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My Favorite Books of 2018

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The year 2018 brought many good books to the market. I was really looking forward to several of them. Some of them were disappointments, but others made my favorites list for the end of the year. Looking back, these are my favorite reads of 2018.




     I have always been a fan of Biblical fiction. Deborah Rising presented a unique imagining of the prophetess Deborah.



      Deborah Calling lived up to its predecessor, and I am excited for the third installment. While the book was a fast-paced adventure, at heart it was about a young girl trying to find her own identity and her place in a patriarchal society.


     Lucinda Riley's The Seven Sisters is one of my favorite series ever! The Storm Sister told the tale of a woman trying to find hope and meaning in the aftermath of a tragedy. I also loved the peaceful setting of Norway!


      The Pearl Sister was a lush read set in Australia! I particularly loved learning about Aboriginal  culture and art. It was not a subject that I knew mu…

The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork: A Book Review

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The Enchanted Sonata 
Author: Heather Dixon Wallwork
Genre:  YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: The Wallworkshop
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Pages: 388
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!), and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker. 

    Whisked away to his world--an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince--Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells...and the future she thought she wanted. 

   "The Enchanted Sonata," a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet with a dash of The Pied Piper, will captivate readers of all ages.

My Review:The Enchanted Sonata is a retelling of “The Nutcracker” with a mix of “The Pied Piper”. Clara dreams of becoming a future pianist and marrying the young, handsome, and talent…

Merry Christmas! My Favorite Christmas Books!

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The holidays are a perfect time to curl up in a warm chair, sip some hot apple cider, and get lost in a great book. Here are some of my favorite holiday books to chase away the most hardened Scrooge and rekindle that glowing Christmas spirit! Merry Christmas, everyone!

While this is not necessarily a Christmas book, it is a great read to start the Christmas season. This series of short stories by Ellen Cooney tells how a family has celebrated Thanksgiving since pre-colonial America. This novel focuses on the importance of family and their traditions.





Winterdream is a gorgeous and faithful retelling of The Nutcracker.  While reading this you will be able to revisit the magic of Tchaikovsky's famous Russian ballet!




The Enchanted Sonata is another splendid retelling of The Nutcracker! This novel focuses heavily on music and is perfect for classical music lovers!



This epistolary novel tells the tale of two lovers who promised to meet in Paris for Christmas. Last Christmas in Paris is …

Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones: A Book Review

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Josephine Baker’s Last Dance
Author: Sherry Jones
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

    In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

    With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remar…

The Cards Don't Lie by Sue Ingalls Finan: A Book Review

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The Cards Don't Lie
Author: Sue Ingalls Finan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: She Writes Press
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Pages: 340
Source: This book was given to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 1814: It’s the third year of the United States second War of Independence. The British are on the verge of capturing the strategically important port of New Orleans. In the midst of the Americans’ chaotic preparations for battle, three women play key roles in the defense of the city: Catherine, a free woman of color, voodoo priestess, and noted healer personally summoned by General Andrew Jackson; Marguerite, a pampered Creole plantation mistress prone to out-of-body experiences; and Millie, a plucky, patriotic prostitute inspired by her pirate lover to serve in the most dangerous capacity of all. These three women’s lives and fates become intertwined as they join forces to defend their country. 

    Inspired by the contributions of real-life women during t…

The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria by Joan Haslip: A Book Review

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The Lonely Empress: Elizabeth of Austria
Author: Joan Haslip
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Phoenix
Release Date: 2000
Pages: 464
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: Consort to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, Elizabeth was a modern woman who fled the confines of Habsburg to roam free--she fancied dangerous riding, sailing and poetry--but her life ended with her assassination in 1896. 

  My Review: Elisabeth of Austria is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful queens. At the age of 15, Elisabeth caught the eye of Emperor Franz Joseph, who was at the time courting her sister. The Emperor immediately fell in love with her and decided to marry her. At first Elisabeth’s marriage seemed to be a fairy-tale. However, her love for Franz Joseph quickly deteriorated. Suffering from an overbearing mother-in-law and a stiff court, Empress Elisabeth left her husband, her family, and her duties as an Empress. Over the course of 35 years, she traveled the countries of Europe…

Katherine Howard: A New History by Conor Byrne: A Book Review

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Katherine Howard: A New History 
Author: Conor Byrne
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 266
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis: In this new full-length biography of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, Conor Byrne reconsiders Katherine’s brief reign and the circumstances of her life, striping away the complex layers of myths and misconceptions to reveal a credible portrait of this tragic queen.

    By reinterpreting her life in the context of cultural customs and expectations surrounding sexuality, fertility and family honour, Byrne exposes the limitations of conceptualising Katherine as either ‘whore’ or ‘victim’. His more rounded view of the circumstances in which she found herself and the expectations of her society allows the historical Katherine to emerge.

   Katherine has long been condemned by historians for being a promiscuous and frivolous consort who partied away her days and revelled in male attention, but Byrne&…

Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII by Gareth Russell: A Book Review

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Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII
Author: Gareth Russell
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 465
Source: Edelweiss/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: On the morning of July 28, 1540, a teenager named Catherine Howard began her reign as queen of an England simmering with rebellion and terrifying uncertainty. Sixteen months later, she would follow her cousin Anne Boleyn to the scaffold, having been convicted of adultery and high treason.

     The broad outlines of Catherine’s career might be familiar, but her story up until now has been incomplete. Unlike previous biographies, which portray her as a na├»ve victim of an ambitious family, Gareth Russell’s “excellent account puts the oft-ignored Catherine in her proper historical context” (Daily Mail, London) and sheds new light on her rise and downfall by showing her in her context, a milieu that includes the aristocr…

Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Jane Dismore: A Book Review

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Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II 
Author: Jane Dismore
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Publisher: Lyons Press
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In November 2017 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. As a 13-year-old Princess, she fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece, an ambitious naval cadet, and they married when she was 21; when she suddenly became Queen at 25, their lives changed forever. Philip has been her great support, but fortunately she also had a solid foundation that helped prepare her for a life dedicated to duty. With previously unpublished material and unique memories from friends and relatives who have known her since childhood, this book looks afresh and in richer depth at her life as Princess, glittering yet isolating. Vivid detail and anecdotes reveal more about her, the era in which she grew up and the people who shaped her life. The…

Blog Tour: What Girls Are Good For by David Blixt: A Book Review

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What Girls Are Good For by David BlixtPublication Date: November 6, 2018 Creativia Paperback & eBook; 535 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Nellie Bly has the story of a lifetime. But will she survive to tell it?

    Enraged by an article entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Elizabeth Cochrane pens an angry letter to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, never imagining a Victorian newspaper would hire a woman reporter. Taking the name Nellie Bly, she struggles against the male-dominated industry, reporting stories no one else will – the stories of downtrodden women.

    Chased out of Mexico for revealing government corruption, her romantic advances rejected by a married colleague, Bly earns the chance to break into the New York’s Newspaper Row if she can nab a major scoop – life inside a madhouse. Feigning madness, she dupes the court into committing her to the Insane Asylum on Blackw…