Thursday, May 28, 2020

Book Review: A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

 A Mosaic of Wings
Book Description:

It's 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she's graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father's footsteps by getting her master's degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father's legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.

India isn't what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India--and of Owen--fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices--between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she's always thought she wanted and the man she's come to love.

Book Review:

This is a hard book for me to review because it was beautifully written, and I loved the storyline. However, I found Nora to be extremely brash, and while she changes a little in the book, I still had a very hard time with the brashness.  There are moments when she realizes her actions effect other people, but she still pushes on with no compromise (and at some points in the story that is a really good thing) or any thought to others. So while I sympathized with her and her goals, I just struggled with how she got there. It seemed like Own was the one that was always giving, and in the end he gives up everything for her and she gets it all. That doesn't seem like a very healthy relationship.

But the setting was beautiful! Both in Ithaca, New York and in India.  It makes we want to visit both places. Oh but the bugs...the bugs! I'm not a bug person, they freak me out, and it made me smile that the author doesn't like them either, but wrote this for her daughter that wants to be an entomologist. Can you just picture her researching bugs while half covering her eyes at the things she's finding? I think that's really sweet.

So how do you review a novel that the main character isn't your favorite, but the rest of the book is awesome and well written? I don't know. I'll leave that up to you guys, because maybe her brashness won't bother you at all.  If you read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

A Mosaic of Wings 
Title: A Mosaic of Wings
Author: Kimberly Duffy
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: May 2020
ISBN: 9780764235634
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Book Review: A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden

A Gilded Lady (Hope and Glory, #2)
Book Description:

Secretary to the first lady of the United States, Caroline Delacroix is at the pinnacle of high society--but is hiding a terrible secret. Immediately suspicious of Caroline, but also attracted to her, secret service agent Nathaniel Trask must battle his growing love for her as the threat to the president rises and they face adventure, heartbreak, and danger.

Book Review:

We are first introduced to Caroline in The Spice King where we see her as her older brother sees her. We see a young lady in the height of society that likes to party and have a good time. However, in her book, A Gilded Lady, we see Caroline as a hard working secretary to the first lady. We see her as someone respected by her co-workers, and as someone who can diffuse tense situations. But we also see her as someone determined and loyal to those she cares about. These are the qualities that really made this book for me.

This book was set during the early 1900's during President McKinley's time. I haven't read very many books during this era, so it was fascinating to me to see how things evolved. I learned loads about the president and his wife (something I'll admit I had no knowledge of), and of the Secret Service and how they came to be and function. That was interesting. All that being said though, I did feel that this story dragged a little more with all the history than Camden's previous book. Caroline's and Nathan's story had me hooked, but then it just seemed to take a little longer to get places because of all the background and history that happened. And maybe because of all the history I felt that Caroline's and Nathan's connection was a little thin. It just seemed to happen, but didn't seem to have the deep substance that I typically enjoy.

I'm anxiously awaiting Luke's book to come out, and can't wait to continue with the third installment of this series. These siblings are fun to read about and I'd recommend this author to anyone who loves historical fiction.

A Gilded Lady (Hope and Glory, #2) 
Title: A Gilded Lady
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: June 2020
ISBN: 0764232126
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Book Review: Solving Sophronia by Jennifer Moore

Book Description:

Lady Sophronia Bremerton is a far cry from the typical debutante, but she’s the toast of London’s upper class for one simple reason: she’s a society columnist for the London Illustrated News, and the gentry loves seeing their exploits printed in the gossip pages. But Sophie has bigger plans—she aspires to be an investigative reporter. When a stuffy ballroom during yet another Season proves to be nothing more than the usual rumor mill, Sophie seeks respite in the library, alongside four other young women who, for their own reasons, are also looking for escape. As the conversation turns to their secret ambitions, the women form a sisterhood and a bold plan: they will make their dreams a reality, no matter the obstacles. Thus begins the Blue Orchid Society.
Hearing of a murder in a London rookery, Sophie seizes the opportunity to prove her skills. Detective Jonathan Graham doesn’t believe a civilian, a noblewoman at that, should be anywhere near a murder investigation, but Sophie insists on helping bring the killer to justice. Her investigative prowess doesn’t go unnoticed by the police, especially Jonathan, who can’t decide whether this intrepid reporter is a thorn in his side or the woman of his dreams. But as the case grows more complicated and dangerous, their very lives—and their hearts—may be at risk.


As I came to the end of this story, I found myself thinking how much I hoped the author would give each of Sophie's friends their own story. Then I quickly remembered that this is book one in a series, and that just made me really happy. 

The relationship between Sophie and Jonathan was perfect. (Not to them, of course, but to me it was.) Watching them go from enemies to falling in love was enjoyable, and I liked the mystery part too. It took me right up until just before the reveal to figure out who the bad guy was, so the author did a really good job at keeping the reader guessing. I loved how involved Sophie was with the investigation and how determined she was to learn and help, even when the situation made her uncomfortable.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Read the prequel to this story for free through the end of the month! Get your copy HERE. 
Title: Solving Sophronia
Author: Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2020
ISBN: 152441235X
Source: Review copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Book Review: The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians, #1)

Book Description:
A Corpse That Only Leads to Secrets.
An Old Flame with Danger Written all over Her.
Things Are about to Get Very Complicated.

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer's boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

The already volatile situation is complicated even further by the arrival of Gabby Rowley--Finn's boss's sister and an investigative reporter with unrelenting questions about the crime. Now that she's returned, the tug on Finn's heart is strong, but with the risks she's taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can't ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

Book Review:
 I was super excited to hear that Pettrey had a new series coming out and I jumped at the change to read this beginning book to the series. However, as I as reading I kept asking myself, "Is this the first book? Am I missing something? Was there a book before this one that I missed?" There were sooo many characters, and a lot of the story felt like I should already know something about some person or relationship. It was kinda hard to keep track of it all.

Gabby was a hard sell for me. As as a main character, that's rough for a story. I liked her okay, but I didn't connect with her at all. There was too much, "protect me, but dont' protect me because I have a job to do." I still read the story quickly, because the suspense really does drag you in and you have to keep reading until everything is concluded (Which Pettrey does an amazing job at).

I liked the minor characters probably more than the main characters, so that breeds hope for the next book in the series. I'm hoping Noah gets a book soon, even though I'm sure Rissi's book is next. I'm just wondering if to enjoy the next book I'm going to have to go back and reread this one to try to get everyone straight again.

The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians, #1) 
Title: The Killing Tide
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: August 2019
ISBN: 0764230840
Source: Review copy from NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Book Review: Where the Stars Meet the Sea by Heidi Kimball

Book Description:

Juliet Graham fervently counts the days until her twenty first birthday, when she can claim the inheritance that will grant her the freedom she has always craved and the guardianship of her younger brother. Until then, she is trapped under her aunt Agnes's domineering will. When forced to accompany the family to a house party at Shaldorn Castle, Juliet's only objective is to keep to herself. That is, until a chance encounter with a boorish stranger stirs up an unexpected whirlwind of emotions in her. Thrown off-balance, Juliet does the unthinkable: loses her temper and insults the man who turns out to be her unwilling host, the Duke of Halstead. Fully expecting to be sent away, Juliet is surprised when the brusque and callous duke instead takes an interest in her.
Drawn to the duke in unguarded moments, Juliet finds herself more and more intrigued by the man who shuns Society's rules as completely as she does, and over the next few weeks, their unlikely friendship deepens into a connection neither expected.
But even as Juliet comes to recognize her true feelings, her scheming aunt issues an ultimatum that threatens the future she was just beginning to hope for. Juliet must choose: either break the promise she made to herself years ago, or lose the man who has captured her heart and soul.

