Fiction Review: Roseanna M. White’s “The Reluctant Duchess”

Reluctant Duchess

Are you looking for a work that will challenge you to think deeply about large concepts, while also holding on tight to the coattails of plot, as it dashes along? This is the book for you.

What a great read. The pace is fast, relentless even, but the story is well told – keeping you invested until the very end. I enjoyed the depth of the author’s language, as her characters come alive through her expert writing.

Best though, I loved the deep discussions of faith between the characters – which are much broader than I have found in other books with this setting. You wouldn’t initially expect a mystery love story to leave you lingering over the spiritual points discussed after you finished reading! But how each character relates to their faith, and how they deal with superstitions are integral to the plot, creating a one-of-a-kind read that I absolutely recommend.

I also can’t wait to get to know these characters more! The next book releases in September 2016!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley

Fiction Review: Jill WIlliamson’s “Kings Folly”

This book? Simply fantastic. 

Ms. Williamson’s style is very fun to read. In this work, she titles each chapter with the point-of-view character, which helps transition the reader’s mind to where we’ve left them last in the story. This is something I have seen done in other works, but here I felt it worked much better than I have encountered elsewhere. Ms. Williamson weaves her story so tightly together that it feels natural, no jerky transitions.
Also, there is a lot of world-specific vocabulary throughout, but it is used so naturally and consistently that the reader is very quickly able to get the hang of it.

When you pick up this book, buckle up for a ride – it is action packed! There are some quiet moments, but they are never dull or boring. This is one of the best examples of great pacing, and expert mixing of different plot threads I’ve seen in a story!

I really enjoyed the “Note from the Author” at the end which helped to round out my understanding and appreciation for the story by hearing her intent with writing it. I still have many questions of “what happens next?!” and am looking forward to rest of series!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley

Fiction Review: Shelley Freydont’s “A Golden Cage”

This review is a stop on the Great Escapes Blog Tour for A Golden Cage.

A GOLDEN CAGE Freydont

I really need to get and read the first of this series! And all subsequent, of course! I’m definitely hooked.

Incredible depth of language. That’s how I can sum up this work in one sentence. The author’s use and mastery of description, dialogue, and story is amazing. The characters are given more and more facets with each scene, which brings amazing depth to this “cozy mystery” – a genre where many authors often focus on the plot and only scratch the surface of their subjects.

The author also does a great job of setting the time period through character dialogue and actions – one of the best “show, don’t tell” examples I’ve read in a while. It is very easy to become immersed in the story!

I’ll admit, it would be fun to hang out with Dee, and have adventures, but she definitely needs a partner, someone to go with her and keep her out of the worst of her dangerous investigations. Perhaps there are hints this will come in future books? We shall see!

You have the chance to win your own copy! Enter here, and good luck!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley

Non-Fiction Review: Ruth A. Tucker’s “Extraordinary Women of Christian History”

This book challenges expectations and assumptions – growing and stretching the reader’s notions of history, the church, and legacies left behind.

As promised in the introduction, this work is definitely no sugar-coated look at an interesting collection of women from the church’s history. At the same time however, the author is neither condemning nor gossipy in her overview of each individual. This is a great example of a straightforward, honest look deeper beneath the surface of each woman, while still emphasizing Christ’s redemption as the central focus. 

This book is best used as a study text – definitely not a one-sitting read. With the questions at the end of each chapter, and the extensive bibliography included that the reader can use to find companion texts for deeper context, I would highly recommend this book for any Bible study group!

I am absolutely going to have to read through this fantastic work several times again to get deeper, and see what I missed.

I received a review copy of this work from the Publisher through NetGalley

Non-fiction Review: Barbara Rainey’s “Letters to My Daughters”

In just 6 words, the subtitle of this work: “The Art of Being a Wife,” captures the book’s essence in a way not many subtitles do! The word pictures, the ways Ms. Rainey describes the world of relationships, all are full of rich color, depth and meaning.

Relating marriage to different types of art connects with everyone in some fashion, as we all have a type of art we gravitate toward, and understand the world through. The fantastic imagery makes reading the book a treat itself, on top of the amazing content within.

I absolutely love the letter format in this work. It allows Ms. Rainey to convey very clear thoughts and honest answers, while reaching out with a personal touch. She doesn’t gloss over the hard issues, nor berate those who ask for advice. She completely captures the tone of mother and mentor, and creates a book you want to read, as you know you will receive clear, caring instruction.

I plan to bundle this work with “15 Verses” as gifts to my newlywed friends, as they both impacted me greatly, refining my outlook and attitudes in my own marriage!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher

Fiction Review: Nadine Nettman’s “Decanting a Murder”

This week’s review is a stop on the Great Escapes blog tour for Decanting a Murder. You can also enter a raffle for the chance to win your own print copy!

DECANTING A MURDER NADINE NETTMANN

Benjamin Cooker, I have a new apprentice for you to take on!

I say this in jest, and will try to stay away from too many comparisons in this review, but suffice it to say that fans of the Winemaker Detective series will enjoy this one greatly as well!

Katie is an amazing character. I definitely would love to meet her in real life. She is very observant and quick-thinking, the author using her observations and trains of thought to paint well-rounded scenes throughout the work. This made for a very fast and fun read, as we encounter everything in the plot at the same time Katie does, her reactions mirrored in the reader’s own, making her character that much more real.

One aspect throughout this work that reminded me of the Winemaker Detective was how much each protagonist loves the story behind things. In each instance, when the authors allow the characters to give us extra details, little behind-the-scenes anecdotes, it helps immerse those not as familiar with the wine world, allowing us to gain new understanding of the reasons people are so passionate about it.

And that is what the reader takes away upon closing the cover of this excellent story, just how much the author’s love for her subject, her passion, shines through in her characters. The five people sitting around the table in the last chapter are not tropes, they embody the depth of the author’s training, and the community that share that passion with her – making it come alive for the reader. This is how you write a book!

Highly recommended!

Enter HERE for your chance to win your own copy!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher

Fiction Review: Dani Pettrey’s “Cold Shot”

This is a book that will tease all your senses! The sailor’s rope around the picture frames on the walls,  the smell of thick chowder simmering in the kitchen at family meals, the thick fur of Winston, the Irish wolfhound, laying in front of the couch, all combine to pull the reader in, make them a part of the family. The characters prize family and deep friendships, so to be invited in with such vivid language brings an extra level of enjoyment to the reading of this work.

There are quite a few players in this story, and the author switches points of view throughout the chapters to give us a full look at what is going on. This can be a difficult balance to achieve, but is well done here, keeping the reader engaged in trying to put together the pieces.

The characters are very cool, with lots of little facets that catch the light and are revealed as we travel through the work. The introductions of each were well written, working to move plot ahead, instead of stopping and relying on exposition. I would recommend this work as a great example for authors, like myself, who often struggle with that. Also, giving each character an existence before the events of the book allowed them to feel more real, and the referencing of past conflicts at just the right time helped to deepen the 3-D image the author created.

With so many points of view, it can be hard to see the connections at first, but the author wraps everything together very well, bringing the book to an action-packed, but complete, resolution. I really enjoyed this work, and will definitely be recommending it to friends!

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher