Friday, December 28, 2018

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

A Song for the Stars
By Ilima Todd

Maile is relieved when James Cook and his sailors leave her beloved Hawaiian island; while most of her people believed Cook to be their god, Lono, Maile wasn't convinced and is glad the men are gone. However, the men soon return--and the islanders aren't so welcoming this time. A battle ensues, and Maile's fiancé Ikaika is killed by one of Cook's men; Maile takes that same man hostage when her life is threatened.
John Harbottle has quickly come to appreciate Hawai'i and its people, so he is sickened by the battle and the deaths, particularly the one he caused. Although he killed to protect his captain, he doesn't want any more conflict between the people. Although Maile is wary of him at first, she reluctantly cares for him throughout his healing process. His genuine kindness and interest in her people show Maile there is much more to him than simply being her enemy.

This book was lovely, made even better by the fact that it's inspired by a true story. It was so interesting to see how the native Hawaiians viewed the Europeans and to learn more about their life and culture. The backdrop for the story (both the setting and the plot elements) was really beautiful, and then seeing John and Maile's growing feelings was just fantastic. I loved how it moved slowly, from wariness to appreciation to friendship to love, and I really enjoyed the teasing between Maile and John. This was just a highly enjoyable story from start to finish.

5 stars. One of my picks for the best of 2019.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

A Bound Heart
By Laura Frantz

Lark MacDougalls loves her home on the island of Kerrera. She keeps the bees and works in the stillroom at laird's castle, and while it's a simple life, there's nowhere else she'd rather be. Loyal to the laird, Magnus MacLeish, Lark does what she can to try to help his wife, Isla, bear him an heir, but after multiple miscarriages, Lark feels there's little she can do to help Isla. When Isla dies unexpectedly, Lark is accused of killing her, and Magnus, in his attempt to protect Lark, also finds himself imprisoned. While spared the noose, Lark doesn't know what she'll do when she and Magnus are indentured and sent across the Atlantic to a new world and a new life.

This book was phenomenal! The descriptions and the characters are amazing; from the very beginning, Laura Frantz did a terrific job of transporting me to Scotland alongside Lark. It was just amazing how she drew me into the setting as much as the plot. Everything about the story was so interesting--from the Scottish daily life with the poverty alongside the beauty to the harsh British laws that punish the Scots to life as an indentured servant. There's just so much here to fall in love with--including Lark and Magnus, who were both strong, wonderful characters and they were so well-developed and really felt like real people. I really loved getting to read their story and see how things played out for them.

5 stars. A fantastic book to kick of 2019--this one sets a high standard for everything I read from here on out!

I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Truth about Miss Ashbourne

The Truth about Miss Ashbourne
Joanna Barker

Juliana Ashbourne is working as a governess until she can save up enough money to start her own school for girls. Although her current position is trying--she loves the children but their parents are horrible--she is determined to stick it out. Then she finds out her grandfather, whom she has never met since he disowned her mother when her mother dared to run away with a sailor, a man beneath her station, changed his will to include her--leaving her a large sum of money contingent on her spending one month at the family estate, Havenfield. Juliana doesn't want to go, but she does want the money to start her school, but when her job circumstances change, she reluctantly heads to Havenfield. At Havenfield, though, Juliana finds that her family is kinder and more welcoming than she expected, and the new heir to the estate, William Rowley proves to be a wonderful friend. While he does tease her constantly, he also listens to her and is genuinely interested in her dreams--dreams that might not be quite what she always imagined.

