The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden (Book 2)

The Gentleman and the Thief (Book #2) by Sarah M. Eden

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Book Review of The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

The first book in this series, The Lady and the Highwayman, was one of my favorite books by Sarah M. Eden. I loved the writing and the uniqueness of the story. Needless to say, I was very excited when I heard she had a second book coming out. So, what did I think? Well, let’s just say that The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden did not disappoint! This book could be counted as a stand-alone book, but it is a spin-off with characters from The Lady and the Highwayman. I think that The Gentleman and the Thief will be better understood if you read the other book first.

Blurb:

A gentleman scribes penny dreadful novels by night and falls in love with a woman who is a music teacher by day—and a thief at night.


LONDON 1865

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?”

My Book Review:

I seriously love this series. The characters are just so fun. I thought I loved Fletcher and Elizabeth from the last book, but Hollis and Ana are just as great! Sarah M. Eden does such a great job developing and writing her characters. They are well developed, unique, and each has a distinct voice. One thing I liked about Hollis and Ana was that they each have a second, secret life. They each have their reasons for their hidden activities, but I think it allowed them to be more accepting of each other.

I can’t write a review of this book without discussing the Dread Penny Society. The whole idea of it is so great. I love how they carry pennies as an acknowledgement of each other, and I love how they make it a priority to save the children living on the streets. What a noble cause! They don’t just do that, though! The Dread Penny Society also gets involved in crime rings and such, mostly because they are related to the kids as well. I love the idea of a secret society to do good!

This story delves into some of the things that high society deems inappropriate: gambling, stealing, and child slaves, especially the gambling. The stealing part is kind of brushed off a bit (you’ll need to read it to see why), but it goes quite into depth about gambling. The Dread Penny Society gets involved in the case! There are some very tense moments where danger is high, but it makes for quite the page turner.  

I really enjoyed The Gentleman and the Thief! Sarah M. Eden just knows how to draw the reader into her world. The descriptions are well done and they make you feel as if you’re there. Judging by the ending, I don’t think she’s finished with spin-offs from this group, and I am so happy about that! I hope there are more books coming! By the way, I LOVE the cover art on this book!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity in this book, but she does say things like, “He cursed under his breath.” I don’t love it when authors do that, but it is WAY better than actual profanity. There aren’t an “intimacy” scenes, but there is some kissing. This book does have some minor violence.)

Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Js3fk4

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden
 
 

Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

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Book Review of Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

My kids know that I am strictly a “No Christmas before Thanksgiving” type of mom. Yep, that’s me. We put up the tree and all the decorations the day after Thanksgiving. Oh, and no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving either! So when I received Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen in September, I wasn’t so sure I could read it before December. Well, in this instance the COVID-19 pandemic might have helped me out. This year I’m in need of more joy, more light, and more focus on my Savior. I’m putting up my decorations and starting the Christmas season a bit early this year! Since I was starting early, I figured that I may as well kick it all off with a Christmas book. You should all be so proud (my kids were)—I read a Christmas book in October, and I did not regret it! Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen is such a cute book. It was the perfect start to my early Christmas celebration!

Blurb:

“When Riley Madigan moves to the sleepy mountain town of Miracle Creek, she hopes her new job as a high school art teacher will help her mend her recently broken heart. A little peace and quiet would be a gift this Christmas season. The last thing on her mind is love.

Former firefighter Mark Rivers has spent the last year recovering from burns sustained during a rescue operation. He’s been trying to piece his life back together but still struggles both emotionally and psychologically. When he meets Riley, he finally sees something that might bring some light back into his life.

When Mark asks Riley to work on a special nativity project, he finds himself falling for her quirky, unaffected ways. Riley doesn’t seem bothered by his scars, but is her affection for him real, or is this just another act of charity?  One thing’s for certain, in a small town that views Mark as a fragile hero, it’s hard to pursue a relationship without everyone in his business. And although Riley has sincere feelings for Mark, is she ready to risk her heart?

Broken hearts and lives are mended as the town of Miracle Creek comes together to celebrate a Christmas to remember.”

