combines fictional science or magic (depending on the approach) with history and is difficult to make believable.  That's why I don't read a lot of stories involving time travel.  When I started reading this one though I was immediately intrigued.  Dillon makes a great sympathetic character who is tired and frustrated with his life and travels with his brother to Ireland for a holiday of backpacking and enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside.  What he doesn't expect is to be called to a hospital where a total stranger calls him by name and insists he take a dagger.  Leaving the dagger behind, Dillion is later surprised to find it in his backpack.  He shrugs off the strange encounter until a nap under a tree next to the dagger sends him back in time to the fourteenth century.  There he runs into Ailish, an Irish lass, who is disguised as a boy so she can pursue her dream of being a druidic bard.  When she sees the Druidic markings on his dagger she immediately wants her Druid teacher to see it.  She also hopes to convince her teacher to keep teaching her once he finds out she is a woman.

Things get complicated though when Ailish must take Dillon back to the castle where she works as a bard, and Dillon meets and befriends the son of a baron, whose life he saved.  Dillon isn't comfortable in this time period and he hopes Ailish's teacher can help him figure out how to get home.  But with the man away from home, he and Ailish must wait for his return.  In the meantime, things take a turn as Dillon and Ailish's feelings take a turn for the romantic.  And it turns out that Dillion has shared a little too much information with the wrong person putting both him and Ailish at risk.

In addition to the sweet romance and fun time confusion that Dillon experiences, the historical details are fascinating.  The natural scenery that Hovley describes made me want to visit the time and place (not the castle or society so much).  The author includes enough details to give the reader a feel for the difference in time and place that Dillon experiences as well as the life that Ailish has lived.  But there aren't so many details that the story gets bogged down.

Dillon and Ailish are great characters who find themselves connecting strongly despite the rather large differences between them.  When it comes to time travel stories, romances can always be a bit tricky.  I mean does the person from the future stay in the past, the person from the past travel to the future?  Or are the pair doomed to be separated forever?  So I was curious to see how the romance played out.  I'll admit I was a bit surprised by the way the story turns out, but it works for this particular story.  

The supernatural elements introduced throughout the story made the time travel elements acceptable and suitable for the story.  I enjoyed this quick read, especially the humor of future technology and knowledge in the past as well as the romance and historical details.  The author does a fine job creating an entertaining, enjoyable story for those looking to escape our own time for a short read.

GIVEAWAY




Tuesday, May 18, 2021

A PROPER ROMANCE : Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson

 Isabelle and Alexander
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father's coal mines with Alexander Osgood's prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

REVIEW

This tender story of growing love in the face of tragic and difficult circumstances touched my heart in a lot of ways.  Isabelle knows little about her new husband other than that he runs a successful mill and there marriage will benefit both him and her father.  She hopes over time that she and Alexander can form a good relationship.  What she didn't expect was his cold politeness and feelings constantly alone in a polluted and unknown city.  Her only solace is the friendship she strikes up with the wife and daughter of one of Alexander's business managers.  But after a trip to the countryside results in a terrible accident that leaves him unable to move much things get even more complicated.  Isabelle's efforts to help to husband as well as find a place for herself in her new home made for compelling reading.  Isabelle's goodness made her easy to cheer for as she tried to establish a relationship with her husband.  Alexander is hard to connect with at first until, through Isabelle's eyes, I started to see the reasons for his behavior.  The couple's struggles with both Alec's injury and the other consequences of it made for a thoroughly engaging read.  I appreciated the details about Manchester and the mill business as well. Those kind of historical details helped the story come to life in a vivid way.  All in all a delightful, sympathetic romance with the kind of details and emotion that I enjoy.

 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

HISTORICAL ROMANCE BOOK REVIEW : A PROPER SCOUNDREL by Esther Hatch

 A Proper Scoundrel
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 

His scandals were right on track until she derailed everything.

As the successful owner of multiple railroad lines, Diana Barton is all too accustomed to fending off suitors seeking to stake their claim on her wealth. In order to keep the wolves at bay, Diana has contrived the perfect plan: appeal to the most notorious rake in London, the Baron Lord Bryant, to ruin her reputation and scare off the worst of the time wasters. The ruse will be no hardship she's secretly been fascinated by the man for years.

