Armor of Aletheia by Ralene Burke

About the book:

The death of her king changes Karina’s life forever. Fleeing the royal house, she must leave her life behind to seek out the Armor of the Creator—to save the very people who now hunt her.

Faramos, the evil warlock waiting to unleash hell, knows the Creator has already chosen his warrior, so he sends his bounty hunter to retrieve her. After Tristan abducts her, he witnesses Karina’s gentle nature and strong independence, and he finds he can’t complete his assignment.

Together, they set out to retrieve the armor and defeat the hordes of creatures sent to destroy them. But is Tristan’s heart secure as he faces certain death for defending the queen? And will Karina have the courage to become all the Creator intends her to be? Failure will condemn the world to eternal darkness.

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My review:

Armor of Aletheia is a wonderful coming-of-age story of how one moment can change the course of a life and bring out the best in a person through the worst of circumstances. Karina is a character that young women should aspire to be like. Though obstacles are constantly thrown her way, she relies on Strength, Truth, and Peace to lead her along the correct path.

And Tristan is a terrific model of redemption. He is a beautiful reminder that though we may have made bad choices and mistakes in our past, the Creator can still use us for His purposes and His glory.

If you want your tween and teen daughters (and sons!) to know what it means to not be crippled by fear but to be guided by Strength, grab them a copy of Armor of Aletheia. And read it with them! 🙂

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The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

About the book:

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

My review:

This was an intense read. Packed with drama and tension, The Grace Year is like Mean Girls meets Survivor. There are so many levels, so many shades and shadows that the girls are hidden in and from, that there is no way any of them could not come back changed, whether for better or worse.

As I read the story, what kept floating through my mind was how cultish the Garner County of The Grace Year is: how secretive people are, how the girls are only given enough information and knowledge to barely survive (but to return only as broken vessels), how dissent is violently discouraged. Scary to think of how easily people can be duped in a closed society.

But the heroine of The Grace Year, Tierney, is the one who questions, the one who wonders if the “truth” that has been fed to her is really the truth, the one who dares to believe that there is more to life than what those in power have told her all her life. What a wonderful heroine for young people to have! Someone to remind them that the established norms are not always what is best for you and that you should always search for the truth yourself.

The only issue I had with the novel was that the “chapters” were very long with no real breaks, making it difficult to find a place to stop or to figure out where exactly I was when I did stop. But, that is a minor issue in what was otherwise a well-written, emotionally powerful story.

The Grace Year releases in October of this year, so pre-order your copy now and know that you’ll enjoy it when it comes in! 🙂

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Heart of the Curiosity by H.L. Burke

About the book:

The secret lies with the Heart.

Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora’s only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd’s mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.

Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity’s sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater’s stagemistress, is the key to finding it.

While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.

Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes and National Treasure, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from H. L. Burke.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

My review:

There is so much I liked about Heart of the Curiosity. First off, it’s a steampunk fantasy, so the world she created was wonderfully familiar, but with that twist that makes it so much more interesting.

And I love the idea of everyone having a “knack” – a magical ability of some sort that is fairly unique to each person. Leo’s knack was amazing! That she could see emotions in color was super cool, but even better that she could then manipulate those emotions. It was captivating to follow her journey to understanding how valuable her knack could really be.

And who knew I’d ever find myself cheering for a snail circus? But darned if I didn’t. Apparently snails are cool now. It’s a thing. 😉

Filled with interesting world-building, beautiful moments, and classic H.L. Burke snark, Heart of the Curiosity made my first days of recuperation much more enjoyable than they should have been! I loved getting swept up in Leo’s story, and I’m sure you will, too. Don’t miss Heart of the Curiosity!

Many, many thanks to the fine folks at Uncommon Universes Press for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

About the book:

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together.

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My review:

After thoroughly enjoying watching Bletchley Park and being amazed by the book Code Girls, I jumped at the chance to read Roseanna M. White’s latest novel, The Number of Love. Set in England in the midst of World War I, rather than WWII like the others, I knew it would give a different perspective on women codebreakers in war time. And it was fascinating!

I so appreciated how White brought Margot’s mathematical mind to life. I am not a numbers person (shocker, right?), but I loved how Margot thought and felt in numbers. It kind of gave me a peek into the kind of mind I sometimes wish I had (at least at tax time 😉 ). And her connection with God through numbers and equations and theorems was so interesting and added such a beautiful level of depth to the character.

