3 1/2 Stars, Five Stars, Four Stars, High Violence, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van

Empathy

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Weekly Reading Round Up

Romancing the Rake (Brotherhood of the Black Tartan book 2) by Nichole Van512MgKu-MUL

Confession, I (Nikki) get book hangover from Nichole Van’s books. Every. Single. Time. After finishing one of her books I can’t start another for a couple days, (which is kind of a big deal in my life). Even if I try to start another one I can’t get into it until I flush the fabulousness of Nichole Van’s writing out of my system. Not that whatever I pick isn’t also fabulous, but… book hangover. Her characters are not only layered, but uniquely engaging with specific quirks that you love. Rafe and Sophie were fascinating studies in human nature. Nichole Van is an expert at hooks. She keeps you reading well past your “one more chapter” and gives you so many leads (in a good way) that you’re never really sure of the outcome until you’re reading it. My most favorite thing about this book was how it showcased the author’s ability to get you to feel empathy, not just compassion or sympathy, but true empathy for the characters. I feel like’s it’s an understatement to say it gave me all the feels.

***** Low Language, Low Violence (though physical violence is low, just a heads up the book deals kind of heavily with emotional abuse, but it’s handled very well) Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Lost Shadow (Neverwood Chronicles Book 3) by Chanda Hahn 51ijCvA+nrL

I (Aimee) loved the pace of this book. It was exciting and the author kept the suspense up.  There were a few times when I was so mad at the character for being stupid, I had to put the book down and walk away. Sometimes I can’t decide if that’s a good thing because I’m super invested in the characters or a bad thing because it pulled me out of the story. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t going to be able to close up all the loops because there was so much happening that something I had a hard time following it all, but she wrapped it all up at the end and even had a “whoa, I did not see that coming” kind of ending.

*** (and a 1/2) Low Language, High Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

I (Melanie) had a thing for quarterbacks and Maggie Dallen this week apparently. I read:

The Quarterback and the Ballerina (The Ballerina Academy book 1) by Maggie Dallen 51MDGPg1UGLand Anne-Marie Meyer

and

Dating the Quarterback (The Bet Duet Book 2) by Maggie Dallen517nAIhDdGL

 

Both books were quick fun reads with characters that had depth and well written growth. Both were super cute.

****Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Five Stars, Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Lucy McConnell, Moderate Language, Moderate Romance, Nancy Campbell Allen, Sheralyn Pratt, Three Stars

No More Adulting

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Weekly Reading Round Up

Don’t Kiss Your Lab Partner by Lucy McConnell 51DKGSj1DAL
When I don’t want to adult anymore my go to reading is always young adult novels. They make me smile. Lucy McConnell is a favorite of ours, so when she comes out with an young adult novel on a week I’m really done adulting, it’s a time to rejoice. This was just what I needed. It was a quick, cute, fun read.  Adelle was an adorable character that you love right away. Such a great start to a new series.

**** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Road Trip with the Enemy by Kelsie Stelting411m+rv2+ZL

A little ironic that two of us picked young adult books this week that dealt with grief and death. Especially when that seems to be something so many are dealing with currently. The author handled it really well, such good emotion.  There were a few things that Sydney’s character did that I wouldn’t want my teenager to think was an okay way of grieving, but the author did a really good job of showing how people cope and grieve differently and the ramifications of that.

*** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen51SYSmFZNlL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

I have been waiting rather impatiently for the next steampunk fairy tale. These books are so unique. They balance romance, suspense, fantasy and fairy tale components so well. This one however, wasn’t my favorite. The plot was intriguing and the suspense kept me engaged, but there were a few elements I’d come to expect from the others that felt missing in this one. I found myself often distracted from an otherwise interesting plot because I was trying to figure out the Cinderella aspects. In the other books in this series, the fairy tale connection felt natural and ingenious, this one felt a little forced. I really like the two sides of the same coin concept in the enemies to lovers trope. There were definitely swoon worthy moments between Emme and Oliver and I loved their snarkiness.  I may need to go back and read the last book to see if there’s a little more back story between the two characters that I just don’t remember, because the romance felt a little rushed. Despite not being my favorite, you can bet I’ll be waiting just as impatiently for the next steampunk fairy tale. I love this unique and wonderful world the author has created. 

