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Apr 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, April 30, 2012
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and April's host is Cindy's Love of Books

I've got a great selection of books to review, and I bought a couple tht I just couldn't stand not having any longer =)

I purchased:

A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman (I've had the other two in the trilogy forever but could never find this book two, and I wouldn't start the series till I got this one! Can't wait!)
Graced with physical beauty, though shallow of heart, Charity O'Connor is a woman who knows what she wants. She sets her sights on the cantankerous Mitch Dennehy, editor at the Irish Times, who has unwittingly stolen her heart. And although the sparks are there, Mitch refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with his ex-fiancée's sister. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat and she always gets what she wants--one way or another. Is revenge so sweet after all? Or will Charity get burned?
Full of intense passion, betrayal, and forgiveness, A Passion Redeemed will delight Lessman's fans and draw new ones.

A Heart Divided by Kathleen Morgan
It is 1878 and the Caldwells and Wainwrights have been feuding for decades. Still, Sarah Caldwell has misgivings when her father pressures her into distracting a ranch hand while he and her brothers rob the Wainwright place. When it becomes clear that hand is actually Cord Wainwright, Sarah realizes she needs to lay low. But Cord spots her in town and, with the sheriff away, makes a citizen's arrest, dragging her off to the Wainwright ranch until the sheriff's return. As the feud boils over, Cord and Sarah make a most inconvenient discovery--they are falling in love. Can they betray their families for love? Or will their families betray them?
Against the beautiful and wild backdrop of the Rocky Mountains comes this sweeping saga of romance, betrayal, and forgiveness from beloved author Kathleen Morgan.

(TWO books with the Vatican in their titles. Interesting!)
For Review, this first one was a surprise, but I read the last one so I'll probably get around to this one, too, especially because of the Vatican tie-in:

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders by Gyles Brandeth (May 2012)

Oscar Wilde makes a triumphant return in the fifth novel in the critically acclaimed historical mystery series, featuring Wilde as the detective aided by his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In 1892 Arthur Conan Doyle, exhausted by his creation Sherlock Holmes, retires to the spa at Bad Homburg. But his rest cure does not go as planned. The first person he encounters is Oscar Wilde, and when the two friends make a series of macabre discoveries amongst the portmanteau of fan mail Conan Doyle has brought to answer - a severed finger, a lock of hair and finally an entire severed hand - the game is once more afoot.

The trail leads to Rome, to the very heart of the Eternal City, the Vatican itself. Pope Pius IX has just died. These are uncertain times. To uncover the mystery and why the creator of Sherlock Holmes has been summoned in this way, Oscar and Conan Doyle must penetrate the innermost circle of the Catholic Church - seven men who have a very great deal to lose.

Requested for review:

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick (April 17, 2012)

German immigrant and farm wife Hulda Klager possesses only an eighth-grade education—and a burning desire to create something beautiful. What begins as a hobby to create an easy-peeling apple for her pies becomes Hulda’s driving purpose: a time-consuming interest in plant hybridization that puts her at odds with family and community, as she challenges the early twentieth-century expectations for a simple housewife. 

Through the years, seasonal floods continually threaten to erase her Woodland, Washington garden and a series of family tragedies cause even Hulda to question her focus. In a time of practicality, can one person’s simple gifts of beauty make a difference? 

Based on the life of Hulda Klager, Where Lilacs Still Bloom is a story of triumph over an impossible dream and the power of a generous heart.

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato (I'm so happy to finally receive this one, after seeing it everywhere on the blogs!) March 1st, 2012
An unsolved mystery separates ex-privateersman Captain Brogan Talvis from his lost son--his only living relation, his only family. Shortly before her tragic demise, his wife abandoned their infant to strangers, refusing to reveal the child's whereabouts. Now, three years later, Brogan has discovered the boy at the home of a shipbuilder's daughter, Lorena Huntley.Lorena guards a dark secret about her young charge. She finds herself falling for the heroic captain who has come to claim his newly built ship, unaware his motive for wooing her is to befriend the boy he plans on reclaiming as his own--until the day another's evil deceit leaves her helplessly shipbound, heading toward England.As the perfect opportunity to reclaim his son unfolds, Brogan is haunted by thoughts of Lorena in her dire circumstance, and he is forced to make a heartrending choice between his child and the woman who has begun to capture his heart. But only his unselfish sacrifice can win him the greatest prize of all--love.

The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican by Catherine Fletcher (June 19, 2012)
In 1533 the English monarch Henry VIII decided to divorce his wife of twenty years Catherine of Aragon in pursuit of a male heir to ensure the Tudor line. He was also head over heels in love with his wife’s lady in waiting Anne Boleyn, the future mother of Elizabeth I. But getting his freedom involved a terrific web of intrigue through the enshrined halls of the Vatican that resulted in a religious schism and the formation of the Church of England. Henry’s man in Rome was a wily Italian diplomat named Gregorio Casali who drew no limits on skullduggery including kidnapping, bribery and theft to make his king a free man. In this absorbing narrative, winner of the Rome Fellowship prize and University of Durham historian Catherine Fletcher draws on hundreds of previously-unknown Italian archive documents to tell the colorful tale from the inside story inside the Vatican.

Skip Rock Shallows (Copper Brown #3) by Jan Watson (June 1, 2012)
Lilly Gray Corbett has just graduated from medical school and decided to accept an internship in the coal camp of Skip Rock, Kentucky. Her beau, Paul, is doing his residency in Boston and can’t understand why Lilly would choose to work in a backwater town. But having grown up in the mountains, Lilly is drawn to the stubborn, superstitious people she encounters in Skip Rock—a town where people live hard and die harder and where women know their place. Lilly soon learns she has a lot to overcome, but after saving the life of a young miner, she begins to earn the residents’ trust.

