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March 26 2016 7 26 /03 /March /2016 22:10

 

    Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray is the third book in the "Chicago World's Fair Mystery" series.  I have not read the other two books in this series but found that it works quite well as a stand-alone.  In fact, this is my first book by this author.  I'd been eyeing it for my "to-read" list, because I LOVE the title.  I think it sounds so mysterious! I love the cover also.  I received this book from the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild which I am a part of, under the condition that I read and review it.

 

     The book is set in the late 1800s in Chicago, but I didn't really find any aspects of the "World's Fair" in it.  Lydia Bancroft is a librarian who loves her job, especially the people-watching aspect of it! Her favorite person to watch is an intimidating-looking man who always stops in the library, everyday, and reads, but never gets a library card and checks anything out.

 

     Sebastian Marks is a lucrative saloon owner.  He grew up the son of a prostitute, and he has respect enough for women to not employ them in his saloon for the same job as his mother, but he has very little in the way of compassion.  He's had to make his own upbringing, education, and friends through reading.  He is intrigued by Lydia but knows he could never become entangled with her.  He doesn't want to drag her into his dark world; he has enough enemies, and he couldn't bear to see Lydia hurt.

 

     I loved this book! It kept me hanging throughout it.  The characters were unique and made me compassionate for them, and there were plenty of twists and turns.  As a book lover, I enjoyed reading a book about another book lover from a different time.

 

     Thank you so much to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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March 20 2016 1 20 /03 /March /2016 23:40

 

    Undaunted Hope is the third book in the "Beacons of Hope" trilogy...except I saw recently that there will be a fourth book so it's not really a trilogy!! Eek! I'm so excited.  So anyway, this is by Jody Hedlund and published by Bethany House.  Each book can be read as a stand-alone novel, and while the first to second don't really connect in an obvious way, the second novel's main character is sisters with this novel's main character, Tessa.  I actually didn't like Tessa in the last book, but she grew on my so quickly in this book since she had matured in the couple of years' difference, and this has become my favorite book of the whole series so far.  I loved Tessa's spunk!

 

     Tessa is tired of the lighthouse keepers' life.  It took her family from her: some passed while trying to save others, and some decided to remain lighthouse keepers.  Well, she's sick of it either way, and has moved on to become a school teacher in a small mining town.  Throwing off everything to do with lighthouses, she resolves to start anew.  However, she doesn't realize the hardship she'll face from her employer, nor does she imagine the extent her past will follow her to.  Will she be able to survive and make a living in such a harsh environment?

 

     Alec Bjorklund, the local lighthouse keeper, is immediately attracted to Tessa, and seeks to protect her from angry men in high positions in the town who aim to ruin her.  He and his brother both battle for her heart, but she refuses to become involved with either of them.  He doesn't understand her aversion to men, and he is ashamed of his own lack of education.  Will they be able to help each other through their own misunderstandings and hardships?

 

     I really enjoyed this story, and read it in a day.  The characters enchanted me, and the setting was so historically fascinating that I was drawn in.  The mining town seemed so realistic, and I know that the author put a lot of time and research into this.  I for one can tell that it has paid off! I would highly recommend this novel, especially those who like a good historical fiction.

 

     Thank you so much to the author and Bethany House publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive, nor were they influenced by anything other than the book itself.

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March 11 2016 6 11 /03 /March /2016 02:04

 

     The Cowboy's Bride Collection is yet another novella collection by Barbour publishers.  I liked this one better than the Love is Patient Romance Collection which I've previously reviewed.  I find that it's kind of a hit-or-miss with novella collections, and this one was a definitive "hit" for me.  I was pleasantly surprised that even those these nine novellas all had the same premise, wild west + cowboy + girl, they were all original stories and plots.  I'll most likely be looking up some of these authors.

 

     Some of my favorite novellas from this collection were The Cowboy's Lasso,  The Reformed Cowboy, and The Wrangler's Woman.  There were some really creative stories in this collection! I would highly recommend it for light reading when you want to read a story but don't have time for a full novel.  Each of these novellas stand alone too, so you don't have to remember characters that would have carried over.  The charcters were very cute from story to story, and each story was unique. 

 

     Thank you so much to Barbour publishers and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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March 11 2016 6 11 /03 /March /2016 01:12

 

    "Calico Spy" by Margaret Brownley is the third book in the "Undercover Ladies" series.  While I didn't enjoy the books of this series nearly as much as I did "Gunpowder Tea",  this was still a good mystery.  This can work as a stand alone novel, as really the only thing that carries over from novel to novel in this series is the theme of females being Pinkerton detectives.