*** Low Language, Moderate Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

The Kiss That Launched 1,000 GIFS by Sheralyn Pratt 51g4igC4vsL

Not only is this book light and fun, and witty. The perfect romantic comedy. It also has moments of honesty about relationships that make me want to say, hey everyone, read this! I really love her writing so much!

***** Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Low Religion.

 

 

The Ghost of You and Me by Kelly Oram pro_pbid_4258569

One of us stayed up until one o’clock in the morning reading this book, that’s how good it was. The author did a really good job of writing both sides of grief. There was accurate portrayals of what it’s like to be the one grieving and what it’s like to be the one on the outside affected.  The conversations and the emotions were real. It’s one I’d actually re-read.

**** Moderate Language, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Low Religion

Five Stars, Four Stars, Heidi Kimball, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Melanie Cellier, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence, Sian Ann Bessey

Genuine Reality

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Weekly Reading Round-up

A Man Worth Shaving For by Michelle Pennington 52215585._SY475_

Fun and flirty in a refreshing kind of way, but also honest. Tessa is a delightfully relatable character and the plot made me smile from the first page. Logan’s “data analysis” was an adorable addition.  The whole story is a pretty fantastic romantic comedy.

***** low language, moderate romance, low violence, low religion

The Heart of The Rebellion by Sian Ann Bessey pro_pbid_4457231

My favorite historical fictions are ones that prompt me to learn more outside of the book, and this one definitely did that! I found myself googling all sorts of welsh history the more I was pulled into the fascinating plot. The characters, even the minor ones, were well developed and I found myself interested in every little thing going on. The author balanced the medieval history with romance and rebellion to make for a well rounded, fascinating read.

**** low language, low romance, moderate violence, low religion

Where The Stars Meet the Sea by Heidi Kimball pro_pbid_4542127

This book has so much heart, there are so many powerful emotions you feel every one right to your core. Juliet is what every heroine should be and Halstead is her well written foil. Their romance brings out the best in each character. The author balances the tension and the humor very well. I think my favorite part is their counterparts, both Robert and Lady Margaret, aren’t “villains”. Neither character is malicious or catty, all the characters are flawed and all have some redeeming characteristics giving the novel a genuine feeling that I loved. I must admit I was pulled out of the story every so often because I never felt it was clear what Juliet’s mother’s standing in society had been before she married her husband. I might have missed it, but it was alluded to so often I wished for more than “a gentleman’s daughter”. Obviously the minor curiosity didn’t deter the five star rating, it was that good.

***** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

A Princess of Wind and Wave by Melanie Cellier 51nfuIzMkWL

Aimee was the last one of the three of us to read this cute retelling of The Little Mermaid and we all loved it. There was a lot of it that kept us guessing. The author always weaves in important parts of the original while making the story so unique. The other thing that I love about her writing is how subtly she pulls in messages that uplift and inspire. She’s one of our favorite young adult fairy tale writers.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

Annette K. Larsen, Esther Hatch, Five Stars, Four Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Nichole Van, Rachael Anderson, Uncategorized

Fanciful

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Weekly Reading Round-up

A Note of Change (Timeless Victorian Collection book 5)

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Waiting for the Post by Esther Hatch –  A fun and lighthearted second chance romance with just the right amount of angst.

A Ring of Gold by Nichole Van – I love her writing. Sometimes while reading you connect with a character, or the plot. On rare occasions you find a writer whose writing, her words, her characters, her humor, her descriptions; the whole story speaks to your soul. Nichole Van’s writing is like that for me every single time. This one was no different.

A Rose by Any Other Name by Annette Lyon – A  cute cinderella story with sweet tender moments. I felt like the descriptions were a little wordy for me, but the romance was really well developed for a novella.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

PowerPlayHeather B Moore51ZsIjNEAJL

I’m more drawn to romances that are both sweet and realistic and this story was both. Sometimes when reading a romance the adults, don’t actually act like adults. I loved these characters and I loved their dynamic! Though I know next to nothing about hockey…it made me want to go to a hockey game.