As Lilly becomes torn between joining Paul in Boston and her love for the people of Skip Rock, she crosses paths with a handsome miner—one who seems oddly familiar. Her attraction for him grows, even as she wrestles with her feelings and wonders what he’s hiding.
Raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue's finest, Meg Davenport has all she's ever needed . . . but none of the things she's wanted most, like family, or dreams of a future that includes anything other than finding a suitable match. So when her distant father dies, she seizes the chance to throw etiquette aside and do as she pleases. Especially when she learns that John Davenport wasn't the wealthy businessman she thought, but one of the Gilded Age's most talented thieves.Poised to lead those loyal to Meg's father, Ian Maguire knows the last thing his mentor would have wanted is for his beloved daughter to follow in his footsteps. Yet Meg is determined, and her connections to one of New York's wealthiest families could help Ian pull off his biggest heist yet. But are they both in over their heads? And in trying to gain everything, will they end up losing it all?

That's a big mailbox this week... Where do I begin...

Apr 28, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, April 28, 2012
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Alyce posted a gorgeous sunset, I posted this am's sunrise, complete with birds. The combination of noisy birds, and my cat, woke me this Saturday morning at 5:15 a.m.

Good Morning!

Apr 27, 2012

The Key on The Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Friday, April 27, 2012
Fabulous story set in an unlikely place! Love it!
The Key on The Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Barbour Publishing, March 1, 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Historical Christian Fiction
Review copy received from the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Enjoyed the story very much!
Enter a historic Nebraskan prison where three women find betrayal, love, and ultimate truth. Jane Prescott is serving a ten-year sentence for murder. Can a broken spirit be healed behind bars? Matron Mamie Dawson feels called to help the wounded women in her charge. Will a guard's attentions keep her from her mission? Warden's wife Ellen Sullivan has changed her preconceptions about these female prisoners. Will it be enough to save her from a life-or-death situation? Will the cryptic quilt connecting their lives expose the truth of one woman's past and ensure a better future for them all?
This was quite an unexpected adventure that centered around several people involved with a women's prison during the late 1800's. Ranging in character point of views from the warden and his wife to the prisoners, there is one woman who is the unlikely thread that weaves them all together. Jane Prescott is in prison for murdering her abusive husband, and little by little we learn more about Jane, her past and the aunt who is raising Jane's daughter. Meanwhile, Jane befriends almost everyone she comes in contact with, with her easygoing and helpful manner. She helps the other women serve their time as pleasantly as possible, while inspiring others in town as well. Meanwhile, Jane has to develop a bit of faith in herself in order to hope for the future, which at present seems dim from her cell.

The other characters have their own story to tell, from Dr. Max Zimmer who seems to be Jane's only hope, to the women's matron Mamie Dawson who would like to see the prisoners succeed. To round out the cast, there are not very nice characters with fellow prisoners and guards who bring an ominous shadow of doom over them as a battle of good and evil takes place. The historical details were subtle, but the inspiring story of many facets made up for it, with its fast pace and enchanting characters in a unique setting which made this a page turner for me. There is a bit of romance, redemption and hope wrapped up in this story of Jane's journey to hell and back. I loved the entire quilt symbolism and the tie in to the daughter that Jane left behind, which leaves a great option for a sequel in my opinion. The author's writing style flowed so well for me that I immediately started looking up her other work; I can't wait to see what I've been missing. The Key on The Quilt exhibits stellar writing and is a perfect novel for those eager for an inspiring story set in a very unlikely place.

Apr 26, 2012

Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A bit of chilly suspense and sparkly romance in this quick read.
Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central Publishing, November 2011
ISBN 0446540161
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 Stars

America's Heartland, 1946. World War II has ended, and everyone is pursuing peacetime's bright promise with fresh energy and hope. Newly-arrived in a small Wisconsin town, Christina Tucker now dares to chase her long-cherished dreams: put her wartime nursing skills to use and reconnect with country life. But helping a shell-shocked veteran recover soon tests her determination and disturbs town memories best left buried. She has no choice but to turn to her patient's seemingly-irresponsible brother, Tyler Sutter. A restless ex-soldier, Tyler can't believe this pretty ladylike nurse can heal his family. Yet as Christina begins to understand Tyler's own fears, the two grow close, then closer still-as a terrible secret sparks one man's violent, vengeful spree. With both the guilty and innocent alike in harm's way, Tyler and Christina must face all their fears . . . or never live to see the future.

Author Dorothy Garlock is known for her novels set among America’s Heartland, just as this novel continues a series with the Tucker sisters (the previous novel focusing on Charlotte in Keep A Little Secret), this novel focuses on Christina Tucker. The set-up and plot are easy to follow as a stand-alone, as Garlock creates a new storyline following Christina’s path as a nurse in a new town.

Christina meets the nephews of her employer, and right away we know that there will be a love triangle that dominates the book. Tyler and Holden Sutter each take a liking to Christina and she has feelings for both of them for which she must deal with. Each of the boys has their own issues after returning from WWII, and Christina tries to help both without getting hurt in the emotional crossfire between the brothers. Instead of straight romance, though, there is a thriller side to it when Christina becomes subjected to the contemptible folks of her new town, as Christina becomes a prime target for revenge on those she becomes close to. The main characters could have used a bit more dimension and spark, although there was enough insanity amongst the two murderers in Christina’s midst. A quick and light read, there was a bit of predictability of the events but this is still good escapist fiction.

