Book & Film Pairings, edition 2

Welcome to a new series on the blog pairing favorite stories in book and film format! This is my second edition of sharing a recommended book and movie with reasons you should check them out! Today’s genre is a mashup of two cultures, family drama, restaurants, and food love!

The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey, based on novel, follows an Indian family as they start over with a restaurant in a new country, France. The central character is the eldest son, who dreams of continuing in the culinary world but going about it differently than his family expects. All of this conspires with a rival-turned-friend restauranteur neighbor, a thread of romance, the wonder of discovering a new culture, and a good bit of humor. I really appreciated its subtle lessons on how people can defy expectations in the best way.

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay is a favorite novel of mine. Like the movie mentioned above, it melds two characters from completely different cultures – in this case, American and Italian. The cultures serve cleverly to highlight the characters’ shared passions and facets that make them unique. The novel’s whirlwind romance is more central to the story. It shares a culture shock factor with the movie, with an exquisite setting – the Italian countryside! I love seeing the relationship between Emily and Ben, the hero, progress in this story, but mostly I love seeing Emily learn and grow as she takes risks, makes mistakes, and steps out beyond herself.

If you have read or watched either of these, I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you have other novels or movies to recommend that feature adjusting to different cultures or finding home in an unexpected place?

Having visited Italy in 2019, I am just enamored with that culture. Do you have any Italian-set movies or novels to recommend?

Book Spotlight: “Remember Me” by Mario Escobar

remember me blog tour banner

Welcome to my stop on the HFVBT tour for Remember Me by Mario Escobar! Check out the details of this new novel and enter the giveaway before you go. This story sounds SO interesting! It’s on my TBR!

About the Book

Remember Me: A Spanish Civil War Novel
by Mario Escobar

remember me cover

Publication Date: September 15, 2020
Thomas Nelson
Paperback & eBook; 384 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Amid the shadows of war, one family faces an impossible choice that will change their lives forever.

Madrid, 1934. Though the Spanish Civil War has not yet begun, the streets of Madrid have become dangerous for thirteen-year-old Marco Alcalde and his younger sisters, Isabel and Ana. When Marco’s parents align themselves against General Franco and his fascist regime, they have no inkling that their ideals will endanger them and everyone they love—nor do they predict the violence that is to come.

When the Mexican government promises protection to the imperiled children of Spain, the Alcaldes do what they believe is best: send their children, unaccompanied, across the ocean to the city of Morelia—a place they’ve never seen or imagined. Marco promises to look after his sisters in Mexico until their family can be reunited in Spain, but what ensues is a harrowing journey and a series of heartbreaking events. As the growing children work to care for themselves and each other, they feel their sense of home, family, and identity slipping further and further away. And as their memories of Spain fade and the news from abroad grows more grim, they begin to wonder if they will ever see their parents again or the glittering streets of the home they once loved.

Based upon the true stories of the Children of Morelia, Mario Escobar’s Remember Me—now available for the first time in English—explores the agony of war and paints a poignant portrait of one family’s sacrificial love and endurance.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, September 15
Review at Nursebookie
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Wednesday, September 16
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Feature at Let Them Read Books

Friday, September 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Saturday, September 19
Feature at The Green Mockingbird

Monday, September 21
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Feature at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, September 23
Review at Passages to the Past

Friday, September 25
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, September 26
Feature at Bookworlder

Sunday, September 27
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, September 28
Review at Hallie Reads

Tuesday, September 29
Feature at What Is That Book About

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 copies of Remember Me by Mario Escobar! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Enter the Giveaway for Remember Me

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Fav Illustrated Covers

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is a COVER FREEBIE! There are so many options to choose from — historical covers with beautiful heroines, fun fonts, covers that illustrate the setting, a color scheme, etc. I picked favorite Landscape Covers recently! Today, I picked my very favorite illustrated covers in the Inspy/Christian Fiction genre. 

10 Favorite Illustrated Covers

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Like a Winter Snow by Lindsay Harrel

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson

Book Nerds and Boyfriends collection by Sarah Monzon

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge

Which one of these is your favorite? How did you take on the COVER topic today? Drop your links for TTT in the comments!

Book & Film Pairings, edition 1

Welcome to a new series on the blog pairing favorite stories in book and film format! I will be sharing a recommendation for a book and a movie (or series!), along with notes comparing the two and reasons you should read or watch each one.  We’re starting off with one of my favorite genres, historical dramas and the subject of WWII.

