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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Love and Lavender by Josi S. Kilpack (Review)

If there is one thing that I can expect when I pick up a book written by Josi S. Kilpack is that I will be reading an intelligent story with unforgettable unique characters.

Book Details:

Title: Love and Lavender: A Mayfield Family Romance (Book 4)
Series: Proper Romance
Author: Josi S. Kilpack
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (November 2, 2021)
Length: (320) pages
Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook
Book Description:

Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, Hazel knows marriage is unlikely, so she devotes herself to teaching at a private girls’ school.

When her uncle offers Hazel a substantial inheritance is he marries, she is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? But when she learns the school might be sold, she knows she must consider all her options.

Duncan Penhale thrives on order and process. He has no interest in marriage, so when Elliott Mayfield, his guardian’s brother, offers him an inheritance if he weds, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, an inheritance means he could purchase a building and run his own firm.

Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, claim their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But then Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must first live together as a couple for one year.

Over time, their marriage of convenience becomes much more appealing than they had anticipated. At the end of the full year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

If there is one thing that I can expect when I pick up a book written by Josi S. Kilpack is that I will be reading an intelligent story with unforgettable unique characters, characters that have real-life issues or challenges so different from the unrealistic perfect heroes of most romance novels. I was not disappointed by her latest novel which tackles a woman with a club foot and a man on the autism spectrum. So interesting!

Both Hazel and Duncan stand out as characters and would have been considered weird in their day, but I loved how realistic the author made them. She brought out the best in them and did not sugarcoat their issues. Instead, we see the possibility of love growing between two people shunned by a society that did not fully understand their limitations and who did not always embrace their strengths. Hazel is a strong feminist character, whose kindness and forgiveness take her far in life. So many great lessons without the preachiness.

The story flowed well and kept my interest throughout. I was rooting for this couple. I loved the setting that added to the intrigue of living at a time when certain conditions were not well understood. The author did excellent research because her portrayal of what life must have been like for both these individuals was well done.

I have not read any of Kilpack's previous novels in this series but now I plan to. Each is a stand-alone novel and includes a flower in the title and as a token woven through each story.

If you are looking for good clean romance novels with unique storylines, Kilpack is an author to discover. I have a few of her novels on my bookshelf that I'm wondering why I haven't read them yet. Time to rectify that!




Josi S. Kilpack has written more than thirty novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for "Lord Fenton's Folly, and has been a Utah Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV--none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She writes contemporary fiction under the pen name Jessica Pack.

Josi has four children and lives in Northern Utah.

Connect with Josi: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER |

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duff (Book review)

Every Word Unsaid

With its exotic setting and feminist themes, this novel will appeal to fans of historical fiction looking for something different.

Book Details:

Book Title: Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy
Category: Historical Fiction, 368 pages
Genre: Christian Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Release date: Nov 1, 2021
Tour dates: Nov 1-14, 2021
Content Rating: PG

Book Description:

Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family's constant disappointment. As the nation's most fearless--and reviled--columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape.

Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel's sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she's long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Augusta Travers is a traveler photographer and writer for a woman's magazine in the late 19th century. She is known as Miss Adventuress and she is fearless. She feels smothered by the expectations of her family and that of New York Society so she escapes by traveling across America and even manages to elude her investigator Uncle who has the task of tracking her. Rather than be proud of her accomplishments, her family is disappointed in her. This hurts Augusta deeply to the point where she always feels the need to run. She feels unloved. She ends up going to India where her childhood friends live and discovers she can be more than just a superficial writer of adventures. 

The author succeeds in bringing India to life, a country I have always wanted to visit. I liked that Augusta is a strong female character and unconventional for her day, although there were times when the story had a modern feel to it. I liked the secondary stories, especially the one based on the historical figure Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati, a women's rights and education activist and a pioneer in the emancipation of women in India. 

Although this is labeled as a romance, this is the story of a young woman finding her calling in life. The romantic aspect of the story was lighthearted, sometimes juvenile, with liberties in conduct that made it feel like I was reading a contemporary novel. There was a scene where Gabriel is sick with a cold, hacking and coughing and then... it turns into a romantic scene? Besides being a doctor who feared taking risks, I didn't really know much about Gabriel, Augusta's love interest. So as far as romance goes, I was not enamored.

With its exotic setting, feminist themes (and that gorgeous cover), however, this novel will appeal to fans of historical fiction looking for something different.

