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

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: 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.

Book Review: The Road Home by Beverly Lewis

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About the Book-

Grieving the death of her Amish parents and the separation from her nine close-knit siblings, Lena Rose Schwartz consoles herself that her new life in Lancaster County won’t be forever. Surely someday soon she will return to her beloved Michigan settlement, including her beau. But even as she holds on to hope for a reunion with those she loves the most, she discovers that Lancaster holds charms of its own. Will she find the courage to open her heart to other possibilities?

My Review-

The more I read of Lewis’ fiction, the more I appreciate her simple writing and her sweet storylines.

After the sudden death of her parents, Lena takes on a parent role and tries to keep her family of 9 kids together, but ultimately fails. While the rest of her siblings are split up between families in their local district, she moves to to Pennsylvania with her father’s cousins to sew for a small income to send home.

The beginning of the story was sO sad! While that means that Lewis did her job really well, it felt a little to sad for my taste at times.

Even while she was working through such a hard time in her life, Lena was still so sweet and kind, and I really appreciated that about her. I loved reading about the new relationships she formed during her time in Pennsylvania, especially those with Rebekah and James. And of course, her reunion with her siblings was the sweetest.

Overall, it was a super sweet story, even though the beginning and middle were so incredibly sad. I really loved Lena as a character, and all of the secondary characters were so much fun to read about too!

My Ranking-

3/5

Things Liked-

  • Lena! She is such a sweet character!
  • The secondary characters
  • A sweet story with a smooth storyline

Things Disliked-

  • Such a sad story, felt a little too sad at times
  • The plot feels a little slow

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

Book Review: If I Live by Terri Blackstock

About the Book-

THE HUNT IS ALMOST OVER.

Casey Cox is still on the run after being indicted for murder. The hunt that began with her bloody footprints escalates, and she’s running out of places to hide. Her face is all over the news, and her disguises are no longer enough. It’s only a matter of time before someone recognizes her.

Dylan Roberts, the investigator who once hunted her, is now her only hope. Terrifying attempts on Dylan’s life could force Casey out of hiding. The clock is ticking on both their lives, but exposing the real killers is more complicated than they knew. Amassing the evidence to convict their enemies draws Dylan and Casey together, but their relationship has consequences. Will one life have to be sacrificed to protect the other?

With If I Live, Terri Blackstock takes us on one more heart-stopping chase in the sensational conclusion to the If I Run series.

My Review:

WOW THIS TRILOGY. This is my exact reaction to my friend at 4 in the morning, after I read book 2 and book 3 in one night.

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First of all, I DEFINITELY recommend you reading them in order (in all trilogies, but I feel like if you didn’t read this one in order, it’s impossible to follow the story). All three books in the trilogy flow together SO WELL, not just physically (the covers match to make a picture!) but also story-wise.

The characters are THE BEST. There are points of view from both protagonists as well as the antagonist, and they all go together to paint the full picture and what goes on in the minds of the characters. (ALSO THE SHIP THAT HAPPENS HERE. ITS PRETTY MUCH THE ONLY SHIP THAT I AGREE WITH IN BOOKS)

All the plot twists in this book are amazing!! Halfway through the book, I thought it was about to end, but then A PLOT TWIST HAPPENED. There were so many but it didn’t feel overdone at all.

ALSO SO MUCH ACTION. There was a lot of legal action (aka, stuff that happens at the police station), but as far as I can tell, it’s very realistic and actually makes sense.

The last thing I liked about this book was all the faith content. The first book (and also a little in the second book) didn’t contain so much faith content (which I get, as part of character development), but there was so much in this one, despite all the action, which I really appreciated.

One thing to keep an eye out for is all the violence in the book. As one might expect with a suspense novel, there is a lot of violence, which I don’t recommend at 2 in the morning, but it might be a little bit much for younger readers or those not comfortable with that violence.

BUT overall? I’M SHOVING THIS TRILOGY AT EVERYONE I SEE. EVERYONE.

My Rating:

8/10

Good things-

  • The characters were well developed (SO SO WELL DEVELOPED. OMGNS)
  • The Point of Views were well balanced between the characters and felt natural
  • A lot of action
  • Seems realistic (in terms of law enforcement and the scenes and stuff…but then, I’m not in that world so I wouldn’t know)
  • THE SHIP. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but like. THE SHIP THOUGH.
  • All the plot twists!!! All the way through the book, I knew what was going to happen (at least, I *hoped* that everything was going to come out okay), but there were so so many plot twists that happened along the way
  • All the faith content and the spiritual talk
  • The coherency between all the books

Bad things-

  • A lot of violence (well portrayed, which means realistic, but there are guns and shooting and death and etc)
  • It feels a little deux ex machina at the end (in regards to the media)

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