Top Ten Tuesday -Book Recommendations for Arm Chair Travelers

Aside from reading one of my grand passions in life is travel. I love exploring other countries and cultures. However, in the last several years I haven’t been able to travel as much as I would like for various reasons. Luckily for me, I can still experience the world through my arm chair travels and so can you.

For today’s theme from The Broke and The Bookish  I’ve chosen books which feature settings from around the world. I’ve tried to feature more Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Book Recommendations for Arm Chair Travelers”

Book Review -The Bridge

SUMMARY

In The Bridge when Meredith Sullivan wins the Beckett Scholarship and is finally able to fulfill her dream of studying in Paris, she is thrilled. But she is less thrilled to discover her class nemesis Pete Russell has also won a place and will be around to torment her all year. She is also sad to leave behind her best friend and secret crush Drew Sutton.

Pete is not content with their status quo. He quickly begins to challenge Meredith’s perceptions of him as they discover Paris together. Slowly Sully (as Pete calls her) realizes she may have misjudged this guy who shares her love for the City of Light.

But just as she begins to consider something more than friendship, Drew finally confesses his feelings for her. Now she is torn between the man she has always wanted and the one who seems to understand her better than anyone else.

You’ve read the summary, now read my review over at The Silver Petticoat.

Book Review -The Mark of the King

SUMMARY

The year is 1720. In Mark of the King French midwife Julianne finds herself unjustly convicted of murder. Branded and married off to a fellow convict, she is shipped off to the primitive French outpost of New Orleans, where a delicate balance exists between the natives and the settlers.

One ray of hope in her exile is Julianne’s hope of finding her brother, a soldier who had been sent with the army to New Orleans. Another silver lining is Continue reading “Book Review -The Mark of the King”

Book Review – High as the Heavens

SUMMARY

In High as the Heavens Evelyn March has endured her fair share of tragedy. She’s lost much of her family, including her husband during WWI.  Eve is also a survivor with terrible secrets that cripple her with guilt as she goes about her job as a British nurse working with the Red Cross in the enemy occupied territory of Brussels. But Eve is not all that she seems. At night she carries out high risk missions for the Belgian underground resistance to assist the Allies in defeating the German occupiers.

British pilot Simon Forrester is on his way to meet with a contact of the resistance when Continue reading “Book Review – High as the Heavens”

Top Ten Tuesday -My Favorite Book Heroes

The ladies at The Broke and the Bookish who generally host Top Ten Tuesday are on a summer hiatus. So, I came up with my own topic this week. And since, it’s my choice, I decided not to stick to just ten. So today, you’re in luck because I’m sharing my very favorite book heroes with you.

I have also tried to include the author’s inspiration for each of these heroes. And where that information is not available I’ve added the images brought to my mind when reading about these heroes.

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  1. Colonel Aric von Schmidt of For Such a Time

A German officer in charge of a concentration camp Aric rescues and falls in love with Stella who is hiding her identity as a Jew. Despite being a Nazi officer Aric has a tender heart and really wrestles with his conscience over the orders he receives. With Stella’s encouragemen Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -My Favorite Book Heroes”

Book Review – Storm and Silence

SUMMARY

In Storm and Silence suffragist Lilly Linton dresses up like a man in order to cast her vote. But she doesn’t count on meeting Rikkard Ambrose, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in London. Nor does she expect his job offer after she unintentionally displays the very attributes he is looking for in a personal secretary.

Mr. Ambrose is shocked to find out his newest employee is in actuality a woman! Though he tries to rescind his offer, she plays up to his honor as a gentleman and he is forced to employ her. Though she refuses to give him a reason to fire her, Ambrose decides to force her to quit the job of her own accord.

But Lilly is more stubborn and wily than he expects. The office is a powder keg ready to explode when the brilliant, progressive and hot-tempered Lilly matches wits against her silently cold and ruthless boss. Who will win this battle? And when Mr. Ambrose’s business dealings put them in danger will the fact that LIlly is a woman be a hindrance or an asset? Continue reading “Book Review – Storm and Silence”

Book Review – A Different Blue

SUMMARY

Having been abandoned as a toddler, Blue Echohawk knows almost nothing of her origins or even her real age. Although she is raised by the man who found her as a baby, when he dies she is left with even more questions and a real lack of self worth and hope.

When Wilson, her sexy young history teacher, challenges his students to write the story of their lives Blue finds herself at a loss…and angry. Not only does she not know the details of her own story but she begins to realize she doesn’t even know herself. As they challenge each other in and outside of class, Blue and Wilson form a special relationship which will change both their lives and their perspectives.

MY THOUGHTS

I can’t even tell you how much I loved A Different Blue. When i started the book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I can only handle so much angsty drama and I couldn’t relate at all to Blue, not only because of her circumstances, but also her attitude and behavior.

