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: 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: My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California || Historical Fiction

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About the Book-

Journey now to San Francisco, California, of 1853 where…
An English socialite finds more treasure than expected on her trip to the American West.

When Abby Effingham becomes stranded in the middle of the California gold rush, her money depletes quickly even while her prospects for marriage increase daily. But Abby is on a mission to find her mother—not romance. Will a ridiculous scandal keep her from traveling on, or will it wake up an aloof innkeeper to the treasure right under his roof?

Samuel Harris runs a moderately priced hotel where Abby and her family’s elderly butler find shelter. He is looking forward to when she—and her parade of suitors—move on, though he concedes to let her work in his restaurant. When the sassy socialite is in trouble, will Samuel come to her rescue or find himself alone?

My Review-

I’m a suCKER for historical fiction (which is probably why I read so much Christian fiction when I don’t necessarily like it all the way), so I was excited to read this series that is solely based around different cities. I also heard a lot of good things about Janice Thompson (looking at you, Lindsey), so I was also excited to read this book written by her. Did this book meet my expectations? Yes, and no.

My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California reminded me a lot of the plotless historical fiction I used to read in middle school, plus a heavy dose of [mostly clean] romance.

Abby and her butler are travelling to Oregon when they are diverted to San Francisco, which is filled with 49-ers mining for gold. The details that go into describing the city and the circumstances that happened there are accurate (as far as I can tell), and the story was very cute.

Rich English Abby gets to San Francisco having not worked a day in her life, but quickly begins to work in the restaurant alongside the cook, who makes amazing food (that made me hungry). And as expected, falls in love with the main guy. What surprised me, though, was the other fallings-in-love that happened, and all the ploT twists that happened in that department. All the characters I enjoyed reading: they were all distinct in their own way and had their own flair!

I’m not sure what the directed audience of the book is, because the writing was rather simplistic, but had a surprisingly large amount of (albeit, clean) kissing going on, especially at the end. The story generally flowed pretty well, and ended happily (although it DID follow the setting, building, climax, end formula really well so there’s also that).

Overall, it was a cute historical fiction book that I’ll read the rest of the series for, but it wasn’t anything particularly spectacular. The faith content in it was really good, and I enjoyed reading it!

My Rating-

7/10

Things liked-

  • the butler!
  • aw it was so sweet
  • okay but I want some of Cookie’s pie
  • A+ Chinese dude representation. He was amazing and hilarious
  • saSSY comments though
  • yay for happy ending
  • faith content

Things disliked-

  • why so kissey????
  • mentions of saloon girls and their [buSINESS]
  • simplistic writing style

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

Book Review: Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

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About the Book-

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

My Review-

Out of the girls-on-the-cover type Christian fiction authors, Jen Turano is one of my favorites: her characters are always portrayed so well and their sass is just a bonus.

Gertrude and Harrison, as well as all of the other characters, are very well developed and each have their own little personalities. Gertrude is the helper to Mrs. Davenport, who has rather . . . peculiar . . . ideas that are super amusing, and her slight social inadequacy makes situations rather humorous.

Because the book is set in Wealthy Society New York City, thinking about marriage and dances and that kind of stuff feels a lot more natural (a slightly Pride and Prejudice feel), and because of that, the romance didn’t feel very forced, which I really appreciate (because so much other Christian fiction romance feels so forced).

There was a lot of good spiritual content, and a couple of the main characters got to see why and how God worked in what happened, which was really fun to read.

One thing I would keep in mind is that it IS the second book in a series, and if you haven’t read the first one, like me, you might not catch some subtle allusions (that I didn’t get and that I assume is from the first book).

Overall, it’s not my *favorite* Jen Turano book, but it was still witty and fun!

