Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел хизнь вечную.
While I receive many books in exchange for review, I am never required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my very own.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Review: The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron

At the height of the Nazi occupation of Rome, an unlikely band of heroes comes together to save innocent lives in this breathtaking World War II novel based on real historical events.

Rome, 1943. With the fall of Italy’s Fascist government and the Nazi regime occupying the streets of Rome, British ballerina Julia Bradbury is stranded and forced to take refuge at a hospital on Tiber Island. But when she learns of a deadly sickness sweeping through the quarantine wards—a fake disease known only as Syndrome K—she is drawn into one of the greatest cons in history. Alongside hospital staff, friars of the adjoining church, and two Allied medics, Julia risks everything to rescue Jewish Italians from the deadly clutches of the Holocaust. Soon a little girl who dreams of becoming a ballerina arrives at their door, and Julia is determined to reunite the young dancer with her family—if only she would reveal one crucial secret: her name.

Present Day. Delaney Coleman recently lost her grandfather—a beloved small-town doctor and World War II veteran, so she returns home to help her aging parents. When a mysterious Italian woman reaches out claiming to own one of the family’s precious heirlooms, Delaney is compelled to travel to Italy and uncover the truth of her grandfather’s hidden past. With the help of the woman’s skeptical but charming grandson, Delaney learns of a Roman hospital that saved hundreds of Jewish people during the war. Soon, everything Delaney thought she knew about her grandfather comes into question. 

I'll be honest, it has been so long since I read anything by this author, but I've always kept her name in the back of my head as a word artist. In fact, I think the exact term I have her filed under is "magician." I saw this gorgeous cover at the store and just had to have it. Turns out, best decision ever! In split timelines, it can be easy to care for one time over the other, but from the very beginning I was invested in every single piece of this story. It was woven together in the most magical way possible. I stayed up late until I just couldn't keep my eyes focused because I wanted to know what was happening. I carried it with me everywhere, even when I knew I didn't have time to read. The characters were so important to me, and I loved them all dearly. The suspense had me fully immersed in the world, and the back and forth with the timeline kept me oh so engaged. I cried. I laughed. I made loud noises in silent rooms. I raged over things I can't mention because it'll be spoilers. This story captured me from the very beginning and wouldn't let go even after it was concluded. I wanted it to keep going on and on forever. I went into some serious book hangover when it was finished. What a fresh perspective on WW2! 

Friday, March 17, 2023

7 Years of Blogging! and a review of The Cairo Curse by Pepper Basham

 I can't believe it's been seven whole years since I started this blog! I've gone through ups and downs, with less consistency than I've liked, but overall, it has been the best experience for growing my own writing and for sharing my love for all of my favorite authors and books. To celebrate, I'll be doing a giveaway soon. Stay tuned next week for bookish fun. To tide you over, I've got a review of the newest adventures of Grace and Freddie, The Cairo Curse.

Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley have already experienced their fair-share of suspense, but when a honeymoon trip takes a detour to the mystical land of Egypt, not even Grace with her fiction-loving mind is prepared for the dangers in store. From an assortment of untrustworthy adventure-seekers to a newly discovered tomb with a murderous secret, Frederick and Grace must lean on each other to navigate their dangerous surroundings. As the suspects mount in an antiquities’ heist of ancient proportions, will Frederick and Grace’s attempts to solve the mystery lead to another death among the sands?

I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was to have a second installment of the Grace and Freddie mysteries. I cannot get enough of them. Not only do they have the sweetest romance, they also make so many book references that I just know we'd be best friends if we ever met. I loved getting to explore Egypt with Grace, and she kept me laughing the entire time. (And I mean from the first chapter until the last... the entire time. Not in my head laughing, out loud and awkwardly high in volume in a quiet room laughing!) I also enjoyed getting to know Freddie's dear valet even better and watching him fall head over heels was a delight. Grace's new little maid made my day. She was such a cunning, cute thing. The quick pace of this story was humorous, light, but also deceptively suspenseful. I can't wait for the third installment in this series, and I hope it never ends. I really want to see Grace meet up with Aunt Lavenia again, because they're a riot! It's Agatha Christy meets Jen Turano and I am HERE for it. Plus, who wouldn't love Grace's Appalachian heritage showing up every now and then. 

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley to review, but trust me, all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Review: Yesterday's Tides by Roseanna M. White

In 1942, Evie Farrow is used to life on Ocracoke Island, where every day is the same--until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc. And when special agent Sterling Bertrand is washed ashore at Evie's inn, her life is turned upside down. While Sterling's injuries keep him inn-bound for weeks, making him even more anxious about the SS officer he's tracking, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Evie, who seems to be hiding secrets of her own.

Decades earlier, in 1914, Englishman Remington Culbreth arrives at the Ocracoke Inn for the summer, never expecting to fall in love with Louisa Adair, the innkeeper's daughter. But when war breaks out in Europe, their relationship is put in jeopardy and may not survive what lies ahead for them.

As the ripples from the Great War rock Evie and Sterling's lives in World War II, it seems yesterday's tides may sweep them all into danger again today. 

I absolutely adored this book! The dual timeline is something new for me from Roseanna M. White, and I loved it. There wasn't a moment where I wasn't invested in both. I loved all the characters, and you cannot believe how EXTREMELY pleased I was when I realized that all of my favorite characters got a cameo in the book. I was so sad when I had to leave the WW1 friends, but Margot and Barclay and Brooke and Camden all showed up and my heart was happy. At one point, I was squealing out loud, and I really hope nobody heard me. Evie and Louisa and Rem and Sterling were so perfect. Even thinking about Aunt L and her ending right now is making me tear up again. The grandma's were perfect. I could honestly read a sequel picking right up with Evie and Sterling right this second. I loved that there was sign language incorporated. The espionage was thrilling. The setting was beautiful. I loved the relationship between Evie and the Coast Guards. The whole way this book was sewn together was to die for. I highly recommend to lovers of historical fiction or lovers of Roseanna's books. 

(Also want to mention that Edith is a despicable human and I extremely much do not love her.)

This beauty releases today, so I hope you'll check it out right away!

I received this book as part of Roseanna's street team, but I was not required to post a positive review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Review: A Mark of Grace by Kimberley Woodhouse

When everything crumbles, her chance for a new beginning hangs in the balance.

Ruth Anniston survived an injury that left her physically scarred, broken, and angry at God. Now, she finds herself working behind the scenes as a kitchen and dining room supervisor at the El Tovar Hotel, hidden away from curious eyes and with little hope of finding love. When money begins to disappear from the hotel, Ruth's entire livelihood is put at risk when she lands on the list of suspects.

Frank Henderson has at last succeeded in obtaining his dream job as head chef at the El Tovar. But competition in the kitchen is fierce, and one mistake could cost him his future. As the thefts at the hotel continue, and his affection for Ruth grows, Frank's career--and his heart--are in jeopardy.

As tensions run high, Ruth and Frank must work together to save the El Tovar. They find themselves growing closer . . . but can their combined ingenuity overcome the odds against them?


I've been waiting forever for Ruth's story, and this book was totally worth the wait! There might be a lot of chaos going on here (Let's just say I was getting some anxiety from all the mishaps... I'm sure the characters must've been feeling it even worse!) and there were a few times that I had to put it down for a second to catch my breath. I couldn't ever leave it more than a minute though, because I was just so strongly rooting for Ruth and Frank. The way this book ties up the series is a masterpiece. I felt like I knew that characters so well, even non-POV characters, like Mr. Owens. I also have a phrase stuck in my head now, and it's of the lifechanging variety, since I tend to have a slightly similar personality to Ruth at times: GRACE PLUS NOTHING. Isn't that great? Now, I do have two final things to say, and that is, I knew Oliver's secret pretty early on because I'm a naturally suspicious person and now I'm quite proud of myself, and secondly, while mostly unrelated, isn't there a saying about never trusting a skinny cook? I swear my Spidey senses were tingling as soon as the poor fellow was described. I know I've said this about all three books, but this time I mean it for real... this is the best book in the series! We're going out with a bang! (And a few other loud noises caused by the saboteur and his cronies...) Five stars well earned!

I received a copy of this book for review, but all opinions are my honest own.

A Mark of Grace is available for purchase as of Jan 3, 2023.

Monday, December 26, 2022

My Top 5 Reads of 2022!

 It's that time of year again! The one where I try and come up with a short list of this year's favorites, even though there are so many amazing ones! Remember, these are books that I read for the first time this year. Repeat reads are lovely, but disqualified. (Looking at you, Love Comes Softly!) I'll start with honorable mentions and then move up from there!

Honorable Mentions, in no particular order: Ever Constant by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, Wishtress by Nadine Brandes, The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham, The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas, To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M. White, and The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham.

These all deserve to be the favorite, honestly, but I read a ton of great books this year. Don't worry. It's also breaking my heart that they can't all be number one.

Without further ado, the top five fiction reads of 2022.

In fifth place, the breathtaking sequel to last year's top read, it's The Bride of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep. I love the mix of Sherlock and Dickens vibes, coupled with stunning characters and a story that I just couldn't put down! Anyone who has read book one will be thrilled to see the continuing adventures of our favorite quick witted couple.

In fourth, book two in a series that I read completely backwards. I met the characters in Drawn by the Current and just had to know them better. Cue me binge reading Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green. I adored the theme of adoption and watching the characters work out their disagreements just hit that special part of my heart. This story broke my heart and soothed it all at once. An absolute must read for fans of historical fiction.

I went through a dry season where I couldn't read anything for quite a while. A Gem of Truth by Kimberley Woodhouse knocked me out of that painful spot. I honestly can't even begin to describe how this book was used in my life when I needed it most. For all those people that knock on fiction, just know that sometimes fiction is just the right medicine for a tired and weary soul. For helping me in the toughest of spots, this beauty earns a place on the podium and in my heart.

For most of the year, I thought this next book would be my number one. I read it twice and bawled like a baby both times. A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White really took me by surprise, not that it should've since I love her work. I was deeply attached to every character. I was compelled by the story and immediately wished to have the experience of reading it for the first time all over again. While I adore all of her books, this might possibly be my favorite. It's also notable for being the last time we get to enter the world started in The Lost Heiress. This was the first book I read in 2022, and I couldn't have chosen better if I'd tried. What a deserving recipient of the silver medal.

And taking home the gold today, the book that made me feel like I might be okay with teaching high school, it's The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella. I've read it two and a half times this year, and I'm making all of my ninth and tenth grade students read it as well. (They adore it as well, and alternate between rooting for Chess and wanting to slap him.) The reimagined Wonderland captured my heart like you wouldn't believe. Alice, Charlotte, Chess, Madi, Blanche Lapin (whose name delights me to no end, and I'm sure my French students are tired of hearing about it), and Dinah are such a part of me now. I absolutely am on tenterhooks waiting for book two. The allegorical nature of the work adds a little something special, too. I honestly can't say enough good things about this book. If you haven't read it, do so soon. I promise it will make a special place in your life. 

And a special shoutout to my top nonfiction read of the year, Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. If you haven't read the story of Jim Elliot told through Elisabeth's eyes, you're missing out. There's something so powerful and inspiring in this missionary journey. 

So, what were your favorite reads this year? Do we have any overlaps? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Countdown to Christmas Review: The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham

It's time to start a Christmas countdown with reviews of novels and novellas that are sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!

Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future. 

 I was looking for a book to put me in the Christmas spirit and spotted this one at the bookstore. I HAD to have it, and it was the perfect purchase! I was chuckling out loud before I even finished the first chapter. Grace's character absolutely waltzed right off of the page and into my heart. I felt that she was a kindred spirit of equal caliber to Anne Shirley. She's certainly one of the most dynamic leading ladies you'll ever see! Frederick was the perfect amount of smoldering hero, too. Usually, I don't care for the male POV that much, but I actually loved his as well. The mysterious air of the whole story was spell-binding and I read late into the night just to see what happened next. Aunt Lavenia is also one of the funniest ladies ever. I want to read more about her! My one complaint, if you want to call it that, is that the romance had a lot more... steam... than the typical books I read. Not in any way a dealbreaker. In fact, I always love a Pepper book, but this was definitely high up there on my list! (in my top 2 Pepper books) What a perfect way to start off the Christmas book season. 

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Review: The Premonition at Withers Farm by Jaime Jo Wright

In 1910 Michigan, Perliett Van Hilton is a self-proclaimed rural healer, leaving the local doctor convinced she practices quackery. It doesn't help that her mother is a spiritualist who regularly offers her services to connect the living with their dearly departed. But when Perliett is targeted by a superstitious killer, she must rely on both the local doctor and an intriguing newcomer for assistance.

In the present day, Molly Wasziak's life has not gone the way she dreamed. Facing depression after several miscarriages, Molly is adapting to her husband's purchase of a peculiar old farm. A search for a family tree pulls Molly deep into a century-old murder case and a web of deception, all made more mysterious by the disturbing shadows and sounds inside the farmhouse.

Perliett fights for her life, and Molly seeks renewed purpose for hers as she uncovers the records of the dead. Will their voices be heard, or will time forever silence their truths?

 This book is the perfect fall vibe! It has corn, it has spooks, it has a bunch of weird stuff that makes it hard to sleep at night. I mean, it's got it all. At first, I was a little suspicious of where we were going with the spiritism and all that jazz, but she NAILED it and the ending was superb. As always with a dual timeline, I started off enjoying the past story best, but by the end was totally into the contemporary storyline. The two tangled together in a way I did not see coming, and, as per usual with Jaime Jo Wright, I had absolutely no clue who was the bad guy until the end of the story. I am so good at guessing antagonists in suspense (I'm pretty sure I have at least a silver medal in the sport) but she gets me every time. There were even a couple other plot twists that I did not see coming but that I cannot speak of because it will be a spoiler, but they got me good. Perliett was a fun character to follow around and her annoyance with George was hilarious. Molly is such a touching, heart-breaking character that you'll just love to know.

Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is still my all-time top favorite book by her, but if you don't mind spooky vibes, you should grab a copy of Premonition and try to solve the murders.

Have you read it? Comment below and let me know if you caught the villains?

I was a part of Jaime Jo's launch team and received a free copy of the book. However, all opinions are my own.