Tag Archives: a falcon for a queen

FAVORITES BOOKS OF 2019

5 Jan

Because I’ve been so lax in book reviews the past while, I’m going to actually review the books I share with you today. The majority of these favorites are new-reads but I will share some re-reads with you as well at the bottom of the post.

I have a post in the works sharing my reading goals and a personalized reading list for 2020, make sure you don’t miss it!

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While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

~The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander – Accepting her cousin’s invitation to join them in Colorado was an easy decision, but McKenna Ashford’s real reason lay in the haughty attitude of her younger brother. She is determined to get them a fresh start and hopefully, tame his ever growing wild streak. But life in Copper Creek isn’t what she thought it would be. The responsibilities of an unexpected inheritance threaten her resolve to be independent while offering an second chance, if only she can keep it.  U.S. Marshall Wyatt Caradon never expected to be drawn into such a heartbreaking situation – but something about McKenna pulls him back to Copper Creeek and makes him think of leaving behind his years of living on the trail. Can they both trust again though?

~ It is no secret I enjoy this genre, especially when it’s western-based. But Alexander delivered such a refreshing story – filled with obstacles, tender moments, sweet friendships all with a realism that I appreciated. The morals/life lessons within add depth to the story, helping lend weight to the full plot and well-rounded characters. There really can’t be enough good said about this book! I highly recommend this heart-wrenching-and-warming novel. 

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~Hunted by Meagan Spooner – Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones – and in her blood.  Here in the wilderness Yeva is under no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas… or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. Here she feels one with the ebb and flow of life. Here she is home.  But when Yeva’s father goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey : the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. Deaf to her sister’s protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory – a cursed valley, a ruined castle and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. (synopsis from back of the book)

Getting little snippets from the Beast’s side added so much to the tale, and gave us a chance to see the Beast more fully than just a selfish man having to pay a heavy price until someone comes to, basically, rescue him. His story is just as important as Beauty’s and getting to read his feelings about his transformation, about Beauty and…well, all of it, was great.

~The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen – Sophie Dupont has been assisting in her father’s studio for years, a shop that is popular with artists as it is near the north Devon coast. When a handsome artist, Wesley Overtree arrives and compliments her not only on her beauty but on her painting as well, Sophie falls hard for him. When he disappears, leaving her in a difficult position, she’s not sure what she’ll do. But then his brother, Captain Stephen Overtree arrives, looking for Wesley to take him home. Finding instead, a young woman suffering from his brother’s recklessness, Stephen offers to marry her in name only. Sophie must decide if she’ll wait for the uncertain chance that Wesley will return or if she’ll trust her future to his brooding brother.

~ I’ve fallen in love with Klassen’s stories. This one did not disappoint in the least. Because of the subject matter, it was a little more…personal than others of hers. But she wrote it well, touching on the topic without being vulgar. I loved both Sophie’s and Stephen’s struggles. And the other twists and turns throughout meant that I was pleasantly surprised at the end. I highly recommend this novel, although not for a younger audience.

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Dark Canyon by Louis L’amour – Having rather fallen in with the Colburn gang when he was young, Gaylord Riley sets out to forge a new life for himself by settling down and building his own homestead. But his plans are complicated by the richest man in town and Riley must accept the help of his outlaw friends to stay alive.

~I found this gem at a used bookstore and instantly snapped it up. Being a L’amour, I knew I had to give it a try.  This book was rather short but it was perfect for a lazy afternoon read – the characters as per the authors’ usual genius, weren’t left bland and half formed but were vibrant in their own selves, leaping off the page. I liked the story of redemption – which is a common theme in his novels – that threaded through the plot. And retirement for outlaws? Yes, that’s a thing here too. If you enjoy westerns, or are thinking of trying the genre, I recommend this one highly! It’s sweet and full of adventure.  *also check out The Finding of Jasper Holt.

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The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden – Elizabeth Black is not only a headmistress of a girls’ school but is also a well-known author of ‘silver-fork novels’ – the respectable novels that women read. Her secret is that she’s also someone else – under the pseudonym Mr. King, she writes Penny Dreadfuls. But when she’s approached by Fletcher Walker in the hopes to find Mr. King, Elizabeth agrees to help just to keep him from finding out her secret identity.

Eden creates a world in Victorian London that feels real as you follow Elizabeth on her campaign to keep her school respectable and money coming in through her writing. Fletcher Walker is a fun character that has a feel of reality to him with his rough origin, talk of the ‘streets’ and goal to save as many kids as he can from the life that he himself escaped. I do always enjoy when a main character is an author and this one had two! There’s so much more to this story than the bit of synopsis above, click the title link to read my full review!

