The Elusive Miss Ellison, by Carolyn Miller

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

“Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions.” That’s the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister’s daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won’t take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia’s pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother–who stole the most important person in Livvie’s world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he’s just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there’s already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect. That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn’t the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society’s opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

First Thoughts:

This is the first is a new Regency romance series by Carolyn Miller.

My Take:

If you like a bit of Jane Austen, you’ll probably enjoy The Elusive Miss Ellison. Early on, we read of a mother “whose social aspirations far surpassed [her husband’s] sizable income.” This description brings to mind a certain mama in Pride and Prejudice. We also learn that Lavinia has a dislike of embroidery and is far more content to extract weeds from flower beds. She plays the piano and sings, but she’s no demure lady. She attends social events, but is not considered the belle of any ball. The new lord of the manor finds these soirees most tedious, especially since he’s expected to soon choose a bride. His aloofness is seen as snobbery, but he’s recently returned from battle against Napoleon’s army in the Iberian Peninsula and is scarred from his experiences.

This is a novel of the haves versus the have nots, and the benevolent versus the selfish. Throughout the narrative, Lavinia gets to experience both modest and affluent ways of living. There’s a side story about Lavinia’s family which I felt was unnecessary, but it does show additional situations where love triumphs over wealth. I did like that Lavinia tried hard not to like Nicholas, and had to acknowledge every occasion when he did something positive in her eyes, such as carrying out small kindnesses to the villagers.

The Elusive Miss Ellison is the first in a series called Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace. While it’s possible the next two can be read out of order, they do feature women who were introduced in this first book. They’re due out in June and October and can already be pre-ordered.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of The Elusive Miss Ellison, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Elusive Miss Ellison? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 28 February 2017

Page Count: 304

Read more on:   Carolyn Miller’s Website   Kregel’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Without Warning, by Joel C. Rosenberg

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

As he prepares to deliver the State of the Union address, the president of the United States is convinced the Islamic State is on the run, about to be crushed by American forces once and for all. But New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins tells the president he’s dead wrong. With the Middle East on fire, the Israeli prime minister dead, and Amman in ruins, Collins fears a catastrophic attack inside the American homeland is imminent. He argues that only an all-out manhunt to capture or kill Abu Kahlif—the leader of ISIS—can stop the attack and save American lives. But will the president listen and take decisive action before it’s too late?

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed every previous novel I’ve read by Rosenberg. Although I mostly review historical fiction now, requesting to review Without Warning was a no-brainer for me!

My Take:

ISIS is constantly in our headlines. Barely a day goes by when we don’t hear of more attacks by them (including one on the day I’m writing this review) or of more sympathizers and supporters being taken into custody. They have one aim: to create an Islamic State of their specifications. Whoever doesn’t agree with their ideal is their enemy. The J.B. Collins series, of which this is the final book, focuses on the hunt for their leader.

Joel C. Rosenberg has created a very real “what if.” Many of Collins’ opinions on ISIS and political correctness are possibly Rosenberg’s own, and they’re ones I’ve heard many times. Haven’t we heard former leaders state that Islamic State is on the run? Didn’t we hear our previous government refuse to use the term “Islamic terrorism” because of the slight possibility of causing offense? The president in Rosenberg’s narrative could very well be our country’s previous president.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the U.S. Capitol building is attacked early on in the book. (It’s mentioned on the hardcover’s flyleaf.) It isn’t the first time an author has taken out the Capitol in a terrorist attack either: Tom Clancy did it back in the mid-1990s and the Kiefer Sutherland vehicle Designated Survivor uses a similar plot device. Once the attack starts, the novel flies at a frenetic pace. The hits keep coming, some out of left field, and some of them are personal. The intensity level lowers for a time midway through, but the plot never stops moving. The ending is a stunner, but don’t cheat yourself by reading it out of order.

I stayed up late to finish Without Warning, and I don’t regret it! It’s a definite five star read. I do suggest, however, that you read the J.B. Collins books in the order in which they’re published. This isn’t a book you can read out of context. The First Hostage starts at the moment The Third Target ends, and Without Warning starts two months after the final events of The First Hostage. Each book builds upon the other not just in terms of the plot but also in character development. The J.B. of Without Warning is not the man we first meet in The Third Target. But if you love political thrillers, then I can definitely recommend this series.

Thank you to the Tyndale Blog Network for my complimentary copy of Without Warning, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Without Warning? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Publication Date: 14 March 2017

Page Count: 480

Read more on:   Joel C. Rosenberg’s Website   Tyndale’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Child of the River, by Irma Joubert

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Persomi’s dreams are much bigger than the world of poverty and deprivation that surround her in the Bushveld of the 1940s and 1950s in South Africa.

Persomi is young, white and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her. Her older brother, Gerbrand, is her lifeline and her connection to the outside world. When he leaves the farm to seek work in Johannesburg, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her—dreams of an education, a profession, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her—the tragedies of WWII and the devastating racial strife of her homeland—she finally discovers who she truly is and where she belongs.

 First Thoughts:

I was sent this book by the TNZ Fiction Guild, and reading and reviewing it was optional. I’d previously reviewed Joubert’s The Girl From the Train, and had mixed feelings on it, but decided I’d give this title a go.

My Take:

Child of the River was first released in the Afrikaans language in South Africa in 2010. It’s now the second of Irma Joubert’s novels to be released in English in the USA by Thomas Nelson. It focuses on Persomi, the fourth child of seven, raised by an abusive father in absolute poverty. It’s expected that she’ll receive a minimal education before going to the city to find work. Determined to better herself, however, Persomi studies hard despite being looked down on for her old clothes and lack of shoes. When her family’s circumstances change, she’s able to break the cycle of poverty but it comes at a cost.

This novel spans 30 years, covering the impact of World War II on South Africa and the transformation of the country into an apartheid state. The focus in the second half is on a legal struggle based on something called the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Act, 1946. Persomi, now an adult, assists the local Indian community fighting against forced removal. While some of her close friends support her stand, others have opinions that seem horrific today but were considered normal at the time.

Child of the River was an eye opening read. I’d never really thought about white South Africans experiencing poverty. Nor did I know much about the differences between Afrikaner and English white South Africans. It also showed how big a factor education is in escaping poverty and hopelessness. I found some sympathetic characters and some really unlikeable ones and, perhaps surprisingly, their thoughts on race didn’t affect my opinions of them. One negative was the constant and stilted form of some of the idioms used, but this could’ve been a translation issue. The ending takes place in 1968 and is sudden. The final scene is lovely, however, and left me full of unexpected emotion. Having read Joubert’s The Girl From the Train and not been overly impressed, I have to say I far preferred Child of the River and I’d definitely recommend it.

Thank you to TNZFiction’s Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of Child of the River. No review was required.

Have you read Child of the River? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 18 October 2016

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Thomas Nelson’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com