Apr 24, 2012

The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan
Kensington, April 24, 2012
Review copy provided by the author, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

Orphaned at age eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of Harold Pierce, Earl of Sumerton. Lord Hal and his wife, Lady Grace, welcome sweet-natured Cecily as one of their own. With Brey, their young son, Cecily develops an easy friendship. But their daughter, Mirabella, is consumed by her religious vocation—and by her devotion to Father Alec Cahill, the family priest...

Set at a fictional estate of Sumerton, Bogdan reenters the Tudor courts in a different fashion with this new novel. Fresh new characters breeze through the tyranny of King Henry VIII's reforms, but not everyone comes away unscathed. The root of this story is as the title suggests, with women who love the Earl of Sumerton. The Earl is a sweet man, with little faults, except for his inability to break through to his alcoholic wife, Lady Grace.

And herein lies the problem with the rest of the review. If I say much about his children, and his ward Lady Cecily, I would give away intriguingly spicy plot points which would otherwise ruin the story for the potential reader. I was warned ahead of time that the synopsis alone gave away a piece of the story, and I kept my promise to myself to not read the synopsis, and I have shortened the one above.

This is a story where the Church and one's own faith collides with that of the Kings' and their own family; this is a story where family ties are put to the test; this is a story that offers an intriguing slice of life set against a very tumultuous time in England. The political games are the backdrop, with the religious upheaval and the reforms more at the forefront, and they effect and inspire the Sumerton women differently. I loved the characters, their flaws, and their traits, and most especially enjoyed the family drama that was the focus as opposed to simply focusing on yet another Tudor figure. There are appearances by the King, and the Queens, and Cranmer, who are there to set the historical tone. There are births, deaths, and marriages.. where betrayal, trust and loyalty are all intertwined in a fast-paced saga that I would recommend to readers who appreciate the Tudor era. I enjoy Bogdan's writing style and always look forward to her work, (all of her Tudor books have been a delight) but I was thrilled how Bogdan channeled some V.C. Andrews for The Sumerton Women!

Read my previous reviews of Bodgan's Tudor novels
Read another review of The Sumerton Women at
The author's blog can be found at

Apr 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, April 23, 2012
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and this month’s host is Cindy's Love of Books

The Mermaid Garden: A Novel by Santa Montefiore (May 3, 2011)

The internationally bestselling author of The French Gardener presents a complex and irresistibly compelling novel that confirms the remarkable power of love to heal and transform. Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into the gardens and imagine that one day she’ll escape her meager existence and live there surrounded by its otherworldly splendor. Then one day Dante, the son of the villa’s powerful industrialist owner, invites her inside and shows her the enchanting Mermaid Garden. From that moment, Floriana knows that the only destiny for her is there, in that garden, with Dante. But as they grow up and fall in love, their romance causes a crisis, jeopardizing the very thing they hold most dear.
Decades later and hundreds of miles away, a beautiful old country house hotel on England’s Devon coast has fallen on hard times after the financial crash of 2008. Its owner, Marina, advertises for an artist to stay the summer and teach the guests how to paint. The man she hires is charismatic and wise and soon begins to pacify the discord in her family and transform the fortunes of the hotel. However, he has his own agenda. Is it to destroy, to seduce, or to heal? Whatever his intentions, he is certain to change Marina’s life forever.
Spanning four decades and sweeping from the Italian countryside to the English coast, this new story by Santa Montefiore is a moving and mysterious tale of love, forgiveness, and the past revealed.

The Innocents by Francesca Segal (June 5, 2012)
A smart and slyly funny tale of love, temptation, confusion, and commitment, "The Innocents" is a generous and deeply satisfying look at a close-knit society in which one young man's pre-wedding panic illuminates the universal conflict between responsibility and passion.

Newly engaged and unthinkingly self-satisfied, twenty-eight-year-old Adam Newman is the prize catch of Temple Fortune, a small, tight-knit Jewish suburb of London. He has been dating Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen and now, to the relief and happiness of the entire Gilbert family, they are finally to marry. To Adam, Rachel embodies the highest values of Temple Fortune; she is innocent, conventional, and entirely secure in her community—a place in which everyone still knows the whereabouts of their nursery school classmates. Marrying Rachel will cement Adam’s role in a warm, inclusive family he loves.
But as the vast machinery of the wedding gathers momentum, Adam feels the first faint touches of claustrophobia, and when Rachel’s younger cousin Ellie Schneider moves home from New York, she unsettles Adam more than he’d care to admit. Ellie—beautiful, vulnerable, and fiercely independent—offers a liberation that he hadn’t known existed: a freedom from the loving interference and frustrating parochialism of North West London. Adam finds himself questioning everything, suddenly torn between security and exhilaration, tradition and independence. What might he be missing by staying close to home?

This book looks so awesome!
 So pleased that I won this from Book Drunkard
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father—and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . . Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London. The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain. But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands. With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.

