Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd

The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr


The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII, as a young woman is caught between love and honor. What she sees in secret, she may not tell.

     Mistress Juliana St. John is the lovely, forthright daughter of a prosperous knight’s family. Though all expect her to marry the son of her late father’s business partner, time and chance interrupt, sending her to the sumptuous but deceptive court of Henry VIII.

     Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane, returns to Wiltshire to conclude his affairs with Juliana’s father’s estate and chances upon her reading as lector in the local church. He sees instantly that she would fit into the household of the woman he loves and wants most to please, Kateryn Parr. Juliana’s mother agrees to have her placed with Parr for a season and Juliana goes, though reluctantly.

     For she keeps a secret.

     As Juliana accompanies Kateryn Parr to court, Henry’s devout sixth queen raises the stakes for all reformers. Support of firebrand Anne Askew puts the queen and her ladies in life-threatening jeopardy, as does the queen’s desire to influence her husband’s—and the realm’s—direction and beliefs. Later, without Henry’s strong arm, the court devolves to competition, duplicity, and betrayal. The risks could not be higher as Juliana must choose between love and honor, personal fulfillment and sacrifice. Ultimately, her course is driven by a final kept secret, one that undoes everything she thought she knew.

My Opinion:

This book was very good, but I think I liked the first one just a little bit more. In my opinion their was more going on in the first one to keep me more engaged in the read, but this one was enjoyable too.

I liked Meg, from the first book, a little bit more also. Juliana was not as mature even though she strived to be. I think I like more mature characters, ones that don't always gossip and believe everything they hear. I liked Megs romance more than I did Julianas too. Even though I felt pain for both of them over the obstacles that kept them from their beloveds, Megs was much more emotional for me.

I also thought that this whole book would have to do with Juliana and her 'best friend' tell the very end of the book like To Die For, but that was not true and I was a little disappointed.

On the other hand, when I do not compare this book to To Die For, I can honestly say I liked the book. I did get to see Juliana's fears, disappointments, and her devastation with her own trials. As did I also get to see her dedication, love, and perseverance for the trials she faced.

Julianas 'man' was very charming and cute. I wish that he would of been in the book more than he was. I feel like he should of been in the book a little bit more at the end because it felt rushed.

I hope this little review of my thoughts helps you decide whether to read it or not. I hope that it does make it on to your to-read shelf. If you plan on reading the first one, To Die For, I definitely believe you should also read this one.

Rating- 4 Stars

Thursday, March 28, 2013

To Die For by Sandra Byrd

To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn


What would you sacrifice for your best friend?
Would you die for her?

Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's closest friend since they grew up together on neighboring manors in Kent. So when twenty-five-year-old Anne's star begins to ascend, of course she takes Meg along for the ride.

Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling... at first. Meg is made mistress of Anne's wardrobe, and she enjoys the spoils of this privileged orbit and uses her influence for good. She is young and beautiful and in favor; everyone at court assumes that being close to her is being close to Anne.

But favor is fickle and envy is often laced with venom. As Anne falls, so does Meg, and it becomes nearly impossible for her to discern ally from enemy. Suddenly life's unwelcome surprises rub against the court's sheen to reveal the tarnished brass of false affections and the bona fide gold of those that are true. Both Anne and Meg may lose everything. When your best friend is married to fearsome Henry VIII, you may soon find yourself not only friendless but headless as well.

A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, To Die For chronicles the glittering court life, the sweeping romance, and the heartbreaking fall from grace of a forsaken queen and Meg, her closest companion, who was forgotten by the ages but who is destined to live in our hearts forever.

My Opinion:

This was a great read, but I'm having a hard time coming up with stuff to say about it without giving important information away. So please bare with me...

This was the first book I have read by Sandra Byrd and it was heart wrenching for me, but that does not mean I didn't like it. The book was full of romance, lust, and betrayal. It was a very interesting read and it had me hooked.

