Review: A Song Unheard – Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White. A Song Unheard. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2018.

Happy New Year!  It’s always exciting to kick off a new year of great books and new stories by Christian authors around the world.  We’re starting the year with a wonderful new work by Roseanna White!

A Song Unheard continues Ms. White’s Shadows Over England series, picking up right where A Name Unknown left off.  Willa Forsythe has made herself an essential member of an adopted family of thieves.  However, her skills as a violin prodigy land her a role stealing war secrets from a Belgian refugee, who happens to be a world-famous violinist himself.  After the German invasion of his Belgian hometown, Lukas De Wilde is forced to flee, even as he becomes separated from his mother and younger sister.  As the children of a professor with skills as a cryptologist, they hold a secret that other governments are willing to kill to obtain.  Lukas finds himself in Wales as the concertmaster of an orchestra of Belgian musicians.  When he discovers Willa’s talents, he is willing to give up almost anything to make music with her, as long as he can keep his family safe.

Willa Forsythe first appeared in the series premier, but finally tells her own story in this fascinating novel set during the early period of World War I.  Musicians and music enthusiasts will love this unique tale of Belgian musicians’ role in raising money and awareness of their nation’s plight during the beginning of the war.

Overall, I really loved reading A Song Unheard!  After A Name Unknown, I was left wondering how Ms. White could possibly write a worthwhile sequel that could keep up the momentum from her first novel in the series.  With A Song Unheard, she managed to exceed my expectations!  A Song Unheard focuses on a relatively unknown part of World War I history, even as she captures the unique personalities of incredibly talented musicians as her primary characters.  Throughout the novel, Ms. White creates an impressive depth to her individual characters, while also including a surprisingly broad cast that builds on the initial set from her first novel.  Additionally, she develops a strong faith-based component to her plot, which readers will find to fit naturally within the storyline and character development.  After reading this novel, I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next to continue the story of this fascinating family!

Fans of Ms. White’s novels, especially A Name Unknown, will definitely want to read A Song Unheard.  Additionally, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a touch of mystery and intrigue will also find this novel to be well worth trying.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of A Song Unheard!

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Christmas Surprise! – Top 10 Book Picks of 2017

Each year, I publish reviews for about 52 books or so here at the Books and Biscuits Blog.  However, I’ve never attempted to rank them beyond the ratings I post on Amazon, GoodReads, and similar websites.  To celebrate Christmas and the end of the year, I put together my inaugural (hopefully annual) list of my top 10 favorite books from 2017.

While I have given more than 10 books 5-star reviews, these are my absolute top picks.  The remainder are listed below as “honorable mentions” for their 5-star rankings.  These books are listed in alphabetical order, as I really had no ability to rank them beyond a top 10 grouping.  Enjoy

Tamera Alexander. A Note Yet Unsung. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

As a musician, I could not get enough of this beautiful book by Ms. Alexander!  She manages to expertly wrap up one of her much-loved series, while leaving her readers wanting even more of her stories.

Tamera Alexander. To Wager Her Heart. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.

2017 was a big year for Ms. Alexander!  She wrapped up two series, as well as releasing the prequel novella for her next one.  To Wager Her Heart is one of my favorite books by Ms. Alexander, as a direct result of her in-depth historical research and focus on several almost unknown stories and topics.  The Fisk University connection is particularly fascinating!

Lynn Austin. Where We Belong. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Where We Belong may be one of my favorite releases from Ms. Austin in the past ten or so years.  Her research into the lives of her characters is absolutely incredible, especially as she shows their faith and personality in the presence of momentous historical situations.

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Inconvenient Beauty. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Ms. Hunter wraps up her first published series this year with An Inconvenient Beauty.  Throughout the series, I wondered how she would pull off a worthy novel for the quiet and complex main character, but she pulled it off!

Kara Isaac. Then There Was You. Bellbird Press, 2017.

I’ve read Ms. Isaac’s other books, but Then There Was You is by far my favorite one!  She left me laughing and crying along with memorable characters in this twist on a fish-out-of-water story.

Joanna Davidson Politano. Lady Jayne Disappears. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2017.

Ms. Politano makes one of the most impressive debuts of the year with Lady Jayne Disappears.  Initially, I was hesitant to read this novel, as the summary seemed rather dark and depressing.  However, Ms. Politano expertly writes this story with faith and joy that permeates a unique storyline.

