My Dear Miss Duprè {book review}

Life amuses me at times. If you would have asked me ten years ago where I’d be today, I would have never guessed. Working at the Creation Museum? Yes, that’s a dream come true for me. But I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d be in the position I’m in, or living the life I’m living. What’s exciting though is this is far better than what I had dreamed up for myself.

I’ve had a lot of changes recently in my life. I’m in a new position at the Museum. I’m learning how to be a homeowner during spring (which means a lot of outside work), and I even managed to break my new lawnmower before I even figured out how to start it. Pretty fantastic stuff there, folks. 😉 (Don’t worry, the mower is fixed thanks to a kind neighbor.)

But more about that later (hopefully). For now, I have a book review for y’all.

The Stats

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 354
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Title: My Dear Miss Duprè
Author: Grace Hitchcock
Fiction

Backcover Blurb

Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, she is forced into a different future. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan–find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the business empire.

Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is told to to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn’t expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets a gentleman who captures her attention, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.

Why I Choose This Book

The name of the series is “American Royalty” and that’s a concept that has always been intriguing to me.

What I Thought about the Book

For how many things I didn’t like in the book, I’m surprised by how much I did like. And since that’s a confusing statement, I’ll go with three pros and three cons. 

The Pros:

-I enjoyed the writing style; it was well done and kept my attention. I could imagine the setting and enjoyed getting to visit wintery 1882.

-The story, although predictable, moved at a good pace. Each scene is supposed to move the plot forward, and the author did well with that. Also, this was a unique way to spin a very common type of story so I applaud the author’s ingenuity. 

-I thought Willow’s struggle to change her plans and mindset were very realistic and I liked that a lot. 

The Cons: 

-There were so many guys introduced all at once and I could only keep track of about three of them. 

-The need to suspend belief was high. It’s not plausible that Willow’s parents wouldn’t have been more selective and careful with the process – for how serious the whole thing was, it was treated with a very flippant attitude by the parents. 

-Four out of the five guys we actually got to know bothered me a lot. Some of them I just found annoying, others I disagreed greatly with the choices they made. 

Conclusion 

If you like just enjoying the story and not worrying about how realistic it is, then this is a good book for you. It was clean, had a few sweet moments, and the plot moved at a good pace. 

I enjoyed the author’s writing enough that although this story wasn’t for me, I’ll probably read another one of her books in the future.  

Rating 

I’m giving My Dear Miss Duprè 3 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shadows of the White City

It’s a cloudy spring day here in Kentucky and I’m sitting by my open door with rapidly cooling coffee, singing birds, and peaceful piano music. The perfect setting for sharing my favorite read of 2021 with y’all, right?

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Shadows of the White City
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads. 

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

Why I Choose this Book

 Will I ever not want to read a Jocelyn Green book ASAP? Probably not. Her writing is beautiful, and even if I don’t like the setting or plot, I still enjoy how she weaves the storyline so convincingly and pulls me into the book. 

What I Thought about the Book

The first book in the saga – Veiled in Smoke – was set in a place that I don’t enjoy reading about (Chicago), during a time period I don’t like reading about (the Great Fire), and yet I still ended up enjoying the book because Jocelyn’s writing is amazing. Going into Shadows of the White City I expected some of the same, aka, not enjoying the setting but being wrapped up in the writing. 

But, ohhh, was I wrong. This story may have changed my mind about books that are set in Chicago because I enjoyed it so thoroughly it gave me a new appreciation for the city. It takes place in 1893 during the World’s Fair, and was incredibly interesting to read about. Jocelyn does a fantastic job of weaving historical facts into her stories without making it feel like she’s cramming information into her books. For instance, in this book, one of the main characters gave tours at the World Fair, and sometimes we as the reader got to go along and experience it with the guests. Such a brilliant way to write the cool facts into the story.

Not only did we get to see the intriguing setting of the World’s Fair, but there was a compelling plotline and interesting, and multi-layered characters to round out the reading experience. At the beginning of the book, I was a bit unsure of how I would enjoy the large time gap between Veiled in Smoke and this one, but Jocelyn pulled it off magnificently well and wrote a book whose main character was a middle-aged woman in such a way that she felt relatable. 