WWII Dramas: Dunkirk (2017) and The Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

dunkirk movie poster
source: imdb.com

Dunkirk is the Christopher Nolan-directed war epic, released in theaters in 2017. It tells the true-life story of the evacuation at Dunkirk beach in France during the onslaught of the Germans’ advance in 1940. The three perspectives of the story (land, sea, and air) are twisted together and quite cleverly layered. It’s the kind of movie you really have to pay attention to – especially for the timeline of everything! The presentation of each perspective has a rawness and urgency, paired with a heart-pounding score and knowledge that it’s based on real life events to make the viewer anxious and intrigued at once.

The Maggie Bright is a novel that I enjoyed IMMENSELY. Tracy Groot has a storytelling ability that is impressive. This story, set before and during the events of Dunkirk, is like the film in some ways with its multiple perspectives and winding story that intertwines with the events of Dunkirk in a most surprising way. A book, of course, offers more emotional depth and immersive feelings, and that is the case with the events the reader is caught up in with Maggie Bright.

Read my full review of The Maggie Bright here!

If you have read or watched either of these, I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you have other novels or movies to recommend that feature WWII drama or the rescue at Dunkirk?

REVIEW & Blog Tour: “The London Restoration” by Rachel McMillan

Today is the day for my review of The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan! Be sure to enter the HFVBT giveaway at the end of this post, and check out yesterday’s interview with the author herself.

Author interview: Rachel McMillan for The London Restoration

About the Book

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Publication Date: August 18, 2020 by Thomas Nelson
Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction

From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II London and features a strong female lead.

Determined to save their marriage and the city they love, two people divided by World War II’s secrets rebuild their lives, their love, and their world.

London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance.

Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts.

Featuring a timeless love story bolstered by flashbacks and the excavation of a priceless Roman artifact, The London Restoration is a richly atmospheric look at post-war London as two people changed by war rebuild amidst the city’s reconstruction.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

With painstakingly researched detail, The London Restoration spins a story of romance and reconciliation. A twofold love story is exquisitely told, initially through smartly placed flashback sequences and an ongoing one as Brent and Diana confront the changes a world war has wrought in the architecture of their relationship. This is a romance of two imperfect people whose roles in the war efforts have left scars both mental and physical, whose friendships have flourished and complicated the present with new loyalties, and whose amplified insecurities and secrets propel them to work toward restoration with patience and trust. Also, tea. Lots of tea.

I love how Brent and Diana both choose to make selfless sacrifices for one another while still not fully understanding the depth of each other’s time during the war. The secrets Diana keeps, under obligation to both friendship and government order, are for the betterment of the nation, yet are driven by her love for Brent and his well being. Brent, too, makes choices out of his motivation to protect Diana, but he steals the heart of the reader when he goes a step further and acknowledges Diana’s own strength and assertiveness. I think I really fell for him as a reader in the flashback scene when he ships off to war and has a delightful conversation with Di, showing how he truly knows her and wants her to feel comfortable in her own skin. Even as they try to restore their relationship in the present, this knowing and connection is threaded through their new maturity and colors their hesitant connection.

Author Rachel McMillan’s forte is historical romance! Her signature wit and authentic character development are ever present, as are her penchant for portraying deep friendships and a love for classical music. The romance sparks with both physical and intellectual attraction, and the London setting comes to life with its winding streets, WWII aftermath, and historical architecture. Readers will turn the final page with poignant satisfaction, a new love for London (and its churches), and a special place in their hearts for two wonderfully imperfect new (fictional) friends, the Somervilles.

After reading The London Restoration and making a TON of highlights and notes, I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version for a “reread” (Thanks, NetGalley!). I liked the accents and pronunciations the narrator employed, as well as her easy to listen to voice. Sometimes, though, the sentence structure came across as a little hesitant. This is a narration issue, not reflective of the smart dialogue and cadence of the writing. I would recommend reading a print or ebook version first, then listening to the audio for a more immersive “English” experience.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries and The Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese romances. Her next work of historical fiction, The London Restoration, releases in Summer 2020 and takes readers deep into the heart of London’s most beautiful churches. Dream, Plan, Go (May, 2020) is her first work of non-fiction. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and is always planning her next adventure.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, August 18
Review at Nursebookie
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Austenprose
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Thursday, August 20
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Friday, August 21
Interview at Heidi Reads
Review at Foals, Fiction, and Filligree

Saturday, August 22
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Monday, August 24
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Interview at The Green Mockingbird

Tuesday, August 25
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Wednesday, August 26
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Interview on Jorie Loves A Story

Thursday, August 27
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, August 28
Review at Read Review Rejoice

Saturday, August 29
Review at Books and Backroads
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, August 31
Review at Passages to the Past

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 copies of The London Restoration! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Enter the givaway for a copy of The London Restoration

Author Interview & Blog Tour: “The London Restoration” by Rachel McMillan

Welcome to my first stop on the HFVBT Blog Tour for Rachel McMillan’s new historical romance novel, The London Restoration! Today I’m featuring a review with the gracious Rachel McMillan and all the bookish info. Check back tomorrow for my review!!!

