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Introduction

Hello all!

I am C.M. Mills, an avid book lover looking for the next good book. I usually read fantasy and historical fiction. I’ve started branching out into thrillers. I’m not the biggest fan of purely romantic books. Sure, put it in a book, but it shouldn’t take the place of a good plot. I am willing to give any book a try. I enjoy reading nonfiction, too. Most of the nonfiction books I’ve read are memoirs, but I’d be willing to give other types of nonfiction a try. I’ve slogged through terrible books and will put up with a lot before I give up on a book.

Some things that I love in a book: a map (if needed), a pronunciation guide (if needed), a reason to care about the characters, and suspense to keep me going. Give me a connection to the protagonist. Authors get brownie points if the villain has a relatable motive, or has a unique stance.

Some turn offs include: introducing too many characters at once (looking at you Game of Thrones), characters with difficult names to pronounce (a pronunciation guide can offset this), not enough character relatability, boring plot, not enough action, etc.

I do enjoy a sappy romance, but it drives me nuts when the characters won’t admit their feelings (yes I know it can be a plot point, but don’t let it be the main plot point), or have again off again relations (it can get annoying). Also too many steamy scenes cause me to skip or skim over book.

Some of my favorite books include The Book Thief (for its writing style and humor despite being a WW2 setting book), Redeeming Love (a slightly predicable romance/historical fiction set in during the California gold rush), The Last Sin Eater (a historical fiction focused on an unusual British Isle tradition) , Immanuel’s Veins (a unique take on vampirish/angelic lore set to a historical fiction book), The Lord of the Rings (a dense read but so unique), Harry Potter (magic, cause why not), and The Chronicles of Narnia (for the world within). These are the first that came to my mind. I have so many more that I’ve enjoyed.

Some of my favorite authors include Francine Rivers (for her takes on historical fiction interwoven with classic tales, also has some sappy romantic books), Ted Dekker (for his unique thrillers and ability to keep the reader interested), Paula Brackston (for her historical fiction and use of worldly magic), Arturo Perez-Reverte (for his descriptive historical fiction use of vocabulary), and Elizabeth Camden (for a sappy love story and use of historical fiction). These are the authors I usually gravitate towards.

Feel free to send me recommendations and requests. I’d love to hear about other genres, books, and authors. I’ll try my best to read those books as soon as I can. My room is a partial library of unread books. Also feel free to ask me questions. I’ll respond as soon as I can.

The Hidden Child – Louise Fien

Title: The Hidden Child

Author: Louise Fien

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Edward and Eleanor Hamilton are part of the eugenics movement in the 1920’s in England. They believe that intelligence in inherited and those with disabilities, criminals, and those of the lower classes and different races are not as intelligent. Those who are classified as less intelligent should be put away and not be allowed to reproduce. But when Edward and Eleanor’s child, Mabel, develops epilepsy, they’re world is rocked. Standard treatment at the time isn’t helping Mabel. So she’s sent to an asylum and they’re treatment isn’t helping either. Eleanor’s thoughts on eugenics begins to change. She abandons the ideas to help Mabel get proper treatment. But Edward forbids any change in treatment for Mabel and is staunch in his beliefs with eugenics. Can anything be done to help Mabel? Will Edward see what his beliefs are doing to others?

Rating: 4.0 – an different side of history

Opinion: This was a great book. It pissed me off that people believed, and probably still do, the ‘facts’ of the eugenics movement. Which was probably the point of the book. I looked into that movement and learned that England’s eugenics movement helped give Hitler is ideas for his Third Reich. I was glad that Edward and Eleanor began to question their beliefs in the eugenics movement. It took some time but I’m glad that they saw that eugenics has flaws in it. This book helped me learn about a different part of history. I’m glad it did so I could see another point of view. This is a great book for anyone who loves historical fiction.

The Sandsea Trilogy – Chelsea Abdullah

Title: Book 1: The Stardust Thief

Author: Chelsea Abdullah

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Loulie al- Nazari is known as the Midnight Merchant and known for selling magical items. One of her buyers introduces her to the sultan of Medinne. One of the sultan’s sons, Omar, asks her to bring him a magic lamp. Omar says he’ll go with but tricks his brother, Mazen, and magic relic thief, Aisha, go with Loulie in his place. Loulie brings her jinn bodyguard, Qadir. Together, they travel to find the land of the jinn, where the lamp’s supposed to be hidden. But there are others who are looking for them. Jinn who know about what Omar and Aisha have done to their kind. Other humans seek to betray them or get the lamp for themselves. Who will get the lamp first? Or will the jinn capture the group?

