Book Reviews

Book Review: April and May’s Backlist Reviews: 3 in 1

New releases are great! And there are some wonderful new releases out so far this year. But I enjoy picking up something new from the something old section. These are the books I read from my backlist collection this month.
*All links lead to Goodreads unless otherwise stated.

278Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson:

Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She’d rather let “the Americans” settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri’s Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as “her boys.” And while she doesn’t see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.

As the mistress of her brother’s Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker’s business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her. 

Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.

My Review and Rating: From one Civil War fan to another, this one is a gem! I enjoyed the new-to-me perspective of a woman’s role in a regiment. Whitson introduces 2 memorable characters for me: Noah, and Hero, the dog.
There were a couple of Catholic “praying to the saints and/or to Mary” moments, but the rest of the religious content followed a general Protestant angle.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one from start to finish!
I give it 5 stars!


279A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell:

The elegance of Madame Forza’s gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream–and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer’s son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza’s most important client. Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?

My Review and Rating: Spectacular sums up my thoughts on this one! From the very beginning, Siri stepped outside of the norm with the use of an old-fashioned narrator. And I loved every single minute of it!! I can imagine some readers probably complained because technically Siri was “head-hopping” by modern standards. But I found it to be absolutely charming. I will say this: I listened to this one in audio. I can imagine that I might have tripped over the narrator just a bit if I had read it in physical form. But in audio (which FYI the lady reading the book did an excellent job!!) having a narrator seemed quite natural since you typically listen to someone tell a story more than you read it in that format.
The story itself was fantastic. But I will note that the religious content was highly Catholic for those who wish to know. There were some solid themes on the consequences of sin and rebellion as well as God’s forgiveness woven throughout the story. There were lots of Catholic traditions and beliefs sprinkled throughout as well.
I not only urge you to add this one to your TBR list, but I vote you grab the audio version if you can so you can enjoy the Italian accents. She’s certainly one of my favorite audio narrators to date. It’s a 5 star book for me!
*Link will take you to Amazon so that you can preview the audio version.



Dear Mr. Knightley (Audio Version) by Katherine Reay:

Samantha Moore is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore. But life for the 23-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction.

An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor calling himself Mr. Knightley offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress. As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

I have actually reviewed this one before so you can catch my original review here. But if I’m reviewing it again, it must be among my favorites. 😉 I had the chance to get a copy of the audio version and decided that I would enjoy hearing the story all over again. I’m really enjoying it just as much as I had when I read it the first time.
In terms of the audio version, I’m only giving it a 4.5 stars. The narrator has this slight whine to her voice that pops up from time to time. It’s the type of thing that bugs me to listen to. Everyone will have different narrator preferences so you’ll want to preview the audio for yourself. But the annoyance was enough to keep from being head over heels in love but not enough to keep me from listening to a beloved story.
*The link I provided in the title will take you to Amazon where you can preview the audio.

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