Lord Bryant is well aware of his questionable reputation. Indeed, he has cultivated the image carefully, and the last thing he wants is a wife. But when he's approached by the younger sister of a business associate, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he cannot help. However, when he sees for himself what she is up against, Bryant grudgingly offers his assistance. Faced with his most complicated entanglement yet, Bryant is firm in his conditions and Diana knows that to get romantically involved with Bryant would spell certain heartbreak. But as the counterfeit couple grow ever closer, the line between truth and lies becomes blurred, threatening both Lord Bryant's well-laid plans and the future of Diana's railroad business.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Esther Hatch grew up on a cherry orchard in rural Utah. After high school, she alternated living in Russia to teach children English and attending Brigham Young University in order to get a degree in archaeology. She began writing when one of her favorite authors invited her to join a critique group. The only catch was she had to be a writer. Not one to be left out of an opportunity to socialize and try something new; she started on her first novel that week. 
 
REVIEW
 
Diana Barton's efforts to run two railroad lines are being thwarted by a stream of gentleman callers who want to court and marry her to gain control of the railroad lines.  In frustrations, Diana decides that a ruined reputation is the way to get these men to leave her alone.  After Lord Bryant, a well-known local scoundrel and rake, refuses to assist her, Diana goes ahead and starts using Lord Bryant's name.  To her delight her efforts seem to be working, except against one particularly determined gentleman.  Things become complicated however when Lord Bryant shows up at her office wanting to know what is going on.  After some persuasion Lord Bryant agrees to help but only behind the scenes.  He doesn't want their antics to get in the way of his efforts with Lady Emily.  But things seem to go awry from the beginning as Diana and Lord Bryant seem to enjoy each other's company more than they should.  But is it wise to get attached to a man who has ruined so many other women?

Diana and Everton's (Lord Bryant) love story is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining one.  I couldn't help but smile as I read of Diana and Everton's many rather unusual, and amusing, encounters.  Neither character fits particularly well into the society of the time (Regency period).  After his horrible first marriage, Everton has gone out of his way to shock and horrify society and hide behind the mask of a rake.  Diana, as a woman, is running two railroad companies very competently.  Everton is used to charming all the women he meets.  But Diana knows what she wants and Everton discovers it's not so easy to turn her down.  I especially enjoyed this book because it feels fresh and different, especially as Diana is not really looking for a husband and Everton has decided to never marry again.  All in all I really enjoyed the witty banter and back and forth between the two main characters.  The other plot lines involving the railroad, Diana's brother, and Lady Emily made for some interesting reading as well. Highly recommended.
 
GIVEAWAY
 
 

 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

FOREVER, PHOEBE : a regency romance by Chalon Linton

 Forever, Phoebe
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
At the dignified age of eighteen, Phoebe Jamison knows she should behave in a manner befitting her station, as her three loving elder brothers often tease. Unfortunately, the lively young woman has a personality every bit as fiery as her red hair, a fact brought to her attention in the criticism made by the gentle man she has long pined for. But not every man is of the opinion that a woman should be decorous above all else. The newest resident of Somerset, Mr. Franklin Everly, is considered a most eligible bachelor, and he is immediately drawn to Phoebe's spirited nature as he becomes acquainted with the delightful Jamison siblings of Primly Park.

Franklin embarks on a friendship with Phoebe that quickly deepens into a warm and thrilling connection. But even as he fights for Phoebe's attentions, a very real danger is revealed: girls in neighboring villages have gone missing, and the kidnapper is moving ever closer to Primly Park. Despite the guard of her fiercely protective brothers and Franklin, Phoebe must rely on her own strength when she finds herself in the sights of the Bride Snatcher.
 
REVIEW

Phoebe Jamison's personality reflects as brightly as her red hair.  And Mr. Franklin Everly takes immediate notice of that after he arrives in Somerset to take over the property he has inherited.  Phoebe enjoys Mr. Everly's company but she has other things on her mind.  There's a kidnapper in the area stealing young ladies.  In addition, the oldest of Phoebe's three brothers is showing more interest than he should in Phoebe's best friend, Hannah. Phoebe's crush on her brothers' friend, Mr. Mason prevents Phoebe from recognizing Mr. Everly's interest until he expresses a desire to court her.  Phoebe finds herself caught between her old feelings for Mr. Mason and her growing affection for Mr. Everly.  Just as she's figuring out her feelings, she comes face to face with the Bride Snatcher.

Linton's characters shine through the story in a delightful way.  I especially enjoyed Phoebe's and Franklin's interactions.  Her spirit and boldness balance nicely with his good humor and kindness.  Phoebe's brothers also made for enjoyable reading with affection and sibling rivalry a plenty.  And the loyalty between Phoebe and her best friend ends up saving them both.  With plenty of action and enjoyable interactions between the characters, the book makes for a page-turning read.  In addition to the romantic tension, the background suspense related to the kidnapper carries through the story until all the plot lines come to the climax, leading to a bit of a surprise ending. Linton has created a winner of a book with fun characters, an interesting plot, and a great setting.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

MISSIONARY : IMPOSSIBLE, The Game by Aspen Books


 
ABOUT THE GAME
 
A delightful game for the entire family. More than 20 years after its initial release, this LDS card game continues to entertain members from ages 8 to adult.
 
