Review of Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack

Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack

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Book Review of Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack

I always get excited when I hear that Josi Kilpack has another book out! She has such a fun writing style, and is good at allowing the reader into the hearts and minds of her characters. She has written about a wide variety of characters in different settings, and they always seem to become some of my best friends. When I heard about this new book I may have done a little happy dance. The cover art is beautiful, the title is fun with alliteration, and I couldn’t wait to meet the characters and delve into this world of primroses. So what did I think? Find out in my book review of Promises and Primroses by Josi S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Lord Elliott Mayfield has done his best to take care of his family, first his siblings and now his nieces and nephews. Unfortunately, he sees this new generation moving in the same direction of bad matches and scandalous relationships as the last. In hopes to change their course, he establishes a ‘marriage campaign’ to motivate them to improve themselves through making respectable matches. With his heart in the right place, what could possibly go wrong?

Peter, Elliott’s eldest nephew, thinks the entire idea is ridiculous. A widower with two young daughters, he simply needs a governess, not a wife. Julia Hollingsworth certainly has the credentials and the experience, but is altogether too young and pretty for such a job. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?

Julia loves working as a governess, despite the objections of her mother, Amelia. And as it turns out, Amelia has a lot to say about the Mayfield men—none of it good. But Julia dismisses the rumors of ruined reputations and instead concentrates on helping Peter with his children and his fledgling business in canine husbandry. His kindness and gentleness is endearing—and increasingly attractive.

But Amelia, whose heart was broken thirty years ago by none other than Elliott Mayfield, is determined to prevent any relationship from blooming either between Peter and Julia—or between herself and Elliott.

Hearts and history collide as both couples must face their pasts and decide if risking it all is worth the promise of new love and a new future.”

My Book Review:

Hahaha! Can you imagine your uncle coming to you and proposing that he will give you a very large gift (money or something else) if you decide to settle down and get married to a respectable person? I have to admit that it might be tempting–as long as I already had a fiancée. It might be a little weird otherwise. People just don’t talk like this anymore. Of course parents want their children to marry good people, but thankfully it’s not the same as it used to be. Again, thankfully, women have a lot more options now than they did back then. I’m so glad that times have changed on that one!

I love Julia’s character. She’s so sweet and tenderhearted. I loved how cute she was with the little girls in the story. It was fun to read about the tea parties, the games, and the love she had for them. I liked that she thought independently, she didn’t care what her mother thought, and she did what she thought was best for herself. After learning about Julia’s mother, I don’t blame her for wanting to get out from her mother’s thumb.

Peter seems like a good man. He may be a little too blinded to see what’s important sometimes, but I think he has good intentions. It was interesting learning about the dogs and some of the care that went into them. I know that scandals in families still happen, but thankfully, I don’t think they affect the whole family for generations like they used to. Peter worked very hard to prove himself despite his family’s reputation, and I liked that he put that effort into rising above his circumstances.

I liked the easy-going writing style of this book. It’s well written, has great character development, and is a sweet story. I did think it was a bit predictable and a little cheesy in parts, but honestly, that’s what I want in a romance. Right? Love stories need a little cheese and a few “awwww” moments! It’s fun and entertaining, and I enjoyed it. I liked how it all came together, and how the characters fit together in the story. It’s a fast, easy read; I read it in a couple of days, and loved that I could get sucked into this fun world of promises and primroses.    

Content Rating GContent Rating: G (It’s clean! There’s no profanity, violence, or “intimacy,” except for a few brief kisses.)

Age Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Promises and Primroses Blog Tour

 

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/2QO44D2

 

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A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack  Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack
 

Book Review of Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard

Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard

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Book Review of Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard

I have to admit that I have been naïve. I’ve heard of things going on, but I always thought that it couldn’t really be true. People can’t really be that evil, right? It only happens in the movies, right? Unfortunately, it does happen. Too often. And not necessarily in some faraway land; it’s happening all over the world. Children and women are being sold into slavery. But this slavery is a different kind of slavery from what we’ve learned and studied about. These women and children are being sold, yes sold, into human trafficking. It’s absolutely horrifying. Find out more in my book review of Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard.

