Showing posts with label Books for Adults. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books for Adults. Show all posts

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Captain's Confidant: A Regency Romance - Larkhall Letters Book 2 Review

I previously reviewed the first book in the Larkhall Letters series. Because it was such a delightful book to read, I immediately started the second book in the series, The Captain's Confidant

We originally met Bridget Northcott in book 1, The Ace of Hearts. I instantly liked her!  She was a gracious hostess, sweet friend, and clearly someone who could keep secrets.  In book 1, Bridget didn't even tell her brother, Matthew, Alice Rosemeyer's real reasons for visiting his estate, Larkhall.

When Bridget shared her own secret with Alice and told her why she wasn't interested in considering any would-be suitors, it is obvious why keeping confidences was so important to Bridget. She had a big secret of her own!  For years, she had been in love with her brother's friend, Captain Colin Foster.

Any romantic reading the book would hope that Bridget's captain returned her love. However, at the beginning of book 2, when we discover that Captain Foster is engaged to someone else, that hardly seems likely. 


The Captain's Confidant Synopsis

 The Captain's Confidant: A Regency Romance (Larkhall Letters Book 2)Check PriceWhen his older brother dies in an accident, Captain Foster is forced to return home and assume his place as heir and master of Thorncarrow.  Colin resents having to leave his career and his beloved sea. He has been living the life he wanted.  Now, he is choked by obligations, debt, and an unwanted estate. Captain Colin Foster is a very unhappy man.

When they find out that Colin is back at Thorncarrow, Matthew and Oliver Northcott make plans to visit him.  They hope they might be able to help him ease into his new role as owner of an estate. Plus, they are interested in how he had so quickly become engaged to their neighbor, Miss. Tabitha Terrell.  

Bridget is heartbroken to hear of Colin's engagement and questions how he could even consider marrying Tabitha. He knows firsthand of the spiteful things that Tabitha did to Bridget when they were kids. She is determined to find out how he could possibly love her and convinces her brother, Matthew, that he should allow her to accompany them to Thorncarrow.  However, upon arrival, is seems Colin is not thrilled to see Bridget. He sends her and her companion to stay in the dower's house with his mother.

In her own state of distress, Bridget decides to vent her anger through a letter that is never meant to be delivered.  However, a maid finds the letter and promptly takes it to the addressee, Captain Colin Foster.  After Colin reads the letter, he decides to write one of his own and that is how Bridget becomes the Captain's confidant. 


My Conclusion

Sharing secrets with someone you trust is something we all need to be able to do from time to time. Knowing they would never betray you is paramount.  

This is a sweet story of an old friendship that is reestablished after years of separation.  It is also the story of forgiveness and reconciliation of other broken relationships.  No doubt, there is a message of encouragement laced within the pages of this story for all of us if we take the time to reflect upon it.

 




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Friday, September 17, 2021

The Ace of Hearts: A Regency Romance - Larkhall Letters Book 1 Review

The Ace of Hearts
I've only read a few Regency romance novels and I don't remember ever recommending one in the past. While they are clearly romantic fiction, which is my preferred genre, there is no guarantee they will be clean and wholesome.  When I search for a new book, I have learned to use the term "clean and wholesome" and have had much greater success finding a romantic fiction book that doesn't include graphic sex.

I've seen Regency romance novels in the "clean and wholesome" search results, but past experience has made me hesitate to choose one again. However, when I saw "The Ace of Hearts" was included in my KindleUnlimited membership, I felt I had nothing to lose if I tried a Regency romance again.  After all, I could stop reading if it became too racy and know that I had not spent a dime on the novel.  I'm really glad I gave that genre another chance!

I love historical fiction and thanks to Pride and Prejudice, I am very fond of the British Regency era depicted in books, especially if the book includes a touch of humor. While I am fascinated by the aristocracy, I admit I am glad I don't live under their rigid rules and expectations for women.  The "Larkhall Letters" book series reminds me, once again, to be grateful that I was not subject to an arranged marriage because my family estate needed an infusion of cash, or because someone was in the right social class.

In "The Ace of Hearts", Alice Rosemeyer went to great lengths and engaged in socially unacceptable activity in order to avoid her stepfather's arrangement for her marriage and life.  Given her circumstances, I'm sure I would have been inclined to run away too.

 

The Ace of Hearts Book Synopsis

 The Ace of Hearts: A Regency Romance
(Larkhall Letters Book 1)
Check Price
Alice thought she had found a way out of having to marry her stepfather's choice when she and her step-brother, Isaac, colluded to help Isaac win the heart of a wealthy heiress, Diana Herring.  He had agreed to use some of Diana's dowry to setup a dowry for Alice that would attract a more desirable gentleman for her to wed.  Alice's hopes, along with her stepbrother's hopes, were dashed when his hopeful bride's brother refused Isaac as a suitor for Diana. 

