Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Murder at the Flamingo- Rachel McMillan

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times -- including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square. When he meets his cousin's “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo night club.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.


My Thoughts: For a murder mystery, a very large portion of this book has little to do with either murder or mystery. The first few hundred pages only introduce the reader to the the main characters' backgrounds and outlooks on life. And if the story had been a romance, I would have been fine with that. I enjoyed reading about Hamish, a man who is a strong, likeable hero without having to be an alpha male.

However, as a mystery, I found it lacking. The murder itself does not happen until well after the first hundred pages. And although the characters have already begun there attempt to unravel the story's mystery long before that, the original mystery they started out with was one that I was already fairly sure of the answer to.

Unlike Rachel's previous series (about Hamish's parents), this did not include the fun of Sherlock Holmes references. Instead, that was replaced with the glitz and glam of the 1930s, a time period which is remembered for its fast-pace, a feature that translated into this novel's setting but not as much in its plot.

Personally, I felt that there were a number of characters and scenes that could have been done without or at least condensed. As it was, the story lacked a sense of urgency to the mystery despite the personal stakes for the main characters. Hopefully the next in the series will be more like the author's previous work.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.



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Monday, November 12, 2018

For Us Humans- Steve Rzasa

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Caz Fortel is a great liar. In fact, he's a professional.

It's his job to lie to people who steal works of art, and to get the goods back. But when Caz gets the big call from the FBI—a million bucks to recover a stolen statue of significant cultural value—it comes with a downside. His assigned partner has more of an interest in Jesus than Caz is comfortable with. Oh, and he’s an alien with four arms and a tremendous sense of smell.

When aliens showed up fifteen years ago, Earth cut a deal to join the Panstellar Consociation as a protectorate, allowing their new neighbors to set up a warp tunnel in orbit, in exchange for advanced tech secrets. Now Caz is caught up in the retrieval of their missing statue, and they want the mission kept quiet.

Or Earth could be in very, very big trouble.



My Thoughts: For Us Humans if a witty sci-fi that deals with questions of faith in the face of (peaceful) alien take over. Caz is an art cop who despises these alien invaders, not because they destroyed earth, but because they destroyed Christianity (or so he believes). This was a very well written discussion of what makes God and faith real to us, and whether or not we can be shaken from those beliefs by events which we thought impossible. Throughout most of the book, the questions of faith were handled in an organic way, coming up at times when discussions seemed most natural.

Later in the story, however, these discussions seemed more forced. There was one scene in particular, where I felt that the message was being driven home a little too bluntly. I do not wish to describe the scene though, lest I give too much away.

Beyond the faith elements of the novel, I really enjoyed the world building and description of normal, everyday life... just now with aliens living among us. Not all of it made as much sense as I would have liked, such as the Ghiqasu speaking English for most of the book even when only conversing with each other. Yet the humorous tone made these issues easier to overlook.

If you are looking for a humorous, slower-paced, sci-fi (with a number of movie references that you may or may not get), then I would definitely recommend this read. Though I could see areas where a few changes would have allowed me to like it better, it definitely has me interested in reading more of Steve's passed works.

I have provided an honest review after receiving an ecopy of the book from the publisher through Netgalley.


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Monday, November 5, 2018

Enchanting Nicolette-Dawn Crandall

jr_EnchantingNicholette_Blog

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

EnchantingNicholette Title: Enchanting Nicholette  
Series: The Everstone Chronicles #5  
Author: Dawn Crandall  
Publisher: Whitaker House  
Release Date: October 9, 2018  
Genre: Historical Romance

In this captivating novella by Dawn Crandall, Nicholette Everstone is already a widow at the age of twenty-two: her husband was murdered on their wedding day. She has just returned to Boston after two years of mourning in Europe. Although her husband was loving, the marriage was an arranged one, and Nicholette would like to wed again–this time for love…and to someone safe.

As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette meets someone she can’t help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of “what if” at bay?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | BAM! | Christian Book




MY REVIEW

The only other book by Dawn which I have read was The Cautious Maiden. That book had a lot more intrigue and conflict within its pages, though this novella does reference events from the previous one. This creates some tension for the heroine of this story as, unlike readers of Dawn's books, Nicholette is unaware of the events which occurred previously.

 

However, the story itself does not focus on those events, instead showing the moments in between, when Cal and Nicholette see each other. Theirs is a quick romance, one that blossoms first from attraction and then from a mutual desire to help those in precarious positions in life. Having both come from short lived, arranged marriages, they connect over shared experiences and the hope of finding the love they had previously missed out on.

