Saturday, December 26, 2020

Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna M. White


Dreams of Savannah
By Roseanna M. White
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021

Description:
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. 

Review:
To preface my review, I'll admit that I was born and raised in New York and have spent less than three weeks of my entire life south of the Mason-Dixon line and in anything related to the Civil War have a strong Northern bias. I've also been making concerted efforts in the past year to become more aware of and involved in issues of social justice, so I'm probably extra sensitive currently to anything race-related. I'm also a character-driven reader, so if you don't give me characters I can love, I'm probably not going to like your book. So, with that background, I might not be the author's ideal audience for a book where the main characters are slave owners during the Civil War, but having quite enjoyed all of Roseanna M. White's previous books, I was eagerly awaiting the chance to read Dreams of Savannah. 

Unfortunately, I didn't like it at all. Not only did I not love ANY of the characters, but I struggled to even find someone I LIKED. At the outset of the book, when I didn't really like either Cordelia or Phin, I hoped that they'd enough growth throughout the book that I'd come to like them. They DID grow somewhat (not enough, in my opinion), but it also came really slowly (particularly for Cordelia). While the slow growth and awareness of enslaved people actually BEING human beings. with hopes and dreams and talents beyond forced servitude might be realistic, it was torturous to read. There honestly were times that I felt sick to my stomach as Phin expressed thoughts such as slavery being "a situation his family particularly liked but there was nothing they could do about it" or Cordelia's treatment of Salina (whom she's supposed to care for so much--but whose true well-being she doesn't really consider very often) and things such as (even at the end of the book, when she has supposedly had some growth), asking Luther, a black minister, who has just been reunited with his wife, who had been illegally kidnapped and enslaved, to pray for her father--the same father who forced Salina's mother to be his mistress and is adamantly pro-slavery. Cordelia's first thought, even at the end of the book, is always for HERSELF and her family, not for the people who have been enslaved and oppressed. 

And Phin, even though he has experienced some growth as well, at the end of the book still remains more concerned about his sense of honor and defends his cause by telling Luther not to "make the mistake of thinking the Yankees are any fairer toward your people than Southerners are. They might oppose slavery, but they don't consider you equals." Um, I will readily admit that Northerners had a LONG way to go toward treating blacks equally, but to equate Northern treatment with Southern slavery is wrong, and if your way of life includes enslaving others, you need to change it--and it's really difficult to like characters who can't see that. 

Secondary characters weren't any better; Cordelia's parents and sister Lacy were awful. Even Salina, who serves as Cordelia's "maid" seems to exist just to support Cordelia--she cares more about Cordelia staying "innocent" and not realizing that they share a father and helping her than about her own well-being. (It was a little easier to read Salina's POV, considering she'd been oppressed her whole life, than Cordelia's ignorance, which came from her being a spoiled little princess, but it was still hard to her sacrificing herself instead of fighting for herself). 

So, I reiterate that I didn't like this book at all. Maybe the author's intent was to share a message that she wrote in the author's note at the end: "There were heroes--and villains--on both sides of the conflict. Most of all, there were people. People, as Cordelia discovered, with stories to tell" However, given that many of the people involved in the conflict--and even their descendants today--weren't allowed to share their stories, I found it to be insensitive to racial and social issues in our day. A story about a couple of Southerner white people who sorta-kinda start to see that slavery might be wrong isn't the sort of book that I think the world needs now or that I can recommend to anyone. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

His Accidental Bride by Carolyn Twede Frank


His Accidental Bride
By Carolyn Twede Frank
Published by Covenant Communications
Publication Date: January 4th, 2021

Description:
Dorothy Bednar is living a life she despises. Forced to work as a double-dealing saloon girl, Dorothy has finally had enough. The next train out of town is her ticket to freedom, and Dorothy jumps aboard without a thought for where she’s going—until she meets a kind woman aboard the train. Her fellow passenger was originally traveling to Colorado to marry a man she’d never met, but her cold feet offer Dorothy the perfect opportunity to set up roots somewhere new. Dorothy soon finds herself posing as the mail-order bride—after all, marrying a stranger can’t be worse than what she left behind. 
Young Colorado lawyer Ronald Smith is astonished when he spies the lovely woman who comes to greet him—the woman who is to be his wife. Dorothy is beyond Ronald’s wildest dreams, a kindhearted partner eager to be a homemaker and mother. To Dorothy, Ronald is the most gentlemanly man she’s ever met—a man who makes her feel safe and cherished. What begins as a deception soon deepens into true love, but too soon, Dorothy’s secret past threatens the beautiful life she’s built—a life that feels truer than anything she’s ever known. 

Review:
I think my favorite thing about this book was that Ronald wasn't a dashing hero; he was steady and pragmatic, and his attempts to research how to court a woman and make plans accordingly were totally endearing. And I loved how Dorothy, after the mistreatment of her brother and a more "exciting" life could appreciate Ronald for who he was. Some parts of the books were predictable and sometimes the writing felt stilted sometimes, but all in all, this was a pleasant story. 
3.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Duke Meets His Match by Karen Tuft


The Duke Meets His Match
By Karen Tuft
Published by Covenant Communications

Description:
At thirty years of age, Susan Jennings has long been considered a spinster. Exceptionally intelligent, she has little tolerance for London and the dreaded Season—if that’s how one is expected to find love, it’s not for her. But when an invitation arrives that cannot be ignored, Susan leaves her comfortable life in the country and enters the fashion and frivolity she most despises. She quickly discovers, however, that there is more to loathe in London—and his name is George Kendall. 

