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Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley

I wasn’t sure how this book would go since it’s the 5th in a series, but I quickly found myself enjoying Kat’s lemon cake along with the rest of the characters (in a manner of speaking).
One of my favourite aspects of this book was the detail. Jennifer Ashley was very thorough with all of her historical details (as far as I could tell). While some might find all of the cooking instructions boring, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them and the way Kat prepared her suppers.

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Kat, but by the end, I realized that I appreciated her contentedness, kindness, and determination. She loved her job and the people around her and it was lovely to read about. Daniel was a real sweetheart! Kat and Daniel each had their own mystery to solve and as they went about doing this, their paths frequently crossed. I really, really hope she and Daniel can find a happy ending together.

The mystery was well executed as well. The evidence was all on the page, but like Kat, I had to figure it out. I definitely did not put all the pieces together and enjoyed that the ending took me by surprise. Honestly, I came to a point where I suspected almost all of Lady Covington’s family and staff.

I am excited to read more books in this series and I expectantly await the next installment.

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Book Reviews

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

“If you knew all the answers, there’d be no need for trust, little one.”

What an absolutely charming and enthralling read! I was blown away by every splendid detail. This was a story about love, abuse, literature, friendship, and faith. 

“It is not hopeless,” he said with surety. “It is uncertain, and this is the cross God always gives us in life, uncertainty. But it is not hopeless.”

To begin, who doesn’t love C.S. Lewis? The Chronicles of Narnia have held their popularity since their publication and his theological literature is profound. So, of course, I was intrigued by the woman who influenced and fell in love with him. She was his match in every way! And she was smart and brave and faithful. Even when her first husband was unkind, she was determined to make things work. She didn’t just go off dallying with other men or entertaining fancies about Jack (C.S. Lewis); no, she was committed to fulfilling her marriage vows. Despite, this there came a point where her husband became too terrible and they divorced. Even then, Jack and Joy kept their relationship within the friend boundaries; although, Joy did develop a huge crush on him. As was mentioned before, they eventually got married and enjoyed three happy years together as husband and wife before Joy passed away. 

“God might not fix things for me, but he would be with me in whatever waited ahead, that was clear.”

Not only was the story beautiful, but the writing was stunning as well. It was decorated with velvet and filigree and I loved that! As you may know from my other reviews, I am not a fan of plain writing (simply telling the story with little artistic flourish). This was not at all like that. The author also did a lovely job setting the scene in both America and the various locations in England. In this, and the letter-writing and dialogue, it was clear that she had done her homework. Bravo!    

Lastly, this was a clean read. Sex is alluded to but is not at all blatantly described.

Altogether, I think this is one of my favourite reads of 2020. 

“We’re connected everywhere. Even before we met, we were all of us tied together with these funny little threads. I love those small hints that God brings people together and says, ‘Here you go. This one’s for you.”

 

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Book Reviews

Maid Marian by Elsa Watson

What a wonderful adventure! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

The voice that Watson used was charming and interesting and it was clear that she had done some research surrounding this time in history. Just the entire atmosphere, and also the dialogue, was unique. Image result for maid marian gif

Maid Marian herself was a lovely character. There was a lot of thinking on her part, so I felt that I got to know her very well. She was an independent, intelligent, and sometimes rash woman. In addition, the story began with her being rather naive. Throughout the narrative, this resulted in consequences but also allowed for growth. I am a little surprised, though, that I liked her so much because she was at times more of a passive character and hovered at the sidelines while Robin Hood dashed about accomplishing daring feats. However, she was a hero in her own right. Her battle wasn’t the same as Robin’s and so, her journey was different and required other skills. 

This was also a clean read. While it is insinuated that Robin and Marian have sex after they are married, it is not explicitly described. 

All in all, I would recommend this book. Plus, I think it could use some more reviews (it only has 162).   

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Book Reviews

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

“The hardest lesson I had learnt upon my travels was patience. There are times when every muscle, every nerve, screams for movement, when every instinct urges escape. But the instinct to fly is not always a sound one. There are occasions when only stillness can save you.”