While Thomas Herring may have made a very wise decision for his sister, Diana, that decision made Alice desperate to devise another way to gain her independence.  Without telling anyone, including her stepbrother, she made plans for her and her younger sister, Louisa, to visit a friend in another city for the summer.  Bridget Northcott was excited to have the two Rosemeyer sisters join her at Larkhall and was more than happy to introduce them to prospects, which happened to be her brothers friends and guests for the summer.  Surely the sisters would catch the eye of a more desirable suitor.  

But, Alice did not wish to be bound by matrimony. She much preferred the idea of being independent and able to provide for herself and her sister if necessary.  When she found a like-minded ally, as well as financial backing, in Diana's aunt, she was thrilled to consider a different future.  It was one, however, that would require careful planning and anonymity. Together, they made a plan.

Thus, the Ace of Hearts was established and open for business!

 

My Conclusion

I found this to be a delightful read that occasionally made me laugh. I could easily envision the characters as described by Ashtyn Newbold. Their actions, unusual, yet creative schemes, and antics were rather entertaining.  Plus, the parlor games were quite amusing! 

This is one Regency Romance Novel I can highly recommend! I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.





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Friday, July 9, 2021

A Better Country Book Series by Kristina Hall Reviewed

A Better Country Book Series
When I received a request to review "To the Uttermost", which is book 2 of A Better Country series by Kristina Hall, I quickly agreed to read it.  However, I wanted to start with book 1, "Strangers and Pilgrims" and I'm really glad I did.  

Reading Strangers and Pilgrims first allowed me the opportunity to get to know the main characters in the series.  Understanding their background and the struggles this created family survived, helped me appreciate and understand them.  I doubt I would have grasped the depth and reason for their close relationships without the revelations of book one.

Both books caused me to really stop and think about several things. When reading books, hearing stories, or visiting battleground sites of the American Civil War, I often consider how families were forever changed.  Reading a book, even a fiction book, about a soldier who returned home to find his parents dead and his home town overrun by the enemy, is not a scenario I previously considered. However, I have no doubt it is a plausible plot and was, most likely, a reality for far too many at that time in history.

As long as the reader keeps in mind that there are evil people in every region of every country and doesn't get locked up on Civil War sides, I believe "Strangers and Pilgrims" offers an excellent message for all.

It is unlikely anyone would struggle with the content in "To the Uttermost", but you will want the background provided in "Strangers and Pilgrims". 

 

Strangers and Pilgrims Synopsis

In book 1 of A Better Country series, Harry Reiner has just returned to his home town in Texas and to a very unwelcome reception.  He is easily identifiable as a Confederate soldier in this town overrun by Yankees, and they are intolerant of his presence.  He is shot and left for dead in the middle of the street. Only one woman has the courage to come to his aid.  

Rose Kendrick previously stood up against the self-appointed leader of the town, Edwin Burton, and is almost an outcast herself. She survives by taking in laundry, but once she takes in Harry, her business completely dries up. She finds herself, her home, and her loved ones under physical attack. 

Sally Guilford is an orphan who was previously taken in by Rose.  She is Rose's helper, adopted daughter, and biggest defender. Sally is also Rose's greatest area of weakness and evil people are not beyond threatening or even harming a child.

Doyle is an adult man who is Rose's only friend in town. Every time Rose is under attack, Doyle comes to her defense, which puts him in great danger.  Because he has previously taken a bullet while defending Rose, his physical strength is limited.

These four individuals don't stand much of a chance against a lawless town full of enemies lead by a vengeful and spiteful leader.

------

Throughout this book, Christians are reminded that they are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth".  (Hebrews 11:13)

 

To The Uttermost Synopsis

Book 2 of the series picks up a few years later where Harry Reiner and his family are living on his parents horse farm, but the book begins in the wilderness of Colorado with Owen Lockart and his 3 brothers escorting a captured outlaw to jail. 

The outlaw is a member of Vic Guilford's gang. When the 4 brothers are ambushed by the gang, only Owen survives.  He vows revenge for his brother's murders. 

Owen heads to a farm in Texas (Harry Reiner's farm) where Guilford's sister lives. He believes the brother will visit his sister there and give him opportunity to exact revenge.  Since Harry is familiar with the Lockart farm and their excellent horses, he doesn't hesitate to hire Owen.  Of course, Harry has no knowledge of Owen's true intentions.

When the area farms are hit by rustlers, Harry and his workers establish around the clock watches. When the rustlers attack his farm, they kill one of his men and shoot Harry.  All of the remaining workers, except Owen, quit. They don't believe defending Reiner and his farm are worth their lives. 