George, Duke of Aylesham, has learned to keep his distance from cloying females chasing the title of duchess. Susan Jennings, however, proves an entirely different challenge—a woman who has pushed him to the limit of his patience with their every encounter. But their simmering hostility is disrupted by a thoughtless slip-up: to avoid a marriage of political strategy, George claims he is already betrothed. And when pressed for the name of the lucky woman, only one name comes to mind: Susan’s. Their forced betrothal proves advantageous, but when their verbal sparring must change in order to be convincing, the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred by something neither expected: love. 

Review:
I was hooked by this book and sped through the beginning of it; my enjoyment did taper at the point where George and Susan confront Prinny--that whole scene just didn't draw me in for some reason--but then I liked the ending. I liked the fact that Susan was 30--very different from the typical Regency heroine--and I adored several of the secondary characters. All in all, a very enjoyable read. 
4 stars.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Wrong Train to Paris (Romance on the Orient Express #2)


Wrong Train to Paris (Romance on the Orient Express #2) 
By Jennifer Moore 
 Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: December 1, 2020 

Description: 
At nineteen years of age, Julia Weston fancies herself a capable woman, far too old to require a traveling companion. But at the insistence of her overprotective father, Julia finds herself aboard the Orient Express in the care of an approved escort. In an ill-advised demonstration of independence, Julia leaves the train on a quick errand and then re-boards and sleeps away her exhaustion. Upon awakening, however, she realizes her plan went terribly awry: she boarded the wrong train and is now stranded alone in the French countryside of Provence. 
Now she must rely on the help of Luc Paquet, a young French farmer who offers her accommodations with his aunt while Julia awaits the next train to Paris in five days’ time. As she settles into the rhythms of the household alongside Luc and his aunt, Julia learns more than she ever dreamed she would about France, farm life, and her handsome rescuer. There is more to Luc than meets the eye, and their chemistry is undeniable. But Julia and Luc are from different worlds, and all too soon, the train will bear Julia back to a life that suddenly feels incomplete. 

Review: 
I liked this book quite a bit more than the first in the series. The first was more gothic, which isn't something I particularly enjoy. This story is a light-hearted romance set in pastoral France, which is much more aligned with my reading preferences. Julia was both annoying and charming--she made quite a few mistakes by rushing into things but always had good intentions, and the reader, along with Luc and others Julia encounters can't help but forgive her for her mishaps and appreciate her spirit. This is a great choice for those looking for an upbeat romance. 

4 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the author via #NetGalley.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Courting Misfortune (The Joplin Chronicles #1)


Courting Misfortune (The Joplin Chronicles #1) 
By Regina Jennings 
Published by Bethany House 
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020 

Description:
Calista York needs one more successful case as a Pinkerton operative to secure her job. When she's assigned to find the kidnapped daughter of a mob boss, she's sent to the rowdy mining town of Joplin, Missouri, despite having extended family in the area. Will their meddling expose her mission and keep Lila Seaton from being recovered? 

When Matthew Cook decided to be a missionary, he never expected to be sent only a short train ride away. While fighting against corruption of all sorts, Matthew hears of a baby raffle being held to raise funds for a children's home. He'll do what he can to stop it, but he also wants to stop the reckless Miss York, whose bad judgment consistently seems to be putting her in harm's way. 

Calista doesn't need the handsome pastor interfering with her investigation, and she can't let her disguise slip. Her job and the life of a young lady depend on keeping Matthew in the dark.

Review:
I really liked the last third of this book, but the first two-thirds dragged for me somewhat. I just didn't enjoy Calista or Matthew as characters; Calista's constant lies, while perhaps necessary for her job, made it hard to really connect with her--and the lies she tried to pass off about being a nurse, when she obviously couldn't even handle anything remotely connected to nursing didn't make her seem like the most competent of detectives. It made it hard to see why Matthew would even want to put up with her at all. I also found myself more irritated than endeared by Calista's extended family. So, I struggled through the first two-thirds of the book, but I did like the remainder. There were some good messages about how God works in people's lives as well as some really nice romantic lines. 
3 stars.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 23, 2020

To Dwell among Cedars (The Covenant House #1) by Connilyn Cossette

To Dwell among Cedars
By Connilyn Cossette
Published by Bethany House 
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020 

Description: 
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. 

Review: 
Wow. Another fabulous book from Connilyn Cossette. The historical background for the story is so fascinating; I was absolutely drawn in by the idea of two Philistine children following the Ark as it's sent back to the Hebrews from the Philistines, who no longer want it after they've been stricken by plagues and pestilences. The idea of different factions within the Levites was also so interesting, with some wanting it to remain at Kiryat Yearim and others wanting to return it to Shiloh. That was an excellent backdrop for Eliora's and Ronen's stories. Cossette did a fantastic job showing why Eliora and Ronen acted the way that they did--how their earlier hurts and traumas really impacted the choices that they made. They were both realistic and likable characters, and I loved seeing the realizations they each came to about themselves, their families, and God. This book is really well-written, and I can't wait to read the sequel. 