Apr 20, 2012

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

Friday, April 20, 2012

When making bad choices can ruin your life...
Need You Now by Beth Wiseman
Thomas Nelson April 10, 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Christian Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 3 stars

When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas.
Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year-old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way.
Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried Brad and Darlene through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises.
While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of the students starts paying more attention to Darlene than is appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time.
If Darlene ever needed God . . . it's now.
This is the story of your average contemporary family: thirties something couple with three growing kids. They move to a quaint town in Texas and try to settle into a decently quiet life, and they seem to do okay for awhile. The kids are adapting differently, and the biggest issue is with their middle child Grace, who normally never causes any problems. However, Grace has taken to self-harm in order to release her pain, and it is a difficult topic to read about. The mother Darlene is the main character, and there are times I simply could not connect with her. She really had everything she could have hoped for with a fabulous house (living next door to a movie star), overall healthy kids (till the cutting part) and a husband who adored her. Instead of counting her blessings, she would instead think of the floors that needed replacing, that her husband would easily be able to afford as he had just made partner, and then she seemed to begrudge her neighbor's natural beauty.
Darlene decides to take another job for no real reason except for herself and self-satisfaction, and while doing so she becomes attracted to another person, and her family begins to fall apart around her partly due to her absence. Grace's self-mutilation shocks everyone in the family but they seek counseling for Grace while the parents blame each other. Darlene's temptation to stray comes and goes, and despite the warnings from her best friend, Darlene continues to ignore the ramifications of her flirtations. Through it all, she flip flops between asking for guidance through her faith, and then denying the faith that is a huge part of her very soul.

The characters are all very well written, especially in showing their dimensions and flaws, but I think I would've connected better with Darlene if she realized the importance of family and God first. Instead, Darlene seemed self-centered and expected everything handed to her, even when seeking advice from her best friend. My favorite characters were actually the friends: Darlene's best friend, Layla the movie star, and Grace's best friend Skylar who dressed in the non-conformist Goth fashion. The plot was strong, with several themes from faith and redemption to difficult topics such as cutting and adultery (which caused my stomach to physically ache!).

The novel is a quick read, with an ending I didn't quite expect as it made the whole read much more worthwhile. I must mention that I normally enjoy historical christian fiction very much, and this was my first Christian fiction in a "contemporary" setting, and as such has proven that the historical part is probably a required theme in my reads as opposed to a present-day setting. In judging the raving Amazon reviews, I am definitely in the minority here with not totally loving this novel, as there are quite a few glowing reviews there.

Apr 17, 2012

I Love You to God and Back by Amanda Lamb

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Give you and your kiddos a step in the right direction with this inspirational book!
I Love You to God and Back by Amanda Lamb
Published by Thomas Nelson April 17, 2012
Spiritual Growth & Christian Thought
Paperback, 272 pages
Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

A Mother and Child Can Find Faith and Love Through Bedtime Prayers

Whimisical. Simple. Thankful. Profound.
One day at a time, one prayer at a time, a busy working mother and playful six-year-old daughter transformed their bedtime prayers. They started rushed and tired. Distracted, "It's late. Let's go."
And then, gradually, something happened. A thank you here. A vulnerable moment there. The perfunctory prayers became . . . opportunities.
"What did you do today? What did you learn? Anything else?"
Like a window into their relationship their prayers and reflections let us witness the growth, enjoy the childlikeness, and learn from their winsome faith. Discover how you and your child can find connection, humor, and a deeper understanding of God in the quiet last few minutes of each day.
This inspirational book by Amanda Lamb captured my interest with the description of a harried mother that is quite similar to myself. Busy, Distracted and Frustrated. Time to sit back and smell the roses and instill some peace into my family life. What better way than to bring God into a young child's routine with prayers, love and compassion. And to some, just doing that might seem like a chore. But taking baby steps, like starting with this book, you can achieve a brighter outlook.

At first glance, I had hoped this was a book I could share with one of my children, but instead it is a more of a self-help book that details the author's journey. And as one that shies away from self-help, I was disappointed. However, the author's non-condescending tone quickly drew me in. She writes simply, as she writes in diary fashion of her youngest daughter's prayer. It is heartwarming, and makes you wish you could hug young Chloe. She is an the reader and to the author, as the author thinks about the words her daughter is saying and spins them into a small lesson learned. She uses this quiet time with her daughter as a glimpse into her daughter's world, seeing the world through her eyes, and sharing with us the encouraging experience. And quite frankly, I feel like Amanda is my new best friend, she writes honestly and without overdoing the finer points on parenting.

As a working mother myself, I know I don't take enough time to fully comprehend the magnitude of the little things that occur in my children's lives. This book is an easy refresher course on how to take it one day at a time and incorporate the love of God into your routine in small ways, and you will be rewarded with a sense of well-being. I never really thought of the importance of daily prayers for my children, and because of this book I have mended my ways. I feel more in touch with myself, and now my children pray to God and Jesus just like Chloe does. I especially loved the format of the book, knowing that I can easily jump around from one entry to another and bookmark those of Chloe's prayers that were the most inspiring so I could go back to it and read for five minutes and take in that breath of fresh air. The book definitely exceeded its purpose to  create a brighter spark of meaning into this thing we call life.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and for the first BookSneeze book that I requested in a few years!

Apr 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, April 16, 2012
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and this month’s host is Cindy's Love of Books

Here are some of the free EBooks I downloaded, the images of the EBooks are in the slideshow since there were quite a few:
(*Some of these are not free any longer* but Gohlke's is..)
Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke
Spanning the sinking of the "Titanic" to World War I, "Promise Me This" tells the story of one man's determination to fulfill a promise he made--and of thewoman he has grown to love in the process.

Child of the Mist (The Highland Hills Book 1) by Kathleen Morgan
In the harsh Scottish highlands of 1565, superstition and treachery threaten a truce between rival clans. It's a weak truce at first, bound only by an arranged engagement between Anne MacGregor and Niall Campbell-the heirs of the feuding families.

While Niall wrestles with his suspicions about a traitor in his clan, Anne's actions do not go unnoticed. And as accusations of witchcraft abound, the strong and sometimes callous Campbell heir must fight for Anne's safety among disconcerted clan members. Meanwhile his own safety in threatened with the ever-present threat of someone who wants him dead.
Will Niall discover the traitor's identity in time? Can Anne find a way to fit into her new surroundings? Will the two learn to love each other despite the conflict? With a perfect mix of a burgeoning romance and thrilling suspense, this book is historical fiction at its best.

