Tangled Ashes | Michèle Phoenix

I can tell you this: This book was not what I expected. So let’s start with the description:

After invading Lamorlaye, France, Nazi officials don’t hesitate to take over the beautiful Meunier manor as their headquarters, hiring two young Frenchwomen, Marie and Elise, who clean and launder to help supplement their families’ meager incomes. But the girls begin to grow suspicious when medical equipment arrives, followed by an influx of pregnant women. As the Nazis’ plans for the manor become clear, the girls must decide where their loyalties truly lie.

More than fifty years later . . .





Architect Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle. The project that was meant to provide an escape for Becker instead becomes a gripping glimpse into the human drama that unfolded during the Nazi occupation and seems to live on in midnight disturbances and bizarre acts of vandalism.

Becker explores the castle’s shadowy history as he seeks to cope with the demons from his own past. Only Jade, the feisty nanny of the owner’s children, is willing to stand up to him. But Becker soon discovers that every one of the château’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to protect—and something worth fighting for.

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Anything World War II will instantly hits my radar and I’m especially intrigued by the history of German occupied countries. As I mentioned, it just isn’t what I expected.

In Tangled Ashes, Michèle Phoenix weaves together a story of secrets, mystery and family. It kept me going because the mystery was far too intriguing to stop reading. What’s Beck hiding? What happened from the prologue? And who is the mysterious person roaming the land?





As the story unfolded, not only did you see how it affected the characters lives, you gained insight into some different stories of WWII.

***Below is only one spoiler (if you can call it that, but it felt right to tell you guys)***

Now that part I didn’t expect? Becker. It took me awhile to like Becker, and I still don’t know if I like him. Every time he did something jerkish I wanted to yell “BRO, QUIT BEING A BUTT FACE!” Yes, Internet I just wrote that.

I would have liked the story to continue as well. Becker was slowly changing and I wish I could have seen more of that. It left a lot open (which I think was the intent), and since I usually prefer more closure, it was unexpected. But even with some of the story left untold, it’s an intriguing tale of the present and the mysterious past colliding.

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Andi Unexpected | Amanda Flower





Even as a kid, I loved detective shows. Whether it was a cartoon (I count Scooby as detective work – even if the villain was always the first person they met) or a TV show about a kid detective, I was all about it. I vividly remember trying to enter a contest for a detective kit from Nickelodeon. You had to call in back then and hope your phone call got picked up. Yep, there I was, sitting on the phone, connected to the wall no less, hitting redial and praying I’d be one of the winners (and also, that no one else needed the phone). Twitter? Psh…for amateurs.

Did I win? Nope. Not that I’m still angry about it NICKELODEON. I mean, I have to know – Why didn’t you answer? WHY??

Anyway, I promise I’m over it ;) , so on to other intrigue and all around awesomeness! Such as this fun tale of Andi’s mystery solving adventures in a small town full of secrets of the past!

This new Middle Grade series kicks off with Andi Unexpected by INSPY and Agatha finalist Amanda Flower and was such a treat, that it’s easy to enjoy at my age.

Twelve-year-old Andora ‘Andi’ Boggs and her fourteen-year-old sister Bethany move to rural Ohio to live with their eccentric twenty-something aunt after the sudden death of their parents. While dealing with her grief, Andi discovers proof of another Andora Boggs in the family tree whose existence was hidden in a Depression-era trunk in the attic. With help from her new friend and neighbor, Colin Carter, Andi is determined to find out who this first Andora was and what happened to her.

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Flower’s witty delivery of a young girl detective dealing with hurt of her own, while solving the town’s great mystery will keep any reader turning the pages with laughs and enjoyment. So if you know of a young kid (ages 9 and up) looking to start testing their mystery-solving skills, I think you need to introduce them to little Miss Andi Boggs and her buddy Colin!

(Thank you Zondervan and DJC Communications for the advanced reader’s copy!)