Buy the Book

About the Author:

Photo Credit: © Laura Hicks Photography

Kimberly Duffy ( is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she's not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn't mind.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham (Book Review and Giveaway!)

A light romantic story with themes of friendship, injustice, and forgiveness.

Book Details:

Book Title: A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham
Category: Historical Fiction, 336 pages
Genre: Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell Publications
Release date: June 1, 2021
Tour dates: Oct 11 to Nov 5, 2021
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Five years in a New York state reformatory have left a blemish on Hazel’s real name. So when she takes a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts’s lady in attendance in 1898, she does so under an alias. In the presence of her quiet and pious employer, Hazel finds more than an income. She finds a friend and a hope that if she can set her tarnished past in order, she might have a future after all.

As Gilbert becomes accustomed to the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, he can’t help but sense something secretive about her. Perhaps there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Can the questions that loom between them ever be answered? Or will the deeds of days gone by forever rob the future of its possibilities?

Rachel Fordham pens a tender tale of a soft-spoken man, a hardened woman, and the friends that stand by them as they work toward a common purpose–to expunge the record of someone society deemed beyond saving–and perhaps find love along the way.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The premise of this historical romance quickly caught my attention. A woman who has undergone five years in prison during the late 1800s is now starting over and gets hired as a lady attendant to a dentist. Being a die-hard fan of historical fiction with strong female characters, I was curious as to how Furham was going to tackle this subject.

A Lady in Attendance turned out to be a lighthearted quick read, which is fine, except that it's not what I expected. It's a clean sweet romance with the male lead Gilbert being a recluse dentist, which I thought was different and interesting as a choice, and the female lead Hazel a reformed rebellious teenager. The descriptions of Gilbert's work as a dentist in the late 19th century was something I have not yet encountered in a historical novel so kudos to the author for bringing this to life in a novel.

I think the flawed characters made this realistic, however, the writing style left me wanting more. It had a modern feel to it with much of the story and its descriptions taking place through dialogue.

If you're looking for a light romantic story with themes of friendship, injustice, and forgiveness without deeper explorations, this one has a good pace and will keep you engaged.

Buy the Book: 

About the Author:

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Learn more about current projects at You can also follow Rachel on FacebookInstagramBookBub, and Goodreads.

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Ends Nov 5, 2021

A Lady in Attendance

Monday, September 6, 2021

Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong (Review and Giveaway!)

Husband Auditions

Every so often, I enjoy reading a rom-com, especially when the premise involves an original storyline.

Book Details:

Book Title: Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong
Category: Adult Fiction,  272 pages
Genre: Christian Romance, Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release date: August 17, 2021
Tour dates: August 17 to Sept 7, 2021
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

How far would you go to find the perfect husband? All the way back to the 1950s?

In a world full of happily-ever-after love, Meri Newberg feels like the last young woman on the planet to be single, at least in her Christian friend group. So when she's handed a strange present at the latest wedding--a 1950s magazine article of "ways to get a husband"--she decides there's nothing to lose by trying out its advice. After all, she can't get any more single, can she?

Her brother's roommate sees the whole thing as a great opportunity. Not to fall in love--Kai Kamaka has no interest in the effort a serious relationship takes. No, this is a career jump start. He talks Meri into letting him film every silly husband-catching attempt for a new online show. If it goes viral, his career as a cameraman will be made.

When Meri Me debuts, it's an instant hit. People love watching her lasso men on street corners, drop handkerchiefs for unsuspecting potential beaus, and otherwise embarrass herself in pursuit of true love. But the longer this game goes on, the less sure Kai is that he wants Meri to snag anyone but him. The only problem is that he may not be the kind of husband material she's looking for . . .

With droll comic timing, unbeatable chemistry, and a zany but relatable cast of characters, Angela Ruth Strong has created a heartfelt look at the reality of modern Christian dating that readers will both resonate with and fall for.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Every so often, I enjoy reading a rom-com, especially when the premise involves an original storyline. Husband Auditions caught my eye because of the premise: Meri, a single woman, is given a 1950s magazine article of "ways to get a husband" that she decides to explore while being filmed for a reality show. It promised to be a fun read, and for the most part, it was.

