My Fiction Fantasy Vacation

Earlier this year, Carrie shared her Bookish Places Bucket List over at Reading Is My Superpower, and it got me to thinking of all the book-related places I’ve dreamed of visiting. So I asked myself,  “If money grew on trees and I could spend one year visiting any and as many of those places as I like, where would I go?” The result was my fiction fantasy vacation:

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First stop would have to be Prince Edward Island since I’ve been dreaming of visiting L.M. Montgomery’s Green Gables since I was a little girl.

Fun Fact - First born daughter

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice raved so beautifully of the countryside in Derbyshire it would seem almost sinful not to include it in my fiction fantasy vacation. From Chatsworth to Stanage Edge, there is much to see and do in this beautiful part of England

Pride and Prejudice Stanage Edge
Photo from PeriodDramas.com

It may be cliche, but some of my favorite historical romances have taken place along the Oregon Trail. Therefore, I would love the opportunity to retrace or reenact the experience of those brave pioneers (not forgetting the tragedies that went along with this westward expansion). In a perfect world, I could travel back in time and actually join a wagon train for the entire length of the journey – bringing with me my modern medicines and a magical helicopter that could instantly transport me to a very modern hospital in the case of emergency, of course. Barring that, I’d love to do something like the tour outlined here and then take part in a reenactment such as this one.

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After my last pick, it will hardly come as a surprise that I also enjoy a well-written cowboy romance. So of course, my fantasy vacation needs to include the closest thing this city girl can get to actual ranching experience:  a dude ranch! Only I’m just crazy enough not to want to simply hang out at a ranch and maybe ride a horse or two. I actually want to muck stalls, drive cattle, groom horses and maybe even learn to lasso. That’s easy, right? Well, whatever the case, I figure one of the top 50 working ranch vacation places listed HERE ought to suit my fancy. 🙂

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Those horns are soft, right?

I’ll probably be all tuckered out after my stay at the ranch. What better way to recharge than a nice long train ride? Yep. I like a good train romance, too. Although I don’t think it is possible to get the full ash-in-your-face, week-long-travel-on-a-hard-wooden-bench experience, these days, I would like to experience traveling from New York to San Francisco by rail. And perhaps while I’m riding, I’ll travel back in time by reading the “first-person” contemporary accounts available HERE.

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Then, to round off my vacation, I’ll test my seafaring skills by learning to crew a gold-rush era replica schooner off the coast of my hometown, San Diego.

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What do you think? Would you enjoy coming along on my fantasy fiction vacation? What would your fantasy fiction vacation include?

TWEETABLES:

What would your fantasy fiction vacation include? – Click to Tweet!

First Line Friday – 8.18.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from Finding Love at the Oregon Coast:  A Romantic Novella Collection by Angela Ruth Strong, Christina Coryell, Heather Woodhaven, and Lisa Phillips.

Finding Love At the Oregon Coast

This collection is a bit unique because in addition to the four novellas, there is a prologue which sets the stage for each of the stories:

When a wedding is cancelled, three bridesmaids and a runaway bride contemplate the true meaning of love in four related romance novellas.

Here’s the first line from the prologue:

Christina gazed out the window at the balcony decorated for her wedding ceremony above the sparkling Columbia River in Portland, Oregon before turning to face the full-length mirror.

I picked up this collection because I saw that Christina Coryell was one of the authors and I really enjoyed her story, Mowed Over, in the Love at First Laugh collection.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

My Review – A Name Unknown

My Review - A Name Unknown

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Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

Why This Book:

Having previously read and enjoyed Roseanna M. White‘s Ladies of the Manor series, I felt confident that I would enjoy this A Name Unknown as well.  Added to my confidence in the author was the uniqueness of a heroine who is a thief and a hero who writes novels. Such a unique combination promised an interesting read.

Opening Line:

London
May 1914

Rosemary Gresham may have been a thief, but she was a thief who preferred to work in broad daylight.

