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Bride of a Distant Isle CoverTitle: Bride of a Distant Isle

Author: Sandra Byrd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cover Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine you’re a woman in Victorian England, the potential heir to a grand estate, and the only daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum.

Add to that a greedy and dangerous cousin, a mysterious Maltese captain, and allegations about your own sanity, and you have the basis for Sandra Byrd’s newest novel, Bride of a Distant Isle.

Byrd has become a favorite for me over the years, and Bride of a Distant Isle once again delivers with strong characters and an intriguing storyline.

One of the things Byrd excels at are finding little-known historical niches with which to set her stories in, and with this particular read I was fascinated to learn more about the island and customs of Malta, as well as just how absurd insane asylums in the 19th century could be.

But while you’ll learn a lot reading this book, historical facts never take the place of story and the mystery will draw you in from page one.

Spiritual themes involve facing loneliness and finding your place in the family of Christ, and I strongly appreciated how the emphasis was never solely on romance, but each character’s individual relationships with God.

It’s hard to talk about all that I loved with this book without giving too much away, so I’ll just end by saying this: for readers who like well-researched books with an aura of mystery and a dash of romance, I definitely recommend Bride of a Distant Isle!

For a full description or to purchase this book, you can find it here.

(I received this book for free from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

 

 

Mist of Midnight and Coffee CupTitle: Mist of Midnight

Author: Sandra Byrd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cover rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Series: The Daughters of Hampshire

Challenge #2 in the Bethany House Reading Challenge: Read a book that begins a series.

Rebecca Ravenshaw has returned home to England from India only to find her very identity has been stolen. Someone masquerading as herself not only tried to steal her estate and inheritance–the impostor also lies buried in her family’s grave plot after meeting a sudden and suspicious demise.

Who was she? Will Rebecca be able to prove that she is the true mistress of her own estate? And what about the dashing but mysterious Captain Whitfield living in her home now? Can he be trusted, or are his intentions even darker than the rumors would imply?

Where to start with all that I loved about this book! I guess by saying that Sandra Byrd never disappoints to deliver something that’s fresh in the market and is a much-needed reprieve from predictable plot lines. She expertly chooses eras, settings, and characters that are both relevant enough to find interesting but also different enough to keep your attention.

I’ve read books before about a missionary returning to England from India, but this is the first time where I actually believed the character might have truly lived there. It was clear the author researched both England and India and made it an integral part of Rebecca’s life, which was fascinating. She was not your typical main character and I loved that.

Not long ago I spoke of how I was growing tired of romances, but this book is an example of one done right in my opinion. Several different relationships were paid attention to throughout the book, and parts reminded me of Downton Abbey because of the conversations between characters, which was so very fun!

It held my attention from the moment I started reading, and I couldn’t even begin to solve the mystery. There were several things to mull on throughout the book, and although it was dark and suspenseful enough to keep you turning pages, it ended very surprisingly in a light and inspirational way.

I am very much looking forward to the rest of the books in this series.

(I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.)

Let’s Talk Book: What’s an interesting series you’ve read lately or have started to read?

Bonus shot. Just had to include this because I thought it was hilarious. My niece came over while I was taking pictures of the book and made bunny fingers behind it. She made me laugh treating the book as though it were a person, but then again, I think I was making her laugh taking pictures of a book... ;)

Bonus shot. Just had to include this because I thought it was hilarious. My niece came over while I was taking pictures of the book and made bunny fingers behind it. She made me laugh treating the book as though it were a person, but then again, I think I was making her laugh taking pictures of a book… 😉

Silenced, PettreyTitle: Silenced

Author: Dani Pettrey

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It’s finally happened! I’ve finally read a book by Dani Pettrey! I’ve been wanting to read a book by her for ages now, so when I was offered a free copy in exchange for my honest review by Bethany House, I leapt at the chance! I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Silenced is the fourth book in the Alaskan Courage series, and it mainly focuses on expert climber Kayden McKenna and man-with-a-past, Jake Cavanaugh. When Kayden comes face to face with a dead rock climber, she won’t rest until the killer is found. Choosing to listen to his heart instead of his head, Jake decides to come alongside her and assist as deputy in the investigation. But as the mystery grows, Kayden and Jake will have to decide which is the bigger danger: a killer at large, or giving away the key to their hearts?

For the most part I’m mainly a Historical Fiction lover, but for a change of pace, I really liked this book! It starts out as a classic murder mystery with a plentiful suspect list and a million plausible motives. Then the story branches out a little, and it suddenly becomes a lot more dark and sinister than you’d originally expect. On one hand, I liked that. It switched things up a bit. On the other, it came across as a little disjointed. The shift was kind of abrupt and made me wonder about a few things that felt like loose ends.

But that may be because I didn’t start from the very beginning of this series. The characters in Pettrey’s books are all deeply connected, and while she does an excellent job of catching up a reader with all that’s gone on before, I couldn’t shake the feeling of coming late to the party. From this book alone, it appears as though relationships are big to Pettrey books. Both romantic and familial. I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but I think I’d need to go back and read the first three books to really “get” it.

