Jerusalem’s Queen

jerusalem queenAuthor: Angela Hunt

Series: The Silent Years #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As the silent years continue, an unlikely leader emerges to guide the Jewish nation.

Salome Alexandra has spent all of her six years of life in the small town of Modein. But when her father and sister are killed in an accident, she and her mother’s lives are on the brink of change.  A distant relative from Jerusalem has come to claim them to live in his house.    He is the son of the high priest and they will have a good life.  As the time draws near for them to come to Jerusalem, the high priest and two of his sons are murdered and the relative that claimed them has now become high priest.  When they arrive in Jerusalem, Salome begins to get educated and is given a personal attendant.  These two women, slave and free, begin to realize they are merely pawns in a man’s game and neither are truly free.  But God works in mysterious ways and Salome was always told that she had a purpose in life for which God had set her aside.

I think my favorite part of reading historical fiction by Angela Hunt is that she picks characters that I know nothing about and gives me a history lesson. She makes me go research the characters so that I can compare sources I can find against her work and I love it.  I love the research she does to make these past figures come back to life and I love the research she makes me to do learn more about it.  This book was no exception.  I had not heard of Salome Alexandra before, but I know about her now.  Told between viewpoints of Salome and her attendant Kissa, this story unfolds tragedy, growth, forgiveness, and purpose.

I recommend this book to historical fiction lovers, biblical fiction lovers, and people who enjoy Hunt’s work!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Dangerous Duet

Dangerous DUetAuthor: Karen Odden

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Odden composes a delightful mystery!

Nell Hallam has a dream to study piano at the Royal Academy in London, but since her father passed, it will be difficult to earn the tuition. She and her brother Matthew live in Mayfair, which is a nice area of London, and he is an inspector at Scotland Yard.  Determined not to trouble her brother with her dream, Nell has developed an alias as a man named Ed Nell and lands a gig playing the piano at the Octavian, a music hall in Soho.  She knows her brother wouldn’t approve, but fortunately he works late into the night and she is always able to make it home before he arrives.  One night on her way home, she finds one of the performers beaten and left for dead.  Soon, other murders start to occur throughout the Soho district.  The more that she is immersed in the world of the Octavian, the more she finds that people aren’t what they seem on the outside.  Performing is all just an act, but will Nell be able to separate the people who are guanine and who are criminals?

This is by far one of my favorite historical fiction reads of the year. I was pulled into this book within the first two paragraphs and couldn’t let it go until the end.  I struck up a quick friendship with Nell and she tugged me along through late 1800s London.  I loved getting to meet the characters at the Octavian and see how everyone performed.  I shared all of Nell’s emotions and loving heart that made her extremely genuine.  I fell for Jack’s character as I got to know him and learned that things aren’t always what they seem.

The suspense throughout this book stayed very tight and kept me tearing through the pages. There were a few surprises thrown in for good measure that you might not expect, but it was well worth reading.  I’m glad that I got a copy of this book as a new author has found a place on my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

River to Redemption

River to RedemptionAuthor: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story not only redemption but also of the courage and spirit it takes to do what you know is right even when you are alone in your thinking.

Adria Starr is on her own after her family dies in the cholera epidemic of 1833. She is found by a slave named Louis who is more faithful than anyone else in his position would ever be.  He has had plenty of opportunities to leave and find his freedom while his masters fled the epidemic and left him in charge of things.  Instead of running, Louis decided to stay around and help tend to the sick and bury the dead.  Twelve years go by and he is about to be sold and all his loyalty seems to matter to no one, except Adria who has never forgotten what he did for her and so many others.  Adria has always abhorred slavery and wants to try and buy Louis his freedom.  Being in Kentucky, she doesn’t have many that think like her but doesn’t let that stop her from following her heart and doing what she knows is right, no matter the cost.

Reading about this topic can be difficult, especially knowing that it is based on a true story. The story itself had several characters that stood out for me.  First was Adria showing what she stood for and refused to back down.  Then Louis, he is just a character that you can’t help but like.  And of course Matilda, even though she wasn’t in the story as much as some of the other characters she still made a big impact.  With these characters being able to touch the heart and the story being based on true events, readers will have a hard time not connecting and being fully immersed in every page.  I loved the way Gabhart made these connections and let the story flow.  This was different from her past novels I have read, but still a very enjoyable read.  I recommend this to fans of Gabhart and readers that enjoy historical fiction with a little romance.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures

ladyAuthor: Sandra Byrd

Series: Victorian Ladies #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fabulous Victorian era novel showing a strong woman!

As the daughter and niece of the Sheffield Brothers, well know evaluators of antiquities, Eleanor has become quite adept at differentiating a fake from the real thing. If only she could have done that with Harry Lydney, the man who broke her heart.  With the sudden passing of her father and the decline of her uncle’s mind, Eleanor finds herself with the potential of losing the firm that she loves since a woman is not allowed to run the business alone.  When Harry’s father, Baron Lydney, a longtime client of Sheffield brothers passes, Eleanor is named the trustee of his antique collection.  She must now decide whether to have the artifacts donated to a museum or allow them to pass down to Harry.  If she donates them, she will build credit with potential collectors that could revive Sheffield Brothers.  But Harry also claims that he still loves her and tries to show her that he is worthy of the collection.  How will Eleanor decide this time?