Rating: 3.5 – an interesting take on Middle Eastern mythology

Opinion: This was an interesting book. I really liked learning more about Middle East mythology. The book focused on jinn, ifrit, and ghoul (different kinds of ghosts). I found it interesting that interesting that Middle East stories start with “not here or there, but long ago” instead of “once upon a time.” I also enjoyed picking up on some Arabic words and phrases. There is no English translation after the words but most of them are easy to pick up on what they mean with context. The one thing that bugged me about the book was that when new or different characters enter the scene it takes a little bit to figure out who’s there. It also kind of felt like the author wasn’t sure how the book was going to end. It felt a little rushed, too. Overall, I really did love this book. The characters are well written and different. This is a great book for anyone who loves fantasy and mythology.

Adorned – Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Title: Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together

Author: Nancy DeMoss Wulgemuth

Genre: Christian Living

Plot: This is a way we, as women, can live alongside each other. Nancy uses Titus 2 to encourage older and younger women to come together and mentor each other. Nancy talks about different ways we can share life with each other and encourage each other. She gives good advice on how to mentor and invest in other people. Titus 2 great way of looking at the world around us and how we can navigate this world with a Godly focus. Nancy talks about how to model and mentor with a God centered life, how to have a cleaner look at your own life, and how to have a God centered home. Throughout all of this there’s a theme of doing life together and how we’re not meant to live life alone.

Rating: 4.0 – a good look at living life together as Christians

Opinion: This was a good book about living life together. It’s so easy to try to live an independent life your own way. This book is a great reminder on how to live a Godly life with one another. It talks a lot about finding a mentor and/or being a mentor. It’s not talked about a lot in churches, at least not the ones I’ve attended. Bible studies, living life together, and discipleship, yes, but not about mentorships. It’s easy to put those things on the back burner because our lives get busy and complicated, but it’s important to take time out of your day, or week, for these things. I do like that the book talks a lot about deeper things and wanting the reader to talk with other trusted members of the church about these things. I liked that the book talks about what certain things don’t look like as well as what they should look like. Though the one thing I wished this book talked about was what mentorships looks like. It gives a vague look into them, but focuses more on what to talk about in mentorship relationships. Overall this book is great and I loved seeing another woman’s opinions about the gospel and living life together. This is a great book for a women’s bible study.

The Colonel’s Lady – Laura Frantz

Title: The Colonel’s Lady

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Roxanna Rowan is on her way to surprise her father at a Kentucky fort during the Revolutionary War. But her boat is attacked and her possessions gone on her way there. On top of that, Roxanna learns that her father was killed on a campaign days before she arrived. Now without any family or money, she’s asked to stay at the fort as a scrivener for the fort’s colonel. Roxanna reluctantly accepts. Soon she learns of a spy at the fort, but who is it? There is also the threat of attack from Native Americans and the British. Can Roxanna survive at the fort? Or will she ever escape it? Will the spy be found out? Or will he bring ruin to everyone at the fort?

Rating: 3.5 – a good historical fiction

Opinion: This was a good book. I enjoyed learning more about the frontier life during the Revolutionary War. I didn’t know that the Kentucky wilderness was a part of the colonies. I’d always thought the colonies stopped at the Appalachian Mountains. This was a different kind of sappy romance. It made me want to smack one of the characters because they didn’t want to admit their feelings for another character. While I like this style, it was a little annoying how long it for them to admit their feelings. One of the other things that kind of annoyed me was that it took a while to get an explanation of how or why Roxanna got to the fort. Overall this was a cute story and I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the history and slight mystery. This is a good book for anyone who loves historical fiction.

The Lady of Bolton Hill – Elizabeth Camden

Title: The Lady of Bolton Hill

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Clara and Daniel are the best of friends, despite their drastic differences in social classes in the late 1800’s. Clara’s father sends her to England where she becomes an investigative journalist. She gets in trouble for reporting about children in the coal mines. She’s forced to return to the United States where she’s reunited with Daniel. He’s become a railroad tycoon and rich. But he’s holding a bitter grudge against his former employer. It’s now causing a rift between him and his employees after Clara writes an article about his business practices. Now it’s getting Daniel and Clara in trouble. But who’s causing the trouble? Can they put an end to it? Or will it all end in trouble?