I liked how this book was told through the eyes of Anne Boleyns life long best friend Meg. With it being written like that we see the life and trials of Anne, but also the life of Meg and the trials she faced. We see her dedication, love, faith, and so much more towards the people around her. Furthermore, we see many things said behind Annes back by the people who serve her and also her enemies.

I liked the romance in the book and I understand why Megs 'man' was not in the story an awful lot, however I wish he would of been in the story more. That was one of the main reasons this book was an emotional one to read for me being the soppy person that I am. Even though he wasn't in it an awful lot her 'man' was very sweet! Probably the sweetest guy I have read about. I loved him from the beginning.

I hope this little bit that I have given about my thoughts helps you decide if it's a book you would want to read. I do hope it makes it on to your to-read list because it is definitely worth it.

Rating: 5 Stars 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

It Happened at the Fair


A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

My Opinion:

Deeanne Gist never disappoints! I just love her writing style and the cute romantic stories she comes up with. This was a fast and easy read for me, (considering I read the whole thing yesterday.) I just couldn't put the book down. Thank goodness I'm on spring break and I had all day to read it.

You can definitely tell that Deeanne did her research on this book. With the pictures that she provides from the actual fair do the vivid descriptions she gives everything including Cullens invention. You can also tell that she must of researched a lot about lip-reading. I love when authors put a lot of thought and research into their writing because then I also learn the things they did and in an entertaining way.

I love how the characters in this book are not perfect and have real life problems. Because of their problems and careers they both are put into very funny, romantic, but also serious situations. Deeanne Gist is also very good at teasing the reader; throughout the book she put Cullen and Della in many romantic settings and awkward circumstances. I was constantly yelling in my head, "Kiss her already!" but there was no way in telling when it was going to happen.

This book is one of many that has made me wish I was born in a different time period. There were so many things that I wish I could have seen or been a part of and this fair is now one of them.

Rating: 5 Stars

I hope my review helps you decide if this is a book you would like to add to your reading list. Here are more books by Deeanne gist, click on the name for a goodreads summary:

Here is a different cover for It Happened at the Fair that has pictures on it from the actual fair.
It Happened at the Fair

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Tutor's Daughter


Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame... and which brother to trust with her heart?

My Opinion:

Looking at this books cover I would have never guessed that this book was filled with suspense, but throughout almost the whole book I was trying to figure out "Who done it." I liked how Julie kept me guessing throughout the story. No matter how many times I thought I had figured out who was behind everything she would throw something else at me and then I had to guess all over again. I don't normally read many books with suspense in them but I really enjoyed this one. I will have to add more to my reading list.

This was the first book I have read by this author also. I can honestly say that I think I have found a new author to continue to read. I liked her writing style and the way she implemented God into the story. The romance was also good, not to fast paced and not to slow, not over powering but also enough to enjoy reading.

Their really isn't anything that I can think of to fault in the book. It was an entertaining and pleasant read.  I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys suspense, romance, and a morally good story.

Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Healer by Linda Windsor

Healer: A Novel


Sixth-century Scotland—in the time of Arthur…. “The Gowrys’ seed shall divide your mighty house and bring a peace beyond the ken of your wicked soul.” Her mother’s dying prophecy to the chieftain Tarlach O’Byrne sentenced Brenna of Gowrys to twenty years of hiding. Twenty years of being hunted—by the O’Byrnes, who fear the prophecy, and by her kinsmen, who expect her to lead them against their oppressors. But Brenna is a trained and gifted healer, not a warrior queen. So she lives alone in the wilderness with only her pet wolf for company. When she rescues a man badly wounded from an ambush, she believes he may be the answer to her deep loneliness. Healing him comes as easy as loving him. But can their love overcome years of bitterness and greed…and bring peace and renewed faith to the shattered kingdom?

My Opinion:

This is the first book to ever make me emotional during the PROLOGUE! Just by reading that I was hooked. However, that was probably the only part that made me really emotional. After that it was still a good read but I wasn't into it as much.

