Review: The Bachelor and the Bride

Synopsis:

London, 1866

Dr. Barnabus Milligan has always felt called to help people, whether that means setting a broken bone or rescuing the impoverished women of London from their desperate lives on the streets as part of his work with the Dread Penny Society.

Three years ago, he helped rescue Gemma Kincaid by marrying her in secret to protect her from her family, notorious grave robbers who were intent on keeping her working in the trade.

But their unconventional relationship is nearly over before it begins when, six months after they exchange vows, Gemma realizes her love for Barnabus is unrequited. To protect her heart, she leaves, telling Barnabus to contact her if his feelings for her ever grow beyond a sense of duty.

When Gemma finally receives a letter from Barnabus, inviting her to return home, she hopes to find a true connection between them. But she quickly learns that he only wants her help to foil the Kincaids, who have been terrorizing the boroughs of London, eager to gain both money and power.

Heartbroken once more, Gemma agrees to help, but she warns Barnabus that she will not stay for long, and once she goes, he’ll never see her again.

Yet as the couple follow the clues that seem to connect the Kincaids to the Mastiff, the leader of London’s underground criminal network, Gemma and Barnabus both realize they might make a better match than either of them suspected. Perhaps the marriage that had once saved Gemma’s life, might prove the means of saving Barnabus—and his lonely heart—as well.

But before the once-confirmed bachelor can properly court his secret bride, they’ll need to evade the dangerous forces that are drawing ever closer to the hopeful lovers and the entire Dread Penny Society itself.


My Review:

I totally loved this book. I loved the growing relationship between Barnabus and Gemma. Everything was woven together very nicely. Highly recommend reading this.

This book has is all: romance, suspense, mystery, and interwoven Penny Dreadfuls! Even if you haven’t read any other of the series, you’ll enjoy this one.

I received an ARC from Shadow Mountain.


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Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Synopsis:

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…


My Review:

I have been waiting for this book since I first heard about in. In part, because I like the folktale Sim Chung and the River Dragon, and have written my own retelling of it.

And I really enjoyed this retelling of it. I loved the lore and the myths. I loved the different takes on imugis. I loved the twists. I love the theme of family and love, and family ties that last beyond death.

I can’t wait to see what author Axie Oh writes next. (And seriously, this book will look great next to mine on the shelf.)

Have you read The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea? What did you think?

What are some of your other favorite retellings?

Review: A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice

Coming April 5, 2022

Description

Based on the remarkable true story of the Carpathia—the only ship and her legendary captain who answered the distress call of the sinking Titanic.

Just after midnight on April 15, 1912, the passenger steamship Carpathia receives a distress signal from the largest passenger liner ever built, RMS Titanic, which is on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York.

Captain Arthur Rostron is awakened to an enormous maritime emergency with little information to guide his actions in answering the call for help. Is the dire threat to the unsinkable Titanic accurate? His ship is more than four hours away; will Carpathia hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if his ship also strikes an iceberg? How many of Titanic’s 2,200 passengers will the Carpathia be able to accommodate? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

Kate Connolly is excited to join her sister in America and proud to be traveling on the grand Titanic, which was built in her Irish homeland. As a passenger in third-class accommodations, she is among the last to receive instruction and help after Titanic hits an iceberg. Among the chaos of abandoning ship, the chances of her securing a spot in a lifeboat appear grim. With the help of several men, also from Ireland, Kate finally reaches the upper decks and feels lucky to board Lifeboat 13, although no one knows if or when a rescue ship will come. She fears the icy water and wonders if they’ll all freeze to death. After seeing their magnificent ship submerge into the abyss, and hearing the cries of hundreds of fellow passengers drowning, it is almost too much to bear and Kate fleetingly thinks succumbing to her ordeal is the easiest escape.

Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Captain Rostron on the Carpathia and Kate Connolly on the Titanic, this historical novel is a compelling, heart-pounding account of two eyewitnesses to an epic disaster. Rostron’s heroic and compassionate leadership, his methodical preparations for rescue, and his grit and determination to act honorably and selflessly to save lives and care for the survivors, sets the course for this awe-inspiring story.


My Review:

You will need a tissue for tears when you read this book. I cried soo many times. Arthur Rostron and his crew deserve to be remembered for the heroic deeds of that night, and this book does an excellent job at that. If anything, I did feel that a bit too much was spent on survivors guilt.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain for the ARC.

Review: Beyond the Lavender Fields

Synopsis:

1792, France

Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.