I particularly liked that the main male character Kai is Hawaiian and I thought he was the best character in the book. Meri came across as a bit juvenile at times. The story is told from both Kai and Meri's point of view in alternating chapters. This is not your typical romance as the end has a twist. The story made me sympathetic toward young women who are looking to get married and cannot find Mr. Right, however, I questioned why Meri, who was a Christian woman with moral standards, was looking for a husband everywhere else but at her Church.

If you're looking for a clean sweet read with some funny moments, this one will entertain you.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there's nothing else she'd rather write about.

She is the author of the Resort to Love series and the CafFUNated mysteries. Her books have since earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best-sellers. Finding Love in Big Sky was recently filmed on location in Montana and will air soon. Her latest release is Husband Auditions.

Strong also writes non-fiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho and teaches as an expert online at Write That Book.

Learn more at, and follow her on Facebook (Angela Ruth Strong Fan Page), Twitter (@AngelaRStrong), and Instagram (@ang_strong).

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose the Diet That's Right for You by Amy Newman Shapiro (Book Review and Giveaway!)

If you are confused about all the different diets out there and you are looking to lose weight, this is the perfect book to get informed.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose the Diet That's Right for You by Amy Newman Shapiro
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 188 pages
Genre: Self-help, Health and Fitness
Publisher: Snewman Media
Release date: January 2021
Tour dates: July 19 to August 6
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

​The Great Weight Debate helps you evaluate which diet will work for you and which can hurt you. It is your essential, trusted resource to sift through the minefield of recommendations and misinformation when choosing the best diet for weight loss success. The Great Weight Debate summarizes many popular weight loss plans and explains the principles and research behind each diet. It also highlights the factors that may or may not make the diet a healthy choice for you. It explains why and how to choose a diet that takes into account your food preferences and meets the needs of your lifestyle, schedule, and food availability. It will help you discover and understand the rules, food restrictions, and health risks of each diet. In addition, read up on the new trends, the latest buzz, and the results of the most up-to-date research science has to offer. So...Whether you choose Paleo, low carbohydrate, intermittent fasting, Whole30, or Mediterranean, do it with realistic expectations and do it smartly. Find weight loss success with The Great Weight Debate.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

A few years ago, I discovered intermittent fasting and it helped me lose the 25 pounds I had gained because of a medication I had taken for only 6 months. I also strongly believe nutritious food is medicine and have adopted a mostly plant-based diet. Let me begin by saying that I have read a lot of books on diets, including keto, paleo, lectin-free, raw, bulletproof, etc. So I was curious to get Amy's view on some of these prominent and trending diets.

One of the things she says toward the beginning of the book resonated with me: "The key to making healthy food decisions and lifestyle choices is mindfulness. Mindful eating is a nonjudgmental awareness of the nurturing aspects of food selection and preparation; choosing foods without censorship that are satisfying, enjoyable, and nutritious..." This pretty much sums up the spirit of the book. But to become mindful, one needs to be informed. I'm constantly surprised by what people consider to be "healthy foods". Hence, this book is ideal for the person starting on their journey of better food choices. It's important to be informed. Reading facts from someone not touting their own horn about one particular diet can give the reader clarity to make the right decision that is best for them and their particular health needs.

The reader will get a good idea and a good summary of the different diets and discover that ultimately not all diets are good for everyone. What has worked for me may not work for you. Amy's professional experience is evident as she clearly explains how the various trending diets work, going into detail and providing the benefits and the drawbacks, making this an excellent reference book.

If you are confused about all the different diets, Amy includes all of them here, many of which I have never heard of. She lists the pros and cons that are easy to understand, and includes stats and scientific details for the more informed. She also gives sound advice about how to be successful in your goal to lose weight. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their food choices for weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

Buy the Book:
Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Amy Shapiro RD, CDN, CPT is a registered dietitian and professional speaker promoting wellness in corporate, clinical and private settings. With degrees in both Psychology and Nutrition, Amy’s focus is on behavior modification and lifestyle management. Additionally, Amy is a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise and a wellness coach. With thirteen years of experience educating and coaching clients and worksite wellness groups to achieve weight loss success, Lose It For the Last Time is Amy’s first book. She is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband on Long Island New York.

Connect with the Author: ​

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Ends August 13, 2021


Friday, July 16, 2021

Grace in Hollywood: A Grace Michelle Mystery by Kari Bovee (Book Review and Giveaway!)