 AH! This book was terrific! I loved the teasing--no, banter--between Juliana and William. They were both excellent characters. The plot and writing were excellent as well. This book captured me from the first page and I really loved it. I'll definitely be looking forward to more books from this author. If you're a fan of Sarah M. Eden or Julianne Donaldson and need something to read, this is definitely the book for you! This is one of my picks for the best of 2018. 5 stars!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Once I Was a Beehive Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book description
Charming, clever, and heart-warming. Carol Lynch Williams' novelization of the motion picture Once I Was a Beehive is sure to be a family favorite. Sixteen-year-old Lane Speer spends her family vacations camping in the mountains, taking the memories for granted until she loses her father to an unexpected bout with cancer. One year later, as Lane is still reeling from her father's death, her mother remarries a guy who Lane hardly knows. To top it off, he's a Mormon. Worst of all, while her mom and new stepdad are on their honeymoon, they arrange to have her stay with her Mormon step-aunt who takes her to a bible-themed girls camp with a bunch of Mormon girls. Confronted with memories of camping with her family, Lane tries to find peace with her new surroundings as she deals with the death of her father. 

Author info:
Carol Lynch Williams, who grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah, is an award-winning novelist with seven children of her own, including six daughters. She has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College, and won the prestigious PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. The Chosen One was named one of the ALA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Best Books for Young Adult Readers; it won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult novel of the year; and was featured on numerous lists of recommended YA fiction. Carol’s other novels include Glimpse, Miles From Ordinary, The Haven, Waiting, Signed, Skye Harper, and the Just in Time series. 

Connect with Carol:
Goodreads / Amazon author page/ Website

My review:
Lane is still reeling from her father's death and can't believe her mother is remarrying only a year after his passing. To make things worse, her mom and new husband are going on a honeymoon and dumping Lane with her new step-father's sister's family for three weeks. Lane's new aunt Holly and cousin Phoebe are about to embark on a four-day camping trip with their church group, except Phoebe, who has anxiety, doesn't want to go. Lane has a bit of a soft spot for Phoebe and loved camping with her dad, so she agrees to go camping to support Phoebe. Back out in the wilderness for the first time since her dad's cancer, Lane starts to finally find the peace that has been eluding her.

This was a really cute book. Carol Lynch Williams always does such a good job connecting the reader to the character's heart, and that was definitely the case here. I really liked seeing Lane's journey. It's a sweet story without being sappy and was just a really enjoyable read.
4 stars.
I read an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My Brother's Bride

My Brother's Bride
By Rachael Anderson

When Brigston's brother passes away unexpectedly, just shortly after eloping, Brigston knows it's his responsibility to ensure his sister-in-law, Abby, and her unborn child are well cared for. He's all set to do his duty--but what he isn't counting on his falling for his brother's widow. English law forbids him from marrying her, but Brigston can't stop himself from caring for Abby.

 This is the first full-length novel I've read by Rachael Anderson, but it definitely won't be the last. I really enjoyed the story--the writing was really good with no annoying parts or awkwardness, the plot was interesting, the characters were endearing (I loved the banter between Brigtson and Abby!), and this book was just really good. Highly enjoyable. Great choice for those who like clean, well-written Regency romances.

4 stars.

I received a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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The Lieutenant's Bargain

The Lieutenant's Bargain
By Regina Jennings

Jack Hennessey spent his younger years trying unsuccessfully to get Hattie Walker's attention. Even now, as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, the letters he has written to her haven't received any response. However, when Jack is sent out to take care of things when a stage carrying a payment for the Cheyenne and Arapaho is ambushed, his work brings him right to Hattie Walker.

Hattie was traveling on the stagecoach when it was attacked; she survived and was taken in by the Arapaho--but she doesn't realize they're friendly and is scared until Jack shows up. Grown-up Jack is different from the boy she remembered, and she's grateful to him for helping her, but Hattie's plans don't include Jack; she is on her way to Denver to gain life experience and create a painting that will convince her parents to stop pressuring her to get married and instead let her pursue her dream of painting.

I really enjoyed reading this book. There were parts that had me laughing, and there were other parts that were really sweet. I really liked seeing Hattie's changing perspective and how she came to realize Jack was more than the annoying boy who used to correct her schoolwork. I also liked seeing her gain a deeper understanding of the Arapaho people. The plot was interesting and this was just a really enjoyable read.

4.5 stars.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.