Village Teacher

Village Teacher by Neihtn, who also writes as Nguyen Trong Hien, is a well-written novel set in Vietnam in the late 19th or early 20th century while Vietnam was under French colonization. Teacher Tâm has traveled to the Imperial City of Hue to take the national examinations, challenging tests that help the country choose its leaders. He meets Giang, the daughter of a powerful Frenchman and a wealthy Vietnamese woman. The teacher becomes the student as Giang begins teaching him to write Vietnamese in Romanized script without using the Chinese characters. Outside forces begin to intervene in Tâm’s life in many ways, and the reader is taken on a journey through Vietnamese history, language, and customs as the Village Teacher and those who love him fight for his life and his rights.

This is such a beautiful historical love story. The author is an expert in Vietnamese history and I learned so much in this book. The struggles of Teacher Tâm are struggles that are being repeated even today as the wealthy and powerful try to hold down those of lesser means, especially the smart and talented. Over and over again we see in this book how some of the rich and powerful will use any means to try and destroy anyone who they believe threatens their total control. The love story is beautiful, and the reader gets a master class in Vietnamese history, language, and culture. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the history of Vietnam or anyone who just wants to read a well-written historical love story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nguyễn Trọng Hiền is originally from Vietnam. In the United States, he is known as Hien Nguyen, or Hien T. Nguyen.  neihtn is his Vietnamese first name (Hien)  and initials, spelled backward. Why backward? One reason is to indicate that he now lives on the opposite side of the world from where he was born and spent over two decades of his life.

Hein wrote Village Teacher at night and on weekends over four years while he worked a full-time job. He is now retired and spends his time writing and taking photographs of birds, wildlife, flowers and landscapes. He posts the photos on his blog, Village Teacher. He also published another novel, The Siege of An Loc, in 2020.

Buy Village Teacher on Amazon

Buy The Siege of An Loc on Amazon

MY AMAZON REVIEW OF VILLAGE TEACHER

My Review of The Siege of An Loc

The Ring of Truth

The Ring of Truth by Robert B. Sloan is the third book in the Hamelin Stoop Series. This is not a standalone. The books must be read in order or you will be lost when you read Book 3. Book 1 is The Eagle, The Cave, and the Footbridge and Book 2 is The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna.

In Book 3, Hamelin has come back to the orphanage in order to return a lost princess back to her land. He has a definite idea of who this princess might be. There are a lot of delays and betrayals, and the people in his life continue to hide information from him, but Hamelin is determined to finish his mission and ultimately find his parents. 

This is a great young adult series with memorable characters that people of all ages will love. There are definite nods to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, as well as the Bible, in this series. I continue to enjoy the adventures of these characters, especially the trio of Hamlin, Lars, and Eraina. Each of our heroes are aided by their special magical objects as they travel the Land of Gloaming on an important mission to stop the evil Chimera and his sons. They continue to receive guidance and help from SueSue and The Talking Eagle. Hamelin’s Earth friends, Bryan and Layla, also figure prominently in this story. 

I gave this five stars because of how much I love the overall series, but this one did move too slowly for about the first 25% of the book. There was too much time at the orphanage before attempting to return to the Land of Gloaming and not much happened during this time. At the orphanage, the core characters’ continual refusal to share information with each other started getting ridiculous. However, the last two thirds of this 580 page book were much more action filled. But again, even in the Land of Gloaming, there was the constant problem of people keeping secrets from each other. I feel this book would have been even better if it had been cut down to about 400 pages.

That being said, I continue to love these characters and look forward to their next adventures. There are six books planned in this series and I cannot wait until the next one.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via BookSirens. My review is voluntary. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Robert B. Sloan is president of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. Dr. Sloan and his wife Sue have seven adult children and more than 20 young grandchildren. He is an author, communicator, educator, and leader—all hats he has worn many times for a variety of reasons. These four areas represent life experiences that have provided him and his family with many memories. It is in the experiences of life that memories are made and lives are shaped.

Robert Sloan has a passion for Christian higher education and the spiritual formation of young people for the glory of God, which can be seen in both his professional and personal life.