If you like fiercely loyal heroines, thrilling whodunits, and the magic of old cinema, then you’ll love Kari Bovee’s enthralling second book in the Grace Michelle Mystery Series.​

Book Details:

Book Title: Grace in Hollywood: A Grace Michelle Mystery by Kari Bovee
Category: Adult Fiction, 336 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Bosque Publishing
Release date: May 25, 2021
Content Rating: PG + M. Book has mature themes; adultery, murder, bigamy, but there is no bad language.​

Book Description:

All that glitters… is sometimes blood. With her golden ticket buried in the ground, can she save a wrongly accused teen from the gallows?

Hollywood, 1924. Promoted to lead costume designer of a star-studded film, Grace Michelle should be on top of the world. But between her husband’s debt, her sister’s recent death, and the troubled teenaged girl she’s fostering, she’s struggling to please everyone and still keep a smile on her face. And when a Tinseltown shindig turns deadly, Grace is horrified to discover her young charge unconscious alongside the director’s grisly corpse.

Determined to prove the girl’s innocence, Grace’s own haunted past fills her sleep with prophetic nightmares. And no sooner has she sought clarity from a medium than a second body lands the scared teenager in the slammer.

Can Grace turn the camera on the real culprit before another victim ends up on the cutting room floor?

Grace in Hollywood is the second book in the riveting A Grace Michelle Mystery historical series. If you like fiercely loyal heroines, thrilling whodunits, and the magic of old cinema, then you’ll love Kari Bovee’s enthralling tale.​

Reviewed by Lauren Carr

Kari Bovee amazes me. I have tremendous respect for any author who can take a compelling challenging mystery and wrap it in an intriguing period of history. Writing a mystery novel is hard enough. Add to that the research to convincingly bring the characters, places, and time to life takes a special talent and Kari Bovee has it.

Set in Hollywood in 1924, Kari’s second installment in the Grace Michelle mysteries has Grace and her husband Chet owning a ranch in Burbank. Grace is a costume designer for movies while Chet, a retired private investigator, rehabilitates horses on their ranch. They have employees in their home to help with numerous children who Grace and Chet foster.

The trouble starts when a movie producer who Grace works for requests that they host his party at their ranch. Of course, she can’t exactly say no. This party seems to draw in all the stars in Hollywood, but Grace doesn’t have time to mingle. She’s too busy keeping an eye on the partiers and the children. She is particularly concerned about the well-being of Lizzy, a teenaged girl who has caught the attention of both the producer and a movie star.

Grace’s concern is with good reason. After losing sight of Lizzy, Grace finds her unconscious in the barn next to the producer, who’s been murdered.

Now the mystery begins!

Everyone is questioned. Lizzy is taken into custody. Another murder is discovered. AS if that’s not bad enough, another of their children is arrested. Chet comes out of retirement to investigate the case and Grace searches for clues to clear her children’s names.

FIVE STARS! Lovers of both history and mystery will certainly love Kari Bovee’s new release. GRACE IN HOLLYWOOD is an excellent mystery that grabs the reader by the throat and won’t let go until they have made it through the last twist and final turn. Be warned, there is a lot going on in this book, but each ingredient adds meat and depth to the plot. The equal mixture of mystery and history pulls the reader into another world that will both fascinate and intrigue them.

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Meet the Author:

​When she’s not on a horse, or walking along the beautiful cottonwood-laden acequias of Corrales, New Mexico; or basking on white sand beaches under the Big Island Hawaiian sun, Kari Bovee is escaping into the past—scheming murder and mayhem for her characters both real and imagined, and helping them to find order in the chaos of her action-packed novels.

An award-winning author, Bovée was honored with the 2019 NM/AZ Book Awards Hillerman Award for Southwestern Fiction for her novel Girl with a Gun. The novel also received First Place in the 2019 NM/AZ Book Awards in the Mystery/Crime category, and won First in Category in the International Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Awards. It was also a finalist in the 2019 Next Generation Indie Awards. Her novel Grace in the Wings won First in Category for the 2019 International Chanticleer Chatelaine Awards. Peccadillo at the Palace won Grand Prize in the 2019 Goethe Awards, and was a finalist in the 2019 Best Book Awards Historical Fiction category.