Melissa Tagg. All This Time. Middletown, DE: Larkspur Press, 2017.

What can I say about this novel, other than the fact that it wraps up Ms. Tagg’s Walker Family series.  Anyone who follows Ms. Tagg on her blog knows her personal love of her characters and stories, which permeates her stories.  With a flair for romantic comedy, Ms. Tagg’s works consistently end up on my must-read list every year.

Becky Wade. True to You: A Bradford Sisters Romance. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

2017 seemed to be a year of authors either wrapping up series or beginning new ones.  Ms. Wade’s previous series was incredibly strong and I wondered if she could pull it off again.  True to You proved that Ms. Wade is brilliant at writing enjoyable contemporary Christian fiction, even as she builds an entirely new cast of characters.

Roseanna M. White. A Name Unknown. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

A Name Unknown came out of the blue for me, as I was not a huge fan of Ms. White’s previous works.  With the beginning of a new series, Ms. White manages to create a fascinating set of characters and situations that pulled me in from the very first chapter.  After this book, I am eagerly anticipating the chance to review her next novel, which is due out in January of the new year.

Karen Witemeyer. Heart on the Line. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Last, but certainly not least, Ms. Witemeyer always makes it onto my list of favorite authors and books.  She consistently brings a quirky set of characters to life, while remaining true to the best of the historical Christian fiction genre.  I particularly appreciate the sense of humor that she always brings to her story, as I found myself gravitating toward lighter storylines over the past year or so.

Honorable Mentions:

I hope that all of you have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Review: A Name Unknown – Roseanna White

Roseanna M. White. A Name Unknown. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Reading a new series is always a risk.  Even for a much-loved author, a new series offers an entirely different set of characters, settings, and situations that may be more or less appealing than their other stories.  However, I also find it to be a great opportunity to see an author’s growth as a writer.

Ms. White releases the first novel of her new Shadows Over England series with A Name Unknown.  In the months before World War I, Peter Holstein faces suspicion due to his German heritage.  As the British monarchy considers changing their family name to something less German, Peter must also prove his loyalty to England.  In an effort to justify his land holdings and citizenship, he hires Rosemary Gresham to find the family documents in his chaotic and disorderly library.  Unbeknownst to Peter, Rosemary arrives on his doorstep with ulterior motives.  She has been hired as a known thief to masquerade as a librarian to determine Peter’s allegiance to either England or Germany.  As Peter and Rosemary work together to find the family’s history, Peter’s activities behind locked doors raise suspicion.  However, the truth of his past and present activities may just be the key to his and Rosemary’s future.

A Name Unknown offers an intriguing storyline with a combination of romance, suspense, and humor that will delight fans of Christian historical fiction.  Rosemary, Peter, and the story’s other characters provide a fascinating perspective of the months leading up to the start of World War I.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Name Unknown!  While I had somewhat mixed feelings about Ms. White’s previous Ladies of the Manor series, this new release presents a significantly stronger example of her writing.  The concept behind this new series appears to be much more intriguing, capturing the imagination of the reader from the very beginning of the novel.  Additionally, A Name Unknown reveals a significant improvement from Ms. White’s previous series in terms of the quality of her historical research and ability to incorporate these details into the storyl.  With a strong plot, cast of characters, historical basis, and an unexpected sense of humor, this book serves as the whole package, presenting a new high for Ms. White’s work.  I look forward to seeing how she continues to build out this new series and her future novels, based on the level of excellence found in A Name Unknown.

Fans of Ms. White’s previous novels, including those found in her Ladies of the Manor, will definitely want to read A Name Unknown.  Additionally, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a touch of mystery and intrigue will also find this novel to be well worth trying.

Ms. White continues the Shadows Over England series with her release of A Song Unheard in January 2018!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of A Name Unknown!

Looking for this book? Support the Books and Biscuits blog, while shopping at:
Amazon – A Name Unknown

Review: A Lady Unrivaled – Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White. A Lady Unrivaled. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

The last few months have been filled with a long list of excellent books that complete multi-year series from some very impressive authors in the Christian fiction genre.  Roseanna M. White completes her Ladies of the Manor series with A Lady Unrivaled, before beginning a new series next year.