Blurb:

“In the 1800s American South, Harriet Jacobs is enslaved and tormented by a cruel master. He relentlessly attempts to force her into [an intimate] union, and, when rebuffed, he separates her from her children and spends a lifetime trying to coerce her and then recapture her when she escapes to freedom. Jacobs outwits her tormentor and eventually reunites with her children, works in the cause of abolition and reform, and helps newly freed slaves with education and aftercare.

In 2009, Timothy Ballard encounters a grieving father in Haiti whose three-year-old son has been kidnapped and sold into slavery along with thousands of children who were orphaned after an earthquake devastated the country. He pledges to track down the missing child and leaves his job at the Department of Homeland Security to establish Operation Underground Railroad to infiltrate black markets in human trafficking, liberate victims, and provide a comprehensive aftercare process involving justice and rehabilitation for survivors.

Slave Stealers alternates these two riveting stories, weaving them together to expose the persistent evil of trafficking and sexual exploitation that has existed for centuries—and inspiring us to find a way to end it. Filled with heartbreaks and triumphs, miracles and disappointments, hair-raising escapes and daring rescues, this gripping book provides insight to this terrible evil and the good that can be done when caring people step up and stand in the light.”

My Book Review:

Wow. I read this book in two days. I couldn’t put it down. It pulls at every piece of humanity, motherhood, teacher, Christian, and sister that I have. And then some. I’ve read quite a bit about slavery and the Civil War, and I’m astonished every time by the brutality and inhumane treatment that the slaves endured. It’s incomprehensible. And then I learn that it’s happening today. Yes, today. And not in some place far, far away, but way too close to home. It may look slightly different, but there are many similarities between the transatlantic slavery of old and modern-day slavery.

I loved how Timothy Ballard wove the two stories together. It was seamless. It was powerful. Like everyone, I’ve heard of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas. I have learned about Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Unfortunately for me, I have not been as well acquainted with Harriet Jacobs. What a story! I loved hearing her story and learning about her. She was an amazing woman who inspires me to never give up, to stand up for my beliefs, and to take a stand against slavery.

Timothy Ballard also has an amazing story. He has seen and experienced so much. I also enjoyed learning about his story. He is such a good example of being a good citizen, of being compassionate, and of being aware of the needs of others. I love that he has dedicated his life to resurrecting the Underground Railroad. He uses many of the same principles today that the people who ran the original Underground Railroad used in the 1800s. His writing style just sucks you into the story. It brings the story to life.

Although old and modern-day slavery are heavy topics, Timothy Ballard does a great job of pulling out the inspirational moments. Instead of feeling weighed down and depressed after reading this book, I absolutely felt inspired. I want to help. I cannot imagine what those children and women have to endure, and Mr. Ballard has such a way with words that he broaches hard things and turns them into teaching moments. His writing is full of energy, it’s authentic, and it is bold. He doesn’t mince words, but it’s not off-putting; in fact, it has the opposite effect.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the modern-day conductors of the Underground Railroad. Their stories are also powerful and vulnerable. It’s very telling how highly Mr. Ballard thinks of them. Once again, it’s inspiring to hear what many of them have overcome, and how they have reacted to those heartbreaking situations.

I loved this book so much! I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to read and review it. I highly recommend Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard.

Content Rating RRating: R (There isn’t any profanity in this book, but it’s discussing human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. It is full of adult themes.)