 

The story was a little short for my taste. I would have preferred to have Cal's perspective, along with those scenes which Nicolette was not present for. However, the story was sweet, creating a nice end to the series. In the last pages, you get to see all the past characters together, celebrating the joys that have come into their lives. Which only made me more interested in going back and reading those books I missed.

 

I have written an honest review after having received a copy of the book through JustRead Tours.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dawn Crandall

Dawn Crandall‘s debut Gilded Age Victorian romance, “The Hesitant Heiress,” was a 2015 ACFW Carol award finalist in the debut category and received the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2015 Write Touch Reader’s Choice Award and the 2015 Romancing the Novel Reader’s Choice Award. Her follow-up novel, “The Bound Heart,” received the 2016 Laurel Award from Clash of the Titles. Dawn earned a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University. She’s been balancing books and babies lately as her two sons were both born as the four books of her Everstone Chronicles series were being released from Whitaker House from 2014 to 2016. Dawn lives with her husband and two young sons on a hobby farm in her hometown in northeast Indiana.

 CONNECT WITH DAWN CRANDALL: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
 



enchanting nicholette blog giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY
(1) Winner will win:
  • A print copy of Enchanting Nicholette
  • A library card zipper bag
  • Two pairs of Jane Austen socks
  • Two hand poured candles
  • A historically accurate soap from Austen’s time
  • A Jane Austen set of playing cards
  • A set of Jane Austen notecards
  • 6 magnets with Jane Austen quotes
(US Mailing Addresses Only)  

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight October 29, 2018 and lasts through 11:59pm November 12, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. US addresses only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Awakened- Richard Spillman

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: Everyone dies once. But what if a chosen few were raised from the dead?

Two thousand years ago Jesus resurrected his friend, Lazarus, who founded a secret organization: SOAR. Since then Jesus has added to the resurrected—The Awakened—to aid Lazarus in SOAR's battle against Satan's slaves, the UnVeilers. The threat is escalating. The UnVeilers have stepped up their attacks on mankind through a charming leader and a devastating series of bombings in Dubai and Tel Aviv.

But the invasion doesn't stop with international terrorism. The UnVeilers are searching for a secret that Jesus embedded in Lazarus’ journal that not even Lazarus knows—and it will determine the fate of mankind. After a failed cyber-attack against SOAR's computers, Lazarus and his team of experts must find the secret before the UnVeilers do. What clue is he overlooking that could turn the tide of this ageless conflict?

The souls fighting with Lazarus are weary, but the war against evil is far from won. Can Lazarus and his team set aside their longing for heaven and put a stop to these satanic attacks before it's too late?


My Thoughts: The first thing I thought of when reading the description of this novel was Robert Liparulo's Immortal Files. The concept of certain people from the Bible living forever is an engaging one for me, especially in learning why those people were chosen to live forever. However, Spillman does reveal this early on in the story, taking away some of that mystery.

The tale is told some what in two parts. There is the main story of SOAR in the modern day, combating UD's and stopping terrorism, and then there are the journal entries which start just before Lazarus' death and follow his life after. These journal entries were my favorite part. Seeing the world through the eyes of someone who had experienced heaven but couldn't remember was almost like reading a Biblical fiction novel, which is one of my favorite genre's to read.

However, I did have problems with parts of the rest of the story. There were a lot of point of view characters, some of which I think could have been done without. Some of the smaller POV characters I would forget about until their scenes came around again, and it made it difficult to keep track of some of what was going on. There were also places where certain things about the organizations were described rather vaguely.

The Awakened is definitely an interesting read, and for those who enjoy international thrillers with large casts, this is great. Though the first few chapters were slow as I eased into the story, I'm glad I was able to enjoy the concept of Lazarus and many others living until Christ returns.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy of the book through the author.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Patriot Bride- Kimberely Woodhouse

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: Faith Jackson and Matthew Weber are both working covertly to aid the Patriot cause. But will they be willing to sacrifice all for their fledgling country?
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Spies Work Together for the Patriot Cause
Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country?


My Thoughts: Kimberley Woodhouse is an author whose books I have seen around for a while, but never read. Something about them didn't seem to interest me until I saw this book and the setting. Normally, I love stories set during the Revolutionary War. However for a book about spies, there is not much... spying.