In the third and final book of Roseanna M. White’s Ladies of the Manor series, A Lady Unrivaled follows the wandering adventures of Lady Ella Myerston.  As the younger sister and close friend of characters introduced in The Lost Heiress and The Reluctant Duchess, Ella finds herself sheltered from the dramatic events surrounding jewels known as the Tiger Eyes.  However, she finds herself at the center of the action, as the danger soon turns her direction. Fortunately, Lord Cayton has had a change of heart after losing his wife, resulting in a kinder man that the person Ella first met years before.  Together, Lady Ella and Lord Cayton must solve the mystery of the Tiger Eyes, in order to finally put the danger behind themselves and their families.

Ms. White offers a riveting conclusion to her Ladies of the Manor series.  Fans of the series will be thrilled to see the full cast of characters return to finally resolve the dramatic episode involving the Tiger Eyes.

Overall, I rather enjoyed reading A Lady Unrivaled.  In comparison to The Reluctant Duchess, I thought that the third novel in the series returned to the style of The Lost Heiress, with a stronger and more approachable set of main characters.  The interplay between Lord Cayton and Lady Ella is relatively light and enjoyable, even against the backdrop of far darker events.  Personally, The Lost Heiress remains my favorite novel in the series, as its characters and general plot are the most unique of the three books.  A Lady Unrivaled benefitted from revisiting several aspects of the characters’ pasts, including their connections to more exotic European countries, which made for some of the more interesting components of the story.  With the end of the Ladies of the Manor series, I am curious to see how Ms. White continues to develop her writing and imagine an entirely new set of characters for her future novels.

Fans of Ms. White and the Ladies of the Manor series will definitely want to read A Lady Unrivaled.  Likewise, readers who enjoy Christian historical fiction and novels of focused on the British aristocracy during the early 20th century will also find A Lady Unrivaled to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of A Lady Unrivaled!

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Amazon – A Lady Unrivaled

Review: The Reluctant Duchess – Roseanna White

Roseanna M. White. The Reluctant Duchess. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

With the last episode of Downton Abbey behind us, Edwardian England feels like a distant memory.  Granted, I know there are plenty of people who would be excited to see more movies, books, and television focused on that historical period. Fortunately, Roseanna M. White has been producing some excellent stories that definitely fit the bill.

As the second novel in Ms. White’s Ladies of the Manor series, The Reluctant Duchess picks up soon after the events of The Lost Heiress.  In order to keep the Duke and Duchess of Stafford safe, they willingly place a priceless treasure in the hands of their friend, Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham.  He intends to distance himself and the treasure from the people willing to resort to murder to possess it.  However, he soon finds himself visiting the Highlands with his family.  There he meets Lady Rowena Kinnaird, an heiress in her own right who must escape from an abusive family and a violent fiancé.  Brice offers an unexpected solution to Rowena’s problems, although she finds herself encompassed in his elaborate plan to protect the treasure at all costs.

Ms. White offers an intriguing follow-up novel to The Lost Heiress.  With a newfound focus on the Scottish Highlands, The Reluctant Duchess presents a unique story reminiscent of Downton Abbey’s later seasons.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Reluctant Duchess.  Ms. White creates a nice, character-driven story that will capture the attention of readers interested in Edwardian England.  However, I found myself somewhat distracted by the novel’s somewhat generic plot and use of relatively few historical details.  I thought The Lost Heiress was rather brilliant, in part because of its unique focus on the leading lady’s backstory in Monaco and interest in the newest innovations.  In comparison, The Reluctant Duchess offered far less historical connections to the time period, which resulted in many aspects of the novel appearing remarkably similar to Regency-era Christian fiction titles.  Other than a periodic reference to a car being driven for transportation purposes, the story never took on the time period-specific or unique qualities of The Reluctant Duchess.  Most readers will likely focus their attention, instead, on the characters themselves and appreciate the Highland flair introduced to the novel by the inclusion of Lady Rowena’s presence in the series.   Likewise, they will relish the opportunity to see the continuation of the storyline and characters from the series’ first novel.

Fans of Ms. White’s other works, particularly The Lost Heiress, will want to read The Reluctant Duchess.  Likewise, those interested in novels with British settings or storylines similar to those found in Downton Abbey will also find the book to be a worthwhile read.  Ms. White utilizes a moderate plot and relatively approachable writing style that makes The Reluctant Duchess a nice read.

A Lady Unrivaled, the third novel of Ms. White’s Ladies of the Manor series, will be arriving in September 2016!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of The Reluctant Duchess!

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Amazon – The Reluctant Duchess