5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief (Blog Tour)



The Gentleman and the Thief
By Sarah M. Eden
Published by Shadow Mountain

Description:

A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance. 

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he's smitten. Even though he's from a wealthy, established family and she isn't, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke. 
Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father's successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the "Phantom Fox." She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling. 
When Hollis's brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other. When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief? 

Advance Praise: 
“The real joy in Eden's follow-up to The Lady and the Highwayman (2019) is the furthering of the overarching crime story and the work of the Dread Penny Society as Hollis and Ana pursue a chaste romance. Eden excels at exploring the realities of Victorian life and class differences. Once again, chapters of penny dreadfuls written by the characters are interspersed throughout, with Hollis' story about a school for ghosts offering particular delight. Fans of Eden's smart series will be thrilled and impatient for the next installment.”— Booklist, starred review 

“Every time I thought my racing heart just couldn’t take the suspense anymore, I'd turn the page and smile.”— Bookconfessions “Eden writes it well, so thoroughly researched that you’re transported and in Victoria England. Great suspense and romance.”— Leslie, Books and Socks Rock 

“Undeniably clever, suspenseful, well-researched, and deftly written…”— Katie Jackson, RegencyProofreading.com 

Author Bio:
Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. 

Connect with Sarah here:

My review:
This is another fabulous book from Sarah M. Eden. All the hallmarks of her writing--characters you wish were real; snappy dialogue that will make you laugh out loud; details, based on extensive research, that make the setting come to life; and a plot that keeps you reading, eager to find out what's going to happen next--are present in full force. After being introduced to Hollis and Ana in the first book in the series (which you don't have to read first to have this book make sense but you SHOULD read because it's awesome), I was thrilled to be able to read their story. I loved their flirting and how they worked together, trusting each other more and more throughout the book. I also loved the secondary characters, from those in the previous book to a couple of new ones introduced in this book. There were so many moments when I laughed out; the writing is terrific and the dialogue is fantastic. Although I'm not very familiar with the Victorian era, the details made me feel right at home. As for the plot--or, should I say, plots, because, besides the main story, we also get to read two Penny Dreadfuls--was so interesting. The main plot had some twists to keep you guessing what would happen next, while Lafayette Jones' penny dreadful provided some excellent humor, and Mr. King's penny dreadful had a bit of mystery and romance. It was also interesting to see the parallels between the main story and the two penny dreadfuls. I just had a ton of fun reading this book. 
Totally one of my picks for the best books of 2020. 5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Besotted (The Fairest Maidens #3) by Jody Hedlund

 

Besotted (The Fairest Maidens #3)
By Jody Hedlund
Published by Northern Lights Press
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020

Description:
In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse . . . 
 A young queen trying to stay alive until she comes of age to rule, and a prince turned into a pauper. Queen Aurora of Mercia has spent her entire life deep in Inglewood Forest, hiding from Warwick’s Queen Margery, who seeks her demise. As the time draws near for Aurora to take the throne, she happens upon a handsome woodcutter. Although friendship with outsiders is forbidden and dangerous, she cannot stay away from the charming stranger. 
Only two months away from completing his royal testing, Prince Kresten of Scania is ready to be finished with the poverty and hardships of being a woodcutter. When he meets a beautiful peasant woman, he doesn’t plan to fall in love, especially when he must soon leave and return to his homeland. 
As Queen Margery’s forces close in, Aurora finds herself in mortal danger. Kresten knows a future with Aurora is impossible, but he is desperate to save her and bring an end to the queen’s threat. To do so, he joins the ultimate battle against the evil queen, risking everything, including his chance at true love. 

Review:
This book started out a little slow for me; I didn't connect with the characters right off the bat. Aurora seemed like a pretty bland character for the first half of the book and Kresten was kind of irritating because he was arrogant. Of course I wanted to see how things played out in the series, so I kept reading, and I did enjoy seeing Aurora and Kresten change, with her becoming more confident and him becoming more selfless. There was a cool twist on the Sleeping Beauty story, and I also enjoyed the ending and seeing how things played out for the three princes of Scania. This book wasn't my favorite of the series, but I did like it and think other readers will as well. 

I read an ARC provided by the author; all opinions are my own.

Monday, November 2, 2020

To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano


To Steal a Heart (The Bleaker Street Inquiry Agency #1)
By Jen Turano
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020

Description:
After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she'd put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend's innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend—until he abandoned her. 

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he'd be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever. 

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step. 

Review:
This book was so much fun to read! Gabriella is a terrific leading lady and totally relatable; she's been hurt in the past so she has distanced herself from others, but as she sets out to help clear her acquaintance's name, she finds herself thrown together with other residents of the boardinghouse, as well as Nicholas, and ends up realizing that maybe letting people in isn't so bad after all. Nicholas is both endearing and frustrating at the outset; he obviously cares about Gabriella and is good to employ those who need a helping hand, but he has learned to be a bit high-minded and too set in following society's ways. Seeing him change throughout the book was very gratifying. While the book is definitely funny, there are also some serious issues addressed that add depth to it (and would make it a good choice for book clubs). It's really interesting to consider how women weren't taken seriously by men and therefore might need an investigation agency comprised of women to listen to them and help them; it's also really neat to see how sometimes women's skills and opportunities were precisely what was needed to solve a crime or mystery. The way high society treated those they deemed beneath them was appalling but also makes for an interesting discussion topic. Some of the antic throughout the book might seem a little over the top if you were to list them off, and yet, Turano makes them work and provides a highly appealing book with romance, mystery, humor, and more. 
5 stars. 

I read a copy of the book provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas


The Right Kind of Fool
By Sarah Loudin Thomas
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020

Description: 
Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he'd obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined. 
The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal's absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family's basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it's his father he runs to tell--shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn't his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family's hearts again. 

Review: 
Oh man, this book! This book! Right from the get-go it totally tugged at my heartstrings. I'm totally a character-driven reader, so if you don't give me good characters, you've lost me. Well, with this book, there are so many characters to absolutely fall in love with. 
There's 13-year-old Loyal, who is bright and loving and wants to fit in despite being deaf--and who also wants to both make his parents proud and do whatever he can to help them. 
There's Creed, Loyal's father, who blames himself for Loyal's deafness and has retreated from his family, living and working on a nearby mountain and only visiting his family periodically. 
There's Delphy, Loyal's mother, who is desperate to protect her son and who wishes her husband would come back while simultaneously wishing she didn't care about him so he couldn't let her down again. It's tough to pick which character to love the most; they all were so REAL and their pain and worries and hopes were so vividly portrayed. 
Take such beautiful characters and weave them together, and wow, what a great start to a story. I loved reading every single one of their interactions, as the three of them are trying to figure out how to interact with each other. They're all good people who are trying hard so you know it's going to turn out all right in the end, but it was still so touching to read each moment. 
 So, take amazing characters (I won't get into the secondary characters other than to say they were great, too) and then add in a really interesting plot (I couldn't wait to find out whodunit!) and a setting that is so well-written that you just immediately feel like you've slipped into West Virginia in 1934, and you've got one heck of a book! 
This is one of those books that will stick with you. I adored it from start to finish. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year! 
An easy 5 stars on this one!
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Mary and Martha

Mary and Martha 
By H.B. Moore 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2020 

Description: 
For prosperous landowner Lazarus, hard work, and extensive travel are a means to comfortably support his family, including his two sisters, Mary and Martha. Following a journey to sell his wares, Lazarus stumbles upon an opportunity to assist a stranger in need, delaying his return home. Through Lazarus's selfless act of service, he, Mary and Martha find themselves standing witness to miracles they never dreamed possible in the presence of a man who will forever change them and those they love-a man called Jesus of Nazareth. 

Experience as never before the accounts of those who knew Christ, not only as the Savior of the World but also as a friend. 

Review: 
I always love reading H.B. Moore's Biblical fiction because it's so well-written, with amazing details that really transport me to the past, and characters who draw me into the story, and this book was no exception. I loved her imagining of Mary and Martha and what their lives may have been like. I especially enjoyed the fact that she portrayed them as caring deeply about each other; it's so easy, based on the few Bible verses about them, to envision them as rivals or constantly being frustrated with each other. Moore showed them differently, though, and as I was touched by how much they supported each other even though they had different personalities and different interests. I also really loved the dash of romance incorporated in the story, as both Mary and Martha find someone who is drawn to them for their unique gifts. This was a beautiful story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 
4.5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Beguiled (The Fairest Maidens #2)


Beguiled (The Fairest Maidens #2)
By Jody Hedlund
Published by Northern Lights Press
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020

Description:
Princess Pearl flees for her life after her mother, Queen Margery, tries to have her killed during a hunting expedition. Pearl finds refuge on the Isle of Outcasts among criminals and misfits, disguising her face with a veil so no one recognizes her. She lives for the day when she can return to Warwick and rescue her sister, Ruby, from the queen’s clutches.

 Amidst his royal testing on the Isle of Outcasts, Prince Mikkel of Scania has kept his identity a secret. Captured by a warring band of outcasts and condemned to die, he finds himself making friends with an intriguing but feisty young veiled woman. Intending to win her trust and gain her help to escape, he soon finds himself coerced to wed her.

Mikkel reluctantly agrees to the union to save his life, and Pearl hopes the marriage will provide protection for her and Ruby. But the queen is more determined to kill her daughter than either Pearl or Mikkel realizes and has a sinister reason neither expects—one that could rip their new love apart forever. 

Review:
Another great novel from Jody Hedlund! Snow White has never been one of my favorite fairy tales, but I found this retelling to be captivating. I've always thought of Snow White as kind of bland--pretty and kind but bland nonetheless. Well, Pearl is awesome--she's determined and fierce, a fighter who will do anything she can to protect those she loves. I also really liked how she wanted to find someone to love her because of who she is and not what she looks like. Mikkel was a great character as well; he irritated me sometimes at the beginning (he definitely had some growing to do), but he had a good heart, and I appreciated the moments of self-reflection and how he grew throughout the story. I also really liked how he and Pearl had a good friendship. With terrific characters, fast-paced action, a great message about caring about more than outward appearances, and of course, the romance, this book is a lot of fun to read and will appeal to lots of readers. 
4.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Light at Wyndcliff (Cornwall #3) by Sarah E. Ladd

The Light at Wyndcliff (Cornwall #3)
By Sarah E. Ladd
Published by Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 13th, 2020

Description:

In the third book of this sweet Regency Cornwall series, one young man must search for truth among the debris of multiple shipwrecks on his newly inherited property. 