 

     The detective in this story Katie Madison, who is working as a waitress while she tries to solve the murder case of two girls who had previously worked at the same diner.  Her clumsiness makes it difficult to keep her cover, which I found amusing and relatable.

 

     The sheriff of Calico is has never liked Pinkerton operatives, so he's caught off guard when he's attracted to this one.  What's different about her? Her clumsiness? Her care and concern for others? He's not sure, but he is very confused upon finding out her true identity.

 

     Mystery-wise, this was a good story.  I liked the plot, but the characters didn't really stick with me.  The setting was run-of-the-mill: wild west, railroads, etc. I don't know; this book just doesn't stand out to me.  There wasn't anything wrong with it, there just wasn't anything exceptional about it.  However, the mystery kept me guessing and was almost unbelievable in how the characters came to the conclusion.

 

     Thank you so much to Barbour Publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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March 1 2016 3 01 /03 /March /2016 02:15

 

    The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter is the second book in the "Summer Harbor" series.  I know it's not very far into the year yet, but I think this may be my favorite book of 2016, or at least high on my list.  I really liked the themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, and unconditional love.

 

     Lucy Lovett fell and hit her head, and now she doesn't remember the past seven months of her life.  She wakes up on the floor of a diner in her wedding dress.  Calling the last man she remembers being engaged to, she finds that she's moved away and not engaged to him anymore.  

 

     Zac Callahan is still hurt from when the love of his life left him several months ago with no explanation and no way to contact her.  Now she calls him up and begs him to come and get her. He doesn't trust her, but finds he still loves her and cannot tell her no.  Can he win her back? If she gets her memory back, will she remember why she left and leave again?

 

     In addition to Lucy only remembering being in love with Zac and Zac still loving Lucy, Lucy does have another man in her life.  A man who was planning to marry her and doesn't want to let her go...and Lucy doesn't remember him.  At all.  

 

     I loved the plot! At first, I thought that it would be cheesy and unrealistic, and to be honest, I don't know a lot about head trauma like that, so I'm not really a good judge of that. :)  Otherwise though, I really liked the characters.  I felt their pain, and appreciated that the characters took time and effort to work through their issues.  It didn't feel rushed, and had a sweet ending.

 

     Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson and Net Galley for providing me with an electronic copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive nor were they influenced by anything other than the book itself.

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February 21 2016 1 21 /02 /February /2016 05:41

 

I, as I mentioned in one of my other posts, do enjoy reading novella collections. I really enjoyed the Lassoed By Marriage Collection that Barbour publishers put out earlier this year, and I loved watching the Love Comes Softly movies this summer, plus I have been studying 1 Corinthians 13. Thus, I figured that I would like this collection. However, I found the stories to be slow moving with abrupt matrimonial endings. I didn't connect with the characters, but I did like some of the plots (especially if they could have been fleshed out into full novels). Once again, this was an opportunity to check out unfamiliar authors without having to read full novels, but I cannot honestly say that I would go back and look up any of the authors from this collection. I do, however, still plan to read more novella collections from Barbour publishers as I have enjoyed them in the past. I think that other readers may like this book, and that it may have just been me who was not patient (wink) enough to appreciate this theme in the collection.

Thank you to Barbour publishers and Net Galley for providing me with an electronic copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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February 16 2016 3 16 /02 /February /2016 01:25

 

    Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton is the third book in the "Four of Hearts Ranch Romance" series.  It works as a stand alone, although it mentions the two brothers from previous books.  I've read the second book in this series also, but thought both worked well as stand-alone.

 

     Jarrod Monahan is the oldest Monahan brother, and he's tired of watching all his brothers get married around him.  He's ready, but hasn't found room in his heart for another woman since Cassidy Starr left town.

 

     Cassidy Starr has returned to town though, because her aunt has passed away and Cassidy aims to take over the strawberry farm and house left behind.  She doesn't realize that Jarrod is going to be her next door neighbor, however, nor that he's been charged with watching over Cassidy's aunt's house while it sits empty.

 

     I have quickly grown to love this series and its characters, and plan on going back to read the first one.  The characters are charming, and their dialogue and situations were adorable, yet there was still conflict as they strived to work out their past and differences.  I enjoyed this story and would recommend it.

 

     Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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February 15 2016 2 15 /02 /February /2016 01:09

 

     Chivalrous, book two of the Valiant Hearts series, was authored by Dina Sleiman.  The book was released in September of 2015.  It was produced by Bethany House Publishers.

 

     Strong, independent Lady Gwendolyn Barnes has a dream, and that is to become a chivalrous knight like her older brothers.  However, this fantasy is highly improper for ladies of Gwen’s time period of the A.D. 1200s.  It doesn’t help matters that she has a dominant and abusive father who wants only to marry her off to a wealthy but equally insulting brute.  Gwen decides to rebel, and enters into a jousting contest dressed as a man.  There she literally clashes with a man named Allen of Ellsworth, a poor but kind and handsome newcomer.  She finds herself attracted to him.  But there are forces working to drive them apart.  The two must fight to stay together in this adventurous novel.

 

     The Valiant Hearts series has caught my eye ever since I had heard of it.  I enjoyed and recommend the first book, Dauntless.  The second title, Chivalrous, is still an excellent read.  However, I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.  One reason for that is the fact that there is some talk that edges around the subjects of “making love”, and “reproductive organs”, though the book doesn’t delve too deep into either of those topics in my opinion.  Also, one of the foul characters consults a witch and uses dark magic.  However, the character is repaid for his evil deeds, and good wins out in the end.  Lastly, there are some battle scenes in which the book describes characters being stabbed.  Keep in mind, however, that this is a Christian book, so there is lots of talk about God and doing the right thing.   In conclusion, though a little on the edge, I still enjoyed this book for the most part.  I give it a positive review. 

 

    Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and to Dina Sleiman for providing me with a copy of Chivalrous to read and review.  I was not required or paid to give a positive review.

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February 11 2016 5 11 /02 /February /2016 05:32

 

I have really enjoyed novella collections this fall because with school and life, I haven't had a whole lot of time to sit down and read a full novel. Plus, novellas are a great way to be introduced to new authors without committing to read a full novel of theirs. I think I may have read two of these authors before, but mostly it was a bunch of new ones for me. I was shocked at first to see that there was nine stories in one book, but found that they were still a good length and all had good plots. Usually, in a novella collection, there are a few stories that I don't care for, but I really enjoyed every single selection in this collection.

Each storyline involves a couple who has just been married, but aren't necessarily in love. For some, it was a marriage of convenience; for others, they married to save face. Others had a mix-up and married the wrong person. One went and picked out an outlaw awaiting hanging in the local jail. Each was unique, and stood alone. I loved how I could read a story or two in a sitting because of the length, but none of the plots felt rushed.

Thank you so much to Net Galley and Barbour publishing for providing me with an e-book edition of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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February 1 2016 2 01 /02 /February /2016 23:07

 

    "Charity's Cross" by MaryLu Tyndall is the "fourth" book in the Charles Towne Belles series.  This was a really fun read because I've read a lot of MaryLu Tyndall's books, and so I recognized characters from a lot of her other books.  She combines the characters from the previous three Charles Towne Belles books and integrates them into the heroine's history, but also takes many, many characters from her Legacy of the King's Pirates series to add to the hero's background.

 

     Charity Wescott Villemont has suffered under the thumb of her abusive husband long enough. She didn't listen to her father or sisters' warnings not to marry him, and now her family has sailed off to America, leaving her in England.  Well, she's had enough.  Oh, it was an accident, of course--she never meant to shoot him.  But now he's dead, and she's on the run for her life from her late husband's brother who wants her hung.  She figures she may as well sail for Charles Towne and meet up with her family, but she doesn't anticipate how hard it will be to book passage as a single female, nor how far her brother-in-law will chase after her.

 

     Elias Dutton, son of Morgan and Rowan Dutton, happens along Charity on her journey to freedom when she jumps overboard.  The unlikely relationship that ensues between them was unique, but fun to read.  I loved how their chemistry was strong, but their commitments kept them focused on other things; Elias, to help his sister; and Charity, to reach hers.  Eventually, through their journey together, will they find that they need each other? Will Charity and Elias learn to trust again?

 

     I really liked this book.  The plot was good and the resolution didn't seem to come too quickly for me, as other books have done.  This one seemed realistic.  I also liked the characters; I connected with them and found that they didn't seem like the author was just trying to push her luck and squeeze as many stories out of the same characters' families as possible.  No, these characters had original personalities and dialogue, and I really enjoyed it.

 

     Thank you so much to the author for providing me with a copy of this book to review.  

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
 
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