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/2xdnE2P

 

Slave Stealers Blog Tour

 

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Women of the Blue and Gray by Marianne Monson

Women of the Blue and Gray by Marianne Monson

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Book Review of Women of the Blue & Gray by Marianne Monson

When I was in high school, I took AP history from an amazing teacher. Her name was Kristie Pitts. Because of Mrs. Pitts, I passed the AP history test. Not only did she teach me about American history, she served as an example of an amazing woman. Mrs. Pitts was intelligent, engaging, compassionate, and caring. After I took her AP history class, she opened a new class. I am proud to say that I attended the very first Women in History class at my high school. It was an amazing class! We spent hours reading about the accomplishments of women in American history. There were women I had never heard of that accomplished so much. I loved that class, and I still look back at that time with fondness. I wish we had had this book back then! It would have been a great addition to the class. If you’re out there, Mrs. Pitts, this book review of Women of the Blue & Gray by Marianne Monson is dedicated to you!

Blurb:

“Hidden amongst the photographs, uniforms, revolvers, and war medals of the Civil War are the remarkable stories of some of the most unlikely heroes—women.

North, South, black, white, Native American, immigrant—the women in these micro-drama biographies are wives, mothers, sisters, and friends whose purposes ranged from supporting husbands and sons during wartime to counseling President Lincoln on strategy, from tending to the wounded on the battlefield to spiriting away slaves through the Underground Railroad, from donning a uniform and fighting unrecognized alongside the men to working as spies for either side.

This book brings to light the incredible stories of women from the Civil War that remain relevant to our nation today. Each woman’s experience helps us see a truer, fuller, richer version of what really happened in the country during this time period.”

My Book Review:

I have always loved learning about history, especially American history. The Revolutionary War is my favorite, but I also enjoy learning about the Civil War. I haven’t ever read a history book devoted solely to the contributions of the women of that era. When I heard about this book from the publicist, I immediately jumped in. Yes, of course I’ll review it!

I’m so glad I did. It is such a good book! I read it almost all in one day because I couldn’t put it down. I found it fascinating to learn about each of the women portrayed in the book. Although some women helped in conspicuous ways, others served in the background, never gaining recognition for her service. Some women worked as nurses and tended to the wounded, and others sacrificed their homes to the armies. I found it fascinating that women disguised themselves as men and fought on the front lines.

This book is very well written. The stories are engaging, and the women come to life on the page. There are some well-known women like Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton, and then there are lesser-known women like Anna Ella Carroll or Cornelia Peake McDonald. I love that women of all backgrounds, colors, and sides are discussed. It doesn’t matter whether the woman is from the North or the South, is black or white, or is Native or an immigrant, each played an important role.

I learned so much from this book! It was fun, and yet sobering, to look into the lives of each of these women. The amount of research Ms. Monson must have done is staggering. This book is well thought-out, well researched, and well written. Women of all kinds are highlighted, and there’s no judgment regarding her viewpoints.

I highly recommend this book for all junior high and high school American history classes, and for personal libraries. It’s important to remember the past so we don’t repeat it. And it’s important to hear voices from all sides. I loved hearing from these women! I’ll end with a quote from Ms. Monson because I think it sums everything up quite nicely:

…people on every side often need, more than anything else, an opportunity to be heard. They need to be heard even if they don’t look like us, think like us, and especially if they disagree with us. They particularly need to be heard if the dominant discourse tends to ignore their voices.

Sometimes, I think one of the most important acts of kindness we can do for one another is to listen—really listen—to each other’s stories.      

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (No profanity and no “intimacy.” This is a book about the Civil War, so there are stories of atrocities, death, disease, fighting, etc.)

Recommendation: YA and older

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/2nRA9wr

 

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Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

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Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

I graduated from Utah State University—Go Aggies!—which is located in beautiful Cache Valley, Utah. It really is beautiful. There are mountains on both sides of the valley with many fields and lots of open space. It has grown significantly, even since I attended school there. My husband and I wish we could have stayed, but there weren’t enough jobs. When Ryan Nelson contacted me earlier this year about reading his book, I had a long list of books I had already scheduled to review. Knowing it was about Cache Valley, though, I couldn’t resist. It’s taken me awhile, but I finally read it. I hope you enjoy my book review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson!


Utah-State-University-aerial-small  Utah-State-University-Old-Main-vertical-small  

 

Blurb (from Goodreads.com):

 

“When FBI Agent Alex Travis receives an anonymous phone call on a September morning in 1954, with a tip concerning the now cold case of the Cache County Bank robbery, it has his undivided attention. The tip leads Travis to the top of the secluded Green Canyon in Logan, Utah, where a young man named Jack Pepper proceeds to tell a story. It spans the two years from the time of the robbery, when he and his girlfriend, Kate Austin, stumbled upon the crime of the century for the Cache Valley. Travis must decide if he is dealing with the suspects or the victims of one of the largest bank robberies in U.S. history.

To get the answers, it will take one more trip up the canyon, to the entrance of the Spring Hollow Mine, where the daylight ends and the cold dark begins.”

 

My Book Review:

This book hooked me from the beginning. Agent Travis of the FBI receives an anonymous phone call. The caller says he has a tip about the Cache County Bank robbery, which is Travis’ case. The caller doesn’t give any information except to tell him where to meet this mysterious person. Agent Travis is perplexed. Should he trust this caller? Does he need to take back-up or is he ok to go alone? In the end, he decides to go alone.

I like Agent Travis’ character. He seems like a good, hard working, decent guy. His character is well developed and likable. I did think the part in the beginning where he is telling his wife the history of Sardine Canyon (the canyon you drive through to get to Logan from Salt Lake City) was cheesy and unnecessary. When Agent Travis meets Jack, the whole thing is still a bit mysterious, which I liked. As a reader, you don’t know if you should trust Jack or not.

Jack’s character is a bit more mysterious to start off. As you learn his story, you begin to trust him. However, in the back of your mind you’re still wondering if you should trust him or not. I liked how he was written in that way. Then later, when Kate comes into the picture, you start to see more of the full story. I liked how the plot unfolded like that. I also liked Kate a lot. Her character is also well developed, likeable, and realistic.

The whole plot line seemed mostly realistic. There were a couple of parts that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but they made it more exciting to read. I liked how it all came together in the end; everyone kind of ended up where they should have.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about the canyons; it made me want to take my kids up there and do some exploring! And if you’re ever up on the USU campus, make sure you get some Aggie ice cream; it’s the best!!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There’s some violence, though. It includes murder, an almost-rape, fighting, and the death of at least one character.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

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/2LTAsVt

 

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Book Review of Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

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Book Review of Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

I have so enjoyed reading the Proper Romances. Yes, some of them are a bit cheesy, but I like not needing to worry about improper situations popping up. It’s refreshing to read stories without the distraction of the profanity as well. This is a fun one; I like the steampunk twist to it. I think it adds a fun and different angle. And you know I love a good retelling of the fairy tales! With all that, I hope you enjoy my book review of Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen.

Blurb:

“Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a deep sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date—after a year, she will fall asleep forever. And the year is almost up.

In a desperate attempt to find Malette—the witch who cursed her—Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett’s private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she’s traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.

Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is a steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla’s death-like sleep becomes permanent.”

My Book Review:

I’ve always loved Sleeping Beauty, and this book is a fun twist on that well-beloved story. I like the writing style of the book. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and is a fun, entertaining read. The characters are well developed. I thought the author did a good job of making them realistic. They each have their strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and talents. I liked that there was a hint of mystery in each of them at the beginning, and that you learned more about them as the story went on.

The steampunk aspect of the book adds a fun twist. I liked the descriptions of the airship, the telescribers, and the automatons. If I could really have my way I’d have a Samson to clean my house, do my laundry, and drive my kids everywhere. Haha! Wouldn’t that be amazing? It’d be like having your own personal butler or something. I’m all for that!

I liked the story line as well. It was creative and unique, which I’m always glad about! I thought Isla’s curse could have been a little worse, but I understood how it affected her job and livelihood. It still could have been a few more hours or something, though. I thought it was sweet how Daniel worried about her so much. The side stories with the other characters were interesting, and the twist of how they fit together was a bit surprising. It’s comical that all the men fall for Isla. You feel like you could mop the floor with their drool. Come on boys! Pull yourselves together! I liked that Isla is a strong female character, but she also has her vulnerable moments.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It’s a fast, easy, entertaining read. It’s not going to solve the world’s problems, but it will give you a few min of respite from those problems. It’s a bit cheesy in a few parts, but I love a bit of cheese with my romance, so it’s fine. If you’re looking for something deep and mind blowing, this isn’t your book, but if you’re looking for a fun beach or summer read, look no further!

Content Rating PG+Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity in this book. There’s no “intimacy” except for some kissing. It does include some violence as they fight a massive shapeshifter.)

Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 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/2KK4U4A 

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Book Review of The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett

The Heat is On by Helen Bridgett

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Book Review of The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett

Have you ever had one of those years where everything seems to be going great and then it suddenly falls apart? That was my last year. Everything was going well until my son got sick. Super sick. After a year, he’s finally recovering. It’s a very slow process, but he’s doing so much better. Then to top it off, we’ve had to fix cars, replace several appliances, and get a new furnace and water heater. Yep, it’s been a year! We’ve learned so much though! We’ve grown closer together as a family and we’ve all grown a lot individually. In this book, things are going well for Angie. She co-owns a business that she loves and is doing great. She has a handsome boyfriend, an amazing daughter, and great friends. And then the business across the street opens and everything starts falling apart. I hope you enjoy my book review of The Heat Is On by Helen Bridgett.

Blurb:

“Angie Shepherd is back and this time she means business!

Life is perfect for Angie Shepherd. Her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur have come true, business is booming, and her best friend Patty is back in town. So when the opportunity of investing in a luxury hotel comes up, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s all going swimmingly until a rival travel agency opens up across the street. Before long, The Mercury Travel Club is undercut, double-crossed and in deep trouble. It’s time for Angie to up the stakes. But with costs mounting up, sales going down, and her personal life suddenly in freefall, can Angie and her friends weather the storm?

Witty and charming in equal measure, this feel-good novel shows that when the going gets tough, the tough definitely get going.”

My Book Review:

Sometimes when everything is going really well it makes me nervous. Ok, this can’t last forever, right? What’s going to happen? It’s easy to get anxious and fearful, but then when something does happen, you realize you’re stronger than you thought. You realize you lived through your nightmare and it’s ok. That’s what Angie has to do in this book. She needs to make it through and come out stronger.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a fun, entertaining summer read. I think it’d be perfect for sitting next to the pool or ocean, kicking up your feet, and drinking something cold. This book is well written, has the perfect touch of humor, and has a fun cast of characters. The characters are very well developed. They each have their own identities, personalities, and voices. I thought the author did a good job of bringing them all together. They have their strengths and weaknesses, their talents and flaws, and their good and bad times. As a reader, it makes you feel like you’re one of the gang. They’re realistic and easy to relate to. Most of them are likable too.

I don’t know anything about the travel industry, and I kind of didn’t realize that travel agencies still exist. Yes, I hate to admit that I thought people planned their own vacations via Expedia and Hotwire. Or, maybe that’s just me. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Cancun twenty years ago (yes, we just celebrated twenty years!) we used an agency, but it’s not there anymore. After reading this book I may need to look and see if there’s one by me. I’d love to relax and let someone else take care of the details. After this year, I need a vacation!

The plot, although not action-packed, was interesting enough to keep me reading. There were a few twists and turns, and a few tense moments. The one thing I didn’t like was the title. I still don’t get it? This book also has a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. If you see the publisher, please tell her to call me and I’ll help her out! (Blue Pen Proofreading) It doesn’t really fit the book or its style. I thought it came together well in the end, but I could have used a few extra pages to see how one of the excursions turned out. I want to go to the library in the woods! So much so, in fact, that I did a few quick google searches and found a pic of it. Isn’t it enchanting? It’s a real place! Right now I really wish I could go there!

eas-mor-library

Photo Credit: That’s How the Light Gets In

This is a quick, fun read. It’s not based on complex submarine terrorist plots in Russia (like my last read), so it’s kind of a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to read and understand, and is pretty clean. I feel like I have a bunch of new friends, and I definitely have a few places I want to visit now!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (Thankfully, there is no profanity in this book! There isn’t any violence either. There are a few discussions about “intimacy,” a couple of scenes where it almost happens but not quite, and several innuendos.)

