Sunday, December 29, 2019

Reviewer's bookshelf: "The Piper's Pursuit" by Melanie Dickerson

Book Summary: A fairy-tale journey of intrigue and romance that reimagines the classic Pied Piper story.
A plague of rats. A giant beast outside the village walls. A host of missing children. And one young woman determined to save her people.
In 1424 Hamlin, Katerina faces threats from all sides. An outbreak of rats has overtaken the village, a mysterious beast is on a killing rampage of the village’s children, and Katerina’s evil stepfather is a dark presence inside the walls of her own home. Katerina is determined to hunt and kill the Beast of Hamlin herself before more lives are lost.
When Steffan, the handsome but brash duke’s son, comes to town seeking glory and reward, Katerina decides he might be the ally she’s been looking for—even though the only gentle thing about him seems to be the sweet music he plays on his pipe. But there’s more to Steffan than she suspects, and she finds herself drawn to him despite her misgivings.
Together Katerina and Steffan must stop the enemy from stealing the children of Hamlin. But their interference might create an even worse fate for the entire village.

My thoughts.... From the very beginning, this novel had non-stop action. There is also mystery as the main characters try to solve why the children of the town of Hamlin are disappearing. Melanie Dickerson writes strong female characters, which is exactly what I want my daughter to read as she is always looking for a new book to dive into. In the case of Katarina, she has to learn to trust again as she has been hurt by those who were supposed to protect her. The positive and spiritual messages that were conveyed through the journey that Katarina went on were so well written. I also liked that despite the wounds of her past, Katarina did not use it as an excuse to be bitter and withdrawn...she was brave and never gave up fighting for those who weren't as strong as she was. Life lessons were not only taught through Katarina's story, but also through Steffan's story. In Dickerson's previous book, Steffan makes an appearance as a selfish younger son who tries to bring fortune and fame to himself through some bad choices. "The Piper's Pursuit" shows Steffan's journey is one of humbling himself and pursing forgiveness from those that he has hurt. He also realizes that there are other ways that one can go about being brave and strong. As I read the book, I tried to see it through the intended audience, which is Young Adult. There is a wonderful balance of age appropriate action, romantic tension, and addressing situations that are difficult but described in just the right amount of detail. On a personal note, I love that my daughter (who is 12) and I can share in our love of books together through authors like Melanie. Thanks for another great read!

**I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Rebel Bride" by Shannon McNear

Book Summary...Can Love Form Amidst Tensions of War?During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

My thoughts....The Civil War was such a complex time in our nation's history. Each book I've read in this time period presents a different perspective and always interesting food for thought. In this tenth book of  The Daughters of the Mayflower series, both the North and the South are well represented through Pearl and Joshua as well as other supporting characters. I really appreciated that there was no definitive right or wrong side in this story...the reader had to decide for him/herself which position they wanted to take. Even this, however, was not easy to come by. History shows that there really wasn't a "right" or "wrong"...both sides paid dearly with many lives lost and much blood spilled. Pearl and Joshua both had to take a moment to see the war from the "enemy" perspective and both had to serve each other in ways they did not anticipate. The tomantic tension between them was also influenced by their political tension...almost a Romeo and Juliet effect. Thankfully, while the death toll in the Civil War was tragic, this story does not end in the same way that Romeo and Juliet did. I would definitely recommend this novel along with others in this series! Check out my reviews of a few other books I've reviewed in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Liberty Bride
The Cumberland Bride (also by Shannon McNear)
The Captured Bride

**I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.**

Monday, December 2, 2019

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Painted Castle" by Kristy Cambron

Book Summary (Amazon): When art historian Keira Foley is hired to authenticate a painting at a centuries-old East Suffolk manor, she hopes this is just the thing to get her career and life back on track. But from the time she arrives at Parham Hill Estate and begins working alongside rumored art thief Emory Scott, she’s left with far more questions than answers. Could this lost painting of Queen Victoria be a duplicate of the original Winterhalter masterpiece, and if so, who is the artist?
As Keira begins to unravel the mystery behind the portrait, two women emerge from the estate’s forgotten past. In Victorian England, talented sketch artist Elizabeth Meade is engaged to Viscount Huxley, then owner of Parham Hill. However, Elizabeth’s real motive for being at Parham Hill has nothing to do with art or marriage. She’s determined to avenge her father’s brutal murder—even if it means a betrothal to the very man she believes committed the crime.
A century later, Amelia Woods—a World War II widow who has turned Parham Hill and its beloved library into a boarding school for refugee children—receives military orders to house a troop of American pilots. She is determined the children in her care will remain untouched by the war, but the task is proving difficult with officers taking up every square inch of their world . . . and one in particular vying for a space in Amelia’s long-shut up heart.
Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the peak of England’s home-front tensions at the end of WWII, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a story of heartache and hope and unlocks secrets lost for generations just waiting to be found.
My thoughts... When I read a time slip novel, I'm looking for a couple of things. I want all of the plot lines to be interesting and for each have their own unique contribution to the novel as a whole. When one plot line stands out above another, it just makes it harder to get through...I just want to skip to my favorite part. It's always nice, too, when each story line comes together in a clever way. The Painted Castle is the third book in The Lost Castle series by Kristy Cambron. In my opinion, each book in this series just gets better and better! Those things I look for...all of them were in this novel! Each story was very unique, had its own mysteries to unravel, and had an incredible amount of romantic tension..almost to the point of frustration ;-). This book did not feel like three get what feels like a full novel in each time period, which I appreciated. I also loved how a singular painting of Queen Victoria connected all three stories. Kristy Cambron added so much rich detail, which always draws me in. I'm a visual person, so being able to create images in my mind is important to me as a reader, and I was certainly able to do that throughout this novel. If you haven't read any of this series, I would suggest starting at the beginning. Each book brings a unique set of stories all connected with the castle theme...which is, honestly, a big part of why I picked them up in the first place. 

**I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.**