A New Favorite Historical Fiction Book? {The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White}

Y’all. This is the book that I nearly cried about when I found out I’d been chosen to be on the early review team. Yeah, I was that excited and that honored about it. Of course, back then I didn’t realize that I would be in the midst of moving and overwhelmed with a new job and life-ish happenings in the weeks leading up to the book’s release. But here we are! The book released yesterday and although I moved before the physical copy of the book arrived at my old address, I did download an e-copy of the book and landsakes, people!

I settled down with this book and some popcorn on Sunday afternoon and prepared to be delighted as I read. Why was I so excited? Because this book features Margot De Wilde as the main character. Readers were first introduced to this character in the middle book of the Shadows Over London trilogy, as the younger sister of one of the main characters. In that book, she intrigued me like crazy – as in I would say she’s probably in the top five of most intriguing characters I’ve ever read about. And, considering the thousands of characters that have been part of my reading experience, that says a lot.

Before I say more, here’s a bit about the book:

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Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together.

Also, you can take a quiz for the book (after you’ve read it, because #spoilers). I just took it and got 8/10 answers right. I really thought I’d get 100 because the book is so memorable, but one of the questions was guesswork, and the other was a bit tricky. 😉

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This book was gold. The writing, the characters, the plot, and the time period came together in a perfect, seamless, beautiful story that tugged my heart and made me want to keep reading for ages. In fact, although I read this book in two sittings if I hadn’t been hurrying to finish it for review I would have made it last even longer so I could savor the characters.

When I read this book the rest of the world faded away and I was so immersed in the story that it really felt like I was there…that the characters were my friends, that I’d time-traveled back to the early 1900s and England was right outside my door.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much work and research went into writing this book. The concepts were so far beyond me, yet without being confusing. That takes so much talent and time to pull off. Margot, the main character, is a codebreaker who works in Room 40 during WW1. I knew about codebreakers during WW2, but until I read this book I had no clue they existed during the Great War. (Which is why I mistakenly assumed that this book took place during WW2 when I first heard about it.)

Margot is a mathematical genius and thinks in numbers. She’s logical, scorns emotions, and is unlike any other character I’ve ever read. I seriously couldn’t get enough of her character and wish we had a whole trilogy solely from her perspective. The way she reacted to grief was my favorite scene in the whole book, simply because I can’t even fathom doing what she did, and it totally shocked me, but was so true to who she was as a person. Plus, it made me tear up, and books that make me cry are the best.

Drake was the second main character, and although I generally don’t like it when the main female and main male character both have chapters from their perspectives, Miss Roseanna pulled it off perfectly. I think this is because although there was romance in the book, that wasn’t the main plot and when we saw life from Drake’s perspective we were actually seeing espionage work, not just fluff. Seriously, his work was so cool and when I read in the endnote how much of it was taken from historical facts, I was pretty amazed. Also, Drake is just a wonderful character all around and he’s got a fantastic name, so what’s not to like?

And then we have the bad guy. Seriously, y’all don’t even know how much I dislike it when books have sections from the villain’s point of view. And yet, somehow Miss Roseanna makes it work. She gave us just enough time inside the villain’s head so that he became real and intriguing, yet without giving too much away or making me feel creeped out. I’m very impressed.

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When it comes to books, this is one of my favorites. As in, it’s so close to being five stars that I’m really not sure if I should rate it four or five stars? (And y’all know how rare five-star fiction books are for me.) My one issue is that I really didn’t agree with a lot of  Margot’s ideals. I understand how she was changing and growing, and yet the book felt a little more feministic than what I like.

Other than that though, this book was simply fantastic. I hope y’all read it and enjoy it as much as I did. If you’ve read the Shadow Over London series, or if you plan on reading this book you should totally let me know so we can gush about the stories together. 😉

Way to go, Miss Roseanna, on writing another winner! Please keep writing and thank you so much for the honor of having me be part of your review team!

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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.

