Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano Review

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Synopsis: When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.

Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.

My Thoughts: This story had so many components that I loved…richly developed characters, a slightly creepy setting with a gothic feel, a mystery, and some twists and turns.

The plot is complex and would be difficult to describe but I feel that it would be best to read without knowing a lot about the story. The main character, Aurelie, was adorable…I related to her in many ways…she was very self conscious of what others thought of her and escaped into books. Her faith was admirable and honest.

I found some revelations of this book to be very surprising as it didn’t follow the “happy ending, sugary sweet” cliche that Christian fiction often tends to fall into. I was pleased with this as life doesn’t always give us the happy endings that we hope for.

I loved the characters in the story…Politano described them in a way that I was able to picture each of them very vividly and had strong feelings towards all of them.

The setting was also perfect…most of the story takes place in Lynhurst Manor, an old mansion in England with many empty rooms and dark corridors. I truly felt as though I was walking the halls with Aurelie throughout the story.

Overall, this was a wonderful story that I highly enjoyed and would definitely recommend. I am eagerly awaiting Politano’s next release!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review.

 

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Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano Review and Giveaway!

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About the Book

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Name of book: Out of the Ordinary

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Christian historical

Release Date: November 7, 2017

“With all the charm of a Regency romance, the humor of a drawing room farce, and the swoonworthy delight of a fairy tale, Turano’s first Apart from the Crowd historical absolutely sparkles.”–Publishers Weekly on Behind the Scenes

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

“The second installment of Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series is laugh-out-loud enjoyable. The foibles of the characters, balanced out with a light-hearted yet meaningful love story, is a true treat. . . . All of the threads are tied together in the end, even the small mysteries and side stories. It makes for a very satisfying read when the last page is turned.”–RT Book Reviews

My Thoughts: This was my first experience reading a book by Jen Turano and I’m now eagerly looking forward to picking up another one. I wasn’t sure if her books would be my style but I think she could easily become one of my favorite authors.

Filled with wittiness, humor, drama, and great clothing descriptions, this book was a ton of fun. The characters in this book were some of my favorites. I particularly loved Gertrude and Harrison. Gertrude didn’t always conform to everyone else and she had a very sweet spirit. I also adored Harrison, who seemed a bit clueless at times, which causes some funny moments. His personality is very sweet and endearing, even though some of his gestures result in unplanned results. There are also some side characters who really added to my reading enjoyment.

The plot was original and the fact that a portion of it was set on a yacht made it very fun. I was surprised by some tender moments that brought tears to my eyes. There were also some moments that had me laughing out loud, one scene in particular that I described to my husband because I thought it was so funny.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment I spent with this book and I would definitely recommend it. It is book 2 in a series (Apart from the Crowd series) and even though I hadn’t read book 1, I was easily able to read and enjoy the story.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received a free copy from the author. No review, positive or otherwise, was required — all opinions are my own.

About the Author

Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at http://www.jenturano.com.

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Blog Stops

Vicky sluiter, November 11

Bookworm Mama, November 11

cherylbbookblog, November 11

Book by Book, November 11

Lane Hill House, November 12

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 12

C Jane Read, November 12

The Power of Words, November 12

Smiling Book Reviews, November 13

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 13

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 14

Faithfully Bookish, November 14

BigreadersiteNovember 14

Mommynificent, November 14

All 4 and About Books, November 14

Just the Write Escape, November 15

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Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 15

Pause for Tales, November 16

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 16

A Baker’s Perspective, November 16

To Everything A Season, November 16

Neverending Stories, November 17

Have A Wonderful Day, November 17

Christian Bookaholic, November 17

A Reader’s Brain, November 18

Karen Sue Hadley, November 18

The April JournalNovember 18

Cafinated Reads, November 18

Bibliophile ReviewsNovember 19

Blogging With CarolNovember 19

Mary Hake, November 19

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 19

Baker Kella, November 20

Rachel’s Back Talk, November 20

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

Joy of ReadingNovember 21

Blossoms and Blessings, November 21

Remembrancy, November 21

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 22

Splashes of JoyNovember 22

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, November 22

amandainpa, November 22

Inspiration Clothesline, November 23

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 23

A Greater YesNovember 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 23

Radiant Light, November 24

Fiction, Faith, and Fun, November 24

Raining Butterfy Kisses, November 24

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate the tour, Bethany House is giving away a grand prize of Two Jen Turano Novels and a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4664b04914/

 

 

 

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander Review

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Synopsis: A novella to launch a brand new three-book series . . .

In the midst of war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas, the cost of love . . . and of loving again.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. About to be evicted, she sees an advertisement for the Ladies Aid Society Auction and applies for a position—only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity. And friendship. But can she trust him? Is Jake Winston the man he appears to be? Having lost everything once, Aletta is determined to guard not only her own heart, but also her son’s.

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffers a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Ladies Aid Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop of the real history of Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored . . . at Christmas.

My Thoughts: I believe this is the first Civil-War era Historical Fiction book that I’ve read and I found it very enjoyable. This book follows Aletta, who is a recent widow, following her husband Warren’s death as a Confederate soldier. She is facing dire straights, as are many women in the community, and receives an opportunity to work at the Carnton plantation.  It also follows Jake, a wounded soldier, who is visiting Carnton and coming to terms with his injuries.