First Impressions:

This novel pulled me in the from the very first line. The first scene throws the reader immediately into danger and the first chapter adeptly sets up the rest of the novel. We immediately understand what is at stake and are given strong reasons to care about the heroine and root for her despite her profession. The second chapter introduces the hero and we immediately connect with him and his plight as well. The fact that the hero and heroine are secretly (at least on her part) at cross purposes, yet you want to root for them both, makes for quite a compelling start.

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Characters:

Rosemary Gresham is a deservedly complex heroine, with a well-developed backstory that supports who she is and why she makes the choices she does. She cares for her “family” to a point of self-sacrifice and it’s this very love which causes her such internal conflict as she begins to grow and change throughout the story.

Peter Holstein is a quieter style of hero. In fact, he and the heroine do a significant amount of communicating through hand-written notes because his stress-aggravated stutter makes speech difficult for him. It could be annoying reading stuttered dialogue throughout an entire book, so when I first realized he had a stutter I was on guard. However, I am happy to report that his stutter in no way detracts from the story, and in fact is handled so well, it becomes a positive quality in this character which highlights his positive virtues. Peter is a noble yet human hero you can admire, sympathize with, and root for.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

From the first scene, this novel held my attention and I never wanted to put it down. While it didn’t make me laugh out loud or cry, I cared strongly for the characters and wanted to see things work out for them in the end.

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Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I especially enjoyed seeing street life in 1914 London through Rosemary’s eyes. Her views on social injustices struck similar chords in my mind and heart and made me root for her all the more.

Peter’s unique position as a man with both German ancestry & royal friendships during a time of impending war provided a very interesting perspective on the events leading up to the first World War. Though I am unsure if it was a conscious intention of the author, I did note that several of the issues he faced were eerily similar to certain things going on in the United States currently or which have occurred here in the past. It provided solid food for thought.

Ending:

This ending came as a surprise to me – or at least, the way everything happened was surprising. The author managed to throw in some twists that I did not see coming, yet they still made complete sense in hindsight. That is certainly my favorite type of ending, but extremely difficult to pull off. If you ever read this, well done, Ms. White. Well done.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars (I honestly can’t think of a single thing I would change about this novel.)

Have you read A Name Unknown? Share your thoughts!

What other novels have you enjoyed which featured a hero and heroine at cross purposes?

TWEETABLES:

5 STARS for this compelling Christian romance with history & suspense! – Click to Tweet!

Treasure was never where one sought it. #ANameUnknown – Click to Tweet!

#BookReview- An Edwardian female thief, an author hiding his identity, & impending world war! – Click to Tweet!

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

First Line Friday – 8.11.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray.

Love Held Captive

Here’s the first line:

Johnson’s Island, Ohio

Confederate States of America Officers’ POW Camp January 1865

There was almost nothing there.

I found this book via NetGalley and I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review which I will be posting shortly. In the meantime, let me just say, when I peeked at the book to snag the first line for this post, I got so caught up that I had to force myself to stop reading halfway through chapter three. And I really did not want to stop! I cannot wait to finish reading it!

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Rave Review! – Turtles in the Road

Turtles in the Road

You know that feeling when you finish a book and you just can’t wait to tell someone about it? That’s how I felt when I finished Turtles in the Road by Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea.

Typically, I wait several days to write my reviews so that I’ve had time to process and thoroughly consider my reading experience. I will make notes about the characters and all the various sections I usually include in my regular reviews. Then I schedule the review to come out whenever I can fit it into my blogging calendar.

I haven’t the patience for that today. I just want to be a fangirl for a moment and tell you about this hilarious book I just read! And I want to tell you now. Not in two months when I have an empty Monday.

Seriously. I cannot remember the last book that made me laugh this loud, this often.

I started off reading this book in my usual spot:  in bed beside my sleeping husband. However, that didn’t last long. Within minutes I was shaking the entire bed with the full-body laughter I was desperately trying to contain. You guys, I was smashing a hand over my mouth and it was still escaping in very unflattering snorts. There were tears trickling down my cheeks.

I cannot tell you how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

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This heroine is bizarre… and I LOVE IT!  Without giving too much away, one of my favorite scenes involves sports equipment, a turtle, and revenge in the woods. That one had me bent in half, holding my stomach, and swiping the tears away so I could keep reading. And it was just the beginning. The entire book was like the best romantic comedy movie you have ever seen.