REVIEW
 
Missionary: Impossible provides a chance for 2 to 6 players to pretend to be missionaries who face trials, make use of blessings as they strive to make it through 100 weeks.  The game recommends 4 to 6 players so that companionships can be formed. The goal is for companions to work together to overcome trials and complete 100 weeks of service.  Companionships also work to interfere with the opposing companionship's efforts by giving them trials. Trials can be overcome through use of appropriate blessing, transfer, or golden contact cards.  Four rounds are played and points are gathered along the way.  A fun game aimed at members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE : One the Run by Traci Hunter Abramson

 On the Run
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
As one of the top investigative journalists in the nation, Elle Jameson has a knack for uncovering the truth. So when a promising lead points to corruption on a German military base, Elle anticipates a straightforward assignment. But then she stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy beyond anything she's faced before, and her scrutiny does not go unnoticed. She knows too much, and she can't be allowed to live. With no idea where to turn for help, she does the only thing she can: she runs.

The guardians, an elite team of undercover agents, have one job: safeguard those under their protection. As a new guardian, Nolan has just received his first solo assignment to help a young woman who just survived an assassination attempt. Within minutes of making contact with the beautiful journalist, however, their location is discovered. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse spanning the globe as the two work to stay ahead of a determined assassin. Nolan fights to buy Elle time to complete her investigation, and what she discovers is a plot that threatens the very fabric of America. In a desperate race against evil, Nolan and Elle are the only ones who can prevent global catastrophe.

REVIEW 

As in her other Guardian novels, Abramson tells a tale of suspense and romance.  This book in the series of novels about a secret organization whose job is to protect the United States and its governmental entities, tells the story of an investigative journalist who is sent undercover by her general uncle and stumbles on a plot to steal and use a stealth drone.  After an ally is murdered, Elle goes on the run where she meets up with Nolan, a guardian whose identity has been erased.  As the two struggle to stay alive and unravel an increasing complicated conspiracy, they develop feelings for each other.  Can they accomplish their mission and foil the plot or will their lives be forfeit?  And even if they survive what kind of life could they hope to have together?  Abramson has done a fine job creating interesting characters and a compelling plot. The twists and turns kept me turning the pages while I found it easy to empathize with the characters.  A fine read for those who enjoy a nice dose of romance with their suspense.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Latter-day Saint NONFICTION : Standout Saints by Sierra Wilson



ABOUT THE BOOK

From prophets to pioneers, from songwriters to scientists, Standout Saints: Church History Heroes from Around the World presents the fascinating true stories of twenty women and twenty men from Church history. Each one-page biography describes impressive achievements and shares stories of great faith. Readers will encounter well-known and beloved Saints such as Joseph Smith and Eliza R. Snow along with lesser-known heroes from around the world such as Hu Wei-I, who miraculously translated the Book of Mormon into Chinese, and Mere Mete Whaanga, a prominent Maori woman who helped the Church spread into New Zealand. In addition, Standout Saints includes uplifting quotes, a Church history timeline, and resources for further study.

The courage and faith of these Saints made them stand out from the world, and this educational and inspiring book helps young readers know that they too can stand out.

PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sierra Wilson is a children's author/illustrator living in Alberta, Canada. She wrote The Atonement of Jesus Christ is for Me and I Can Be Like Jesus as well as several other books for children soon to be released. Before turning to writing, Sierra worked as a high school English and history teacher. She is the daughter of two modern-day pioneers and loves researching about pioneers and faithful heroes of all kinds. When she's not writing, you can find her adventuring with her husband and four children, cross-country skiing, or eating all the chocolate.

Social Media Links:

www.sierrawilsonauthor.com

www.facebook.com/sierrawilsonwrites

@sierra.arts.poems (IG)

@SierraTWilson (Twitter)

www.pinterest.com/sierrasunflower/boards/

REVIEW

This well-written, and beautifully designed book shares the stories of 40 Latter-day Saints.  Each two page spread shares a few paragraphs describing the person and some of his/her experiences along with a beautifully constructed portrait.  Each portrait includes several images related to his/her experiences.  The saints included are both well-known and less well-known, including men and women and individuals from multiple ethnicities.  I appreciated the variety of individuals included in the book, some I knew and some I didn't.  I appreciated the reminder of the faith and courage that these individuals lived throughout their lives.  Not only is this a great read for adults, but a great resource for family home evenings in teaching children about the history of the church and the examples of saints throughout the years.  Recommended.

GIVEAWAY

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