Typically I’m not a huge fan of Victorian era fiction, but the synopsis for this one intrigued me. I’m glad that I gave it a try.  The historic setting that Byrd provided brought the whole novel to life for me.  I also really enjoyed getting to see a strong female character that wasn’t fully entranced with romance through the whole book.  Eleanor was very intelligent and it showed throughout.  Faith was also a great element in this book.  I can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Silver Shoes

The Silver ShoesAuthor: Jill G. Hall

Publisher: She Writes Press

Release Date: June 19, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

So much fun getting to know these women and watch them achieve fulfillment in their lives.

Anne McFarland is in the middle of a cross country romance. Her boyfriend Sergio lives in New York City and she loves visiting the him and the city too, but she is currently residing in San Francisco.  While on a trip to visit Sergio, Anne stumbles into a vintage antique shop and finds a pair of old shoes that must have a story attached to them.  As an artists, these shoes give her an inspiration and she buys them.  She soon finds clues that leads Anne on a mission to uncover the shoes original owner.

In 1929, Clair Deveraux is a sheltered socialite that wants more out of life than to just be a pretty face for a future husband. She wants to go to university, but her father just wants to marry her off to someone who is twice her age for her financial well being.  While looking for some items in Macy’s, she befriends a young store clerk named Winnie who leads Clair on an adventure to a speakeasy and to discovering a new era of music that can’t keep her body still.  But when Clair’s father suddenly loses all their wealth in the stock market crash, she finds herself wrapped up in this new world in an effort to save her family.

This was a really fun story to relate to two different women in different eras. Both woman had different circumstances, yet were looking for fulfillment in life and each woman was able to find it.  The past/present crossover storyline seems to be really picking up popularity with several readers.  I have found that typically the reader relates to one character more than the other, which I think was more the case with Anne for me.  There was more similarities that I could identify with based on her life, but I still enjoyed both stories.  I enjoyed getting to know both woman as the author made it very easy to be able to do that.  The writing was clean and the storyline was fantastic.  I recommend this book to people who enjoy contemporary crossover romances and women’s fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Light Before Day

Light Before DayAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Nantucket Legacy #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

The third book of the Nantucket Legacy series finds Ren and Daphne Macy setting off on the Endeavour for their own adventures on the high seas before they are too old to enjoy it.  The twins, Henry and Hitty, are young adults.  Hitty teaches at the Cent school, while Henry is at a loss what to do.  He has just returned from a voyage himself, and realizes he does not want to spend his life on the sea.  Their plans, or lack thereof, come to a halt when a solicitor, Benjamin Foulger, comes to town with news.  The twins are the sole heirs to their grandmother Lillian’s estate, but it comes with several provisions.  The first phase is the inheritance of the Grand House, along with some properties and stocks, and the second phase is the remainder of her vast wealth.  The conditions require Hitty and Henry to keep all monies on the island; they must remain in good standing with the Friends (Quakers); and they must marry someone in good standing of the faith within six years.  Together, the twins come up with solutions to benefit the island without being under their grandmother’s thumb; however, the marrying part may prove to be more of a challenge.  Hitty’s heart is set on Isaac Barnard, an eccentric inventor and widower, who doesn’t seem to be aware of her existence; Henry loves Anna Gardner, but her goals of abolitionism and integration don’t leave her much time for love.

So much happens in this book that is based on a true tidbit or fact, so readers learn about the early history of Nantucket while enjoying a good story.  The colorful characters that we have come to know from previous books in the series have their own sub-plots, which give the book depth and interest.  As usual, at the end of each chapter was an excerpt from Great Mary’s journal, as it is handed down to the next generation throughout the books.  Even more history and words of wisdom are shared throughout these journal entries.  There is no one main storyline in this book, which is a bit different from the others.  I was not as fond of this style of storytelling, but the overall message was worth the bit of disappointment.

The characters develop as the books carry on, and the historical significance keeps interest while educating.  This third (and I believe final) installment is a great wrap up of the previous generations’ influence on the most recent one, with the current generation adding its personal touch.  I thoroughly enjoyed the overall story and its message of seeing the light in everyone and in the future, even when things look bleak.  I highly recommend this book for mature teens and adult readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Impossible Girl

The Impossible GirlAuthor: Lydia Y. Kang

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A dark historical mystery that is perfect for fall reading!

Every era has a dark side and New York City in 1850 is no exception. People with abnormalities die all the time, but now people want to know more about these abnormalities, they want to dissect the people and see what made them occur.  In fact, there are plenty of people to pay nicely for such a body.  From aneurysms to blocked arteries to being born with multiple appendages, these are worth big money to explore and then display to the public.  Cora Lee is the only female resurrectionist and she plays the game well.  She stays one step ahead of those looking for bodies to purchase.  After all, she has to.  She was born with two hearts.

This was definitely a welcome change in my reading schedule. It was almost like a forced shift from light summer reading to a dark, fall read that keeps your mind spinning throughout the night.  This book just had a little bit of everything: grave robbing, freak show abnormalities, expected murders, and a cat and mouse game.  Kang always brings together a well told story that will keep the reader intrigued from beginning to end.  This story flowed better than some of her past books and kept me pretty well hooked throughout, which was probably the subject and timeframe of the story.  If you enjoy a little more on the darker side of a novel, give this one a try!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.