About the Book

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Publication Date: August 18, 2020 by Thomas Nelson
Paperback, eBook, & Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction

From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II London and features a strong female lead.

Determined to save their marriage and the city they love, two people divided by World War II’s secrets rebuild their lives, their love, and their world.

London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance.

Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts.

Featuring a timeless love story bolstered by flashbacks and the excavation of a priceless Roman artifact, The London Restoration is a richly atmospheric look at post-war London as two people changed by war rebuild amidst the city’s reconstruction.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time to hang out and talk about your new book — and for sharing some lovely pictures from your travels!

How does the theme of “restoration” play out in this novel?

I was really fascinated by the fact that the Blitz ruined a comparative number of churches as those desecrated by the Great Fire of London in 1666. More still, because Londoners deemed a barrage of night attacks in the late December 1940 as the Second Great Fire of London. And much as architect Christopher Wren set almost immediately to restoring the churches, so committees were working while the bombs were still falling to determine how they would restore architectural treasures after the war and preserve them for future generations. Because I knew that the churches were going to play a major role in the story, it was so easy to start Brent and Diana’s reunion from a place that had a strong foundation, much like many of the surviving churches but still bore a lot of cracks. So I would say the love story between Diana and the churches and her needing to foster her love for them even though their scarred parallels what she is trying to restore with Brent. And it’s more complicated because due to the fact that they were only married one night before he shipped out, she has to learn how to love him all over again. And that decision is so restorative and sets, for me, the theme of the book.

The churches and cathedrals of London play a major role in The London Restoration, specifically the churches designed by Christopher Wren. Please share about your love and the appeal of these churches. Which of these would you recommend as “must-visit” on a trip to London?

Great St. Bart’s (What Londoners call St. Bartholomew the Great)

This is really hard for me because there are so many churches in London that are special to me and many, many were cut before the last draft of the book (I just couldn’t fit all of the beautiful churches in). This is not a Wren church, but my personal favourite church in London is St. Bartholomew the Great which is almost 1000 years old and survived King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, the zeppelins of the Great War and even the bombs of the Second World War. I am really fascinated by all of the history it has seen. (For one, William Wallace, of Braveheart fame, was drawn and quartered in the yard just behind the church). Because it isn’t that far a walk from St. Paul’s, I always recommend people try and see it.

There are so many Wren churches that move me: St. Bride’s on Fleet Street is the journalist’s church and is patronized by storytellers which I just love. But a must- see has to be St. Paul’s: it is Wren’s masterpiece and was quite innovative for the time. Not only was he rebuilding the cathedral from the site where it was wrecked during the Great Fire, he utilized it to make a Protestant statement: the open pews and passage ways, the font that leads people to go out into the world just as Christ commanded his disciples, including Paul, made for a much more open worship function that was not cloistered or closed off by confessions: rather to favour a more modern type of evangelism—that of a cleric who could speak loudly and commission congregants on the great commission. I just love this. Churches were often where the most beautiful pieces of art, sculptures and paintings were kept and St. Paul’s is very much a work of art: in its architecture, yes, but also in the many goodies you can find inside

So many churches! I love Magnus the Martyr (another Wren church) and the funnily named St. James Garlickhythe and I love St. Stephen Walbrook which has a dome not unlike that you would find in St. Paul’s.

I have several places on my must-visit list now, thanks to you!

During your extensive research, did you come across any interesting facts that you could not fit in the story?

St. Paul’s

LOL yes! See above! I wanted to basically write a 500 page book on fascinating Christopher Wren facts. The church rebuilding was just fascinating to me. Especially the Paul’s watch: Churchill was adamant that St. Paul’s (Which was into the 1960s the tallest building in the London skyline) survive for morale so volunteers pledged their lives to keeping it whole and camped out (Even during a water shortage) with hoses and pails to protect the cathedral. That’s a whole book in itself.

I also cut a lot about the process of Diana getting to Bletchley Park and all that she would have undertaken to qualify for that amazing position. So a lot of Bletchley research and scenes were cut. Finally, my editor and I decided that while Diana has many flashbacks to Bletchley, we would save Brent’s flashback from his time at the front to be the most important and integral one in his life: what had happened to his friend Ross. And so a lot of the research I did to craft his scenes at the front and in training were cut.

Did Brent and Diana surprise you in any way?