At first, when I started reading this, I thought that it was based on real people and events. And in that case, it made sense that there might not be a lot of exciting plot points or actual information passed between the two spies, because some of what was done and said would have been lost to history. But when I saw in the back that both Matthew and Faith are complete works of fiction, I had to reevaluate my opinion of the story.

As I mentioned, there is little spying in this book. Faith and Matthew meet often to swap letters, however we never see how Matthew goes about collecting the information he is passing to the Patriots or how he is able to convince the Loyalists that he is on their side of the war. There is also no mention of just what kind of information he is collecting and how it is any help to the cause. While the danger of his mission should have been the driving conflict of the story, that seemed to fall to the wayside in favor of a villain whose reasoning makes little sense. Even the other characters are unable to understand his thought process.

The story was also repetitive, with certain plot elements repeated over more than once, with only the wording changed. And certain characters seemed to know information one chapter, only to relearn it a few chapters later.

I can't say that this has put me off from the whole series. There are a few authors I noticed have written for The Daughters of the Mayflower, authors whom I have enjoyed reading in the past and I will likely pick up those. Yet I will probably not be reading any more in the series by this author.

I have provided an honest review after receiving a copy of the book through Just Commonly, however I was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Orphan's Wish- Melanie Dickerson

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father who is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn't enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he's an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain?

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan's Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what "family" really means.


My Thoughts: I was honestly skeptical when I saw that this was to be a retelling of Aladdin, set in Germany. I just couldn't see how all of the plot and story elements would translate to this new setting. And I have to say that I was unable to really find any hint of Aladdin in this story, other than a couple names and the events of the first two chapters. Maybe there were some similar plot elements, but those connections were stretching the spirit of the original story.

Outside of this being a retelling, there was not much that happened plot wise until about page 104. Aladdin leaves the Holy Land, comes to Germany, and he and Kirstyn become friends. But none of the interactions that happen during that time play any part in the plot later. And once the main events of the story begin, the story is still slow to play out.

Oddly, what I did like was Kirstyn's experience with the villains of the story. It played out very similarly to what I have read of real life occurrences of this situation, and I believe that the author was trying to portray the emotions of someone experiencing it as accurately as possible. I could also relate to Kirstyn's childhood fear of being unneeded by the people in her life, and that fear rearing its head in her moments of terror.

I do not recommend this as an Aladdin retelling, as there are far better ones out there. However, as a slow, clean, read, I might recommend it. It was not my favorite, but it was also uncomplicated and I know there are times when that is exactly the kind of read I want. It just wasn't at this time.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy through the Fiction Guild.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Lady of a Thousand Treasures- Tour Blitz and Giveaway


Welcome to the blog blitz & giveaway for Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Title: Lady of a Thousand Treasures
Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Tyndale House
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Genre: Historical/Gothic Romance

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron's only living son, Harry — the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust — who in her life is false or true, brass or gold — and what is meant to be treasured.

PURCHASE: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository


EXCERPT

My dearest friend, Marguerite. Although we were nearly of an age, as a widow, she made a suitable chaperone for me whenever one was required, which was not often for a person of my social status. She knew my habit since childhood had been to sort into collectives, especially as a means of regaining control in any situation which forced my anxieties to the surface. It was a custom particularly suited to the daughter of and assistant to a conservator for collectors. I was now a conservator and valuer in my own right. Almost, anyway. 

“A singular of boars.” I feigned a yawn. 

She looked in Harry’s direction. “A rake of mules?” she teased. 

I smiled at the jest but knew she could not truly believe that; she had always been fond of Harry, at least until he’d disappeared.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


pic_FULLb_Byrd_Sandra
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published fifty books.

Sandra's delighted to kick off her new historical romance series with Tyndale House Publishers, Victorian Ladies, with Lady of a Thousand Treasures. The three-book Victorian Ladies series follows her historically sound Gothic romances, Daughters of Hampshire, launched with the bestselling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor's Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isl e, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was published in 2017. Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel,  To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.


Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens, and teens, including the bestselling The One Year Be-Tween You and God Devotions for Girls. She continued her work as a devotionalist, with The One Year Home and Garden Devotions, and The One Year Experiencing God's Love Devotional.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

CONTACT: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram



Lady  of  a  Thousand  Treasures  blitz  giveaway



TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive:

  • a copy of Lady of a Thousand Treasures (print to US addresses OR ebook to intl), and
  • $25 Starbucks London Gift Card – works anywhere in the world at standalone Starbucks stores

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight October 1, 2018 and lasts through 11:59pm October 8, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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