Wait, I’m Reviewing A Beverly Lewis Book?

This is one author I never thought I’d be reviewing on my blog. 😉 I was pleasantly surprised, although probably not in the way you’d think. Enjoy the review!

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 320
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Title: The Tinderbox
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

With her Amish parents’ twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller stumbles across a surprise–the old brass tinderbox her clockmaker father keeps in his Lancaster County shop has been left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the cherished heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life.

Sylvia’s bewilderment grows when her father confronts her about snooping in the box. To her amazement, the respected convert to the Old Order reacts as if he has something to hide.

Burdened by the weight of his deception, Earnest Miller decides he must reveal the details about his past to his beloved wife, Rhoda. The long-kept secret alters everything for the close-knit family, jeopardizing Earnest and Rhoda’s relationship, as well as threatening Sylvia’s recent engagement to the preacher’s grandson.

Can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness and acceptance?

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I’ve heard about Beverly Lewis books for years. From everything I’ve heard I knew she didn’t write my style books, but I still was curious and wanted to give them a try. When this one was offered to me I thought it sounded interesting without sounding too romantic, so I requested to review it.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

When I thought Miss Beverly’s books wouldn’t be my style I was correct. But, as I read this book I found it surprisingly interesting. So, let’s hit my three pros and three cons.

Pros:
1. The worldbuilding was amazing. This was my favorite part of the book. Whenever I picked up The Tinderbox I felt my world slip away as I entered the story in the book.
2. The differences in speech were done well enough that it emersed me in the story instead of confusing me. I’ve read a couple of books featuring Amish over the years and the authors always throw in some Pennsylvania Dutch words here and there to make it seem authentic. Most of the time though, those attempts just annoy me. But, in this book, they felt natural and helped the story along.
3. Although how everything played out annoyed me, I thought that everything the characters did seemed like very reasonable actions. The characters felt real and multi-layered, and I did like the relationships they had with each other.

Cons:
1. This book was nice and idyllic, which I’m sure was the point. For me though, I like a bit more of a plot. I guess if I cared more about the characters then I would have been more invested in how their lives played out. As it was though, I found the pace too slow.
2. How things were dealt with – while being very realistic – bothered me. Of course, this is 100% preference and probably wouldn’t bother everyone the same way.
3. Neither the “reveal” to the secret nor the plot twist (I think that’s what it was?) surprised me at all.

CONCLUSION

If this was a book written by one of my favorite authors I probably would have given it two stars because it wasn’t my style. As it was, I was very pleasantly surprised although I don’t think I’ll be reading more of Miss Beverly’s books. I am impressed by her writing though, and especially her worldbuilding.

**Content note: Two of the POV characters are a married couple that are having issues – as the back cover says. I thought everything was tastefully written, but it does allude to how bad their relationship problems are affecting every part of thier lives.

RATING

I’m giving The Tinderbox three out of five stars – Thank you to Bethany Publishers for giving me a book to review.

Between Two Shores

Y’all, you know it’s a good book when I can’t stop talking about it. Well, here my official review is, so I’ll at least stop talking about it for a while. 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 409
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Title: Between Two Shores
Fiction

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WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Jocelyn Green writes some of the best Historical Fiction, so she’s one of the few authors on my auto-buy (or auto-review) list. I was so excited when Bethany Publishers chose this as their book to send out physical copies to for their reviewers and right away jumped at the chance to have it in my library.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I have so many thoughts about this book – some of which I’ve shared on my blog and Instagram (if you want my extra bookish musings you can follow me there), but now I’m endeavoring to write an actual review.

Style: This book skips back and forth in time periods (over a ten-year range) which really isn’t my favorite but I see how it was necessary to tell the full story. Miss Jocelyn did a great job of keeping the backstory snippets suffice and on-point so they didn’t take away from the story we were in the middle of, plus she did a good job of keeping the time periods as unconfusing as possible.