Once again, Harry finds himself wounded and fighting a battle with little help.  Unfortunately, his one remaining healthy worker has ulterior motives and Vic Guilford is back in town.  Owen will go to great extremes to take down Guilford, but when another's life is threatened, will he go to the uttermost?

------

The message of this book is clear as we watch how a desire for revenge will eat away at someone's character and overshadow all else.  

 

My Recommendation

Both of these books deal with the insidious nature of anger, hate, & revenge.  Conversely, they also include kindness, love, & forgiveness.  

Too often, books can make forgiveness look easy and don't really explore the depths of emotions.  I don't believe that is the case with either of these books.  I think the author did an excellent job of walking us through the events, as well as the hearts and thoughts of those involved.  She didn't try to make it all look simple or effortless, and everything isn't tied up neatly with the bow of Christianity.  

We all struggle with being humans.  I highly recommend this series to believers who recognize we are strangers on this earth seeking Him to the uttermost.





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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Discover Chirp: Awesome Affordable Audiobook Deals

Audiobooks are a wonderful complement to print, Kindle and other reading formats. Listening to a novel or non-fiction book while driving, walking, riding or waiting for public transit, traveling, sitting in waiting rooms, crafting, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning or doing laundry or yard work can make these activities much more enjoyable. A talented narrator can significantly enhance the experience of consuming a good book. Jim Dale’s Grammy award-winning narration of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a perfect example. Unfortunately, production costs are higher than for print and digital books, which makes audiobooks more expensive to purchase.

This review will introduce my fellow bibliophiles to Chirp, a wonderful service that offers a changing selection of awesome, affordable, limited-time audiobook deals without the financial commitment of a monthly or annual membership fee that Audible requires.

Best-Selling Audiobooks for Less Than $5 - chirpbooks.com screenshot

Audiobooks Continue to Grow in Popularity

2020 was the ninth straight year of double-digit revenue growth for audiobook publishers, jumping 12% vs. 2019 revenues to reach $1.3 billion, according to this year’s sales survey conducted by research firm InterQ for the Audio Publishers Association (APA). More than 71,000 audiobooks were published in 2020, a 39% increase versus 2019, per the APA’s consumer survey of American adult audiobook listeners conducted by Edison Research. [Source: Audio Publishers Association press release, June 1, 2021]

This rapidly growing trend toward publishing titles in audiobook editions as well as print and e-book formats is wonderful news to the many avid readers (including myself) who love listening to books as well as reading them. 

The quality of the narrators and their performances has improved dramatically in recent years. More and more books are being narrated by award-winning stage and film actors. Depending on their contracts, narrators may be paid at an hourly rate per “finished hour” of audio, and/or may earn royalties based on sales. A sound engineer, producer, or other people may be required, and production and editing costs are much higher than for other publishing formats. Consequently, audiobooks are priced higher than their print or e-book counterparts.

Buying vs. Borrowing Audio Books

Because of their higher price tag, many of us download at least some of the recorded books we want to read the public library. Unfortunately, most libraries can’t afford to make a wide selection of audiobooks available to their borrowers, and the very long waiting lists for popular titles can be quite frustrating. As a result, many of us who love listening to them purchase at least some audio books rather than borrowing them from the library. In fact, 38% of audiobook listeners who responded to the above-mentioned APA consumer survey of American adult audiobook listeners indicated that they subscribe to at least one audio book service, such as Audible or Chirp.

Audible dominates the audiobook services market to the point where the Audible name is synonymous with this book format. As an Amazon company, no would-be rival can hope to compete with its enormous library, financial backing, in-house production studio, author and publisher relationships, and marketing and technology resources.

I have been an Audible member since 2006 and remain a huge fan and loyal customer. I appreciate the many major improvements, such as Whispersync for Voice technology (which allows you to switch seamlessly between listening to a book on Audible and reading it on a Kindle or Kindle app) and the excellent, exclusive content produced by Audible Studios. However, the steep increases in the cost of membership and the changes to their membership plan model in recent years has made it less affordable.

Over the years, I looked into several less expensive sources for audio books that others had recommended, but the limited selection and desirability of the titles on offer, the number of abridged versus unabridged books and, in some cases, the quality of the narrations (some of which were machine-generated) was always disappointing. After being an Audible member for so many years, the bar for a good audiobook acquisition and listening experience was set high, and nothing else I found came close to measuring up. I gave up on finding a less expensive Audible alternative for my own needs. 

However, Chirp, a competing service that offers amazing limited-time deals on popular audiobook titles at incredibly low prices, has turned out to be a fantastic complement to my Audible membership. And for less hardcore audiobook listeners who haven't built up a library of audiobooks in Audible's proprietary format over the past 15 years, Chirp might be a viable and much less expensive alternative. 

Chirp Audiobook Deals Make Listening to Books Affordable

Last year, as I bemoaned how much money I was spending on my growing Audible library, a close friend and fellow avid reader told me about Chirp, where he frequently found titles that interested him at a fraction of list price. Given my previous experience with lower-cost audiobook sources, I was somewhat skeptical about how good this Audible alternative could be. But, based on my friend’s enthusiastic recommendation, I went online to learn more about it.

I found several articles about Chirp that concurred with my friend’s opinion about this new-to-me site and book listening app. The more I read about the company and its audiobook deals, the more interested I became.

I went to the Chirp website and browsed their limited-time audiobook deals. If the selection of steeply discounted books didn’t interest me or had lots of negative reviews, they wouldn’t be a bargain at any price. To my surprise, that day’s featured deals included a few bestselling fiction and non-fiction titles priced at less than $5 each! I returned to check out the update crop of deals several times over the following week or two and was impressed by quality of the books across a wide range of genres being offered for just a few dollars apiece.

I signed up for the Chirp featured audiobook deals emails in October 2020 and have added quite a few new titles to my recorded books library since then. I still maintain my Audible membership for its enormous catalog, and because I own so many audiobooks in Audible’s proprietary format that I don’t want to lose access to. But, thanks to Chirp’s limited-time deals and notification emails, I’ve also discovered several new authors and series without paying a small fortune.

Here are the things I love most about using Chirp.

Find Fabulous Deals on Popular Audiobooks

Every day, you’ll find a good selection of limited-time Chirp Featured Deals that sell for a fraction of their list prices, with discounts up to 95% off!

At the time of publication, for example, there were 381 featured deals from $0.99 to $6.99, with the vast majority priced between $1.99 and $4.99, from popular authors as diverse as Janet Evanovich, Jane Austen, David Baldacci, Lisa Scottoline, Robert Heinlein, James Patterson, Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, David Sedaris, Jeffrey Archer, John Steinbeck, Stephanie Laurens and Robert Frost.

Chirp screenshot - audiobook Featured Deals

No Membership Fees, No Minimum Purchase

With Chirp, there is no ongoing financial commitment. Unlike Audible, whose listening plans are based on monthly or annual subscription fees, Chirp lets you buy as few or as many books as you want, as seldom or as often as you want. Never Miss a Great Audiobook Bargain You can sign up for Chirp’s daily or weekly featured deals notification emails to make sure you don’t miss a great deal. Or, if you prefer, you can opt out of the emails and visit the site whenever you wish to check out the bargains on offer that day.

A Low Cost Way to Try Audiobooks

If you're curious about audiobooks and want to give them a try, Chirp is a great way to start building a listening library without spending a lot of money.

Listen When You Want, the Way You Want

You can use the Chirp app on your iOS or Android phone or tablet, stream audiobooks from your Chirp library in a web browser on a laptop or other device, and even listen to your Chirp audiobooks on your Alexa-enabled devices after you enable the Chirp skill on the device and link your Chirp account.

Buy Once, Listen Again and Again

All books you purchase are yours to keep, so you can revisit your favorites even years later.

A Perfect Complement to Other Audiobook Sources

Whether you’re borrowing audiobooks from the library or buying them on Amazon or Audible, Chirp’s limited-time deals can help you listen to more of the books you want while saving you money.

A More Flexible Alternative to Audible, With A Smaller Catalog

In addition to the deeply discounted, limited-time deals, Chirp also sells many other audiobook titles at what they call "everyday value" pricing. Although you won’t find the vast selection of titles that Audible offers, there are still plenty of books to choose from. So, if you’re new to audiobooks or listen to them less frequently, Chirp can be a viable and far less expensive alternative to an Audible subscription plan.

Discover Great Reads With Book List Recommendations

The Chirp website has a well organized Book Lists section with smart, well written recommendations to help you discover titles you might not have known about otherwise.

Chirp website screenshot - top of Book Lists page

Books for Adults, Books for Kids

While the majority of titles on Chirp are for an adult audience, you'll also find plenty of books for kids, as well as some excellent recommendations in the "For the Kids" section of Chirp's Book Lists.

Screenshot of Chirp's recommended book lists for kids

Get 20% Off Your First Audiobook Purchase on Chirp

If you use my Chirp referral link, you'll get 20% off your first audiobook purchase (and I’ll also get 20% off my next purchase). It’s a win-win!

Explore today's limited-time audiobook deals on Chirp and save 20% on your first order!

Do you have other favorite sources for buying or borrowing audiobooks? If so, please share them below in the comments. 



Discover Chirp: Awesome Affordable Audiobook Deals product review by Margaret Schindel

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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Her Silent Knight (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1) Reviewed

Her Silent Knight Book
Did you know that it is recorded that the Thames River has frozen over 24 times?  Seven of those times, the ice was solid enough that they held a Frost Fair in London.  

