Elizabeth Camden's From This Moment is a fun, enjoyable read. Hope you enjoy this book review, and check out the book too!
Reviews

Book Review: From This Moment

Elizabeth Camden’s From This Moment is a fun, enjoyable read. Hope you enjoy this book review, and check out the book too!

Elizabeth Camden's From This Moment is a fun, enjoyable read. Hope you enjoy this book review, and check out the book too!

description of the book from the publisher:

Stella West’s artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston. With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister’s death. Upon meeting Romulus White, a publisher with connections into every important power circle in the city, she quickly realizes he could be a valuable ally in navigating Boston society.

Romulus has been pursuing Stella for years to create art for his magazine. Her luminous illustrations are the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry, and he will stop at nothing to get her on board.

Sparks fly the instant they join forces, but Romulus is unsettled by the unwelcome attraction he feels toward Stella, fearing she might be the one woman who could disrupt his hard-won independence. He may have finally met his match in Stella, but is helping her solve the mystery of her sister’s death worth the risk to his publishing empire?

As usual, my five point review:

  • absolutely loved Stella, our heroine. Though the book takes place in 1897 Boston, Stella is a woman beyond her time. She is a hard worker (outside the home, no less), spunky, opinionated, and determined. Without her perseverance, the mystery surrounding her sister’s tragic death would have never been explored. Or uncovered? You’ll have to read the book to find out! 🙂
  • Next I suppose I should talk about Romulus. Honestly, this guy annoyed me so. much. until the end. Then at the end, he won my affection just a bit. He’s confident but afraid of failure. He is endearingly loyal though, a trait that did help him get on my good side.
  • As you can guess by the synopsis, there is a great deal of romance between Stella and Romulus. If you’re a regular reader of these sort of books, you can probably guess the ending. What I appreciated about this romance though was that it wasn’t quite as straightforward or predictable as many. The two had to learn to work together and sacrifice their desires and needs in order to help each other… this is the substance of good relationships, is it not? So for that aspect, their relationship was precious.
  • There was one other romance that I really appreciated in this book… and that is one between estranged spouses Evelyn and Clyde. I would love to read more about their story–I was certainly rooting for them to succeed. Evelyn, just as a note, is another example of a strong, modern woman. She is Romulus’ partner at the magazine and is the reason for his professional success. I hope their story is shared more in the future!
  • All in all, this is a smart, compelling book. There’s so much this brief review hasn’t touched on–from the level of detail the author gives about science-y things, to the murder mystery aspect of this book, to the smart dialogue between the characters… this is a book you don’t want to miss!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

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Reviews

Book Review: Until the Dawn

I’m back with another book review! This time, I have another great read from fellow librarian and author Elizabeth Camden. One of her newest releases, Until the Dawn, is just great! Read on to learn more. 🙂

Until the Dawn - a book review on thepajamachef.com

A description of the book from the publisher:

Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a rooftop weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

As usual, my five point review:

  • The premise of this book stems from the history of the Dutch settlement of New York, a portion of history that I was not very familiar with prior to reading this book. As always, one aspect of Camden’s writing that I appreciate is her ability to introduce a new part of American history. It was also interesting to learn about the early days of the Weather Bureau. I kept finding myself consulting the internet to learn more about these topics. 🙂 Always a sign of a good story!
  • I also really enjoyed the house at the center of the story. Dierenpark, as the description of the book mentions, has a sad history and at the beginning of the story, balances from being forgotten to being a tourist trap. The house and estate are truly a character in the story and play an active role in the plot. I love when authors make homes a key role in the story!
  • The mysteries surrounding the house, Quentin’s past, and Sophie’s optimism despite sadness in her life are all unraveled well throughout the plot. The major mystery, of course, is the history of the house and why it has been virtually forgotten by the family for so long. The ending is unique and full of several unexpected twists and turns. I won’t give any spoilers but the ending was great!
  • The characters, as usual from this author, were great. They were not predictable [even though the romance, as it was, did have some predictability]. They were also, even for the minor characters like household help, well crafted and came alive. Very three dimensional.
  • Overall, this is a book that will keep you engaged to the last page. I stayed up wayyy too late reading it–even with a newborn baby to take care of! It really is a great read and one you will be sure to enjoy.

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review: Beyond All Dreams

Elizabeth Camden is a librarian in Florida and she’s also the author of some great books. Her latest, Beyond All Dreams, is up for review today. I received a review copy and am excited to share it with you!

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden - a book review on thepajamachef.com #reading #fiction #bookreview

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for their futures?

As usual, my five point review:

  • Anna, like the author [AND ME! :)], is a librarian. She’s a librarian at the Library of Congress [LOC] in 1897, as the new [read: current] LOC building was being completed. How cool would that have been?!? Anna’s dream was to work as a map librarian at the LOC and she achieved it! I’ve never dreamed of working at the LOC but now I think that’d be pretty darn sweet, though I do love my job. So naturally, Anna and I have become pals. She’s a sweet woman and as the book goes along, she becomes spunky and energetic which is awesome. Way to defy the passive librarian stereotype!
  • Luke, her romantic counterpart, is an equally compelling character. He’s passionate about peace and family, and as the novel progresses, his tendencies are explained in more detail. Result? He’s a total heartbreaker. And I mean that in so many ways! #nospoilerhere He’s a GREAT character to get to know and I loved him.
  • The historical and physical setting of this book, aside from the LOC, is perfect. The author makes turn of the century DC truly come alive–political intrigue, military drama, and historical details are spot on. If you’ve been to DC, this will give you a glimpse at the city’s past. If you know your history, this will make some events more real to you–and provide more detail for historical events such as the US/Cuba relations and the Spanish-American War. I will mention that the author does share at the end that the main ship in question in this book was not real, but loosely based on another historical ship. So you can’t exactly view current events through the lens of this book, but it does offer a good perspective for the historical relationship between the US, Spain, and Cuba. Interesting stuff!
  • I really liked the message of this novel and the themes of trust, vulnerability, and dedication. The characters had a lot to overcome and they did it without “magic” because they were Christians. The faith themes are toned down, genuine, and there’s some roughness around the edge of the plot [in comparison to most Christian fiction, not in terms of how developed the plot is]. That’s A-OK with me! The mystery element was thrilling too.
  • Lastly, as a librarian, I found Elizabeth Camden’s librarian-related lines hilarious. I mean really–does this not make you chuckle? “”This is a library,” she said, trying to calm her heart to a normal rate. “We generally try to avoid howling like banshees.”” (page 95) I will say that if a non-librarian said some of these things I would take offense to them, but coming from her [and she even went to Indiana University just like me!] it’s super funny! There was one incident on page 56 where Anna and Luke were squabbling about writing in a book [that turned out not to be a library book]. I LOL’d at that. And with that, I’ll leave you with one quote I loved, from page 183: “She wasn’t built for this kind of stress. That was why she’d become a librarian, so she could live a quiet life surrounded by books and maps and not worry about political enemies coming out of the woodwork to arrest you or demote you or turn you into a national laughingstock.” There are many more funny quotes but you’ll have to crack open the book to read them on your own! 🙂 Enjoy!!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind

Hey hey, another book review! 🙂 The book I am reviewing for you today is Elizabeth Camden’s Into the Whirlwind. I had the opportunity to read it thanks to Bethany House Publishers‘ awesome book review program.

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden - reviewed on thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

Mollie Knox takes pride in her good business sense and in the beautiful watches she and her loyal employees create. As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, her future looks bright until the Great Chicago Fire destroys her city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath.

While she struggles to save her company, two men battle for her affections. Can Mollie rise from the ashes with both her business and her heart intact?

And here my five point review!

  • It’s always a pleasure to read Elizabeth Camden’s books. As a librarian by day, she is understandably SO attentive to detail, facts, and themes. I love reading her work for that reason. Even more, as an author, she crafts a compelling story with characters that you actually care about. What a novel idea. 🙂
  • I love the characters in this book, especially Mollie. Main characters in Christian fiction are kind of hit or miss, and what I really enjoyed about Mollie was that she was sweet, stubborn, flawed, and determined–a mix of good and bad, just like a real person.
  • It was very interesting reading about the Great Chicago Fire. If you know me well, fires really terrify me because of a few fires I’ve experienced personally, so I appreciate that the plot was written so the readers could see how scary it must have been to of live through this event without the story being written in a fear-driven or suspenseful manner.
  • As always, the romantic plot involves two men competing for the main character’s affection. Without giving too much away, I loved the honor displayed by both men, and their growth as they each pursued Mollie. That’s a new thing–usually books emphasize how the woman grows, not the man.
  • Lastly, learning about the clock/watch business was so intriguing! It makes me want to be crafty. Thanks to Elizabeth Camden for giving us a glimpse into another world. I’d highly recommend this book–or any of her others. They’re all great!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book! 

Reviews

Book Review: Against the Tide

Another book review! There are a few book reviews coming and I know this is primarily a food blog… but truthfully, reading is my other hobby. Kinda lame, but it works. National Days of Reading, as my dad calls those days when you just hang out under a blanket with a book and your favorite kitty, are pretty much my favorite kind of days. I first heard about the blogger review program for Bethany House Publishers, a well-respected publisher of Christian fiction and other Christian titles, from Money Saving Mom, and really enjoy getting to read new books as soon as [or before] they are released. I have a nice little collection of books I have reviewed that I can now lend out to friends, and that I hope to donate someday.

The awesome book I have to review today is Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden.

Against the Tide | The Pajama Chef

 

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

Lydia Pallas has carved out a good life for herself in Boston, where she has landed an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy. When her talents bring her to the attention of the mysterious Alexander Banebridge, he hires her to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents.

But Lydia soon discovers this job is more than it appears. Bane is driven by a secret campaign to end the opium trade, compelled by his troubled past. When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, can Bane and Lydia—and the love growing between them—survive the forces that are conspiring against them?

As with my usual style… here’s my five point review.

  • If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know I love historical fiction, and this book was no different. Against the Tide is Elizabeth Camden’s second novel, and I will definitely be reading everything she writes from now on. I actually read her first novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill earlier last year and was super excited to see this novel up for review. Like her first novel, this story combines romance, humor, and intrigue into one seamless story.
  • I appreciated Elizabeth’s writing style for two reasons. First, her faith shines through but is not in your face annoying. Some Christian authors’ use of Bible verses every other page, while good intentioned, can be unrealistic and can detract from the storyline. As a little jest to that, my Christian fiction board on Goodreads is actually called Cheesy Christian. Haha! 🙂 Secondly, her books have both been very well edited, with good vocabulary that hasn’t been dumbed down. That might be a minor thing, but it irks me to no end when books are poorly edited and repeat words all the time.
  • This story continues following the lives of a couple characters from her first novel, notably Bane, but you can definitely read it as a standalone novel. It isn’t marketed as a sequel and though the stories are related, they aren’t too interlocked… but definitely do read both if you can!
  • I was encouraged by Lydia’s growth and decision making process throughout the story. Her childhood was difficult, and she overcame alot of adversity as an adult on her own. Watching her get to know Bane better and work with him through her troubles [can’t tell you too much or I’ll spoil it] is just awesome. He is such a good man. They are the kind of couple you just want to be… but will they get together or not? That is the question! 🙂
  • The last reason that I loved this story was that it was so well researched. Not that you’d expect anything less, but Elizabeth is a librarian! She actually graduated with her MLS from the same program I am finishing now, which is pretty cool. You can tell that she put alot of time into investigating the Navy, opium use, and life in the 1800s… and it shows in her story. 

I know that I say every book I read is good, and I loved it, and blah blah blah in these reviews… but it’s true. I mean every word of it. But I must say, this is the single best piece of historical Christian fiction I have read in recent memory. Five stars, definitely. Be sure to check it out! I hope to meet Lydia and/or Bane again… 🙂

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!