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Rules of Murder | Julianna Deering

I don’t watch a ton of TV, but the shows I do watch, I am a committed and loyal fan. A couple of my favs? Criminal Minds (although these days I can’t watch it when it’s dark) and Sherlock. If there is a crime to be solved, I am in! And reading? Whether its Agatha Christie, Sherlock or Sue Grafton, mysteries provide the opportunity to use my investigation skills I like to pretend I have.

Enter in this fabulous mystery! Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering was such a great read! Drew is absolutely charming and one of my favorite male leads to date. It was like Downton Abbey and Sherlock rolled into one. I want to be in this novel! Maybe I’ll make it in the next one. I bet the clothes would be fantastic.

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew’s stepfather’s company come to light and it’s clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline–Drew must decide how far to take this game.

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And this? This definitely was the type mystery that shocked me and kept me guessing till the end. In classic 1930′s style, I wanted to join Drew and Madeline as they tried to find the killer before more lives were lost. Plus the ever lovable Nick makes the story even better.

I had plenty of theories throughout the book and I’m pretty sure about zero panned out. Although, I had inklings that some characters weren’t who they portrayed, but I couldn’t have fully predicted everything that happened. Sneaky, sneaky…

One of the final twists at the end had me saying “WHAT? Did I just read that wrong?” So yes, if you love mysteries, this one is for you!

And now I’m ready to work on my Sherlock skills (and for the series to come back on). This definitely revived my love of the mystery genre. I might have to go pick up some Agatha as I wait for the next murder solving shenanigans of Drew, Madeline and the ‘o so sweet Nick! (Which is February 2014, if you’re curious).

(Thank you Bethany House Publishing for the review copy!)

Widow of Gettysburg | Jocelyn Green

Prepare to be shocked by this next statement: I read a book about the Civil War and I loved it. It’s like me saying I love Del Taco. You know, like I’ve never mentioned that before to the internet.

Here’s why I liked it:
1. I really enjoyed the first book in the series Wedded to War.
2. Jocelyn Green bases her stories off of real people. I love that.
3. It deals with the Civil War.
4. There was mention of the Massachusetts 54th.

Widow of Gettysburg is a fantastic and wonderful second book of Jocelyn Green’s Heroines Behind the Lines series. A tale of sacrifice, love, family, war and strength all mixed together beautifully by Green’s writing. If you love historical fiction, you’ll love this one.

Once the book hit the start of the battle I couldn’t put it down. As much as I talk about history and the Civil War, I’ve never studied or read much about those who lived in Gettysburg. Maybe because my research never dealt with the battle at Gettysburg, but what a story that city holds. Oh man, what that must have been like! Green’s descriptions and storytelling brought to life how it was for those who lived there.

Plus there were a few things that I didn’t see coming AT ALL. About 35% in….wha???????????????????????? That is all folks. If you’ve read it, you have to tell me what you thought!

One thing I shouldn’t have done was read this before work. Stories of mamas losing their sons…there went my makeup.

I ended the book wanting to watch Glory again and felt better for reading the story of those who were just as brave as the soldiers who fought for freedom.

When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering–and a Rebel scout who awakens her long dormant heart.

While Liberty’s future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty’s hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.

In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it?

Widow of Gettysburg is inspired by first-person accounts from women who lived in Gettysburg during the battle and its aftermath.

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Read it folks!

Ender’s Game | Orson Scott Card

This past March Out of Print had their annual March Madness for best titles and this year the genre was fantasy/sci-fi. I was a bit perturbed when, for some time, Ender’s Game was ahead of The Hobbit. Surely you jest internet. Who was voting in this??

But don’t worry, wisdom won out and The Hobbit made it to the Final Four (only to lose to Harry Potter). I was ready to have someone hold my earrings. So I took it upon myself to pick up a copy and see what the fuss was all about, since, I’m scared to admit, I’d never heard of Ender before. And if it put up a fight against my beloved Tolkien, then I needed to study the enemy.

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If you’re like I was, here’s what the story is about:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Ender’s Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

My first thought after finishing this book was, why did the aliens have to be called Buggers? My second thought was that I didn’t expect that ending! I kept trying to think of ways it was going to end as I drew closer and closer to the finish, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t have called that one.