**** low language, moderate romance, low violence, low religion

 

A Foolish HeartMartha Keyes50390637._SY475_

This story was absolutely delightful. As a fan A Midsummer’s Night Dream I was interested to see how she would tweak it. I loved all the subtle nods to the original and found it fascinating how she twined in the different original characters. I especially appreciated Mercy’s character development. Her grown maturity was well written. The author created really great tension and some awesome scene shifts. As a whole it was highly entertaining; a some how fanciful and yet realistic regency. (released March 3rd, pre-order now!)

***** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

All That Stands Between UsAnnette K. Larsen 51gPBtupRLL._SY346_

A more healthy Romeo and Juliet with a Happily Ever After. My favorite thing about Annette Larsen’s writing is the emotion. As I read her stories I always feel every tug and pull of the character’s heart as if it was my own. All her stories are beautiful and this one was no different. I always come away feeling more.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

The Solicitor’s Son –  Rachael Anderson51-249QIswL

All her covers are beautiful I could just live in them. I love the familial relationships she always builds so well, they were so invested in her happiness. Rachael Anderson is a great story teller and this one is Super adorable!

****low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

Anneka Walker, Five Stars, Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Violence, Rebecca Connolly, Three Stars

Trying something new…

Weekly Reading Round-up

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Melanie… 

The Masked Baron by Anneka Walker  

Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorite fairy tales so I’m super skeptical of re-tellings. At first I wasn’t sure if I loved where this one was going. The more I got into the story, the more I loved what she did with it. The story is a little more fantastical, a lot of high drama, so keep that in mind going in. I especially loved how she ended it. (releases March 2nd!)

**** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Fall From Trace by Rebecca Connolly

This book has been built up since the beginning of The London League. All the intrigue has been building for four books, and it did not disappoint!  Rebecca Connolly is an expert at romance and her attention to detail in that category makes every scene swoon worthy. She has excellent character development and I came away loving the story and it’s characters. I feel like her actions scenes are sometimes missing that attention to detail, a little rushed maybe, but it doesn’t make me love her stories any less.

***** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Nikki…

Most of my reading this week was taken up with my local book club’s book

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I loved this book! I loved how it reminded me of my grandfather’s. Both of whom seemed a little prickly on the outside, but had hearts of gold. I loved the humor, the emotions, and the metaphors. The metaphors! Huge fan of his writing style and am now adding “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” and “Britt-Marie was Here” to my tbr list.

***** Moderate Language, Moderate Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion 

I also fit in two novellas:

Lady Mary Contrary by Anneka Walker

I really liked the plot idea. I have a soft spot for friends to lovers books. I however had a hard time ever feeling completely invested in the story.  Their banter was well written, I just never connect personally to the characters.

*** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

and, A Highlander’s Hidden Heart by Julie Coulter Bellon

This story had such a great cute meet. I loved the resolution the author provided between the heroine and her parents, but the overall story felt a little rushed, even for a Novella. I would love to see this story flushed out a little more. The characters had such great potential of both the heroic and villainous kind.

*** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Aimee…

My little one has been sick for what seems like days on end so my days have been filled with reading Little Blue Truck Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, and Dear Zoo which are fantastic, if you’re a one year old 😉

 

 

4 1/2 stars, Five Stars, Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Moderate Violence

We’re Family

Last night we had our monthly family dinner with my side of the family. My family is big and loud and I love them! Family dynamics are complicated and messy. That’s one of the reasons they’re so compelling in books. I love it when a romance author takes that into account and weaves just as much familial relationships into their stories. I’ve read three books recently that did that very well.

Promised by debut author Leah Garriott releases tomorrow!

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This novel was adorable. The few predictable plot points were handled so uniquely I was captivated the whole way through.

The romance was swoon worthy and developed expertly. My favorite relationship however was between the siblings. Their support and teasing and understanding of each other really connected me to the story.

I was enchanted by this debut author and can’t wait to see what she does next!

**Five Stars – Low Violence, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Lakeshire Park by new author Megan Walker releases April 7th, and can be preordered now!

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This is a beautiful regency romance. The author’s words are emotionally driven in the best way, with compelling descriptions.