The celebrated Frost Fair of 1683-84 featured multiple activities including horse races, football, bowling, ice skating, sledding and more. Vendor booths were set up to sell souvenirs, food and refreshments. Londoner's clearly knew how to quickly make a rare occurrence into a fun festival for all.  

In 1814 (the last Frost Fair), an elephant was led across the ice. Reminiscent of previous frost fairs, there was dancing, ice skating and of course, vendors.  It lasted only 4 days before the ice broke up and several people drowned.

The very real historical Frost Fair of 1814 is the setting of the entire "Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair" series.  This series provides a wonderful look back into history, as well as some really awesome romantic stories. 

First in the series is "Her Silent Knight". It was such a captivating book, that I read it in one night.  Yes, it was nearly 4 am before I went to sleep, but it was worth it!  I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet story.


Her Silent Knight Synopsis

 Her Silent Knight: A Christmas Regency Romance (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1)Check PriceSelina Ellis becomes secretly engaged to Noah Skinner, a solicitor who is below her social status. Mr. Skinner would never be considered an acceptable suitor for Selina, especially by her own mother.  But, Selina doesn't care!  She believes she is in love with Mr. Skinner and when he proposes marriage at the Frost Fair, Selina agrees to marry him, even if it means they would be required to elope.  

The couples embrace is witnessed by a childhood friend that Selina hasn't seen in years. When Sir Edmund Sharp recognizes the two people hugging each other, he knows he must find a way to save Selina from the man with a scandalous reputation.  She is young, naive, and clearly unaware of Mr. Skinner's "manipulations". What Sir Edmund cannot immediately figure out is why Mr. Skinner would pursue a lady with no inheritance. Upon her father's death, their home and money was entailed to a distant relative since Mr. Ellis has no sons.  That left Selina and her mother living on a meager stipend.

Sir Edmund agrees to keep Selina's secret if she will make sure he is invited to spend the Christmastide (the 12 days of Christmas) in her home. The request makes sense because his grandmother recently died and he has no other family in London. Selina's mother had always adored Edmund, plus she saw him as the perfect suitor for Selina. Therefore, securing an invitation for Christmastide was not difficult at all.

Now, Sir Edmund only has to figure out how to separate Selina from Mr. Skinner.  That won't be as easy as Sir Edmund had originally thought since Mr. Skinner has possession of Edmund's grandmothers will. Skinner is willing to do whatever is necessary to keep Sir Edmund from interfering in his relationship with Selina.




 

"Her Silent Knight" is a sweet story of love, chivalry, and childhood loyalties embedded in an enchanting historical fiction, set in the fantastic short-lived Frost Fair on the Thames River in London.  It is the first book in the Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair series shown below.

All but one of these authors are new to me.  I love that when it happens in a co-op series!

 

 Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair (5 Book Series)Check Price



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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Reviewing Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott

 The idea behind this book is just horrifying for any parent, let me paint you a picture .....


Purchase Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott on Amazon - photo by Lou16

Imagine you have a young child and one day the police come to your door to arrest your partner for child endangerment, at the same time a social worker and another police officer inform you that your daughter has to go with them and you can't accompany her because you may influence what she says.

Wouldn't you go out of your mind with worry about your child as well as wondering if you knew your partner as well as you thought and going over every little detail that you could think of?

Now let's say you wait and you don't hear anything so finally you decide you're going to call the police station because, seriously, your daughter must be worried not being with her mum for so long.   The next thing you discover is the police have no record of your partner's arrest and certainly don't have your daughter.   It was an elaborate ruse to kidnap your child and now you have to work out why - will there be a ransom, was your partner involved?

This book was a real page-turner and if you enjoy suspenseful fiction then you will absolutely love this.   I did work out who was behind it before the book revealed which I found very frustrating, but that's something I'm known for with both movies and books!

This book gets a big thumbs up from me, although I am very glad my daughter is an adult now, the author's idea is truly terrifying to any parent and I'm not sure I would've wanted to read it had my own daughter been a pre-schooler.   That's how good it was.

I have never come across Rachel Abbott before but I will certainly be looking out for some of her books in the future.   I actually got the kindle version of this book for free as I have an Amazon Prime account.   I love having a Prime membership because I can try different authors and even different genres of books for free before purchasing more books.

Rachel Abbott has several other books available in book form, in Kindle form as well as audiobooks, in fact, a couple of them are available for free if you decide to trial audible (I don't have this yet, but a number of people have been telling me to try it).