Rating: 4.0 – a sweet historical fiction

Opinion: This was a sweet, sappy historical fiction. This does a good job with giving some details about the differences between classes and lifestyles. I was surprised with the return of a character. He’s been in a couple other of Elizabeth Camden’s books and I was glad to get to know the character more. I enjoyed reading the sappy romance. I loved one of the themes was holding onto grudges and how it can affect your life. It can be easy to hold a grudge and this book talks about how it can effect others when you have a long lasting grudge. This is a good sappy romance and historical fiction book. I recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction.

The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo

Title: The Night Tiger

Author: Yangsze Choo

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Plot: Ji Lin is helping her mother pay off her mother’s mahjong debts in British colony Malaya (now Malaysia). She has an apprenticeship with a dressmaker and works part time at a dance hall. One of her dance partners drops something after a dance. A finger. Ji Lin’s not sure what to do. She asks her step brother, Shin, about it. He thinks it belongs to the local hospital he works at. There she meets Ren, who’s searching for the same finger which belongs to his former master. Ren must reunite the finger with is former master’s body or his master’s spirit will wander the earth as a weretiger according to local lore. With a tiger in the area, is the local legend true? Or is it a real tiger? Or something else?

Rating: 4.0 – a surprisingly good mystery and historical fiction book

Opinion: This was a good book. I enjoyed learning about Malaysian history and culture. The book gave good insight into the daily lives and beliefs of Malaysian people and what outsiders thought of them. It was interesting to learn how the local people thought of the British and Chinese who came to Malaysia. I enjoyed the air of mystery woven into the book. The author does a really good job with this. She a good job throwing suspicion on the right people, and animals. It gave good reasons why the locals, or anyone, could believe in the local legends. This was a steady read and kept my interest throughout the book. It did a good job building up to the ending. There was one thing that bugged me about the book. There was so much description in certain parts that it was easy to miss little things. This is a great book for anyone who loves historical fiction and wants to learn more about another culture.

Behind the Lights – Helen Smallbone

Title: Behind the Lights: The Extraordinary Adventure of a Mum and Her Family

Author: Helen Smallbone

Genre: Memoir

Plot: Helen Smallbone is the mom (or mum because she hails from Australia) of 90’s and early 2000’s Christian singer Rebecca St. James and now popular Christian duo for King and Country. In this book, she tells the story of growing up in Australia, meeting her husband, starting a family, and starting over in the USA. Life was never easy for her and her family. She learned with her family and shares stories of success and failure. Helen tells stories of how Rebecca St. James and for King and Country got their start and how it was a family venture. Everyone had a role in their family and how they learned what they now. Helen leads us all the way up to the present and what led her to write the book.

Rating: 4.0 – a good story about faith, family, and music

Opinion: This was a great book. I grew up listening to Rebecca St. James. I think she was one of the first concerts I went to when I was a kid. I didn’t know she was so young when she was popular. Now I love listening to her brother’s band, for King and Country. I loved knowing that for both of them, their music was a family business. I’m glad their whole family was a part of their music. I loved that everyone in their family got to help and had a part to play. It was interesting to know how much they all were able to do and showed that not everything is learned in a classroom. Some things are better learned on the job. It was nice to hear about the ups and downs of life and not everything is easy. It paints a better picture of family life and makes it easier to relate to them. I loved getting to know more about two artist I love from the eyes of one of people who loves them the most. This is a great book for anyone who loves Rebecca St. James and for King and Country.

The Hacienda – Isabel Cañas

Title: The Hacienda

Author: Isabel Cañas

Genre: Thriller, Historical Fiction

Plot: Beatriz has just gotten married to Rodolfo Solórzanos not long after being arrested by Mexico’s newly founded republic after their war for independence with Spain. She and Rodolfo move to his house, Hacienda San Isidro. Beatriz longs to make the house hers. But not everything is as it seems. After Rodolfo returns to the capital, Beatriz begins to notice odd things: red eyes in the shadows, temperature fluctuations, blood soaked things, and a skeleton buried in the wall. When she tries to show others what she saw, the things vanish. Still, Beatriz seeks help from the local priests. They try to dismiss her, but Padre Andrés believes her. He promises to help. Padre Andrés being there only brings up more secrets from the past. Secrets that people want to keep buried. Will Padre Andrés’ help be enough? Should the secrets of the past really be uncovered? Can they save the hacienda? Or is it lost to whatever, or whomever’s taken up residence there?