There weren’t any characters whose point-of-view I disliked reading from, which is rare for me when it comes to a book with multiple POV. Each of the characters who we got to follow had compelling stories – from Sylvie with her need for control to Rose with her hunger for answers. Kristof was delightful and sweet and I could feel his pain as he tried to figure out the correct way to be a good brother. 

The exploration of lost and pieced together families, cultures colliding, the danger of the era, and a lack of answers kept me from putting down the book. I wanted to read more, more, more. When I got to the end of the story and all the pieces had slid into place I was thankful that I’d gotten to go along for the literary adventure. It’s my current favorite of 2021.

Conclusion 

This book is the second one in the saga, but it can easily be read first or as a standalone. (If reading it first, it will give a few spoilers.) I enjoyed the story a lot and can’t wait to read Jocelyn’s next release.  

Rating 

I’m giving Shadows of the White City 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Talking with God

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodrads
Pages: 160
Publisher: Chosen Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Talking with God
Nonfiction

Why I Choose this Book

I love praying, but I also know that I have a narrow mindset when it comes to prayer, and I want to learn and grow. The things I pray about are often close to me, rather than praying in a way that could change the world. It’s so easy for me to see the difference prayer makes when I’m praying for something specific and see it come about, but I want to learn to pray more for things that I might not see answers to during my lifetime. 

What I Thought about the Book

The book is small – just about six and a half inches tall and 160 pages. It’s also beautiful and embossed and shimmery – the kind of book you can leave out on your coffee table and other people happening by will pick it up and read a few pages. It also has a bookmark attached, which is nice and convenient. The book reminded me of a devotional, but it wasn’t one and I appreciated that. 

The author says that there are twelve different parts to prayer: Praise, Waiting, Confession, Scripture Praying, Watching, Intercession, Petition, Thanksgiving, Singing, Meditation, Listening, and once again, Praise. Each part has a chapter devoted to it, where the author explains why it’s important, biblical examples of when/how it was done, and a few easy ways to put that part of prayer into practice. 

Often times my praying looks more like a conversation with a close Friend, which is good. But I also need to balance the fact that my Friend is also the Creator of the universe, and therefore deserving of great respect and honor from me. I appreciated how he pointed that out in the book. 

The book was easy to read, encouraging, and a good reminder that I need to look beyond what I can see and hear, and ask God to help me know what to pray for. 

Conclusion 

I’m very thankful God allows us to talk to Him, and I want to continue to learn and grow with how I talk to Him. This book was a good resource and I am thankful to have read it. 

Rating 

I’m giving Talking with God 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Chosen Books for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Talking with Teens about Sexuality

Today is a low-key Saturday – I get to go into work, but just for a few hours and at my convenience. So, this morning I spent an extra hour or so reading books for review, then put on an audiobook and meal prepped three different dishes for the week. Then I figured I’d have time to review a book for y’all before I head off to work.

Disclaimer: If you’re one of the kids who read my blog posts, this is a review you should skip unless you talk to your parents first. Thanks! 😉

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Title: Talking with Teens about Sexuality
Nonfiction

About the Book

When Dr. Robinson asked her freshman psychology students what today’s parents need to know about teens and sex, they said parents do not have a realistic view of the world their children live in. A healthy sexual identity requires more than just a list of what not to do. In today’s culture of sexual identity confusion, ubiquitous pornography, and #MeToo, teenagers need to know how to protect themselves as well as how to treat others. 

Talking with Teens about Sexuality will help you understand your teen’s world and give you effective strategies in the midst of cultural pressures. Drs. Robinson and Scott provide scientifically reliable and biblically based information about gender fluidity, types of intimacy, online dangers, setting boundaries, and much more. Along the way, the book provides useful conversation starters and insightful guidance.

Don’t let fear keep you from engaging in vital conversations. Learn how to talk to your teen with knowledge and confidence, guiding them toward a sexually healthy future.


What I Thought about the Book

First off, the normal disclaimer that I give whenever I’m talking about a parenting book: I’m not a parent. Therefore, all of my thoughts proceed from the viewpoint of a single person. I think it’s sometimes interesting to read a review from the perspective of someone the book wasn’t exactly intended for. So here we go. 