Once again, I was absolutely charmed by Raybourn’s writing. It was intelligent and beautiful and fit well with the personalities of the characters. And that is the perfect segway… XD 

Veronica: fearless, independent, and astute. Yet, not very much changed from the previous novel. I wish that there had been more character growth, but maybe that will still come in the following novels. However, I did love how Stoker and Veronica’s relationship deepened and they learned to trust each other beyond the intermediate level of book #1. As for their romance… I have no idea where that will go or if it will go anywhere at all. They have a strong friendship, but I’m not sure if it could develop to something beyond that.

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I absolutely adore these covers! ❤

The pacing was quite good – they were almost always rushing hither and thither to visit royalty or to do some sleuthing. Again, though, the story was dialogue-heavy and I found that there was much time spent on discussing theories and guessing at who might be guilty of murdering Artemisa. 

Lastly, I was actually rather grossed out by how many insinuations and blatant mentions of sex there were. The entire mystery revolves around infidelity and the addition of the grotto… Well, I was not a fan. I love Raybourn’s voice and her characters are interesting and intelligent, but I am rather unimpressed by this element. So, perhaps, someday I may read book #3, but I think, for now, I need a break from this series. 

I hope you all have a lovely Sunday!

Enjoy the last day of summer.      

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Book Reviews

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

“I felt in this new adventure I was rousing to life again. I was a butterfly, newly emerged from the chrysalis, damp winged and trembling with expectation.”

This was an exquisite tale! 

I was instantly struck by the writing. It is so beautiful and deep. Raybourn does not simply tell the story, she paints a vivid landscape. Simply put, it is a piece of art. Also, this story was intelligently written. Either the author is talented lepidopterist like Veronica or she did some thorough research. Further, the author created such vivid characters. In some ways, Veronica was naive and in others, she was experienced. Through it all, she was feisty and absolutely fearless – she faced calamities with cool composure. Her relationship with Stoker was amusing and intriguing. Obviously, it is a slow burn romance, but Veronica keeps him at arm’s distance and treats him with placid indifference. I am very interested to see how this relationship develops… As for the man Stoker. He was a stormy individual who, at first, I was not entirely drawn to; however, as the story progressed, I found myself learning to like him.  30008834

“I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea.”

While the plot was entertaining, I found that it was rather bogged down by dialogue. Stoker and Veronica talk so much that it became exhausting. Yes, it was elegantly written, but it was excessive. Also, this was not a clean read. There is mention of crude language, plus some that is written out and while there are no explicit scenes, it is alluded to and Veronica is a woman of loose morals – her trysts with foreign men are frequently mentioned.      

I do believe, though, that I will read the sequel. I am curious to where Veronica’s adventures will lead.

“That is the hallmark of a good partnership, you know – when one partner sees the forest and the other studies the trees.”  

P.S. Aren’t the covers stunning?!? I am very much in love with them. ❤

Book Reviews

Waterfall (River of Time #1) by Lisa Tawn Bergren

This was my second time reading Waterfall, but I still enjoyed every bit of it! 

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision that something is more important than fear.” 

The main character Gabriella was absolutely amazing. She was brave and intelligent and kind, but not perfect – I actually really enjoyed being inside her head and getting to know her. Bergren does an excellent job keeping things interesting and balancing between Gabi’s thoughts and actions. The love interest, Marcello, was definitely your chivalrous knight in shining armour. I did like him; although, I felt we didn’t get to know him super well. Also, their relationship wasn’t quite as developed as I would have liked. But, hey, there are two more books. So we have time for that.

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“Sometimes the heart tells us to venture where the mind fears to tread.”

The setting was 14th-century Italy and Bergren made it feel quite authentic. It’s clear that she did her research. Her writing was also delightful. It was not flowery, but it was engaging. I felt drawn into the story from the very start and there was no point where I felt like skimming because I was getting bored.     

My greatest qualm, though, is the title. It’s beautiful and compelling, but while reading, I never made a connection. I get that the girls fell into a “river of time” and fell down a “waterfall” into the 14th century, but that was never brought up in the book. 

Lastly, this was a clean read.

“We all have freedom of choice. Over and over again, minute by minute. How will you live your life? For yourself? Or for others? For something good? For love?” 

I definitely recommend this book to those who love an adventure tinged history and romance.  

 

Book Reviews

Verity by Lisa T. Bergren

This was an enjoyable adventure about a brave young woman who left her home to independently create a living for herself. Despite the place of women during this time period, Verity bravely left home and with diligence and hard work, carved a place for herself in the world. Along the way, she met Duncan’s brother, Ian, who helped her in her endeavour. Their relationship was sweet and slow; although, at times I found there was too much thinking about the other.

