Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

dl

Synopsis

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to the luxurious Oriental Hotel a mile from Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of nearby Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

My Thoughts

One of my favorite settings in books is an amusement park, so the setting of Coney Island in this story is perfect! This story takes place in the early 1900s and follows a young wealthy lady who vacations in Coney Island with her family and struggles to fit in with the “high class expectations” of her family. The storyline had some similar themes as the movie, Titanic, with the “wealthy girl mingles with the lower class and falls for an unsuitable gentleman”.

This story was a lot of fun…it was full of great descriptions of Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, the sights and sounds were described so well, I truly felt like I was there. There was also an air of mystery to the story, with some murders taking place.

I really found the peek into the wealthy family’s dirty laundry interesting. The romance was decent, but not my favorite (I never really enjoy romance though).

Overall, this was a very fun, atmospheric, summery story that a lot of people should enjoy. Recommended!

My Rating

4 stars

The Better Liar by Tanen Jones Review

Release Date: January 14, 2020

bl

Plot:

When a woman conceals her sister’s death to claim their joint inheritance, her deception exposes a web of dangerous secrets in this addictive new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, and Paula Hawkins.

“Like most of the dead, I want to be remembered.”

Robin Voigt is dead. If her sister Leslie had arrived at her cramped Las Vegas apartment just hours earlier, this would have been their first reunion in a decade. In the years since Robin ran away from home as a teenager, Leslie has stayed in New Mexico, taking care of their dying father, even as she began building a family of her own. But when their father passed away, Leslie received a rude awakening: she and Robin would receive the inheritance he left them together–or not at all. Now her half of the money may be beyond her grasp. And unbeknownst to anyone, even her husband, Leslie needs it desperately.

When she meets a charismatic young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin–and has every reason to leave her past behind–the two make a reckless bargain: Mary will impersonate Robin for a week in exchange for Robin’s half of the cash. But neither realizes how high the stakes will be when Mary takes a dead woman’s name. Even as Mary begins to suspect Leslie is hiding something, and Leslie realizes the stranger living in her house, babysitting her newborn son, and charming her husband has secrets of her own, Robin’s wild, troubled legacy threatens to eclipse them both.

An electric, twisted portrait of sisterhood and the ties that bind, The Better Liar is a stunning debut with a heart-stopping, twist-after-twist finale that will beg the question: How far would you go to get what’s yours?

My Thoughts:

Books about family dynamics always interest me so I was eager to pick this one up. The story deals with sisters, creating false identities, and the entertaining trope of the elusive inheritance.

I found the characters in the story to be well developed, albeit fairly unlikable. Leslie was always irritated, which started to irritate me. Mary was very unpredictable and mysterious. I enjoyed the dynamic between these 2 ladies as they worked together to achieve a common goal.

I found the twist to be slightly predictable but I still really enjoyed the ride. I would highly recommend this one!

I received this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating:

4 stars

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig Review and Giveaway

bl.jpg

About the Book

Book:  Brand of Light

Author: Ronie Kendig

Genre: Christian Fiction, futuristic, space opera,

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Brand of LightThere’s a price on her head, and it has everything to do with the brand on her arm.

Tertian Space Coalition has blessed every planet in the quadrants with high technology, save one: Drosero. But in spite of their tenuous treaty with the ruling clans, TSC has plans for the backward planet. And they’re not alone.

After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders.

Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order—not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted—or cursed—with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted.

 

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

This was a very ambitious book and I had a lot of thoughts and opinions about it. At first I had a hard time adjusting to the writing style, the world, and all of the characters. At about 40 pages, I started to get used to everything and it flowed a lot better.

The plot is fantastic…it starts by feeling like a historical/fantasy story then quickly moves to a sci-fi space drama. It is a genre that I don’t often visit so I really enjoyed the ride.

The reader travels across the fictional universe that is portrayed in the beautiful map at the beginning of the book. Along the way, they learn about the alliances and issues that the planets are facing.