The author expertly pitted romantic love against familial love. In so many ways the two most important relationships were butted up against each other. It made for a very compelling read and gave depth to the story as a whole.

I was absolutely delighted with the book from start to finish and am crossing my fingers for more from the side characters. Please tell me Georgiana gets her own story!

**Four and 1/2 Stars – Low Violence, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Kit and Elizabeth by well known romance author Karen Tuft just came out in December.

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As tender as this romance story was, I felt like the real beauty of the book shone in Lady Elizabeth’s transformation. The back and forth emotions of someone trying to break out of neglectful abuse was very well done. Lady Elizabeth was a complex well written character who I was rooting for all the way.

Kit was an equally well written foil for Elizabeth. The author had a very good balance between strong characters and captivating plot. The whole book was a beautiful example of the necessity of both placing and pushing boundaries in our relationships.

The one plot point I struggled with was the letter Elizabeth wrote to the Duke of Aylesham. I kept expecting it to shift something, and when it didn’t I felt like it was just distracting from the more important things going on. However, taking this unnecessarily plot point and giving it life in the Duke’s own story could be a delightful little twist, just saying.

**Four Stars – Low Language, Low Romance, Low Religion, Moderate Violence

 

Five Stars, Joanna Barker, Josi S. Kilpack, Nancy Campbell Allen, Rebecca Connolly, Sarah M. Eden

Know what you Like

It’s common knowledge that one of us is a sucker for a good historical fiction romance. Therefore it comes as no surprise that my favorite reads of 2019 that were released in 2019 looks like this….

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**This doesn’t include books I read in 2018 that we’re released this year or books I read this year that we’re released previously.

In no particular order…

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower: https://bookconfessionsblog.com/2019/08/05/dream/

A Tip of the Cap: I read this book right at the height of my house saleing month and I didn’t realize until now, thought I grammed about it, I never blogged about! So here you go: Rebecca Connolly is one of my favorite authors not just for her stories and characters, but the whit and charm that suffuses each of them. The London League is possibly my favorite series by her and it was a huge toss up between this one and By Hook or By Rook, but may I remind you, this one made me cry… in public. So take that for what it’s worth.

A Song for the Stars: https://bookconfessionsblog.com/2019/04/26/youre-welcome/

Daisies and Devotion: https://bookconfessionsblog.com/2019/05/13/1733/

The Heart of a Vicar: https://bookconfessionsblog.com/2019/08/08/shattered-notions/

Secrets and Suitors: https://bookconfessionsblog.com/2019/10/01/best-kept-secret/

Here’s to another year of amazing reads!!

 

 

 

 

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Religion

A Mysterious Read

In some things we sisters are very similar and in other things, like our love of certain holidays we are very, very different. Halloween would probably fall to number 6 out of my top 10 favorite holidays, and the only reason it’s even number 6 is because I enjoy dressing up.
But haunted houses, scary movies, books and corn fields I could do without, forever. I do not enjoy being scared even a little bit.
However, I do love a good mystery , Especially when it’s unpredictable.
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“When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.
When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.”
 
Joanna Davidson Politano‘s novel is the prefect blend of mystery and romance. I appreciated that even though they were solving a murder and there was talk of ghosts, I could still read it at night before bed without needing to sleep with the light on.
The author’s character development was great. She stayed true to the characters true self. Even as they grew and changed it wasn’t like they were suddenly a different character all together.
The story was unpredictable in nature, but I did not even get close to guess the ending and there were twists and turns that I did not see coming. It is definitely a great read, and one you don’t want to read the ending of first. I’m talking to you Nikki. –MV
Five Stars, Joanna Barker, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Best Kept Secret

My husband is an awful secret keeper, like really bad. It’s actually quite reassuring as his wife that he’s such a bad liar, except when we’re planning a big surprise vacation for the kids. Here’s hoping we can make it the next month without him spilling his excitement.

This book however, is one surprise I’m willing to share. Secrets and Suitors by Joanna Barker is a surprising delight. This might possibly be my new favorite regency romance, it was that good.

