Winners: Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers 2017 Giveaways

My hearty thanks to everyone who entered 2017’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers giveaways!

I’m happy to announce that Shamekka won a copy of Home by Ginny L. Yttrup, Cassandra won a copy of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman, sbmcmh won a copy of The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins, Kathy won a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, Linda won a copy of Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll, and Pat won a copy of Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Hunt. Congrats!

  

  

Be sure to check out all of this year’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers for great books to add to your reading list.

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World of the Innocent

When It’s Time Series

 

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The Gift of the Inn by Golden Keyes Parsons

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. WhiteFire Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

The Gift of the Inn by Golden Keyes Parsons

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Innkeeper Naomi Lockhart should be happy on Christmas Eve of 1944. She has a batch of healthy daughters and a military husband who’s stationed at home instead of overseas, in the midst of a world war. But Naomi has never gotten over the past Christmas Eve disappearance of her infant child, and this holiday could make or break Naomi in The Gift of the Inn, a novel by author Golden Keyes Parsons.

I only skimmed maybe a sentence or two of the blurb before I decided I wanted to read this book, which I later found out is, sadly, the last book by this author. Coming to this novel knowing next to nothing about the plot, most of its unfolding was all the more interesting to me. I also felt wonderfully steeped in the historical setting, with fashion, hairstyles, and music so reminiscent of the period.

Nearly halfway into the book, I wasn’t expecting that the war would then come to the foreground for much of the time, with mostly different characters and much of its own storyline. Hence, several of the chapters felt a bit like a different book to me. Also, I wouldn’t want to give too much away, but there were at least three key issues in the plot that didn’t add up to me. Concerning one of those issues, I’d think that if you had a dark, crucial secret to hide, you wouldn’t knowingly leave clear evidence of it where other people could easily get to it.

Nevertheless, even beyond its themes of love and loss, this story includes a critical message on trust that I hope fellow ChristFic readers won’t miss. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

 

The Baron’s Blunder by Susan M. Baganz

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Baron’s Blunder by Susan M. Baganz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Fighting highway attackers on behalf of defenseless travelers is a hobby, of sorts, for Lord Charles Percy. One such rescue brings him into the path of the Honorable Henrietta Allendale—only it soon becomes evident that she’s not at all defenseless. A mutual but almost reluctant interest sparks between them, but the criminal schemes of one notorious Black Diamond brings peril to their association in The Baron’s Blunder by author Susan M. Baganz.

It was the cover that most drew me to this novella. Yes, it’s quite lovely and has depth, it’s bold and vibrant in a dark kind of way, and it was the darkness that got me curious. When it comes to Regency fiction, I’m finding that I prefer stories with high stakes involved, aside from just social or romantic connections and displays of old-fashioned English manners and speech.

Hence, I appreciated the danger and intrigue in this Gothic Regency romance. It was great to come across a heroine with fire to her, and by that, I don’t mean she’s brash, wild, or rude to people. She isn’t perfect, may even be a bit snobbish, but she’s got wit, brains, faith, and a level of fearlessness that makes her character interesting.

I found some parts of the story to be rather clichéd or overdone, there’s perhaps too much winking, and the romance has quite a few references to “warmth” and “sensations,” which gets repetitive. Also, though this isn’t an insta-love story, the eventual jump to love still felt rushed to me, on one party’s part in particular, especially since they both began the story so opposed to marriage.

Still, I very much enjoyed this read, ate it up in one evening, and would be happy to continue the series.

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The Baron’s Blunder is the prequel novella to the Black Diamond series.

  

 

The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Samurai’s Heart by Walt Mussell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Sen knows it is her duty to marry soon. But she’s a Christian who seeks a Christian husband, and her faith has been banned in Japan. Nobuhiro, the son of a respected samurai, may be a good choice for marriage, but he doesn’t understand the hold Sen’s foreign religion has on her. Her faith may prove dangerous for herself and those around her in The Samurai’s Heart, a novel by author Walt Mussell.

I’ve become nicely acquainted with samurai culture through books and film over the years and have heard about Christianity in early (well, at least, earlier) Japan. So as soon as I learned of this ChristFic novel’s existence, it went straight to my TBR list.

I must say, the Prologue got me especially pumped. Although I didn’t get quite as pumped about the story again until the last third or fourth of it, it was worth reading and waiting for. I wasn’t exactly wild about the two leading characters at first, who seem to be a mutual mix of much blushing and shrinking away and bouts of naiveté, and I didn’t get a convincing sense of chemistry between them. But they do get their moments to stand up and show some fire, and in due time, they both grew on me.

I found much of the narration to be somewhat stilted or simplistic, the development to be a bit choppy in places, and missing quotation marks occasionally disturb the flow between the narration and dialogue. But the story maintains a keen sense of its historical setting throughout the read, and the intrigue eventually took me from being interested to being enthralled.

I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the next book in this series.

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Note for my blog readers: not out of keeping with the subject matter, this novel contains some scenes of bloody violence.