My Book Review:

One of my favorite parts about this book is the characters. Krista Jensen did an excellent job of writing and developing the characters in the book. Riley and Mark are especially well-written. As a reader, you can feel their emotions, and you become a part of their story. I loved each of their personalities, including their quirks, shortcomings, strengths, and flaws. When Mark stalks Riley at the beginning of the book, you can seriously feel his frustration and her anger and fear at the situation. Don’t worry—that little situation figures itself out. Well, maybe the police officer helps it out a little bit.

Mark’s dad, Mr. Dolan, is another one of my favorite characters. I love his tidbits of wisdom! He has a knack for knowing the correct thing to say at just the right moment. His patience with Mark might make all the other parents reading the story feel a little jealous—how does he do it without sometimes losing his patience? On the other hand, Dalton is a character you love to hate. He’s such a jerk. At least he is a well-written and well-developed jerk—jerky through and through.

I love the premise of the book, too. It’s such a cute story! Riley and Mark’s relationship may start out a little rocky, to say the least (see stalking comment above…). However, as time goes on and they learn more about each other, their relationship becomes so sweet. Yeah, it’s not perfect. They both have flaws and shortcomings, but I love the messages of hope and trust and forgiveness. I love the messages of being vulnerable and putting yourself out there. It’s hard! Yes, it may leave you bruised or battered, but it could also lead you to happiness and joy. The thing is, you don’t know which one it will be until you try.

For this Christmas season, especially, I think this book is the perfect way to start your celebration. It’s messages of hope, love, and healing are exactly what our world needs right now. I am so glad I decided to break tradition and read a Christmas book in October! It was exactly what I needed.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ There isn’t any profanity or violence in this book. There isn’t any “intimacy” except some kissing. There are some hard topics discussed like the death of loved ones, a bad injury during a fire rescue, and a guy with not-great intentions.)

Recommendation: YA + (12 and up)

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/32JkZOE

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright The Candy Cane Caper by Josi S Kilpack
 
 

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

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Book Review of The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

Before I began reading this book, I had never heard of Paper Daughters. I don’t know if many have heard of these women. Allow me to explain. In the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, men from China immigrated to the United States to try and find jobs. Many of these men ended up in California working either in gold mines or on the railroads. Housing conditions were either rough or very expensive, and so many of the women stayed in China to take care of families. There were also other things like heavy taxes and anti-immigration laws that made it difficult or impossible for Chinese women to immigrate to the United States.

In 1882, Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion at of 1882. This law banned Chinese laborers from immigrating for 10 years. This law was renewed every 10 years until 1943. However, to help better relations with the Chinese, there were some exceptions to this law. They included students, Chinese officials, teachers, travelers, and merchants. This loophole allowed Chinese people, including women, to come to the United States.

With many men in their communities, and very few women, men were not able to “be intimate,” if you know what I mean. This situation set up a deplorable new trade in the United States: selling Chinese women as prostitutes. Human slavery. These disgusting people would find poor families in China and tell their families that there was a wealthy man in the U.S. that wanted to marry their daughter, and that he would give her a good life. These women would come to the U.S. with hopes and dreams of a good life, only to find depravity and degradation. They would find themselves addicted to opium and enslaved as a prostitute.

How did they use the loophole to get these women here? Well, they would tell the officials that these women were daughters of men already here. So, on paper, they were daughters. Hence the name paper daughters. Honestly, I cannot believe that situations like this went on then, and it blows my mind that it can still be going on today. It turns my stomach and makes me ill.

Thankfully, today we have amazing groups like Operation Underground Railroad to help. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, they had Donaldina Cameron and the women of the Occidental Mission Home. I wish I had learned of Donaldina Cameron a long time ago. She’s a true American hero.

Blurb:

Based on true events, The Paper Daughters of Chinatown in a powerful story about a largely unknown chapter in history and the women who emerged as heroes.

In the late nineteenth century, San Francisco is a booming city with a dark side, one in which a powerful underground organization—the criminal tong—buys and sells young Chinese women into prostitution and slavery. These “paper daughters,” so called because fake documents gain them entry to America but leave them without legal identity, generally have no recourse. But the Occidental Mission Home for Girls is one bright spot of hope and help.

Told in alternating chapters, this rich narrative follows the stories of young Donaldina Cameron who works in the mission home, and Mei Lien, a “paper daughter” who thinks she is coming to America for an arranged marriage but instead is sold into a life of shame and despair.