Rorie's Review:

I'm kind of glad that we have no typical May commitments right now, because otherwise, I would have had to keep putting this book down, and I really didn't want to do that. This story had everything that makes a book a winner for me. There were many times when I got choked up, which is slightly embarrassing when your teenage son is in the same room as you are.
I loved Juliet's character. She was the underdog, but stayed as strong as she knew how, in spite of everything she was put through. Her first interaction with Halstead had me laughing out loud.

I highly recommend this story and look forward to reading it again.
Andrea's Review:
This was an excellent story. I loved the spunk of the main character. She kept putting herself in awkward positions and it made for a very entertaining story. She had a very good heart and had been dealt a huge blow by the loss of her parents. Having to live with a cruel aunt endeared her to me even more. I loved the transformation she helped with  for the cranky duke. 
It was a lovely story with a happy ending that I can see myself reading again.
Tarah's Review:
 This story had a great storyline, and I told my teenage daughter that, "I was reading a good book right now, and I want to get back to it." when I had to go do real life stuff.

Juliet was a fun character, but here's the thing. While I did enjoy the story, I was surprised when I finished and looked at the author. I would have bet this was a first novel for someone. And I would have guessed that because even though I enjoyed it, the characters weren't super developed, and I had a lot of why questions that I don't think I can bring up without spoilers. But I never really felt the connection grow between Juilet and the Duke. Since I liked them both it didn't bother me, but they are insulting one another and then like each other. I needed more why's,  especially with the aunt. Her actions really didn't make sense to me. 
Title: Where the Stars Meet the Sea
Author: Heidi Kimball
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: March 2020
ISBN: 1524410411
Source: Review copy from Netgalley. All opinions expressed are our own.
Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Book Review: A Proper Charade by Esther Hatch

Book Description:

Lady Patience Kendrick was born to a life of privilege, and with the London Season looming, she finds herself facing unprecedented pressure to adhere to the rules of society. Unfortunately, the free-spirited young woman is anything but proper. Patience's elder brother, a former military man, bemoans his sister's antics but when he accuses her of incurable frivolity, it is simply more than she can bear. Determined to prove her brother wrong, Patience undertakes a drastic experiment: she will disguise herself as a maid and demonstrate her ability to work as hard as anyone.
Taken on as household staff by her brother's former general, Patience soon learns that willingness and ability are two very different things. While her plan sounded promising in theory, the reality is that she is out of her depth and the irresistibly charming son of the house isn't helping matters. Patience soon finds herself embroiled in a charade far more complicated than she imagined. With both her pride and her heart at stake, she is determined to prove her brother wrong even as her plans spiral delightfully out of control.

Rorie's Review:

Sigh. (This is the good kind of sigh, by the way.) That's what I did when the story ended. But also kind of a sad sigh because the story was over. So yeah, it was a good one. 

I think I would really enjoy being friends with Patience. She's quirky, very open, friendly and really, kind of hilarious. Posing as a maid for a month when she has no idea how to do any of the required tasks was insane, yes, but I give her kudos for figuring out a way to fix her "incurable frivolity" by learning how to work. All of her initial encounters with Anthony made me laugh out loud. She was already in way over her head as it was, and then he had to go and drag her into yet another scheme. 
I usually don't mention the cover of books, but I really love this one. Her dress is absolutely gorgeous! I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend it.
Tarah's Review: 

This was just a great book to read over the holiday weekend. I will admit that I may have stayed up really late to finish reading this book. I may have used the excuse that I was freezing and couldn't sleep so I may as well be reading, but let's face it, I would have stayed up and finished it regardless.

I really liked Anthony and all his lists. They made me smile and made him more real because of his little quirks. I felt for him and the situation Patience put him in by trying to be his maid, but it really did make for an entertaining read.

I'm glad that Patience's family troubles were worked out, and I'd love to see her brother Nicholas get his own book. I would gladly read it. He needs a good person to make him a little more light-hearted, but he doesn't need someone silly like Patience.

Anyway, it was a quick enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to more books from this author. A Proper Charade
Author: Esther Hatch
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc.
Published: May 2020
Source: All opinions expressed are my own. 