I thought, for me to like this, it would have required a much different crazy non-stop ending, but if anything, it made me enjoy the book more. I had some pretty high expectations (you win awards, you better wow me) and as lame as this is going to sound, I was hoping it would be terrible so my Hobbit love would have been justified. I know, issues folks.

So even though it was a bit different than I was expecting, I still enjoyed it. It leaves you with some life lessons and if you love sci-fi, I think you’ll enjoy this one. One more thought, I kinda felt bad for Ender. Anyone else feel me on that?

Oh and it’s a movie soon!! Check out the trailer:

Anomaly | Krista McGee

“I do not doubt the Scientist’s desire to protect us, and that they want to keep us from returning to the type of people who existed before the Nuclear War. But I sometimes wonder if they took away too much. If there is more. We are, after all, made from these people. We are not a new species. Their DNA runs through us, makes us who we are. They cannot have all been terrible.”

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Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.
Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world was decimated by a nuclear war. But life continued deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. There they created genetically engineered human beings who are free of emotions in the hope that war won’t threaten the world again.

Thalli is an anomaly, born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far by hiding her differences. But then her secret is discovered when she’s overwhelmed by the emotion of an ancient piece of music.

The Ten quickly schedule her annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk – a scientist being groomed by The Ten – convinces them to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the Scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance.

As her life ticks a way, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer – someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who to trust, before her time runs out.

One of my favorite reads is The Giver because it’s such a reminder of how beauty, feeling & natural wonder can so profoundly change a person. How it makes the heart alive and our hearts are empty without it.

That feeling, that truth, the way words can make your heart beat faster….that was one of my favorite things about Anomaly by Krista McGee.

The emotions stirred by music, love, natural beauty…it came alive through the pages as Thalli discovered, searched and came to figure out what life was truly about. I love Krista McGee’s writing, it’s so beautiful.

And for the love of kittens and crumb cakes, I did not expect that last chapter at all! Internet, it’s a series…a series!! Here I thought it was a stand alone novel, but nope. So not only did it switch things up at the end, I was also wondering just what the hey was going to happen next. I can’t handle this people. I can’t. Now I have to wait a whole year for it to continue. Boo!

While this was a step away from her normal genre, I’m so so so glad McGee decided to expand her horizons!!! There’s quite a few dystopian options out there, but I definitely recommend this one.

Any other new fans out there?? If you haven’t read this yet, then please go ahead and remedy that.

The Tutor’s Daughter | Julie Klassen

As if this book was going to be bad. Y’all it’s by Julie Klassen. That alone should be enough reason to buy it and read it immediately. I’m so glad there’s still a few novels of her’s I haven’t read yet. I’m hoping if I space them out right, by the time I read all of them she’ll release another one.

If I were to only have a tweet worth of review space about The Tutor’s Daughter, it would be this: It’s amazing and awesome, so read it! Like right now people! Unless you’re driving. In that case, eyes on the road.

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor’s daughter figure out which brother to blame…and which brother to trust with her heart?

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But I want to talk about it a bit more since it was so fantastic! I always love a good mystery and Klassen did a great job with the mysteries and secrets throughout the novel. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

And ummm….Lady Weston…why hello wench!

That’s all I have to say about her. I loved Henry and Emma! For all their faults, their misunderstandings, their growth, by the time it ended end I wanted to give them each a hug. It’s classic Klassen, so you’ll stay up late, love it and want to read it again.

Have you read this one or any other of Klassen’s?

A Passion Redeemed | Julie Lessman

When people say they don’t like to read, I don’t get it. With series like The Daughters of Boston out there (by the ever awesome Julie Lessman), boring is the last thing to describe this series. A Passion Redeemed was no different.

After the first book, I quickly realized my summer reading list would immediately increase to include all of Lessman’s book. No jk-ing here, the only times I’ve stopped were because I had to finish ARCs (advanced reader copies) and book club. Other than that, I just keep downloading as fast as I can.

