I have been horrible at writing reviews and posting them. I recently returned from a trip to Hawaii followed by a bout of Covid-19. I kept on reading, but I had no interest in reviewing. Here are some of the books I have read recently with a review. (Finally.)
********************Lily of the Valley by Sarah M. Eden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amateur inventor Kester Barrington prefers the peace and quiet of his estate to the bustle of Society. But when his tight-knit group of friends, the Gents, descends on Livingsley Hall for their annual gathering, he stoically joins in their activities. It all seems exhausting—until an unexpected addition to the party catches his eye: his new neighbor, the lovely Violet.
Violet Ridley longs to make friends in this new corner of the country, but her family’s fortune was made through investments rather than inheritance, and Society can be fickle. So when tragedy forces her family to shelter at neighboring Livingsley Hall, Violet is delighted to receive a warm welcome from the Gents. In particular, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Kester. The pair is a study in contrasts: Violet, with her sunny disposition, and Kester, with his prickly facade. Their connection is impossible to deny, but both Kester and Violet harbor heavy constraints. As their association becomes increasingly tangled and confused, their only hope of pursuing a life together is to trust one another with the very truths that could tear them apart.
My thoughts: The gents! Who doesn't love the gents?
Lily of the Valley is the second story in "The Gents" series. They are a group of unlikely friends who are loyal to each other and the women they love.
Kester Barrington just wants some time to himself. He has his experiments and a goal to impress the members of the scientific community. He did not expect that the gents would converge upon his estate for an extended house party.
When the group gets together you can expect the unexpected, but their neighbor's house catching on fire was a bit extreme, even for them. This brings the lovely Violet Ridley into their circle. I love that they are welcoming and not opposed to their circle growing larger. They paved the way for her and her family to be welcomed into society. They have noble and good hearts.
The story takes a look at secrets and the burden that they bring to the bearer. Kester and Violet have secrets. The moment they meet they create a special bond. They quickly learn that they can trust each other and their friendship begins to blossom.
This leads to embarrassing situations that will make you chuckle. Fortunately, life does get better. (Whew!) I really love it when a book can make me smile and laugh.
This story is tender-sweet. The most poignant aspect for me was the power of friendship and forgiveness. There is also a slow-moving romance of friends leading to something more.
I anxiously look forward to the next book that will be written.
The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sang Ly lives at Cambodia's largest city dump, earning a living for her family by sifting through the trash for recyclables and things which can be repaired and sold. On a good day, she can earn enough to buy food for her family. She needs enough good days to pay the Rent Collector, Sopeap—a grumpy old woman who is willing to evict any tenant who can't pay their rent on time.
When Sang Ly is unable to pay her rent, she fears her family will have to leave their shanty home—a place where her only possessions can be carried in two hands. But when Sopeap sees a discarded children's book lying on Sang Ly's cardboard bed, her mood changes. Sang Ly offers her the book if she can keep her family at the dump.
An unlikely friendship develops between the two women, and Sang Ly learns that Sopeap knows how to read—something Sang Ly has always wanted to learn. Being able to read could transform Sang Ly's world beyond the edges of the dump and lead to a future with possibilities and hope.
But the Rent Collector has a secret and a tragic past, one that will not be easy for Sang Ly to navigate. With the support of her family, Sang Ly embarks on a life-changing journey for a better life and future.
The Rent Collector is about the power of literacy, the influence of the past, and finding hope, resiliency, and empowerment in the face of seemingly endless hardship.
My thoughts: Wow! I'm not sure that's an accurate word to describe how I felt about this novel. It is an adaptation for young readers. I did not read the original work, so I was pleasantly surprised at the range of emotions and events that The Rent Collector invoked within me.
Sany Ly is a young mother living in a dump in Cambodia. The living conditions were unimaginable, yet Sang Ly and her husband had a place to live. It is a very humbling thought. I was reminded of many important concepts: the worth of a soul, one man's garbage is another man's treasure, your circumstances do not define the person that you are, and books are cool.
Sang Ly makes an unlikely friend in the rent collector, Sopeap. The discovery of a child book in the dump changes the lives of both women. Sopeap is reminded of the life she lived before coming to the dump and then she teaches Sang Ly to read. Then Sang Ly is able to touch the lives of people she comes in contact with. The ability to read changes environments and in return the quality of life.
The regime change in Cambodia is also touched on. The new government slaughtered those who could read and were in a position to bring about change. I found that part of the novel to be heartbreaking. It was a vital part of the story and an important reminder of the past.
This story is bitter-sweet. It was easy to picture in my mind. Sopeap's story is one of tragedy and beauty. It is one soul finding another in unlikely circumstances and the power of friendship.
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Delia lives a quiet life as the daughter of an earl in late 14th-century England, but that peace is shattered when her seven brothers are betrayed by their father and falsely arrested. Meanwhile, with the Peasants’ Revolt threatening the peace of the kingdom, the king is executing anyone who had anything to do with the uprising. Delia is terrified her brothers will be next, the youngest of whom is only ten years old.
Delia infiltrates the palace as a lady-in-waiting for the new queen so she can be near her brothers in the Tower of London and help them escape. When she runs into Sir Henry, the guard captain who arrested her brothers, she hates him—until she discovers he has been secretly carrying food to her brothers in their prison cell.
Trapped into obeying the orders of his king, Sir Geoffrey is the oldest son of an earl whose estate has been seized by the king and his treacherous advisers. His first mission as captain was to arrest seven brothers for treason, but he had no idea that the brothers were so young or that their sister would be so feisty and beautiful.
In a court where everyone is eager to backstab anyone else to get what they want, how will Geoffrey right this wrong and help Delia and her brothers—especially when Delia hates him? And how will he keep them both from losing their heads to this execution-prone king?
My thoughts: Court of Swans took me on a journey of betrayal, greed, political intrigue, romance, and a smidgen of magic.
Books set during the medieval time period have always intrigued me. I always dreamed that Knights were men of honor. This book is a reminder that the time period had a lot of problems too.
The story and plot were written in such a way that it seemed it really could have happened. I loved the gentle love story, the honor of the brothers, and the tender romance with Sir Geoffrey caught my imagination.
I recommend this book to everyone who loves the time period and a fairy tale retelling.
Source: I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Robin's Hood: A Tale of Sherwood Forest by Jacque Stevens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Orphaned at five and widowed at sixteen, Marian is the sole heir of Locksley keep and the Earldom of Huntingdon. Her husband, Robin of Locksley, never returned from the crusades, leaving her at the mercy of the sheriff. He chooses her a new husband among his brutal lackeys and taxes her people to rags and starvation.
Marian is sidelined and powerless, but rumors spread of a charismatic thief who could change everything. Clever, brave, and strong, his followers claim that the hooded rogue is Robin’s spirit back from the grave.
Only Marian knows the truth. Her husband is dead, but under his hood, she could be invincible.
The King of Thieves is dead. Long live the Queen.
ROBIN’S HOOD is the first novella in the High Tower Robin Hood YA medieval fantasy series. If you like strong female characters, friends-to-lovers romance, and non-stop twists and turns, then you’ll love this gender-bent twist on the Legends of Sherwood.
My thoughts: I fell in love with the legend of "Robin Hood" as a child. I watched the Disney movie many times. This story is Robin Hood with a gender twist.
Lady Marian has waited for three years for her husband, Robin, and her brother to return from the
Crusades. The government is falling to pieces and the Sheriff of Nottingham comes to claim her home when her father-in-law passes away.
What is a maid to do? Take up her husband's cloak and bring hope to the starving poor. It is a fine line of "cat and mouse" she plays with the sheriff and the man he has brought with him. She is to enter into a forced marriage so the Sherrif can have control over Locksley keep.
I look forward to reading the next book, Marian's Man.