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Friday, October 23, 2020

Forever By Your Side by Tracie Peterson Book Review

Forever by Your Side
As soon as I saw this book available, I requested a copy.  Tracie Peterson is one of my all-time favorite Christian fiction authors.  I always love her books.  

I didn't realize this was the third book in the series, Willamette Brides, but that was not a problem.  I had already read the first two books, so I was familiar with the characters and the background story for the book.

A reader would probably enjoy this book without reading the first two in the series, but I'm not sure it would mean as much to them.  Knowing the complete backstory, what brought us to this point in time on the Indian reservation, fills in what might otherwise be blanks in the book.  I do recommend reading the first two books first, but you will definitely want to read the resolutions in "Forever By Your Side". 


Synopsis of Forever By Your Side

 Forever by Your Side
(Willamette Brides)
Constance Browning is thrilled when she is hired to catalogue the history of the American Indians on the Oregon reservation, her own childhood home.  Constance's parents are still missionaries there and she is excited to return after years away at school.  

Tom Lowell, Connie's best friend, is the second half of the team hired to record the historical facts.  Together, they travel from the East Coast to the Oregon reservation.  Once there, they are welcomed to stay with Connie's parents instead of other government accommodations.  This is an optimum arrangement for Connie & Tom since they also hope to find out who is supplying the Indians with whiskey and guns.  It has been rumored that her parents are behind the shipments and are organizing an upraising.  

Connie is certain her parents are not involved in anything that would put the Indians in danger.  She knows their hearts and their mission to help the people they love.  Unfortunately, her opinion doesn't matter when there is evidence that her father is part of the operation.  

Since Connie knows some of the Indians, she & Tom plan to use their research as a cover for inquiring about a potential upraising.  They are stunned by some old friends who now consider Connie's family the enemy.  

Connie is equally surprised by the government agent, Clint Singleton, on the reservation who now expresses a romantic interest in her.  She had a childhood crush on him years before and he had totally dismissed her then.  She has to ask herself, is she still in love with Clint?

All the changes are confusing, but Connie is determined to prove her parents are innocent.  With the evidence against her father, that won't be easy to do.


My Recommendation

As I stated in my introduction, while this could be a stand-alone book, I believe the entire series should be read in order.  Connie's cousins, their marriages, and most especially one husband's murder, are important to understanding the entire Willamette Brides story plot and the resolutions in this book.  

Personally, I was glad to finally know the true identity of Mr. Smith and the reasons behind his actions.  

The previous books in the series, Secrets of My Heart and The Way of Love are wonderful books, full of love, mystery and an excellent story that carried through the series.  I highly recommend the Willamette Brides series by Tracie Peterson, especially now that we have Forever By Your Side that provides the answers and resolutions.


 

 

I received an advance copy of "Forever by Your Side" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Tracie Peterson, and the publisher, Bethany House, for this opportunity. 
 



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Friday, October 9, 2020

A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book 1) by Kristi Ann Hunter Reviewed

A Defense of Honor has a very unique plot. That fact alone drew me to this book. Plus, I had never read a book by Kristi Ann Hunter and I love finding new authors (new to me). 

Normally, I review books that I can highly recommend to anyone.  A Defense of Honor delves into some very unpleasant realistic attitudes, especially during the time period of the book's setting of London in 1816.  Therefore, I would only recommend this book to someone who doesn't mind examining the dirty underbelly of society, as well as their own hearts and minds. 

As I read the book, I found myself questioning several things, which is most unusual when reading a Christian fiction.


Synopsis of A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book1)

Kit FitzGilbert is "The Governess".  She is hated by London society, even though her true identity is concealed.  Her self-appointed job is to ensure that illegitimate children are financially supported by their wealthy fathers.  She and her friends also protect the mothers and allow them a way to re-enter society without the child or society being any the wiser.

 A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book #1)Kit, Daphne & Jess provide a home for the children which is supported by the funds that Kit extracts from their fathers.  

Haven Manor is a large secluded estate that is overseen by a local solicitor, Nash Banfield.  The owner has no desire to live there, so Nash allows the women and children to live in the manor.  This arrangement benefits all parties because the women take care of the upkeep of the manor, the children have a home away from public awareness or scorn, and the owner's property maintains it's value.

It all works quite well for twelve years.  Then, Kit meets Graham, the Viscount Wharton, who is heir to the earldom of Grableton, at a ball she was not invited to attend.  When they go their separate ways, he doesn't even know her full name, but he is haunted by the memory of the beautiful woman in the green gown.

When Graham accidentally finds Kit at Haven Manor while searching for a friend's sister, he is thrilled to once again have an opportunity to get to know her.  However, even though he now knows where she lives, he has no idea who she really is.  In fact, until recently, he had never even heard of The Governess.  

Their relationship is tested multiple times as he discovers more about her, the children, and the household.  It is highly unlikely that a friendship between the two can continue.