I feel like the romance was rushed a little bit to much in the beginning, but I love how their relationship grew throughout the book. It was so romantic knowing how much Ronan was in love with Brenna by his actions toward anyone who wanted to hurt her.

I really liked how much faith Brenna had in God and the Holy Spirit, and how she used their power through prayer to heal people, whether it be physically or mentally. I liked how Ronan saw her faith and loved her so much he was willing to believe and wanted to have that happiness for himself too, but I was a little disappointed at the end when he did not quite learn how to forgive.

Overall, this book was a good read. Their was nothing wrong with the book in my opinion, it just didn't capture me throughout the whole book like others have by Linda before. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading about love, action, betrayal, and over coming impossible outcomes.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars

My Favorites by Linda Windsor:
It had to be you
Along Came Jones
Moon Struck Series:
Paper Moon
Fiesta Moon
Blue Moon

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blue Moon by Linda Windsor

Blue Moon


Once in a Blue Moon, fame and fortune actually take a backseat to friendship and love.

Jeanne Madison has earned her PhD at 26 and secured funding to find and excavate a treasure-laden 18th century caravel off the Yucatan coast. Between her mentor and a handful of graduate students, years of study, and all the government cooperation a marine archaeologist could want, she'll find the "Luna Azul"--or Blue Moon--by hook or by crook. When a tight budget forces her to hire Captain Gabriel Avery and his rust-bucket, "Fallen Angel," the comely PhD's not sure it won't be the latter. The incorrigible skipper has the swarthy good looks of a Hollywood pirate and pushes every last one of Jeanne's buttons--even some she didn't know she had. His history of brawls, bullion, and well, romantic escapades may well sink the whole expedition. As the race for the "Luna Azul" treasure with an unscrupulous competitor gets heated, more than the fajitas start to sizzle. Soon Jeanne, the captain, and her crew must take a gigantic leap of faith, one that may salvage more than gold--perhaps even a hardened heart.

My Opinion:

I loved this series! They were great! Normally I am drawn more to historical fiction, but even though these were set in modern time they did talk a lot about Mexican traditions and history which really interested me. I learned a lot about Mexican culture in these and how to say new words in Spanish. I also was very proud of myself because I understood a lot of the Spanish in it because I have taken a couple classes. The Mexican culture, traditions and language have fascinated me for some time now, so these books were very easy reads for me.

The romance in this book was good, and I like how Linda Windsor ties Christian faith in with it. Dr. Jeanne Madison already had astounding faith in Christ, but Gabe Avery had fallen off the path some time ago. Which is Ironic because his ships name was The Fallen Angel. As their attraction to each other leads to more than just friendship, Avery discovers Gods love once again and is given the chance to have the life he once wanted and gave up on.

I hope my opinion on the book and the very short summary I gave will help you decide whether you want to read Blue Moon or not. Happy Reading:)

Rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Launch for T.L. Higley + Giveaway!

Tracy L. HigleyTracy's Bio:

 Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at

I could not get the page with questions Tracy answered from fans to open so here are some of my favorite pictures she gave us to post:) 

Hanging Out!
Mosaic Sidewalk
The Latrine
Beautiful Frescoes
The Library of Celsus
Inside the Theater
Outside the Theater
Temple Column
Relaxing in Port

On top of that here is a video from Tracy Higley-
Now, finally here is the book So Shines the Night

So Shines the Night


Daria's new home with Lucas in Ephesus both beguiles and confounds her, until she meets followers of The Way.

Her past has taught her that evil is real, that it can consume a person. She saw it happen with her husband, before he took his own life. Widowed, with no family, Daria becomes a tutor to Lucas, a rich traveling merchant from Ephesus. There she discovers evil has a strong foothold and that Lucas himself seems drawn to evil and sorcery.

As her relationship with her employer grows, she fears that she will be unable to pull him from demonic influence. Tension in the city is about to erupt, as a new sect called The Way continues to draw followers.A man called Paul leadsthe movement against the economic and political strength of the city, found in its goddess cult.

When she learns more of the ways of the Christians and their ability to defeat evil, she begins to have hope. But then Lucas is arrested and jailed for a brutal crime, and it seems not even the Christians can help.

Tensions escalate in the city until thousands are pouring into the arena to protest the influence of the Christians, and a plot to kill Paul is underway. When Lucas's execution is scheduled, Daria must find a way to prove his innocence, save his life, and help her new friends before everyone she loves is destroyed.

So Shines the Night
And click here for a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Grave Consequences by Lisa Bergren

Grave Consequences (Grand Tour Series, #2) 


For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future—her very life—depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone’s plans in danger. And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences.

My Opinion: *Caution Spoilers*

Wow. Lisa Bergren never ceases to amaze me with her writing. She is by far one of my favorite authors and maybe even my number one favorite. When she writes a story she completely pulls me in to where I feel like I'm standing right next to the characters. She uses such vivid description for all the settings in the story that I literally feel like I'm looking upon Austria, London, Geneva, and other places visited in the book.

I feel so much emotion for both Cora and Will. When Cora's Father was forcing her to allow Pierre's advances all I wanted to do was jump through the book and punch her Dad in the face. I also felt horrible for Will because he had to watch Pierre with Cora time and time again when he couldn't do anything about it without losing her and his job in the process. I was so depressed with all the things going on in Will's life: His relationship with Cora, the responsibility of everybody in the group, the death of his uncle, and then the debt that was laid upon his shoulders. So many times I wanted to rip this book to shreds, but I like books that make me feel emotion whether it be good or bad.

Will and Cora's first kiss was so cute! The whole time up to that moment I was practically screaming in my head "DO IT ALREADY!" to Will. It was really sweet seeing him try to withstand the temptation to kiss her and tell her how he felt about her because he knew all the consequences his actions would lead to. Lisa Bergren is definitely a romantic and is great at putting it to work in her stories. In my opinion, out of all the books I have read this first kiss was probably one of the best. I don't know why, I just thought it was romantic.

I love how Cora is so determined not to let anything change her. She knows who she is and what she wants and she is willing to fight for it, which is a great character to have.

The cover of the book is beautiful, however the thing I don't like about it is the person on the cover for Will. It's not how I picture him at all, but I tend to picture every guy in a story like an Abercrombie model anyway. :)

I could go on and on about how great this book is but I think I'm gonna stop here. I hope this was enough information to help you decide on whether to read it or not. Thanks for reading and please visit my blog again soon!

Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Champion by Carla Capshaw

The Champion


Triumphs in the Coliseum--and society bedchambers--made gladiator Alexius of Iolcos famous for his brutal skill and womanizing ways. Yet the only woman who intrigues him is Tiberia the Younger, who now needs his help. Protecting Tiberia places Alexius in the greatest danger he has ever known--from her vengeful father and his own heart...
Becoming a temple priestess may be an honor, but Tibi can't bear to surrender her freedom or her newfound faith. Alexius's solution stuns her. a gladiator Scorned by her noble family, Tibi always felt unworthy. But with her champion by her side, can she accept--and give--a love strong enough to vanquish their enemies?

My Opinion:

Sadly, this was the last of the series. All three of these stories: The Gladiator, The Protector, and The Champion were amazing reads. They all make it into books I would recommend for people who like clean romance and a good story with a little bit of action/fighting in it. I have written a review on my blog for all of them if you wish to stay on my blog a little bit longer.

As you can tell from the description, this book was about the crowds favorite gladiator Alexius of Iolcos and Tiberia the younger, aka Tibi. The story was about their secret love for one another growing and in the process their belief and trust in Christ Jesus.

I liked how Alexius had a past reputation for "the ladies" and how that made it hard for Tibi to trust him sometimes. It made for some very serious parts in the story where Alexius and Tibi would talk about how things he did could of been mistaken for some thing else, and it made other situations funny because Alexius was a charmer even when he didn't mean to be.