I requested this book for review because sexuality is a topic that seems to be everywhere nowadays. It’s something that is being talked about by people politically, spiritually, socially, academically, and in entertainment. It’s super important to have God’s perspective on the matter, as well as studying it scientifically. I was hoping this book would go into both realms, and it did. 

The book certainly wasn’t fun to read, and it wasn’t easy, but it was very non-awkward, and that’s a huge plus. The authors cover a wide range of topics, as well as giving examples of different situations, and generally including practical ways you can bring up the topics with your teens. 

Since I don’t have teens I can’t vouch for the usefulness of the tips, but overall the advice they gave out seemed sound. There were one or two parts I didn’t agree with, but for the most part, I thought the book gave solid answers and would be very helpful for parents in today’s world.

Conclusion 

If you currently have teens, then this would be a good book for you to check out. 

Rating 

I’m giving Talking with Teens about Sexuality 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Make Their Day

Last night I did the first Overnight at my job – that’s where a group, most often a school or youth group, come to the Museum in the evening and get to watch DVDs, do a scavenger hunt in the dark throughout the exhibits, eat a late night snack, then spend the night. Sounds pretty great, right? It’s a fun way to help make people’s day more fun, which leads right into the book I’m reviewing today…

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads
Pages: 144
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Make Their Day
Nonfiction

About the Book

You dream of making your presence really count in the lives of others, but you don’t know where–or how–to start. You want to be remembered as a woman who scattered kindness to everyone she knew, but you feel like your busy schedule constantly gets in the way. 

In this practical and deeply touching guide–inspired by her book Reach Out, Gather In–popular author Karen Ehman gives you 101 actionable ideas you can implement today to truly make a difference in the lives of other people. Make Their Day is filled with creative ideas to connect with your family and friends on a deeper level throughout the year. This book will help you develop habits of kindness, reconnect with friends and family, and make encouraging people a priority. You’ll be able to put these ideas into action in real time with everyone in your life–even if hospitality doesn’t come naturally to you or you don’t think you have time. 

Let’s outshine the negativity and hatred in our world, and reach out to others with love, just as God intended.

What I Thought about the Book

The concept of this book is beautiful – giving practical, fun, imaginative, and sometimes whimsical ways to bless other people. It gives ideas that will work for all different budgets, ages, and stages of life. It compasses ideas for multiple different groups of people. It starts with how to bless your Circle of Friends, moves on to Your Family, next is Around Town, then comes Across the Miles, Those who are Hurting, Among the Household of Faith, then the author scatters in a few ideas for the Holidays, and gives a strong ending with things you can do by Opening Your Home. 

I grew up in a very giving and celebrating family where doing special things for people – both who we knew as well as strangers – was a common practice. But, I’m aware this isn’t everyone’s background, and therefore this book is a great way to come up with very doable ideas and ways to bless others. (Plus, it gave me a lot of great new ideas!)

The author did a good job of offering a wide range of ideas – some cost money, some cost time, and some just require a few minutes of set-up, then keeping an eye open for when a situation appears for when you can bless someone. 

The book is also super easy to read. It’s short, simple, and sweet, as well as having a nice design. Each idea takes between 1-3 minutes to read, so it’s easy for even a busy person to pick up for a few moments and be inspired. 

Conclusion 

Unfortunately, even though I like the concept and content of the book it wasn’t my style. It reminded me of a compilation of 101 short blog posts, and while I enjoy reading blogs I’ve discovered over the years that I don’t enjoy books that remind me of blogs. Of course, this is incredibly subjective, and why I went ahead and still gave the book four stars because I do like the idea. 

Rating 

I’m giving Make Their Day 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Brave

Snow has blanketed my little Kentucky home for a week and a half now, which is a long time for the world to stay sparkly white in this part of the world. Each morning I wake up, open the drafts on the wood-burner, stir the almost dying embers, add wood, then sit down with my Bible, coffee, and cozy blankets.

It took me nearly two months of living in my little burrow before I actually liked it here (crazy, I know), but once I made the switch I’ve been overwhelmed by how much I enjoy my home. February has long been one of my favorite months, and this year is no different. Despite the freezing temperatures (I’ve seen my breath inside my home a few times), hardly ever feeling completely warm, and going out to start my car long before I leave for work, there’s something incredibly cozy about being snowed-in, eating soup, and laying in front of the fire to read.

And speaking of reading, here’s my latest review. This book is a winner.

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads, or check out the Author’s Website
Pages: 180
Publisher: Bethany House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Brave
Nonfiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

As a parent, you can use certain strategies to help your teenage daughter when she struggles with worry and anxiety. But it is also important that she learns how to work through her emotions on her own, especially as she approaches adulthood.

This guide–created for girls ages 13 to 18–will help your daughter understand anxiety’s roots and why her brain is often working against her when she starts to worry. With teen-friendly information, stories, and self-discovery exercises, including journaling and drawing prompts, she will learn practical ways to fight back when worries come up. She will find more of her voice and her confidence. In essence, she will find more of herself and the brave, strong, deeply loved girl God made her to be.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

There are so many girls – especially teens – who have trouble with worry and anxiety, especially in today’s world. Therefore, I thought it’d be a good idea to give this book a read so I’d possibly have a better understanding of what people who struggle with worry and anxiety are going through. Plus, the author’s last name is the last name of another author I like, and I thought perhaps they were related. 😉 

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

It’s gold. I’m giving it five stars, and we all know I don’t give out that rating easily. I thought perhaps the book would be unbalanced or just be like “You can do anything because you’re awesome” etc… and in a way, it did say that. But it was more like “God created you with the tools you need to beat this worry, and here these tools are.” I am so on-board with the approach this book took, and it makes me want to read the rest of this author’s work. 

The book was split into three sections: Understanding, Help, and Hope. It talked about why and how girls get anxious, signs of how anxiety plays out, definitions of commonly-thrown-around-words, and how the words should actually be used. 

In addition to the emotional side of anxiety, the author delved into the logical and scientific areas of anxiety, which was incredibly helpful and eye-opening. It’s so hard to triumph over something that you can’t understand or process correctly. The author went a step further and talked about the spiritual side of anxiety and how the Enemy is the Father of Lies and will use lies against you. She talked about how we combat those lies with the Truth, and how important it is to acknowledge the lies and not give into believing them.

The book then gave incredibly practical ways to work through anxiety. The way she presented the information made it feel both doable and worth trying. I really appreciated how she gave facts and reasons to back up the advice she was presenting, instead of just expecting girls to take her word for it. 

While reading the book I learned a lot about how the brain works. Although I don’t struggle with anxiety (it’s not that I never worry, it’s just not something that I do a lot), I think the things I learned while reading this book can help me in other areas of life.  

CONCLUSION

Since anxiety isn’t my struggle there were some aspects of the book that I’m not sure if I agree with fully or not, but overall I really like the book. (Obviously.) I highly recommend this book and would enjoy hearing your thoughts on it if you’ve read it. (Especially if anxiety is something you’re working through in your life.)

RATING

I’m giving Brave 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Learning to Budget

When it comes to spending money…I’d rather just not. 

I’m one of those crazy people who enjoys making money more than spending it, finds tracking money and creating budgets to be one of my favorite hobbies, and would rather imagine owning something than actually getting it. But I’m trying to learn how to have a healthy balance when it comes to money and how I view it. Spending isn’t wrong, saving isn’t wrong. But having a healthy balance and the correct motivation is important. 

Last month I did the math with how many meals I made and how much money I spent on groceries and discovered each meal I made cost approximately $1.66. I like to eat fairly healthy with variety and fresh vegetables, so this didn’t seem unreasonable, but I knew I could do better. (This doesn’t take into account the pantry staples I used, just the food I actively bought in January.) 

I decided for February I’d challenge myself to spend just $1.00 per meal. My pantry was still fairly stocked with dried beans, rice, pasta, a few potatoes, onions, cans of food, and a bevy of snacks. My fridge though was nearly empty except for the condiments and salad dressings that plague the door of every refrigerator. There were a couple of meals worth of veggies, but not much. 

The first week of February I was visiting family so that doesn’t count and leaves me with about sixty meals – and sixty dollars – for the rest of the month. 