And the story didn’t leave me wanting, either. The plot moved swiftly, with just the right amount of action and intrigue to keep the pages turning and keep me guessing. All in all, The Number of Love, was a very enjoyable read. I definitely recommend it! 🙂

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma

About the book:

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

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My review:

The Pink Bonnet is the second book in the True Colors Series. I wasn’t overly impressed with the first book, The White City by Grace Hitchcock, but thought I’d give the series another go, since each book fictionalizes a different historical crime and is written by a different author. This particular story takes on the black market adoption racket in Tennessee during the Depression: a horrifying crime that went unchecked for too long and a brutal reminder that child trafficking still happens to this day.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t overly impressed with this novel either. I just couldn’t seem to get swept up in the story. The dialogue too often felt trite, the storyline was quite contrived and predictable. The emotion was sometimes realistic and sometimes awfully melodramatic. I am sorry to say that I found it a bit of a chore to read.

At first I thought that maybe if I was a mother myself, the story would resonate more deeply with me. But then I stopped to remind myself that if a story is truly well-written, it doesn’t matter what the subject is, the reader can fall into it and not want to climb back out. That never happened for me with this book.

Your experience may be different, if you feel like giving this book a chance. I wish that I’d enjoyed it more. Bummer.

Thanks anyway to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!

Oath Sworn by Meg MacDonald

About the book:

Defending Lian against soulless assassins is not what Aralt “Wolf” syr Tremayne agreed to.

Nor did he agree to be the guardian of an irrational teenaged Keeper of the Faith.

And he certainly did not plan on sky pirates or cannibals.


Aralt has his hands full.  The Grand Meeting of the Northern Alliance is mere days away and Lian Kynsei, last of the soul-touched and missing for three years, turns up on his doorstep.  A noble man of his word, Aralt has every intention of protecting his ward, but did he have to show up now?  What’s worse, the more they get reacquainted, the less Aralt likes him.  He’s reckless, emotional, and when he’s angry even the weather changes.  This is the hope of a nation?

Armed with the Tuned sword that is all he has left of his murdered brother, Aralt endeavors to secure a sanctuary for a reluctant heir-apparent who never anticipated his elevated status.  But sanctuary proves elusive, every step bringing them closer to danger–and closer to revealing secrets neither wishes to share.  The enemy has made the skies their own and unleashed a scourge intent on killing Lian–or worse.  Death, Aralt realizes, might be the greater mercy.


In the world of OATH SWORN, cultures and ideologies clash, jewelers “Tune” crystal swords, skyships sail above tidal extremes, and the soul-touched–like young Lian–inspire both awe and fear.  It will take more than determination to survive the adventure upon which Aralt and Lian embark…more than devotion to a sacred oath.  It will take courage–and no small amount of faith.

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My review:

It took me a bit to get into this book. There’s a whole ton of world-building in the beginning that, I will admit, had me a bit confused at times. But I persevered and soon got so wrapped up in this story that I was seriously disappointed when I got to the end.

There was so much to be fascinated by in Oath Sworn: the “tuning” of the swords that was beautiful and a bit mind-blowing; the super intricate culture-building that was wonderfully unique (so much that I kind of wished for a glossary to help me keep things straight!); the depth of emotion that I did not expect to feel, but that held me captive while I furiously flipped pages late into the night.

After the first few pages, I thought I wouldn’t really enjoy this book, but Oath Sworn quickly swept me up into its maelstrom of adventure. Now, I am truly looking forward to reading the rest of the series (as soon as she writes them). Don’t miss this one.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

About the book:

From Ann Cleeves—bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—comes the first in a gripping new series.

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.

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My review:

This story was like a landslide: it began with a slow, seemingly harmless trickle then rapidly gathered speed, hurtling to the dramatic end. And I enjoyed every minute of the twisty-turny ride.

I wanted to read this book because it was a new mystery from the writer of one of my favorite shows, Shetland, and I was just as enthralled by this story as I am by the show. Brimming with red herrings and complex characters, The Long Call is a brilliant example of the storied tradition of the great British murder mystery. If you are a fan, this is a read not to be missed. Be sure to grab your own copy when it releases in September!

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the digital ARC of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