Donaldina, a real-life pioneering advocate for social justice, bravely stands up to corrupt officials and violent gangs, helping to win freedom for thousands of Chinese women. Mei Lien endures heartbreak and betrayal in her search for hope, belonging, and love. Their stories merge in this gripping account of the courage and determination that helped shape a new course of women’s history in America.”

My Book Review:

And now we come to our story: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore. The book is based on the life and experiences of Donaldina Cameron. Many of the people and situations in the book are based on real people and events. However, it is fiction. Ms. Moore did an excellent job of telling this story.

Donaldina Cameron arrived at the Occidental Mission Home in 1895 to teach sewing classes to the women and children that lived there. She quickly found out that it was a difficult job because so many of the resident women and children had suffered greatly. Each woman or child had a story. None of them were happy stories.

As a new teacher there, Donaldina was asked to go on a rescue mission. Three women from the home (including and interpreter) would go with a couple of police officers to rescue women from the brothels and gambling houses. Usually, the enslaved women would contact the home through a messenger. The messenger would know the address and would give the women in the home some sort of token, like a ribbon, to help them identify the victim. Going out like that scared her, but she went. This began Donaldina’s story. She never looked back.

The book continues to tell Donaldina’s story. Her life was spent rescuing these paper daughters and loving those that lived in the home. It didn’t matter what happened in the world around them: earthquakes, fires, corruption in high places, etc., Donaldina found a way to keep these women safe. Her nickname amongst the Chinese mob was Fahn Quai, which means White Devil. The slave owners would tell their slaves to be afraid of her so when she came to rescue them the girls would be afraid and wouldn’t want to go with Donaldina.

Not only does the story focus on Donaldina Cameron, it also tells the stories of some of the paper daughters Donaldina helped rescue. Their stories are unbelievably sad and heartbreaking. Some of the women flourished and went on to get married and have families. Many of the women continued to help at the home even after they had moved on. Unfortunately, there were a few that couldn’t handle the loss of opium or couldn’t learn to move on. I truly loved getting to know these women through their stories. What unbreakable spirits they had.

Even though this is a difficult story to read because of the unimaginable things these women survived, and even though it is tough to think about as part of my country’s history, this is such a good read. I knew that many men from China helped to build the railroad, but I didn’t realize that their families could not come with them. I had no idea this occurred in our history. Donaldina Cameron is a true American hero, and I am so glad I had the privilege of learning her story in this book. I hope that I can be more like Donaldina. Child trafficking still exists in our world today, and I hope that I can play a small part in rescuing these victims as Donaldina did. 

For more info on helping today’s fight against trafficking, please see https://ourrescue.org/.

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s no profanity in this book. This book does have prostitution, drugs, violence against the women, and trafficking. It’s as tastefully done as I think it could be, and none of it is overly detailed or graphic, but it is there. The themes in this book are very much for adults and not for younger readers. It is based off of true people and events. )

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/36pBmRH

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard The Immortal Llife of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
 
 

Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington

Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington

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Book Review of Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington

Remember when I read The Swiss Family Robinson last July? In my review I said that I had never read it before. Well, I hadn’t. But, what prompted me to read it right then? In July 2020? I read it because I had received an email from the author of this book requesting a review. You can’t really read the sequel without reading the original, right? Maybe some people can, but you know me…I had to read the original first! When TJ Hoisington sent me a message requesting a review, I was surprised and a little star-struck. He’s kind of famous. He’s a public speaker, and I listen to his podcast, Unleash Your Greatness Within. He’s also written a few other books. I hope you enjoy my review of Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington.

Blurb (From goodreads.com):

“Return to Robinson Island is an entertaining adventure story that has a thread of romance weaved throughout. It takes place fifteen years after the Robinson Family’s famous shipwreck on a remote island in the East Indies. The story highlights Ernest Robinson, who is now twenty-seven years old, engaged to be married, and is a 1st Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy. Ernest has distinguished himself as a fearless fighter, respected leader, God-fearing, and loyal friend. However, his loyalty is tested when his commanding officer, Captain Charlie, is court-martialed on war crimes and Ernest has no choice but to tell the truth – even if his testimony sends his former Captain to prison.


When reports reach England that a vast treasure trove has been found on Robinson Island, Ernest and his family find themselves in mortal danger when Captain Charlie vows to retrieve the treasure for himself and wreak revenge on the entire Robinson family. 

Will the Robinson Family survive the attack? Will Ernest ever see his fiancée again? One thing is certain; they won’t give up the island – or their lives – without a fight!”

My Book Review:

Wow! What an adventure! When I read a sequel, especially a sequel that is written by a different author than the original book, I worry. I worry because I have read some terrible sequels. Thankfully, this book does not fit into that category. This is a great sequel! I feel like Hoisington did a good job continuing with the feeling and intent of the original book.

This book is well written. The story flowed well and was easy to follow. I liked Hoisington’s writing style and felt like he did a good job mimicking the writing style in the first book. The characters are well developed, and the new characters fit in well with the story. One thing that impressed me was that the characters stayed true to themselves throughout, and that is difficult to do when you didn’t write the original book. Hoisington has a knack with descriptions. When you’re reading you feel like you are right there in the story because of the great descriptive words he uses.

With that, Hoisington also uses some great vocabulary words, and I love that! I’ve noticed over the past few years that vocabulary has tended to get easier and easier in many of the books I’ve read, especially YA and MG books. I’m glad that some authors still take the time to craft the language in their sentences and use more difficult words.

This story is also complex, with more than one story line. I like the complexity it adds, and I like how the story lines weave together in the end. Another thing I liked was the importance this book puts on relationships, especially families. It’s easy to get into a story, and the plot line, and forget about the relationships. Hoisington does a great job of putting an importance on the people and how they relate to each other and work together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think Johann David Wyss would be very happy with this sequel to his book! A little teaser here…Hoisington wrote another book in The Swiss Family Robinson series. It follows this book, Return to Robinson Island. It’s called Swiss Family Robinson: Secret Discovery. I’ll be reviewing it sometime (I haven’t read it quite yet…). So look forward to that!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There are a few profane words, but there isn’t any “intimacy” except for brief kissing. However, there is quite a bit of violence, and some of it is a bit graphic. Many characters die, and not in nice ways.)

Age Recommendation: 14+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2ZFVlcc

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss Warship Poseidon by Peter Greene Ragesong Awakening (Book #1) by J.R. Simmons
 
 
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com
 

Brass Carriages & Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

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Book Review of Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

I’m loving the steampunk romances! Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts is the next installment of Nancy Campbell Allen’s steampunk fairytale re-tellings. I may have been a bit apprehensive at first, but these books have won me over in a big way! Allen has retold Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and now Cinderella. If you do not know what steampunk is, you’re missing out! Think Victorian times with supercool tech. Oh yes! They may live during the Victorian Era, but they have floating air ships, tablets, carriages that drive themselves, transcribers (think early cell phones), and so much more. I love the creativity of the technology in these books!

Blurb:

A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.


Emmeline O’Shea is determined to save the world—single-handedly, if necessary. A strong voice for societal reform, she is the natural choice to deliver a key speech at the end of the International Shifter Rights Organization’s week-long Summit in Scotland.

But when a death threat arrives at Emme’s home, she is immediately placed into protective custody, watched over by none other than her personal nemesis, Detective-Inspector Oliver Reed. The two have crossed paths many times, with disastrous results, but now they will have to work together in order to reach the Summit before midnight of the last day in order to ensure legislation is passed to protect the Shifter community.

As unseen enemies close in around Emme and Oliver, they struggle to reach Edinburgh by any means necessary, only to find Emme’s vindictive stepsister, Oliver’s vampire brother, and a dangerous political minefield awaiting them in Scotland.

Even more difficult is their own refusal to admit that the fiery animosity that once burned between them might be turning into the heat of romantic passion. Could a straitlaced policeman determined to uphold the law and an outspoken activist willing to break the rules ever find true love? Or will all their dreams shatter like glass when the clock strikes midnight?”

My Book Review:

I read this book at a time when the news was filled with images of protests and riots in many cities across the United States of America. I must admit that I was a bit weary when this book began with the main character Emme participating in a riot and being arrested. Emme acts as the president of the London chapter of the Shifter Rights Organization, and she fights to repeal the Predatory Shifter Extermination Act. Emme is a social justice advocate for Shifters in the community.

As I stated, I read this at a difficult time in our country, and let’s just say I wasn’t too pleased to find it in my entertainment as well. However, I know Allen wrote this long before the events that transpired in real-life, and it was a crazy coincidence. Once I got over that and got into the story, I couldn’t put it down!

The characters in Allen’s stories always bring the story to life, and this book was no different. Emme is bigger than life. She may be short and petit, but her personality is a force to be reckoned with! Emme doesn’t put up with anything, especially when it comes to her nemesis, Detective-Inspector Reed. The two of them have come into contact way too often, each stubbornly doing his and her job—one to bring about a change of the law, and the other to obey the law.

I enjoyed the writing style of this book. It reads well, and I found it engaging, intriguing, and so fun! The banter (good and bad) between Emme and Oliver Reid is seriously the best. Their relationship runs the gamut from rude and mean to soft and intimate, and you never know which it will be. I loved the Cinderella theme intertwined in the storyline, and thought it was just enough to make a comparison, but not too much to be its own story.

If you want a good, solid, strong, female character, Emme is your gal. Her independence and strong will sometimes cause problems, but they have also been known to get her out of some sticky situations. If you want a handsome, intelligent, hard working gentleman, then Oliver is your man. I also liked many of the other characters in the book. Some of the characters surprised me with their actions, while others fell right where I thought they should. I definitely liked the element of surprise with a few of them!

This might be my favorite of the steampunk novels! I have enjoyed all of the previous books, but I loved this one! My only petty complaint is the cover art. In my opinion, neither character on the cover correctly portrays the character he or she plays in the book. Emme, especially, does not look feisty enough. I like the cover; I just don’t feel it correctly portrays the characters.

If you haven’t tried any of the steampunk novels, then now is the time to do it! They can be read as a series, but they are also standalone novels.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There’s no profanity or “intimacy” in this book, except for some brief kissing. There is some violence, though. Characters are beaten and treated roughly.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2FtHTRI

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen Beauty and Clockwork Beast COVER The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen
 
 
 

Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

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Book Review of Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

I dedicate this book review to Mrs. Christie Pitts. In high school I took Mrs. Pitts’ AP American History class. I passed, thank goodness! Mrs. Pitts was an amazing teacher! My senior year, Mrs. Pitts started a new class: Women in History. I was a member of the inaugural class. Yes, it was all girls, and we LOVED it! This class focused on prominent women from American history, along with many women we had not ever heard of. It was so fun to look at history through some different viewpoints and to get to know some amazing women from our history. Mrs. Pitts inspired me to do and be better. She told us stories from her life that showed how far women had come in just her lifetime. I loved that class! It did cause some controversy, though! One day someone put a sign on her door that said, “Feminism 101.” We laughed about it and left it up as a badge of honor for a long time. It wasn’t quite true, but…what do you do?? Anyway, Mrs. Pitts would have loved this book! Here’s my review of Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine.

Blurb:

“In 1895, Utah’s leading suffragist, Emmeline B. Wells, welcomed her friends Susan B. Anthony and Reverend Anna Howard Shaw to a gathering of more than 8,000 people from around the West at the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Convention. They were there to celebrate the suffrage movement’s recent wins and strategize their next triumphs. Pioneering the Vote tells the remarkable, largely unknown story of the early suffrage victories that happened in states and territories in the American West. With the encouragement of the eastern leaders, women from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho came together in a unique moment of friendship and unified purpose to secure the vote for women in America.

Told in alternating fiction and non-fiction narratives, this book offers a rare look at the suffrage movement from the point of view of the women in the western United States. With 2020 marking the centennial of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, join with these remarkable figures from the past to celebrate women’s right to vote.”

My Book Review:

I know I’m a day off (oops!) the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but life happened yesterday and I didn’t get my review posted. Yes! The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the people of Tennessee on August 18, 1920. Tennessee was the 36th, and final, state to ratify the amendment. The 19th Amendment gave women in the United States the right to vote.

Unfortunately, women of color in the United States still had many barriers to their enfranchisement. It wouldn’t be until many years later that women of color, Native American women, or women of Asian descent were able to vote. Even though many had been given the right to vote many years previous, there were places around the country that placed barriers in the way of their voting.