Recommendation: 18+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

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

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2MUGxO3

 

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Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

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Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

If I could go back in time and live for a week anywhere I wanted, I’d choose Victorian England. Of course, I’d be picky and choose to be a wealthy person. I’d love to walk the sprawling gardens of the grand estates. It’d be amazing to dance at the balls and wear the beautiful gowns. Just for a week, I’d love to write with a quill pen and ride in carriages. What do you think? Where would you go? I love the Jane Austen era, and am so excited about this book! I hope you enjoy my book review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean.

Blurb:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation.

When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected.

However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.

Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Book Review:

Oh, how I love Jane Austen! I know several friends who cannot stand her writing (you know who you are…), but I love it. I love the crafted language. I love the detail in the characters and their descriptions. It may bore some people, but I love that the stories are NOT action-packed. The people are the main focus, and I love how the stories play around the people and their experiences and thoughts.

What does that have to do with today’s book review? Well friends, I think we may have found a book that is as close to a Jane Austen as we’re going to get in today’s world! Today’s books are marked by action. My own kids have been sucked in, much to my chagrin! If it’s not one action scene followed by another, it’s boring. Well, they’ll be bored if they read this book, but I loved it!

The language was very well crafted. I read it on my Kindle and it turned out to be a good thing because of all the definitions I had to look up. My kids asked if I felt stupid needing to look up so many words and I definitely said, “No!” I loved it! They think I’m weird, for sure. I may not be the “cool” or “hip” mom anymore, but that’s ok with me. I’m smarter because of it.

The time Ms. Kablean took to develop the characters showed off. Each of them were well developed, realistic, and unique. Each had his or her own personality that was different from everyone else’s. They had their own voices. And they each had their own journey to take in the story. I loved watching them grow and come into themselves as the story went along.

I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s books, and have loved them. This book comes as close as I think I’ll get to more Jane Austen stories. They may be Carrie Kablean stories, not Jane Austen stories, but the feeling is the same. The crafted language is very similar, and the attention to detail is mighty close. The only thing I didn’t love was the title. It was not my favorite; I think it could have been better. Other than that, I loved this book. I just got caught up in the feeling of the story, the language of the story, and the characters’ lives.

If you like Jane Austen books, and even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s not fast-paced or action-packed. It’s not about the superhero that swoops in to save the day, or the super powers, it’s about life and the people in it. It is about truth, friendship, trust, love, care, concern, honesty, values, and family. It’s about falling in love and having your heart broken, and it’s about picking yourself up, learning from it, and moving forward. Life. I loved it.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief sibling fighting, along with talk of gambling and stealing. One character does die-you don’t see it, you just hear of it after.)

Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 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/2lCwZeW

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite  Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
This book review is dedicated to my good friend Andy who passed away this week after a six year battle with brain cancer. He leaves my dear friend Betsie and their three beautiful daughters behind. He was an amazing guy and will be greatly missed. Love ya Andy! 
 
 

Book Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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Book Review of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

People ask me all the time what my all-time favorite book is. Well, here it is! I have LOVED Les Misérables for many, many years. I saw the Broadway play when I was younger, and it hooked me. I’ve read this book at least three times. The unabridged version, of course (1,463 pages)! I love, love, love it. Please enjoy my book review of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Did I mention that it’s my FAVORITE book??

Blurb:

“Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.

Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.”

My Book Review:

Wow! Where to start? This book is amazing. Simply amazing. It is my all-time favorite book! I LOVE this book! The character development is unsurpassed. Each character comes to life on the page. Hugo’s attention to the details about the characters allows them to become a part of your life. They become beloved friends, hated enemies, and family. These characters don’t disappear with the closing of the book, either. They stay on your mind for days and years after. You wonder about them, long to see them again.

