Category: Books

Book Review: Born to Battle

About the Book:

In a time between times, a boy becomes a man, a warrior becomes a saint.

In 470, as the once-mighty Roman Empire crumbles, Illtyd is born the son of a British prince. Together with his cousins, Myrddin and Arthwyr, Illtyd is trained to lead by a priest, a druid, and a warrior. Faced with perilous circumstances he must choose his way in the world. Will he give in to the lust for revenge? Will he follow the ancient ways, trusting dark powers for deliverance?

Illtyd makes his choices and finds himself in the heart of many battles for himself, for his people, and for the woman he loves. As tragedy befalls him, will he vanquish his greatest foe and emerge as one of the founding saints of Wales?

“I can hardly believe this is a first novel. It’s better than the last several bestselling novels I’ve read. A coming of age story that is as much about battle as the human experience. This is a story that will captivate the heart, soul, and mind of any reader.” -William Michael Davidson, author of The Remnant.

“A wonderfully rich and immersive story that brings historical characters and settings to life in vivid detail. Born to Battle is a captivating journey through fields of battle, bonds of friendship, and the internal struggles of a brave warrior wrestling with faith in a time of war.” ~Paul Regnier, author of the Paranormia series

“Stirring and original, the life story of this little known priest-turned-warrior will beckon you to follow him on an ancient journey winding through suffering and courage to find the lessons he learns can still speak to us today.” ~Sara Lubbers, author of Always Love

“When the author told me that he planned to write a novel about Illtud I confess I had my doubts. Given how little we really know about the subject he has succeeded in creating a plausible and very readable narrative, skilfully combining Illtyd’s supposed military background with his undoubted subsequent spirituality and espousal of the Christian faith for which he is venerated. For me he succeeds in giving us a feel for the turbulent times in which Illtud lived and in which the legend that is Illtud began.” ~Graham Phillimore, Chairman Llantwit Major Local History Society

My Thoughts:

The first time I read historical fiction about a saint it was about St. Columba of Iona, Scotland, followed by tales of St. Patrick of Ireland. That was the beginning of a deep interest in Celtic Christianity and of the movement of the gospel in the British Isles. When I moved to Wales I discovered a whole new dimension of history that I knew nothing about, a collection of men and women who loved Jesus and carried the gospel in this corner of the world. St Illtud was one of these men.

I’m thrilled to see St. Illtud’s story make its way into the hands of people who haven’t encountered this fascinating tale. Born to Battle is an intriguing, historical novel of one man’s journey with God as well as the Christian and Celtic history associated with this corner of Wales. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Winning the Gentleman

About the Book:

Aaron Whitworth hasn’t had control over most aspects of his life, but he’s always taken pride in being an honorable businessman and better-than-average horseman. When both of those claims are threatened, he makes the desperate decision to hire the horse trainer of a traveling circus as a temporary jockey for his racehorses.

Sophia Fitzroy knows that most horsemen don’t take her seriously because she’s a woman, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to get away from the tumultuous world of travel and performing. As she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she learns the fight for Aaron’s guarded heart might be an even more worthwhile challenge.

As secrets come to light and past vulnerabilities are confronted, will Aaron and Sophia sacrifice their former dreams and forge a new one together–against all odds?

My Thoughts:

Winning the Gentleman was a delightful read. I’ve always like Kristi Ann Hunter’s books, but this series focusing on equestrian pursuits alongside the beautiful themes of belonging, thankfulness, making your way in the world and discovering what things have priority in life made this novel nearly impossible to put down.

It’s always a bit difficult for me to put myself back in time and consider that so many choices were denied to women simply because they were woman. So Sophia’s story was a fascinating tale. She wasn’t a woman out to demand her rights, but a woman out to do something that she loved (and was skilled at) that allowed her to care for those she felt responsible for. I loved Sophia’s willingness to push hard for a desire, to step back to consider the impact of her choices on another and to adapt to the expectations of society as far as she was able without giving up on her own goals. I also appreciated how Aaron was a man of honor keeping his word even when he’d clearly been misled.