My Ranking-

7/10

Things liked-

  • So!!! Witty!!!
  • The romance didn’t feel forced at all (rather surprising for Christian fiction)
  • Harrison and his [special] fashion taste reminds me of my Fren™ which was fun
  • Good spiritual content
  • Gertrude and Harrison (and all the others) are such great characters!
  • A little mystery scene
  • THE EPILOGUE

Things disliked-

  • Went a little slowly sometimes
  • With that being said, the time span was really short and not . . . really realistic for falling in love?
  • A *few* mentions about . . . what happens once a bustle comes off and the entire dress has to come off and what happens when a guy walks in

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

Book Review: A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

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About the Book-

Telegraph operator Lucy Drake is a master of Morse code and has made herself a valuable asset to the Associated Press news agency. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Colin is talented, handsome, insufferably charming—and keeping a secret that jeopardizes his reputation.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy can’t deny that Colin has the connections she needs to give her family an edge in the long legal battle they’ve been waging over their rightful inheritance. But when she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, the web of treachery they dive into proves to be far more dangerous than they ever could have known.

My Review-

I’ve heard about Elizabeth Camden’s books for a while now, and have even started reading a couple, but this was the first book that I ever read from beginning to end, and I really enjoyed it!! The characters were absolutely precious, and there was suspense and awesome historical background.

Lucy Drake is the farthest thing from a sappy, swoony young lady—she has a lawsuit that she is fighting for with her brother Nick and is a master Morse code operator as well. Colin Beckwith is the manager of the rival news agency, and there shouldn’t be any correlation between them . . .  right? Well, wrong.

Both Lucy and Colin are master telegraph operators, so right off the bat they have something that ties them together. Add that to the fact that their witty banter and their ability to divulge secrets to each other, and you have THE perfect couple.

The romance in this book was so well paced: there weren’t any SPARKS RAN RINGLING UP AND DOWN HER ARM; DID HE FEEL IT TOO?? type moments. (Although, they do kiss as friends a couple of times, which was odd??).

The redemption storyline was so good, and I did not expect it at all! There were so many cool historical things thrown in too, like carrier pigeons, telegraphs, and society parties.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! A sweet sweet romance with a dash of suspense and amazing history: what’s not to love!

My Ranking-

8/10

Things liked-

  • The characters are so perfect for each other yet so different!
  • Anything with a telegraph gets a point, honestly
  • Slow, more realistic romance
  • Suspense!!!
  • Redemption storyline
  • Awesome history
  • Such grEAT villians!!
  • Lucy’s relationship with her brother!!!

Things disliked-

  • They kissed before they were a thing? And for no real apparent reason?
  • The entire story was really good, but the conclusion felt a little too perfect??

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

Book Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

About the Book-

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as  a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very own name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrived on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

My Review-

Ahhh this book!! First of all, the characters!! They were all so distinct and well developed, and they all have such interesting backstories! Rosemary is a orphan who seems to have mastered the ‘art’ of thievery. Master of disguises, she is able to fit into high society in order to steal valuable things. Although she dislikes reading, she disguises herself as a librarian to investigate Peter. She is there to organize his library (which is very soothing to read about!) and they learn to communicate, despite Peter’s speech impediment.

It also portrays friendship very well. Peter’s friends are  his very best friends, and they stand beside him and advise him of everything, and Elowyen is simply adorable. In the same vein, Rosemary’s ‘family’/friends are absolutely to be adored!

This book doesn’t fit the Christian Fiction stereotype at all, and it is very refreshing! There is a romance that happens, but it feels natural and although a bit rushed, it feels like it was meant to be. In addition, the plot twists keep the action interesting. The character development throughout was also amazing to see! The gospel was also very clearly presented, which is not something people usually see in Christian fiction either.

The one downside to A Name Unknown is that it’s over 400 pages, and it’s a little bit slow in the middle, but it is so worth it!

My Rating-

9/10

Points earned-

  • Cute, adorable, well developed characters
  • Libraries and writing
  • Interesting back story to both characters
  • Mystery and suspense
  • Adorable side families
  • Great portrayal of friendship
  • Not too much romance
  • Christianity and gospel very well presented
  • British talk!! *heart eyes*

Points lost-

  • A little bit slow in parts and on the long side

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.