When Liam Twethewey inherits the ancient Wyndcliff Hall in Pevlyn, Cornwall, he sets a goal of fulfilling his late great-uncle’s dream of opening a china clay pit on the estate’s moorland. When he arrives, however, a mysterious shipwreck on his property—along with even more mysterious survivors—puts his plans on hold. 

Evelyn Bray has lived in Pevlyn her entire life. After her grandfather’s fall from fortune, he humbled himself and accepted the position of steward at Wyndcliff Hall. Evelyn’s mother, embarrassed by the reduction of wealth and status, left Pevlyn in search of a better life for them both, but in spite of her promise, never returns. Evelyn is left to navigate an uncertain path with an even more uncertain future. 

When the mysteries surrounding the shipwreck survivors intensify, Liam and Evelyn are thrown together as they attempt to untangle a web of deceit and secrets. But as they separate the truths from the lies, they quickly learn that their surroundings—and the people in it—are not as they seem. Liam and Evelyn are each tested, and as a romance buds between them, they must decide if their love is strong enough to overcome their growing differences. 

Review:
This book is very well-written, with so much depth to it. You can feel the tension as Liam is trying to figure out what is really happening on his property and who he can trust. Liam was very endearing and I really liked him. I thought Evelyn was well-developed, with her strained relationship with her mother and her conflicting feelings about her grandfather. At the same time, I found her to be a bit bland and liked her more toward the end of the book when she started to stand up for herself more. This isn't your typical Regency, with balls and such, and I appreciated the originality. I will say that it was a bit hard for me to get through, but I think that's due to the heaviness in the real world right now; at another time, I think I would adore this book. So, if you need something lighter to read, set this one aside for now--but come back to it when you can because it's definitely worth reading. 
4 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 25, 2020

A Hopeful Christmas

A Hopeful Christmas 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: October 1st, 2020 

Description:
Lord Blakely's Gift by Anneka R. Walker 
When Miss Ivy Hunt and Lord Curtis Blakely establish a secret acquaintance, neither can deny that their feelings extend beyond friendship. But as the children of bitter rivals, it will take a Christmas miracle for this star-crossed pair to reach their happily ever after. 

A Season of Hope by Sian Ann Bessy 
Following the death of her father, Amelia knows Christmas will be lean. But when circumstances become dire, it is the unexpected arrival of a childhood friend that renews Amelia’s hope—both for the future and for love. 

Christmas by the Sea by Carla Kelly 
After two years at sea with the Royal Navy, surgeon Will Crenshaw longs for a quiet Christmas with his family. But when unrest at home threatens to ruin the holidays, it takes the kindly intervention of a mysterious house sitter to remind them of the true meaning of the season. 

Expectations at Canterwood by Krista Lynne Jensen 
Marina Rowley is a spinster, Richard Stanhope a war-weary military man. A case of mistaken identity throws them together, but the unexpected stirrings of their hearts lead to an unforgettable holiday romance.

Review:
This entire collection was delightful! I enjoyed each story and can't even pick a favorite.
Lord Blakely's Gift: I loved how Ivy and Curtis first bumped into each other, and I loved seeing how Curtis opened up not just to Ivy but to others as he and Ivy worked together to try to find the owner of a lost purse. This was a sweet and funny story.
A Season of Hope: I liked reading about Phillip's return home and how Amelia's family kept their spirits up even during hardships--and how that in turn helped both Phillip and his father. 
Christmas by the Sea: Will Crenshaw and his family stole my heart. I love how this story is from Will's perspective and we get to read his thoughts about his wife and children. It was just so endearing. It wasn't what I was expecting from a Regency story, since it focuses on the everyday life of a common family, rather than the balls and house parties of the ton, but it was excellent. I smiled so much while I was reading this story.
Expectations at Canterwood: I loved this story as well! Like the first story, there was a cute meeting. Marina felt so real to me--her fears and worries just really came through in the writing. Richard was dashing and kind and it was terrific how he got to know Marina and pursued her even though she had built up walls around herself. 
This was such a great collection! I already want to go back and reread the stories!
5 stars and one of my picks for the Best Books of 2020.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

A Heart of Gold by Stacy Henrie Blog Tour and Giveaway!



A Heart of Gold 
By Stacy Henrie 
Published by Mirror Street Press 
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020 

Description:
 After months of silence from her father in the Klondike, Tava Rutherford finally receives word from him. Only the outdated letter reveals that her father is ill and may be dying. Desperate to discover his fate, Tava resolves to make the journey to the wilds of northwestern Canada. But Jess Lawmen, her ranch foreman and the man who broke her heart, insists she doesn't go alone. Jess intends to keep his promise to look out for her—even if that means traveling thousands of miles with Tava, the woman he claims to feel just friendship for but has never stopped loving. 
 With their own ragtag group of travelers in tow, Tava and Jess confront one challenge after another as they join the hundreds of stampeders scrambling to reach the goldfields. But as the two of them come face to face with their past hurts and mistakes in their race to reach Tava’s father, they will have to decide whether to cling to safety or risk their hearts for something even greater.

Review:
I liked seeing all the details of how to travel to the goldfields; it was really really interesting seeing how they traveled by various means and what the regulations were regarding being able to go. I didn't connect with the characters quite as much as I'd like; I did appreciate Jess's struggle to deal with his past and how it will impact his future. 
 3.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

And enter to win a paperback copy of A Heart of Gold:

Monday, September 21, 2020

An Ivy Hill Christmas

An Ivy Hill Christmas 
By Julie Klassen 
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: September 1st, 2020 

Description:
 Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill's most prominent family, hasn't been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life--unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over. 

But Christmas in the country presents unforeseen surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled . . . and determined to have nothing to do with him. 

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, joyous songs, and divine hope, work its magic in his heart . . . and hers as well? Review: I liked this story, but I didn't find it as gripping as the other books in the series. It didn't feel as polished as the other books. However, I did enjoy seeing Richard's transformation and growth throughout the book. 

3.5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown
By Heather B. Moore
 Published by Shadow Mountain

Description:
When twenty-six-year-old Donaldina Cameron arrives at the Occidental Mission Home for Girls in 1895, she intends to stay for only one year to teach sewing skills to young Chinese women. Within days, she discovers that the job is much more complicated than perfect stitches and even hems. San Francisco has a dark side, one where a powerful underground organization—the criminal tong—buys and sells Chinese girls like common goods. With the help of Chinese interpreters and a local police squad, Donaldina works night and day to stop the abominable slave and prostitution trade.
Mei Lien believes she is sailing to the “Gold Mountain” in America to become the wife of a rich Chinese man. Instead, she finds herself sold into prostitution—beaten, starved, and forced into an opium addiction. It is only after a narrow escape that she hears of the mission home and dares to think there might be hope for a new life.
The Paper Daughters of Chinatown throws new light on the age-old scourge of human trafficking. The heroes who fought this evil and the victims who triumphed over it more than a hundred years ago offer a bright example of courage and determination for anyone wishing for a better world.

Review:

I love learning about new-to-me aspects of history, so getting to read about Donaldina Cameron's work as portrayed in Heather B. Moore's excellent writing style was a pleasure. While thinking about the women and girls who suffered so horribly was painful, the look at Dolly's efforts to help as well as the way the girls and women who were rescued grabbed onto fresh hope, was inspiring and uplifting. The research that Moore did for this book clearly shows, and a difficult topic is written about so skillfully. This is an eye-opening book that would be particularly good for book clubs, as there is much that could be discussed.
4.5 stars.
 I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

#Netgalley. #Heather Moore #paperdaughters

Friday, September 18, 2020

Beholden (The Fairest Maidens #1)

Beholden (The Fairest Maidens #1)
By Jody Hedlund
Published by Northern Lights Press
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2020
 
Description:
In a land where being the fairest maiden is a curse...
Upon the death of her wealthy father, Lady Gabriella is condemned to work in Warwick’s gem mine. As she struggles to survive the dangerous conditions, her kindness and beauty shine as brightly as the jewels the slaves excavate. While laboring, Gabriella plots how to avenge her father’s death and stop Queen Margery’s cruelty. 
Prince Vilmar of Scania enslaves himself in Warwick’s gem mine as part of a royal test to prove himself the most worthy of three brothers to become the king’s successor. Amidst the hardships, he doesn’t anticipate his growing compassion for the other slaves, especially tenderhearted Gabriella. 
As the annual summer ball looms nearer, Gabriella sets into motion her plan to end Queen Margery’s evil. When Vilmar learns of Gabriella’s intentions, he resolves to come to her aid and fight against Warwick’s queen. But doing so may require him to give up his chance of becoming Scania’s next king, perhaps even cost him his life.

Review:
I love fairy retellings in general, and when you throw in an awesome author like Jody Hedlund, it's no surprise that this book is fantastic. The characters are great; I really liked seeing Gabriella's kindness and Vilmar's growth as he became more humble and focused on others more than himself. I love the setting--having Gabriella and Vilmar meet in mine was definitely unique--and the plot was totally captivating. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book in the series--and luckily for me, Beguiled will be released on October 20th and Besotted on November 17th, so the wait isn't too bad. 
4.5 stars.

I read a copy of the book provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Otherwise Engaged

Otherwise Engaged
By Joanna Barker
Published by Covenant Communications
Publication Date: October 1st, 2020

Description: 

She’s never been afraid of breaking the rules—until she risks breaking her heart.

Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly—or not so quietly—rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family. When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged—to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship. Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily. 

After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine? 


Review: 

This book just made me smile SO much. I loved Nicholas. Oh man, oh man, he is pretty dreamy! I loved Rebecca; she had some growing and self-realization she needed to do, but that made her all the more realistic. I loved how she's spunky and brave and always trying to push the boundaries--and I loved how Nicholas didn't try to reign her in but instead supported her. They were so good for each other! I loved the banter--oh, I love a story with good banter and there was some excellent banter in this book! I loved Nicholas's and Rebecca's first kiss (and the other ones, too, of course). I kept wishing I could read Nicholas's POV on so many scenes--but I also loved seeing them all from Rebecca's POV, so that's an indication of how good it is, not a criticism. 