Characters: I didn’t really jive with any of the characters, yet the story was so skillfully written and kept my interest to the point that my lack of relatability didn’t bother me.
Catherine: Seeing Catherine trying to bridge two worlds was heart-tugging and beautifully written. I can imagine that the life Cathrine lived and tried to be a part of was what a lot of children in that era experienced. Watching her struggle to find acceptance and purpose and her identity without actually saying that’s what she was doing most of the time was amazing and reminded me of what a great storyteller Miss Jocelyn was. Catherine was my favorite character and I’m so glad we got to see the world through her eyes.
Catherine’s Mohawk Family: These characters made the story for me. They hardly ever did what I wanted them to do, yet what they did was so in-line with who they were and I applauded every move they made as keeping in character, even when I wished they were different.
Catherine’s Other Family: Her dad and Thankful were both so thoroughly written and real and made me expereince all the emotions that an author should invoke in a well-crafted character.
I’m not going to say much about other characters because of spoilers, but I will say I wished I would have liked some of them more because if I had, then the one major plot twist would have hit me a lot harder than it did. More below.

Plot: This book really does focus mainly on the history of the time period which was a refreshing difference from Historical Fiction books that put far too much emphasis on the romance. In fact, every time I thought it might be going in a direction that would take away from the history Miss Jocelyn reeled it back in and I was like “Way to go!”
While reading this book I got so involved in the story that I literally couldn’t remember who won the war. We get to see it from Catherine’s point of view, and she’s pretty much being tugged every direction. Forgetting how the war ended actually really helped me stay riveted to the page and what to find out what in the world would happen next. It also made me skim some because of the suspense.
There was a plot twist in the book that when I first read it I was like “Oh.” But then as I kept reading I was like “Oh! My! LANDS!” And I knew how that plot twist turned out, in the end, would determine my rating for the book. Thankfully, the author did what I hoped and the book got a solid four-star rating from me.

CONCLUSION

Someone on Instagram asked why I only gave the book four stars while I was raving about it, so here’s my answer: I very rarely rate a book five stars (for example, last year I read 79 fiction books and gave only one of them five stars), that means that for me a four-star rating is actually really high. And, although I really liked Between Two Shores and was exceedingly pleased with how Miss Jocelyn handled the plot twist and created the characters, the fact that the style wasn’t my favorite and I didn’t really relate to the characters held me back from giving it the illusive five-stars.

There were some battle scenes in the book that were a bit detailed, plus some abuse, manipulation, drunkenness, etc… But all of these were handled with care and the violence can easily be skimmed without losing out on the plot. (And, it was very realistic for a historical fiction book set during a war.)

RATING

I’m giving Between Two Shores 4 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Growing Forward

 

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Title: Growing Forward
Nonfiction

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BACK COVER BLURB

After life is shattered by loss or a traumatic experience–whether big or small–it can seem impossible to heal or even move on. Deep down you believe God intends good for you, but you just don’t have the energy or strength to figure out how to move forward.

Author Laurie Pawlik has been there, and here she shares how she flourished despite multiple losses. Through practical tips and thought-provoking questions, she helps you take small yet powerful steps toward healing and letting go. She also offers insights and encouragement from the lives of strong women in the Bible. You’ll glimpse the painful losses these women experienced and learn how they flourished despite seasons of hardship and grief. You’ll discover how God shows His presence and power in the valleys, deserts, and storms. And you’ll feel a fresh sense of hope that, with God, you can redefine yourself, remake your life, and grow forward into a beautiful new season.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I don’t actually remember why I requested this book. It looks interesting though, and I like learning what helps other people and seeing through the eyes of people who have gone through things I haven’t gone through.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

While reading this book it was easy to tell that the author was a blogger. I’m not sure how to describe the style, except that there were several “segments” in each chapter, and quite often those segments reminded me of blog posts or at least snippets of blog posts. I’ve this done before where it bothers me, but this time I actually found the style made the book easy to read. There were plenty of places where I could set it down and then pick it back up without feeling like the flow was interrupted. This was good for reading whenever I had a few extra minutes.

The author did a great job of showing that her life wasn’t perfect, but without going into a pity party or too much detail regarding what she had faced. I really thought she hit a good balance with that, and it showed that she really has found a healthy way to deal with a lot of bad stuff – growing forward – which is what the book is all about.

There was a lot of solid information in this book. We got to look at different characters from the Bible and learn from their stories – what they did and didn’t do correctly and how people around them were impacted.

Sadly, there was also some information that I didn’t agree with. There were multiple things that I think are okay for someone to do on their own, but it can be dangerous to teach it in a removed setting such as a book. For instance, while talking about a very traumatic experience, the author said that every time it came to mind she would play the “What Then” game with Jesus, where she says what’s horrible, and Jesus says “What then?” and they keep going until she’s realized that He’s with her and she’ll be okay. I’m not saying that I think this is wrong, but it felt a little bit sacrilegious how it was written in the book. Which brings me to another part I didn’t like: I felt like she made God seem almost too human in the book. Yes, He’s our friend. And Yes, He can relate to us. And Yes, He loves us and wants to have a special relationship with us. Yet, at the same time, He is holy and deserves respect, and although I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean to bring Him down to our level in a disrespectful way, at times I felt like she did.

There were a few more things I didn’t like or agree with, like this sentence, God created crayons, paints, paper, shapes, textures, and tones – use His handicrafts to talk to Him! I understand the point that the author is trying to make, and I agree with it. But God didn’t create crayons and paints and paper, and although it’s a little thing when the little things pile up they drop my rating of the book.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the book has a lot of good information, suggestions, and an easy-to-read style. I would say if you want to read it, go for it! Just read it with an open mind and match what she says against the Bible. 🙂

RATING

I’m giving Growing Forward 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Bless Your Husband {What, She’s Reading Marriage Books Now?}

And she’s back with another book review!

I’m working at getting back in the habit of reading nonfiction after a long (unintentional) break this year, and goodness, reading nonfiction really is something I enjoy. So yay!

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FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: October 16, 2018

BACK COVER BLURB:

Sometimes, choosing to love your husband is hard. Whether you’ve been married one year or 31 years, chances are he’s done things that have frustrated you, angered you, hurt you, or flabbergasted you. But after arguing over how to load the dishwasher yet again, you might be wondering how you can show him that you really do love him.

In as little as 15 minutes a day, you can do something meaningful for your husband and grow in your faith. From washing his car to writing a positive post about him on social media to watching his favorite movie with him, these pages are full of creative, simple, and interactive ideas on how to bless your husband. You’ll discover daily Scripture verses, inspirational readings, and journaling prompts to encourage you as well!

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK:

During the last few years I’ve read a lot of parenting books. I thought perhaps it was time for me to read some marriage ones, too. 😉 Disclaimer, folks: I’m not married, nor have I ever been, so I’m not exactly the target audience for this book. I just enjoy learning and growing and figured this book could help with that.

Besides, on a somewhat shallow note, I really like the cover. It’s crisp, clean, welcoming, cozy, and looks pretty much like an Instagram photo.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK:

This book was a breeze to read through because it’s full of challenges that you’re supposed to work on as you go along, and then has a lot of lines for the reader to fill out how the challenges went, what they worked on, etc… Since I’m single I obviously didn’t do the challenges so instead of reading the book over a six week period, I read it in one week.

If you were to ask me to describe the book in one word it would be Pratical. The book is full of good ideas, challenges, suggestions, and examples that all kept with the theme of being very practical and things that pretty much any wife would be able to do. It’s written for a large range of wives – those with everything under control, those who have lots of attention-grabbing little kids, and those who feel like their marriage is about to fall apart.