Purchase: Amazon Deseret Book

Friday, May 8, 2020

Book Review: Catastophes and Heroes by Jerry Borrowman
Catastophes and Heroes by Jerry Borrowman

Book Description:

A century of the industrial age saw unprecedented leaps in technology and engineering, from the first flight of an airplane to the first flight of humans to the moon. But alongside these awe-inspiring achievements were horrible disasters caused by faulty engineering or careless judgement. Catastrophes and Heroes explores eight such disasters and recognizes the unheralded heroes who stepped up to save others in times of great danger.

Included in this collection are the stories of female phone operators who, despite being in the path of destruction after the Los Angeles St. Francis Dam collapsed in 1928, stayed on the job to warn others to evacuate, Ernest Hemingway, who assisted survivors in his own boat after a hurricane destroyed the Florida East Coast Railway in 1935, and Ernest Betts who, though knowing little first aid, saved thirty people after the streamliner train The City of San Francisco crashed in the Nevada mountains in 1939.

Filled with little-known stories and historical insights, this book explores the rich history of the marvels of engineering and technological advances in the span of a century and reveals how the perils, though disastrous, gave rise to heroism and compassion at a time when machines were supposed to do it all.

Rorie's Review:

I have to be in the right mood to read non-fiction, so I was a little hesitant to start this book, but I only got a few pages into it before I was hooked. I find history fascinating, especially when it's told in an entertaining way. Don't get me wrong, this book is not light reading material. The subject matter is pretty dark and depressing, honestly, but the author does a really good job of bringing the reader right into the situation.There were a few times when the technical terminology made it so I had a hard time picturing what was happening (mostly with the first bridge story) but overall, it was a quick and easy read.

I found myself heading to my tablet in-between stories to look up pictures and more information about some of the catastrophes, which I think is the perfect sign that it's a good story. I definitely recommend this book to all history buffs, or really, anyone who enjoys well-written non-fiction.
Andrea's Review:
I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting this book was. I don't typically seek out non-fiction, but I was immediately drawn in by the first story about the Steamship Sultana. It blew me away that the overcrowding was to such an extreme. The greed that lead to that awful choice, along with not getting the boiler fixed properly was inexcusable. So many people lost their lives, and it could have been preventable. It was even more sad in that most of the passengers had just been released as prisoners of war. As if they hadn't already been through enough.

I wasn't as drawn to the third story as the others, but on the whole the stories were very eye opening and interesting. I don't recall having learned about any of these stories before, and that surprised me with many of them being such large tragedies.

The bulk of the time in the book seemed to be spent on backstory to the catastrophes. That mostly held by attention, but I wouldn't have minded a little less of that in some of the stories, and more focus on the heroes. They played such an important role and didn't get as much time as I anticipated there would be given that "heroes" is part of the title. 

It was very nice to read that even though these horrible things happened that lessons were learned and many safety measures have been implemented so things like these don't happen again.
Tarah's Review:
History lovers, are you ready for this? This collection of 8 stories of tragedies that were catastrophic, but yet resulted in change for the better and for regular people to become hero's. I hadn't heard of any of these, but with how the book was written it does definitely make me curious enough to go look up more about some of them. 
With any book like this, I think it's typical that I found some of the stories more interesting than others. I also would have appreciated some pictures of each thing so I could better picture it. I did appreciate that the author included where I could find things like YouTube links and such.
I liked that the author told the backstory, and he also told what we learned about it and related it to nowadays. In the Tacoma Narrows Bridge story I found it fascinating that if they would have built the original bridge it would still be there today (they used modern technology to figure this out). 
This book was basically like watching a mini-series on the History Channel. I found that a chapter at a time was the best way for me to enjoy this book. If you are already thinking about Father's Day, I will just tell you that my father-in-law randomly picked this up and read what he could until I got back and had to leave. So there you go...perfect gift idea.
Title: Catastrophes and Heroes
Author: Jerry Borrowman
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: May 2020
ISBN: 1629727393
Source: Review copy from publisher. All opinions expressed are our own.

Purchase: Amazon | Deseret Book