Bovée has worked as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 Company, has written non-fiction for magazines and newsletters, and has worked in the education field as a teacher and educational consultant.
Connect with the author: 

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Ends July 26, 2021

GRACE IN HOLLYWOOD (Grace Michelle Mystery) Book Tour Giveaway

Thursday, July 15, 2021

To Every Page a Turning by Carl Buccellato (Book Spotlight and Giveaway)

Today I'm spotlighting a new novel by an Italian-American author.

Book Details:

Book Title: To Every Page a Turning: One Life's Journey
Category: Adult Fiction, 284 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Mascot
Release date: April, 2021
Content Rating: PG Content not suitable for young children.​

Book Description:

A parallel to Buccellato’s own life, the main character in To Every Page A Turning: One Life’s Journey considers the trials and tribulations throughout his life, beginning in the 1950s. Traveling through hope, a great cause, disenchantment, hopelessness, discovery, and rebirth, the novel also recounts the travel of a generation as they move through time.​

Buy the Book:
add to Goodreads

About the Author:

​Carl Buccellato was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1942, and is of Italian-American descent. Throughout his career and travels, Carl has met a broad array of different people. Some, down on their luck, some at the pinnacle of their careers and personal lives. Many of the people and their stories left a mark on Carl's heart and mind. It is from some of these encounters that Carl has drawn inspiration for a few of the fictitious characters in this novel. Today, Carl resides in Coral Springs, Florida, with his wife Mary Ellen. She is an award-winning multimedia artist and speaker. Together, Carl and Mary Ellen love traveling the globe and looking for new inspiration for their gifts and talents given to them by their loving God.
Connect with the author: 

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Ends July 26, 2021


Friday, July 9, 2021

8 Crucial Items You Need While Reading (Guest post)

Today I'm featuring a guest post for all you bookworms to make your reading experience even better. Do any of you keep these items on hand while reading? I like to have a book journal on hand for the nonfiction books I read.

Guest post by DeliciaWarren

If you’re a bookworm, you probably just need a good book to be happy. However, there are a bunch of extra things you can buy to make reading even better. Here are eight crucial items you need while reading.

Book Journal

When you finish a good book, all you want to do is talk about it. But if you don’t know anyone that has read the book, you’re going to feel frustrated. That’s why you should buy a book journal. After every book you read, you can jot down your thoughts and reflections. This is a great way of living your life through the books you read.

A Huge Mug

Some books can keep your attention for hours. You don’t want to interrupt the fun because your mug is empty! That’s why you need a huge mug. Fill it with your favorite hot drink, whether it’s cocoa or coffee, and you won’t have to resurface for hours. And if you want it to stay warm, get a custom Yeti mug.

An LED Book Light

If you like reading at night, you absolutely need an LED book light. This allows you to read anywhere, without turning the lights on. LED book lights are especially useful if you share a bed with someone that needs to get to sleep first.

Beautiful Bookmarks

As a bookworm, there are few things more annoying than losing your page. That’s why you need a stack of bookmarks to hand. But don’t just get any bookmark. You should get bookmarks that fit your personality. That way, you’ll get a little boost every time you place one on your favorite page.

A Bookish Tote Bag

You’re going to need a bag to carry all of your books around in. Whether you’re going for a reading session at the local park or jumping on a train, it’s great to have a tote bag to suit your books. Tote bags are perfect for carrying books around because they won’t get squished together. So, if you care about keeping them in great condition, this is the way to go.

Good Shelves

Books aren’t that heavy. But if you stack a bunch of them on a weak shelf, it’s bound to fall down. To stop this from happening, install high-quality shelves to hold your books. There are many different designs of shelves and bookcases to suit your interior decor.

A Book Stamp

Books are a very personal item. If you want to put your mark on them forever, you should consider getting a personalized book stamp. This will help you keep track of your books when you lend them to friends and family. Plus, it’s a nice little ritual every time you buy a new book.

A Book Sleeve

If you regularly take your books out into the world, you should consider getting a book sleeve. This is a fabric cover that protects your book from ripping, crushing, or bending.

Even if you don’t take a lot of care over your books, this is an important item because it will make them last longer.

Freelance writer, Delicia Warren, is passionate about the environment and the impact humans are having on the world around us. She's an advocate of holistic approaches to life's issues, including alternative medicines, as well as having an interest in helping individuals make small changes to their lifestyles to minimize their carbon footprint.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar (Review and Giveaway!)

A novel set in WWII France with the theme of a librarian passionate about saving books.