 

My Opinion the Book "A Defense of Honor"

Even though this is a Christian fiction, it challenged me.  The reading was not difficult, but some of the judgemental attitudes of the characters were hard for me to embrace.  I don't really understand being able to totally write-off someone you love and dismiss them completely from your life.  

After reading certain chapters, I would stop and think about them.  Question if I knew someone who had done anything like that.  I wondered if the attitudes and actions were very "real-life".  As I delved into my own memories, I found that I have known individuals who, in fact, walk away from family members and friends.  They seemingly never look back, yet leave broken hearts and pain that can take years to overcome, if ever.

There was another point of opinion I found difficult.  The main character, Kit, was judged harshly for the means she used to ensure illegitimate children were financially supported by their biological fathers.  I'm not sure I see the great "sin" in her methods, even though I certainly see the danger.

Plus, the ending bothered me. I can't go into detail about that without ruining the book for you, but I would love to know how others feel about the plot's resolve.  If you read the book, please come back and tell me what you thought.


 

 




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Friday, September 18, 2020

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker - Book Reviewed

Otherwise Engaged is a fabulous book!  It is a clean and wholesome romance for those of us who do not like explicit content.  It is also a historical fiction which is one of my favorite genres.  

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Barker, but it will not be the last!   She is a phenomenal writer who includes vivid descriptions of people and surroundings.  I was barely into the first chapter of Otherwise Engaged when I noted how much I loved this author’s captivating descriptions. I could easily envision the people and places in my mind’s eye. 

I also enjoy the touches of humor Barker includes throughout the book.  Several times I laughed out loud at the witty repartee between characters. 

All of these exceptional elements made this a thoroughly enjoyable book which I would highly recommend.   


Synopsis of Otherwise Engaged
England - 1822

Rebecca Rowley has just returned home from Brighton.  She has a big announcement to share with her family.  One that she knows her family will not be excited to hear.  Rebecca is engaged to Edward Bainbridge, whom she just met while in Brighton.  
 
She had heard the Bainbridge name before.  Their fathers had been business partners years before.  The reasons for the dissolution of that partnership had always been a secret that the parents never shared with their children.  Neither Rebecca nor Edward knew why they couldn't be together.  They agreed to find out the secret and, together, try to get their families to leave the past in the past, forgive and forget whatever was necessary, so they could be married with the acceptance and support of both families.  
 
 Otherwise EngagedCheck PriceRebecca had another secret.  She loved to ride her horse, Stella, but she enjoyed riding bareback.  She knew her family would disapprove of her riding in such an unladylike and dangerous way.  So, she would leave the estate with Stella saddled, then remove the saddle when they reached a secluded meadow.  Together, they would run like the wind, free and unencumbered by restraints. 
 
After one of their unconventional rides, Stella heard someone crying for help.  She and Stella immediately responded.  A child was drowning.  Rebecca ran into the water and swam to the girl, whose dress was caught on an underwater tree branch.  Once Rebecca freed her, she pulled her to safety on shore where they were joined by the child's very angry adult half-brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery.  This was definitely not the best way to meet new neighbors, especially since Rebecca was soaking wet and anyone could see that her nearby horse was not wearing a saddle.  This stranger now knew one of her best-kept secrets.  
 
Rebecca soon learned that Nicholas Avery was his sister, Olivia's, guardian.  Her mother had recently died and their father had died a few years before.  Nicholas barely knew Olivia since she was a much younger step-sister.  He had been in the navy all of her life and had only seen her a few times.  He wasn't always sure how to handle Olivia.  As a navy lieutenant, he knew how to make men obey his orders, but was clueless about how to deal with his little sister.  Rebecca stepped in to try to help.
 
Over the next few weeks, Rebecca and Nicholas became friends.  She confided in him and he kept her secrets, plus he enabled her to pursue activities that were otherwise not considered acceptable for a lady in society.   Rebecca's mother thought Nicholas would make the perfect suitor for her, but Nicholas knew Rebecca was otherwise engaged.
 

Conclusion


I immediately adored the free-spirited Miss Rebecca Rowley.  I applauded her desire to take on difficult tasks and live life on her own terms, not by wealthy society rules that stifled women.  I was tickled by Lieutenant Nicholas Avery’s independent little sister, Olivia, who clearly had a mind of her own.  I loved the witty quips of Rebecca’s family, as well as her conversations with Nicholas, and the jocular repartee they shared with each other.   
 
There are some authors who leave me wondering how they do it. How they write so well that they capture my attention.  How they describe their characters with such detail that I feel as if I know them, that they are close friends who have shared every confidence. How they weave a story that captivates me to the point of tears, laughter and even anger. 
 