This book was just so much fun to read. This is easily one of my favorite books of the year and one of my picks for one of the best books of 2020. Definitely add this to your to-read, to-buy, and to-share lists ASAP! 

5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 17, 2020

A Portrait of Loyalty (The Codebreakers #3) By Roseanna M. White

A Portrait of Loyalty (The Codebreakers #3)
By Roseanna M. White
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020

Description:
Zivon Marin was one of Russia's top cryptographers, until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee after speaking out against Lenin and separated from his brother along the way, he arrives in England driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits.
Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera--and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and recreating photographs. With her father's connections in propaganda, she's recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove.
After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily. He sees patterns in what she deems chaos; she sees beauty in a world he thought destroyed. But both have secrets they're unwilling to share. When her photographs reveal that someone has been following Zivon, his loyalties are called into question--and his enemies are discovered to be far closer than he'd feared.

Review:
This book is so well-written and there are so many interesting things about it. I loved how the details about Lily's photography and her work altering photos were incorporated. It was also really interesting to learn more details about the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918. There was a lot going on, and yet, it was written so well that it all came together seamlessly, without feeling bogged down with too much information. The historical information was awesome, but it didn't outshine the characters. Lily and Zivon pulled me in from the beginning; I loved how neither was a particularly flashy or outgoing character and yet they both made important contributions to the war efforts and were wonderful together. Another excellent book from Roseanna M. White. 
4.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Forget Me Not (The Gents #1) by Sarah M. Eden

Forget Me Not (The Gents #1) 
By Sarah M. Eden 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: September 7th, 2020 

Description: 
Nottinghamshire, 1785 
 Julia Cummings has long been acquainted with loss-her mother, her brother, her sister, her friend, all gone too soon. But the loss that pushed her grief to the limit as a young girl was that of her best friend, Lucas Jonquil, who abandoned her without looking back. Now, eight years later, Lucas has returned to Lampton Park, and Julia has steeled herself-she will never forgive the man who broke her heart. 
After losing too many of his friends and family to early deaths, Lucas vowed to live life to the fullest. And after traversing the world, he has returned from his adventures to find his family and home as he left them-except for Julia. The little girl he left behind has blossomed into a captivating lady, a lady who makes it clear she despises him. With little hope of reconciliation, the former friends are blindsided when their parents make a shocking announcement. Lucas and Julia have been betrothed without their knowledge and are to marry immediately. Now Lucas must rely on the help of his closest friends to win the heart of a lady who loathes him--a lady he’s coming to love more deeply every day.

Review: 
This book tugged at my heart so much! Having read Sarah Eden's Jonquil Brothers series, which features Julia's and Lucas's future sons, I was eager to read how Julia and Lucas fell in love. So the fact that it didn't go smoothly--and that Julia spent so much of the book unhappy--actually hurt! I felt really sad sometimes, totally empathizing with Julia. However, Sarah Eden is a master at writing witty banter and providing comedic relief, so the book definitely had its lighthearted moments to make me chuckle. Since this is the first book in a new series, I'm assuming we'll get to see more of the happy moments between Julia and Lucas in future books, as they interact with the rest of the Gents.
I enjoyed slipping into a new era (and appreciate Sarah Eden's research skills that leave me confident she gets the details right) and meeting the rest of the Gents. Good start to a new series. I can't wait for more! 
4.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Miracle Creek Christmas
By Krista Jensen
Published by Shadow Mountain
Publication Date: September 8th, 2020

Description:
When Riley Madigan moves to the sleepy mountain town of Miracle Creek, she hopes her new job as a high school art teacher will help her mend her recently broken heart. A little peace and quiet would be a gift this Christmas season. The last thing on her mind is love. 

Former firefighter Mark Rivers has spent the last year recovering from burns sustained during a rescue operation. He’s been trying to piece his life back together but still struggles both emotionally and psychologically. When he meets Riley, he finally sees something that might bring some light back into his life. 

When Mark asks Riley to work on a special nativity project, he finds himself falling for her quirky, unaffected ways. Riley doesn’t seem bothered by his scars, but is her affection for him real, or is this just another act of charity? One thing’s for certain, in a small town that views Mark as a fragile hero, it’s hard to pursue a relationship without everyone in his business. And although Riley has sincere feelings for Mark, is she ready to risk her heart? 

Broken hearts and lives are mended as the town of Miracle Creek comes together to celebrate a Christmas to remember. 

Review:
While it might seem funny to be reading a Christmas book in the middle of summer, it's definitely worth snagging now even if you don't read it until closer to Christmas. And while it is the Christmas season in the book and Mark and Riley are working on a nativity project, the Christmas element wasn't overdone; there was a good balance between that and the other elements of the story. It fit with the story and didn't feel like it was just set at Christmastime for the sake of being a holiday book. 

Besides the Christmas element, I really loved Mark and Riley. They've both been burned and have scars--him literally and her figuratively--and I found both to be realistic. Riley was sometimes exasperating but in a totally realistic way; I could definitely see people I know (cough *myself* cough) in the way she was drawn to Mark but also afraid to trust and not ready to commit to anything. I adored Mark and loved seeing him come out of his self-imposed shell and find himself again. While there wasn't necessarily a ton of conflict, there was a lot of emotional action, with both characters having to work through feelings and their pasts, and I totally connected to that. 

