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Blog Tour: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

[ 31 ] February 25, 2015

pembrooke park book coverPlease welcome award winning historical romance author Julie Klassen who is touring the blogosphere with her new release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park

A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of all of Ms. Klassen’s eight books and other Jane Austen-themed items, is open to those who join the festivities. (click here for a list of tour stops)

Reviewed by Amanda Schafer

Shortly after their family discovers they made some very bad financial investments and are now nearly destitute, Abigail Foster and her father receive a visitor. This visitor is a lawyer sent by a client with a request for them to live at Pembrooke Park for no less than one year. They would be allowed to have a certain number of house staff but that would be it; all cleaning and renovating would be up to them and the staff. Abigail and her father agree but decide to leave her mother and sister with an aunt in order to prepare the estate for their arrival. While there, Abby discovers that there might be some sort of treasure within the house and she’s determined to find it. The local curate is a very handsome man who welcomes father and daughter to Pembrooke Park but also becomes very interested in Abby herself.

Abby begins receiving anonymous letters in the mail that contain pages from a long-ago-written journal detailing the life of a young girl, presumably the young Pembrooke daughter who is said to be dead. These letters warn Abby to not allow any person claiming to be a Pembrooke to enter the house. At all. However, when Miles Pembrooke shows up and asks to be allowed to see the manor, Abby and her father allow him to stay. He seems harmless and they don’t want to think badly of him. Over the course of many days, they discover a great deal about his father and uncle and what happened to them and their families. There’s so much mystery and confusion that no one really knows what happened…and no one is telling!

When the exact whereabouts of Clive Pembrooke are discovered, people involved finally feel at ease to share the truth of what really happened and where everyone really is. Abby finally learns the details about the “secret room” and finds out which man has truly claimed her heart.

Julie Klassen never fails to delight her readers! While The Secret of Pembrooke Park has a few confusing details, it all comes together as the book comes to a close. Beautiful descriptions and wonderful history are all woven into this tale of mystery, love, and intrigue. You won’t be sorry you read this novel…you’ll only be sorry when you have to put it down and get back to real life!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

blog tour bannerGrand Giveaway Contest 

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada.

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bethany House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall

[ 4 ] February 24, 2015

miramont's ghost book coverPlease join Elizabeth Hall, author of Miramont’s Ghost, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours

Reviewed by Amanda Farmer

Miramont’s Ghost is a hard story to review without giving away too many spoilers. Miramont’s Ghost by Elizabeth Hall is not your typical ghost story. This story is a chilling, haunting tale of a young girl, Adrienne Beauvier, who is a clairvoyant and struggles with it throughout her short life.

The story opens in France and the readers are then transported, together with Adrienne, to Manitou Springs, Colorado, where Miramont Castle was built. Adrienne was close to her grandfather because he seemed to understand her “gift/curse”. Unfortunately, he passes away leaving her alone with a distant uncaring mother, an absent father, two younger siblings, a manipulative, abusive aunt (Marie), and an abusive cousin (Julien). Her only real friend is Lucie, her nanny, but she is removed from the family by Marie. Adrienne is left to find her way around Marie and Julien’s plans for her and figure out a way to escape. Throughout the story Adrienne is abused, isolated, friendless, and depressed all because of her “gift/curse”. She is able to see her family’s past and future. As a result, her family is threatened by her and her neighbors aren’t sure what to think of her.

I thought the story to be well written but found the ending to be lacking especially after finding out that this story was inspired by the real Miramont Castle in Colorado and the french priest who built it and his mysterious disappearance. I felt that Hall could have given Adrienne a different ending and a better resolution to the story. Adrienne was a fighter at the beginning but quickly gave up, which I had a hard time believing with everything that happened to her. I felt like she took the easy way out, which disappointed me.

Overall, I would recommend this story only to those looking for a disturbing ghost story. Miramont’s Ghost will definitely leave you feeling chilled and disturbed after reading it. The story was slow throughout and never really picked up for me. I did not find myself connecting to any of the characters in the story. I would, however, be willing to give this author another try.

As a note to those deciding to read this story, there are troubling scenes of abuse, rape and pedophilia.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Lake Union Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: The Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

[ 7 ] February 23, 2015

turnip princess book coverI have a copy of The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth to give away!

Open to US residents only

About the book

A rare discovery in the world of fairy tales – now for the first time in English. With this volume, the holy trinity of fairy tales – the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen – becomes a quartet.

In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth’s work was lost – until a few years ago, when thirty boxes of manu­scripts were uncovered in a German municipal archive. Now, for the first time, Schönwerth’s lost fairy tales are available in English. Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, these more than seventy stories bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre.

Franz Xanver von Schönwerth (1810-1886) was born in Bavaria and had a successful career in law and the Bavarian royal court before devoting himself to researching the customs of his homeland and preserving its fairy tales and folklore. Maria Tatar chairs the program in folklore and mythology at Harvard, and has edited and translated many collections of fairy tales. Eeika Eichenseer is a historian and preservationist working for the Bavarian government and the director of the Franz Xaver von Schönwerth Society.

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Review: The Autumn Crush by Andrew Anselmi

[ 2 ] February 23, 2015

autumn crush book coverReviewed by Alysia George

An epic story of pursuing the great American dream, Andrew Anselmi’s novel, The Autumn Crush, follows the Bennett family from Aquino, Italy to New York. When Dante Di Benedetto, a passionate, hot-headed teenager, leaves his simple Italian life, working his family’s vineyard, for the possibilities and freedoms available in America, he can’t imagine the kind of legacy he will be building for generations to come.

The Autumn Crush is a riveting multi-generational tale of hard work, ambition, the fulfillment of dreams, and, most of all, the everlasting bond of family. When 17-year old Dante arrives in New York, he is so eager to become a true American, he changes his name to Bennett and resolves to do whatever it takes to meet his dreams head on. Savoring life in his new country, he begins to believe he can truly have it all. However, when tragedy strikes his family back in Italy, Dante is a changed man, and never quite reclaims his full vitality. Nonetheless, he does not waiver in his determination to succeed, to have a family of his own, and to give them the kind of life that wouldn’t have been possible back in Italy.

Decades later, Dante’s son, Guy, has taken those dreams and stretched them even further. Wealthy and prominent, the Bennett family seems to have it all, yet they still feel they have something to prove to their old-money contemporaries. Furthermore, Guy’s children feel the pressure to keep their father happy by staying true to their traditional Italian roots. When the family finds themselves in the middle of a terrible scandal, their strong bond will be tested, as well as their priorities. Have their ambitions ruined them, or can they salvage what’s most important?

Anselmi weaves an intricate drama, with unexpected twists at every turn. At its heart, The Autumn Crush is about the importance of family values, but it also has a strong element of mystery and suspense. The writing flows effortlessly, pulling the reader into a different world: from a small Italian village in the 1920’s, to Prohibition, the plight of immigrants in America, and the upward socio-economic climb of one family, from poverty to riches, through several decades. Rich character development and lots of surprises kept me flipping the pages as fast as my eyes could read them, leaving me, in the end, satisfied yet wanting to know even more about the intriguing Bennett family.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.

Review copy was provided by Andrew Anselmi. 

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Review: Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

[ 3 ] February 23, 2015

sweet damage book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Ever since reading Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James, I’ve been anxiously awaiting another thriller-type mystery from this author. I got my wish with Sweet Damage; all I needed was to see her name on the cover, and I knew it was my very next read.

The plotline and characters are slowly introduced from the alternating first person account from Tim’s perspective and the third person narrative shown from Anna’s point of view. Tim rents a room from Anna, a wealthy twenty-year-old with a tragic past who suffers from agoraphobia. Over time, Tim and Anna grow close, causing Tim’s ex-girlfriend Lilla to interfere in their lives and affect their growing bond.

Sweet Damage is a quick read, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it a page-turner. It didn’t quite have the same chilling effect on me that Beautiful Malice did, but I wanted to find out the whole truth that led up to Anna’s unhappiness. In the beginning, I had one belief regarding her personal tragedy, and was actually quite surprised to find out it was something else entirely.

To James’s credit, it took me until nearly the end to put all of the puzzle pieces together. There weren’t enough hints throughout the beginning of the novel to come to any solid conclusions, and for that reason I didn’t feel the book’s plot line was as tightly written as it could have been. The “villain” of the novel was quite predictable, though I think hints should’ve been dropped a lot sooner about this person.

As for the plot twist, it wasn’t really anything new for this genre. In a way, it almost felt like a retelling of another story or movie that I had already read or seen. I still had quite a bit of fun reading Sweet Damage, and I’m hoping that it won’t be another four years before we see another book from this author.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Mailbox Monday

[ 10 ] February 22, 2015

Welcome to Mailbox MondayMailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at the Mailbox Monday blog

Here are the books that made their way into my mailbox last week:

Paper Review Copies

100 essential things book coverplaying a part book coverhit book coverat wolf ranch book coversome other town book covertaint book coverella book cover

Digital Review Copies

eternal world book cover

Additions to Personal Library

house at riverton book coveri am hutterite book cover

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