From the Ashes by Sabrina Flynn


Atticus Riot took a bullet to his head the day his partner was killed. Three years later, Riot returns to San Francisco to put his ghosts to rest, but the abduction of an heiress snags his attention. Two ransom demands are delivered, and the husband of the abducted Isobel Kingston is hiding the truth.

The clock is ticking. Can Riot find Mrs Kingston in time, or will she become one more regret among many?

I stopped reading this book a couple of weeks ago. It just wasn’t holding my interest. I’ve been so busy that I hadn’t been able to sit down and write a review, so I’m fuzzy on the details, but I do recall not caring for the characters. I also didn’t care for how point of view not only shifted from the detective to the victim, but went back in time a week. It felt disjointed.

Since I waited so long to do my review, I can’t give it a score as I normally would. I’ll just call it a 2.5 overall.

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva


Charles Dickens is well-known in London. People greatly anticipate his next story, until his latest book all but flops. His publishers are concerned, and push him to write a Christmas story in just a matter of weeks. But with the holiday so close, a new baby, and children too young to grasp the idea of money troubles, Dickens is in no mood for a Christmas story.

A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories. I try to read it every year. Dickens is also a favorite of mine. So, you can imagine how badly I wanted to enjoy this book. Sadly, I didn’t. I got just under page 60 before I stopped. It just wasn’t holding my interest. It was very slow-moving. His wife and kids were mildly irritating. And I just couldn’t imagine the rest of the story getting any better.

1) Overall Plot = 2.5
2) Characters = 3
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 2.5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4.5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 2.5

Average score of 3 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

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.

Sandra Byrd: Author Q&A


The first book I read by Sandra Byrd was Mist of Midnight, the first novel in her (incredible!) Daughters of Hampshire series. I was hooked. Now, she has a new series in the works. The first novel, Lady of a Thousand Treasures, will be released on October 9. Sandra was kind enough to answer a few questions about writing, and I’m sharing them with you now in celebration of the new release!

 


1) What is the inspiration behind the Victorian Ladies series?

It all started with a cow creamer! I first became aware of the mania for collecting, especially among the Victorian and Edwardian British, while watching an episode of Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves Saves the Cow Creamer. In it, a certain set of men were trying to outdo and outmaneuver one another to acquire and keep a silver cow creamer. Wodehouse played the scenes for absurdity, of course, but in that poking of fun was a truth we all recognize—collecting can become a competitive sport.

Today’s culture reflects the continuing interest in collections, and understanding and appreciating what those who came before us collected. How many of us enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow, for example? We gasp along with the owners when a rugged, torn blanket is valued at tens of thousands of dollars, or a treasure long believed to be a rare work of art is discovered to be a fake.

Collecting was and is both personal and public. Before there were museums, viewing other peoples’ collections was a way to see what they had gathered from their travels, purchased on their own, or inherited from their family.

 

2) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

From the time I could read chapter books, which was early at about the age of six.  Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin, as they say, so loving to read led to wanting to write. My first real short “novel” was about a man from the north pole and a woman from the south pole who fell in love but could not marry because of that magnetic repulsion. 😊 Needless to say, it is not in print. But it was a start!

 

3) Do you type or handwrite your first draft?

I type everything. The story flows from my brain to my fingertips!

 

4) What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I love research, and I love the actual writing of chapters when it’s going well. I like edits when the critique comes from someone I trust and respect.

 

5) Is there an aspect of writing you struggle with?

Plotting is hard, fraught-with-anxiety work for me. Without it, though, my books would not work.  So, I do it—teeth clenched—reminding myself that the fun part is coming next!

I, like all writers, struggle with, “Am I good enough? Is this book good enough? Will anyone read this, and does it really matter?” But that’s not limited to writers, methinks!

 

6) Describe your daily writing routine.

Normally, I do busy work while drinking coffee until about 10 am, when my brain is fully awake. Then I put my headphones on and dive into the work. I try to take a mid-work walk to stimulate some blood flow to my brain and seat and then get back to work.  When I start summarizing instead of writing actively on scene, it’s time to quit for the day!

 

7) Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

Dozens! However, as pertains to this series, Victoria Holt, aka Jean Plaidy, really sparked my love for historical novels, especially those told in first person.

 

8) What’s the last novel you read and enjoyed?

It’s not the last novel I read, but it’s launching soon, Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson. I love her work.

 

9) What’s the last book you read on writing?

I like anything by Michael Hague or KM Weiland, so I revisit their works (and heartily recommend them) often!

 


Thank you SO much, Sandra, for taking the time to answer my questions!

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Sandra is hosting a pre-order giveaway, so be sure to check that out. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy, so you can expect a review from me soon. In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, or other retailers.

 

Be sure to visit Sandra online: www.sandrabyrd.com

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.

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

 

Tethered by Brenda H. Cox


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Henrietta Hall Shuck married at seventeen, then sailed to the other side of the world with her new husband as a missionary in China. Through disease, heartbreak, poverty, and war, the Shucks remain determined to follow God’s leading and remain in the country, sometimes against the wishes of the mission board, until Henrietta becomes the first female American missionary to set foot on China’s mainland.

There is no denying that Henrietta Shuck’s life is fascinating. She is an example of what it is like to follow God’s will, even when it would be easier (even life-saving) to turn back.

But as a novel, Tethered misses the mark. Very little of the book feels like a novel. The parts that do are quickly interrupted by time-jumps, tidbits of future information, or information dumps. The book was obviously well-researched. I think it would have been much better as a non-fiction piece with a narrative feel, but still non-fiction.

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

Average of score 3.5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack


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Fanny Appleton is a lady of privilege. At nineteen years old, she is touring Europe when she meets Henry Longfellow, a recently widowed poet and author. He is drawn to Fanny. While she likes dancing and the social life her father’s accomplishments provides, she also enjoys language and the written word.

Henry is quick to fall in love, but Fanny remains distant. He is ten years older than she is, and from a lower social class. Despite her worries, Henry remains hopeful she will be his. But how long can that hope survive?

I’m kind of middle of the road with this one. I enjoyed reading it, and wanted to know what would happen between Henry and Fanny, but I often found it slow. The novel is based on the real romance between poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Frances Appleton, so the time spanning the novel was necessary to stick to the timeline, but I sometimes felt it could have been just a bit shorter.

Other than that, the novel is enjoyable, and an interesting read. As part of the Proper Romance series, this is a clean, faith-filled story.

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

Average of score 3.8 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden


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Romulus White has been pursuing Stella West for years. Her artistic talent has made her famous, and Romulus wants her work in his science magazine. Stella, however, has no desire to leave London, where she’s made a name for herself.

Only the mysterious death of her sister, Gwendolyn, gets her to leave. She travels to Boston to gets answers. Instead, she finds a tight-knit group of police and city officials who see her as a nuisance.

When Romulus finds Stella in Boston, she realizes that he may have the connections she needs to finally get to the truth, but an instant attraction soon becomes a distraction for both of them, and the more they uncover about Gwendolyn’s death, the closer they both get to losing everything they value.

This historical novel has a great blend of suspense and romance. I was a little unsure in the beginning when I figured out one aspect of the mystery, but as the truth unfolded, I was honestly surprised. The characters are flawed in such a way that they could have been unlikable, but Camden did a great job of fleshing them out and making you want to see them succeed.

The descriptions and scene-setting are also well done. It’s just enough to allow you to visualize without becoming too much.

This was my first Camden novel, and I will definitely read more of her work. If you’re looking for a clean romance, with an intriguing mystery, this is for you.

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

Average of score 4.7 out of 5

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