Rating: 4.0 – a good blend of historical fiction and thriller

Opinion: This was a great book. It was hard to put it down. There were a few times I had to put it out of sight so I wouldn’t be tempted to read it. It was definitely creepy but not creepy to keep me up at night or freak me out if I read it at night. I loved the history of this book. It was interesting to read about a different culture and their history, even if was a thriller. I learn a little about the caste system Mexico had in college, but this has a more in depth and more interesting way to learn about it. I enjoyed learning about daily life on an hacienda and life from an outsider’s perspective. This book does have a fair bit of Spanish, but most of it has the English equivalent nearby or is self explanatory. I loved this book. It’s a great blend of history and spookiness. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves history and thrillers.

Legendborn Cycle – Tracy Deonn

Title: Book 1 – Legendborn

Author: Tracy Deonn

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Plot: Bree Matthews has just arrived at her early enrollment program at the University of North Carolina with her good friend Alice. They sneak off campus to party. There, Bree sees something she shouldn’t, a magical creature attacking. Alice and Bree get in big trouble. Not long after, Bree sees another magical creature. Her new mentor Nick, attack the creature. Bree starts asking Nick about the creatures and she’s introduced to a secret world of Merlins, King Arthur, Arthur’s knights, and magic. Everyone in the group is a descendent of the knights of the round table, called Legendborns. Bree knows someone among the Legendborns knows something about her mother’s death. She convinces Nick to let her in so she can find out. But can Bree survive long enough to find out? Or will the creatures or someone darker get her first!

Rating: 4.3 – a great new telling of the knights of the round table

Opinion: This was a great story. I loved that the author took a known story and made it her own. It’s a different kind of magic, too. It was interesting that there are different kinds of magic in this book. They’re based on different people’s backgrounds and origins. Both are well developed and have different strengths and weaknesses depending on the person. The book talks a lot about grief and deals very well with it. Bree’s gone through a lot before the books starts and learns to let go while looking for answers. It’s not an easy process like in some books. It makes it seem more relatable that a character holds onto the person they’ve lost. They don’t wanna lose someone close to them. The one little thing I didn’t like was that there were a whole bunch of characters introduced at once. It made it harder to keep track of who was who. Overall, this was an amazing book. I loved it. I’d highly recommend this book for fantasy lovers.

Kaikeyi – Vaishnavi Patel

Title: Kaikeyi

Author: Vaishnavi Patel

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: Kaikeyi is the only daughter of a raja. She’s also the oldest of eight, the rest are boys. She longs for the freedom her brothers have. After her mother is banished, Kaikeyi looks through the library and learns from them. She learns she has a magic ability. She also begs her twin brother, Yuddhajit, for sword, spear, archery, and chariot lessons. Kaikeyi also decides to learn about the royal court. When her father decides to marry Kaikeyi to a neighboring country’s raja, she protests. With the help of her handmaiden, she learns to accept her new role and flourish, as an advisor, mother, and protector. She helps other women in the kingdom and starts to make progress for women. But will it be enough? Or will someone threaten and take away all Kaikayi’s worked for?

Rating: 4.4 – a good story about making changes

Opinion: This was a great book. I wasn’t sure I’d like it or what to expect. It wove Indian mythology in with some modern ideas beautifully. I was expecting the book to be more about Indian mythology and legends. I didn’t expect it to follow Kaikeyi. But this book was great because of the great world building and great story telling. I enjoyed learning more about Indian culture and some of their legends and mythology. With how long this book was, I shouldn’t have been surprised with all of the time jumps to follow Kaikeyi through her life. With all that’s going on in the world today, I felt like the author drew on some parallels for her story. It wasn’t too obnoxious though and well done. Overall, I really enjoyed this book for its imagery, storytelling, and fantasy. I recommend this book for anyone who loves mythology and fantasy books.

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