The author continually goes back to the Bible to back up what she has to say, and that was a big winner for me. She gives great ideas of things to pray for your husband, verses to memorize that will help you be a better wife, and how to find strength from God during hard times. She also shares candidly (although not in detail) how her marriage hasn’t always been a bed of roses, and how she’s had to grow as a wife. That made her seem very relatable and lent credence to her words.

The main thing that I thought was a little bit weird was that there were hashtags for each of the challenges. (Like, you make his favorite meal then if you want to post online you could with a specific hashtag, etc…) I understand that this is because the author has a whole online community for wives, so I guess it is nice for them to be able to look up the hashtags and get ideas. It just seems strange to me. 😉

CONCLUSION:

This book was written for wives, so there’s obviously wife-ish things in it, but nothing too detailed.

Overall it was very encouraging, uplifting, and as I said, practical.

RATING:

I’m giving Bless Your Husband 4 out of 5 stars and am thankful for the publishers for sending me it for free. (Well, so I could write the review, but you know….)

In Hidden Places {Book Review}

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Find It On:
Amazon
Goodreads

Why I Choose This Book:

Miss Tracie’s books are really hit or miss for me – either I am delighted at how she weaves the story together with the history of that day, or else I’m annoyed by the romances and can’t stand the book. This one is set in San Fransico, a city I actually like, and therefore I decided to give it ago. (I don’t like a ton of cities, folks, I’m so much more of a country/small town girl.)

What I Thought About the Book:

First off, I’m quite amused that every other chapter in the book they were talking about how dangerous San Fransico is. In fact, I felt like we didn’t get much of a glimpse into the world building there, except for the dangerous side. Which, considering the book is about her brother who totally disappeared, I guess that makes sense. It simply made me laugh that I was like “Oh, I like this city so I’ll read this book” and then the book was like “This is a scary and dangerous place to be.”

Land sakes, people. The main character. Sheesh, she was one little stuck up snob, but not in the way that characters are generally stuck up snobs. It actually tickled me as much as it ticked me because she was really well written. And her character arch was really good. And she was all around a character who seemed very believable. But wow, she still has a far piece to come.

There were a few things that confused me – like why the main girl needed to get a job right away. It eventually made some sense to me, but I wish the need would have been developed more.

The friendship between the girls was nice, and somewhat of a spin on how I feel a lot of books are. The writing was descriptive. The facts well-displayed. It was interesting to immerse myself in that time period and realize how much has changed in the last 115 years.

I really liked this book, to the point where I would have given it four stars if it weren’t for four things:
1. The romance – most of the book it was fine and I didn’t mind it, but then at the end, it moved way too fast and I wanted to roll my eyes and be like “Yo! You don’t know each other so slow it down”
2. There were so many points of views. I know this is totally a preference here, but I have a really hard time when I get to know exactly what’s going on in everybody’s head. For instance, several of the characters think one guy is bad, but instead of letting the reader try and figure it out for themselves, we hop over into that guy’s head and find out if he’s bad or not. That took away a lot of the mystery and suspense for me
3. There was a little bit with the conclusion of the mystery that made me feel cheated. We’d come so far to figure it out and then poof! Mystery solved just like that
4. The writing wasn’t tight. Sometimes I think that when an author gets really good, they kind of ride on their own success, instead of ensuring that each book is as polished as it really should be

Conclusion:

This book isn’t one I would recommend for anyone under the age of sixteen. Part of the story takes place inside a brothel, which didn’t go into much detail, but still. Also, there’s some violence, but nothing detailed or creepy.

*Thanks to the publishing house for giving me a copy to review

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Where To Find Free Books {Vlog}

Y’all! Free books are AMAZING! It’s so much fun to get packages of books in the mail – especially when you don’t have to pay anything for them. I counted it up today and was rather surprised (and delighted) to discover that I’ve received 53 books in exchange for review already this year. And then after counting them I went and got the mail only to find yet another book package had arrived. #SoMuchCoolnessRightThereFolks

Do you get books free in exchange for review? If so, what review programs do you work with?