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, January 23, 2019

CelebrateLit Tour: Review: Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.
Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.
Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

Jen Turano has astounded me at every turn. Each time I read one of her books I find myself almost sick with laughter. However, she somehow still manages to balance the mishaps of heroes and heroines alike with serious moments of either self-discovery or spiritual realization. The levity of the story becomes the perfect vehicle for a non-preachy "moral to the story" and we learn much without even realizing it. Flights of Fancy is incredible. The first two chapters weren't my favorite (I'd much rather skip the backstory and hit the action, in theory anyway)  but I found myself unable to tear my eyes away from the pages, and several times forgot that I was reading as I became engrossed in the storyline. Izzy's desire to become a normal girl caused many laughing tears, and also was a really nice storyline. That's something I like about Jen's books. They often have a storyline that's just a hair different from what's normal in the genre and that makes you enjoy it all the more. Inserting not 1, not 2, no, not even just 3, but 4 kids into the story made it a bread winner for me. You'll find little hidden gems throughout this book that make it a cohesive, did I mention hilarious?, and extremely enjoyable read that will have you pushing through a massive headache just to see what's happening next. With convincing bad guys who are actually worth your while to hate, and controlling mothers with semi-surprising endings, and half crazy uncles, this is something to drop right on the top of your TBR list, pronto!
And check out this killer cover!

I received this book as a part of the Celebrate Lit Team opportunity, but I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts/comments are my very own.

Click here to order your copy!

About the Author

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

Guest post from Jen

Q & A With Jen Turano

“Flights of Fancy” is the first book in the American Heiress Series. What inspired you to write this series?
The inspiration for this entire series started off with a What If? All of my proposals for new series start off that way, and this time it was – What if Consuelo Vanderbilt had balked when her mother insisted she marry the Duke of Marlborough – and then that led to – What if she’d run away until her mother came to her senses? Just like that, an entire series was born – a bit of a different take on American heiresses because in all three books, my heiresses might decide to go a tad…rogue. We start off with Miss Isadora Delafield – who does run off to avoid marriage to a duke, then we get to meet Miss Poppy Garrison, who is an unexpected heiress but who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the expected social decorum of the day, and then the final book revolves around Miss Beatrix Waterbury – who gets banished to Chicago after she annoys her mother one too many times, and once there, well, gets up to a bit of mischief.

How do you come up with the names of your characters?
I find most of my names as I research the New York Four-Hundred, although I normally take a first name here, a last name there so I’m not stepping on any toes by writing about an actual historical figure – except for some of the main figures in New York society back then, such as Mr. Ward McAllister – who was the social arbiter of the day, or Mrs. William Astor, who was the queen of that society. What I don’t do is simply make up names, no matter how outrageous they may appear. And, no matter how I may love a certain name, if the character decides it doesn’t suit them, that’s it, it’s out and I’m back to the drawing board.

How do you picture your character? Do you use Pinterest, magazines, movies?
Odd as this may seem, I don’t use pictures for my characters. They start off in my mind as a blurry figure, and then, they develop from there – I like to keep my descriptions of them somewhat vague on the pages so that the reader can imagine them exactly the way they’d like them to be.

What are some of your favorite resources for historical research?
I’ve been building up a research library over the past few years and now have over 200 books dedicated to the Gilded Age. My favorites are – “A Season of Splendor” by Greg King, “Society as I Have Found It” by Ward McAllister, “The Gilded Age in New York – 1870-1910” by Esther Crain, and “ ‘King Lehr’ and the Gilded Age” by Elizabeth Drexel Lehr.

The setting for “Flights of Fancy” is a bit of a departure for you since it’s set in and outside of Pittsburgh. Any reason for that?
My mom was born in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, her father, a prominent attorney back in the day, died when she was only four. I thought it would be cool to set a story in Pittsburgh, which would then allow me to really dive into some research. And get this – while I was doing that research, I found this obscure journal called “Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In that journal was a bit about my great-grandfather, Fred, his wife, Susie, my grandfather, and his brother and sister, but I’d never heard about this brother, who apparently died quite young. One of the most fabulous research tidbits I’ve uncovered to date.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just recently turned in the content edits for the second book in this series, “Diamond in the Rough,” and I’ve also turned in a novella about the Harvey Girls that will be coming out in a novella collection in Fall, 2019. With those out of the way, I’m now starting the third and final book in the American Heiress series, Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s story, but I’m having a bit of a struggle with the hero at the moment – he was supposed to be Edward, but he doesn’t want to be an Edward – I think he wants to be Norman – but, time will tell on that one – don’t hold me to the name – it’ll depend on if he changes his mind or not – pesky characters.

You seem to enjoy adding animals in many of your stories. Will we find any animals in “Flights of Fancy?”
Since Miss Isadora Delafield ends up on a farm, I do believe you will find a few animals, such as an adorable cow by the name of Buttercup, a few goats that seem to have a great liking for laundry, and…there might be some chickens.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Always enjoy visiting with all of you – in fact, that’s the best part of my job!
All the best,
~ Jen ~


To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a grand prize of a trunk filled with all of Jen’s full-length novels released to date!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8d1/flights-of-fancy-celebration-tour-giveaway

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 10
Among the Reads, January 10
Through the Fire, January 10
Blogging With Carol, January 11
Back Porch ReadsJanuary 12
KarenSueHadleyJanuary 12
Godly Book Reviews, January 12
Daysong RefectionsJanuary 12
Livin Lit, January 13
The Becca Files, January 13
Texas Book-aholic, January 13
Rebekah’s Quill, January 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, January 15
Stories By Gina, January 15
Splashes of JoyJanuary 16
Mary Hake, January 17
Maureen’s Musings, January 17
Bibliophile Reviews, January 17
Baker Kella, January 18
Simple Harvest ReadsJanuary 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Robin is Bookish, January 19
Carpe Diem, January 19
Have A Wonderful DayJanuary 20
Life with the Tribe, January 20
Inklings and NotionsJanuary 20
amandainpaJanuary 21
Pause for Tales, January 22
Live Love Read, January 23 (YOU ARE HERE!)
A Rup Life, January 23
Bigreadersite, January 23

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

I pulled this one out of my old hat... It's been waiting for a good long while now.

Young Jody adopts an orphaned fawn he calls Flag and makes it a part of his family and his best friend. But life in the Florida backwoods is harsh, and so, as his family fights off wolves, bears, and even alligators, and faces failure in their tenuous subsistence farming, Jody must finally part with his dear animal friend.

I'm giving this book 4 stars

1: Is there any word for this book except "classic"? It's written in the style of other books of its era, yet it hasn't passed into oblivion. I'm gonna be honest, I read this book because I like the movie. Now, I'm so glad I read it. I felt like it had a slow start, and I dragged my feet through the first....bit... of the book. And then, it just up and took off and me with it. (The movie is pleasantly accurate, a rare thing.)

2: I was getting near the end of the book and it hit me, all of a sudden, that "The Yearling", the title, wasn't referring to Flag, not really. Jody was the yearling. Its his "growing up" story, a coming of age story that never dies.

3: Younger readers might want the abridged version, cause them Forresters can have a mouth on 'em.

4: I can honestly say that after finishing this my accent is twangy-er than ever. Everything is spelled phonetically, and with a deeply southern accent that you can't ignore.

5: This is a SPOILER for anyone who hasn't read or seen the movie... but I didn't cry when Flag had to be... well... you know. But that could have been because I spent 300+ pages preparing myself for it. That doesn't mean it wasn't touchingly sad. And the ending was just a tiny tiny bit different than the movie. Ma Baxter wasn't in the last scene, which made me a little sad. I love how the movie ended.

(That was the most I've ever put a movie in my review... I hope you don't mind!)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer


Well, now that you've had sufficient warning, I guess if you're still reading this you're very brave. I'm going to put the official blurb first, and then keep on with this paragraph....

Three best friends, three cherished dreams, three searching hearts... As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a special plan for the future. Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible. But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well. When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?

Okay, now back to the ranting. I'm going to embarrass myself. I can already tell, but I finished this book, sat and cried (whether from frustration or enjoyment, I can't tell, although I'd guess it's a bit of both) and then spent the next 30 minutes cleaning. And I was so fired up that I got a lot done. Dishes, laundry, clutter, bathroom, sweeping, vacuuming.... I was just working through this, trying to digest. I honestly can't even imagine putting this review in my usual 1-5 format. I read this book because I LOVED the first book in this series. Maelle is a character who is constantly coming back to my mind. It's been a year since I read My Heart Remembers (or close to a year....) and still it pops into my head all the time. It's the book that made me a Kim Vogel Sawyer fan. I read it straight through. And I was so excited when Maelle was in this book too. I honestly wanted the whole thing to be in Libby's POV. Pete's was okay though. I didn't care for Bennet at all. I spent the whole book getting ready for Maelle to adopt Libby at the end, but instead she called her her "handpicked little sister" which is super sweet and all, but y'all know I have this thing about adoption. I wanted it to happen so badly that it took me forever to fall asleep. (I had to stop on page 175) I woke up at 7 this morning, and couldn't go back to sleep anticipating it. And the ending just fell short of what I had hoped because of that. And I know it shouldn't have. But I just wanted it so much. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story, it had me in tears multiple times, but oh... I mean, I even resented Hannah and Hester... which is ridiculous. The ending between Pete and Libby was great though. The engagement broach was so sweet, and Maelle's silent approval from across the room meant so much to Libby that I teared up again. That one was a plus. The ending doesn't mention Bennet at all, which I honestly didn't realize till halfway through doing dishes because I didn't particularly care for him. I'm so glad I read this book, but that one little blip made me do this.... awful excuse for a review. Which I do apologize for, but I'm not going to change it. It just might be the most honest one I've done so far.... But please, don't let me scare you off of this book. That would be awful. Do read it. The college setting really hit home, thinking about this upcoming semester. Thankfully, BJU has a 99.99999% chance of having much better cafeteria food. There were lots of almost shocking twists and Libby's coming to Christ was the absolute best! There were so many good things about this book, and now that I've gotten ^that^ out of my system, I can see that more clearly. I want to give this book 4.5 stars, but I'm afraid after that rant that would seem very weird. So, decide what rating you'd think I give it, just know that I do recommend this book and the one before it too.

Okay.... that was a lot of words all at once. I hope it wasn't too much, but I'm not holding my breath. Thanks for sticking it out, if you've made it this far. You're the best!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: Under The Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Blurb-"Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska.

The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. 

The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows?"

5 Stars for this masterpiece. I can't believe that the end of this series has already come! The Heart of Alaska will always hold a very special place in my heart. Book 1 introduced me to Kim as an author. Book 2 *literally* introduced me to Tracie and Kim. In person. I almost died of happiness! And here we are at the end. With a story that thrilled me and kept me glued to the pages, straight through! Of course, the cover hooked me first. Each cover is more beautiful than the last. I loved the heroine in this book, Tayler, who happened to be an atypical character for the time period. A woman naturalist. Highly acclaimed at national parks. Totally cool. And of course, it was about time that we got to hear Thomas's story. I figure that fans have loved him from afar(ish) long enough to deserve this special treat. Of course, it's always exciting to see old friends like Cassidy and the other members of staff here. I think you'll be delighted to see how our other friends conclude their stories as well, for they have expertly been given their say in this story that's "just for Thomas and Tayler" (but really it's not!) Of course, how can I go any longer without a nod to Denali, a favorite destination of mine, if only in books so far. (I was shocked to even read the word McKinley in here! But I suppose it was a necessary evil ;) ) Speaking of evil, let's stop a moment and talk about our bad guy, who was giving me real Martin Paxton vibes for a while. (He comes to a better end than that though, I guess...) And the semi-bad-guy of Tayler's mother, who really needed to get her act together. A character you'll love to hate (for a while). Well done. I can't say much more about it, (I'm surprised I made it this far without spoilers!) except that I truly did love it, and I hope you will too! And tell me what you think, after you've read it! I can't wait to hear from you.

P.S. Don't worry. I know chapter 2 doesn't start until page 47, but the chapters aren't all that long!

I received this book complimentary, but was not required to leave a positive review. All comments are my own.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review: The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

Back of the book- "In 1794, as Kate Gruener's father prepares to move the family into the frontier of western Kentucky, Kate is eager to see untamed lands and live out her own story of adventure just as her father had during the War for Independence. And as she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe.
Thomas's job is to get settlers safely across the Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naive Kate's inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising ride of conflict.
Is there more to Thomas's story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?"

I'm giving this installment of The Daughters of the Mayflower 4.5 stars. I was thrilled to explore a time period that I don't often. The story was engaging and flowed along nicely for the most part. Truly, it put me in mind of a favorite girlhood book of mine, Indian Captive. With just a dash of wagon train feel added in, this book was hitting lots of interest points for me. I do enjoy books that have Indians in them. Especially when they are written without whitewashing Indians as horrid monsters with no feelings. I enjoyed the main characters a lot, and found myself in a rare mood of preferring the male lead over the female. The ending was also pretty great! I love a good ending, and Shannon McNear delivered that! Bottom line... If you're a fan of Indian Captive or you grew up watching Daniel Boone (yes, with good ol' Fess Parker) then you may want to reach for this book and add it to your reading list! Added bonus... it's only 250 pages, so it's a relatively quick read. (Compared to others... like some by Rosanna M White which are pushing 400 generally!)

I received this book from Barbour Publishing for free. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Review: Code of Valor by Lynette Eason

Blurb-"What Detective Brady St. John really needs is a relaxing vacation. Unfortunately, just as the sun is setting on his second day at a friend's cabin on Lake Henley, he hears a scream and races to rescue a woman from her would-be killer. When the killer escapes only to return to finish the job, Brady vows to utilize all of his many resources to keep her safe--and catch those who would see her dead.
Financial crimes investigator Emily Chastain doesn't trust many people. And even though she let the detective who saved her life in on a few pertinent facts about why she was being attacked, there are some things you just don't share with a stranger. Little does she suspect that the secret she is keeping just might get them both killed."

The first of the brothers in the St John family to get his own story, Brady is quite the hero. Dealing with trust issues caused by a tricky girlfriend, the last thing he wants is to be in charge of Emily. But that's how it is. You'll love him. You'll love Emily. Emily isn't the typical heroine stereotype. She isn't tall, thin, and built like a runway model. But she is kind and caring and determined. If you don't love her, you're crazy! The action in this story will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won't want to stop reading once you've begun. (Although, I wouldn't recommend reading it while sitting alone in an almost deserted dorm building... if your imagination likes to work overtime that is!) Have fun trying to identify all the bad guys in here. (I got one...) Enjoy the bloodcurdling danger. Anticipate the next move and don't be surprised if you're wrong. This was an enjoyable trip from the first to the last! I enjoyed the epilogue a lot. I also enjoyed Emily's confusion as St John siblings just sort of flowed out of the woodwork it seemed. The only thing I wished different would have been a little more of Chief St John, as she is one of my favorite parts of this whole series. Other than that, a brilliant home run! Highly recommend. (I generally do, when Lynette Eason writes them! She's genius!)

I received this book free of charge from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review: The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Official Blurb- "Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to
escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.
But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind: Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world."

What a way to kickstart 2019! This is the first book I've officially read this year. And I just got it today. This book has been low-key in the back of my mind since I read this review on it long ago. What a treat to pick up my own copy today!

I'm giving this masterpiece 5 stars! This is actually one that makes me want to break the top open with a 6th star... just for the record. Forget Houdini! The true "illusionist" here is Cambron! With characters that are multifaceted beyond compare, and a plot that shocks you with every new turn, you can't go wrong with this book. Let's start with the most obvious, which is a cover that is intriguing to say the least. But as it's said in Mary Poppins Returns..."A cover is not the book, so open it up and take a look"..... And truly, we did start with a show-stopping first line that was almost a low-intensity sentence compared to the rest of this fast-paced story- "Agent Elliot Matthews stared down a firing squad."- It only gets better (should I say "worse"?) from there! Let's mention that our two main characters are simply incredible! And while, of course, we couldn't get away from romance, (Not that I'm saying we must), it wasn't rushed/hurried, and the timetable was splendid also, as a crime ring didn't come crashing down three days after the first chapter! I will admit to knowing the real bad guy, but only because years of  reading mysteries have me cluing in on what's hidden in plain sight. However... Motives... those were well hidden. Every thread we pull throughout this story brings another layer to the story, and soon the readers are left with very little clue of whom to trust. Excellently written, marvelously interwoven, magically enchanting. This book has set the bar high for the rest of the year.

Only one thing makes me sad... I'll never again read this book for the first time.

Glad to have added a new author to my list of favorites!