Joanna Barker has done just that, and more, in “Otherwise Engaged”.  I have no doubt that I will miss Rebecca, Nicholas, and even Olivia in the upcoming weeks.





I received an advance copy of "Otherwise Engaged" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Joanna Barker, and the publisher, Covenant Communications, for this opportunity.



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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Take a Break and Solve Some Riddles

Fun Combined with Distraction - 2020's Prescription

With so many challenges in 2020, finding distracting things to do has been priority number one for my family and me.

Simply enjoying each other's company and being grateful for what we do have has been a priority in our life these past several months. But truth be told, it's still a conscious effort to keep the mind clear and hope alive. Life has a way of sneaking up and challenging our sanity. Sometimes getting back to the basics is the best solution.

So that brings me to riddles. Lol. Truth.

I decided to write riddle books as a form of entertainment and distraction.  Strangely enough, I started writing them in late 2019. Premonition maybe? To date, I've self-published five riddle books. My latest book is Halloween Riddles, featured below.

Available on Amazon
Turn the World Off With a Smile

When I created the books, and the related website, "StumpedRiddles.com," my tag line for both became, 'turn the world off with a smile.'

My latest project, Halloween Riddles, was a time-consuming venture. It involved approximately three months from writing to publishing. It was published on Amazon in August 2020.

This book features eighty riddles divided into eight chapters. The chapters are Unseen Halloween, Dead Halloween, Costumes, Halloween Food, Halloween Decorating, A Famous Cartoon, Halloween Emotions, and Halloween Noises.

The book was written for the avid Halloween fans and for parties.

You Can Also Solve Riddles Online

I built StumpedRiddles.com to coincide with the published riddle books.

The site features a growing list of originally written riddles to solve. When you need a mindless activity, head over at your leisure to tackle a few.

Some of the riddles are unique to the website, while others are from the already published riddle books.

A Growing List of Original, Personally Written Online Riddles to Keep You Busy Here

Here's one of the riddles you'll find on the website:

On StumpedRiddles.com

Did you guess the answer?

Oh, what the heck, I'll give you one more to ponder:

On StumpedRiddles.com

Riddles might seem mundane, but these days, that's a feature, not a bug!

I created the books for multiple purposes: Parties, Games, Loot Bags, Stocking Stuffers, Mental Challenges, Family Gatherings, and of course, Distraction.

Have fun, and lose yourself in brain teasers :)





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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kate Quinn's The Huntress Book Review

The Huntress Book Review
Told in three narratives, Kate Quinn's book, The Huntress, dives into Nazi-era Soviet Union and post-war Boston. It follows the post-war efforts of a small company whose purpose is hunting for and bringing to justice war criminals.

The main characters include Ian, a proper British journalist who was on the ground in Europe during the war and who turns postwar away from journalism to the task of finding war criminals. His purpose becomes a bit clouded by vengeance when he searches for the elusive target for whom this book is titled. That is, the Huntress who ruthlessly lured and killed men, women and children.

The second character is Nina, a woman who grew up dirt-poor and savage in Siberia. As an adult she becomes a pilot for the Soviet Union and a member of the all-female Night Witch bomber regiment who, during her time on the ground during the war, has an encounter with the Huntress.

Finally, we have Jordan, an ambitious teenager who lives with her father and sister in Boston. She wants to become a photographer and to break out of the societal requirement for a woman of the times that says she must get married, settle down and have children.

In the end, all are brought together by the Huntress.

THE HUNTRESS OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER


Here’s a peek via the official book trailer from publisher Williams Morrow:




REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave The Huntress a 4.27 out of 5 stars and 91 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s pretty good.

On the back cover, Booklist says that this book is “An impressive historical novel sure to harness WWIIi-fiction fans’ attention.” I agree.

The Washington Post calls this book a “compulsively readable historical novel” and says that it is a “powerful novel about unusual women facing sometimes insurmountable odds with grace, grit, love and tenacity.” I agree.

WHO SHOULD READ THE HUNTRESS?


Fans of World War II fiction, which by the way comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, will enjoy this book. In particular, if you would like a look into the hunt for war criminals, Russian folklore and the lesser-known world of the Night Witches, you will want to pick this book up. If you enjoyed Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network or Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz you will want to read this book. It quickly becomes a thriller and a page turner demonstrating how war changes people and the costs of seeking justice.

You should know that this book has numerous adult themes, which is what you naturally comes with a book about war crimes. Those themes include abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use, war and sex.

Do be aware that there are numerous books called the Huntress. Don't make the mistake that a friend of mine made and read the wrong one. You can find your copy of Kate Quinn’s The Huntress on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:

Buy your copy of The Huntress on Amazon.
The Ragged Edge of Night Book Review.
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale Book Review.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Movie Review.









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