I was lucky in that they both popped into my head pretty fully formed and so I just took to dictation. I was coming off writing two very sweet heroes –Oliver Thorne in Rose in Three Quarter Time and Hamish DeLuca —and I was excited to have a hero with a sarcastic edge (that I had to reel in just a bit so that it never looked like he was demeaning Diana) so I was often surprised by some of Brent’s acerbic wit.

I was also surprised at how Diana showed me that she wanted their relationship to be so equal that they save each other. In so many romances, the hero saves the heroine: and Brent gets plenty of protective opportunities here, but when it came to Diana’s turn to show her own protective side, I was really proud of her.

St. Stephen Walbrook

In the past, you have written contemporary romances and historical mysteries. This is your first title specifically in the historical romance genre. What does this mean to you as an author?

It means I am finally writing the genre of my heart for publication. I used historical mysteries and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love those characters and stories and the romances therein) to get through the publishing door but I always set out to write historical romance and have several stories that readers have not/will not see in this genre. So I am really happy to feel in my safe and happy zone here. I intend to keep on writing some contemporary romances (I really write the Three Quarter Time books for me and just let people peer over my shoulder, LOL, that’s how fun they are), I just keep getting sidetracked by contracted books (which is a very good problem to have).

It sounds like the best kind of problem for we readers! 🙂

Secondary characters Sophie and Simon seem to fill every scene they are in with undercurrents and hints at more to their connection. What is next for them?

When I first was working on The London Restoration, I had no plans at all to ever write another WWII era book. Indeed, I hadn’t set out to write WWII at all but a momentous trip to St. Bart’s in London and my meeting Brent and Diana changed that. So I created Simon Barre as a plot point: as Diana’s Bletchley colleague and MI-6 handler. Yet there’s one scene where the two are having tea at The Savoy and I typed something absently about the glamour of the place fitting Simon like a bespoke suit. And I remember then just being flooded with Simon’s history. He wasn’t Simon Barre, he was a lord with a devastating past who fought his own wars again and again through Britain. I knew then I had to come up with a fascinating woman for him. So I left a lot of doors open. I intentionally made their chemistry surge the few times we see them on the page together (am happy that came across) while leaving enough mystery not only for the reader but for myself so I had the freedom to play around with them. I hadn’t intended to pitch a second story in this world, but luckily I did and The Mozart Code is their turn on the page. It releases next summer and is a marriage of convenience (sigh) which is kinda like Downton Abbey meets The Alice Network. They might be my personal favourite couple I’ve created.

Just for fun: do you love tea as much as Brent? What is your favorite kind?

I do love tea. I have this manatee shaped tea strainer that I used quite often while plotting the proposal for this book and so this book is so tea-infused I referred to it as Project Manatea for a long time! LOL! I love Twining’s Earl Grey (classic) and I love any and all kinds of green tea. I am a huge fan of a company called David’s Tea here in Canada that sells all manner of loose leaf tea. Read My Lips is a black tea flavoured with chocolate hearts and chili peppers and I love it! I also love a tea they sell called Lavender Buttercream!

Those tea-treats sound heavenly! Thanks again, Rachel, for taking the time to talk about your books!

If you’d like to know more about Rachel McMillan, follow her on social media, links below. On a related note, she has a FABULOUS travel memoir that will inspire you to plan your own adventures. See my review of this fun nonfiction book here: Dream, Plan, and Go.

Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries and The Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese romances. Her next work of historical fiction, The London Restoration, releases in Summer 2020 and takes readers deep into the heart of London’s most beautiful churches. Dream, Plan, Go (May, 2020) is her first work of non-fiction. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and is always planning her next adventure.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, August 18
Review at Nursebookie
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Austenprose
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Thursday, August 20
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Friday, August 21
Interview at Heidi Reads
Review at Foals, Fiction, and Filligree

Saturday, August 22
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Monday, August 24
Review at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Interview at The Green Mockingbird

Tuesday, August 25
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Wednesday, August 26
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Interview on Jorie Loves A Story

Thursday, August 27
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, August 28
Review at Read Review Rejoice

Saturday, August 29
Review at Books and Backroads
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, August 31
Review at Passages to the Past

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 copies of The London Restoration! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Enter the givaway for a copy of The London Restoration

First Line Fridays # 34: “Just Like Home” by Courtney Walsh

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!

20171006_010334.jpg

I’m sharing TWO lines from a newly released novel (yay!) by Courtney Walsh: Just Like Home. It’s the highly-anticipated fourth novel in her “Harbor Pointe” collection. It has a darling cover (like ALL of her novels. Seriously. Just Let Go has one of my fav covers ever and I will never shut up about it.). And, it promises to deliver another sweet and emotionally impactful story. No surprise there, because it’s a Courtney Walsh novel. Can you tell I’m excited to read it?!

just like home cover image

FIRST LINES:

“Death comes unexpectedly.” It was a line from the old Disney movie Pollyanna, from a scene Charlotte Page had never forgotten.

