Book Review: Room of Marvels

About the Book:

Three deaths in three years. His mother. His best friend. And now, his two-year-old daughter. In this moving story a Christian author goes to a retreat center to grieve and face the hard questions about God that he is asking in the wake of these losses. If you have ever felt alone, betrayed, abandoned–if you have found yourself asking God why–this novel may be a source of hope. And if you have ever wondered what heaven is like, this book provides a beautiful vision. Room of Marvels is a masterful, dream-like tale that speaks to the eternal in the midst of our most painful earthly losses. This expanded edition of the beloved book has a new afterword from James Bryan Smith and a discussion guide for group use. Finding your room of marvels will give you reason to live. Again.

My Thoughts

While all of life and all of literature has something to teach us, a moral tale is a straightforward teaching device designed to combine entertainment with information and instruction.

I would put Room of Marvels clearly into this category alongside other works of literature like Pilgrim’s Progress, A Christmas Carol and Dante’s Inferno. To be honest, it is not a genre of literature that I particularly enjoy. I prefer a subtler story that, as C.S. Lewis puts it, sneaks past the watchful dragons.

A Room of Marvels does have value within its genre and it is born out of the author’s own journey with God. If you appreciate a straightforward teaching tale, Room of Marvels could be a book that would challenge you to think deeper about the love of God and His good eternal plans for His children in the light of grief and loss.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Duke Meets His Match

About the Book:

At thirty years of age, Susan Jennings has long been considered a spinster. Exceptionally intelligent, she has little tolerance for London and the dreaded Season—if that’s how one is expected to find love, it’s not for her. But when an invitation arrives that cannot be ignored, Susan leaves her comfortable life in the country and enters the fashion and frivolity she most despises. She quickly discovers, however, that there is more to loathe in London—and his name is George Kendall.

George, Duke of Aylesham, has learned to keep his distance from cloying females chasing the title of duchess. Susan Jennings, however, proves an entirely different challenge—a woman who has pushed him to the limit of his patience with their every encounter. But their simmering hostility is disrupted by a thoughtless slip up: to avoid a marriage of political strategy, George claims he is already betrothed. And when pressed for the name of the lucky woman, only one name comes to mind: Susan’s. Their forced betrothal proves advantageous, but when their verbal sparring must change in order to be convincing, the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred by something neither expected: love.

My Thoughts:

This is the first time I have read a book by Karen Tuft and I loved it.

The plot was creative in how it drew together two characters who want nothing to do with each other and set them up to find out that their perceptions weren’t entirely accurate. The shifts and turns of the story kept me turning the pages and I found the ending to be entirely satisfying.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and I highly recommend it.

Book Review: To Steal A Heart

About the Book:

After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she’d put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend’s innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend–until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he’d be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

My Thoughts:

I always love how Jen Turano can make me laugh out loud while reading. This book carries her signature humor.

I did find this particular book surprisingly difficult to engage with at first. I almost felt as if I were being thrown right into the middle of a story and I set the book down and re-started it twice before I was able to immerse myself into Gabi and Nicholas’s world. Once I was engaged, the book flowed and the laughs followed.

If you need some light hearted, humor filled reading I can always recommend Jen Turano. Her brand of ridiculous and extravagant stories are delightful.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Otherwise Engaged

About the Book:

Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly or not so quietly rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family.

When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship. Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily.

After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine?

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I’ve read by Joanna Barker.

The characters seemed very modern, while the realities of the time, including the rules of conduct and engagement were most certainly of the era. I enjoyed the mix of characters that I could relate to alongside the structures and challenges of days gone by.

This sweet friendship turned romance was a thoroughly enjoyable, light read. I recommend it.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: A Revolution of Hearts

About the Book:

Secrets, spies, and hidden love. Which will strike first?

Born to a life of wealth and status, Mademoiselle Dacia de Prideux is every inch the glittering aristocrat. However, her brother, Marcel, is an outspoken political activist, and with the country on the verge of the French Revolution, he has made dangerous enemies—one of whom takes Marcel’s life. When Dacia is accused of the unthinkable crime, she finds refuge with her dear friend Marguerite St. Just, who believes there is one man with the means to help: the wealthy fop, Sir Percy Blakeney. 

Intent on rescuing people from perilous circumstances, Richard Harris, wealthy English landowner and member of Sir Percy’s league of gentleman heroes, has been assigned to protect Dacia. Hiding her in plain sight and masquerading her as a housemaid at his estate, Richard soon comes to trust the beautiful woman under his protection, and their feelings for each other grow stronger each day. But Marcel’s murderer will never stop pursuing Dacia, and she will need both her cunning and Richard’s connection to the legendary Scarlet Pimpernel to survive.

My thoughts:

Set on the edge of France’s revolution is a story of survival and of growth, as peril pushes on ideas never before examined and the challenges of life give way to love.

I’ll admit I disliked Dacia from the start. I know that the author wrote her in the way that she did on purpose to highlight her character growth, but it was hard for me to make it past the first few chapters. That said, I did enjoy the character growth. Sometimes it seemed too much too fast, not impossible, but improbable. Still, I remained engaged with the story and in the end I was rooting for Dacia and Richard and their happily ever after.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Forget Me Not

About the Book:

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, 1785

Julia Cummings has long been acquainted with loss—her mother, her brother, her sister, her friend, all gone too soon. But the loss that pushed her grief to the limit as a young girl was that of her best friend, Lucas Jonquil, who abandoned her without looking back. Now, eight years later, Lucas has returned to Lampton Park, and Julia has steeled herself—she will never forgive the man who broke her heart.

After losing too many of his friends and family to early deaths, Lucas vowed to live life to the fullest. And after traversing the world, he has returned from his adventures to find his family and home much as he left them—except for Julia. The little girl he left behind has blossomed into a captivating lady, a lady who makes it clear she despises him. With little hope of reconciliation, the former friends are blindsided when their parents make a shocking announcement. Lucas and Julia have been betrothed without their knowledge and are to marry immediately. Now Lucas must rely on the help of his closest friends to win the heart of a lady who loathes him—a lady he’s coming to love more deeply every day.

My Thoughts:

This book is such a sweet story. It’s full of loss, but also full of beauty as two friends, who have both known deep wounds and who are of very different personalities, explore how to open themselves to allow their wounded hearts to find connection and hope.

The companionship of The Gents (the theme of this series) is an engaging pull into the story. Who wouldn’t want such a band of brothers in their lives? Julia’s character is a complex mix of thick walls of self protection and deep longing to belong. Lucas made a vow at his sibling’s deaths to live life to the fullest, but it is entirely possible that he has no idea what a truly full life looks like.

I enjoyed this story and will be looking for the next book in the series.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Wingfeather Saga Books 3 & 4

About The Monster in the Hollows:

Now in hardcover for the first time, featuring all-new illustrations! Things are about to go from bad to wolf in the howlingly entertaining third book of the Wingfeather Saga.

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, the Lost Jewels of Anniera, are hiding from Gnag the Nameless in the Green Hollows, one of the few places in the land of Aerwiar not overrun by the Fangs of Dang. But there’s a big problem. Janner’s little brother–heir to the throne of Anniera–has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows, he looks like a monster.

But Janner knows better. His brother isn’t as scary as he looks. He’s perfectly harmless. Isn’t he?

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, The Monster in the Hollows is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art in the tradition of the original Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz storybooks.

About The Warden And The Wolf King:

All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk. But when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated.

Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.

My Thoughts:

This series is epic. The heart-wrenching beauty of this tale mixed with fun and laughter makes these stories not to be missed. A series for all ages, the Wingfeather Saga deserves a rating of 10 (on a scale of 1-5). Please do yourself a favor and read them.

I have purchased several sets of these books, but I was also given digital copies with the new (amazing) illustrations for free in exchange for my review.

Book Review: The Love Note

Amazon US: releases Oct 2020
https://amzn.to/3htHlby

About the Book:

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1865 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings–mostly negative ones–about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words. 

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

My Thoughts:

I was surprised how much I really enjoyed The Love Note . I’m not normally a romance novel enthusiast, however despite its title, this book was about a lot more than romance and I highly recommend it.

Follow the mystery and intrigue of a letter lost and found and how the contents can apply to so many people giving very different responses and interpretations.

And discover, along with Willa, the source and value of love.

I received a free digital galley of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion. I would absolutely purchase this book for myself.

Book Review: A Portrait of Loyalty

About the Book:

Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.

My Thoughts:

I always enjoy Roseanna White’s storytelling. This book is the end of a series and while it did reference other characters that had previously been introduced it seemed like it could have been read as a stand alone.

I have been trying to decide if it is the time in which I read the book or if it is the book itself, but this novel seemed a bit darker than previous books in the series. The introduction of the revolution in Russia alongside the war in Britain and the flu pandemic wove three rather serious strands in and out of the story.

I enjoyed the photography aspect of the book as well as the consideration of art and ethics. The strands of romance ranged from simple and sweet to complex and heartrending, while the divisions between family and friends were a bit too real for me in the present moment.

There was, as expected, faith and hope and triumph in the tale and the writing was excellent, yet, it was probably my least favorite book by Ms. White. I still recommend it. There was faith, hope and triumph along with a call to pay attention and make the most of each day. I think that it simply wasn’t the type of book that I most need for this crazy year of 2020, but that might not apply to you at all.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Vying for the Viscount

About the Book:

For Hudson, the newly titled Viscount Stildon, moving to England from India where he was born and raised was already an arduous enough endeavor. When he learns the fate of the racing empire he inherited along with his title depends upon him getting in the good graces of another stable owner, he’s even more at a loss.

The stable at the neighboring estate has been Miss Bianca Snowley’s refuge for years, and when a strange man appears to be stealing the horses, she jumps to their protection without a second thought. Upon learning Hudson is actually the new owner, she can’t help but be intrigued by the area’s newest eligible bachelor.

Any thought of romance is quickly set aside, however, when Hudson proposes they work together to secure suitable spouses for each other. As their friendship grows, Hudson and Bianca begin to reconsider what they truly want in life. But will societal expectations and the weight of their responsibilities keep them from pursuing their true desires?

My Thoughts:

I enjoy Kristi Ann Hunter’s way of mixing thoughtfulness with engaging narrative and well rounded characters.

In this novel I especially appreciated the flexibility that the author brought to Hudson’s character due to his cross cultural background. I also appreciated that while there was an “over the top” villain that he didn’t dominate the tale.

Vying for the Viscount is a sweet tale of companionship and a delightful story of discovering that the path to true happiness isn’t always what we expect.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

I received a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.