Be sure to read Vying for the Viscount first, where you will be introduced to Aaron and a whole cast of characters that show up in Sophia’s story. I’m now eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

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

Book Review: Hope Between the Pages

About the Book:

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

My Thoughts:

Hope Between The Pages was a intriguing tale. I could imagine life at the Biltmore one hundred years ago and the legacy of a woman whose brave choices set in motion a beautiful dream and an unexpected future. The book was very well written and I was thoroughly engaged from start to finish. If you love a beautifully told story of history and legacy intersecting with the challenges of today then this book is absolutely for you. If you love books, the Biltmore, England or stories of becoming then this book is for you. If you like stories of hope and belonging, of making something beautiful from the ashes, then this book is also for you.

I received a pre-release galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: A Time To Seek

About the Book:

Her Future Destiny is Hidden in the Ancient Past.

Sahara Aldridge, a young Egyptologist in 1922, is making a name for herself on the dig-site soon to become Egypt’s most sensational discovery—the tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun.

Despite opposition from a mostly-male profession, Sahara fights to continue the legacy of her Egyptologist parents, who died tragically at sea when she was a teen.

But then a childhood friend finds a lost journal written by Sahara’s mother, hinting at the bizarre possibility of time-travel, and a crazy suspicion forces Sahara to confront a freak incident years earlier…

Is it possible her parents were time travelers?

And has she inherited this mind-blowing ability?

When the American journalist Jack Moretti begins asking too many questions, Sahara suspects he knows more than he’s telling.

Did her parents truly perish in an accident? Or did someone target and murder them because of their time traveling gift?

There’s only one way to unearth the truth.

Sahara must travel back in time, to the days of King Tut.

But the biggest surprise is yet to come… the truth about her parents, and about her own destiny, discovered in the whispers of conspiracy around the death of Egypt’s most famous Pharaoh.

Now Sahara is careening through time, on a desperate search for the truth about her family.

But what secrets are better left buried?

My Thoughts:

I’ve never read a book by Tracey Higley that I didn’t like, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything she’s published. A Time To Seek is no exception. I loved it. The writing was excellent, the historical settings intriguing and the characters engaging. The specifics of the time travel rules and the history of Sahara’s time traveling family deepened my curiosity. It’s going to be hard to wait for July for the next installment. (Maybe the future author could travel back to this week and release it now?)

Seriously, if you like time travel novels, ancient Egypt or even historical fiction, I’d recommend Sahara’s journals to you. I’m looking forward to reading it again tomorrow when the finished and fully edited version releases.

I pre-ordered the book. I also received a pre-release galley to read in advance in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: A Tapestry of Light

About the Book:

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

My Thoughts:

In A Tapestry of Light Kimberly Duffy writes an in-depth and nuanced tale of the intersection of Indian and England through the lives of a single family. This novel is lengthy, which I loved. It dives deeply into life in India allowing you to really live in the setting, before shifting its way across the sea. The characters are beautifully developed and the story tugs at your heartstrings as you follow the journey of Ottilie through valleys deep and far flung lands. A story of hope, faith, struggle, love and overcoming, this book is one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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

Book Review: Rosefire

About the Book:

Perhaps it is a coincidence that Anya arrived on Karan’s doorstep—without a past and with great skill in magic—the same night that Crown Prince Loran died, but Karan is not certain she believes in coincidence anymore.

Author Carolyn Clare Givens’ young adult fantasy novel, Rosefire, is a story of friendship, redemption, and sacrifice. As Karan and Anya, along with Karan’s brother Richard and friend Edmund, begin to seek the promised Rose of the Ancient Writings, they learn that the destinies of kingdoms are forged, not always in the heat of battle, but in the hearts and minds of their leaders.

Rosefire first came to life as an image based on a couplet from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets: “Ash on an old man’s sleeve/ Is all the ash the burnt roses leave.” Reading those lines one day, author Carolyn Clare Givens saw in her imagination the image of a monk shaking dust off of his habit after roses had been completely consumed. 

For years, Carrie heard from editors and publishers that it was really good, but…”I just don’t know how I’d sell it.” It’s a book that doesn’t cleanly fit into the right marketing categories, a hidden treasure found off the beaten path.

That’s just the kind of story Bandersnatch Books was founded to publish. We’re so excited to be releasing our first title, Rosefire, and want to thank you for being part of bringing it to life. It’s been a long time since Carrie first saw that image of the monk’s sleeve, but re-reading this past year, we were struck by how apt Rosefire is for our current cultural moment. This is a story we need to hear.