The author did a lovely job of creating the setting -it was a colourful and exciting world. However, the plot had some valleys. There didn’t seem to be that forward drive that gives a novel its energy. Verity’s journey and shop opening were too easy for me – there was no conflict that generated intensity.    

Lastly, this was a clean read which made it all the more enjoyable.  

P.S. Isn’t the cover beautiful? That dress is gorgeous. XD

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Another beautiful cover…

Keturah (The Sugar Baron’s Daughters #1)

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Book Reviews

The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

 

A riveting historical adventure.

Since my grandparents are Dutch I have heard and read many stories set in Holland during WWII, but I have rarely encountered stories from the Swiss point of view. As a result, the Swiss Courier was interesting and exciting!

The characters were dynamic and unique. Gabi was sweet and brave and Bruno Kassler was terrifying and vicious. The story is told from quite a few different points of view Image result for shocked gif disneywhich was at first a little disappointing since I thought the book was about Gabi, but I as the story went on, I grew to enjoy it. One thing, though, I kind of wish Gabi had discovered Jean-Pierre’s identity a little sooner. (By the way, that was such a shocker!) Maybe, though, this would have taken away from the surprise at the end?

Although this was written by two authors, there wasn’t a striking difference between their writing. This was nice since sometimes when two authors write their separate pieces, there is a bit of a jolt when jumping from one to the other. Lastly, with the writing, I found that at times there was a lot of extra information – about a handgun, or airplane, or person. I felt that these details weighed down the story instead of complementing it.

Lastly, this was a clean read!    

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Ta ta for now!

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Book Reviews

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Intrigue. Adventure. Mystery.

This was a captivating historical mystery set in London in 1858.

“It’s terrifying, to be on the verge of finally getting what you want.”  

                                                ― Y.S. Lee, A Spy in the House

The characters were quite good. One of my favorite aspects about Mary was her ethnicity. It was quite refreshing to have a non-white protagonist. Further, Mary was independent and fearless; although, she felt a little distant since she chiefly focused on her work. Also, I’m not sure I am a huge fan of how she interacted with James Easton. At first, her sassiness was amusing, but eventually, it became slightly annoying. That brings us to James. He was sweet and kind and his fondness for Alfred Quigley warmed my heart.7507889

The plot was engaging and the mystery had me stumped – I was not expecting it to work out the way it did. I do wish, though, that there were a few more scenes of Mary in action. She was trained to be an agent, but much of her time was spent haggling with James or observing the Thorolds. Further, the villain was pushed to the side. I wish there had been a little more development in that area. And also the villain’s little spiel in which he/she reveals everything… A touch unrealistic and cliche.

This was mostly a clean read, but there were mentions of mistresses, erotica books (a detail I’m still confused about), and a bit of mild language.

Altogether, I really liked the idea behind this one, but I don’t think it was executed super well. Will I read book #2? Maybe. If it’s on sale or I find it at a second-hand store, but I won’t go out of my way to buy it.   

Have you read this book or this series? If so, what are your thoughts?

Book Reviews

Bandaging the Blitz by Phyll Macdonald-Ross & I.D. Roberts

This was such a stunning read! It was another book I found at the local book fair and what a fantastic discovery. It was a shot in the dark – I had never heard of this book before. However, it was not a disappointment!

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As a book co-written by someone who actually lived through these things, it had a beautiful authentic atmosphere. Each time I picked up this book, it was like I stepped through a portal into the 1940s. Many historical novels miss this touch of authenticity so this was a treat.  

The characters were quite charming. I loved watching Phyll grow from a girl into a woman and nurse. Oh, and of course Mac and Eddie! Their antics often left me with a smile on my face. Alistair was charming and sweet and Phyll and Alistair’s romance warmed my heart. But what a rollercoaster! At times it was like everything was against them, yet despite this, they didn’t become bitter or angry with each other; on the contrary, it brought them closer together.

Again, the writing style had a personal and authentic feel to it. Although, at times the present tense threw me off.

This was also a relatively clean read. There are a few questionable words, but there was no sex.

Altogether, I definitely recommend this book. Give it a read. You will be blown away! I wish there was a second novel so that I could continue following Phyll through her journey as a nurse.

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Keep your eyes open for my next review! The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson