Camellia: Song of the River {Book Review}

I certainly had a hard time putting Camellia down until I had turned the last page. Another novel set during the Civil War {seems to be a theme for me at the moment, LOL}, a neat turn to this one was ‘seeing’ Vicksburg in my mind while reading the latter part of the novel which was set there. We had a family reunion there by the river, and spent a day at the Civil War locations. The National Graveyard there is a sight to behold. Definitely a trip I recommend as highly as this book!

Camellia {the character} starts out a little a lot on the self preoccupied side, which is as irritating in a novel as it is real life. But it is interesting to read her transformation as her eyes and heart open to what was the big issue with slavery… the belief that the slaves were not to be considered as human beings. After watching the movie, The Help, also based around that premise, it is heartbreaking to think of the years people lived in miserable conditions because others had power over them. I treat my pets better than most treated their servants/slaves. The title you give them is based on whether it was before or after the slaves were freed… but was there a big difference in the way they were treated until MLK?  I believe consideration of others is a very important aspect of how we interact with others, and hope that my children learn from my actions that it doesn’t matter whether someone is rich, poor, or of a different skin tone… you treat them like you want to be treated yourself.

Back to the book…

Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver take you through all that ‘mess’, and manage to weave a beautiful love story in there as well. Camellia grows into a woman as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and her leading man is dashing and heroic as a Civil War novel demands of him.  Her family is hilarious, and I can’t wait to read the story of her older sister, and am hoping they continue this series with the other family members too.

From the Publisher:

Natchez belle turned riverboat maiden Camellia Anderson misses her old life of privilege. She misses the balls and she misses the suitors. . .then a chance to attend finishing school in New Orleans catapults her into an exciting world—and a whirlwind courtship with a dashing Confederate soldier. It’s beautiful, uncomplicated romance until a trip to Memphis brings old friend—and Northern spy—Jonah Thornton back into Camellia’s life. Now she’s torn between two loves, but will she risk everything to save a Union soldier?

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.


Whispers of a New Dawn; by Murray Pura {Book Review}

My one thought when reading the first part of Whispers of a New Dawn was… When are they going to get to D-day? It sits looming over the story line. There is heartbreak, and the remembrance that all things are known by God. Which is a hard concept for us to grasp. How and why bad things happen to us.

I really liked the characters. Which is surprising for me… since I rarely approve of the ‘second’ man if something happens to the first love interest of a book. But, I have to admit I loved both the guys, and the leading lady was a great character too!

Another ‘almost never’ for me was that it is the third in a series {didn’t read the first two}, and I still found it easy to follow along with and enjoy.

And the third ‘almost never’; it’s by a guy, and I still liked it! So this book broke a lot of sterotypes for me. Which I love, by the way. I am not sure I am going to go out and get the other two books in this series right away {got a little back-log of review books to get through right now}, but I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for them.

About the Author: Murray Pura

Murray Pura earned his Master of Divinity degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and his ThM degree in theology and interdisciplinary studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more than 25 years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Alberta. Murray’s writings have been shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award, the John Spencer Hill Literary Award, the Paraclete Fiction Award, and Toronto’s Kobzar Literary Award. His novels for Harvest House include Face of HeavenThe Wings of Morning, and Ashton Park. Murray pastors and writes in southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife, Linda, have a son and a daughter.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.

The Tutor’s Daughter; by Julie Klassen {Book Review}

Okay… I have found my new favorite author!!!! This was my second chance to enter a world created by Julie Klassen {The Girl in the Gatehouse being the first}. I was enthralled. The best way for me to describe her novels is they read like a regency romance without the worry of the story turning to risque.

One of Julie Klassen’s favorite authors to look up to is Jane Austen, and it is heavily reflected in her books. It leads to a refreshing look at some of my favorite novels by Ms. Austen. Kinda like all the reworked fairy tales popular today.

In the Tutor’s Daughter you are tossed right into the middle of Emma Smallwood’s small world. Keeping her father on track, running a boys boarding school, after the death of her mother takes most of her time and focus. With her love of books taking up the rest. She is not concerned with having an active faith, and no longer feels that praying will give her any answers. Mr. Weston brings her mind and heart back to where her heart should be.

It was very nice to read a novel with the man being of strong faith. So many novels seem to assume that the guy would be the one to have fallen away, or not yet experienced, a saving faith.  Throw in the suspenseful twist and turns in plot, dramatic scenery and wonderfully developed characters you have a wonderful addition to your library in this novel.

I highly recommend Julie Klassen’s novels, and this one in particular!

From the Publisher:

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?   The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her….

When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor’s Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast–a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions–where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.


DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from to review for the publisher. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.

The Shadowed Onyx, by Nicole O’Dell {Book Review}

The Shadowed Onyx is a YA {Young Adult} fiction novel… which if you have followed my book reviews you know is not my standard. I was curious when I read the back and it mentioned; Friend’s Suicide, Witchcraft, and Depression. All things that seem to be more of an issue with today’s teens. With my girls so young it is easy to forget sometimes that they will be teenagers before I know it, but I feel that staying on top how things may influence them later is an important part of a parents job. You don’t have to be ‘hip’ or ‘cool’, but knowing what the hot topics are with youth is very critical. Now onto the book…

This is the third book in Nicole O’Dell’s Diamond Estates series from Barbour Publishing. And is set during the Sevententh year of Joy Christianson’s life. While doing fine in high school, succeeding in sports, and being active in her church; her world and faith are rocked when Joy finds her best friend after she committed suicide. Suddenly Joy has faded, and starts trying to find answers.

Enter some very helpful, not on the right track, teens that tell her they have answers and introduce her ‘innocently’ enough to a Ouija board. After feeling the power there, and knowing in her heart it is wrong. Joy continues to explore witchcraft all in the name of finding ‘real’ answers. In the end she finds that it wasn’t worth it, and she wants her faith in Jesus back. But now she is stuck, and can’t get out.

Reading this book was amazing. I will definitely encourage my girls to read this series as they grow older. The Shadowed Onyx shows how things that seem innocent enough (that you don’t understand why in the world you parents are against them) can take on a life of their own and entrap you. How you deal with each instance of your life has a lasting impact on you and those around you. The discussion questions in the back of the book are on-point and great conversation starters. I agree totally with Nicole O’Dell’s point that “fiction is a way to open teens eyes to temptations, choices, and consequences”. Taking away the mystery of something is half the battle in resisting those temptations. With spiritual battles reminiscent of Frank Peretti’s novels this book was a great reminder of the conflict between good and evil for the souls of both the innocent and not so innocent.

From the Publisher:

Uhrichsville, OH – From Nicole O’Dell, author of the popular Scenarios series comes the third and final installment of her Diamond Estates series. Scheduled to release in December 2012 from Barbour Publishing, Shadowed Onyx tells the story of Joy Christianson as she struggles to overcome the darkness and depression that has laid claim on her soul—and restore her faith—at Diamond Estates.

At age seventeen, Joy Christianson is the life of the party. That is, until her best friend commits suicide. Joy’s already wavering faith slips completely out of her reach; darkness sets in, and her smile fades. Her “friends” lead her to the Onyx, meant to help her let go of the past and bring her into harmony with reality. Joy embarks on a dark journey of witchcraft.Eventually, afraid of letting the depression and evil take root,Joy decides to seek help in the haven of Diamond Estates – and tries to reclaim the Joy she once knew.

DISCLOSURE: I received an eCopy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the publisher to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions

To Honor and Trust; by Judith Miller and Tracie Peterson

To Honor and Trust is set on Bridal Veil Island resort during 1913, this novel shows the blurring of social class lines and how those that were not happy living as ‘society’ expected fared. Whether it was following in your father’s footsteps… or living your live of nothing after having plenty… there is a character in this book that will tug at your dreams and remembrances.

For Callie, her place in the world is as a family tutor for a wealthy family that knew her when she had plenty and traveled in their circle.

For Wes, he is trying to avoid committing to join his families company and being stuck in a factory for the rest of his days.

How will God bring these two together, and what is His purpose for their lives? That is the question that makes this novel a great read! I love you Judy and Tracie bring out the faith aspect of their characters’ lives. Showing how God does apply to everyday life and works towards His ends. This book came across like it was someones personal testimony… with a little intrigue with the thefts thrown in for good measure. I will certainly be rereading this one, and adding to my gift list when picking books for presents {yup, it was that good!}.

From the Publisher:

Come home to magnificent Bridal Veil Island resort!

Bridal Veil Island, Georgia

Callie Deboyer arrives at Bridal Veil Island to spend the winter working as a governess for the Bridgeport family. However, she finds she can’t fully enjoy the beautiful resort because questions about her future weigh heavily on her mind: Should she continue in this job she enjoys, or is God calling her to join her parents in their missionary work?

When she enrolls young Thomas Bridgeport in golf lessons, Callie meets instructor Wesley Townsend, who urges Callie to take lessons, as well. During their time together, Callie comes to care for Wes–until she discovers that he’s been hiding something very important from her.

Then expensive pieces go missing from various homes around the island, and suspicion is aimed in Callie’s direction. Callie wonders if this is a sign she should leave it all behind and join her parents in Africa. Considering Wesley’s deceit, will he ever be a man Callie can honor and trust for the rest of her life?

DISCLOSURE: I received an eCopy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the publisher to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.

The Icecutter’s Daughter, by Tracie Peterson {Book Review}

I am very excited to present this new book by Tracie Peterson to you… almost as excited as I was to have the chance to read it! And as with her other books, this one lived up to my anticipation and I couldn’t but it down.  To be released on March 1st, 2013 by Bethany House Publishers add a note to your calender.

The Icecutter’s Daughter, is set during winter in Minnesota {a place you will never find me in the middle of winter, brrrrr} at the end of the 1890s. Merrill Krause is part of a large Swedish family of Icecutters that make their living from the ice. Hence the job title… Icecutter. That just gives me the shivers, LOL! It was fun reading about her brothers, and how the horses were such a big part of their lives. It was also interesting the differences in Merrill’s life out of town and her cousin(?) Corabeth who lives in ‘town’ with their Granny. The difference between the hard work of carving a living out of the wilderness, and having time to care about your looks and socialize {as much as you could in a tiny town}.

Rurik Jorgenson arrives, from Lindsborg Kansas, to help his Uncle Carl with his furniture business. While being betrothed by his father, Rurik struggles with figuring out what God wants him to do in life. Definitely something I can relate to, and I am sure you can to. With both Merrill and Rurik trying to figure out the next steps in their own lives… Rurik’s Kansas life follows him to Minnesota leading several twists and turns to this story.

A real page turner, with a strong ending, I highly recommend you add this to your bookshelf!  As soon as it is released.  Again… mark your calender for March 1st!

From the Publisher:

Merrill Krause longs for a family of her own, but she’s bound by a promise to her dying mother to care for her father and older brothers until they no longer need her. She enjoys being part of the family business, harvesting ice during the brutal Minnesota winters. Merrill actively takes part, possessing a keen ability to work with the horses–despite the advice of her good friend, who disapproves of her unladylike behavior.

About the Author:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than eighty-five novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Visit Tracie’s web site at:

DISCLOSURE: I recived a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers {via} to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.


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I'm Kimberlee, the owner/creater of 'The Spunky Diva'. Here is a little about me... In addition to my love of blogging I adore all crafts, sewing, quilting, improving my non-existent cooking skills, and playing with my two girls. We have a 'collection' of animals around the place to keep us busy; two 'huge' dogs, a cat, kittens, several horses, and assorted wildlife. We live east of Austin, Texas, in the middle of farm country. Here at 'The Spunky Diva' blog I get to share daily life moments, fun crafts, sewing and quilting progress/finishes, and brag about my 'Babies'. Thank you for visiting and sharing some of your day with me!


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