41zQ9+F3mQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Reluctantly returning to London for yet another Season, shy Nora Hamilton has nearly given up hope that she will ever find the love match she longs for. After all, the one man she does harbor feelings for—her closest friend, James—has made it perfectly clear he views her as just that: a friend. With James traveling half a world away and Nora’s father pressuring her to marry for wealth and status, Nora is forced to set aside her desire for love and accept the future she has always dreaded.

Until James returns unexpectedly and Nora’s feelings once again rush unbearably close to the surface. Determined to save what is left of their friendship, Nora ignores her own heart and allows herself to be swept up in the London Season, soon finding herself the object of two very different gentlemen’s affections. Though she should be thrilled, both men come with a glaring fault: neither is the one man who holds her heart.

I don’t even know where to start…Joanna wrote such a fascinating character in Nora. She’s shy and reserved, but not necessarily polite and demur. She yearns for romance, but is able to be practical. She can be both selfless and self serving. She was so very unique and yet so very human, I liked her immensely.

Each of Joanna’s books have immediately pulled me in, to not just the story, but the whole experience. A well written romance usually follows a pattern, and the more of them you read, the more you are able to anticipate the pattern. (ie. Cue appropriate tension, and this is the moment when they recognize their feelings for each other, and this is about when all heck breaks loose, and close with an excellent denouement.) A good story naturally follows this pattern, a great story follows the pattern without your anticipating or expecting it. This is how Joanna writes. I’m always curious where she’s going next.  On the other hand I never anticipate what’s coming, because I’m have too much fun with the page I’m on.  That largely has to do with her ability to write with so much emotion.

The thing I admire the most about Joanna’s writing, including this one, is her stories are not just romances.  At their roots, their about love; sisterly love, parental love, family heartbreak and healing. Though the chemistry is there, it’s more about connections, and that is what makes a story timeless.

Five Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

Empowerment

Last night I had the privilege of being in the same room as some pretty incredible women. I felt slightly intimidated most of the night, but came away from the evening feeling empowered. Women have the potential to do such good in the world.

I’m all about girl power, however I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist. At least not in the way it’s used across social platforms today. My ability to do good and be good, does not in anyway diminish my husbands ability to do and be good, and it doesn’t mean I need him any less. One of the women on the panel last night said, when you allow yourself to shine, you make those around you shine brighter.

H.B. Moore was able to do exactly that with her character Deborah in the historical fiction Deborah: Prophetess of God.

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Deborah, a young Israelite woman, lives a quiet and isolated life with her father and brothers. As a shepherdess in the hills near her home, she knows well the perils of her work. But when faced with incredible danger, she witnesses a series of remarkable events that preserve her life. The hand of the Lord is apparent, and it is clear that hers will be no ordinary life.

Years later, Deborah is a faithful wife and mother when she learns that the Third Judge of Israel has died–and she has been called to take his place. It is a tumultuous time in history, and soon, Deborah–prophetess, judge, and military leader–faces a seemingly insurmountable task: alongside the commander of the Israelite army, Deborah must lead ten thousand soldiers in their final campaign against their Canaanite oppressors with only her faith in God to guide her.”

Heather Moore has taken a rather short story in the book of Judges and created a beautiful character and an empowering story.

Heather creates in Deborah a fascinating balance. Deborah is humble yet strong. She’s obedient, but strong willed.

The story it self is also a beautiful balance between women empowerment, family support, religious dedication and sweet romance.

I especially appreciated how she dealt with the relationship between Deborah and the men in her life. In spite of  her prestigious calling, Deborah was respectful, loving and empowering to her father, her brothers, her husband and the military commander Barak. This added not only historical accuracy, but depth to Deborah and the other characters.

The romance, the family and the connections all build a world that connects you to the heart of what the people may have been experiencing and the type of person Deborah may have been in order to lead her people to freedom.

Just a note: The author does a fantastic job of keeping this book non-denominational. Though it is a religious book, it isn’t geared to any one faith. It is a work of fiction so keep that in mind, but would be pertinent and enjoyable for anyone of any faith with a connection to this time in history.

or two: Deborah led her people into war, so though I wouldn’t label this book as violent,  it does have battles and moments of violent oppression.