Book Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

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About the Book-

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

My Review-

I’ve heard about Nadine Brandes’ books all over the internet, and follow her amazing Instagram, but hadn’t actually read any of her books, until now! (Her Out of Time series is also on my TBR . . . I just haven’t read it yet!)

Fawkes is about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, but it’s not historical fiction! It is, instead, a historical fantasy almost-allegorical retelling of the event, and it’s a lot of fun!

Initially, getting into the world is a little difficult and the entire beginning/middle of the book is a bit slow. The world is set up very well (which is needed, because of the alternate universe type setting that it’s in), but sometimes it felt a little bit too much.

Part of this was probably also because of Thomas, the protagonist. He was very difficult to like, and for a lot of the book, seemed increDIbly dense. I’m also not sure how I feel about Guy Fawkes himself, or, for that matter, his group of friends. (And yes, I understand that was intentional, but I didn’t quite realize that right when they were introduced).

However! I really like how the social situations of the historical time period was set up in the fantasy realm. The White Light was SO snarky and sassy and I loved it (even though it doesn’t . . . really fit what it’s supposed to stand for? but I loved it still!!!). And like lots of other people have said, I like how the two sides–the Igniters and the Keepers–weren’t ALL right or wrong.

ALSO CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT EMMA. I LOVEDDDDDDD her!!! She was amazing, but if I say any more, it’ll all be spoilt. So I’ll shut up about it. BUT EMMA.

The magic was also super cool! Although it could probably have been defined better, I really liked how the concept of it worked, and it really fit into the time period well too. Also: the StoNe PlaGue??!?!?! It sounds so real and horrifying and yipes.

My Rating-

7/10

Things Liked-

  • No right or wrong side
  • The White Light
  • EMMA
  • The magic system
  • Historical portrayal in the fantasy world
  • The allegorical side of things
  • Cool time period to write about: I’ve not read Gunpowder Plot fiction before!

Things Disliked-

  • A bit long and slow in the beginning
  • Thomas himself?
  • Feels a little incoherent sometimes?

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a complimentary ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

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Blog Tour: Trust and Obey by Faith Blum || Spotlight, Review, and GIVEAWAY!!

Hello, friend! Today, I have the honor of being a part of Faith Blum’s blog tour! I’ve read a few of Faith Blum’s books in the past, but I haven’t really gotten to know her or worked with her a lot, but I’m super excited to be doing a blog tour for her newest book, Trust and Obey! One thing about Faith’s books that I find really cool is how her book titles are also the titles of hymns that they tie into!

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About the Book-

A wicked priestess, a morally corrupt king, and two children stuck in the middle…

Hadassah and Gidal love their parents and will do anything for them. When Priestess Basmat tell Ehud and Jerusha to pay their debt, they cannot and she takes Hadassah and Gidal as her slaves for two years.

The priestess works them hard, but there are two other servants to divide the load with, so they cope as well as they can. Then King Saul comes in disguise requesting the priestess’s other services—as a medium.

Will Hadassah and Gidal trust Adonai to take care of them? What will happen after Priestess Basmat comes face-to-face with the prophet Samuel?

Amazon || GoodReads

About the Author-

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Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Faith currently resides in the middle of the state of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career with household work and cooking to do on the side. She loves to paint walls as long as she doesn’t have to do hallways or ceilings.

When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies (fun), doing dishes (meh), knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband (yay!). She is also a Community Assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.

My Review-

Trust and Obey is Biblical historical fiction based around 1 Samuel 28: the medium of En-Dor, which was really interesting to read, because it’s super rare. There were some other Biblical characters also included, such as David, Saul, and Jonathan. As far as I could tell, it was historically accurate, which was fun to read!

The (fictional) characters were so sweet! I really enjoyed reading the relationship between Ehud and Jerusha, and their children, Hadassah and Gidal, were equally as sweet!

The alternating points of view really added to the story as well—the different scenes became more defined and it made the Bible itself seem that much more real.

As for the story itself, it was a lot of fun! It was exciting and sweet and overall, felt authentic. I really like how it flowed and especially how it ended.

Overall, it was a really sweet story! The writing style was very smooth, the story was good, and it was a fun way to learn more about the Bible!

My Rating-

4/5

Things Liked-

  • The characters! They were all so sweet
  • Biblical historical fiction of an interesting time period/event
  • Sweet and well told story
  • Historically authentic

Things Disliked-

  • It felt a little simplistic at times

Giveaway-

Faith is giving away a paperback copy of her book, as well as a magnet!

the giveaway link

Blog Tour-

June 26
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Frances Hoelsema – Book Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words – Book Spotlight

June 27
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Book Spotlight
RockandMinerals4Him – Book Review
Shannon’s Blog – Book Spotlight

June 28
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections – Special Post
Wildflower Acres – Book Spotlight

June 29
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Book Review
Purposeful Learning – Book Review
The King and His Kingdom – Book Review

June 30
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway Winner

Blog Tour: The Quest for the Leviathan by Amanda Tero || Spotlight, Review, and GIVEAWAY!!!

Are sea monsters a real thing? What about fire-breathing dragons? According to the Bible, there is a fire-breathing sea creature who really existed: the leviathan. Amanda Tero brings this dragon to life in her newest short story, “Quest for Leviathan.” Join Anath and his crew of ninety-nine rowers as they face the waves of the Mediterranean Sea and the power of Leviathan.

About the Book

Leviathan took the life of his father.

Anath has spent three years preparing for the voyage that will end the threat of Leviathan. Yet as the Valor launches into the depths of the Mediterranean, an inward quest also begins, taking Anath to depths he is not willing to face.

Purchase an e-copy on Amazon or order a paperback.
Add to your Goodreads shelf.

My Review

Quest for Leviathan is about a young man, Anath, and his journey towards conquering the Leviathan.

Since it was a short story, there wasn’t much space for character development or nearly anything of that sort, but Anath was portrayed well, as was the main storyline (though the beginning and the end felt more developed than the actual story itself). Of course, it felt a little rushed, as all short stories are, but overall it was well done!

The Gospel is very clearly portrayed and Amanda did it very well! In addition, this was historical fiction based on a time of the Bible that is not very well documented, and it was really interesting to read a piece based on the Leviathan, which I hadn’t done before.

My Ranking

3/5

Things liked-

  • discussed a rarely discussed topic
  • good development for a short story
  • gospel portrayed well

Things disliked-

  • felt a bit rushed
  • the action felt a bit cheated: the beginning and end was more developed

Giveaway

Amanda is giving away TWO print copies of “Quest for Leviathan” to one winner — one for you, and one for your friend!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Email: amandaterobooks@gmail.com || Website || Facebook || Instagram || Pinterest || Blog || Goodreads || Amazon

Blog Tour

June 8 – With a Joyful Noise (Release Day Post)
Resting Life (Spotlight, Review)
The World of the Writer (Review)
Authoring Arrowheads (Review)
Purely by Faith Review (Review, Interview)
June 9 – Victoria’s Book Nook (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
Bekah’s Books (Spotlight, Review, Interview)
June 11 – Clothed with Scarlet (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
Reveries Reviews (Review)
June 12 – Chosen Vessels (Spotlight, Review)
My Purple Pen (Review)
Read Another Page (Review)
June 13 – Once Upon an Ordinary (Review)
Maidens for Modesty (Review)
Yahweh Sisters (Review)
June 14 – Honey Rock Hills (Review)
Life of Heritage Corner (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)
Kaylee’s Kind of Writes (Review, Interview)
June 15 – The Red-Hooded Writer (Review)
Blossoms and Blessings (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)
Lit Aflame (Review, Interview)
June 16 – The Left-Handed Typist (Review)
Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review, Interview, Giveaway)
June 18 – Great Books for God’s Girls (Review, Interview)
Peculiar Miss Darcy (Character Interview)
June 19 – Done in Love (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)
Creating Romance (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
June 20 – Keturah’s Korner (Review, Interview)
Rock and Minerals 4 Him (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
June 21 – A Baker’s Perspective (Review, Giveaway, Character Spotlight)
Christian Author: A.M. Heath (Review, Interview)
June 22 – Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections (Review)
Views from the Window Friend (Review)
Hunting for Truth (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
June 23 – Reading on the Edge (Spotlight)
Summer Snowflakes (Review, Giveaway)
June 25 – With a Joyful Noise (Giveaway Winner Announced)

Thank you to the author, Amanda Tero, for providing me with a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvin

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About the Book-

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston
Local volunteer fire fighter Leon King agrees to repair his ex-girlfriend Susie Bontrager’s grandparents’ antique rocking chairs for her future home with her fiance and is forced to acknowledge that his feelings for her have not quite gone away. As Susie spends time with Leon, she begins to recognize she is marrying the wrong man for all the wrong reasons.

The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman
Decades after inheriting her great grandmother’s cedar chest, Emma Fisher decides to pry it open only to discover a beautiful love story in the form of letters between her great grandparents. But as Emma immerses herself in their story, family secrets are revealed, and she must decide whether to share them to preserve family history or honor her great grandparents’ decision to leave them hidden.

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller
For the past two years, Shane Broyles has felt God leading him to join the Amish. He’s staying with his friends Noah and Ivy Schlabach in Birch Creek, OH, where he is reunited with Lucy Fisher, an old friend of Noah’s family. Shane and Lucy have never revealed their feelings for each other, but when they stumble upon an antique Bible at a flea market, they feel drawn to each other and to the mystery of the contents found within.