(This one won’t have as many spoilers as the first post, but it also includes more details than, say, the back of the cover. So please proceed with caution).

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Let’s just start off by saying, that for most of the book I still wanted to punch Charity in the face. I wanted to shake her and demand to know why she kept trying to force things, scheme, LIE. I mean was lying her favorite past time?? So there I was about 2/3rds in thinking there was no way I’d ever like her.

But then, as Lessman so perfectly does, things started to happen, you could sense and see genuine change in Charity’s character and finally, I mean FINALLY, I liked her.

Side note: Rigan is a horrible human being. Although other words would be more accurate, I’ll keep it at that.

I loved the deeper themes that were portrayed beautifully. Forgiveness, grace, love, passion. It’s not easy to have deeper themes in fiction without seeming cheesy or forced (especially when matters of faith are involved), but Lessman does it in a way that’s perfect.

I seriously love the O’Connor family. Love them!

I also love how the characters are in each book and then lead to the next one. I have a few more books left with this family, so can’t wait to dive in!

WORK IS IN THE WAY OF THESE IMPORTANT MATTERS!

For those of you who have read the series, do you like Mitch or Collin more? I know it’s hard, but I’m just curious! I’ll go first: I think my vote goes to Collin (but only slightly!!).

The Doctor’s Lady | Jody Hedlund

Even if this story were completely fiction, I would have still loved it. Finding out its based on actual people made it that much more awesome. That’s why I so thoroughly enjoy historical fiction, it brings to light amazing stories of the past.

The Doctor’s Lady by, one of my favorites, Jody Hedlund follows the story of the first white women to cross the US and enter into Oregon territory.

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

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Just so you know, I’m gonna turn history geek right about…now!

Based on the true story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (yes, my first thought was Malfoy), who left the east coast to be missionaries to the Nez Perce tribe in 1836 among the Oregon territory. She was one of the first two white women to cross the continent overland, and she had the first child born of American parents in the Oregon Country. Although this wasn’t in the novel, her and her husband were killed by the Cayuse in what would become known as the Whitman Massacre after a measles epidemic in which they blamed them for the deaths. Don’t worry, that part was left out of the novel, because that would be depressing.

Hedlund not only brought this amazing story to life, once again she created characters you quickly attach to and a story that is incredibly fascinating, empowering and encouraging to follow where the Lord leads, no matter how crazy it might seem.

If the name Jody Hedlund is on it, I promise it’s going to be a great read.

A Bride Most Begrudging | Deeanne Gist

I can’t help but smile when I think of this book. I loved it! Like, I’m going to actually purchase this one and I’m going to get her other books right quick, because Deeanne Gist had me from page one! My friend Liz recommended this one and since we read the same style books, I had no doubt her suggestion would work out. It did!

A Bride Most Begrudging is hilarious too. I kept laughing at both Constance and Drew. Oh, she is a fire cracker folks. But that made her all the more loveable. I loved the storyline, the characters and how it all worked out; although I may have teared up, yelled and sighed in the process. Plus such a fascinating time period! This history nerd was loving it!

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Any ship arriving from England means good news for Virginia colony farmers. The “tobacco brides” would be on board–eligible women seeking a better life in America, bartered for with barrels of tobacco from the fields.

Drew O’Connor isn’t stirred by news of a ship full of brides. Still broken-hearted from the loss of his beloved, he only wants a maid to tend his house and care for his young sister.

What he ends up with is a wife–a feisty redhead who claims she is Lady Constance Morrow, daughter of an Earl, brought to America against her will. And she want to go straight back to England as soon as she possibly can. She hasn’t the foggiest notion how to cook, she dares to argue with her poor husband, and spends more time working on mathematical equations than housework. What kind of a wife is that? Drew’s Christian forbearance is in for some testing.

Headstrong and intelligent, deeply moral but incredibly enticing, Constance turns what was supposed to be a marriage of convenience into something most inconvenient, indeed.

Seriously a great read and I look forward to more from Gist. I also learned this was Gist’s debut novel – what a way to kick things off! Have you read this one or any of Gist’s? What did you think?

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