There’s a lot of history in this book. To some people it may be too much, but I love every word of it. I thoroughly enjoy learning about the French Revolution and its key players. Hugo somehow manages to make it exciting. Now, if you’re not really a fan of long history lessons, you may enjoy the (gasp!) abridged version instead. I, however, love the history and the descriptions of the time period. I love the intricacy and craft of Hugo’s writing. No one writes like that anymore, and I wish they did.

Les Misérables is filled with emotion. As you read you’ll feel the whole range of emotions. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get angry, and you’ll begin to see your own life differently. You’ll look at how you treat people, and how others are treated. You will feel gratitude for your blessings and circumstances. Yes, there are still unkind people and there are still unjust circumstances, but overall, living conditions have drastically improved since then.

If you want a new friend, one that will be with you for awhile, then this book is for you. You’ll have this friend with you for the rest of your life. It takes a long time to read this book, but while you read it becomes a part of you. I cry the last 200 pages. Seriously. I don’t ever want it to end. Please read this book then call me so we can talk about it! I love this book so much and I highly recommend it!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There are war-time atrocities and themes along with prostitution. Some characters die, and there are other adult themes.)

Recommendation: 16+ years-old

My Rating: 5/5

5 Star Book Review Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak The Rent Collector by Camron Wright  the nightingale by kristin hannah
 
 
This review was first published on 09/24/09; updated on 6/18/18.
 

Book Review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

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Book Review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron

This book just showed up in the mail one day! Fun, right? I love bookmail, and surprise bookmail is even better! Needless to say, I was excited to read this. I’m always looking for fun, new middle-grader reads, and I had high hopes for this one. What could be more magical than a carnival at night with the lights, rides, acts, animals, interesting people, and yummy smells? Check out my book review of Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron to see what I thought!

Blurb:

“Tess and Max are back in England for another summer with their Aunt Evie—this time by the seashore in South Devon. And they’re incredibly excited about the travelling carnival that’s come to town. There are rides, games, and acrobats, The House of Mirrors—and even a psychic, with a beautiful wagon all her own.

In a visit to the psychic’s wagon, while Tess is being hypnotized, the wagon seems to move. Before Tess can shake herself out of the hypnosis, before Max can do anything, they seem to be travelling—along with the rest of the carnival—too quickly for the two of them to jump out. But where are they going and what awaits them? Will they be caught in a world different from their own? And do the Baranova twins, acrobats who miss their sister almost as much as Tess and Max miss their family, hold the keys to the mystery?

Internationally bestselling author Amy Ephron returns with a companion novel to The Castle in the Mist and creates a magical tale filled with adventure, mystery, fantasy, family, and fun.”

My Book Review:

Let me start off by saying that as I read I got the feeling that there was a book previous to this one. I didn’t know for sure that there is another book until after I finished this one. There may have been some things I would have understood more if I had read the first book. This book starts out as an adventure when Tess and Max’s mom drops them off at the airport. They fly by themselves from the United States to England. They’re going to stay with their Aunt Evie  for the summer.

Aunt Evie seems like the perfect, fun aunt. She has a fun cottage by the ocean and picks up tickets to the zoo on the way home from the airport. While at the zoo, strange things start to happen. The zookeeper allows her to run in for just a few minutes, 6 ½ to be exact. In those 6 ½ minutes she sees a baby tiger in pain and pulls a pin out of its paw. I think that’s exciting, but what? I’ve never been to a zoo that has the tigers available to touch through a rod iron fence. I’m good with fantasy though, so ok, I’ll keep reading. I didn’t quite understand the reason behind the 6 ½ minutes, but I figured it’d be explained later on.

The next day, Aunt Evie takes the kids to a roadside carnival. She allows them to spend most of the day by themselves while she checks out a local antique store. The plan is that she’ll meet them at 1:30 by the big dinosaur. Well, a lot happens before 1:30! It gets a little weird! Tess goes into a psychic’s trailer to be hypnotized and the carnival ends up moving. Magically. In minutes the kids are transported to who-knows-where. The strange thing is that it’s not the same carnival they end up in.