The Marriage Pact by MJ Pullen
Marci Thompson always knew what life would be like by her 30th birthday. A large but cozy suburban home shared with a charming husband and two brilliant children. A celebrated career as an established writer, complete with wall-to-wall mahogany shelves and a summer book tour. A life full of adventure with her friends and family by her side.

Instead, Marci lives alone in 480 square feet of converted motel space next to a punk rock band, hundreds of miles from her friends and family. She works in a temporary accounting assignment that has somehow stretched from two weeks into nine months. And the only bright spot in her life, not to mention the only sex she’s had in two years, is an illicit affair with her married boss, Doug. Thirty is not at all what it is cracked up to be.

Then the reappearance of a cocktail napkin she hasn’t seen in a decade opens a long-forgotten door, and Marci’s life gets complicated, fast. The lines between right and wrong, fantasy and reality, heartache and happiness are all about to get very blurry, as Marci faces the most difficult choices of her life

Heart of Gold by Lacy Williams
Wyoming, 1902--Ranch foreman Charlie Welch suspects his boss's daughter has returned home with purely selfish motives--she wants money.
After being estranged from her father for years, Opal Bright hopes her homecoming will result in both reconciliation and a solution to help the orphanage she sponsors back home in Omaha.
When Charlie and Opal find themselves mixed up with a ragtag group of bandits and trapped in an abandoned gold mine, they must risk everything to survive... including their hearts.

Of Moths and Butterflies by V.R. Christensen
Archer Hamilton is a collector of rare and beautiful insects. Gina Shaw is a servant in his uncle's house. Clearly out of place in the position in which she has been discovered, she becomes a source of fascination . . . and curiosity. A girl with a blighted past and a fortune she deems a curse, Gina has lowered herself in order to find escape from her family and their scheming designs. But when she is found, the stakes suddenly become dire. All Gina wants is the freedom to live her life as she would wish. All her aunts want is the money that comes with her. But there is more than one way to trap an insect. An arranged marriage might turn out profitable for more parties than one. Mr. Hamilton is about to make the acquisition of a lifetime. But will the price be worth it? Can a woman captured and acquired learn to love the man who has bought her?
Night Swim by Jessica Keener
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kunitz lives in a posh, suburban world of 1970 Boston. From the outside, her parents’ lifestyle appears enviable – a world defined by cocktail parties, expensive cars, and live-in maids to care for their children – but inside their five-bedroom house, all is not well for the Kunitz family. Coming home from school, Sarah finds her well-dressed, pill-popping mother lying disheveled on their living room couch. At night, to escape their parents’ arguments, Sarah and her oldest brother, Peter, find solace in music, while her two younger brothers retreat to their rooms and imaginary lives. Any vestige of decorum and stability drains away when their mother dies in a car crash one terrible winter day. Soon after, their father, a self-absorbed, bombastic professor begins an affair with a younger colleague. Sarah, aggrieved, dives into two summer romances that lead to unforeseen consequences. In a story that will make you laugh and cry, Night Swim shows how a family, bound by heartache, learns to love again.

Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allen
Leah Thornton’s life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice in the supermarket shatters the façade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears. When her best friend gets in Leah’s face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision. Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah’s commitment to her marriage, her motherhood, and her faith.

Love's Sacred Song by Mesu Andrews
Standing in the massive shadow of his famous father, young king Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, wisdom and folly. In the uncertain world of alliances and treachery, Solomon longs for peace and a love that is true and pure--a love that can be his cornerstone.

A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah remembers the first time she laid eyes on Solomon in Jerusalem when she was just seven years old. Since then she has known that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father, a leader of their tribe, secures a promise from King Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams may come true.

But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon's harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?

Out of Control (The Kindcaid Brides) by Mary Connealy
Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father's homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe--until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out.

Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family's cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch--and Rafe's controlling ways--as soon as they were able. He's haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn't expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels--or to be forced to kiss her!

Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he's ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?
The Apothecary's Daughter (very excited about this one) by Julie Klassen
Lillian Haswell, brilliant daughter of the local apothecary, yearns for more adventure and experience than life in her father's shop and their small village provides. She also longs to know the truth behind her mother's disappearance, which villagers whisper about but her father refuses to discuss. Opportunity comes when a distant aunt offers to educate her as a lady in London. Exposed to fashionable society and romance--as well as clues about her mother--Lilly is torn when she is summoned back to her ailing father's bedside. Women are forbidden to work as apothecaries, so to save the family legacy, Lilly will have to make it appear as if her father is still making all the diagnoses and decisions. But the suspicious eyes of a scholarly physician and a competing apothecary are upon her. As they vie for village prominence, three men also vie for Lilly's heart.

Legacy Lane (Book One in the Harts Crossing) Robin Lee Hatcher
Angie Hunter left Hart's Crossing for college and never looked back. So when her widowed mother needs care following surgery, Angie is more than ready to hire a nurse rather than return to her antiquated hometown. But when she is passed over for a promotion at work, an angry Angie quits and heads home anyway.

Francine Hunter is both excited and nervous about having her daughter home for the next two months. She sees this as her chance to make a new connection with her estranged daughter. Will she be able to nudge Angie toward faith without overdoing it? Or will Angie pack up and leave for a new job as soon as Francine has recovered?