But what a story! Although this is partially a love story, it is really more of a personal journey of discovery for Blue. As Wilson challenges her to write her own story, she is forced to dig deep to discover who she is. Knowing so little about her own past, Blue also discovers that she has allowed others to shape her personal identity. As she starts to challenge what labels she will accept about herself, she begins to grow and change in ways that have nothing to do with names and dates and everything to do with what she believes about herself. This is a message that I think everyone can relate to as we all go through the struggle to define our own identity.

Although I started out a little resistant to Blue, as her story unfolded I found myself swamped with compassion and grief for her sake. Her transformational journey chips away the hard outer layer of rebellion and anger and uncovers strength, vulnerability and surprising kindness.

And Wilson. Oh, Wilson. From childhood nerd to a sexy, compassionate, patient teacher with a British accent to boot, he is a hero in the true sense of the word. One thing I really appreciate in a romance is the quality of restraint, because it demands self-discipline and self-sacrifice. Wilson has these qualities in spades. In many ways he rescues Blue, and it is his understanding and patience which give her the safe place she needs to grow without any pressure or expectations.

By the way, if you are worried about the teacher-student relationship between Blue and Wilson (as I was), then be assured it is written in an appropriate, tactful way.

This is my third book by author Amy Harmon and she never ceases to amaze me with her talent and skill. Each of the three books I have read by her are totally different and yet all of them are intensely gripping and emotionally impacting. I read multitudes of books and have a long list of favorite authors. Although I usually love every book by each of my preferred writers I don’t always post reviews on every one because I want to introduce you to books and authors you may not have heard of before. But I can’t help myself with Amy Harmon. Every one of her stories deserves its’ own review particularly since each of them leaves me stunned and changed in some way.

If you’ve never read a book by Amy Harmon, I’m convinced that you can’t choose a bad one, but I love A Different Blue’s message about what defines identity and allowing love to transform us. I think you will too.

Check out the author’s Pinterest page for pictures of Blue and Wilson along with other images which inspired the story.

Book Review -Settling Up

SUMMARY

Statistics professor Lauren Sinclair uses her affinity for numbers as a way to deal with anxiety and her deficient social skills. For years she has also put her personal life on hold as she works towards her professional goals. Lauren decides that settling down and getting married might help her gain tenure at her university so with her sister’s help she reactivates her online dating accounts. But none of the men meet her stringent percentage weighed list of standards.

Meanwhile after spotting a bald spot she heads to the casino to de-stress with her favorite blackjack dealer. Only she exposes her hairless shame to the tattooed, sexy new dealer who is subbing for her former sounding board. In spite of her embarrassment Lauren feels a bond with Mack and they form a friendship. He agrees to give her feedback on her dating candidates and she gives him a safe place to process his grief over his deceased wife. But will Lauren ever find a Mr. Right who matches her detailed list?

MY THOUGHTS

A reader can fall in love with many things about a book; a writing style, the genre,  story line or setting. But ya’ll, I totally fell in love with Lauren Sinclair in Settling Up!

Lauren knows her own strengths and weaknesses and makes no excuses for them. She is intellectually brilliant yet socially awkward.  Her inner monologues are hilarious and even when she embarrasses herself she remains endearingly vulnerable. And ladies, confess. Who among us has not made a list of requirements for our perfect man, even if it isn’t quite as….er detailed and precise as Lauren’s?

Anyone who has ever tried online dating can most likely relate to a few of Lauren’s thoughts on the mens’ profiles. Not to mention, who hasn’t had at least one totally disastrous first date?

I also love the relationship between Lauren and her sister. Not just family, they are best friends who know each other’s habits and coping mechanisms and are willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice for each other.

Obviously there is much to love about Lauren and Settling Up and I haven’t yet mentioned Mack. From day one he accepts Lauren as she is and also challenges her preconceived notions of people. Their relationship opens up a new world for both of them expanding the boundaries of their formerly narrow lives. I love how calm and easy-going Mack is and how his character and personality are slowly revealed as the book progresses.

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Settling Up. It is the third book I’ve read by author Eryn Scott and it certainly won’t be the last. I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies and Scott knows how to write them well. Plus, her heroines are always one of a kind. And with all her e- books priced under $3.00, you can’t go wrong taking a chance on reading her stories.

Check out the author’s Amazon page for a list of all of her titles.

Book Review -Sweetbriar Cottage

SUMMARY

When Josephine & Noah met it was love at first sight. They were blissfully happy together until Josephine’s past reared its’ ugly head. Now two years later, they are both surprised to find the divorce Josephine filed for was never finalized. Noah is angry since it just seems another betrayal by the woman he loved.

