Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd Review and GIVEAWAY! (TLC Book Tour)

Do you love a good light story with a hint of romance and intrigue?  Are you a fan of regency romance or Jane Austen novels?  If you haven’t already, you should pick up A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd.

Annabelle’s family has fallen on hard times.  Her mother died when she was young and her father died a couple of years previous to the start of the story.  Shortly before her father’s death, he lost most of his fortune in an embezzling scandal.  Now Annabelle finds herself alone and unwelcome staying with her brother and his wife.  Her brother tries to keep the family estate afloat with an idea to marry Annabelle off to a wealthy, but reprehensible suitor.  Annabelle is wary of the blackness that seems to be overtaking her brother and home and leaves to go and stay with her estranged Uncle along with her maid.  She is helped on the journey by gamekeeper Owen, who is from a nearby estate.

Her Uncle runs the Fellsworth School and lives a much simpler life than Annabelle is used to.  She starts working for the first time in her life as a teacher’s assistant while her maid finds a new life in the kitchens.  Annabelle finds herself attracted to tragic widower Owen, who has a young daughter, Hannah at the school.  Owen finds himself involved in a mystery as he tries to track down a poaching ring on the estate he works on as well as a neighboring estate.  He has a dream to purchase the property he was raised on, but he can only purchase the property with the capture of the poaching ring.  Will the poachers be caught – who are they?  Will Annabelle find happiness and meaning in her life?  Will Annabelle’s brother find her?

I greatly enjoyed A Stranger at Fellsworth.  It was an engaging story, with wonderful characters, and a great setting.  I love Regency era stories. I loved the mystery, but I really loved how the characters evolved.  More so then previous also great novels, The Curiosity Keeper and Dawn at Emberwilde, this story is a story of faith and how one should navigate life and their faith journey.  I loved how that was woven throughout the tale.  This is the third novel in the series, but it is easily a stand-alone novel, the only connection being the Fellsworth setting.

My favorite quotes:

“We are not just placed on this earth, haphazardly.  Each of us has a path.  Each of us has a purpose.  It is part of life to find that path and follow it.”

“But most importantly, he wanted her to know that her value lay not in making a successful match as an adult, but in developing her character now”

“Peace is an interesting word.  My mama always said that peace was not dependent upon your circumstances. It was dependent upon where you placed your faith.”

Overall, A Stranger at Fellsworth is a wonderful Regency Christian Romance with a great mystery storyline and fantastic characters that grow in their faith and sense of self as the novel progresses.  I highly recommend it!  I found it a perfect novel to help me relax at the end of a day.

Book Source:  Review E-Book Copy as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thanks!  For more stops on this wonderful tour - check out this link.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd. If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States and Canada.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday June 30th!

Please make sure to check the week of July 4th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by New Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

My son Daniel received Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them for Easter and we had a grand time reading it together.  He enjoyed the movie over the winter, but he really liked this textbook by Newt Scamander on the fantastic beasts that he had found over the world.

The book starts with a great introduction defining what a beast is and how they are classified.  It also talked about how Muggles interact with the magical world of beasts.  One of Daniel’s favorite items was a list of the Ministry of Magic Classifications of the beasts going from “X - Boring to “XXXXX – Known Wizard Killer / Impossible to Train or Domesticate.”  The book lists all beasts alphabetically with a brief description of what they are and how they are classified.  He bookmarked the classification scheme so he could quickly flip back and take a look at it with each beast.

Daniel’s favorite beast was the Hodag.  In particular it was his favorite because “It is now confined, mostly successfully, to a protected area around Wisconsin.”  We had to look it up outside of the book and read how the legend persists in the Wisconsin north woods.  Daniel was convinced then that J.K. Rowling has visited Wisconsin and he thought that was very awesome.

Overall, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a quick enjoyable book.  Even young 9-year old Daniel was impressed that proceeds all go to charity.  He loved the format and learning more about the creatures in the Harry Potter series and the Fantastic Beasts movie.

Book Source:  Purchased from

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (TLC Book Tour)

In the throes of World War I, a female spy ring, run by the daring multi-lingual Louise de Bettignies moves through German-occupied France, free France, Belgium, England, and the Netherlands passing reports and information all under the noses of the Germans.  Young and smart Eve Gardiner wishes for a life more than as a filing clerk.  She is excited to be recruited to work for the spy ring as she is half French and can speak both French and German.  Her looks make her appear younger and her stutter has many believing she is an idiot.  She is anything but an idiot.  She works in the restaurant of a collaborator gathering information from the German patrons and sending it along to England.  In order to stay safe and keep gathering information, Eve finds herself going further down the rabbit hole of deception.