Some of the items I plan on buying are: 
-Eggs (an inexpensive way to get protein) 
-Baby carrots (a healthy, delicious snack) 
-Purple cabbage (such a vibrant color)
-Lettuce (raw veggies for the win)
-Frozen mixed veggies (for soups, stirfries, etc…)

When it comes to eating inexpensively, it’s harder to do while living on my own. Growing up in a big family we always bought in bulk and went for the big bags of everything. Nowadays, when I buy a big bag of fruit or veggies it’s a race to see if I can finish it before it goes bad. And most of the time I lose. 

But there are other ways to save money. Like buying discounted produce. And making soups. And eating things that are in season. Today I was planning on going to the grocery store, but then we got a snow storm so I stayed home and made soft pretzels instead. (Which cost about $1.95 for a dozen of them, rather than buying a single one for double that price.)

Join me this month as I shop and cook on a budget, and maybe we can learn some things together.

My Burrow

Growing up there were a number of things that I thought made my home delightful – a wood burner for heat, a porch where our family spent a lot of time, a window by the kitchen sink, and beautiful blue walls.

There were also those things that I thought would make a house optiomal – a washer and dryer in a convenient space like the bathroom, a white wainscot, windows in every room, and smallness… I definitely didn’t want a big house.

When I started praying about one day buying a house, I really wasn’t too specific, because I didn’t have a lot of ideas of what I did or didn’t want. Basically I just prayed that God would provide the right house for me – a house that wasn’t big, but had two bedrooms so I could rent one of them out. A house that was in a safe location near work so I could live there without worrying my parents, plus have renters. A house that didn’t have a lot of remodeling needed in order to make it livable – a bonus would be if I liked the colors of all the walls because painting and I don’t mesh well. And place to park my camper would make my heart happy.

There were a few other things that sat in the back of my mind, but I didn’t really think about them consciously – like how I wanted to be as close to living in the country as I could while still being able to manage the property by myself, having good neighbors, and having a yard. A home with a living area big enough to host company, a kitchen with room for storage, and a tub in the bathroom.

Mostly, I didn’t want to go house hunting. I wanted God – or someone else – to basically drop the home in my lap and I’d buy it. It seemed like a big request, but I knew it wasn’t too big for God, so even though I had no intentions of buying a house any time soon, I began praying about it.

If you would have told me at the beginning of 2020 that I’d move into my absolute dream home that autumn I wouldn’t have known how to respond, but that’s exactly what happened. Everything I’d prayed for, everything I’d imagined, was all wrapped up in one beautiful home and handed to me. I feel blessed, honored, and amazed by it all.

Recently I’ve finally had time to add a few of the personal touches I’ve always dreamed of – white lights around the living room, pictures on the walls, and a clean rug due to finally having a vacuum. I’ve been praying for ages that my home will be a place of peace, a place where people can come and relax, have good conversations, and draw closer to each other and to God.

I call it My Burrow.

This is because whenever I get stressed out I like to imagine being a little bunny safely tucked away in a homey burrow deep underground with soft lighting and cute little gingham curtains… Yes, I did grow up on Peter Rabbit and know it’s not exactly how it works. But it’s delightful imagery and that’s enough for me.

Each day my burrow is feeling more and more like a safe haven of rest. A place where peace presides and joy is felt. I’m thankful for the gifts God has given me, and look forward to being able to bless others through hospitality as the weeks and months of life come and go.

Dreams of Savannah

My little burrow is a peaceful place to be. The first thing I did this morning was clean the ashes out of the wood burner and start a new fire. Later on I cleaned my home, washed the dishes, added white lights around the room, and (finally) put up picture tiles that I ordered in November from my trip out west. Most importantly I mailed my first mortgage check and set up an appointment to get my propane lines checked so the tank can be refilled. In-between that I had my devotions, wrote thank you cards, made leftovers into soup for lunch, took a nap, picked up my new vaccum at the post office, put it together, and swept my living room, finished reading a book, ate chex mix, and my roommate had company over.

January is a bit of a slower pace at work, which is utterly delightful, and I’m finally getting caught up on some things around my house. Also – for the first time in what seems like forever – I’m reviewing a book on it’s actual release date. Wonders never cease, do they?

Find the book on: AmazonGoodreads, or the Author’s Website
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: Today! (January 5th, 2021)
Title: Dreams of Savannah
Fiction

About the Book

Cordelia Owens can weave a hopeful dream around anything and is well used to winning the hearts of everyone in Savannah with her whimsy. Even when she receives word that her sweetheart has been lost during a raid on a Yankee vessel, she clings to hope and comes up with many a romantic tale of his eventual homecoming to reassure his mother and sister. 

But Phineas Dunn finds nothing redemptive in the first horrors of war. Struggling for months to make it home alive, he returns to Savannah injured and cynical, and all too sure that he is not the hero Cordelia seems determined to make him. Matters of black and white don’t seem so simple anymore to Phin, and despite her best efforts, Delia’s smiles can’t erase all the complications in his life. And when Fort Pulaski falls and the future wavers, they both must decide where the dreams of a new America will take them, and if they will go together.

Why I Choose This Book

Roseanna M. White is a masterful storyteller and has authored several of my favorites. In fact, some years her books are the only ones that hit five stars for me. So, when I saw she had a new release coming, I jumped at the chance of being part of her early release team. (Who doesn’t want to get to tell everyone else about a great new read?)

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Like I did with my last review, I’m going to go with the three pros and three cons style review. 

Three Pros: 

  1. I’m always fascinated by creative people who can tell stories out loud. I know that it often goes hand-in-hand with being a writer, but despite enjoying writing, telling stories in person is not one of my fortes. The main character, Delia, enjoys writing and kept her family and friends entertained by telling them wild tales. Having a book about a writer isn’t unique, but I enjoyed the twists Miss Roseanna added to the story by making Delia so thoroughly whimsical without being shallow. So often in historical fiction, whimsical female characters are annoying and unrealistic, but Delia was the perfect balance and that was great. 
  2. Several of the characters had fantastic arcs. And, as a character-driven reader, it was my favorite part of the story to watch them learn and grow. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in a time when it was commonplace and acceptable to own another human. Miss Roseanna did a good job of showing the main characters grapple with this and slowly begin to see the truth. The secondary characters also had depth that I enjoyed reading about, and although we got to be in their heads a bit, I would have enjoyed being there more. 
  3. As always with Miss Roseanna’s writing, it felt thoroughly researched and I was sucked into the setting. As I read, I was reminded that I’m so thankful I live in a state with all four seasons so I don’t have to live through sweltering Georgian summers – so if any of y’all are having cabin fever maybe you should pick this book up. 😉 

Three Cons:

  1. While I liked the book, it sadly didn’t make it to my favorite’s list. Nothing was wrong with the story, it just didn’t capture me like Miss Roseanna’s tales commonly do. This, very simply, has to do with the period and setting. When I was in my mid-teens I saturated my life with historical fiction that took place during the Civil War. And, while it’s a fantastic time to read about and learn from, I don’t enjoy it as much anymore due to the large volume of books that I’ve read on the subject. So, that means if you like Miss Roseanna’s writing – or just well-written historical fiction in general – then this book would probably be a great one for you to pick up. 
  2. The pacing of the first half of the book was too slow for my tastes. Sometimes slow pacing is just what I’m looking for, but for this story, it didn’t sit as well with me. 
  3. There were certain plot points that I felt have been overdone, but Miss Roseanna did have enough of her own spin on them that it didn’t bother me too much. 
CONCLUSION

I enjoy Miss Roseanna’s writing. Whenever she has another book come out, I’ll jump at the chance to read it, and I’ll excitedly tell y’all about it. Just because this setting wasn’t my favorite, doesn’t mean it won’t be your favorite, so you should totally check it out. 

As far as content goes, the storyline explores (not in detail) how female slaves were treated unfairly by men. There’s also a man with wrong intentions towards the women in the stories, but again, nothing was shown in great detail. It takes place during a war, so there’s a couple of fighting scenes, sickness, and fear. 