I’ve lived in Utah my whole life. I’ve lived in several different places around Utah, but always in Utah. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I know the history of the Church. I thought I knew my state history quite well; I didn’t know this history. How had I never heard of these women? Utah tried many times to gain statehood and was unfortunately turned down because of polygamy. (FYI: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not practiced polygamy in a VERY long time. The practice was discontinued in 1890.) In an effort to overcome that, Utah enfranchised its women. On February 12, 1870. Yes! Utah women voted for 17 years! Then, in 1887 they were disenfranchised.

I could go on and on! This book details the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Conference that was held in Salt Lake City, UT in 1895. Susan B. Anthony and the Reverend Anna Shaw attended, along with other prominent women suffragist activists of the day. The main point of the conference was to celebrate the vote to keep women’s enfranchisement in the Utah constitution, and to decide how to move forward to help other states around the nation achieve the same thing.

This book is very well researched and well written. There is some fiction in dialogues and such, but Ms. McBaine used diaries and newspaper articles to try and make it as accurate as possible. Many of the speeches that appear in the book were taken verbatim, as they were given at the conference. I didn’t know Susan B. Anthony came to Utah, or that she was good friends with Emmeline B. Wells. I didn’t even realize that Utah was the first, then really the third state to allow women the vote in their constitutions.

I learned so much reading this book, and I loved it! It focuses a lot on Utah, but also discusses the history of Wyoming and Colorado (the first and second states to allow women to vote and to guarantee it in their constitutions). The book goes on to talk about Idaho and California, and some of their struggles with women’s enfranchisement as well.

I know things are not perfect in our country; I know there are always things we can do to improve and make things better for each of our citizens. However, I am so thankful for this country. I’m thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, and I’m grateful for all those who have come before and worked tirelessly to make things better for me today. What an honor and privilege it is to be able to study the candidates in this upcoming election, and to be able to vote for the person I think will do the best job of running our country. What am I going to do to honor the women who have come before? What am I going to do to recognize and celebrate this 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment? I am going to VOTE in November, and I challenge you to do the same. Don’t get caught up in the emotions and the rhetoric. Study the candidates. Read their platforms, look at their histories, and choose the person that best fits what you want in a leader. Do not take this privilege for granted.

I highly recommend Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine, especially as we celebrate the momentous occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book.)

Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/3aEzVjY

 

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Cash Valley: To Bring One Down (Book 2) by Ryan K. Nelson

Cash Valley To Bring One Down (Book 2) by Ryan K. Nelson

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Book Review of Cash Valley: To Bring One Down (Book #2) by Ryan K. Nelson

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Cash Valley, so when I heard there was a second book I was excited to read it. I As I stated in my review of the previous book, I graduated from Utah State University in Logan, UT. Logan is located in Cache Valley. See the play on words there? Mr. Nelson is quite the punnist. My husband and I LOVED it in Cache Valley! I wish we could have stayed, but there weren’t very many jobs there, so we reluctantly left. I had a good time reading this series because the location is so familiar to me, and I recognize many of the places in the book. It’s fun to have a connection to the book you’re reading. So, did I enjoy this second book? You’ll need to read my review of Cash Valley: To Bring One Down (Book #2) by Ryan K. Nelson.

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Blurb:

(From goodreads.com): “Agent Alex Travis returns to Cache Valley in search of an escaped prisoner, who bears a striking resemblance to one of the gang members Jack killed in the shootout in Green Canyon four years earlier. His instincts are leading him in the right direction, but he continues to be one step behind the man seeking revenge on Jack & Kate, and their young daughter, Emma. By not telling the whole truth of the missing bank money at the time of the recovery, Agent Travis has put them all in jeopardy. He must now decide if he can solve this case on this own, in time to save his friends, or if he risks asking for help from the Bureau and ruining his career in the process, a possibility that could land him in jail as well.

In a race to see who finds who first, the search shifts to nearby Logan Canyon, where Agent Travis will be tested by his own conscience as much as by the man he’s hunting.”

My Book Review:

Book #2 is a little darker than the first book, but I liked it. Agent Travis is back on the case, and strangely, it involves Jack and Kate again. Last time they may have left a little something undone, and now that little something is coming back to haunt them. There are quite a few tense moments in this book! You’ve got the bad guy, Donovan, and he is definitely a bad guy through and through. I love Jack and Kate, and of course Agent Travis. The character development in this book is so well done. You can just feel the evilness pouring out of Donovan. Jack can still be a bit of a mystery at times, and Agent Travis is so real. It’s good to see flaws and real-life thinking from a character like him.

I was hooked on this story from the beginning. It’s well written, I liked the writing style, and I felt like the book flowed well, transitioned well, and progressed well. There are lots of twists and turns in the plot, which made it exciting to read. I never thought I’d know so much about dye packs that bank tellers use to catch the robbers! Don’t worry—I will not be putting that information into practice.

I enjoyed watching the growth of the characters over the entire series. Each of them learned so much throughout the story. I also enjoyed learning about their relationships with each other: Jack and Kate, Jack and Agent Travis, Agent Travis and Kate, all of them with Donovan, and Agent Travis with Billy. You learn that good relationships do not just drop on your lap—they are earned with hard work, trust, and forgiveness.

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (This book doesn’t have any profanity, but it does have an almost-rape scene. It also has quite a bit of violence and the graphic deaths of some of the characters.)

Age Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/3fDCbtl

 

 

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Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan
 
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The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

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Book Review of The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

As a lover of classic literature, I cannot believe that I haven’t read The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss! I watched the movie as a child, and from what I can remember, the book is not like the movie at all. That’s always how it goes though, right? What an adventure! Let’s just say that if my family were ever shipwrecked and stranded on an island, I would hope it would be the same island as the Robinsons. We would definitely not do as well as they did! What they accomplished is pretty impressive!

Blurb:

The Robinsons leave Switzerland in hopes of settling far away as missionaries, then afterward settling as citizens elsewhere. Their journey did not go as planned, and they ended up shipwrecked on a deserted island off the coast of New Guinea. They took from the ship what they could, including seeds and some animals. From the Preface: “…few books have obtained such deserved popularity. The gradual progress of the family from utter destitution and misery, to happiness and abundance, arising from their own labour, perseverance, and obedience, together with the effect produced on the different characters of the sons by the stirring adventures the met with, created a deep and absorbing interest.” The family learns together how to improve their lives. They work hard, endure many hardships, and thrive on the island.

My Book Review:

You know the game where you’re stranded on a deserted island and you can only take 3 things? One of my things would be this family. Seriously. If you’re going to get stranded, get stranded with the Swiss family Robinson! The book is fairly well written. You can tell by the way the father (the narrator) addresses and talks about his wife that this book was written a long time ago. Another clue is that he uses the Biblical name for their donkey (if you know what I mean), which is different than most people speak today.

The characters are well developed, and I liked them. I found the father to be a bit much sometimes. He seriously knows everything: what all of the plants are and what to use them for; how to plant crops; how to hunt, skin, and save the meat; how to build buildings and bridges and carts and canoes; how to navigate in the ocean; how to raise animals; how to build canals for fresh water drinking, bathing, and crop watering. You get the picture. The mother miraculously knows how to spin cotton to make clothing and how to cook.

Each of the boys has a unique personality and talents. I liked that they were able to find roles in the family to make those talents shine, and to improve them. Another thing I loved about the boys was how well they took care of their mother. They loved her so much they would spend days or weeks building things for her to make her life easier or more comfortable. Kids today could definitely do more of that!

I liked how they prayed and observed the Sabbath Day; you don’t read about that a lot today. I also liked how hard they all worked, and the good attitudes they had about their situation. It’s a little slow at points, but there’s some good action interspersed to make up for it.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like or that I noticed. They killed quite a few animals (some out of necessity–some not). We all know they need to eat, so that’s not the problem. One of the children, especially, killed some animals he didn’t need to. It’s a magical island—did you know that? On this one island there are flamingos, bears, bison, and penguins.

Overall, I am impressed with how they thrived on the island–didn’t just survive. Positive attitudes, hard work, gratitude, and working together helped them achieve this. During this difficult pandemic, I think we could all learn some lessons from this family. Yep, if you’re going to get stranded on a deserted island, make sure the Swiss family Robinson family is with you!  I did like the book and think it’s worth reading.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There is minimal profanity in this book. They do use the Biblical name for the donkey, which technically isn’t a swear word in that context, but my kids consider it one. There’s not any “intimacy,” and very little violence. They call the native people “savages,” which isn’t too PC, but it was written a long time ago.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/32o1ooa

 

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Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks

Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks

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Book Review of Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks

Let’s just say that Misty and Rebyl live lives completely different than mine. I am pretty much 100% opposite of them. That’s ok, though, right? Reading is fun because you get to experience different lives and experiences. They don’t live like I do, but that’s ok and I can learn from them and their life experiences. We’re not all alike, and it’s ok! Check out my review of Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks.

Blurb:

“Television journalist Mist Briscoe helps produce a weekly Chicagoland broadcast, but it’s her own life that could be showcased. Playing the leading role in her own performance, she ad-libs through the prologues and soliloquies of life.

Backstage is her married boss who would like nothing better than to make their friendship intimate. Should she pull the curtain on this drama or exit stage left? Neither choice is without sacrifice.

Back in Misty’s hometown in southwestern Michigan, the other important supporting cast members, her family, face their own monologues. Adding intrigue to the plot, her elderly grandfather has disappeared shortly after his wife’s funeral and Misty’s parents are at a loss with the mystery. Last, but not least, Misty’s best friend shines in the footlights and deals with her own perplexing script.

As each of their stories unfold and reality sets in, every impending choice possesses a strong alternative, incentive, and circumstance. But the obstacles aren’t so high this ensemble can’t get over them or so deep they can’t get around them when they take their final bows.

After many rehearsals and run-throughs, Misty meets a leading man who becomes he number-one fan. Will his audition prompt her in the direction of happiness?”

My Book Review:

Misty has a job in broadcasting, but isn’t too happy with her situation there. Her friend Rebyl owns a resort, but has a secret even she won’t admit yet. They have been friends for a long time, yet haven’t seen each other in awhile. Misty takes a trip home and finds that she is needed there more than she thought. Since she isn’t happy with work, she begins thinking of other options, and hopes that she’ll meet someone.

The characters in this book are well developed and have big personalities, especially Misty and Rebyl.  I had a hard time relating to them because they are so different from me, but I did like them as characters. I liked the writing style and thought it was well written. There are some twists and turns that made the story interesting and gave it some more depth.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos, and suicide.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2ZgBJLP

 

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Book Review of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I have had four children go through elementary school (My baby goes into seventh grade this fall—crazy!), so I have heard and seen a lot! I also teach in an elementary school, so I’ve seen and heard even more! The group of parents in this book makes my experiences seem so mild! Wow, we parents need to up our game and make things a little more exciting, I guess! I don’t know if I’d want my children to go to this particular school (too much drama), but I’d love to be a fly on the wall!! Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty will fill your gossip cup for a long time, and make you glad you don’t live there!

Blurb:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal.

A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.”

My Book Review:

My children and students could recite my mantra from heart because they hear it all the time…NO DRAMA! Haha! Everything this book is, is 100% opposite of me. That’s okay, though, because that is why I read! I get to experience the drama without dealing with it! When I read about all the gossip and drama, my thoughts are confirmed, and I say my mantra even more. You’ll laugh after I just made a big point of all that, but I loved this book!

The writing in this book is top notch! It is very well written. It’s told from the viewpoint of several different women, and each is unique, individual, and very well developed. Each woman also stays true to herself and her character all the way through. I liked the writing style and was hooked from page one.

 I think I related most to Madeline because she is a mom of older children. She’s been through the elementary scene before, and nothing throws her…or does it? She’s feisty, hilarious, and kind of a mother-figure to the other moms. I don’t relate to the ex-husband part of her, but that’s ok. I like her heels and her “I don’t care” attitude. Celeste was a bit harder for me to relate to, but she’s a very complex character, and I still liked her. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, so no judgment from me. Jane has NO idea what she is getting into when she moves into the neighborhood. Poor girl! The decks are stacked against her before the school year even starts. I liked Jane a lot also.

I liked how Ms. Moriarty told the story. It begins with something happening, but you don’t know what. There are some eyewitness accounts from different people, and then she takes you back six months previous. I liked the eyewitness accounts throughout; I learned some things, but I also found that I had more questions, so it kept me reading.

I liked this book a lot; it’s a page-turner for sure! You get your gossip fix, your murder-mystery fix, and you learn how not to behave at the school trivia night. You also see how little lies can quickly become some of the most dangerous lies.

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Domestic violence and murder.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2W4btT6

 

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