Your turn! What’s your first line?

Review: “Set the Stars Alight” by Amanda Dykes

set the stars alight & nautical illustration

It’s been a few weeks since I read Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes. It has taken me this long to form a coherent review — all because it’s now one of my all-time favorite stories! If you enjoy stories of light, hope, redemption, and home, I highly recommend *running* to your nearest library or bookseller and obtaining a copy.

About the Book

Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I’m absolutely speechless at the beauty of this story. Set the Stars Alight is one of those rare books that speaks of timeless truth and light through the familiar refrain of story. It is one that will cause the reader to see the world differently. To see the intertwining Hope that binds humanity from creation to the cross with its message echoed in every longing for home and every story of redemption.

Through two equally compelling (and brilliantly intertwining!) stories, Amanda Dykes draws the reader in with her lyrical style. Lucy and Dash, in the present day, embody friendship, connection, and home. Their grief and longings feel relatable and realistic as they struggle with reconnecting, the consequences of missed communication, and the strength of their shared history. One that incorporates the tiniest hint of a fairytale played out in “real life” through shared story, light, stars, and seas

The historical thread of Frederick Hanford’s story and life twists its way through the pages with overarching themes of friendship, brotherhood, and sacrifice. To speak of the depth and meaning of his role in an act of selfless love would be too revealing. I’ll only say that his character is surprising and the most emotionally moving part of the story.

Through Lucy and Dash’s renewed connection and newfound countryside friendships, the legacy of Frederick comes to light; as does the inheritance of story and wonder Lucy’s own father has left in her heart.

With bright secondary characters and myriad layers of meaning connecting every element of every chapter, Set the Stars Alight has earned its place on my all time favorites list. I can recommend it to any reader as a tale both heart-wrenching and healing, incorporating adventure, intelligence, romance, and dreams with an overarching message of redemption.

Thank you to the publisher for the digital copy. I purchased my own print copy. This is my honest review.

Review, Giveaway & Blog Tour: “The Gentleman Spy” by Erica Vetsch

Join me today to talk about Erica Vetsch’s latest novel, The Gentleman Spy, the second in her “Serendipity & Secrets” series! Read on for my review and a chance to enter the blog tour giveaway.

About the Book

He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Gentleman Spy is a fantastic Regency story that brings together elements of intrigue, romance, and secrets. The Regency era comes to life with Erica Vetsch’s voice, complete with a grasp of society and vivid word choice and custom that suits the era.

Amidst the tradition and courtship of the romance plot, the reader sees Marcus and Charlotte grow as a result of their changed circumstances and each other’s influence — though begrudgingly on Marcus’ part! I enjoyed his character’s transformation to comprehend how the elements of his life could not be contained in neat boxes. Their romance is up against many challenges and secrets, but the integrity, faith, and fortitude at the core of each of their personalities remains wonderfully steadfast.

The mystery plot adds action and interest to the story — and propels Charlotte and Marcus together in ways they could not have anticipated. Story threads from book one are continued and tidied with more secrets of Marcus’ spy work revealed. A secondary yet universal issue is brought to light featuring the need and calling to help those less fortunate. I love how this plot genuinely fits into the story and is an added way for Charlotte to assert her role.

One of my favorite aspects of this story is how BOOKISH Charlotte is, and how Marcus understands that part of her identity. When he could relegate her to feminine (and societal) limitations, he instead chooses to encourage and recognize her outspoken intelligence as the spark of his attraction and an asset to her character.

The Gentleman Spy reads as a standalone novel. However, readers of book 1, The Lost Lieutenant, will be happy with glimpses of Evan and Diana as parents (!!!) and as good friends to Marcus and Charlotte.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Click here to visit the giveaway page and enter to win the prize pack.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Celestial Titles

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a FREEBIE! I’ve decided to focus on specific titles, most of which I have read.

One definition of celestial is “pertaining to the sky or visible heaven, or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere, as in celestial body”. I’ve chosen 10 titles that refer to things in the sky and beyond. Ones that just might encourage you to look up.

10 Celestial Titles

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz | review

How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes | review

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin | review

Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews | review

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter | review

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes | review coming soon!

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof | review

Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano | highly anticipated, on my TBR!

Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell | review

Where the Stars Meet the Sea by Heidi Kimball | on my TBR!

Did you participate in the week’s TTT? What topic did you choose? Share your links & thoughts in the comments!