A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd


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After burying her father, Miss Gillian Young discovers his death may not have been an accident as she had been led to believe. Instead of answers, clues bring more questions as it looks like her father, a well-respected police officer, may have been involved in serious crimes.

When Gillian meets the charming Viscount Thomas Lockwood, the attraction is instant, but are his advances genuine? Could he be interested in her newly inherited property? Could he have been involved in her father’s death?

Not knowing who she can trust, Gillian must use a disguise to investigate on her own to try to prove her father’s innocence.

This is 3 out of 3 for me! I have loved each novel in the Daughters of Hampshire series.

The mystery and suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the keep the pages turning. This novel in particular touches a hard subject with grace and care, woven perfectly into Gillian’s story. Sandra Byrd gives some interesting insight into her research in the Author’s Notes.

I love that we know no more than the main character knows. We can only trust or distrust based on what she sees, and, as with all good suspense, that can be misleading at times.

The characters are excellently drawn, including the supporting characters. You feel for them, and want them to succeed. Lord Lockwood truly is charming, and I fell for him maybe as hard as Gillian did. I blame it on Byrd’s use of Henry V dialogue. In fact, my one wish would have been more interaction between Gillian and Thomas.

Romance, mystery, danger… it’s all in this novel. It won’t disappoint.

1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

The Inkblots by Damion Searls


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Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach believed that who we truly are can be found not in what we say, but in what we see. In 1917 he created an experiment that would go on to test this theory. The experiment consisted of ten carefully created inkblots.

In this book, the first biography written about Rorschach, Searls discusses the man, his life, and his work. We learn how culture shaped the test; how the test shaped culture (especially American culture); and how culture, in turn, reshaped the test, again and again.

The only thing that will stop me from giving this book five stars is that it became a bit stiff toward the end. What started as a writing style that felt more like storytelling turned more clinical and systematic. Perhaps it was unavoidable given the content, but it slowed my reading.

Otherwise, this is an excellent read. I knew nothing about Rorschach going into this book, and as I finished I left like I was leaving an old friend. Maybe because I see a bit of myself in him. He’s someone I think I would have enjoyed talking to.

It was Rorschach’s understanding and insight into both the human mind and the world around him that made the inkblots work. This was proven time and again through the years as changes were made to how the test was given and scored. It wasn’t something that could be quantified or standardized. Rorschach knew this, and expressed that he saw the inkblots more as an experiment than a test. Yet, he was able to use it, and teach others to use it, to uncover mental health issues and devise treatments.

The section of the book that interested me most was the use of the inkblots at Nuremburg on Nazi war criminals. The results were both fascinating and chilling, and something I’d like to read more about.

But Hermann Rorschach was a fascinating man himself. The book contains copies of a few of Rorschach’s inkblots, as well as some discussion of how scoring works. Searls also utilized many personal letters when covering Rorschach’s life, which adds a personal touch that drew me in, and the notes section is extensive. Searls did his research, and it shows.

1) Is it understandable = 4.5
2) Presentation of Information = 4
3) Quality of Writing = 4
4) Overall Enjoyability = 4.5

Average score of 4.25 out of 5

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review.

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

Reading Preview 3/23/17


Hey guys! I’ll be finishing The Inkblots over the next couple of days. You can look for that review this weekend. In the meantime, I wanted to share what’s coming up.

These will be the next two books I read. I’ve been waiting on Byrd’s new book for almost a year! I’ll be reading Cambron’s book for a review program, but I’m looking forward to it! I loved The Butterfly and the Violin, so I’m going in expecting to enjoy this one.

 

The next group of books are faith-based, non-fiction works.

 

Then there are a couple more fiction books on my shelf that I’m anxious to get to.

 

And the final book for this post (because there are SO many more I want to add) is a book on writing.

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What are you guys reading now? Have you read any of the ones on my list? Let me know in the comments.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir


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Laia and Elias are on the run from the Empire. They are hunted by old enemies and old friends, but Laia is determined to rescue her brother, and Elias is determined to keep his promise to help her.

This sequel picks up right where An Ember in the Ashes left off, and the pace doesn’t slow. We learn more about the characters we already know, and meet a few new ones along the way. Deciding who to trust is key.

Once again, Tahir pulls you into her world and doesn’t let you go. Rich characters, detailed plot, and adventure on every page. This second novel more than lives up to the first, and I sincerely hope there is a third in the works. Tahir is an amazing storyteller.

As with the first, this YA is definitely more suited for mature young adults: detailed, brutal violence; mild swearing; and a mild, cut-away love scene.