This book is a new type of review for me, a book that isn’t being published traditionally. You “purchase” it by signing up for the Kickstarter and you receive the book in the rewards package (as an epub or printed version – you choose your reward package).

Check out the campaign at the link below. You must sign up before March 3rd.

My Thoughts:

Rosefire is a beautiful story. It contains mystery, magical gifts, sacrifice, a longing for justice and a journey to learn to walk a path of loving righteousness in its pursuit.

The characters begin to discover that they are known and they are loved, that there is redemption for failure and a hope for the future. It’s the kind of story that encourages the heart.

Book Review: Of Sword and Shadow

About the Book:

Greece, 1379

She is known by many names, none of them her own. In truth, she is an unnamed slave, nothing more than a weapon in the hands of her owner in his attempts to provoke political mayhem. When she encounters a handsome young man while on an assignment, she thinks little of him—until he attempts to take what she has stolen. But in her line of work, failure is not an option.

Gillen is intrigued by the mysterious woman who thwarts his mission. But when his path crosses hers again, his intrigue turns to gratitude as the thief he comes to call Eudocia saves his life. The two form a bond of friendship and join forces to wrest control from a group of ruthless rulers. But as their camaraderie blossoms into something more, Gillen and Eudocia must fight for love even as they wage war for a better future.

My Thoughts:

I’ve never read a novel set in 14th century Greece so this book was a new setting. The author started by giving you a lot of cultural and historical detail. I generally prefer to discover the details within the story, however, even with the historical context laid out I found some of the allegiances, both political and religious, to be rather complicated.

That said, the author did usher me into a new world, full of intrigue, danger and brutality. The life of an unnamed slave girl woven together with the passions of a political zealot created a fascinating and page turning story. I appreciated the characters and the writing kept my attention, however, the harshness of the world of the novel wasn’t really my cup of tea at the moment. I’m just not reading a lot of the thriller genre these days. If you like a bit of intrigue and don’t mind finding yourself in the middle of a war or the underbelly of the slave trade then this page turner might be for you. It was certainly well written and exciting.

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

Book Review: Dreams of Savannah

About the Book:

Cordelia Owens can weave a hopeful dream around anything and is well used to winning the hearts of everyone in Savannah with her whimsy. Even when she receives word that her sweetheart has been lost during a raid on a Yankee vessel, she clings to hope and comes up with many a romantic tale of his eventual homecoming to reassure his mother and sister.

But Phineas Dunn finds nothing redemptive in the first horrors of war. Struggling for months to make it home alive, he returns to Savannah injured and cynical, and all too sure that he is not the hero Cordelia seems determined to make him. Matters of black and white don’t seem so simple anymore to Phin, and despite her best efforts, Delia’s smiles can’t erase all the complications in his life. And when Fort Pulaski falls and the future wavers, they both must decide where the dreams of a new America will take them, and if they will go together.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoy Roseanna White’s writing, so though I’ve never been a fan of civil war era books I decided to give it a try.

I liked the twists and turns that the story took and the growth of the characters. I felt like the author wrestled with some hard topics with honesty and resisted the need to wrap a neat bow around complicated realities. The story ended on a hopeful note, though it ended at a critical moment in the war leaving much to the imagination.

It’s not my favourite of her books, but I think it was well done.

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

Book Review: The Thief of Blackfriars Lane

About the Book:

There’s Often a Fine Line Between a Criminal and a Saint
Constable Jackson Forge intends to make the world safer, or at least the streets of Victorian London. But that’s Kit Turner’s domain, a swindler who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning the rich to give to the poor. When a local cab driver goes missing, Jackson is tasked with finding the man, and the only way to do that is by enlisting Kit’s help. If Jackson doesn’t find the cabby, he’ll be fired. If Kit doesn’t help Jackson, he’ll arrest her for thievery. Yet neither of them realize those are the least of their problems.

My Thoughts:

Once again Michelle Griep captured me with a tale that I couldn’t put down. Intrigue, mystery, determination and desire to do their part to make the world a better place draw Kit and Jackson together, though a constable and a con-artist are a most unlikely pair.

The creativity of the story, with its twists and turns kept me turning the pages. I could appreciate the humanity of Jackson’s character and how his over-zealous nature led him to make mistakes, yet also gave him the tenacity to not give up.

If you like a page turning mystery, along with a smidge of romance, then I recommend The Thief of Blackfriars Lane.

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

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.