Review: An Unexpected Role

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Rating: ★★★½

I received this book for free from JustRead tours as part of their Blind Date with a Book tour. 

This is a fun YA novel with a dash of faith, romance and mystery. It is also an incredibly quick and fast paced read. I just flew right through it. 

As a young adult novel it works really well. At its core, it’s about a teenage girl discovering who she is. That part was really well done, especially her character development. 

The mystery is pretty basic but still interesting. It’s not a very sophisticated mystery so if you’re looking for something more Nancy Drew-like, you probably won’t find it here. The mystery was a good supplement to the overarching plot. 

This book is considered to be Christian fiction, but the religious aspect is fairly light. Religion gets talked about but it is not the biggest part of the book. There are some Bible verses and some praying. 

I really liked the romance. I was very happy with who she ended up with (although it was very predictable) and thought their interactions were very cute. 

Overall, I thought this was a solid young adult novel. I didn’t find it to be mind-blowing in any way but it was still an enjoyable read. 


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Review: Lady Jayne Disappears

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from JustRead tours as part of their Blind Date with a Book tour. 

First off, I just want to say that JustRead tours did an amazing job matching me with this book. It was right up my alley. 

This book was like Jane Eyre meets a Charles Dickens novel and I loved it. It’s like Jane Eyre in the sense that the main character is living in a mysterious house with people above her station. Similar to a Dickens novel, this book deals with and shed light on some unsavory things about the Victorian era like debtors’ prison. 

I loved the vibe of this book. It’s mysterious with a hint of a gothic feel to it. 

There’s a little bit of romance too. The love interest was perfect for the main character. They were really good together. Also, he was an avid reader so you gotta love him. At point he says, “I admit I’man escapist when it comes to books.  I become drunk on story, on words, as a buffer against reality” (pg. 104). 

This book is Christian fiction but it is very light on the religious aspects. It doesn’t overpower the story itself which I liked. 

The only thing I didn’t love was that the mystery wasn’t as exciting as I would have liked. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable Victorian tale with a beautiful blend of romance and mystery. 


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Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free as part of an Instagram tour (Just Read Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

I was interested in reading this book because I am a fan of C.S. Lewis. I hadn’t heard of Joy Davidman before, so I was curious to learn more about her. Please note that although this book is based on real people and real events, it is still a work of historical fiction. 

This book was incredible. It beautifully depicted the relationship between Lewis and Davidman. Their romance was unconventional but epic. The love they had for one another is truly remarkable. I loved how they influenced each other’s work and treated each other as equals. 

Joy was such a strong woman. I enjoyed learning her backstory and seeing how she had the courage to not only leave her alcoholic and cheating husband, but also to start a new life with her children in another country. 

I loved the epilogue. It really gave Joy a voice. She comes from a time where people often silenced her voice and contributions. I liked that the author let Joy have the final word. 

Since this is a book about C.S. Lewis, is also discusses the Christian faith but it doesn’t go overboard with it. If you’re worried that it might be too religious, don’t be. The heart of the book is really their love story. 

Lastly, the endpapers of the book feature a map of Oxford which I found to be a really nice touch, since the Narnia books are known to have maps. 

Overall, this is an amazing read! If you are fan of C.S. Lewis or love books about incredible women, then pick this one up! 

Review: We Hope for Better Things

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Revell Reads) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was an insightful historical novel about three generations of women from Detroit. It takes place during the civil war, the Detroit riots, and present day. 

Out of the three stories, I found Mary’s (the civil war one) to be the most compelling and interesting. The present day storyline was probably the weakest just because there wasn’t anything super exciting going on and it was more focused on discovering what happened in the past. 

I liked how the three stories intersected and connected. The events were woven together nicely and I liked how the secrets slowly unraveled. I also liked that it took place in Detroit and talked about the riots because that isn’t a topic that is often discussed. 

I also appreciated that the author included a note at the end of the book discussing that any shortcomings or pitfalls are her own fault and acknowledging the fact that she is a white woman writing about people of color. I love that level of awareness and am always happy to see authors admit that. 

The thing that prevented me from giving it 5 stars, was that it took me a while to connect with the story and characters. It wasn’t until I was near the end that I felt that emotional connection with them. 

Overall, I enjoyed this look into the past and found this to be a wonderful debut book. 

Review: Shelter of the Most High (Cities of Refuge #2)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Bethany House) in exchange for an honest review. 

This book is the second in a series and I did not read the first book. Like a lot of Christian fiction series, the first book centers on one of the characters in this book. The fact that I did not read it did not hinder my comprehension of the story. Anything that happened in the previous book was explained fully in this one, so it it totally possible to read this as a stand-alone. 

This was also my first time reading biblical fiction so I had no idea what to expect or if I would even like it. Luckily, I ended up really enjoying it. 

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The book captured my interest from the very first page. We are immediately thrown into the action of when Sofea and her cousin are kidnapped by pirates. Sometimes books can take too long to get the actual storyline, so I was happy to see this book get right to it. As a whole, this book had quite a bit of action and excitement which I wasn’t expecting (but loved). 

There was a really good balance of the religious elements. I never felt like it was too much or too preachy. It was woven into the story beautifully. 

The only thing that prevented me from giving this 5 stars was that I didn’t connect much with Sofea. I wanted a little bit more from her. I connected with Eitan no problem, but Sofea not so much. 

All in all, this was an exciting tale and if you are looking to get into biblical fiction, consider picking up this book/series. 

 

Review: Everything She Didn’t Say

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Revell Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This book provided a fascinating glimpse into the real life of Carrie Strahorn, a famous pioneer woman. Prior to reading this book, I had never even heard of her. 

I loved how the book focused on the things Carrie didn’t say in her memoir. It gave a nuanced portrayal of the actuality and hardships of being a pioneer, as well as just being a woman during her time. I also liked how it explored her complicated relationship with her husband. It showed both the ups and downs of their marriage. 

The author did a tremendous amount of research and it really showed throughout the book. The book is rich in details and in facts. There is even an author’s note at the end, explaining what was fact and what was fiction. 

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This book is published by a Christian publisher so there is a Christian element to it, but it’s very subtle and well done. 

My one critique is that the story dragged a bit in the middle since it was just Carrie and her husband constantly traveling. I got a little lost in it. Once they got settled down in a town the book picked up again. 

Overall, I really enjoyed learning about Carrie and the author did an amazing job portraying her life. 

Review: Falling for You (A Bradford Sisters Romance #2)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

Full disclaimer, I did not read the first book in this series, which is about Willow’s sister, Nora, but that did not affect my comprehension of the book whatsoever. You could read this book as a standalone if you wanted to and still be able to fully enjoy it. I actually kind of want to read the first book now because Nora is in this book. It turns out she’s a nerdy librarian and so that fact alone just makes me want to read her book.

Overall, this was a really sweet romance novel! 

I loved Willow and Corbin’s love story. I loved how they were a couple in the past, but lost their way, and then found each other again. Their romance was incredibly well developed. Nothing felt rushed. Plus, I thought they made a very cute couple. 

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I also really enjoyed the Josephine mystery. It added that something special to the book. There was a nice balance of the love story and the mystery story. The mystery didn’t overpower the book. Instead it complemented the existing romantic storyline.

This is Christian fiction so there are Christian aspects in the book. There was talk of religion, like God and the Bible, but it was done in the right amount and wasn’t too preachy. I’m not super religious so sometimes I find it to be a bit too much for me. With this book, I thought it was very well done, especially towards the end. I liked how inspirational it got. 

All in all, this was a cute Christian romance novel with a little bit of mystery thrown in. 

Review: First Impressions (The Jane Austen Series #1)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

I had actually just finished reading Pride and Prejudice before starting this book so everything was still fresh in my mind. 

As a retelling this was pretty spot on. There was even a list of the cast of characters and their Pride and Prejudice counterparts at the beginning of the book. Personality-Wise, the characters stayed true to their Pride and Prejudice version. Linda (Lydia in P&P) was very flirtatious, Mary Boswick (Mrs. Bennet in P&P) was very silly in her views, etc. For the most part, the storyline followed Pride and Prejudice very closely. Many of the original plot points were included. Overall, the storyline was translated to modern times very well. 

I liked how the book showed you multiple points of view (Eddi, Dave and Linda’s). I particularly enjoyed hearing Dave’s thoughts throughout the novel. 

I also loved that since the characters in the book were putting on their production of Pride and Prejudice at their community theatre, there were lines from Pride and Prejudice in this book. 

This book is Christian fiction, so some of the characters’ viewpoints lean towards that. But I wouldn’t say it was an overwhelmingly Christian book. 

All in all, this was a fun retelling of a classic story. 

Review: The Theory of Happily Ever After

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Rating: ★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Revell Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

Typically I really like chick lit and rom-coms, but I didn’t really like this one. 

My main issue with this book was the characters. The main character, Maggie, was pretty annoying for the first half of the book. All she would do was complain about her life over and over again. It got way too repetitive. Maggie’s two best friends were annoying too, especially Haley. I could not stand Haley at all. She acted like a spoiled brat and was not a very good friend, in my opinion. The male characters were slightly better. I really liked Sam, but I thought Brent was just okay. 

I also found the book to be too short. I felt like towards the end, the story was just starting to take shape. The book definitely could have benefitted from some more fleshing out. 

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In regards to what I liked, I enjoyed the premise of the book. The singles’ cruise was a clever idea.

I also liked the references to Disney princesses. There were nods to Beauty and the Beast (at one point Maggie even dresses up as Belle) and one reference to Frozen (pg. 168-“I needed to find solace in another Disney princess and follow her advice: let it go”).

Overall, the book would have been more enjoyable if the characters were less bothersome.

Review: The Heart’s Appeal (London’s Beginnings #2)

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

Full disclaimer, I did not read the first book in this series, which is about Julia’s sister but this did not affect my comprehension of this book. You could read this book as a standalone if you wanted to and still be able to enjoy it.

I always love historical fiction novels about women forging their own paths, so naturally I liked this.

I enjoyed the medical aspect of the book. At times it felt like I was watching a medical drama, which is a good thing!

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Character-wise, I liked Julia overall, but at times I found that she could be a bit annoying with her brutally honest personality. I really loved Michael and how his character developed throughout the book. I found Julia and Michael to be a very well-matched couple. I also loved that the author went with a dual POV for these two characters. You got to know each of them really well. For the supporting characters, I loved David and Mr. Anderson.

I appreciated the discussion of women’s rights and hardships during this time period. At one point the female characters talk about coverture. Lisette brings up, “By the laws of England, you and everything you own will be his property with as he likes” (130). Later in that same scene another character, Mrs. Fawcett mentions,

“Other women may decide to remain unmarried to pursue a career, and others will marry and prefer to focus on home and family. Can we truly fault any of these choices? What we must be advocating is simply for the right of women to be able to decide for themselves what is best for their lives” (131).

When I read that I thought to myself, Amen to that!

As a side note, there was a description of a library that I wanted to share. Every time I encounter a library description in a book I always end up sharing it in my review. The books states,

“Bookcases two stories high held hundreds of leather-bound volumes. A sofa and leather chairs were comfortably arranged near an impressive stone fireplace. Tall windows looked onto the expansive garden. Julia immediately thought that if she were ever asked to describe her idea of heaven, it would look just like this” (281).

I agree 100% with Julia in this quote.

Overall, this was a great historical fiction novel that focuses on a strong female making her mark on the world and finding love unexpectedly.