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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

The Crown of Rosemund by Michele Ashman Bell

BLURD

Anduron, 1498

The king and queen are dead, murdered by one who will stop at nothing to rule. But the young princess—Rosemund—has survived, spirited deep into the forest by her parents’ most trusted advisor. There, she finds refuge in a small cottage and a new life, one in which she must play a role that will ensure her survival. Soldiers are combing the countryside searching for the lost princess, and they will not rest until she is found—and eliminated.

Rosemund’s strength grows as she trains for battle and endures the hardships and dangers of peasant life. When chance brings Maxwell, a young man from the nearby village, into her life, Rose finds in him an ally and a friend. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, the time has come for Rose to reclaim her birthright, and in a court controlled by a vengeful new ruler, she must play a deadly game of politics in order to seize the throne that is rightfully hers.

MY REVIEW

This was a fun adventure! The idea behind this story was compelling and exciting.
But I had a really hard time getting through this book…. Especially at the beginning, there was a lot of telling rather than showing. It slowed the plot down a bit. And there was so much dialogue! I know there are readers who love dialogue; it’s just not for me.
The relationship between Jacob and Rose was really sweet and his loyalty to her was to be admired!
This book wasn’t a personal favourite for me, but I know there are others who have loved it. So maybe you’ll enjoy it too.

Book Reviews

Spellbreaker (Spellbreaker Duology #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

This was the first book I’ve read by Charlie Holmberg and I must say, I was absolutely charmed. The first few chapters were a bit of a rough start not because of the writing or the story, but because I picked it up near the end of my semester when deadlines were crashing in around me. Once things settled down and I could simply sit and read, I was transported to a unique and exciting magical place. We are given a Victorian England where magic is commonplace and most of those with magic are part of an organized system. The protagonist, Elsie Camden, is unregistered and works in secret for an insurgent group. Through one of her missions, she is discovered by Bacchus Kelsey who promises to keep her secret if she helps him break some spells.


Their relationship was a slow burn and was very sweet. They went from disliking each other to being friends to having feelings for each other. I also loved Elsie’s relationship with Ogden and Emmeline. Although they were not related they created a beautiful family atmosphere.

The writing was very nice. It was not extremely flowery, but it had some nice flourishes to it. Holmberg also moved things along nicely. She spent time where time was needed but didn’t dwell on things either.

Lastly, I loved that the ending surprised me! I was not expecting Elsie’s secret employers to be who they were and I was not expecting them to be so devious either. I had thought that there would be some great reveal of how the Cowls were right and the others were misusing their power, but I was so wrong!

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This was a clean read – there was no profanity or explicit scenes.
I am excited to read the sequel to Spellbreaker which will be coming out on March 9, 2021.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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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

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

The Messenger by Pamela DuMond

This was an Amazon freebie, but nevertheless, I was looking forward to The Messenger. Time travel novels are really intriguing and two of my favourite time travel series are Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren and the Precious Stone Trilogy. 

To start off. DNF 50%… 

Sorry, it just didn’t catch my interest. I found myself in a reading slump because I couldn’t get through this one. Image result for mortal beloved pamela dumond

I liked the concept of “Messengers,” but in the 50% that I read, this hardly came through. There also was no strong end goal – I felt like I was in a little boat being aimlessly tossed about by the waves. Much of the time, Madeline simply helped Elizabeth, did Yoga in the barn, and hung out with Samuel. Despite this, the opening was strong. There was conflict and intrigue and Madeline was a hurting character, so there was a lot of room for growth. 

Maybe this is a novel that you will enjoy, but it wasn’t for me.

Anyways, I think it will check out at this point. I hope you guys had an amazing weekend!

See ya later! 

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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?