Overall, Silenced doesn’t quite get a spot in my “Favorites” list, but it does make me very glad to have tried out Pettrey and eager to read some of her earlier books! Who knows–maybe a “favorite” is hiding out there. 🙂

(I received this book for free from Bethany House on NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

Let’s Talk Book: What kinds of things do you read when you need a change of pace or a break from the usual?

The Pawn, JamesTitle: The Pawn (The Bowers Files Book #1)

Author: Steven James

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Boy, you better be ready for a ride with this one! The Pawn is somewhat of an older book, but since I’ve wanted to read James for a while now and this is the first in a series, I figured it would be better to start there. Based on the first book alone, I think it is the type of series where you have to start from the beginning to really get it. There were a few hints in this first book that suggested more of the story and main character would be revealed in the next. And good golly, that character! But let me give you a peek at the plot first before I get too carried away:

“Special Agent Patrick Bowers had only met one man who made him truly afraid. Until now. When he’s called to North Carolina to consult on the case of an area serial killer, he finds himself in a deadly game.
Cunning and lethal, the killer is always one step ahead of the law, and he’s about to strike again. It will take all of Bowers’s instincts and training to stop this man who calls himself the Illusionist. And just when the pieces start to come together, Bowers realizes they’re not quite adding up. Can he unravel the pattern and save the next victim? Or will the Illusionist win the game by taking one of his opponent’s pieces? Thrilling, chilling, and impossible to put down, The Pawn will hold suspense lovers in its iron grip until the very last page.” (Amazon.com)

Let me tell you, “thrilling and chilling” is one very apt description! The author goes so deep with his characters. Like, scary deep. Think Criminal Minds deep. On one hand, I was really impressed by that. His villain has a motive, and the motive is very plausible. His main character, Special Agent Patrick Bowers, is so well-developed he almost became like Sherlock Holmes, that’s how real and how heroic he became. A man with flaws but also almost otherworldly talent. If you’re going to name an entire series around a certain character, he better be a good one, and I’m pleased to say Patrick Bowers easily held up his end of the bargain.

The plot was also fantastic. The writing was superb. This will sound really strange, but my only complaint is that it was too real.

I got really freaked out by this book, I’m not gonna lie. There’s a scene at the very beginning of the book I just cannot get out of my head. It was grisly and creepy and just way too real. That’s where my struggle comes in. Because was it excellently written? Absolutely. The fact that it got under my skin so much shows how great of a writer Steven James really is. But can I recommend it? I’m not sure. Would I read him again? I don’t know.

I suppose it comes down to this: if this looks like your kind of genre, then by all means, read it! It’s very well-written. But if scary reads aren’t really your thing, you may want to avoid this book. It’s not that I wouldn’t recommend this author. I’d just recommend him with a caveat.

So! Here’s my question for you:

Let’s Talk Book: Weigh in and let me know what you think! Should I read the second book in the Bowers series? Comment on this blog post with your vote by clicking on “comment” on the top right-hand side. If you’re voting no, tell me why and what I should read instead! If yes, then a review of The Rook may be coming to a blog near you!

Gone to Ground, CollinsTitle: Gone to Ground

Author: Brandilyn Collins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In the small town of Amaryllis, Mississippi, everyone knows everyone and most don’t even bother locking their doors. That is, until the murders start happening.

In the past three years five unsolved murders have occurred within the town. All the victims were women, and all were killed in similar fashion in their own homes. And just two nights ago, there was a sixth.

As panic floods Amaryllis, three women are certain they know who the killer is and will stop at nothing until he’s caught. The only problem? They each suspect a different man.

Who is right?

Who is wrong?

And who is dead?

Brandilyn Collins has become one of my favorite authors, and Gone to Ground is a fantastic example of why I love her writing so much. At this point I’ve read four novels by her, and I can pretty much guarantee that if you pick up anything of hers you’ll be hanging onto the edge of your seat until the story finishes. Her books are fast-paced and almost impossible to put down, and Gone to Ground is no exception.

Not only was I completely immersed in the story, but I could not figure out who-dun-it. I enjoy books that make you think and keep you involved in the mystery, and with this particular novel I was guessing until the very end.

Throughout the book Collins’ uses the viewpoints of three different women who are certain they know who the killer is. I’d read one viewpoint and was certain I knew, too. But then the other woman would get a chance to tell her story and show her evidence, and I was certain she was right. And so it went the entire book.

Collins is a master at both suspense and cleverly woven twists, and Gone to Ground had a twist I never saw coming.

The characters in this book were even more well-rounded and defined than I’d seen before in any of the other books I’ve read by Collins, and their voices were so uniquely crafted that I think you would know who was speaking even without the chapter headings at the top. I also really appreciated the fact that Collins went a little deeper than she normally does with her characters’ faith.

Because of the perfect balance Collins struck between an excellent plot and characters you felt as if you’d known all your life, Gone to Ground may be my favorite of hers yet.

So if you haven’t guessed already, I’m highly recommending you check out this book!

Let’s Talk Book: What’s your favorite surprise ending or twist you never saw coming? Just this once, I’ll even let you use a twist from a movie if you want. But just this once! 😉

P.S. You can leave a comment by clicking on “Leave a comment” up at the very top of this post. It’s small and a little hard to find, but just keep looking to the right after all the tags at the top, and you’ll find it there!