Robert B. Sloan’s Website

Buy Book 1: The Eagle, The Cave, and The Footbridge

Buy Book 2: The Lost Princess and the Jewel of Periluna

Buy Book 3: The Ring of Truth

Link to My Amazon Review (Helpful Votes Appreciated)

Link to My Goodreads Review

The Book of Uriel

The Book of Uriel begins in World War II Poland, when a Jewish village is destroyed and its people slaughtered. A little boy, Uriel, finds himself on his own. Unable to speak, Uriel has always written stories in his golden notebook, stories of angels and demons. Taken in by Uwe, a linguist for the Nazis, Uriel sees his stories coming alive. He begins an amazing mission to find the missing Archangel Michael and strikes a bargain with the Angel of Death.

This is an intricately woven tale that shows the cruelty of the Nazis and the horrors of the holocaust while at the same time portraying the spiritual war that is being fought alongside the physical war. Hoffman weaves together historical facts, the Bible, and Jewish folklore to create a written tapestry that you won’t want to put down. Her ability to combine historical fiction with a rich spiritual world is awe-inspiring. As a Christian, I don’t know anything about Jewish folklore, but I do know the Bible. The prophet Elijah, the Archangel Michael, and more familiar Biblical characters are also part of this story. It is a fascinating read, and I definitely believe that the actual battle of good vs. evil is both physical and spiritual.

Fans of the Book Thief will love The Book of Uriel. I also see just a tiny bit of a reminder of Christian author Frank Peretti’s writing, as he too shows the spiritual world alongside the physical world in some of his books.

I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited. I also received a free copy from the publishers via Reads and Reels. My review is voluntary.

BUY THE BOOK OF URIEL ON AMAZON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elyse Hoffman strives to tell historical tales with new twists: she loves to meld WWII and Jewish history with fantasy, folklore, and the paranormal. She has written three books in The Barracks of the Holocaust series, with more on the way. Her first full-length novel, The Book of Uriel, is set to be published on January 26th. If you love history and want to read some completely unique stories, follow Elyse at Project613Publishing.com. 

LINK TO MY GOODREADS REVIEW

Vegetable Simple

Vegetable simple is a lovely cookbook with gorgeous pictures that provides recipes for vegetables that can be done often in the simplest and freshest ways. My favorite so far is the romaine caesar gratin, where you actually broil the parmesan on the top of the romaine before serving. Ingenious idea. I also want to try the Vidalia Onion Risotto and Vegetable Lasagna. In the summer when garden tomatoes are available I plan to try Tomato Croque Sel.

There are a few recipes that are not as simple as the title implies, but overall this book uses recipes with fresh ingredients and simple methods to help you prepare wonderful and healthy food.

I received a free advance review digital copy of this book from Random House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

This book will be released April 20, 2021.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Ripert is the chef and co-owner of the New York restaurant Le Bernardin, which holds three Michelin stars and has maintained a four-star rating from The New York Times for more than two decades. He is vice chairman of the board of City Harvest, a New York-based food rescue organization, as well as a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor. He serves as a regular guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and is the host of his own TV series, Avec Eric, which has won Emmy and James Beard awards. Ripert is the author of five cookbooks—My Best: Eric RipertAvec EricOn the LineA Return to Cooking, and Le Bernardin: Four Star Simplicity—and a New York Times bestselling memoir, 32 Yolks.

Link to Preorder Vegetable Simple

Link to My Goodreads Review

The Milk Wagon

I was hooked when I read this book by Michael Hewes and I find it to be an unsung gem! One of my goals with this blog is to help newer or lesser known authors (and self published authors) promote their work to others who might not otherwise see it. This fantastic book swept me right back into the 1980’s, when I was a teenager, and it was a great ride. See my review below:

________________________________________________________________________

The Milk Wagon is a fantastic thriller set in the 80’s, much of it revolving around a group of high school boys. As an 80’s high schooler myself, this was a wonderful walk down memory lane. This book has the 80’s high school mentality exactly right, and transported me back there as the movies we watched, the cars we drove, and the way we thought were so accurately described. 

This novel was perfectly woven together as both an 80’s book and a crime/murder thriller. There were many twists and turns, and although I am usually pretty good at guessing the “bad guy,” i was totally wrong this time. The fact that this book was not predictable impressed me. 

The characters are so well done, especially the 80s high school kids, that I was sad when it ended. That’s how you tell a great book. You don’t want it to end.

If you love crime thrillers, if you loved the 80s, or if you just love a well written book, check this one out.

