Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta | Book Review

Well. I think I need about 97 more days to recover from this book. Actually, let’s go ahead and make that about 532.

BECAUSE OH MY WORD.

Y’all.

I don’t even know where to start.

“I swallowed, wondering if all dreams turned to dust the moment they were realized.”

Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter—and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.

Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.

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I’ll start by saying I loved the characters Dotta created. Some were funny, some quirky, some even yet mysterious and even if I didn’t like certain people, I loved how Dotta created them. I especially adored Jameson and Nancy in this book. You couldn’t help but connect strongly with so many of them, especially after three books of being with them. I didn’t want it to end! (If this is your first encounter with Dotta’s, definitely start with the first book in the series).

I wasn’t sure what would await in this final book (there were so many shockers in the first two), but let me tell you! I didn’t see things coming and when they did, boom! I was emotionally spent when I finished, but I mean that in the best possible way.

“None of us have escaped being both good and evil, sometimes simultaneously.”

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a legitimate book crush (my fellow book nerds will understand that and how it’s totally not weird ;), so here’s the thing: I simply love Isaac Dalry. He’s become a favorite, if not my favorite. That’s saying a lot when battling Mark of the Lion‘s Marcus..but y’all. Love. Him. Such compassion, understanding, love and loyalty. He has his faults, but even those make him great.

“He stood on the table and gave a speech about how the impossible was our forte and when we accomplished the impossible, history would carry our names until the end of time.”

But I need to stop talking about him…you simply must meet him for yourself.

Have I mentioned Dotta’s writing ability? Dotta has managed to create such layered characters, it’s amazing.

“Shame will unmake and warp any soul.”

If you read my last review, you’ll know I wasn’t sure to make of our Julia. After reading this book, I think I finally understand her. Do I still agree with some of the things she did? Not really, but after reading this book, I see why. I also understand the pain and regret of bad decisions (don’t we all?) and there were certain parts where I keenly felt what she was feeling. I liked that our heroine wasn’t one everyone adored. It made it more real.

Plus does Dotta knows how to craft beautiful sentences!

“I felt the pathos of David’s lament to such a degree that even to this day I cannot look upon that Psalm without growing teary.”

In case you didn’t notice, I’m a fan! This is hands down one of my favorite series I’ve ever read. It’s the type of fiction I hope to see more of and thank you Jessica Dotta for writing such a powerful and incredible story.

And if you have read this final one and need to discuss, please feel free to shoot me an email or message me on Facebook or . Totally not kidding because THIS SERIES.

What’s a recent series that impacted you long after you finished reading?

(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Where to Buy: Amazon | | Christian Books

Uncommon Marriage Adventure by Tony and Lauren Dungy | Book Review

Oh look, I’m reviewing a devotional book for couples on marriage. How did this go down? Well….so….you see…what happened was… I saw the this book as a review option from Tyndale and that it was by Tony and Lauren Dungy, so requested it without further investigation. I figured it was a book about their relationship, plus, I mean, it’s the Dungy’s.

Turns out this is a devotional for married couples.

That’s what we call a win for a single person.

But I stay committed to fulfilling my book review promises, so without further ado, let’s chat about all things marriage. :)

Marriage is an adventure unlike any other. At times, you and your spouse may feel so close, connected, and in love that you’re ready to take on the world together. But other times, things grow distant, and you wonder where all the joy and excitement has gone. What is the secret to a happy, healthy, God-honoring marriage—one that will last through anything that comes your way?

Join Tony and Lauren Dungy in The Uncommon Marriage Adventure, a series of daily reflections for couples. With transparency, wisdom, and humor, the Dungys share what they’ve learned over 30 years of marriage about faith, teamwork, conflict, communication, and more. Through each day’s reading, you and your spouse will go deeper in loving, understanding, and learning to serve each other. Dare to embark on your own marriage adventure—and discover how to make your relationship truly uncommon.

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Well, with this book the Dungy’s stay strong in my list of favorite famous couples. I loved the stories, the honesty, the chuckles, the serious moments and the truth they aren’t afraid to share. For married couples, this is a gem. They have short daily devotions that couples can read together and a question/action to go through. I love that their heart for people shines through the pages. They truly desire to see people in strong and growing marriages and it’s awesome.