Book Details:

Title: The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar
Category: Adult Fiction, 384 pages
Genre: Historical fiction / Literary
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Content rating: PG-13+ M (Situations of WWII)

Book Description:

Through letters with a famous author, one French librarian tells her love story and describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village.

Saint-Malo, France: August 1939. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.

After the French capitulation, the Nazis occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.

What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

A novel set in WWII France with the theme of a librarian passionate about saving books immediately caught my attention and I was eagerly anticipating a great read. Oh, and that cover is just beautiful.

While I enjoyed the setting, and I have read a slew of WWII historical fiction, I have to say I struggled with this story. The elements were all in place for a gripping account and it did start well, but somehow it fell flat for me. I did not feel the great love story between Jocelyn and Antoine, and the other love interest seemed too quick, and unrealistic.

Published under a Christian publishing house, I noted inspirational themes of love that I did appreciate, gems of wisdom that the author was trying to portray.

Although this novel was translated, I thought it was well done. I think this is a novel that will strike a different chord with each reader depending on what you love about WWII historical fiction.

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About the Author

Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.

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Ends June 16, 2021

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Poison Keeper by Deborah Swift (Review and Giveaway!)

If you like historical fiction with strong heroins, a feminist viewpoint and a fascinating topic, The Poison Keeper with its serious theme (and without offensive content) is a great summer read.

Book Details:

Title: The Poison Keeper by Deborah Swift
Category: Adult Fiction, 406 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Quire Books
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Content rating: PG-13+ M (spousal abuse, prostitution, drug use and murder) No sex or bad language.

Book Description:

Naples 1633

Aqua Tofana – One drop to heal. Three drops to kill.

Giulia Tofana longs for more responsibility in her mother’s apothecary business, but Mamma has always been secretive and refuses to tell Giulia the hidden keys to her success. When Mamma is arrested for the poisoning of the powerful Duke de Verdi, Giulia is shocked to uncover the darker side of her trade.

Giulia must run for her life, and escapes to Naples, under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, to the home of her Aunt Isabetta, a famous courtesan. But when Giulia hears that her mother has been executed, and the cruel manner of her death, she swears she will wreak revenge on the Duke de Verdi.

The trouble is, Naples is in the grip of Domenico, the Duke’s brother, who controls the city with the ‘Camorra’, the mafia. Worse, her Aunt Isabetta, under Domenico’s thrall, insists that she should be consort to him – the brother of the man she has vowed to kill.

Based on the legendary life of Italian poisoner Giulia Tofana, this is a story of hidden family secrets, and how even the darkest desires can be vanquished by courage and love.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The Poison Keeper is a novel set in Renaissance Italy and based on the historical person named Giulia Tofana, renowned for having helped hundreds of desperate and abused women murder their husbands through her famous poison called Aqua Tofana. It was a fascinating read.

At its core, this is a story about the plight of women during an era where women had few rights. Giulia is a sheltered 23-year old innocent woman when her life is thrown upside down and she become a fugitive. To survive, she finally resorts to a livelihood she never expected, one that came because of difficult circumstances.

Giulia is a compelling character. She becomes stronger as the story evolves and she is faced with various situations. Renaissance Italy comes alive under Swift's deft penmanship and the plot moves along at a quick pace. Although I suspected an inevitable end, the author surprised me with a few twists, and an inspiring ending. I was unaware that this novel is part of a series, with the second book titled The Silkworm Keeper being released at the end of June and a third on the way. I look forward to reading them.

I also enjoyed the author's historical notes at the end, where she gives us more details about the real Giulia Tofana and on what facts she based her novel.

If you like historical fiction with strong heroins, a feminist viewpoint and a fascinating topic, The Poison Keeper with its serious theme (and without offensive content) is a great summer read.

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About the Author:

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter,
and Goodreads.

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Ends June 4, 2021

The Poison Keeper

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray (Book Review)

Wow, this is the first book I read by Stephanie Dray, and it won't be the last!

Book Details:

Title: The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray
Category: Adult Fiction, 576 pages
GenreL Historical Fiction
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release date: March 30, 2021
Content Rating: 

Book Description:

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in three of humanity's darkest hours.

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women...

A founding mother...

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband's political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary...

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing--not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what's right.

A reluctant resistor...