Honestly, from here on out I was a bit confused. The characters that the kids meet are fun and interesting, especially Tatiana, Alexei, Tara, Anna, and Julian. Maybe it’s my old brain (but I usually like middle-grader books!), but I just didn’t understand. Why? How? What purpose? The carnival moved, but they ended up at a different carnival. So, they had to be the ones to move, not the carnival, right? They kept talking about a ghost carnival, but which one was the ghost carnival? Was it the second one or the third one, or both?

The whole part about them escaping really confused me. What? You want two kids and a horse to do what? How? The 6 ½ minute thing was used a few more times, but never explained, so that was a big hole. Also, how time worked at the different carnivals confused me. I don’t want to give anything away, but it just really didn’t make sense.

The writing is descriptive and engaging and the characters are fun and personable. This book has so much potential! Unfortunately, it just falls flat. There are a bunch of holes and unanswered questions, and I felt like things weren’t explained well enough. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know that I’m good with middle-grader books. I’ve read and loved many of them. This one, however, just has too many holes. I would also recommend reading the first book because it may answer some of the questions I had. I’m going to hand it to my nine-year-old, have her read it, and I’ll let you know what she says.  

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean! There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” There are a few kind of tense, scary-ish parts.)

Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th grades) and up

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/2JFmRwg

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman  Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
 

Book Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

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Book Review of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Have you seen the movie? Then you need to read the book! It’s better, of course! Dan Brown is so good at creating this world where you get caught up in the suspense and the mystery. He masterfully connects the mysterious to the symbolic, and then adds just enough reality to make you really wonder. Is this true? If you’re looking for a fast, entertaining, suspenseful read, then this is the book for you. I hope you enjoy my book review of The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Blurb:

“An ingenious code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci.

A desperate race through the cathedrals and castles of Europe.

An astonishing truth concealed for centuries…unveiled at last.

As millions of readers around the globe have already discovered, The Da Vinci Code is a reading experience unlike any other. Simultaneously lightning-paced, intelligent, and intricately layered with remarkable research and detail, Dan Brown’s novel is a thrilling masterpiece—from its opening pages to its stunning conclusion.”

My Book Review:

This is an oldie but goodie. If you can believe it, this is one of the first books I reviewed, way back in April of 2009! My reviews looked very different back then, so I’m updating it today in hopes of making it more readable and helpful. I really enjoyed this book. If you can remember when it came out, there were lots of History Channel documentaries about the Knights of the Templar and the theory behind this book.  I have to admit that I was enthralled. Is any of it true? Probably not, but it makes for a very engaging story!

This is a definite thriller that keeps you reading. The curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris is brutally murdered and positioned in a strange and symbolic way—in the Louvre. American professor Robert Langdon happens to be in Paris and is awakened by the French police at his hotel room. They ask for his help in solving the murder. Langdon goes to the Louvre and surveys the gruesome murder scene.

Unfortunately for Langdon, this is only the beginning of his adventure. The police turn on Langdon and accuse him of the murder; Sophie Neveu, a cryptographer, helps him escape. They go together to put the pieces of the mystery together. While trying to solve the mystery, they run into many twists and turns. They also learn why they were both picked for this adventure.

I really liked this book. I had watched the movie first, so some of the surprises weren’t surprises, but it was still really good. It’s so interesting how Dan Brown meshes the symbolic with mystery, reality, and the truth. He adds just enough truth to make it seem plausible. It leaves you wondering if he found some secret, ancient document that provided him with the information.

If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining, high-action book for summer, check out The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I think you’ll enjoy it! Have you already read this book? What did you think??

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (There’s very little profanity and no “intimacy” in this book. There is, however, some violence including a gruesome murder, fighting, and the death of several characters.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Jm1ynm

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

 
This review was first published on 4/28/09; updated on 6/7/18.