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klaasen – After being disappointed in love, Abigail Foster finds out that their family has lost their London home. An unexpected offer comes for them to live in Pembrooke Park, a manor home that has been abandoned for eighteen years. The handsome curate offers nothing more than a warning to beware of any strangers that might be drawn by the rumors of a secret treasure room inside the mansion. Intrigued and wanting the possible treasure for her own family, Abigail begins to covertly search for the treasure room but isn’t prepared for the startling secrets that she’ll find.

~The intrigue of a lost treasure in the setting of Victorian England was so fun. Abigail wants to help her family but she also longs for her lost love. The new life that she must adjust to at Pembrooke Park is quite different from the one she led in London but she finds herself pleased by the changes and what she’s accomplished. Her family’s opinion isn’t quite so optimistic however. When she does decide to seek the treasure, anonymous notes are left for her, revealing a danger that she hadn’t expected. And that’s when the story gets even more fun! 

 

 

Honourable Mentions:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner –  With her betrothed dead, Maid Marian is bereft and unsure exactly what she’ll do next. Guy of Gisborne not only wants to become the new Lord of Locksley but her fiance’ as well.  With no one there to stop him, or his harsh command of the people – carrying out the Prince’s absurd laws – Marian stumbles onto a way to help the people. As well as relase the frustration that’s burning inside her. She dons Robin’s hood and accidentally steps into a new identity for herself: Robin Hood

In this retelling, we get to see not just Marian’s side of the story, but Robin’s as well. Filling in gaps and letting us get to know Marian even better, Spooner once again weaves a tale full of adventure, intrigue and romance (major and minor) between her characters. There is a section that is a bit more sensual than I normally read, which is why this book is only an honorable mention. without that, this would absolutely be up there in the Absolute Favorite list.

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The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King – This is the first full length biography of Rogers, it follows his life through interviews, oral histories and archives. It not only focuses on his work life, but his personal and artistic life as well.

~I enjoyed this biography so much as there were so many nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Rogers that I kept reading aloud to my OH, or texting to my mom. His spirit of compassion and caring and giving came through, and for that I thank King for taking the time to make sure that was the case. 

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Falcon for a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~ It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story.  I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

 

Re-Reads:

Shadowfell Series by Juliet Marillier

Maire by Linda Windsor

Letter Perfect  (California Historical #1) by Cathy Marie Hake

Bittersweet (California Historical #2) by Cathy Marie Hake

 

If you’d like to see my Year in Books according to Goodreads, click here! I enjoy getting to see all of them in one go – can you believe that I read 78 books in 2019?! I’ve decided I’m going to aim for 65 books this year.

And remember, there’s going to be a post up soon sharing what my reading intentions are for this year.

What was one of your favorite reads this past year?

~Laura

Book Reviews -April 2019

15 May

I can’t believe I’m finally getting this review up. There were just too many good books to share with you from last month to forgo doing this monthly review. I’ve been making it a point – once again – to read more instead of scrolling on my phone or watching Netflix. These 7 books are the result!

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(I know, I know, there are only 5 pictured here, but my dad is borrowing Sons and Soldiers and Fires of Heaven had to go back to the library… what’s a girl to do?)

The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley- When Harry Crewe struggles to settle into the sedate world of the Homelanders, she has no idea that a chance meeting with Corlath, the king of the Hillfolk, will change her life forever.  Check out my full review here 

A Gown of Spanish Lace by Janette Oke- Ariana’s life is turned upside down when two rough-looking men take her hostage from the one-room schoolhouse she teaches at. With no explanation, they bundle her through the snowy mountain passes to their hideout. Her fear increases when the boss’s son is set to guard her. Will she ever see her adopted parents again? Will she have the chance to wear her mother’s wedding dress?

~I’m sure I squealed in delight when I found this recently at a used bookstore. I’m not sure what happened to my original copy, so I snatched this up quick. I am a big Oke fan and this is one of my favorites of hers. She didn’t write many westerns (in fact, this might be her only one). I enjoyed the twists and turns in this story, some that even though I’ve read it many times over the years (it’s been several years since I’ve read it last though), I was still surprised by them. Ariana’s faith is well-written through her captivity, which is so important to me. I highly recommend this novel for younger readers on up.

a falcon for a queen

A Falcon For a Queen by Catherine Gaskin – Suddenly an orphan, Kirsty Howard leaves her home in China and travels to Scotland to visit her grandfather. His home of Cluian is a strange one, utterly different from what she’s used to. Secrets abound in the old house, kept in place by the arrogance of the lonely old man and the two women who run his house. But being the site of one of the world’s finest whiskey distilleries, gives Kirsty an opportunity to carve her own place in the Highlands.

~I was given this book (published 1972) last year and finally decided I just had to read it. I’d never read anything by Gaskin before but now I intend to read a few more. It was intriguing, unexpected and enjoyable. Yes, there was far too much information about distilling whiskey. But in the context of their livelihood, it made sense, you know? It was a rather dry topic though, one that I tended to skip through, to get to the actual story. The STORY though. Sigh of happiness. I had the ending figured all wrong, but readily admit that it was far better, and more satisfying than I had come up with. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers as it is a darker, aka ‘gothic’ novel. There are only innuendos of a scandalous nature, but Gaskin kept it clean even in that. I fully intend to read it again. If you want a book that will surprise you (and you’re willing to sift through the whiskey aspect), find a copy of this book.

Heart of Wilderness by Janette Oke –  After days of anguished travel, George McMannus arrives to decide what to do with his only grandchild who is suddenly an orphan. He’s not sure just what to do with three year old Kendra Marty, after all, the life of a trapper up in the wilderness isn’t the best place to raise a child. But their hearts connect quickly and George knows that he has to try. He and his granddaughter belong together.

~I hadn’t read this book in years but I fondly remembered it. The fun thing about coming back to books you read as a young teen – early twenties is the different perspective you now have when you read them. Reading of the tragedy that brought young Kendra and ‘Papa Mac’ (as she calls him) together, and better realizing the struggle that he had in caring for her, etc etc through the years. As usual, the faith aspect was well done and both their development was good. I love Oke’s work as it’s a light read but still pulls you into the world and shares nuggets of truth. Highly recommend for teen readers on up.

Sons and Soldiers : The Untold Story of the Jews who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson – This is the story of the German Jews who escaped Germany in the 1930s, grew up in the U.S., joined the Army and became an elite group called the Ritchie Boys.  They were specially trained in interrogation techniques and used their boyhood knowledge of Germany’s language and customs. In small groups, the Ritchie Boys were sent with each major combat unit in Europe, gathering crucial intelligence and interrogating prisoners.

~I couldn’t get a book more different than the previous ones, could I? This one took me a while to get through, but it was written in a way that you wanted and needed to know how the boys made it through the war – and if they connected with their families again. Because of the content, I’d only recommend this for older readers.

At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald, Retold by Dan Larsen – It’s a dreary life in Victorian England but young Diamond is a ray of sunshine for those around him. When he meets the North Wind one night, he goes on an incredible adventure. She takes him over oceans, soaring over cities and even above the clouds. But his life is changed forever when she takes him to the back of the North Wind.

~This was a childhood read that I pulled out of storage after thinking about it for a few months. It was just about as delightful as I remembered, honestly. I enjoyed the lessons that young Diamond learned and the twist at the end! Sigh. I had completely forgotten about it. This is a great book for young readers, actually my edition is from the “Young Readers Christian Library”. 

The Fires of Heaven (book 5 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan – With the seals holding the Great Lord of the Dark in his prison weakening, Rand al’Thor knows he needs to strike a heavy blow at the enemy. But his plans are weakened when his allies are divided and fighting each other. Even the Aes Sedai are caught in a civil war. How can he defeat the Enemy while dealing with all of this, and struggling to maintain his sanity, his identity against the madness that’s coming?

Once again, I got completely sucked into Jordan’s elaborate world. 900 pages starts to go fast when you just can’t put it down. Watching Rand battle for his own sanity while still trying to strategize and scheme with the best of them; seeing Mat fight the pull of ta’averen, and accidentally display his own struggles to not get pulled into the past; all of the girls’ individual struggles to attain their goals —- ahhhhh. The level of plotting that just one of these novels takes has got to be unbelievable. There was a little more… sensual …context in this book that I could have done without. As usual, this is me we’re talking about. 

 

Currently Reading:

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (yes, I’m reading it again!)

Libby’s Cuppa Joe by Rebecca Waters

War Torn Heart by Allison Wells

Write by Karen E. Peterson, Phd

 

To Read: 

Lord of Chaos (book 6 of the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

 

~Laura

A Musing Maverick

"What good amid these, O me, O life? - Answer: That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." - Walt Whitman

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