A bourgeoise and a royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for  all.  As  Marie-Caroline  takes  risks  to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in  a  dangerous  secret  that  could  cost  her and her family their lives. As Gilles and  Marie-Caroline  spend  more  time  together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that per-haps they have more in common than she thought.

As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides.

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My Review:

Having adored Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks, I had to snatch the opportunity to read this book when offered to me. (Thank you for the ARC, Shadow Mountain!) This book did not disappoint. This book was a gem. It masterfully uses the enemies to lovers trope and it kept me turning pages. To risk a spoiler, in the opening Gilles is set up to attempt to kiss Marie-Caroline by her own brother. Their interactions after that were delightful, as they never go as Gilles hopes, nor do they go exactly how Marie-Caroline interprets it. It left me wanting to keep reading to see how their friendship developments. Beautifully done.

This book releases February 1, 2022.

Review: A Hero Born by Jin Yong

Synopsis:

Set in ancient China, in a world where kung fu is magic, kingdoms vie for power and the battle to become the ultimate kung fu master unfolds, an unlikely hero is born… in the first book in the epic Legends of the Condor Heroes by the critically acclaimed master of the genre, Jin Yong.

After his father—a devoted Song patriot—is murdered by the Jin empire, Guo Jing and his mother flee to the plains of Ghengis Khan and his people for refuge. For one day he must face his mortal enemy in battle in the Garden of the Drunken Immortals. Under the tutelage of Genghis Khan and The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing hones his kung fu skills. Humble, loyal and perhaps not always wise, Guo Jing faces a destiny both great and terrible.

However, in a land divided—and a future largely unknown—Guo Jing must navigate love and war, honor and betrayal before he can face his own fate and become the hero he’s meant to be.

Legends of the Condor Heroes
A Hero Born
A Bond Undone
A Snake Lies Waiting
A Heart Divided


My Review:

I really let the ball drop with this gem. This is a must read type of book. I received an ARC from the publisher before the pandemic, and this one sort of got buried in my to be read pile. I wish I had read it sooner, but, maybe one reason it got buried was the timing wasn’t right for me to read it. So, add this too your TBR lists. Buy a copy. Read it now. Read it later. Either way works. It’s great.

This is a sweeping epic. Upon finishing it, I had to go and see to the next one. The translator did an excellent job. What was really great about this book was, it was almost like watching it. I liked the third person omniscient story telling. I enjoyed the way it talked about kung fu and how it was magic. I wish I had read it sooner!

Book Review: The Die of Destiny

Synopsis:

Lucas Silver’s life is about to change. He thinks it’s because he’s made plans to escape from his foster home and make his way to New York, but then he and his friend Miles and two girls they’re acquainted with―Jasmine and Vanessa―find Hob and Bogie’s Curiosity Shoppe and agree to play a game of Champion’s Quest.

When the four kids walk out the front door of the Curiosity Shoppe, they immediately discover they’re no longer in West Virginia, but transported into the game and a wild fantasy world of dangerous goblins, brutish ogres, and a powerful witch.

They must work together as a team, overcome their real-world weaknesses, and believe in themselves and each other if they are to outwit, outplay, and survive their foes in this ultimate quest to defeat a treacherous monster.


My Review:

As a rpg gamer, this book caught my eye. In in, our heroes are transported to the magical world of the game. There they become friends as they work together to save the day. Along they way, this odd assortment of kids become friends. A fun read.

Thank you, Shadow Mountain for the ARC.

Book Review: Catkwondo

Synopsis:

Kitten wants to a break a board, and she wants to do it now. But Tae Kwon Do is not easy. Kitten must focus. She must practice. And above all, she must be patient. Will Kitten’s determination and dedication pay off when it’s finally time to break a board? Author Lisl Detlefsen delivers a turbo-charged story filled with action, fun, and encouragement. Korean phrases are intermixed throughout Catkwondo, and the Tae Kwon Do Oath and a Tae Kwon Do glossary complete this energetic picture book.


My Review:

Delightful children’s picture book about a kitten that is learning martial arts. I enjoyed the coloring artwork and the instruction to the Korean language.     Kitten wants very much to break a wooden board, but learns that to accomplish big goals, one needs to work on little ones first.

I received an ARC from the publisher.

Book Review: The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart

Publication Date:  Sept. 7, 2021 

Synopsis

A romance develops as a detective partners with a lonely-hearts columnist to solve a murder mystery.

London, 1885

Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe—a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club.

Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry and subject a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her innocence, beauty, and her quick mind.

When a woman’s body is pulled from the river, Michael suspects the woman’s husband—Harold Radcliffe—of foul play. Amelie refuses to believe that Harold is capable of such violence but agrees to help, imagining it will be like one of her favorite mystery novels. Her social connections and clever observations prove an asset to the case, and Amelie is determined to prove Mr. Radcliffe’s innocence. But the more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.

They also realize that Mr. Radcliffe is hiding more than one secret, and when his attention turns toward Amelie, Michael knows he must put an end to this case before the woman he loves comes to harm.


My Review:

This book was a delight! From the beginning with it’s romantic advice to the interactions of the romantic pairing, this book had me laughing. It also had a villain with a dastardly plan that needed to be thwarted. I highly recommend this book.

I received an ARC and wish to thank Shadow Mountain and the author for bringing us such an awesome story.


Let’s Chat

When I said this book was a delight. I do mean it. I had started reading this other detective book first, because it had caught my eye and the Detective shared my first name and seeing it in books is rare. The reviews had been good. However, the language was leaving much to be desired. As the book progressed, the swearing (f bombs) got worse. I don’t like being bombarded like that. (I can’t wait for the day that there is a filter you can use on an ebook reader that will black out certain content and you can simply click on it with your finger if you want to see it or not.) After a few chapters, I had had it and opted to ditch that book and picked up The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart.

This was just what I needed it. I read long into the nights as I drank in this marvel. I even filled my husband in on the story was we spent time together before he had to to go work.

The leading lady is Amelie Hampton. She is a romantic at heart, and dreams big. She lives in a happy optimistic bubble regarding romance and love. She writes romance advice. Michael Baker is a cynical detective, and Amelie chips away at his shield as she helps him solve a murder. I won’t say much more than this: read this book! The advice the opens many a chapter will surely delight you as the main event unfolds.

Book Review: XOXO by Axie Oh

Release Date: 13 Jul 2021

Description

Jenny’s never had much time for boys, K-pop, or really anything besides her dream of being a professional cellist. But when she finds herself falling for a K-pop idol, she has to decide whether their love is worth the risk. A modern forbidden romance wrapped in the glamorous and exclusive world of K-pop, XOXO is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Maurene Goo.

Jenny didn’t get to be an award-winning, classically trained cellist without choosing practice over fun. That is, until the night she meets Jaewoo. Mysterious, handsome, and just a little bit tormented, Jaewoo is exactly the kind of distraction Jenny would normally avoid. And yet, she finds herself pulled into spending an unforgettable evening wandering Los Angeles with him on the night before his flight home to South Korea.

With Jaewoo an ocean away, there’s no use in dreaming of what could have been. But when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does she meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo.

Finding the dreamy stranger who swept you off your feet in your homeroom is one thing, but Jaewoo isn’t just any student. Turns out, Jaewoo is a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating anyone.

When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love. XOXO is a new romance that proves chasing your dreams doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your heart, from acclaimed author Axie Oh. 


My Review

Delightful book.

To me, it showed that what truly matters is universal. It crosses cultural boundaries. These are: Family. Friends. Hope. Love. Themes that I love in books.

The story is fast past, and does give you enough to feel complete. But it also makes you want to read about the other characters.

I received an ARC from the publisher. (Thank you!)


Let’s Chat Books

Now I’m going to bring up other books. (After all, this is a book blog. You might want to check these out too! ) This book reminded me of some other books I’ve read. For one, for a girl who is into classical music who runs into a successful pop star, there is Buxton Peaks by Julie Spencer. In XOXO, Jenny Go is an aspiring cellist. The pop star is Jaewoo. Just like in Buxton Peaks, Jenny has no knowledge of who the celebrity is. Yet, during the course of meeting him, and falling in love with him, she’ll come to know and love his music. This is probably a common theme in celebrity romance novels.

As for Kpop/Kdrama books, I thought of Jennie Bennett’s charming romances. In XOXO, Jae Woo runs away for a moment and meets our female leading lady In Runaway Pop Star, we have the same thing happening. And I enjoyed how this book made me think of other good books I have read.

For traveling to Korea, and a short whirlwind romance, I also thought of Flower Boy Tour Guide by Shannon Kent.

Again, these are delightful books. If you like Axie Oh, you’ll enjoy these too.

Remember, LOVE is UNIVERSAL! It transcends cultures. It is a powerful uniting force.