Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd


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The Sheffield Brothers firm is well-known among collectors. Trained by her father and her uncle, Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator, able to tell a fraud from a genuine artifact. But in 1860’s England, Eleanor is unable to run the firm as un unwed woman. After her father’s death, her uncle’s health begins to decline, and business can be hard to come by.

The death of a long-time client puts Eleanor in the position to decide the fate of his expensive collection. The late Lord Lydney doesn’t want the collection to go to his only living son, Harry, who he believes is untrustworthy. He suggests she give the collection to a museum, but she must decide.

The decision won’t be easy. Giving the collection to the museum could boost her firm’s reputation, but Harry, the man who stole and broke her heart, doesn’t appear to be who his father believes him to be.

Eleanor must decide what is true, and who is genuine.

Sandra Byrd has given us another fantastic historical novel! I fell in love with her Daughters of Hampshire series, and after reading this novel I can say that I’m likely to love her new series, Victorian Ladies.

Sandra does an excellent job bringing the reader into 1860’s England, and gives us characters that we care for and root for. Eleanor faces difficult circumstances, and lives out her faith through it all.

If you want a clean, suspenseful, inspiring read, this is definitely a novel you want to pick up.

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

I was given the opportunity to be a part of Sandra’s promotional team for the release of this book. As part of the team, I received a complimentary copy of the book, but was not required to give a positive review.

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan


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After Hamish DeLuca’s anxiety gets the better of him during his first real court case as a lawyer, he runs away to his cousin, Luca Valari. Luca was the only person who never focused on Hamish’s flaw, and treated him like everyone else.

Regina Van Buren comes from high-class society stock, but she flees when decision for her life are being made for her. She finds a job working for Luca Valari, as his secretary, and begins taking steps to be an independent woman and live on her own terms.

When a dead body is found at Luca’s new night club, The Flamingo, Hamish and Regina take it upon themselves to uncover the truth, but there are some who don’t want the truth discovered.

I can’t say that I enjoyed this one. I originally decided to read the book, because of the comparison to The Thin Man movies, which I love. Sadly, the only real comparison is that Regina and Hamish occasionally call each other Nick and Nora to boost each other’s confidence.

Let’s start with what’s good. McMillan does a great job of scene-setting and pulls the reader into the time period of 1930’s Boston. The characters are well-developed. Hamish, especially, is a breath of fresh air as a male lead with a struggle like anxiety and panic attacks.

Unfortunately, I had a lot of issues with the novel.

1) This novel is marketed as Christian fiction. While it is pretty clean reading, there is nothing decidedly Christian about it. There is no mention of faith or God in any way.  

2) The murder doesn’t occur until more than halfway though the story. The first half of the novel is really just setting the tone and getting to know the characters and city.

3) The writing was sometimes hard to follow. I had to go back and re-read lines or passages several times to figure out what was being described or discussed.

4) Regina has two love interests in this novel, and I was not happy with where it was left at the end. I’m sure this will be an ongoing arc as the series continues, but with all the build-up of connection with one of the love interests, I was very disappointed with the lack of resolution, and the turn Regina took as a character.

5) Hamish and Regina kind of stumble into the truth about the murder, and solve it with little evidence or struggle. People seem to suddenly open up to them.

6) There’s an added mystery surrounding Hamish’s cousin, Luca, who has a history of bad choices and sketchy practices. This new club is supposed to be a clean start for him. He puts his office in a poorer area of the city, and no one knows why. There seems to be a connection to that part of town, and how badly the tenants are treated, to the people Luca are involved with. Hamish and Regina stumble into the answer for this as well, and there is a very climactic scene that comes from it, but it left me feeling like nothing was actually answered.

Murder mysteries are supposed to leave you feeling like you don’t know everything, but this one left me feeling like I had almost no information. I felt like I was missing vital pieces of information. Like there was something even the main characters figured out that they hadn’t let me in on. I was able to get to the end of this one, but I probably won’t be reading the next in the series.

Content Warnings: It is a murder mystery, so there is violence. A lot of scenes take place at night clubs with heavy drinking and lots of unsavory characters. Regina is also on the receiving end of some unwanted advances.

1) Overall Plot = 3
2) Characters = 4
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 3.5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 3
5) Overall Enjoyability = 2.5

Average score of 3.2 out of 5

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

I received an electronic copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.

For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund


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At his mother’s request, Sir Bennet returns home to help his family. They are deeply in debt, and their situation has become dangerous as the people they owe threaten to attack and take everything. His mother feels the only way out is for Sir Bennet to marry a wealthy woman.

Lady Sabine doesn’t consider herself beautiful. Worse, she has a discoloration on her arm. Superstitions would brand her as a witch, and her life would end. She visits Sir Bennet’s home, knowing his family’s financial situation. He has a rare collection of ancient treasures she has always longed to see, and she hopes to purchase something for herself.

The two bond over their love of the collection, but Sabine’s secret, and Bennet’s pride could hinder their relationship as the danger around them grows.

This young adult historical romance is a bit predictable at times, but is a good read overall. The characters are likable, and you want to know more about them. The character interactions are excellent, and keep the pages turning.

My biggest issue may be that, for a Christian novel, what little thought there is to God quickly turns to human attention or affection, and the idea that we can’t truly love until we learn to love ourselves.

I also had some trouble following whose point of view I was in. Both Sabine and Bennet have a turn, and both are in first person. As chapters started, it sometimes took a moment for me to figure out who was speaking.

Not my favorite work of Hedlund’s, but still a nice novel.

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

Average score of 4.5 out of 5.

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

I received an electronic copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.

White by Ted Dekker


Dekker-WhiteThomas Hunter isn’t sure which is more real, the virus that will kill practically every person on the planet in less than two weeks, or the Horde that threatens the existence of his people.

The fate of two worlds rests in Thomas’s hands, and they are somehow connected. More than Thomas could have ever imagined.

Book three in the Circle series picks up pace as the virus begins to present symptoms. Coupled with a new challenge for Thomas in the world of the Colored Forest, the tension stays thick.

Once again, the Biblical symbolism is powerful.

While White ends on a note that feels complete, there is one more book in the series. Green. So, be sure not to miss it.

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: CBD | Amazon | B&N

Red by Ted Dekker


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Thomas Hunter leads two lives. In one world, he is trying to stop a virus from wiping out civilization. In the other, he is the leader of warriors who protect their people from a fallen enemy.

The evidence of a link between these worlds grows, and Thomas must stay alive to change history, or both worlds could be destroyed.

Red is the second book in the Circle series. It picks up at the exact point that Black left off, and the rollercoaster continues. The Biblical parallels become richer in this installment as the over-arching story reaches a climax in the world of the Colored Forest.

This book does lag just a bit in places, compared to Black, but the story moves forward at a decent pace for the depth of the story being told here.

This book is also a bit more violent, but it’s poignant and essential to the story.

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

Average of score 4.9 out of 5

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

Black by Ted Dekker


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When Thomas Hunter falls asleep in this world, he awakes in another. It’s a world where what we know as the spiritual is physically present. He lives there until he falls asleep, then he reawakens in this world. As he goes back and forth, he loses sight of what’s real. Is it this world or that one? Are they somehow both real?

The only thing he knows for sure is that what happens to him in the other world affects him in this one. He learns of a virus that could wipe out the entire planet in three weeks. He’s the only one who can stop it, and no one believes him.

It’s up to Thomas to save both worlds as darkness engulfs them both.

This is my second reading of the Circle series. Black is book one.

When I first read this series, I fell in love with Dekker’s writing. When someone asks me what my favorite books are, this series is the first one I list.

Dekker has masterfully woven two plots into one. There is action, suspense, romance, and all-around entertainment. But my favorite thing about this series is the imagery. Symbolism and Biblical parallels are laced throughout.

Reading this again, I realize that I may have missed things that were fairly obvious in regards to Old Testament imagery in this first installment. Recognizing these parallels makes the story so much richer.

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: CBD | Amazon | B&N

The Outlaw’s Second Chance by Angie Dicken


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For Cort Stanton and Aubrey Huxley, the Oklahoma Land Run is a chance for freedom. For Aubrey, it’s freedom from no-good father. For Cort, it’s freedom from a jail cell for a crime he didn’t commit. When they try to claim the same piece of land, Cort agrees to let Aubrey have it if she just agrees to let him work it. It’s a deal that gives Aubrey what she desperately wants, and allows Cort to keep a low profile.

As the two learn to work together, they grow closer. But Cort knows his past could catch up with him and force him to leave, and Aubrey refuses to end up depending on a man the way her mother did.

This is a sweet story that features strong Christian characters. It’s an entertaining read, but it felt a little drawn out. I found myself skimming through some of the internal thoughts of the characters, as it was usually them reminding themselves why they shouldn’t pursue each other. Other than that, it’s a good read.

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

Average of score 4.4 out of 5

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

Bleak Landing by Terrie Todd


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Bridget O’Sullivan is a twelve-year-old Irish immigrant. In a poor Canadian town, she is often beaten by her father, and bullied by her schoolmate, Victor Harrison. But she dreams of a better life, and runs away just a few years later.

When her father dies, Bridget must return to Bleak Landing to claim what’s hers. The problem is that she has no identification to prove she is O’Sullivan’s daughter, and most don’t recognize the beautiful, accomplished woman she has become. Only Victor. Wounded by war, Victor has become the town pastor and a candidate for mayor. As he tries to help Bridget he seeks forgiveness, but can she ever open her heart after the hurt from her past?

This is a great story. The characters are well-developed and believable. Bridget can be a bit unlikable at times, but never to the point that you stop wanting her to succeed. My only complaint for this novel is the ending. It felt very rushed once she returned home after her father’s death.

Overall, it’s a good read. Especially in regards to Bridget’s journey to discovering who God really is.

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

Average of score 4.6 out of 5

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

 

Deep Waters by Jessica R. Patch


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Members of the Flynn family tend to hold dangerous jobs. All except for Caley. She purposely avoids danger, living her life rescuing and studying turtles instead.

When she finds the body of one of her interns on the beach, she fears it’s foul play.

At the request of Caley’s brother, Shepherd Lightman detours from his vacation to check on Caley and make sure everything is all right. But Shepherd agrees with Caley that the intern’s death was no accident, and he seems to be the only one who agrees.

As they search for evidence, Caley’s life is put into more danger. Shepherd must protect her, while trying not to fall for her more than he already has.

This is a great short novel. An easy read that will keep the pages turning. Be it suspense or romance, there’s tension on every page with characters that will keep you engaged.

1) Overall Plot = 4.8
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 4.86 out of 5

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

A Plain Leaving by Leslie Gould


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Jessica Bachmann has been on her own for three years. She has a job that she loves, and a boyfriend she cares for. Her life is good enough that she doesn’t regret leaving her Amish community, despite the time it took to get over the pain of the separation.

Now, after the death of her father, she must return for the funeral. She struggles through her grief, as well as the painful reunion with her family, most of whom are anything but welcoming. She must also deal with the resurfacing emotions toward Silas, the love she left behind.

In the midst of it all, Jessica’s aunt tells her the story of Ruby Bachmann, an ancestor from the time of the Revolutionary War. Ruby was faced with hardships and hard decisions. Will Ruby’s story guide Jessica back to her family? Or will it reinforce her decision to leave?

This is the first Amish novel I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. It’s very well written, and Gould does a good job of weaving the two stories together. There were a couple of times where I lost track of whose story I was reading. I don’t really fault the author for this. I think it was only in part due to the fact that the Amish community didn’t change much between the times of Ruby and Jessica. But it wasn’t a major confusion. It was more along the lines of “oh, wait… that’s right, Jessica has a car.”

Other than that (which I blame mostly on my lack of concentration as of late), the book is wonderful. If you’re looking for a clean, faith-inspiring read, this is it.

1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4.8
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.8

Average of score 4.92 out of 5

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