Sarai: A Novel (Wives of the Patriarchs, Book One) by Jill Eileen Smith
Sarai, the last child of her aged father, is beautiful, spoiled, and used to getting her own way. Even as a young girl, she is aware of the way men look at her, including her half brother Abram. When Abram finally requests Sarai's hand, she asks one thing--that he promise never to take another wife as long as she lives. Even her father thinks the demand is restrictive and agrees to the union only if Sarai makes a promise in return--to give Abram a son and heir. Certain she can easily do that, Sarai agrees.

But as the years stretch on and Sarai's womb remains empty, she becomes desperate to fulfill her end of the bargain--lest Abram decide that he will not fulfill his. To what lengths will Sarai go in her quest to bear a son? And how long will Abram's patience last?

Jill Eileen Smith thrilled readers with The Wives of King David series. Now she brings to life the strong and celebrated wives of the patriarchs, beginning with the beautiful and inscrutable Sarai.

A Texan's Honor (Heart of a Hero Book #2) by Shelley Gray
Shortest, lamest synopsis ever... but I do love the cover very much!
U.S. Marshal Will McMillan risks his mission to rescue Jamie Ellis. Will it cost him is life or just his heart?

Those were all just for me and my own addicting pleasure of free ebooks, bwahhaahaa... the next are for review:

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman, (April 2012) from Thomas Nelson (Reading now)
When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas.
Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year-old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way.
Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried them through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises.
While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of Darlene's students starts paying more attention to her than is appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time. If Darlene ever needed God . . . it's now.

Book of Summers by Emylia Hall (MIRA publication May 29, 2012)
For nine-year-old Beth Lowe, it should have been a magical summer-sun-kissed days lounging in rickety deck chairs, nights gathered around the fire. But what begins as an innocent vacation to Hungary ends with the devastating separation of her parents. Beth and her father return home alone, leaving her mother, Marika, behind.  Over the next seven summers, Beth walks a tightrope between worlds, fleeing her quiet home and distant father to bask in the intoxicating Hungarian countryside with Marika. It is during these enthralling summers that Beth comes to life and learns to love. But at sixteen, she uncovers a life-shattering secret, bringing her sacred summers with Marika abruptly to an end.  Now, years later, Beth receives a package containing a scrapbook, a haunting record of a time long forgotten. Suddenly, she is swept back to the world she left behind, forced to confront the betrayal that destroyed her-and to search her heart for forgiveness.

Sixty Acres and A Bride by Regina Jennings (February 1, 2012)
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?
The Messenger by Siri Mitchell (March 1, 2012)
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith...until her twin brother joined the Colonial cause and ended up in jail. She longs to bring some measure of comfort to him in the squalid prison, but her faith forbids it. The Friends believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. She is not allowed to visit him, even if she were able to secure a pass.

Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, needs access to the jail to help rescue me important to the cause. Upon meeting Hannah, a plan begins to develop. Who would suspect a pious Quaker visiting a loved one?

But Jeremiah is unprepared for Hannah, for her determination to do right, to not lie. How can one be a spy and not lie? Hannah, in turn, is surprised by Jeremiah...for the way he forces her to confront her own beliefs, for the sensitivity and concern he shows her despite the wounds he still carries.

In a time of war, can two unlikely heroes find the courage to act?

It is said that history is written by the winners. However, the “winners” aren’t always the best historians. Enter David Haviland, to set the record straight. In his quirky, inimitable style, Haviland separates fact from fiction regarding some of history’s most well-known people and events, such as: Lady Godiva: By far, history’s most famous nudist equestrian. But how nude was she, really? And how did this same legend give rise to the term “Peeping Tom”? The Boston Tea Party: What was the cause of this famous “party” that wasn’t really a party? (Hint: If you guessed a rise in taxes, you’re dead wrong!) World War I: How did a directionally challenged chauffeur spark the Great War? Queen Victoria: Nowadays, the word “Victorian” is synonymous with stuffy prudishness. But would a prude pose nude for a provocative portrait, or become “close” with a young Indian servant? In The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva, Haviland untangles fallacy, farce, and misrepresentation of historic proportions. The end result is a wholly fascinating, highly educational compendium of historical folly that will entertain readers young and old!
AND..... the last-but-not-least Review book, the sequel to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall "BRING UP THE BODIES".. Now how awesome of a title is that??? Here I am in all my dorky Saturday Glory when it came:

But I haven't read Wolf Hall yet. So, maybe I should. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........
This one is not as chunky as Wolf Hall is though. It's description is:
By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry’s actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king’s pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a ‘truth’ that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne’s final days.

In Bring up the Bodies, sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. From history’s darkroom, this novel offers a speaking picture to the modern world, a vision of Tudor England so recognizable it defies archaism. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.

And from Paperbackswap, I received Mary Tudor: A Life by David Loades
Few English monarchs have a worse reputation than Mary Tudor. She has been seen both as a religious fanatic who tried against the will of her people to reverse the course of the Reformation and as the pawn of her husband, Philip II of Spain - her infatuation with whom led her to betray England's vital interests. How this pious, and by contemporary accounts, gentle woman aroused an antipathy that survives until the present is a central question in David Loades's sensitive biography, now in paperback. Based on research into the documents of the time (many newly uncovered) the compelling story of Mary's life is revealed here in unprecedented detail and depth, packed with incident and intrigue, and enmeshed in the politics of secular and religious struggle in England and Europe.

Yea, that was a Huge Mailbox. Huge. I predict four of these getting read in the next three months.