1940. French schoolteacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan's self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together in honor of those who came before us.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Wow, this is the first book I read by Stephanie Dray, and it won't be the last! I was captivated right from the start. It's an epic novel about three women who lived during different times, a triple timeline alternating throughout the book. I was amazed by how seamlessly the author moved from one era to the other. And the fact that two of the women were based on actual historical figures made the story all the more interesting. It was evident the book was well-researched and very well-written.

All three timelines were equally interesting to me and were connected by the Chateau Lafayette, a fortified manor house (it's a museum today) that is situated in France and is the birthplace of General Lafayette. I did not know much about Lafayette nor the role his wife played in politics. What an amazing woman she was! History tends to downplay women's roles, but the author brings them out through careful research and skillful writing. She succeeds in building unforgettable characters, strong women that took risks, that made a difference, that were devoted and avant-gardists.

This novel was like reading three books in one. There was never a dull moment. It's a long book with almost 600 pages and typed in small font. It's not a book you want to rush through. It's one that has a lot going on and that makes you invest in its characters and their stories. No fluff here.

If you are a serious historical fiction reader who loves epic well-written stories, look no further. Stephany Dray satisfies the thirst for sweeping era-based historical fiction novels that are sure to become classics.

Disclosure: Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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About the author:

Stephanie Dray is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, & USA Today bestselling author of historical women's fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages. She lives near the nation's capital with her husband, cats, and history books.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Paris in Ruins by M.K. Tod (Book Review)

Fans of historical fiction set in wartime Paris will have much to take away from this latest novel by M.K. Tod.

Book Details:

Title: Paris in Ruins by M.K. Tod
Category: Adult Fiction, 370 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Heath Street Publishing
Release date: March 30, 2021
Contact Rating: PG-13 + M (Images of war, violence and devastation)

Book Description:

Paris 1870. Raised for a life of parties and servants, Camille and Mariele have much in common, but it takes the horrors of war to bring them together to fight for the city and people they love.

A few weeks after the abdication of Napoleon III, the Prussian army lays siege to Paris. Camille Noisette, the daughter of a wealthy family, volunteers to nurse wounded soldiers and agrees to spy on a group of radicals plotting to overthrow the French government. Her future sister-in-law, Mariele de Crécy, is appalled by the gaps between rich and poor. She volunteers to look after destitute children whose families can barely afford to eat.

Somehow, Camille and Mariele must find the courage and strength to endure months of devastating siege, bloody civil war, and great personal risk. Through it all, an unexpected friendship grows between the two women, as they face the destruction of Paris and discover that in war women have as much to fight for as men.

War has a way of teaching lessons—if only Camille and Mariele can survive long enough to learn them.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

A few years back I read Time and Regret and loved it, listing it as one of my best reads for that year. So I was eagerly looking forward to Paris in Ruins, an historical fiction novel set in 1870s Paris when the Prussian army lays siege to Paris after the abdication of Napoleon III. I must admit I knew little of this time period in France's history.

Once again, M.K. Tod's research is evident as she describes the political atmosphere and the devastation that Paris suffers during the Franco-Prussian war. Later Prussia gets incorporated into the German empire. There are so many books with the setting of France during WWI or WWII, but this is the first I've read during this time period, making it unique as far as wartime settings.

Paris in Ruins is the story of Camille and Mariele, two different women who discover their strength and bravery through circumstance and opportunity. They are both women of privilege who use their station in life to make a difference during a time when socialite women were seen as dutiful wives who had no place in politics. Through these women's actions and the plot, 1870s Paris comes alive.

It took awhile for me to become invested in this novel. I enjoyed the characters but never became too attached to them. The theme was heavy, of course, because of the war, and some scenes were just plain hard to read. I cannot explain it but I felt the war theme overshadowed the characters. Unlike Time and Regret, this one was not a page-turner for me, however, I seem to be in the minority of readers who felt this way. 

Fans of historical fiction set in wartime Paris will have much to take away from this latest novel by M.K. Tod.

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About the Author

Paris In Ruins is M.K. Tod’s fourth novel. Mary began writing in 2005 while living as an expat in Hong Kong. What started as an interest in her grandparents’ lives turned into a full-time occupation writing historical fiction. Her other novels are Time and Regret, Lies Told in Silence, and Unravelled. Beyond writing novels, Mary’s award-winning blog, features the reading and writing of historical fiction. When she’s not writing or thinking about writing, you can find her hiking, golfing, traveling, or hanging out with friends and family. Mary is married and has two adult children and two delightful grandchildren.

For more information visit M.K. Tod's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson (Book Spotlight)

Book Details:

Title: Isabelle and Alexander (Proper Romance Victorian) by Rebecca Anderson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Victorian Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (May 4, 2021)
Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (368) pages
Tour Dates: May 3-16. 2021
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father's coal mines with Alexander Osgood's prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

Buy the Book:

About the author:

Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Forsaken Children by Naomi Finley (Book Review and Giveaway!)

The Forsaken Children

The Forsaken Children is an unforgettable dramatic read

Book Details:

Title: The Forsaken Children by Naomi Finley
Series: The British Home Children Book 1
Category: Adult Fiction, 306 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Huntson Press
Release date: April 13, 2021
Contact Rating: PG-13 + M (Parental abandonment, child abuse, child labour, poverty, child emigration movement, childhood trauma)

Book Description:

A riveting tale of endurance and resilience, illustrating the spirit of a child and the bond between siblings.

It’s 1922. Fifteen-year-old Hazel Winters and her six-year-old brother, William, are placed on a ship by an organization that relocates British orphans and children of poverty to new homes in Canada. Arrivals in the new land are exported to distributing houses, where devastation and heartache greet the youngsters as headmistresses govern their fate.

The assurance of a better life across the ocean is far from what Hazel experiences. Through hardships and loneliness, she is determined to survive. Finding refuge in memories of the past, she clings to the dream of returning to her homeland while preserving a reunion in her heart.

In 1890, orphaned Charlotte Appleton and her sister Ellie were scooped up from London’s streets and sent to new homes across the ocean. Although mere miles kept them apart, Charlotte never knew her sister’s whereabouts until a chance interaction reunites them. Together the siblings vow to make a difference for the families and home children of an institution in Toronto, Ontario.

Can an unexpected guardian give Hazel renewed strength and resolve for a future of promise?

Based on the child emigration movement that occurred from 1869 through the late1930s, this poignant tale follows the lives of siblings who were burdensome byproducts of Britain’s poverty.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This book caught my attention from the first page when I was introduced to the spunky Hazel Winters, a 15-year-old girl whose family fell into poverty after her father returned from WWI with injuries and later died, leaving his family destitute. I couldn't put this book down even though it was so heartbreaking and had me trembling with rage at the injustices the British home children suffered at the hands of Canadians.

When things get worse and their mother could no longer feed or take care of them, Hazel Winters and her 6-year-old brother William are left by their mother at an orphanage with the promise that she would return. But the orphanage sent them across the ocean to receiving institutions that placed them on farms to work. Hazel has a good heart and a strong love for her brother. It is this familial love that keeps her spirit alive when she is placed in a farm home and treated cruelly.

I think the author does a great job of bringing the plight of the British home children to life through the story of Hazel. There is no sugar coating of the harsh reality, but hope, resilience, and the will to survive are beacons of light in this sad tale. Although this is fiction, the fact that it is based on historical facts made this a very compelling read. The characters jump off the page and the story flows well. As a reader, I rooted for Hazel as I experienced an emotional journey with her. The book ends with the possibility of a continued story, and since this is marketed as Book 1, I am thinking the unanswered questions I have will be answered in the sequel.

After I finished the book I was curious about the British home children and did research. I came across this website that says: From the late 1860s right up to 1948, over 100,000 children of all ages were emigrated right across Canada, from the United Kingdom, to be used as indentured farm workers and domestics. Believed by Canadians to be orphans, only approximately 12 percent truly were. I knew nothing about the role my country played in the mistreatment of children in need of a home and support.

If you like stories based on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of injustice and cruelty, this one is an unforgettable dramatic read. I will always remember the beautiful character of Hazel Winters.

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About the Author

Naomi is an award-winning author living in Northern Alberta. She loves to travel and her suitcase is always on standby awaiting her next adventure. Naomi’s affinity for the Deep South and its history was cultivated during her childhood living in a Tennessee plantation house with six sisters. Her fascination with history and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome obstacles are major inspirations for her writing and she is passionately devoted to creativity. In addition to writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, and hosting dinner parties. Naomi is married to her high school sweetheart and she has two teenage children and two dogs named Egypt and Persia.

For more information, please visit Naomi Finley’s website. You can also find her on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

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Ends April 23, 2021

The Forsaken Children

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