I devoured this book, even with it being 93 degrees out as I read it. I definitely recommend adding this to both your to-read list for yourself and shopping list to gift to others this Christmas. 

4.5 stars.

 read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Almost a Bride (The Bride Ships #4) by Jody Hedlund

Almost a Bride (The Bride Ships #4) 
By Jody Hedlund 
Published by Northern Lights Press 
Publication Date: August 25th, 2020 

Description: 
Longing to find true love, Kate Millington arrives in British Columbia on a bride ship. With countless men waiting to snag a bride, Kate has no trouble getting engaged. It’s staying engaged that’s the problem. After traveling to the remote mining town of Williamsville to marry her newest fiancĂ©, she finds herself single again. 
As the prosperous owner of a gold mine, Zeke Hart has everything he’s ever wanted except for a wife. At Kate’s arrival, he takes it upon himself to protect his childhood friend from the men clamoring to court her. The more he renews her friendship, the more he wants to win her for himself. But as much as Kate admires Zeke, she’s resolved not to marry someone who doesn’t share her faith. 
When Zeke begins receiving anonymous threats, he unwittingly puts them both in grave danger. In the midst of peril, the past rises up to haunt them both, and Zeke realizes the fight for Kate’s affection may be his biggest challenge yet. 

Review: 
This is a satisfying end to a wonderful series. The setting is fabulous--I love seeing the wilds of Canada and what life was like as men hoped to strike it rich and build a new life there. I loved seeing how Kate and Zeke both had to find healing, Kate because of how she'd been hurt by her father's leaving and Zeke because of his own choices. The book was exciting, with an element of mystery, and had wonderful secondary characters as well. 
 4 stars. 
 I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Librarian of Boone's Hollow

The Librarian of Boone's Hollow 
By Kim Vogel Sawyer 
Published by WaterBrook & Multnomah 
Publication Date: September 15th, 2020 

Description:
During the Great Depression, Addie Cowherd dreams of being a novelist and offering readers the escape that books gave her during her tragic childhood. When her adoptive father loses his job, she is forced to leave college and take the only employment she can find--delivering books on horseback to poor coal mining families in the hills of Kentucky.

The small community of Boone's Hollow is suspicious of outsiders and steeped in superstitions that leave Addie feeling rejected and indignant. Although she finds an unexpected friend in an elderly outcast, the other horseback librarians scorn her determination to befriend Nanny Fay.

Emmett Tharp grew up in the tiny mountain hamlet where most men either work in the coal mine or run moonshine. He's the first in the community to earn a college degree, and he has big dreams, but witnesses the Depression robbing many young men of their future.
Then someone sets out to sabotage the library program, going so far as to destroy Addie's novel in progress. Will the saboteur chase Addie and the other librarians away, or will knowledge emerge victorious over prejudice? Is Emmett the local ally that Addie needs--and might their friendship lead to something more?

Inspired by the real WPA program that sent librarians on horseback to deliver books to hill families in Kentucky, Kim Vogel Sawyer immersed herself in Appalachian history to tell this captivating story.

Review:
Kim Vogel Sawyer did a great job developing the setting here--she definitely made me feel like I was right there in Appalachia! The details were so vivid, from the daily way of life to the flora and fauna. With the variety of narrators (besides Addie and Emmett, Bettina, a local girl who wants to marry Emmett, and Nanny Fay, an older woman rejected by the community because they think she is a witch, both narrate parts of the story), readers get a look into life for lots of people in the community, from different walks of life, making for a very interesting read. Addie sometimes felt a little too perfect, but I did appreciate her faith and her commitment to kindness. I wish the romance had been a little more developed, but for those who want an interesting historical fiction novel with a hint of romance, this is a good choice.
4 stars.
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Anxious People


Anxious People
By Fredrik Backman
Published by Atria Books
Publication Date: September 8, 2020 (for the English version)

Description: 
This is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.
Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers slowly begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.
As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

Review:
I love Fredrik Backman's books because they always have such amazing characters--they're so real to life. He has this fantastic way of creating dynamic, totally believable characters, complete with flaws and strengths. He also has a way of inviting the reader to almost become a character, thinking about whether you would react and respond the same way his characters do or in different ways. What I love most about Backman's books, however, is how they make me empathize with others. At the outset of Anxious People, I had the thought that I might have to read it in small doses because several of the characters were annoying or abrasive. But as I continued reading Backman skillfully pulled back the layers on each character, taking me past their outward actions to their hearts. I found myself not only wanting to reread the book when I finished it but wanting to restart right in the middle of the book with my new understanding of and appreciation for the characters so that I could erase my earlier annoyance with them and instead read every moment with my newfound insights into their true characters. These sweet, beautiful, totally flawed, and totally relatable people stole my heart--and also reminded me of how often in real life if we would stop being annoyed with people and see who they really are, our hearts would melt and we would do whatever we could to help them. 
Besides the wonderful cast of characters, Backman's plot and the setting were so interesting--the majority of the book takes place in one apartment--and there were several twists that I did not see coming at all. It was a fascinating read that was so thought-provoking. I adored it, and I want everyone I know to read it so we can talk about it! 
5 stars. Definitely one of my favorites for 2020. 

I read an ARC of #AnxiousPeople provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.