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irvin
Iris Beachy serves as a midwife in her district where she longs for a family of her own. When her friend’s brother Mahon Kurtz seeks her help in delivering the baby of two young teenagers who have sought refuge in their town, they begin to see each other in a different light. Unprepared for parenthood, the young couple leave their baby girl behind in an antique crib quilt resembling the one destined for Iris when she becomes a mother. Mahon and Iris come together to take care of the baby as they try to find her parents, and they begin to see new possibilities for their future.

My Review-

I’m not always a big fan of Amish fiction, but I always enjoy reading a good Amish novella collection, and I really enjoyed this one by a group of four Amish fiction authors! It was my first time reading anything by most of these authors, and it was fun reading their stories!

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston

I wasn’t personally a huge fan of this one: the characters fell a little flat and the story was a little unbelievable. There was also a bit too much “attraction” for my liking. Susie was sweet, if a bit insincere at times. 1/5

The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman

I really really enjoyed the historical flashbacks in this one! I also liked how it wasn’t a falling in love story, unlike so much other Amish fiction. I felt like the end was a little abrupt and could have been done a lot better, but I really liked this one! 4/5

The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller

This was such a sweet story! Although it doesn’t seem really realistic, I really enjoyed reading Shane and Lucy’s story, and it was also rather witty, which was a fun read! 3/5

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irvin

Aside from more adult content (teenage pregnancy), this was such a sweet story! The Englisch side of the story was really sweet to read! But also, can anyone say WHIRLWIND ROMANCE? Although the story did take a lot longer than it seemed, the romance went really fast, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. 3/5

Overall, it was a fun collection and I enjoyed it! All of the stories were really different and weren’t very stereotypical, which I appreciate.

My Ranking-

3/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a complimentary e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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About the Book-

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Review-

Caravel is one of my favorite YA fiction books, and I was very excited to read its sequel, Legendary! While Caravel is written from the perspective of Scarlett (the older sister), Legendary is from the perspective of Donatella, the younger sister, and it was lots of fun reading the alternate perspective!

While this book is set in the same world as the first one, it almost seems entirely different: all the characters come back but unlike the surface magic of Caravel, Legendary explores the behind-the-scenes magic that runs Caravel. And not only Caravel, but the mother and the sisters’ past.

Since Tella was portrayed as smaller, younger, and more immature for most of Caravel, I was unsure of what a book in her point of view would be like, but she is smart and ingenious and tenacious and really masterminded the whole journey–dare I say she is even more brilliant than Scarlett is?

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The story itself is a lot darker than Caravel is: while the main purpose of Caravel seemed to just be Scarlett finding Donatella, this one has a much deeper motive and so much more is at stake than just a wedding.

With all that being said, this book was a lot more . . . kissey than Caravel. There were quite a few make-out sessions that were rather vividly portrayed, even if they were connected to the plot, and I wasn’t much of a fan of that.

One thing I would definitely recommend is reading it right after rereading Caravel (or definitely at least reading in order!!), because there was so much that connected straight off of it (there is only a couple days between them). The worldbuilding that was in this was very accurate from Caravel, and reading them together makes it make so much more sense!

My Ranking-

7/10

Things liked-

  • Accurate representation of the world previously built
  • A brilliant MC
  • Deeper (and thus, darker) than the first book
  • The returning characters
  • A CLIFFHANGER
  • Well developed characters
  • Delving into the backstory (alsO THAT TWIST REGARDING THE MOTHER)

Things disliked-

  • The super descriptive kissing scenes
  • Moved a little slowly at times
  • Less actual magic than Caravel

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Book Review: A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White

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About the Book-

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and a top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I–to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lucas de Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas feats that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has.

My Review-

This book. THIS BOOK. If I’d thought I liked the first book in the series a lot, I LOVE this book! Well, considering the first book was about books, and the second one is about music, I’M SOLD.

I don’t really know why I waited so long to read this book: it was so sweet and fun to read! It follows Willa, the second oldest child in the family, and a lot of the characters from the first book came back make an appearance, which was so fun, and made it so coherent!

Like I said, I loved the first book, but I like this one even more than that one, because of the music. Being a musician myself, that absolute skILL Willa and Lukas have just resonates within me (no pun intended, hahaha). Also I may or may not have read this while I should have been studying for my AP Music Theory exam, and it was highkey convicting me all the way through, but I couldn’t juST PUT IT DOWN LIKE THAT?????

The romance was a bit heavier in this one than in the previous book, but it . . . just felt right. Sometimes romance feels rushed and thrown in for the sake of being thrown in, but this felt natural. *(There are some mentions of possible content warning stuff, but it was super clean overall)*

The side story, Margot (Lukas’ sister), was also so so intriguing to follow as well. Also, there was more wartime content, and if you know me, you know that I LOVE that kind of stuff.