The devotional is based on core principles of an uncommon marriage and many are just as applicable to a non-married person. Some include include: Focus on the Bible and Christ, communicate well and often, not running away from conflict and serving others. Good stuff right? Plus, you don’t have to like sports or football to benefit from this book!

I may or may not get married and it’s something I don’t like to worry about or focus on, but this book was a beautiful reminder that if I do, I want to be with a man who loves the Lord with his whole heart. It’s easy to settle when the wait seems long (do I have a story or two….), but when it comes to relationships, what the Lord has planned is always worth the wait. So fellow singles, be encouraged by the Dungy’s marriage and how amazing a relationship can be when centered fully on Christ!

What’s another book about marriage or relationships you would recommend?

(Thank you to Tyndale for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review)

Where to Buy: Amazon | | Christian Books

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron | Book Review & Giveaway

Where to even begin… because so many feelings readers. So.many.feelings.

Whether it was of deep anger (although there are much stronger words that could be used) at what the Nazi Regime was capable of (and did) and the people and families who turned on their own, to the heartache of the valiant men and women who fought and died to rescue innocent people, to the stirring love of a heart redeemed, to the gut-wrenching truth of the holocaust, to crying (quite possibly on a plane and while writing this review)…

ALL THE FEELINGS PEOPLE.

ALL OF THEM.

Yet, to say this read is worth it, would be quite the understatement.

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

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We can start with the fact that I was completely shocked to learn there were orchestras in Auschwitz – where people were forced to play while new people arrived at the camp (when they were being divided into groups of those who would work and those who would immediately go to the gas chambers). The depths of utter despair those people must have felt (beyond everything else). It was said these musicians had the highest suicide rate – knowing they were playing such beautiful music in such haunting circumstances. Even writing that last sentence makes my stomach sicken. But that’s the history that was written and this book, while not hiding away from the truth of the situation, weaves together an incredible story.

I loved everything about this book.

I thought switching between Adele’s story and Sera’s worked really well as Cambron was able to weave them together. I was drawn more to Adele’s story, but enjoyed Sera’s and look forward to reading more of her story in upcoming books.

The real beauty of this novel is the hope that stirs within each page. In such a dark time in history, you wouldn’t think it possible, but the people in this book remind us that there is always hope and the beauty in which people expressed that. Some of the most powerful stories of hope and humanity come from the darkest of ages (think of Oskar Schindler and Corrie ten Boom, among countless others). As one of my favorite characters once said “there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.”

If you’re anything like me, after you finish this book, you’ll also go to every source Cambron lists in the book to check out the art for yourself.

It’s powerful & heart-wrenching. But to know that those caught in the darkest of circumstances still choose to create and see beauty is not only amazing, but inspiring as well. I’m choosing to see the beauty.

Oh and the cover? Beautiful. Just like the book.

(Thank you to Litfuse for the copy in exchange for my honest review)

Where to buy: Amazon | | Christian Books

Welcome to the launch campaign for debut novelist Kristy Cambron‘s The Butterfly and the Violin. Romantic Times had this to say: “Alternating points of view skillfully blend contemporary and historical fiction in this debut novel that is almost impossible to put down. Well-researched yet heartbreaking. . . .”

Kristy is celebrating the release of the first book in her three-book series, A Hidden Masterpiece, with a fun Kindle Fire giveaway and meeting her readers during an August 7th Facebook author chat party.

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One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 7th. Winner will be announced at The Butterfly and the Violin Author Chat Party. Kristy will be connecting with readers and answering questions, sharing some of the fascinating research behind the book, hosting a fun book chat, and giving away some GREAT prizes. She will also be giving an exclusive look at the next book in the series, A Sparrow in Terezin!

So grab your copy of The Butterfly and the Violin and join Kristy on the evening of August 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim | Book Review

I tend not to read Amish fiction. It’s just not my thing. So why did I read Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel? A) It was an INSPY nomination & B) It’s a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, so I was most definitely intrigued.

Man oh man, do I recommend this one! Nominated for the INSPYs, it was one of the many I read and when you’re reading close to 150 books and trying to narrow down five in each category, when one stands out, you know it’s a keeper.

Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

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The Old Mennonite culture in Petersheim’s novel was the perfect setting to re-tell The Scarlet Letter and the characters were just as fantastic. I liked Rachel and thought she was a strong character, even with the situation she was in. While sometimes I wanted her to scream out the father of her child, it wasn’t annoying that she didn’t – it made the story what it is and since you expect that (unless you haven’t read The Scarlet Letter), Petersheim makes it work fantastically. I also liked some of the different things she did with it (I don’t want to say exactly what, so as not to spoil and you just have to buy the book ;), things you don’t really see in this genre, but made the novel stand out all the more and brought a different perspective.

Even if you aren’t a fan of Amish type stories, I definitely recommend this one – it’s one I think you’ll enjoy! I’m looking forward to reading her latest release as well, The Midwife! Are you a big Amish fan or have you read this one?

Where to buy: Amazon | | Christian Books

Book Blogging Programs | Blogger Resources

I’ve talked a little bit about book blogging review programs in the past, but since then, I’ve expanded my horizons :). After chatting over SkiWees Book Corner about it (if you missed the show, you can catch it here!), I thought it would be fun and helpful to share the ones I’m a part of and hear from y’all about some of your favorites. So let’s dive on in!

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Blogging for Books

This book blogging site for the Crown Publishing Group (in the Christian Fiction world: WaterBrook Multnomah Fiction) was recently revamped and is AH-Mazing. The options people. The options! Cook books, Christian fiction, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, crafts…seriously… all the books! They aren’t lying when they say over two million books.

I just started with them, but my first book is The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton, so I’m not complaining. I look forward to reading many more books for this site!

Bethany House Blogger Review Program

I’m a huge fan of Bethany releases. So many of my favorite authors publish books through them, so I always look forward to the monthly emails (I know when they come out each month and trust me….I’m ready to request!)! I’m on the list for fiction and non-fiction, you know to keep my options fresh.

There’s a handful of options each month to choose from and you only get to pick one (which is soooo hard sometimes!). You also have the option of e-book or hard copy. I’m so glad to be a part of this program. It’s great.

Litfuse Publicity

I’m so glad this publicity firm exists. They are so much fun to work with and make it so easy to promote and be part of book tours. When I see an email from them, I know something awesome awaits!

They really do make it easy. They send you the book (hard copy or e-book), send you all the graphics and codes you need for your post and there’s always awesome contests to enter. I still have hope that one day I’ll win one.

Tyndale Blog Network

I haven’t reviewed a ton for Tyndale yet, but the ones I have, I’ve really enjoyed. Jessica Dotta’s novels are published through them, so that’s all the evidence needed to sign up. Each month they send out the new releases and you can request one from the list (although now you can request two!).

They have plenty of options for fiction and non-fiction, so there’s lots of variety as well.

BookLook Bloggers (formerly BookSneeze)

This is the site for Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and Westbow Press E-Books. I love the variety. Love it! From non-fiction, fiction, children’s books, devotionals and bibles, there’s plenty to choose from. The two I have right now are a photographer’s memoir and a book written by Dr. King’s niece. I’m really excited about them! They have awesome fiction options as well and you have the option for applying to receive more than one at a time.

Another plus for BookLook is they are available beyond the month of release (same as Blogging for Books).

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Moody Blogger Review Program

Moody Publishers has a fantastic history and continue to produce Gospel-centered books and resources. Their fiction wing, River North Fiction, has published some of my favorite authors, including Tessa Afshar (biblical fiction) and Jocelyn Green (Civil War history fiction), so I’m a fan.

They have pages and pages of options to choose from, not just new releases, so the choices are endless. Once you review one, you can go back and simply request another one. Done.

Revell Reads Blog Tour Program

This program is a lot like Bethany’s program (they’re under the umbrella of Baker Publishing), so you can’t expect much of the same! The one difference is they request the reviews to be posted between specific dates (since it’s a tour). I’m also on the fiction and non-fiction lists, so like the others, it’s always fun seeing the email pop up in my inbox.

B&H Publishing

I’m rather new to this one as well, but it’s been a pleasant experience thus far. They have a site with all the options available for reviewing. I’ve also been able to email them requests too. While they send out emails of new and available books to choose from, the website site also has past options available too.

NetGalley

I haven’t done too much with NetGalley, besides the times I choose to get the e-book from one of the other publishers. I learned recently you can get auto approved for certain publishers, so when you request it, you automatically get it. There’s ridiculous amounts of options and you’ll never be in need of more books. It’s only e-books though, so if you’re anti e-reader, then you won’t like this one ;). With so many other programs, I’m not sure when I’ll dive more into this one, but I do like being a member!

What programs are you a part of? Any specific ones you really like?