Apr 13, 2012

Illusion by Frank Peretti

Friday, April 13, 2012
Spellbinding mix of Science, Spirit, Afterlife, Thriller!
Illusion by Frank Peretti
Howard Books, March 6, 2012
Hardcover 512 pages
Review copy generously received from the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 5 stars

Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.
Hoping to discover an exciting new talent, Dane ventures into the coffee shop and is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this teenager who has never met him, doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.
They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.
Frank Peretti has crafted a rich, rewarding story of love and life, loss and restoration, full of twists and mystery. Exceptionally well written, Illusion will soon prove another Peretti classic.

Peretti's marketing team had done a stellar job promoting this novel on Facebook, and I read an excerpt there which had me hooked. I have rarely every read samples or excerpts in their entirety before, but this one was good. When I finally got around to reading it, I really had no idea what to expect, even after the first chapter.

Married and professionally successful in the magic business for many years, Dane and Mandy Collins are in a horrific car accident which leaves only one alive. Sort of. Dane survived, and continues his grieving process in Mandy's hometown in a new house they were supposed to live in together. Soon enough, he meets up with the alter ego of Mandy. Going by Eloise, she is a young woman thinking she should be in the hippy 70's, but it's really 2010. When Dane meets Eloise, there is a connection, but neither one of them realizes the magnitude of it. Could it really be Mandy, reincarnated so to speak, as her former self at age nineteen?

Enter Corporal James Dose. Screeching tires sound effect because I really wanted him to go away since he just sort of inserted himself into the story which was gearing up towards love lost and found... now we have some sort of spygate/terrorist cell thing out of nowhere. Turns out, he is just one of a few of the ripple effect Eloise's sudden appearance causes.

Sixty year old Dane is grieving for his wife Mandy, and when Eloise walks up to his front door, he knows something crazy (but magical?) is going on. Convincing himself that Eloise is Mandy's former younger self/spirit doesn't take much. But Eloise doesn't know what's going on either, not does she know where she fits in the universe. It turns out there are many timelines, and Eloise is just one of them. And how is Eloise doing all these fantastic magic tricks, wowing everyone she sees? And who is she, and where did she come from? Enter a few mad scientists, trickery, deceit and a love that surpasses all odds, and you've got yourself a story like no other. I completely fell in love with Dane and Mandy, and her doves, and his loyalty and willingness to believe in the impossible.

I need to mention that when books fall into a paranormal or timeslip category, I don't read any further. If you read this review and feel like it something that you wouldn't normally enjoy, you might very well could be wrong. This was an awesome story for me well deserving of its five stars, even though it may not be something I would usually read. There is a Christian theme and a thriller theme, all blending seamlessly with this undying love for a spouse. Packed with fantastic storytelling, Frank Peretti lives up to his good name. Illusion is a bit of a magic show in itself: mystery, thriller, spirituality, romance.. and as Mandy/Eloise say to each other, "You are in for a ride!"

Apr 10, 2012

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
2000 reissue of a forbidden 1944 tale, Chicago Review Press
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
Originally published 1944
Chicago Review Press, September 2000
Paperback 976 pages
Novel purchased from HalfPrice Books
Burton Book Review Rating: 4.5 stars

Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England—that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary—and extraordinary—men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout her trials and escapades, she remains, in her heart, true to the one man she really loves, the one man she can never have. Frequently compared to Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber is the other great historical romance, outselling every other American novel of the 1940s—despite being banned in Boston for its sheer sexiness. A book to read and reread, this edition brings back to print an unforgettable romance and a timeless masterpiece.

Forever Amber is one of those books that you either love or hate it. Some hate it because the main protagonist is a total dimwit with zero scruples. Others feel it is a total rip of Gone With The Wind. And, hey, if I were a critical woman I'd agree wholeheartedly, but the fact of the matter is that I simply do not care as long as I am being entertained. Instead of rereading Gone With the Wind over and over, I'd so much rather read rip-offs and garner a new experience with new characters. And what better setting than that of Restoration England?

Amber is a harlot and cares only about herself. Once I got past that icky fact, I let the scenery suck me into Amber's world during the seventeenth century. And lucky for us, the story is told omniscient so that we get a little taste of everyone, from Charles II and his Queen, to his mistress Barbara Palmer and but always back again to Amber. There are quite a few supporting characters and men to keep the story interesting, as Amber keeps that one man never far from our thoughts: Bruce Carlton (said as an epithet: Bruce Carlton!! $%#%$!!)

Halfway through the book, where in other novels heroines would finally have settled down and conducted themselves in a respectable manner, Forever Amber once again exhibits reasons why there are some who loathe it. I'll say it again: Amber is a harlot. Can I truly get past this fact four hundred pages later with even more to go? I will say that she actually does manage to redeem herself for half a moment when she takes care of Bruce, but I knew it wouldn't last long.

The background of the story (and its saving grace) is the magnificent era of the Restoration in all its glory. Charles II and his mistresses are featured, with the corresponding courtiers the likes of Samuel Pepys and the Duke of Hamilton/Buckingham/etc. The decadence, the plays, the plague, the privateers, the discontent of England and the distant hope of America are the novel's driving force as Amber becomes involved in them all.
Peggy Cummings, original star of Forever Amber, but sadly was replaced by Linda Darnell. This is exactly how I pictured her. 
Lobby Card of the film

One of the amazing things that always gets me thinking is the original novel that Kathleen Winsor had written. Her original publisher is said to have cut her final draft to one-fifth its size. What was cut out? Why didn't they publish separate volumes if size was an issue? The author's other novels seem to be more themed as pure romance types, so I wonder if it was the romantic scenes that got the heave-ho. Even though the topic is scandalous enough for the 1940's when this was written, the sex scenes are completely skipped over. Fourteen US states banned the book for pornography.. from this typically prudish gal I'm like you've gotta be kidding me! Because even though Amber IS a harlot, the actual sex is not here. But, we're talking fifty years ago, so the ALLUSION of sex is evident and therefore ruffled prim and proper feathers.