 

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Oh how these two authors must have died laughing as they wrote this novel, because I about died reading it.

You might wonder if the comedy prevented the romance from developing in a believable way, but rest assured it did not. There are legit reasons for these two people to have fallen in love with each other (unlike another book I am currently suffering through and may not finish) and there is a reasonable amount of time allotted for their feelings to grow. This love story has true heart.

In addition to a legit love story, the characters have plausible relationships with God that don’t get in the way of the story, but enhance it. And you never feel preached to. Ever.

I will admit that I noticed the authors break a few writing “rules” and there’s probably even one or two typos I didn’t notice, but you know what? I only noticed them because I was in “edit mode” with my own manuscript at the time and thus extra sensitive to those things. Their rule breaking totally works for me. I could not care less that they do things differently. Because it works.

I will also admit that I almost passed on this book strictly because of the cover. It just isn’t my cup of tea and told me almost nothing about the book… or so I thought. In hindsight I can see how it sorta fits. That said, I am still not a big fan of the cover.

BUT.

The cover is not the story and the story is SO worth reading! Especially if you’ve been having a tough time lately and just need a good laugh. This is THE book for you! Trust me.

How much do I love this book? I sincerely cannot remember the last time I read any book more than once which was not assigned to me for a class. I am just not a re-reader. There are too many books out there – too many waiting in my TBR pile – to read something twice, regardless of how well written it is. Yet I am seriously contemplating reading this book a second time. Next week. Because it was that enjoyable. And I could do with some more laughs right now.

The link below is NOT an affiliate link. I do not know these authors. I did not even get a free copy for review. I bought it myself. I do not benefit from you buying or reading this book in any way. I only decided to give this book a try because a fellow blogger had raved about it. So trust me on this one. If you love contemporary, clean romantic comedy, you will love this book.

BUY IT! BORROW IT! READ IT! Today! You can thank me later. 🙂

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Spotlight – A Lasting Impression

Spotlight - A Lasting Impression

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Book 1 in the blockbuster historical series from USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander . . .  

To create something that will last is Claire Laurent’s most fervent desire as an artist. It’s also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire’s path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she’s sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville’s elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.

All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He’s determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

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Set at Nashville’s historic 1850s Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera’s stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers’ hearts and leave them eager for more.

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Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

There is a Reader’s Discussion Guide available HERE.

Other books in the series:

A Beauty So Rare
Book 2, A Beauty So Rare (CBA Bestseller)
A Note Yet Unsung
Book 3, A Note Yet Unsung (#1 CBA Bestseller) 
The three Belmont Mansion novels are each complete stories within themselves. Hence, are “standalone” novels within the common setting of Nashville’s historic Belmont Mansion.

A Little About Tamera:

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Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist and one of today’s most beloved authors of Christian historical romance. Her works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, among them the Christy Award, the RITA Award, the Carol Award, Library Journal’s top honors, and have earned the distinction of Publisher’s Weekly Starred Reviews. Her deeply drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide.
Tamera and her husband reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Nashville’s Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation , the setting of Tamera’s #1 CBA bestselling Southern series. Her upcoming series, the Carnton Novels , launches in fall 2017 with Christmas at Carnton  (October 3, 2017), a Christmas story, which is set at Franklin, Tennessee’s historic Carnton Plantation.

Have you read A Lasting Impression? Are you a Tamera Alexander fan?

First Line Friday – 8.4.17

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Whether you’re looking for a good book or just curious what others are reading, you’ve come to the right place. Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. This week I am sharing the first line from Never Forget by Jody Hedlund.

Never Forget

Here’s the first line:

Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island

June 1880

“I’m warning you, girl,” Zeke Crawford called from his dory.

This is the second book I have read by Jody Hedlund. (The first having been The Preacher’s Bride.)  Although this is the 5th book in the Beacons of Hope Series, I have not read any previous books in this series and so can honestly attest that it may indeed be read as a stand alone book. That said, I have just added the previous four books to my TBR (to be read list)!

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

English Lady @ Romances of the Cross

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes