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Saturday, June 8, 2024

Book Review: To Love the Brooding Baron by Jentry Flint

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Book Description:

Opposites attract and sparks fly when the vivacious Arabella falls for a baron who lives under the shadow of a scandalous family secret.

1815, London

Arabella Latham is a free spirit who longs to feel the spark of true love, but few men can match her passion for Shakespeare or her zest for life. Though her prospects seem slim, Arabella knows she can always count on the handsome but stoic Lord Henry Northcott, dubbed "The Brooding Baron" by the ton, to be willing to engage in intelligent conversation and even share a congenial dance with her at almost every ball. His quiet demeanor is the opposite of her vivacious personality, and she finds herself drawn to him, despite their differences.

Lord Northcott has quietly admired Arabella for years, grateful that his friendship with her brother has allowed him to share in her company and even begin to secretly imagine a life together with her. But he knows he cannot pursue a romantic relationship with any woman--let alone someone as bright and beautiful as Arabella--because of the shadow that an old family scandal has cast over his life. He has vowed to preserve what is left of his family's reputation by holding himself above reproach apart from society and focusing the majority of his efforts at Parliament.

But Arabella is determined to show Lord Northcott that life is meant to be enjoyed, and she sets out to see what is behind the walls the Brooding Baron has built around himself. Could the spark of true love be enough to drive away the shadows holding Henry back?

Review:

I had a hard time putting this book down,  and finished it in just a few days. Even though it did have some Shakespeare in it, it was done in such a way that didn't bog the story down - in fact, and I'm amazed that I'm saying this, based on my opinion of the Bard, it even enhanced the story line. I've been reading a lot of nonfiction, war-based books lately, and sometimes it's just nice to lose myself in a story that doesn't hurt my heart.

I enjoyed watching the growth of both Arabella and Lord Northcott, especially when it came to Northcott's issues. It's always nice to have people you can trust in your corner, and Northcott not only had Arabella, but he had Mr. Bradbury as well. Can he get his own story next? He was hilarious, and most definitely needs his own story.

Definitely a story I recommend.  

Title: To Love the Brooding Baron
Author: Jentry Flint
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: June 2024
ISBN: 1639932399
Source: I received a review copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own.
 
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Book Review: Beneath a Crescent Shadow by A.L. Sowards

 

Book Description:

After an arranged marriage, Konstantin and Suzana must find a way to meet the demands of a conquering Ottoman sultan amid a torrent of setbacks and dangers much closer to their Balkan home.

The Balkans, 1373

A devastating battle claimed the lives of Konstantin's father, uncle, and most of their Serb army, leaving him to rule as a vassal of the Ottoman sultan, a role he is wholly unprepared for. Between war, famine, and a persistent band of brigands, Konstantin is nearly bankrupt. He will need to find a wealthy bride to marry if he is to have any hope of saving his lands and securing his future.

A betrothal to Suzana, the daughter of a prosperous merchant, is soon arranged, and upon meeting her, Konstantin immediately feels hope that their marriage could someday grow into love. Yet, from the moment of Konstantin and Suzana's betrothal, enemies threaten their lives, outlaws prey on their lands, and the terrors of Suzana's abusive past haunt their fragile new relationship. As this onslaught of threats closes in, the two face challenges that will test their love, their faith, and their hope to save their people and win their freedom from the heavy weight of Ottoman oppression.

Review:

What a great story! I have loved all of the author's previous books, and this one was no different. I wasn't at all familiar with this time period or the history between the Serbs and the Ottoman Empire - other than that I've heard of the Ottoman Empire, of course.

Anyway, I always love reading historical fiction, because history is fascinating, but it can be a bit dry at times (side note: I hated history class in high school, because it was so boring. I'm betting if this author taught my history class, I would not have felt that way.) Not only was the history fascinating, but the characters were well fleshed-out, and I felt like I knew each and every one of them. In some novels where there are several different characters, I sometimes find it hard to keep track of who is who, but that wasn't a problem in this book.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series. This one was definitely a page-turner!

Title: Beneath a Crescent Shadow
Author: A.L. Sowards
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: June 2024
ISBN: 1639932461
Source: I received a review copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own.
 
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Book Review: An Ocean of Courgae and Fear by Jerry Borrowman

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Book Description:

Based on survivor accounts, this gripping novel opens days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and details three years of sea battles that spanned between Hawaii and the shores of Okinawa with the crew of one of the most decorated ships of the Pacific War.

Onboard the heavy cruiser USS Salt Lake City, Lieutenant Commander Justin Collier was 230 miles west of Pearl Harbor accompanying the USS Enterprise on a secret mission when Japan attacked the United States. Upon his return to Honolulu, the gravity of the war begins to change him, as does every subsequent mission, including a rare beach landing with an Army infantry division. He fears his wounds of war, both physical and mental, will be incurable.

Meanwhile, on the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, hundreds of wounded men lay scattered in cots and stretchers in and around the naval hospital, and volunteer nurse Heidi Collier feels overwhelmed by the number of casualties. She had watched the bombing by Japanese planes as she huddled with her two children in front of their home, hoping that her husband aboard the USS Salt Lake City was safe wherever he was. In her prayers, she feels he is still alive.

Lieutenant Riley Bracken feels the sudden g-force of his catapult-launched observation floatplane with each harrowing mission. Alerting the USS Salt Lake City of enemy ships gives him purpose, which is why no one can know about his recent bouts of vertigo. He can't risk losing what he loves most.

Fifteen-year-old Al Jowdy lied about his age in order to join the Navy. Whatever he believed Navy life would be was shot out of the water—twice—when his ships were torpedoed. Now aboard the Salt Lake City, he fears his luck may have run out.

An Ocean of Courage and Fear reveals the harrowing, never-before-told events that surrounded the crew of the USS Salt Lake City as they endure all the major action in the Pacific War.

Review:

This is a fictional book, based on true events. I typically enjoy stories like this, so I jumped at the chance to read this book. While I did enjoy the story, in several places, the author has whatever character is speaking give basically a textbook explanation for something instead of a normal conversation. If I were reading a non-fiction book, that would fit in perfectly, but it would take me out of the story each time he did it. The information was interesting, but I think it could have been presented in more of a story-telling way to make it flow with the novel better.
Other than that, I enjoyed the story, and enjoyed learning about what the USS Salt Lake City took part in during the war. 

Title: An Ocean of Courage and Fear
Author: Jerry Borrowman
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: May 2024
ISBN: 1639932364
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Book Review: Highcliffe House by Megan Walker

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Book Description:

1813, Brighton, England

When Anna Lane offered her heart to Alexander Lennox, she did not expect to learn he had secretly promised his suit to another. Hurt and embarrassed, Anna begs her father to take her to the seaside where she can escape the gossip of the ton and recover, but her father insists they remain in London so he can attend to some business. Feeling the sting of rejection again, Anna longs for the day when she can dictate her own future and find a companion who will love her for who she is.

Born into modest circumstances, Graham's hard work and ability to spot a good investment has allowed him to provide for his mother and younger sisters. Now, with a new opportunity in his sights, Graham approaches Mr. Lane, his business partner and mentor, hoping to persuade him to travel to Brighton to close the deal. Graham must act fast or else he might lose his chance to turn his meager earnings into permanent financial stability.

To Graham's relief, Mr. Lane is interested in his proposal, but he counters with one of his own. He has business elsewhere, so Anna--whom he trusts with his business affairs--will accompany Graham to Brighton, and if she gives a good report, he will invest. Both Anna and Graham hesitate. Though they have a passing acquaintance through Anna's father, the two have never truly got along. Anna feels that Graham is only interested in money, while Graham feels that Anna is stubborn and self-absorbed.

The two reluctantly travel to Brighton together, and Anna is determined to find fault with every inch of the seaside town--including Graham. She is tired of feeling like a pawn being moved about by other people's desires. But while staying at Highcliffe House and seeing the kind and gentle way Graham treats his family, Anna wonders if there is more to her rival than she thought.

But it will take more than a day at the beach for these two headstrong hearts to admit that if they set aside their misconceptions about each other and be vulnerable enough to share their true selves, they might have a chance at real love.

Rorie's Review:

This is an enjoyable, fast read, with one of my favorite tropes - enemies to lovers. I felt for both Anna and Graham as they were both very much misunderstood by the other, causing most of the negative feelings they held towards one another. As is typical in these types of books, there was miscommunication, but it wasn't so blatant and easily avoided that it drove me nuts, which I really appreciated.

The story flowed well, and the author did a great job bringing each of the characters to life. Tabs was an absolute hoot. I highly recommend this book.

Title: Highcliffe House
Author: Megan Walker
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: May 2024
ISBN: 1639932445
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
 
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Book Review: Millie by McCall Hoyle


Book Description:

Millie is a feisty border terrier who lives on the streets and has a keen sense for finding scraps of food, usually in the shadows or the cover of darkness. She protects herself with a shield of what is perceived by many as aggression—barking and snarling—when in reality, Millie is just plain scared.

Turned over to animal control after a recent run-in with the dogcatcher, Millie is rescued by a special education teacher who also rehabilitates and rehomes dogs. It’s a win-win. Together, the dogs and her students learn emotional resilience, anger management, and other coping skills.

When one of the students, a struggling reader named Tori, shows a natural gift for dog training and working with fearful dogs, Millie is temporarily placed in her care. Tori may be young, but she knows a thing or two about anger, fear, and abandonment after her mother could no longer care for her and she was placed in kinship care with her grandfather. Millie wonders if she’s finally found her person and begins to let down her emotional guard. But when trust and belonging are challenged, Millie reverts to old habits—fleeing, hiding, and growling. Will she end up back on the streets? Or can Millie and Tori embrace their training, trust in each other, and find a forever home together?

Mille is an empathy-building novel for young readers who love dogs and is a tender portrayal of the importance of emotional safety and what it means to truly belong.

Review:

This is a very cute story told from a street dog's point of view. I used to not be a dog person (that's putting it mildly), but a couple of years ago I caved and got a dog for my teens who were struggling. When you take care of something it is very hard to not love it, especially when it loves you so much. Anyway, I can really see this story appealing to those who have or want a dog, but honestly it's just so well-written that anyone could enjoy it. It has a great message about facing fears and not running away from things that scare us (obviously there are times and places for that, but until we give some things a try we are pushing away people and situations that may be good for us). I liked how the human characters weren't perfect either-they had plenty of struggles and learned and grew throughout the story, along with Millie and a few other dogs. A great story for young and old alike.

Title: Millie
Author: McCall Hoyle
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: March 2024
ISBN: 163993233X
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Book Review: The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall by Rebecca Anderson

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Book Description:

A ghostly estate. A handsome caretaker hiding a secret. And the intrepid Hyacinth Bell who is set on solving the mystery of both.

1887, the Cornwall coast

For years, rumors have flown through the village of Suttonsbury about Ashthorne Hall--that its occupants hoard pirate treasure, that a ghost walks its halls--but botanist Hyacinth Bell only cares about the estate's extensive, one-of-a-kind orchid collection. As an independent woman, she is eager to focus on her career, even if it means waiting to pursue a romantic relationship. After all, love--like an orchid--must be nurtured and tended before it can bloom.

What she doesn't expect is to be swept away by Lucas Harding, the manor's caretaker, upon their first meeting. He is handsome and charming, and the connection between the two is nearly instantaneous. Hyacinth is certain this autumn will be the season that everything good in her life takes root.

But then strange things start happening in the seemingly empty halls of the estate: unexplainable noises, items appearing then disappearing from her room, threatening messages, and glimpses of a woman in white who vanishes into the dark. Lucas dismisses Hyacinth's worries, insisting that there is no ghost at Ashthorne Hall, but she suspects he is withholding information and decides to investigate the mystery herself.

Armed with little more than her instincts and her courage, Hyacinth must venture deep into the shadows of Ashthorne Hall to uncover the truth Lucas is keeping secret before she herself falls victim to the dangers hidden in the estate.

Rorie's Review:

This was an enjoyable, quick read. I'm generally not a fan of insta-love romances, and that kind of bugged me a bit in this book, but other than that, it was a good story. I figured out a bit of the mystery before it was revealed, but not so much that I wasn't intrigued to find out why things were the way they were. I appreciated the author giving a bit of history in the acknowledgement section - I always enjoy reading more historical facts that help bring the story to life even more. The author did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and I found myself unwilling to put the book down. 

Title: The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall
Author: Rebecca Anderson
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: April 2024
ISBN: 1639932356
Source: We received review copies from the publisher. All opinions expressed are our own.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Book Review: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly

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Book Description:

Based on the remarkable true story of the Carpathia--the only ship and her legendary captain who answered the distress call of the sinking Titanic.

Just after midnight on April 15, 1912, the passenger steamship Carpathia receives a distress signal from the largest passenger liner ever built, RMS Titanic, which is on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York.

Captain Arthur Rostron is awakened to an enormous maritime emergency with little information to guide his actions in answering the call for help. Is the dire threat to the unsinkable Titanic accurate? His ship is more than four hours away; will Carpathia hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if his ship also strikes an iceberg? How many of Titanic's 2,200 passengers will the Carpathia be able to accommodate? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

Kate Connolly is excited to join her sister in America and proud to be traveling on the grand Titanic, which was built in her Irish homeland. As a passenger in third-class accommodations, she is among the last to receive instruction and help after Titanic hits an iceberg. Among the chaos of abandoning ship, the chances of her securing a spot in a lifeboat appear grim. With the help of several men, also from Ireland, Kate finally reaches the upper decks and feels lucky to board Lifeboat 13, although no one knows if or when a rescue ship will come. She fears the icy water and wonders if they'll all freeze to death. After seeing their magnificent ship submerge into the abyss, and hearing the cries of hundreds of fellow passengers drowning, it is almost too much to bear and Kate fleetingly thinks succumbing to her ordeal is the easiest escape.

Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Captain Rostron on the Carpathia and Kate Connolly on the Titanic, this historical novel is a compelling, heart-pounding account of two eyewitnesses to an epic disaster. Rostron's heroic and compassionate leadership, his methodical preparations for rescue, and his grit and determination to act honorably and selflessly to save lives and care for the survivors, sets the course for this awe-inspiring story.

Review:

I'll be honest, most of what I know about the Titanic sinking came from the Titanic movie from several years ago. Which is probably not all that historically accurate, but there you go. I had heard of the Carpathia before, but didn't know much about it's significance, other than it had something to do with the Titanic. Since I've become much more of a history buff than I ever used to be, I was excited to read this book and find out more about the only ship that came to the rescue. (Something that still completely boggles my mind, and I really want to learn more about why that happened.)

The author does an amazing job at putting the reader right there in all the action. The chapters go back and forth from Rostron, the captain of the Carpathia, and Kate Connolly, one of the survivors of the Titanic. Both points of view are very well written, and I could feel the anxiety, the heartache, the fear, all of it, while I was reading. 

If you are interested in history, or even just looking for a good story to read, this is one that I highly recommend.

Title: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice
Author: Rebecca Connolly
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published: April 2024
ISBN: 1639932488
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book