The entire story of a girl sowing her oats in Restoration England is a memorable one, and I can understand the reasons why this novel has made the favorites list. The details are immense, and the narration of the story is done so well that the reader gets immersed in the era of Charles II and the Restoration. The final scene leaves us shaking our heads, and wondering what silliness Amber is going to embark on next. We can only imagine.

Apr 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Monday, April 09, 2012
Welcome to Mailbox Monday, the weekly meme created by Marcia from A girl and her books (formerly The Printed Page) where book lovers share the titles they received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the past week. Mailbox Monday is now on tour, and this month’s host is Cindy's Love of Books

For Review:
Hunter's Prize (July 1, 2012) by Marcia Gruver

Meander down to Marshall, Texas, through the pages of Marcia Gruver’s third Backwoods Brides novel. Addie McRae accepts a job as governess to young Cedric Whitfield, but she has no idea what lies ahead—especially when a string of attempted robberies and a kidnapping threaten the peace of the Whitfield household. Enter Pearson Foster, a visiting treasure hunter, looking for the lost treasure of the steamer Mittie Stephens. When Addie comes to Pearson for help, can the unlikely pair get to the bottom of recent events? Is anyone safe from the uncertainty rampant in Texas?

The King's Damsel (Secrets of the Tudor Court #5) (August 7, 2012) by Kate Emerson
In the fifth novel in Kate Emerson's highly acclaimed Secrets of the Tudor Court series, a young gentlewoman catches King Henry the Eighth's roving eye.In 1533 and again in 1534, Henry the Eighth reportedly kept a mistress while he was married to Anne Boleyn. Now, that mistress comes to vivid life in Kate Emerson's The King's Damsel.
A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had "renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court" and that the queen had tried "to dismiss the damsel from her service." Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a "true friend" of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who "the king's damsel" really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry's daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess's confidante, especially as Henry's marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne's service to be her eyes and ears. And that's when she gets the attention of the king...
Rich in historical detail and featuring a wealth of bonus material, The King's Damsel is sure to keep readers coming back for more in the exciting series!

I've read all of her novels in the series, and highly recommend them for those interested in the Tudor era. They always feature someone new, with something different than any of the other Tudor novels.

Apr 6, 2012

By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer

Friday, April 06, 2012
A perfect weekend book to remember the Titanic's anniversary
Barbour Publishing; March 1, 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Review copy generously provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 3.5 stars

Remember the Titanic 100 years after its doomed voyage with Tricia Goyer’s fictional portrayal of one woman’s journey. To Amelia Gladstone, this ship means promise of seeing family again. To Quentin Walpole, the Titanic represents a new start in America…if he can get onboard. All seems lost until Amelia offers him a ticket, securing his passage—and bringing him face-to-face with his railroad tycoon father and older brother, Damian. As Amelia works to reconcile father and son, she finds herself the object of both brothers’ affection. Can she choose between two brothers? Or will she lose everything to the icy waters of the Atlantic?
It's the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and so here comes my second read this year set against that sad voyage. So much hope and promise for the record breaking steamliner, and so much horrifying tragedy. Tricia Goyer uses this event as a mere background to a story of a young woman looking for her life's direction while making the journey from England to America. Amelia is a lover and a romantic, who sees the goodness in everyone from the stewards to the first class occupants. Her faith in God is unwavering as she seeks his guidance on who to choose to love, because she only has a few days to make this decision.

She is on her way to meet a potential husband in America, Mr. Chapman, who paid for her voyage. However, while on the Titanic Amelia meets Quentin Walpole, a drifter in need of her help, and his brother Damian who wants to control everything around him, including Amelia. Amelia must not have had much male attention before the voyage, as she fawns in the glory of being admired for her beauty and kindness throughout most of the novel. She continually aks God, 'Who is the man for me? Show me a sign....' as she struggles to decide whether wealth and financial security equates to happiness and stability, or could she perhaps let love lead the way.

And then of course, towards the end of the novel... the mighty ship sinks, taking with it icons of the time. In Amelia's world, who is left standing? And patiently waiting, there is always Mr. Chapman, the one who she thought she wanted to marry before she met the Walpole brothers on the Titanic. While this is a relatively short book at 320 pages, Tricia Goyer does a good job of immersing us in the story with historical details of the Titanic, writing seamlessly from one point of view to the other as we shift from the fictional Amelia to Quentin periodically. Quentin and Amelia each have some discoveries to make about themselves, and their souls as they both have to overcome personal obstacles in order to move away from the hurts of their past.  Predominantly featured in this historical romance is the prodigal son theme and upstairs-downstairs nuances as we witness that tragedy and grief effects all of God's creatures whether they are in third class or first class. Interesting enough, the novel takes place during a short period of time, leaving room for a sequel if the author desires. It would be interesting to follow the story of the Gladstone and the Walpole family to see how they cope after the tragedy of the Titanic.

Tricia Goyer is a Christian Fiction author, and her novels are geared towards this audience.  Although many of my historical reads lately have been inspirational themed, this is definitely one of those that threads the theme of faith and spirituality throughout the novel. The author ends her novel with the lyrics to the song that was popular in 1909, By the Light of the Silvery Moon. To see how this compares to the other Titanic novel I read this year, read my review of The Dressmaker, and The Queen of the Waves.