In 1947, Charlotte, “Charlie”, St. Clair is an unmarried and pregnant college student.  Her mother takes her to Europe to get rid of the “little problem,” but as soon as their boat lands in England, Charlie escapes looking for the only lead she has in the disappearance of her beloved cousin Rose in France during WWII.   Her lead is a name, Evelyn Gardiner.  Evelyn is an old, drunken woman, who does not seem helpful at all.  Her driver and man of all works, Finn, is the only person who can settle her down.  Charlie eventually gets her to help and together, the three misfits set off for France to see if they can track down Rose.  Will they find Rose?  What is Finn’s back story?  What happened to Eve to turn her from a young daring spy to a bitter old woman?  How did Charlie get into her predicament?

I loved both the 1915 and the 1947 storylines.  The book alternated each chapter between the two timelines and did a marvelous job of navigating both worlds and tying the storylines together.  I loved learning the back stories of the three main characters and their growth throughout the novel.  I especially loved getting to the end of the novel and reading in the afterword how besides these three characters, many of the other characters and situations were all too true.  I also especially loved the story of Louise de Bettignies.  I’m not sure why I never learned about her before, but I’m glad to know of her now!    I’m intrigued by how much information the spies were able to send to the allies and all of the innovative ways they were able to do it. 

Overall, The Alice Network was a wonderful historical fiction novel that seamlessly blended fact with fiction and tied together two equally intriguing narratives set during WWI and directly after WWII. The characters were riveting, especially the villain, Rene.  I would love to see this novel as a movie.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow as a part of the TLC Book Tour.  See the Schedule Here!

About The Alice Network

• Paperback: 528 pages • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 6, 2017) In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads. “Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Kate Furek

About Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia. Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Subtitle:  The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

What was the last book you read that you literally couldn’t put down as you were so engaged with the story?  Killers of the Flower Moon is a chilling non-fiction book that reads like an action packed fiction novel.  Unfortunately the events sound fantastical, but were all too real.

Mollie Burkhart belonged to the Osage Tribe.  Originally living in the Kansas territory, her family moved to Oklahoma searching for the most barren land they could find that white settlers would not want.  In their new land, something valuable was found - oil.  As often happens, white settlers came to town and tried to take land.  Through their legal purchase of the land, the Osage tribal members had all mineral rights to the oil beneath the reservation.  Through this, they were able to amass great wealth and were millionaires in the 1920’s.  

Great wealth creates envy and many white settlers tried to find a way to obtain the wealth of the Native Americans, including marrying into families.  Mollie herself, married a white man she had fallen in love with, Ernest Burkhart, the nephew of one of the most powerful man in the area. They had two children, but then suddenly over a period of a few years all of Mollie’s sisters and her mother were systematically murdered.  Frightened, Mollie sought help from officials, but even those that tried to help them found themselves brutally murdered.  Not only Mollie’s family was targeted, but many other tribal members.  

A newly fledged Federal Bureau of Investigation run by J. Edgar Hoover decided to help solve the mystery.  Many undercover agents were sent to the area, but for every step forward they had a step back.   Was there a mole in the agency?  Who was killing Mollie’s family members and other Osage tribal members?

I could not stop reading this book.  This is definitely one of the top books I’ve read this year.  The story itself was riveting and horrifying.  I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll admit I cried with Mollie sat in the courtroom and finally realized the horror and betrayal of what had happened to her family.  It was also horrifying that the author uncovered even more than what had originally been tried by in the 1920’s.  There was a far reaching plot going on that wasn’t just the men convicted.  The deaths continued after they were gone.  The most chilling to me is that many people didn’t even think of the Osage as humans and were not concerned with their murders.

I was also riveted by the story of the Osage tribe itself.  From being forced off their land, to the slaughter of the Buffalo, to Mollie forced to go to a convent school and learn English, white settlers tried all they could to basically break and destroy the Native American people, their culture, and their heritage.  The Osage had many brave members who fought against it and tried to hold on to their people and their heritage.  Its tragedy that still has ripple effects on today’s times.  

As a Laura Ingalls Wilder Fan, I was excited to make the connection between the Indians in Little House on the Prairie to this book; it was the same Osage tribe.  

“The Osage had been assured by the U.S. government that their Kansa territory would remain their home forever, but before long they were under siege from settlers.  Among them was the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who later wrote Little House on the Prairie . . . 

Thought, in the book, the Ingallses leave the reservation under threat of being removed by soldiers, many squatters began to take the land by force.  In 1870, the Osage – expelled from their lodges, their graves plundered – agreed to sell their Kansa lands to settlers for $1.25 an acre.  Nevertheless, impatient settlers massacred several of the Osage, mutilating their bodies and scalping them.  An Indian Affairs agent said, ‘The question will suggest itself, which of these people are the savages?’”

Killers of the Flower Moon is a riveting must read non-fiction book.  Come for the mystery and suspense, but stay for the bitter true history of this country.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library – Thanks!