I have visited the Gettysburg battlefield many times as it’s not far from my home and have often thought about what the soldiers experienced but this book caused me to consider what their wives went through. There were some heartbreaking and emotional moments throughout the book. It was such a dark and uncertain time in history, and I really enjoyed how Aletta stayed strong and used her experiences to help others.

I adored the characters and the setting at Carnton. I had heard many of my bookish friends raving about Tamera Alexander’s books and I have to agree that she is a great storyteller…she made the people and places come to life.

I am definitely looking forward to the release of the next book and would highly recommend this one.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers to review.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron Review

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Synopsis: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

My Thoughts: This book contains a lot of things that I love…Vaudeville, mystery, illusionists, and a surprising twist. The story revolves around Wren Lockhart, a famous illusionist who was an apprentice for Harry Houdini. After a magician performs an illusion that results in the death of a man, the FBI gets the help of Wren to decipher what really happened on that day.

I am gaining more and more appreciation for historical fiction and I love the time period of the 1920s.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was transported to the 20s…I could picture the theaters and flappers and glamorous parties that were vividly described in the story.

The characters were well developed, although I didn’t care for Wren at first but she grew on me as the story progressed.

I absolutely loved the scenes from Wren’s performances…I always loved watching illusionists and felt like an audience member watching her perform her amazing feats. I love Kristy Cambron’s writing style…it is very fluid and descriptive. She is very gifted at pulling the reader into the story.

The mystery seemed too weak to carry through the entire book. I found the resolution to be a bit rushed. I also didn’t care for the romance…it was very predictable and had an insta-love feel that seemed very unrealistic based on the personalities of the characters.

Overall, the story was a lot of fun and a great escape. I would highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction and the world of illusions.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

The After House by Michael Phillip Cash Review


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Goodreads Synopsis: Remy Galway and her daughter Olivia are rebuilding their life after a failed marriage in a 300 year old cottage in historic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Little do they know, another occupant is lurking in the haven of their own home. Will the After House be their shelter or their tomb?

My Thoughts: I requested this book because of the cover…it is one of my favorite book covers of all time. Based on the cover and synopsis, I expected a very creepy ghost story, but the story was a lot different than what I thought it would be. The story is not very scary and crosses many genres…paranormal, romance, historical.

I loved the setting of the story…it takes place on Long Island in a very old cottage that is inhabited by an old sea captain. I also  liked the writing style, it was very easy to fall into and adapt to. The story was unique and unlike anything I’d read before.

My main issue with this book was the romance…I despise insta-love, especially in an adult book. The romance in this book was ridiculously fast paced and immature (I tend to give some leeway to YA insta-love as the characters are teenagers).

Overall, this was an enjoyable book when taken for what it is. I do think people would be disappointed if they go into it expecting a scary horror story.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron Review

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About the book:

The Ringmaster’s Wife (Thomas Nelson, June 2016)

An ounce of courage. A split-second leap of faith. Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.

A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth!

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/28JxcaK

About the author:
 
 

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews’ “Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)” for February 2015.

Cambron is an art/design manager at TheGROVEstory.com storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

My Thoughts: I have always been a fan of circus stories…something about the circus setting is a lot of fun to read about. This story is loosely based around Mabel Ringling’s life but the main focus is on the fictional characters of Rosamund Easling and Caleb, a worker at the Ringling Brothers circus. The author paints the picture of the story very vividly. I felt like I was transported to the circus while I was reading…this is definitely a great book to escape into.

The characters were well developed. I liked learning about the real people of Mabel and John Ringling but the fictional characters also felt very real. There was some mystery and suspense to the story that added to my enjoyment. There was a moment in the story that really warmed my heart. The pacing was great, it was hard to put down.

My only problem with the story was that the plot was very similar to a movie that I’ve seen. I can’t mention the movie as it would give a lot away. I was a bit disappointed by the similarities because it became a bit predictable.

Overall, this was a great story, definitely one that I’ll revisit in the future when I’m in the mood for a trip to the circus.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Outspoken and fearless, Deborah has faith in God but struggles to see the potential her own life holds. As an Israelite woman, she’ll marry, have a family, and seek to teach her children about Adonai–and those tasks seem to be more than enough to occupy her time. But God has another plan for her. Israel has been under the near constant terror of Canaan’s armies for twenty years, and now God has called Deborah to deliver her people from this oppression. Will her family understand? Will her people even believe God’s calling on her life? And can the menace of Canaan be stopped?

My Thoughts: This book gave me great insight into what life was like, particularly for women in the times of the Old Testament. I’ve read the stories in the Bible but didn’t reflect on how difficult and scary life was for the Israelites who spent their lives being terrorized. This book focuses on Deborah, who is in the book of Judges. She judged people by explaining the law to them and solving disputes according to the law, as well as received visions of prophecy from God.

I liked Deborah’s character, she was strong and assertive, which I imagine was a rare trait in women at that time. I also liked that she was respected by men and women in the city. The story takes place at a time when the Canaanites were terrorizing Israel and going into towns and kidnapping and raping the women as well as killing the men. A war was brewing and Deborah was waiting on the Lord’s instruction of what to do.

There were a lot of subplots to the story and I found that I enjoyed the subplots a bit more than the main story. Towards the end, during the battle scenes, I found myself getting a little bit bored as I don’t usually enjoy battle scenes. I realize that these scenes were very necessary to the story but I didn’t find them entertaining.

Overall, it was a very interesting story and I would definitely pick up another book by this author.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.