When Josephine decides to drop by his house for a signature on the new papers, they both end up trapped by a winter storm in his cottage. With the past a seemingly insurmountable obstacle between them, they are forced to spend several days together in a close quarters. This unexpected challenge forces them to wrestle with the unresolved issues and feelings between them.  And the storm outside can’t compare with the one inside.

MY THOUGHTS

Historical fiction is always my first choice but there is a reason contemporary author Denise Hunter is on my auto-buy list. In fact, I’ve been a loyal reader since she published one of her first books Mending Places and made me feel sympathy for a very un-heroic hero.

Hunter’s writes beautiful love stories with flawed people that any reader can relate to. She handles sensitive, unpleasant topics with grace and compassion, taking her characters on a journey to healing and redemption. Somehow in spite of writing about deeply emotional issues, the stories themselves don’t wallow in the darkness, but allow the light to rescue both the reader and the characters.

Sweetbriar Cottage is no exception and another endearing book from this talented author. This reader could relate easily to the anger, fear and caution they feel towards each other.  A divorce may end a marriage but it doesn’t necessarily end the ties and complex issues between the couple.

At first Noah’s responses towards Josephine seem overly harsh, but as their story unfolds it makes much more sense. Even though she made some very poor decisions, the reader is still able to feel compassion for Josie as her past is revealed.  Once again after reading a Hunter novel I am reminded to give people the benefit of the doubt, to extend grace and understanding. We never really know what another person may have experienced that might cause them to act in a way that annoys or offends us.

RECOMMENDATION

Fans of Denise Hunter will love her latest offering, Sweetbriar Cottage. And if you’ve never read her stories before than pick this one up and experience it for yourself.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Favorite Reads of 2017

I was excited about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish to list my favorite books so far of 2017. While not every book on my list may be the best I’ve read this year, they are all favorites of mine. To be included as a favorite either means I really loved book or the story has stuck with me long after I finished it. Several of these I have already reviewed on my website.

Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon

I got a late start in reading YA fiction, but if the stories are all as well written as this one, it may become one of my favorite genres. This mystery had gothic undertones, with the male lead returning for revenge, and a quirky yet judgmental town determined to keep its’ secrets hidden. Read my review.

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

I won’t lie. I chose this dark historical fairy tale based on its’ cover. But the story of a young girl who is ostracized by a town who doesn’t believe her and the mystery of the disappearances of town members held my interest.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

I had heard a lot of hype about this YA historical set in Prohibition era Chicago, featuring a young woman digging into the mystery of her best friend’s disappearance. And this book did not disappoint! Plus, who wouldn’t love a heroine named Piper Sail?

From Sand and Ash & The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

How is it possible that I just discovered Amy Harmon this year?! These two very different stories, one a historical romantic drama and the other a fantasy/fairy tale totally blew me away. I’m now eagerly working my way through her other books. Read my reviews of From Sand and Ash and The Bird and the Sword.

Engaged in Trouble by Jenny B Jones

Jones is one of my favorite authors who I can count on to make me think about deeper issues while I laugh at the foibles and hijinks of her characters. This is the first in her new cozy mystery series set in small town Arkansas featuring a washed up pop singer. Read my review.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

I love all of Kendig’s military action, international intrigue novels, but this is her best yet. It’s the first of a new series and I can’t wait to read the rest of the adventures of Tox and his crew. Read my review of this series.

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

New Zealand author Isaac debuted her first book last year. Can’t Help Falling is her second release and even better than her first. I love how she weaves in C.S. Lewis tales of Narnia in this story of redemption for both the hero and heroine.

Bones for Bread by L.L. Muir

I had never heard of this author or book before but on a whim decided to give it a try. It was listed as a Regency romance but I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t what I was expecting. This isn’t a sweet tale set in posh settings, but one of a woman determined to find her brother and living a secret life as a  Robin Hood style outlaw.

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

Despite loving Cambron’s previous novels, I put off reading this one because I wasn’t sure I would be interested in another circus story. Boy, was I wrong. Cambron has a way of transporting and immersing her readers in the world she creates and I was engrossed in this dual timeline tale of the Ringling Brothers circus. This book is magic! Read my review.

Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

The first of a series about the events surrounding the Biblical exodus. I love the new and unique perspective of this novel featuring an Egyptian slave who reluctantly leaves Egypt with the former Hebrew slaves. Read my review.

In the Light of the Garden -Heather Burch

From her first book to the most recent, Heather Burch always surprises me with the depth and emotion of her stories about personal and family dysfunction.  Read my review.

The Waves Break Gray -Sibella Giorello

This is book six in the ongoing Raleigh Harmon series. It had been four years since the last book in this series, so imagine my excitement when Waves was finally released. Mysteries are not my usual choice, but I love this series about a female forensic geologist. Now, I need to read book seven.

What are some of your favorite reads so far this year?