RATING

I’m giving Dreams of Savannah 3 out of 5 stars. The author/publisher sent me a complimentary copy of the book so I could review it, but all opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

To Dwell among Cedars

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Title: To Dwell among Cedars
Fiction

About The Book

Eight years ago, when the Philistines stole and then surrendered the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora left her Philistine homeland to follow the ark to the community of Kiryat Yearim. There, the family she was adopted into has guarded the ark at the top of a mountain in seclusion. 

Ronen is a Levite musician determined to secret away the ark to a more fitting resting place, watched over by priests who would restore the Holy of Holies. He never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he’s tasked to deceive.

As Ronen’s attempts to charm Eliora lead them in unexpected directions, betrayal leaves Eliora with strained family ties and Ronen questioning his own loyalties. Ultimately, Eliora and Ronen are caught up in the battle for the soul of Israel and its future under the leadership of Samuel, the last judge before the era of the kings begins.

Why I Choose This Book

If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, you’ll know it’s no secret that Connilyn Cossette is my favorite author of Biblical Fiction. Her dedication to details, thoroughly developed characters, exciting plot twists, and delightful writing style keeps me coming back for more. In fact, I’ve had the honor of reviewing every single one of her books as they’ve been released. I talk about her books online a lot, and even more often in real life.

ALSO. OH MY LANDS. Look at that cover! The inside of the book is full of beauty, too. The design team outdid themselves this time.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

Not every book can be a favorite, you know? And that’s okay. Just because a book didn’t hit the elusive five-star-rating I was hoping it would, doesn’t mean that it won’t for someone else. (In fact, over on Amazon the book has a 4.8 out of 5-star rating with over 115 reviews – that’s impressive!)

I read the book in one day while on a 72-hour work quarantine due to being exposed to someone who was exposed to someone who tested positive. Ah, the joys of 2020! It took me a total of six and a half hours to read, and although I’m only giving the book a three-star rating, it did make tears come to my eyes at one point, so maybe my rating should be taken with a grain of salt? 

For this review, I’m going to go with 3 Pros and 3 Cons. 

The Pros: 

  1. As always, Connilyn Cossette’s writing style is impeccable. It draws the reader in, paints beautiful pictures, and makes the story world come alive. Her vocabulary is expansive, describing ordinary things in a way that makes me want to look around me more carefully and soak in the nuances of the every-day things surrounding me. 
  2. Arisa, the main character, was my favorite part of the book. I could relate to her thought processes, understand why she lived life the way she did, and longed to simply wrap her up in a hug. She definitely grew on me as the book progressed. The way she cared for her family was my favorite part of the story. 
  3. The story delves into a time in the Bible that we don’t know a lot about. I hadn’t thought much about how the Children of Isreal lived during the early years of Samuel’s life, and although there’s no way to know what actually happened, Connilyn Cossette’s ideas are facinating. 

The Cons: 

  1. My main issue with the book was that I felt there were descrpeinces between the story and the Bible. One of the reasons I’ve always liked Connilyn Cossette’s books so much is because of how well she follows the Biblical account, and in this story that didn’t seem to be the case. Maybe I simply misunderstood? I read the Biblical account several times to see if I was getting it wrong, and I’m still confused. Most of the things were little – like the fact that the Levities were the ones who cleaned up the dead bodies after God struck them for looking in the Ark. But the Old Testiment is very clear that the Levities weren’t supposed to go near dead bodies. I know that probably seems petty, and I could be missing something completely… But there were several instances where something like that happened, and therefore took the rating of the book down for me. 
  2. The story was also a bit slow getting started. Again, that’s perfectly fine, just currently I’m in the mood for fast-paced stories. 
  3. There were a lot of characters who didn’t play a huge part in the story, but were mentioned fairly often (family members, etc…). It was a bit confusing keeping all of them straight. 
CONCLUSION

This book has less violence and death than some of this author’s other books, although it’s still mentioned. (It is Biblical fiction, after all.) The story is mostly clean and sutiable for mid-to-older teens, as well as adults. 

Although this wasn’t my favorite book of Connilyn Cossette’s, I still enjoyed it and look forward to continuing to read her books as they’re released. I highly recommend her stories, and feel honored to be on her review team.  

RATING

I’m giving To Dwell among Cedars 3 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author/publisher and wasn’t required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book!