The ways that Alexius and Tibi come to know God are so realistic: through friends, past and present experiences, and the natural wonder of their being a higher power.

Another thing that I liked was Tibi not thinking she was beautiful even though she was gorgeous. Because of that, Alexius was always complementing her trying to get her to see herself the way he saw her. It was cute and something a lot of girls now can relate to. Almost all girls now days don't think highly of themselves and would kill to have a guy complement them.

Once again, and I feel repetitive saying this, but the only thing I did not like about the story was the way it was written in some parts. I lost track sometimes of whoes thoughts I was reading. Other than that it was an enjoyable and fast read.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Protector by Carla Capshaw

The Protector


Quintus Ambustus is a slave--Adiona Leonia is a wealthy socialite. He fights for his life in the gladiator's ring--she plays cutthroat politics in Rome's high society. He's sacrificed everything for his Christian faith--she believes in nothing and no one. But when Adiona's life is threatened, Quintus is chosen as her bodyguard, and their fascination with one another shocks them both. Neither thought to find joy in a match society would condemn...but their feelings cannot be denied. Have they lost too much to believe in happiness? Or will their growing love let them leave the past behind--and build a new future together?

My Opinion:

Well, may I just start out by saying that I love the cover! This Guy is SMOKIN' HOT!!! I had no problem whatsoever with picturing Quintas like this.

Based on the first book, whenever Adiona and Quintas saw eachother I thought Quintas would look away and do other things because he did not like her and found her annoying. However, I was definetly wrong. He would look away because he didn't know how to act in front of her without feeling embarrassed by his decline is social status. Not only that but just the way she looked sent his heart into a frenzy. It was really cute.

Adiona hated the whole male race, except her best friend Caros, because of her past experience with men. However, when she first saw Quintas she couldn't figure out why she felt drawn to him.

Over the course of the story Quintas and Adiona learn about eachothers past hurts and grow closer to eachother. I liked how they both had painful pasts. I think that made it more realistic for the time period of the story instead of one of them having a cookie cutter life. Also, it is their pasts that brought them together. If Quintas would of never been imprisoned he never would of met Adiona, and if Adiona would of never had a hatred towards men Quintas would of had know reason to get her to trust again.

I liked how Adiona came to Christ too. She hated her father and when she found out that Christians called God "Father" it was really hard for her. She didn't want another one based on how her first Dad treated her. But as she got close to Quintas, became friends with Pelonia, and saw Caros's transformation she couldn't help but acknowledge that God existed and played a role in everything in her life.

The only thing I did not like about this book was that, like the first one, it changed people alot without having a break or a pause in the story. So, I would be reading one persons thoughts one paragraph and another persons in the next. I had to do a little back tracking here and there because of it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a little bit of romance in their books as well as a good message.

Rating: 4 1/2

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Short-Straw Bride (Archer Brothers, #1)


No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

My Opinion: 

I absolutely loved reading this book! I enjoyed it every time I picked it up. The characters were great and I loved their commitment to the ones they love. No matter what consequences might be ahead of them they always did what they knew to be right to help out their families. Not only that but Travis and Meri's commitment to each other was nothing less than what they would give to the others, which I thought was great.

I thought it was really cute how Travis saved Meri when she was 10 years old and she ended up with a crush on him. Then 12 years later they meet up again and she still has the same feelings for him, and he still has the overpowering desire to protect her. And that when they are "forced" to marry each other they both secretly are really happy about the situation. 

I liked that even though they both secretly loved each other, they kept the marriage in name only until they knew the other one felt the same way about them. It was really nice watching their relationship grow, and it was funny knowing how much they were attracted to each other and watching them try to control their feelings.

The romance in this book was great. Not only that but I loved how it could be very serious in some parts and then hilarious in others. Also, I liked watching Meri teach Travis to open up to the outside world and to trust in God that everything would be okay. I would definitively recommend this book, and I hope that if you choose to read it you enjoy it as much as I did.

Rating: 5 stars