1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average of score 5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

A Time for Confidence by Stephen J. Nichols


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If you’re a Christian in America, you probably feel the change in our society. The culture is shifting further and further away from our Christian heritage. As time goes on, we may feel the pressure to compromise our beliefs to align with the culture of our day. But should we? Culture changes. Societies change. Nations and leaders rise and fall. But God’s word stands true forever.

In this timely book, Nichols reminds us where our confidence should rest: God, the Bible, Christ, the Gospel, and hope. As we stand firm in the Word we need to do so with confidence. Nichols brings us back to the early church, less than 100 years after Jesus died on the cross, to show us what that confidence looks like. It’s the same confidence we see over a thousand years later in the Reformers.

“This is not a time to cower, cave, or capitulate. It is a time for confidence, and our confidence must be in God. All else will disappoint.”

I highly recommend this book to all Christians. Especially anyone feeling the pressure to conform to this world.

1) Is it understandable = 4.5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 4.9 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe


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Written in 1794, this gothic romance is thought by some to be the origins of the detective novel. It tells the story of Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself under the care of her uncle. Questions and mysteries arise from secrets of her father’s past.

I didn’t finish this one. I was about 120 pages in when I decided to stop, because nothing had happened yet to keep me going. The majority of those first 100 pages chronicles the travels of Emily and her father, describing the vistas in detail. The appearance of Emily’s love interest, Valancourt, made this slightly bearable, but the story moves along so slowly that the thought of going on for another 500+ pages made me cringe.

This one just wasn’t for me.

1) Overall Plot =3
2) Characters = 2
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 1
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4
5) Overall Enjoyability = 1

Average of score 2.2 out of 5

This particular B&N edition is no longer for sale, so I’ve linked below to the search page which shows all available editions.

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

Control Girl by Shannon Popkin


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Do you strive to stay in control of your life? Do you try to make everything fit into your vision of how things should be, including the people around you? When your vision takes the place of God’s vision, you end up without peace, and the thirst for control grows.

In this book, Popkin uses examples from her own life to illustrate the ways we try to take control, even the subtle ways. She shows how they can be damaging to our relationships, including our relationship with God.

I applaud Popkin for being so open about her control issues. Examples from her own life really drive the lessons, alongside Biblical examples.

However, I have two issues with this book.

The first issue is actually seen not just here, but in Christian women’s literature in general. Almost everything in this book is aimed toward married women and mothers. The only section that seemed to encompass single women as well was the chapter regarding Miriam, which was aimed at women in leadership positions. I find that it’s a common trend to leave out single women who are not mothers in these types of books, and this one was no different.

The second issue is that Popkin consistently brings up our “happy ending.” We try to obtain our happy ending by taking control (which is true) but it is only when we give control to God that he will give us our happy ending. It’s that last part that causes some concern for me. I wonder how many women will believe that God will give them the happy ending they want. God’s happy ending could look much different. Some women may not get a “happy” ending this side of heaven, just the peace of God to see them through their circumstances. How many women will relinquish control only to take it back again when it doesn’t look like God is doing what they want?

Control Girl definitely has some practical examples and advice, but it’s these two issues that stop me from rating it higher.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 4
3) Quality of Writing = 4.5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 3

Average score of 3.1 out of 5
Extra point removed for issues stated above.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel in return for an honest review.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess


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Henrietta Howel is a sorcerer. The first female sorcerer in ages. Her power is rare and dangerous, and there are some who believe she is the one who is prophesied to defeat an ancient enemy. But is she?

This YA fantasy is excellent. Set in an England filled with magic during the rule of a young Queen Victoria, you’ll feel as if you are there yourself. Cluess’s characters are well-written and the story keeps a steady pace as everything unfolds and Henrietta learns who she can really trust.

This is the first novel in the Kingdom of Fire series, and with a few questions left unanswered, I will definitely read the next.

A couple of content warnings: the story focuses on sorcerers, so there is a lot of magic. Some Christian readers may not like how closely linked magic seems to be to the church, or how the church is sometimes portrayed. However, it is fantasy, and it is Victorian England. So, the stances taken by some of the more “religious” characters aren’t that out of line. There’s also a little mild language.

Content upside: it was refreshing to read a YA novel where sex isn’t laced throughout the story. Potential romances abound, but (at least in this first novel), Henrietta is more focused on finding her place.

1) Overall Plot =4.5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.5

Average of score 4.8 out of 5

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review.

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N