The characters were well developed and multi-faceted. There were a lot of characters and the author would alternate between their first and last names in the story which became very difficult to keep track of at first. A chart of who’s who in the beginning would have been extremely helpful. The same thing occurred with the various places in the story…there were many, with the people from these places called different things as well. I found this very confusing at times.

Overall, this was a great adventure and I really enjoyed the story. Highly recommended for fans of sci-fi!

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Ronie KendigRonie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of over twenty titles. An Army brat, Ronie lives a shot train ride from New York City with her husband, twin sons, and two fur-sons, VVolt N629, a retired military working dog, and Benning the Stealth Golden. Described as an empath by her literary agent, Ronie has used her degree in psychology to write books that have won the coveted Christy Award, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, HOLT Medallion Award, and more. Her books have also hit the CBA Bestseller List multiple times.

 

More from Ronnie

In November 2005, I lurched into a story that started with one small element—what if a hero could literally smell fear? And so I delved into the story with the characters, and felt like I’d fallen into the vortex. I wrote over 90,000 words in one month, this story just gushing out of me.

But I was a very new writer. And if you saw the first draft that gushed out of me, you’d snicker. I sure have. It’s appallingly bad writing, yet the story’s bones are healthy and intact. So, I teased the story into shape over the last fourteen years. In 2012, I took a hard look at it and tried to shape up the writing. I’d even gotten to know Kathy Tyers, who wrote for the Star Wars franchise as well as the much-beloved Firebird series (*insert reverent pause here*), and I bravely asked if she would take a peek at the first fifty pages or so. Being gracious as Kathy is, she agreed to take a look.

Um, yikes. Haha. Make no mistake—Kathy is a brilliant writer, and I will never write like her, but I learned so much her feedback and took it to heart. Clearly, I still had a long way to go before that story was ready for the world, so I delved into honing my craft and deepening this story. Honestly, I was afraid show Brand of Light to anyone again, because I love this story so much and did not want to see “her” fail. Nore correctly—I did not want to fail this story.

About three years ago, I sensed a deep conviction that it was time to stop hiding and, as an act of faith and obedience to what God had given me, to send Brand of Light out into the world. As I write this, she is still 1.5 months out from the release, and I’m scared. I want this beauty to be loved, but even if it’s not, *I love this story and know I honored God with my writing and sending her out. I can rest here for a long while, reveling in the gift God gave me with this storyworld and its characters. I’m excited to see her launch out into the deep now. As Marco and the hunters always say, For Honor.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, December 14

April Hayman, Author, December 14

Hallie Reads, December 14

amandainpa , December 15

Inside the Wong Mind, December 15

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 16

Wishful Endings, December 16

Pause for Tales, December 16

A Reader’s Brain, December 17

Faery Tales Are Real, December 17

Simple Harvest Reads, December 18 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 18

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 18

Texas Book-aholic, December 19

Mia Reads Blog, December 19

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, December 20

Betti Mace, December 20

Books, Life, and Christ, December 20

Just the Write Escape, December 21

Britt Reads Fiction, December 21

Blogging With Carol , December 22

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 23

The Artist Librarian, December 23

Emily Yager, December 24

mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 24

Bakerkella, December 25

Worthy2Read, December 25

janicesbookreviews, December 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 26

Just Your Average reviews, December 26

Inklings and notions, December 27

Splashes of Joy, December 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Ronie is giving away the grand prize package of a Tinted Prose edition of Brand of Light, Galaxy Tumbler, “Kersei” Dio Adorable Candle, 3 Character Cards (to include Marco, Kersei, Tigo), and 2 Maps (to include Drosero and the planetary map)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/f2e2/brand-of-light-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Camera Never Lies by David Rawlings Review

The-Camera-Never-Lies-FB-Banner.jpg

About the Book

Book:  The Camera Never Lies

Author: David Rawlings

Genre: General fiction/allegory/magical realism

Release Date: December 3, 2019

cover-Camera-Never-Lies-210x300David Rawlings, author of The Baggage Handler, returns with another probing story: what would you do if your secrets were revealed to those around you?

Daniel Whiteley is a successful couples counselor who regularly puts families back together, helping them face up to the things in life they hide. But his own marriage is falling apart.

His wife, Kelly, knows Daniel is hiding something from her, but she doesn’t dare probe for fear her own secrets will be revealed.

When his grandfather dies, Daniel inherits an old SLR camera from a time when cameras pointed away from the person taking the photograph. On the camera is an inscription: “Use this camera wisely and remember, regardless of the picture you think you took, the camera never lies.”
When Daniel first uses his new camera he finds someone has already filled the roll of film. Annoyed, he processes the film and finds photos of a secret that he’s been hiding from his wife and daughter.
He has no idea who took them.

Now every time he uses the camera, the photographs reveal another secret about himself the he is desperate to keep-as well as those of his wife, which he is desperate to uncover.

 

Click here to get your copy.

My Thoughts

This was a very interesting story with many life lessons and some magical elements thrown in.

The story revolves around Daniel, a marriage counselor who is struggling in his own marriage. He has just received a camera from his grandfather, who passed away, and quickly finds out that “the camera never lies”.

There are great themes weaved throughout the story, the main one being honesty. Sometimes honesty is difficult but it is very important (as Daniel quickly discovers).

This book raised a lot of moral questions and scenarios that I caused me to consider for my own life (what would I do?) and I am still thinking about it after I’ve finished reading it.  The story is very clean and the content is appropriate.

I highly recommend this story.

I received this book from the publisher/author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author

headshot-david-rawlings-287x300David Rawlings is an Australian author, and a sports-mad father of three who loves humor and a clever turn of phrase. Over a 25-year career he has put words on the page to put food on the table, developing from sports journalism and copywriting to corporate communication. Now in fiction, he entices readers to look deeper into life with stories that combine the everyday with a sense of the speculative, addressing the fundamental questions we all face.

 

Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt of The Camera Never Lies here.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 5

amandainpa, December 5

Older & Smarter?, December 6

Through the Fire Blogs, December 6

Blogging With Carol, December 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 7

For Him and My Family, December 7

Christian Bookaholic, December 8

Emily Yager, December 8

Splashes of Joy, December 8

As He Leads is Joy, December 9

Mamma Loves Books, December 9

Vicky Sluiter, December 10

mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 10

Robin’s Nest, December 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 11

Bigreadersite, December 11

Genesis 5020, December 12

Remembrancy, December 12

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 12

Pause for Tales, December 13

A Reader’s Brain, December 13

For the Love of Literature, December 14

Seasons of Opportunities, December 14

Inklings and notions, December 14

Artistic Nobody, December 15

To Everything There Is A Season, December 15

Texas Book-aholic, December 15

Just the Write Escape, December 16

janicesbookreviews, December 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16

Hallie Reads, December 17

My Devotional Thoughts, December 17

Quiet Quilter, December 18

Literary Reflections Book Blog, December 18

Godly Book Reviews, December 18

Epic Devotions Review

ed.jpg

Description

Epic Devotions: 52 Weeks in the Story that Changed the World is a graphic-novel inspired weekly devotional based on Epic: The Story that Changed the World. Each insightful devotion circles back to the one big story of Jesus and makes biblical events more relevant for today’s youth. The book features familiar yet reimagined art from the One Big Story brand that is perfect for engaging older kids and preteen readers.

My Thoughts

This epic devotion geared towards older children and pre-teens spans the entire length of the Bible, starting with the Creation story and ending in Revelation. There are 52 stories that can be read at once or over the period of a week (each story is 4 pages). The stories are told chronologically and have wonderful illustrations that really bring the stories to life.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it begins by sharing the story but then teaches a lesson about it and provides questions to think about and a verse to memorize for the week. Many children’s Bible story books that I’ve seen tend to lack the application and explanation part, which is very important. Another thing that I noted and really love is that there are places where the Old and New testament are woven together (with Abraham and Isaac, showing a foreshadowing to Christ).

This story is well done and very appealing to the younger crowd. I highly recommend it!

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

1280px-5_stars.svg

Be Loved by Emma Mae Jenkins Review

bl.jpg

Description

Emma Mae Jenkins, a young writer, has inspired many with the freedom she has to be herself–a dearly loved child of God. In her first book, Be Loved, she invites readers to join her on a journey of life-changing faith and the freedom that comes from knowing the love of God.

She chronicles her own high school journey through starting a new school, navigating the typical pressures of school work and sports, going to prom, and even homecoming. Emma Mae faced each new challenge with the confidence that God was with her and was going to make her uniquely useful in the place he had prepared for her.

For Emma Mae, it all starts with her relationship with Jesus. Because she knows she is loved by him, she is free to be herself and to live out her faith no matter what the cost. As a young, passionate, and intimate lover of Jesus, Emma Mae’s love for her Savior overflows unashamedly into her unconditional, fierce love for people.

Readers will experience the chain-breaking liberty of knowing the Lord’s presence and the freedom to be unique. This full-color, hardback book includes pictures from Emma Mae’s life, along with key Bible verses that God used to strengthen and guide her through the ups and downs of her high school years.

My Thoughts

My first impression of Emma Mae Jenkins is that she is a girl full of joy. Her smile truly lights up her face and she really “lets her light shine”. As a mom of a 13 year old girl, I’m always looking for positive role models in this warped world that we live in…I’m thankful that I found this young lady.

This book is extremely pre-teen/teen friendly…the end papers are full of vibrant colored flowers and each page of the book has photographs. This is a very fun book to read.

Although the book is formatted in a fun way, the content is anything but “fluff”. Emma shares about her high school experience and discusses ways to share God’s love, prayer, being yourself, and so much more.

This is a girl that lives for Christ and not people. I highly recommend this book for the teen and pre-teen girl in your life. They will love it!

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

1280px-5_stars.svg

 

 

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Review and Giveaway

About the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls

Created especially for girls ages 8 to 12, this beautiful Bible provides ample space for young artists to express themselves through coloring and journaling.

Girls can get creative with the detailed, ready-to-color line art surrounding the hundreds of inspiring verses in the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible for Girls. This Bible is a perfect gift for a special young girl in your life and will become a cherished keepsake full of personalized creative expressions of faith.
Features include:

  • Hundreds of verses illustrated in ready-to-color line art
  • Thicker white paper for enduring note-taking
  • Lined, wide margins for notes, reflections and art
  • Complete text of the accurate, readable and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • Easy-to-read black letter text in single-column format
  • Lays flat in your hand or on your desk
  • Ribbon marker
  • Beautifully designed Leathersoft-over-board cover featuring screen-printing and other cover embellishments
  • 8-point type size

Using the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV) text makes the Bible accessible and easy-to-read for kids. The NIV is the result of over 50 years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, who oversee the efforts of many contributing scholars. Representing the spectrum of evangelicalism, the translators come from a wide range of denominations and various countries and continually review new research to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance, and authority. Every NIV Bible that is purchased helps Biblica translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world.

My Thoughts

This Bible is marketed “for girls”ages 8 and up but I am a 39 year old girl that absolutely loves it! The cover is hot pink with silver polka dots and the end papers are silver. The color combination is very pretty and girly (I love it!) There is also silver stitching around the cover of the Bible. The material is leathersoft and it seems like it will be very durable and hold up well to daily use.

The size is very nice…it’s easy to hold and not too large but also not too small (the text is easy to read and the coloring pages and margins are ample in size).

The Bible is full of beautiful illustrations of verses and pictures. The illustrations range from simple to more intricate. There are also many lined margins for notes and journaling by the owner of the Bible.

The pages are a decent thickness and would work well with colored pencils, watercolors, or gel-pens.

I am thoroughly impressed with this adorable Bible and look forward to spending many hours coloring the beautiful illustrations.

I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls from Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing) for this review. This post is sponsored by Zondervan.

Giveaway!

Beautiful Word Giveaway.jpg

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Download some of the Coloring pages here!