Overall? THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. Read it (but in order). You will not be disappointed.

My Rating-

9/10 (closer to 9.5, since it’s higher than the 9 I gave A Name Unknown)

Things Liked-

  • Music!!!!
  • Wartime stuff
    (those two things right there have won my heart right over)
  • The family!
  • The side story line/cryptology bits were super interesting
  • buT whO iS mR V thO
  • So similar yet so different from the first book
  • The SASS
  • But that ending is perFECT though fight me
  • Also spiritual content

Things Didn’t Like-

  • A little romantic (the first few kisses were unwarrented), and I’m a big downer when it comes to romance

Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a free physical copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion; I was not required to provide a positive review.

Book Review: How to be a Perfect Christian by the Babylon Bee

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About the Book-

Do you dream of becoming the poster kid for Christian perfection? Then get ready to be baptized in the glorious waters of modern Christian culture!

How to be a Perfect Christian is a step by step guide to grow you from a clueless Christ-follower into a supercharged megabeliever. Discover how to:

  • Join the right church–see how to ditch that group of hopeless losers holding you back and find a church that’s built around you.
  • Vet your pastor–assess his command of sermon acronyms and alliteration–plus his grasp of dynamic gestures.
  • Worship like a pro–find out how to have a worship experience that leaves you with that all-important, addicting emotional high.
  • Do life together–master the art of never letting anyone get close enough to your life to see what a mess it is below the surface

Wait! There’s much more–like acing the church potluck and serving the church without lifting a finger. This book is filled with everything you need to be your best spiritual self, even a free inspirational coloring page!

My Review-

If you take books seriously, then this one is not the one for you! How to be a Perfect Christian is FULL of satire/sarcasm (the one authentic line is probably the acknowledgements).

The Babylon Bee, a satirical Christian site, is well known for poking fun of Christian habits (reminiscent of John Crist), and while I haven’t really followed it, the book really gave me a taste of what they were about!

The entire book is basically a huge Christian inside joke, ranging from Baptist potlucks to worship services to youth group. Granted, it would probably thoroughly confuse anyone who wasn’t Christian, or didn’t have quite a bit of experience in the church.

So long as it is not taken seriously, this is a very humorous book! And even seriously, this book highlights some of the hypocrisy within the church and the little quirks and double standard of within the church.

My Ranking-

3/5

Things Liked-

  • super funny!
  • a big Christian inside joke
  • some important truths presented

Things Disliked-

  • definitely will not appeal to nonChristians, and may confuse them if they were to read it
  • sometimes things were presented a little too hard

Thanks to the publisher, Waterbrook and Multnomah, for providing me with a complimentary print copy of the book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

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About the Book-

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leaves Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theatre putting on the most popular show in the city. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. That is, as long as the shadows from her past don’t catch up with her.

After a hand injury forces Nate Moran from his army regiment in India, he returns home to London, a place that holds bitter memories. He agrees to fill in temporarily as a stagehand while his brother recuperates from a broken leg, but Nate is counting down the days until he can rejoin his regiment. His future is decided–until he meets a beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate yearns to leave behind.

My Review-

I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for a while now, and I finally buddy read it with my friend Mary (at least, up until I went and finished it before I was supposed to. #oops)

Both of the main characters I really liked: Rosalyn was really sweet (although clueless? like, vERY clueless?), and Nate is just sweet and cute and all thAT. Both of them have a really interesting backstory, which I enjoyed reading.

A lot of this book was set in the theatre, which I really liked as well. Seeing how the theatre tied everything together (also the charACTER DEVELOPMENT on Rosalyn’s part in the theatre thOUGH) was lots of fun, and also the theaTRE CAT. CAN I HAVE HIM???

One thing I was slightly confused about was the fact that the title and the cover really didn’t match what was IN the book? Like yes, Rosalyn is a captain’s daughter, but aside from that, it was literally never mentioned. I don’t know what’s going on.

All that being said, this book really was very sterotypical of Christian fiction: I’m rereading that post as I link it and it’s just like yup, check, check, that too, so if you want a brief synopsis, read that post lol.

All in all, it was a fun book. There is almost no brain power needed to read it, and it isn’t particularly memorable, but it was still a fun read!

My Ranking-

6/10

Things liked-

  • They were from George Mueller’s orphanage, how cool!
  • Theatre things
  • Nate (also Nate and his family) was so precious and lovely and bantery and I loved them

Things disliked-

  • that bit about a brothel. Like yes, I get why it was relevant . . . but there could have been better ways to do it?
  • very sterotypical

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.