The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

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Book Review of The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

I love it when a book takes you somewhere you’ve never been, and never knew you wanted to! You don’t know what you don’t know, right? I had never heard of Penny Dreadfuls until I read this book. In case you don’t know what they are (because I didn’t), they were sensationalized stories printed on cheap paper in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. The story would be sold in parts, with each part costing one penny. These stories were quite popular with the young men of the time. When I say sensationalized, I mean that they were more fantastical, involving characters like ghosts and vampires. Who knew, right? Now you know! These Penny Dreadfuls play a major part in The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden.

Blurb:

“Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and a well-respected author of ‘silver-fork’ novels. But by night, she writes the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men under the pseudonym, Charles King.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Charles King. Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. Elizabeth agrees to help if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered.

What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction. It’s upper-class against working-class, author against author, where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.

  • A historical romance set in London, England in the 1830s. This Victorian time period was well-known for its gothic romances and ‘Penny Dreadfuls’—cheap sensational fiction read by young, working-class men. The Guardian described them as ‘Britain’s first taste of mass-produced pop culture for the young.’ With more than a million sold each week, they contributed to the growing fear of crime in mid-Victorian Britain.
  • Though Penny Dreadfuls were known for their tales of crimes, exploits, and supernatural beasts, the Highwayman heroes were popular for the story’s romantic elements.
  • The story drew its inspiration from the real-life Victorian author Elizabeth Caroline Grey, a high-class lady, who, it was rumored, wrote both ‘silver-fork’ novels and Penny Dreadfuls.”

My Book Review:

This book is so fun! I didn’t know anything about Penny Dreadfuls when I began reading, and now I feel like an expert. I completely got sucked into the story, the life, and the time period. The characters, especially, draw you into their lives. Each character is well written, developed, and so unique. Fletcher—oh Fletcher. He just might make you swoon if you’re not careful! And I love Elizabeth’s complexity. Her secret life makes you want to, well…find a cool secret life! Nothing too crazy. Does book blogging count as a secret life when you’re a sixth grade teacher? Probably not. It’s not cool enough. I’ll need to think about it for awhile.

The uniqueness of the story draws you in. All the members of the “Dread Penny Society,” and their cause, remind me a lot of today’s Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. It’s hard to think of a better cause to support! I loved watching their operations take place, and knowing the lives they saved. The only thing that was a bit off for me was that I kept wanting to read “Dead Poets Society” instead of “Dread Penny Society.” The former is one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s just me, though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters come to life on the pages, and they draw you into their lives and stories. There’s a lot of wit, which I love. I like the relationship between Elizabeth and Fletcher, and I like how the “Penny Dreadfuls” stories play into the plot. There are also some great causes highlighted like education and help for the poor and needy. Of course I love the tension and the romance as well!  

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (Some minor violence and kissing)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult

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/31G3wnY

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
 

Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff

Six-Ingredients-with-Six-Sisters-Stuff

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Book Review of Six Ingredients with Six Sisters' Stuff

My style of cooking on busy weeknights usually includes scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, or tacos. Tacos and a salad bar are about as fancy as I get on weeknights because they’re so busy. Like many families, I teach during the day. Then in the evenings the kids have dance, mountain biking, and sewing. Plus, they have weekly church activities on top of all that. There’s not a lot of time for fancy meals. However, with this new cookbook Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff, that may change! My family will be so happy. The recipes only have six ingredients—I can do this!

Blurb:

“With only six ingredients or less per recipe, making dinner has never been easier.

Six Sisters’ Stuff is one of the most popular blogs for quick and easy cooking and entertaining at home for families. In their eighth cookbook, they tackle how to master meals for any cook with any skill level with more than 100 easy recipes made with incredible flavor combinations from just six ingredients or less.

From beginning cooks learning the basics to busy parents looking to save time in the kitchen, this cookbook is loaded with entrees, side dishes, and desserts. Whether it’s a one-pot wings dish or a no-bake peanut butter bar this cookbook is a fool-proof solution to meal planning and features ‘Kid Favorites’ recipes.”

My Book Review:

I have quite a few of the Six Sisters’ cookbooks, and I use recipes from all of them. They’re great recipes. I like them because they usually use ingredients you have on hand, and they taste good too. What I like about this new cookbook is that each recipe only has six ingredients. I went through the cookbook and it’s true—six ingredients or less. And they’re not crazy ingredients. It’s all stuff you probably already have, or you use often.

One feature that I love in this cookbook is the little “kid approved” hand that appears on many of the recipes. Basically, it means that kids have tried and liked those recipes. Yes! It’s always good to have a few go-to kid friendly recipes when you have picky eaters. Sadly, my picky eater won’t eat a few of them, like the Easy Baked Gnocchi, because they have sauce on them. Yep, she won’t eat ANY kind of sauce. Ugh. I think most kids will, though.

I like the colors in this cookbook. The green is so calming, for some reason. The photographs of the food are well done. They’re clear, bright, and look delicious! I like the layout and think it’s easy to read and follow. They make it easy to find everything with a table of contents at the front and a good index at the back. The recipes are also divided into “Main Dishes,” “Side Dishes,” and “Desserts.” I have a digital copy of the book, so I bet the paper copy is even better!

So, let me tell you about a few of my favorite recipes:

Ground Beef Enchilada Casserole looks and sounds so good! I don’t make enchiladas very often because of the time it takes to put them together. This recipe makes it super easy to do in casserole form.    

Six Sisters' Stuff Ground Beef Enchilada Casserole

Slow Cooker Ritz Chicken is very similar to poppy seed chicken, which is one of my family’s favorites. The only difference is that there aren’t poppy seeds on top of the Ritz crackers. We love this! I’ve never made it in the crockpot, so I’ll give it a try! I love a good crockpot recipe!

Six Sisters' Stuff Slow Cooker Ritz Chicken

Lemon and Dill Salmon. Yum! I love salmon. I don’t make it often. Okay, I’ve never actually made it. I love to eat it at restaurants, but I’ve never made it at home. That will change I hope, because this looks so good!

Six Sisters' Stuff Lemon and Dill Salmon

The Green Chile Rice sounds amazing! It will go perfect with any Mexican dish. I can’t wait to try it.

Six Sisters' Stuff Green Chile Rice

No-Bake Coconut Bars. Seriously? These look sooooo delicious! Like your own homemade Mounds Bar. They look so easy, too! Mmmmmm.

Six Sisters' Stuff No Bake Coconut Bars

Six Ingredients - Blog Tour

Content Rating GContent Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

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/2NX7SDd

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Copycat Cooking by Six Sisters' Stuff Six-Sisters-Stuff Six-Sisters-Stuff-A-Year-with
 
Pictures of the recipes taken from the digital copy of the Six Ingredients with Six Sisters’ Stuff cookbook. They are for review only. Please do not copy or use them for any reason.

Bill Marriott: Success is Never Final by Dale Van Atta

Bill-Marriott by Dale Van Atta

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Book Review of Bill Marriott: Success is Never Final by Dale Van Atta

I have a love/hate relationship with biographies of successful people. This book talks about what Bill Marriott was doing when he was my age, how much money he’d earned, and the success he’d achieved, and it makes me feel a little underwhelmed about my own achievements. I know it’s not fair or productive, so I don’t dwell on it, but…wow.  Maybe I need to up my game? Get into the hotel business? Nah, I guess raising a family and teaching sixth graders has its own importance, and it’s what I love. So I’ll stick with it for now. It does go to show you what you can accomplish if you work hard, and that’s a take-away we can all learn from. I hope you enjoy my book review of Bill Marriott: Success is Never Final by Dale Van Atta.

Blurb:

“Bill Marriott—son of J. Willard Marriott, who opened a root-beer stand that grew into the Hot Shoppes Restaurant chain and evolved into the Marriott hotel company—grew up in the family business. In his more than fifty years at the company’s helm, Bill Marriott was the driving force behind growing Marriott into the world’s largest global hotel chain.

Bill Marriott: Success is Never Final gives readers an intimate portrait of the life of this business titan and his definition of success. Bill shares details about his private struggles with his domineering father’s chronic harsh criticism; his innovations in the hotel industry; and the boundless passion and energy he demonstrated for his work, family, and faith. Bill also shares spiritual experiences that allowed him to recognize God’s guidance in his personal life.

  • Details the story from Bill Marriott’s first job in his family’s restaurants to his monumental decisions in building Marriott into the largest hotel chain in the world.
  • A boat explosion, just a week after his father died, caused a fire that severely burned Bill’s body and damaged his hands so significantly, it was unclear if he would be able to use his fingers.
  • Part of Bill’s management legacy includes substantial and widespread philanthropic work, educational programs, and community outreach.
  • As a business leader, Bill has met with American presidents, foreign dignitaries, and other business moguls. The biography is filled with newly told, behind-the-scenes, intimate stories such as ‘family dinners’ with the Eisenhowers and the Marriotts.
  • Readers will learn the fascinating details about the successes and failures of Bill’s business ventures and relate to his challenges of balancing roles as a CEO, a husband and father, and a man of faith.

This is the remarkable story of a man who had the vision to create a multibillion-dollar business, who understood the power of giving, and who lived the creed that hard work will pay off but success is never final.”

My Book Review:

I’ve stayed in Marriott hotels before, and I’ve seen them as we’ve traveled, but I didn’t know very much about its beginnings or the man who took it to the top. Now I know a lot about each of those things, and lots of other stuff as well! This book is VERY detailed. I’m not sure how anyone can remember so much from so long ago. I know that both Bill Marriott and his father, J. Willard, kept good journals, and I have to say that it paid off. There is so much information in this book! It even goes into detail about the Marriott ancestors that crossed the plains to end up in Utah.

Not only does it chronicle Bill’s life, but it goes in-depth into his father and mother’s upbringings as well. There is a lot about the relationship between Bill and his father. Unfortunately, most of it doesn’t sound very good. This book goes step-by-step into how the Marriott company began and evolved over the years. I had never heard of a Hot Shoppe restaurant before. Have you? They sound like quite an adventure! I found it interesting to learn about several things Bill tried that didn’t do very well. Did you know he owned a cruise ship? Or a few theme parks? Crazy, right?

Bill Marriot: Success is Never Final is well written. As I stated previously, it’s VERY detailed. There were a few things that I didn’t really care to know, but it was interesting to see how everything shaped Bill’s life in the way it did. I can tell that this book was very well researched. I thought the book flowed well; it was mostly easy to read and understand. There were a few technical paragraphs talking about stocks or financing that I didn’t know anything about. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand them as well.

 My favorite thing about this book was to see Bill’s drive, work ethic, and devotion to his family and faith. I’m not sure how he fit it all in! I’m sure he didn’t want some of his failures to be brought up, but it was also good to see that he is just a normal guy who makes mistakes and learns from them. His work ethic and charity are such a good example of what you need to do to succeed at something.

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (Although there is not a ton, there is some profanity in this book.)

Age Recommendation: 16+

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/2ZVIKid

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
 

Review of The Lady in the Coppergate Tower

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen

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Book Review of The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen

You know me; I love a good fairy tell retelling. I love how authors are able to take a familiar story and rethink it, looking at it from different angles perspectives. Looking at the characters in a unique way, and trying to find a story within a story are also something I enjoy about retellings. When I saw that Nancy Campbell Allen had done a re-telling of Rapunzel I was super excited. Having it steampunk made it all the more fun! I love this little world she is creating surrounding Blackwell Manor and its residents and friends, so I couldn’t wait to read it. I hope you enjoy my review of The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen.

Blurb:

“Hazel Hughes believes there is nothing remarkable about her, not even her strange ability to heal the sick and injured. Her employer, Doctor Sam MacInnes recognizes her special talent, but because of the difference in their social status, he can’t tell her how much he admires her. When a mysterious count arrives in London and reveals to Hazel the existence of a twin sister, she agrees to accompany him to the wilds of Romania, where she learns that her healing skills are needed to save her twin’s life. Worried for her safety, Sam insists on accompanying her.

Faced with dark magic, malfunctioning automatons, and dangerous magical artifacts, Hazel and Sam learn to rely on each other as they untangle a dangerous and dark web of mystery surrounding the mysterious count, and search for a way to free Hazel’s sister from the cursed walls of a Coppergate Tower before time runs out on all of them.”

My Book Review:

I seriously love this little steampunk Victorian society that Nancy Campbell Allen has created. It’s so fun and imaginative! I love that you can take such a prim and proper time period and add robots (automatons), transcribers (pagers), submarines, and so much more! It’s also fun to see characters from past books make appearances; it kind of brings it all together.

I liked the cover art of the book before I started reading it, but once I had gotten to know the characters inside the book, the characters on the cover didn’t work for me. I know it’s picky, but I didn’t think they looked anything like the characters in my head. Haha! It’s not that big of a deal, though.

The story line is unique and fun. I thought the fancy, important count coming to get Hazel was a bit creepy, and don’t think I would have gone with him if it’d been me. Hazel’s intentions to save her sister were genuine, though, and that would be a compelling reason to go with him. I thought a few parts were a bit predictable, but a lot of it surprised me. It had enough twists and turns to keep me reading. I had to know more about the sister! What was happening to her? What could Hazel do to save her?

Nancy Campbell Allen does a great job of describing and developing characters. Each character has his or her own characteristics, voice, and personality. I especially liked Sam and Hazel. They have differing viewpoints of the situation at hand, and each of them handles it in a unique way. I liked seeing their strengths and weaknesses throughout the book. As the book progresses, you get to see growth and development in both Hazel and Sam. I enjoyed watching them evolve and change.

Another thing Nancy Campbell Allen does well is describe this world she has created. I love the descriptions of all the high-techie Victorian era stuff! Because it predates our current technology, things are named differently (I gave some examples above), and I enjoy her depictions of them. I enjoy reading her writing because it’s easy to read and understand, it’s entertaining, and it all flows well. It’s clever, too, which makes it more fun to read.

I enjoyed The Lady in the Coppergate Tower. I liked the beginning and middle a lot more than I liked the ending, though. I didn’t like the ending. Most of the story leads up to the ending, and It felt like it took a long time to get there. Then, once I got there, the ending felt a bit rushed to me. It also felt a little too unrealistic, and I still had some questions that didn’t get answered. The other thing I didn’t love about the ending was that it felt a little too much like a copy-cat of something else. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into more detail than that, but I felt like I’d already seen the ending. Overall, though, it was a fun book. I liked it.

Blog Tour The Lady in the Coppergate Tower

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book, except for kissing. There is some violence, though. A couple characters are attacked, and another character is abused. A couple characters die.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

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/334zivR 

 

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Beauty and Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen my fair gentleman
 
 
Featured Image Credit: Goodreads.com
 

The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden

The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M Eden

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Book Review of The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden

I have always thought that it would be fun to go back in time and spend at least a week in England during the early nineteenth century. At least from all the books I’ve read that have taken place during this time (which is a lot), it seems like such a nice time to live. Now, you’d need to go spend time with a more wealthy family, but nevertheless, I think it would be fun to see. I don’t want to stay there forever, just long enough to experience it for a minute. Regency books have always been one of my favorite to read, so I was excited to see Sarah M. Eden’s new book The Heart of a Vicar. The cover art is beautiful, and sets the perfect tone for the book.

Blurb:

“Young love is all too fleeting, as Harold Jonquil painfully discovered years ago when Sarah Sarvol, the niece of a neighboring landowner, captures his heart. After an idyllic few weeks in the throes of blossoming love, reality intervened. They could have no future. Following their disastrous parting, Harold attempted to push aside thoughts of love and regret, but Sarah has never left his heart. Now, years later, he has achieved his lifelong aspiration of becoming the local vicar. However, the role proves more difficult than he imagined. He feels hollow and uninspired—until the most important person in his past returns, challenging him as no one ever has.

When Sarah’s ailing uncle summons her back to the family estate in England, there is only one person from her past she is reluctant to see again: Harold Jonquil, the only man who has ever claimed her heart. But when she comes face-to-face with her former beau, she hardly recognizes the aloof and dull man before her. She is determined to help Harold rediscover the passion he once felt toward his chosen profession. Soon, despite their exasperation with each other, they cannot deny the stirring of feelings long buried—but is it too late for second chances?”

My Book Review:

I love being transported back in time to England in the early 1800s. In The Heart of a Vicar, Eden does a fantastic job describing the scenery, the large estates, and the people that live there. Her descriptions make you feel like you are there, a part of it all. I especially love the people in this book. Although there are a lot of them, they each get the attention they deserve. Each character is well developed and so life-like. Each has his or her own personality, traits, and quirks.

Sarah comes across as determined, happy, and loving. I love her independence and love of people. Her fun with the blacksmith is one of my favorite parts of the story. Scott isn’t focused on as much, but he plays a big part in bringing the story together. Harold may struggle at times, but I really liked his character. He wanted to do the right thing in the right way; he just needed a little help getting there. It was fun to watch his growth as the story progressed. I thought it was funny that his little quirk ended up playing such a big role in the story.

The Jonquil family seems like a family anyone would want to be a part of. They know how to have fun, and how to come together to help each other.  One of my favorite parts of this family is their focus on the children. In many other books about this time period, children are taken care of by governesses, and the parents don’t interact with them a lot. That is not the case in this book, and it is a feature I loved. Another feature I loved about the Jonquil family was how deeply they cared for each other and took care of one another.

The Heart of a Vicar is well written. I like the flow of it, and Eden’s writing style. It’s easy to read and understand, and easy to get sucked into. One of the reasons I love reading so much is because you get to live different lives, see different places, and experience things you’d otherwise never get to experience. I felt that in this book. Becoming a part of this neighborhood was so much fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It’s the perfect summer get-away. Although it’s not titled a “proper romance” like many of Eden’s previous books, it is one. It’s a sweet, romantic story that happens to be clean. You all know how much I appreciate that. The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden will make a perfect addition to any proper romance, or romance, collection.

The Heart of a Vicar Blog Tour Image

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief kissing, and some abusive tendencies of one character.)

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/2ItM4uh

 

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Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
 

Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis

Cover Art of Deep Conviction by Steven T Collis

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Book Review of Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis

I have to admit that on a normal, daily basis, I do not usually think about the freedom of religion. I definitely take it for granted. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I go to church on Sunday and I read scripture and pray throughout the week. I take full advantage of religious freedom, but yet I never really think about it. It’s just something that’s always been there. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t ever really thought about what it has taken to secure that freedom throughout the years. I fully acknowledge how blessed we are in the United States to be able to enjoy that freedom. There are still places around the world that do not have the same privilege, and to them I am sorry. I promise that I will no longer take this freedom for granted. Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis brings the importance of religious freedom into the light and recognizes some of the sacrifices that have been made in order to secure that right.

Blurb:

Deep Conviction features four ordinary Americans who put their reputations and livelihoods at risk as they fought to protect their first amendment right to live their personal beliefs. Though these individuals couldn’t be more different, they share a similar conviction and determination.

  • In the winter of 1813, in rural New York City, a Catholic priest faced prison after a grand jury subpoenaed him for refusing to divulge the identity of a criminal who admitted his guilt during the sacrament of confession.
  • In the summer of 1959, an atheist pushed his attempt to become a Maryland notary public all the way to the United States Supreme Court because the state required him to sign an oath that said he believed in God.
  • In 1989 a Klamath Indian man walked into the highest court of our nation supported by legions of members of the Native American Church to plead for the freedom to practice his beliefs after years of oppression.
  • And, finally, in 2017, a Christian baker in Denver had his beliefs and actions scrutinized by the Supreme Court after he refused service to a gay couple who wanted to purchase a custom wedding cake.

These stories were specifically chosen for the universality and for the broad principles they represent. Most importantly, the notion of religious freedom for all, truly cherished, allows justice and protection for everyone, religious or not.”

My Book Review:

I was a little hesitant to read this book because I thought reading about court cases might be a little boring. Let me tell you how wrong I was. Steven T. Collis has a gift with words. He took these old court cases and brought them to life. I was enthralled! I couldn’t put it down! The law is not my thing—I teach sixth grade—but Collis held me captivated. As he described the laws and the courtroom scenes, I felt like I was there. I could feel the tension in the room, and I think I held my breath as I waited to hear the final decisions. He has a gift for storytelling.

I loved the writing style of this book. Seriously. It’s easy to read and understand, it flows well, and it draws you in. I did have to go back and reread a few paragraphs because I’m not used to reading the technical language of law, but that was my own fault. Collis’ descriptions of the people, their histories, and their lives make you feel like you have known them for years. The way he describes the courtroom scenes allows you to see a glimpse into the past, and to feel like you were there to see it happen.

When the law burdens one faith group—including atheists or agnostics—over another, it is only a matter of time before the unfavored group gains power. Once it does, it will use the law for its own ends. This results in factions vying for government power and turning it into a spear they can use to promote only their beliefs. (p. 163)

If the government is permitted to attempt to influence religious beliefs and commitments, each religious faction must necessarily seek to conrol or at least influence the government so the faction’s members will be more benefitted than harmed. Even if government is permitted only to express views about religion, religious factions will seek to control or influence the government so that they can control or influence the religious views that it expresses. (p.155)

When religious liberty is truly valued, government may not punish anyone for their beliefs, no matter who happens to control the reins of power in that particular moment. (p. 165)

The importance of religious freedom cannot be downplayed or forgotten. It must be protected and fought for. Sacrifices must be made in order to keep government in check. I have never met the people in these stories, but their sacrifices and suffering have paved the way for all of us to keep our religious freedom. Whether you go to church every week or do not believe in God at all, freedom of religion protects us from one group persecuting another or forcing the other to believe something.

At first I was worried that this book would be boring or dry, but it is not. I truly could not put it down. It held me captivated for chapter after chapter. This principle is so important. I loved this book and highly recommend it!

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book, but there are some graphic descriptions. Mostly, I think younger readers will not understand, appreciate, or fully grasp the concept of this book.)

Age Recommendation: 16+

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/2EmLAFd

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Slave Stealers by Timothy Ballard Women of the Blue and Gray by Marianne Monson
 
 
Featured Image Credit: Goodreads.com

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S Kilpack Cover Art

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Book Review of Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Mayfield Family Series, Promises and Primroses, so I was excited to read this second book. Daisies are one of my favorite types of flowers, and there are quite a few daisy plants in my yard. I’d take pictures of them for you all, but they aren’t blooming yet. Uncle Elliot managed to get Peter married off, so I was excited to see which family member this book would focus on, and how he would perceive the marriage campaign. Anyway, what a perfect way to merge two of my favorite things—books and flowers! Find out more in my book review of Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Timothy Mayfield is ready to marry for love, but, since his personal finances are thinner than he’d like, he knows he’ll also need to find a wife with wealth. After receiving an unexpected inheritance, Timothy’s circumstances change, and he is free to pursue his ‘perfect woman’—one with blonde hair, blue eyes, a light laugh, arched eyebrows, elegant fingers, and a dazzling smile, among nearly twenty other characteristics.

Maryann Morrington doesn’t match anything on Timothy’s list—except for wealth. An heiress in her own right, she is tired of men pursuing her only for her money. But at nearly twenty-two years old, and not a particularly stunning beauty, she can’t be as picky as her friend Timothy is.

The two friends end up playing matchmaker for each other. Timothy will find a decent gentleman for Maryann, and Maryann will prove to Timothy that his ‘perfect woman’ doesn’t exist.

Until Miss Shaw comes to London.

Now, with Timothy’s heart captivated by the blonde, blue-eyed beauty, Maryann must decide if she should risk her heart and reveal her true feelings for her friend, or if she should settle for someone else. It’s an up-and-down game of ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ with both hearts and friendship on the line.”

My Book Review:

I love the setting in this book. London in 1822 is the perfect place for a romantic story. If I could travel back in time, this is a time period I would choose to go to. It would be so fun to wear the fancy dresses and go to the balls. Of course, I’d want to go back with money because I’m sure life was different if you didn’t have money for such fancy things. The carriage rides, the visiting, the new dresses, and the parties would be a lot of fun. However, it might also feel like you’re on show on the time, and I could see that being stressful. What if you don’t meet someone that season? To be twenty-two and not married (gasp!).

That is where Maryann is at this point in her life. She’s twenty-two and just now getting into her season. She has some unusual circumstances surrounding her past, and is now looking to marry. Her character is well written and developed. I like that she isn’t perfect. She doesn’t look, act, or sound perfect, and you can see her insecurities in her actions and thoughts. She has a personality that is easy to relate to, and she seems like she would be a fun friend.

Timothy’s character is also well written and developed. Even though he has a lot of “guy” expectations (the “perfect woman…”) he does have a likable personality. I do like his gentlemanly mannerisms and the fact that he thinks things through, except the “perfect woman” thing, of course. He thinks he knows what he wants and needs, but does he really?

I like the banter between Timothy and Maryann. It’s hilarious that she helps him with his fashion. He’s not so careful with his observations of her, but the two of them provide for some good entertainment when they’re together. Of course you also throw in a few other characters like Deborah and Lucas, Miss Shaw, and Colonel Berkins, and you get just the right amount of tension and questioning.

This book is well written. The character development is very good. I like it when you see the characters’ growth as the story progresses. The book flows well, is easy to read and understand, and has just the right amount of humor, romance, and story line. I like the descriptions of the events and activities, the dresses, the punch, and the setting. Ms. Kilpack does a great job of making you feel like you are there, in London, enjoying the dancing like everyone else. It’s also easy to feel right alongside the characters.

I enjoyed this book and think it is a great addition to the Mayfield Family Series. I can’t wait to see if there’ll be more Mayfield stories up and coming.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” There’s some brief kissing, and some descriptions of the smell of cigars and cigar smoke.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

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/30iPzfl

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack
 

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

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Book Review of A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

I’ve read and reviewed many proper romances over the last few years. It’s been so fun to get to know the characters and the styles of the different authors. Nancy Campbell Allen writes fun steampunk novels. Josi S. Kilpack writes fictional love stories about historical people. Sarah M. Eden writes of women living far from home who find love. Julianne Donaldson is a master story teller. Becca Wilhite and Julie Wright have more modern takes on the proper romance. Each author has her own individual style, and I have truly loved being able to read and review these books. A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd is a little different from the other proper romances I’ve read. Maile, the main character, is a tough cookie! She knows who she is, what she stands for, and she’s not afraid to do what she needs to do to get it. Find out what makes this book stand out in my book review of A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd.

Blurb:

“As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawai’i, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people—and with Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.”

My Book Review:

I love Maile’s strong, determined character. She has her moments of doubt and weakness, for sure, but she never gives up. Her dedication to her family, especially her father, shows a lot about her values. I love the brief moments you get to see the relationship she has with her sister. It’s not just family, though. She also has a strong loyalty for her people and traditions. Maile is well developed, realistic, and a likable and relatable character.

John has a bit more mystery surrounding him because he’s the so-called enemy. Although his personality is not as obviously strong, you can tell that he has inner strength. He also has loyalty to his people and his captain. You get to hear his thoughts through his journal entries, which I liked. The story carries through Maile, but many insights and perceptions are told through John.

As I stated previously, the story is told through both John and Maile’s points of view. John’s story is told through his journal entries, while Maile narrates the story. Even with the two points of view, the story flows seamlessly. This book is well written. I like Ms. Todd’s writing style because it draws you into the story. You feel like you’re there, in Hawaii, with Maile. You feel her frustration, anger, grief, sadness, loyalty, love, pain, and peace. I love her descriptions of the island, the flowers, the people, and the traditions. I’m not much of a singer, but I loved the descriptions of the songs and chants the Hawaiian people have for navigating, mourning, and history.

I think it’s so fun for the author that this story is based on events that happened to her relatives. In order to make the story more understandable and readable, she changed a few minor details, but the people were real. What a great experience for her to be able to tell her ancestor’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.

song for the stars blog tour image

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy,” but there is some violence. There’s fighting and some well-known characters die.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult

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/2X8V8KK

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack my fair gentleman Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden
 
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Wizard For Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

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Book Review of Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed (Book #2) by Obert Skye

After the cliffhanger ending of Book #1, my house has been waiting and waiting for Book #2. Where did Rin go? Is he ok? Is he ever going to come back? What about Ozzy and Sigi? Are they ok? There are so many unanswered questions from the first book that need to be answered! One of the biggest questions is if Rin is really a wizard or not. I mean, the scene in New Mexico makes you think one way, but you thought the other way the whole rest of the book. Will Book #2 give us the answers we crave? Or will it too end in a cliffhanger? I’m not going to give anything away, but you might find out some of those answers. Maybe? Haha. Just read it already! Or, check out my book review of A Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye.

Blurb:

“Ozzy Toffy’s adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean. More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy’s continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever. When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive in it are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover that there’s even more adventure in store for them.

Will Rin return and save the day? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he’d like to be appreciated? For once?

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.”

My Book Review:

Book #1 sure ended with a bang, right? Wow—can you say cliffhanger? At my house we have been waiting and waiting for Book #2 to come out so we could see what happens. It’s spring break here, thank goodness, and so I had the time to sit down and read. This book is just as crazy as the first one! Things are happening and neither Ozzy nor Sigi understand what that means. Then one day they receive a package, and it sets off a series of events that they will never forget. Buckle those seat belts and get ready for an adventure!

I like the writing style of this book. It’s fast-paced, full of action, and full of mystery. Yep, you’re still wondering! Even after the events in New Mexico, you’re still wondering if Rin is really a wizard or not. Is he? Hmmm…no. Well…yes, I think he is. Ummm…no. No way. Haha! That’s a good way to keep your readers reading…make them go crazy wondering. And then to make it worse, Ozzy starts doing some crazy and dangerous things—unconsciously!

Obert Skye has a fun, witty writing style. He really likes to use figurative language! This is the first paragraph of chapter one:

The day had departed, dashing off like a frightened child as the first slender fingers of dusk gripped the sky. In its absence, darkness arrived at 1221 Ocean View Drive. Like a large visitor whom nobody had invited, the inkiness came early and in force, its arms filled with fatigue and exhaustion. It sat down on everything and moaned like an old man with tired legs and no intention of getting back up anytime soon.

English teachers unite! In one paragraph you have personification and several similes. Not every paragraph is like this, but many of them are, and I love it. I don’t think enough authors take the time to craft the language of their books. It’s refreshing.

The characters are well developed and realistic. Ozzy, Sigi, and Clark are all great characters. As a reader, you feel like you’re one of them. You feel like you’re there with them and experiencing things with them. Rin is hilarious, and I love all his words of wisdom. My favorite is when Ozzy and Sigi are trying to leave meaningful messages on his phone. I’m going to start doing this, I think. You may only leave a message if you leave an inspirational quote with it. My kids (and husband) would get so irritated!

This book answers a few questions, but adds about 100 more! AHHHHH! Yep, there better be a book three! And pronto. ‘Cuz it’s another cliffhanger ending ladies and gents. Of course, the cover art is amazing! The fabulous Brandon Dorman has done it again! You’ll want to read the book just because it has such a fantastic cover! If you want action, suspense, mystery, wizardry—or not wizardry, cool mechanical birds, mind control, car chases, or night-time sailing expeditions, this book is for you! Hang on, though, it’s quite the ride!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (I’m adding the + to this book because even though there isn’t any profanity, he sometimes uses words that are very close to profane words as a substitute. He also says things like, “This guy cursed up a storm.” I thank him for not using the actual words, but the reader does know that cursing was involved. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. Ozzy, Sigi, and Rin fight off some bad guys, and there is a kidnapping.)

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

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2FSMGK6

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides
 
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The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

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Book Review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

When the publicist asked if I would review this book I said, “Yes!” because it has a good title. I don’t usually read the blurbs about books, so when I picked it up I totally thought it was going to be MG or YA fantasy. Hahaha! Ummmm…no. This book is not fantasy at all. It’s fiction, but it’s an allegory written about two brothers whose hearts have turned against each other. These brothers happen to be people that lived long ago. The Anasazi. It’s not very long, but it packs a big punch! There’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge squeezed into a few pages. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this story. Find out more in my book review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation.

Blurb:

“Drawing on thirty years of helping families in crisis, this profound fable by the ANASAZI Foundation illustrates the anguish of conflict and shows how we can end war within ourselves, within families, and even between nations.

The Five Legends is the story of two estranged brothers, leaders of their people, who find themselves on an unexpected journey marked by struggle as they fall into a formidable canyon. Trapped and injured, the two brothers are rescued by an old man—‘the last of a people’—who agrees to guide them out of the canyon, but only if they agree to listen to the Five Legends of peace. The brothers learn that to heal any conflict we must first look within ourselves. At its core, ‘War does not begin or end with armies and leaders. In truth, war begins and ends within each of us—within our hearts.”

My Book Review:

When I agreed to review this book I had never heard of the ANASAZI Foundation. It sounds like an amazing program. The ANASAZI Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)that is based in Arizona. It’s a “wilderness therapy program for young adults and youth at risk [and has been] recognized internationally for its caring and nonpunitive approach to helping youth overcome challenges and see their seeds of greatness.” This program “gives young people an opportunity, through a primitive living experience and a philosophy that invites healing at the hands of nature, to effect a change of heart—a change in one’s whole way of walking the world…[It gives youth] a place free from distractions, where one can learn, ponder, and build” If you’d like to learn more about the ANASAZI Foundation, you may find more information at: www.anasazi.org.

Now onto the story. Picture two teenage or early-twenties young men. Brothers. They are the sons of their people’s leader, and they do not get along. They argue and disagree with each other. When their father passes away the disagreements come to a head and the two brothers go different ways. Each leads his people, and each blames his brother for the rift, heartache, and all his problems. Many years pass, and with each passing year their hatred of each other increases. Then something happens that brings them together for the first time in many years. An accident follows, and they embark on a journey to mend their divided hearts.

This book is very well written. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and I really like the writing style. Somehow it makes you feel calm and peaceful even when it’s discussing war and fighting. I loved reading about the Five Legends of peace. This book is broken up into different sections, and I didn’t find it off-putting or difficult to read. The character development is very well done. You feel like you are feeling the emotions of the characters.

My favorite thing about this allegory is all the lessons that it packs into its slim 96 pages. Wow! You’ve got forgiveness and repentance. You have looking inside yourself first before placing the blame on someone else. There’s also the importance of family and living a life of WE. I love that one! We can’t do much by ourselves, but when WE work together, we can do amazing things. You also have the importance of seeing each other as people. Real people—with feelings, dreams, hopes, strengths and weaknesses—people who are doing their best. We need to look at the positives and the good in people before we focus on everything that is wrong.

I think the journey the brothers take is significant also. Being together and doing things together on this journey through life is what bonds us together. Also, life is a journey. Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes good things happen along the way. There may be times where we get lost or lose our possessions. There may be times along the way where we feel like we can’t go on or we lose hope. What’s important is the connections in our lives—our connections to other people. It’s living a life of WE instead of me. It’s the importance of looking outside ourselves and seeing other people. Really seeing them.

I liked this book a lot. I loved watching the characters grow and develop along the way, and I loved all the symbolism and lessons. This book teaches some very important lessons that are needed in today’s world. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a great family or school read-aloud too!

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There isn’t any violence either.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult (Younger children could read it, but they will not grasp the symbolism or lessons taught.)

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

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