I received a free copy of this book from Michael Hewes and BooksGoSocial via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Link to the book on Amazon:

Link to other work by Michael Hewes:

Link to my Goodreads review (Like and Follow if you are so inclined):

Review and Giveaway Winner: She Walked Before Us

My review of She Walked Before Us by Jill Eileen Smith is below.

But first, the winner of the free paperback copy of this book, by random number generator, is GAZ9821 (Gail Zimmerman of Cincinnati, Ohio.) Gail has been contacted and the book will be mailed out to her tomorrow. Congratulations, Gail!

REVIEW:

She Walked Before Us is a wonderful Christian book which combines fiction and nonfiction in a creative way. The author first writes a part-true, part fictionalized story about twelve Old Testament women, based on their characterizations in the Bible. She then analyzes their predicaments and lessons learned. There is a separate chapter for each woman and there are study questions at the end of each chapter. This book would be great for a Women’s Bible Study.

The twelve Old Testament women featured in this book are: Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Naomi, Hannah, Penninah, Michal, Abigail, Ahinoam, Maacah, and Bathsheba. Each chapter addresses particular conflicts or situations these women were facing. For Miriam, it was “When God Corrects Your Character.” For Rahab, it was “Daring to Trust What You Cannot See. For Ahinoam, it was “Dealing With Heartache.” Each situation is timeless, as we might be dealing with those same problems today in a different way.

My favorite chapters were: Miriam, Hannah, Abigail, and Rahab. Smith’s portrayal of these women make them come alive and reminds us that these were real women, not just stories in the Bible.

Whatever issue you are facing, whether it is a crisis of faith, abuse, loss, hate, regret, hurt, or more, you can find a woman in the Bible who has faced something similar. She Walked Before Us helps us learn from the experiences of the women who literally did walk through these situations before.

I received two free copies of this book from Revell Books via The Blythe Daniel Agency and BlogAbout Blogger Network. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, the Heart of the King, and Star of Persia, Esther’s Story, along with the nonfiction books When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams, and She Walked Before Us. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan

Link to the Book on Amazon

Jill Eileen Smith’s Website

Link to my Goodreads Review

Endless Mercy

This is the second book in the Treasures of Nome series by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse. Madysen Powell is still reeling from the shock of learning her father, thought long dead, is alive. Now she must lean on God and try to forgive her father for an unspeakable offense. At the same time, she is starting a dairy business at the Powell farm in Nome, Alaska, but secretly dreaming of a life in show business.

Daniel Beaufort is angry at God after his parents’ death. He finds himself working with the very beautiful and very Christian Madysen Powell at her dairy farm. Can he overcome his anger and find love instead?

This book has a strong Christian message about forgiveness, both the forgiveness of God and forgiving others. It also shows how God can rebuild your life after sin has destroyed it.

However, I find a few faults with it. This book is set in Nome, Alaska in 1904. I did not feel transported to the time period or the location. The book had much more of a contemporary vibe than a historical romance should have. Madysen is just a different spelling of Madison, which wasn’t really used for girls’ names until after the movie Splash in 1984. And they call her Maddy, which is a very contemporary nickname. Her sister Whitney is called Whit, also very contemporary. I just was not getting the feel of a historical novel. In addition, novels set in Alaska are usually flowing with descriptions of the environment, wildlife, climate, and terrain. I didn’t see much of that here either. In both history and setting, there was only a slight nod. This is a Christian romance that could have been set anywhere with a few tweaks. The information about cheese-making was interesting.

I would give this 2.5 stars, but it is rounded up to three for the solid Christian message of forgiveness.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. My review is voluntary.

Link to Buy the Book on Amazon

Link to Tracie Peterson’s Website

Countess Jacqueline

Countess Jacqueline by Gail Meath is a historical romance based upon the life of the real Countess Jacqueline of Holland, who ruled the counties of Holland, Zeeland, and Hainut in the Low Countries (Netherlands) from 1417 to 1433. The book opens with Jacqueline as a young girl whose father is already trying to arrange her marriage to secure his kingdom. Fiercely independent and an excellent horsewoman and archer, she resists marriage as long as she can. After the death of her father, politics come into play as another heir demands her title and her lands. Jacqueline fights for her lands and her people, making mistakes along the way, and possibly finding the love of her life.

This is a very well written novel by Gail Meath, who weaves together a captivating story by combining both real and fictional characters to create a spellbinding saga. The true story of Jacqueline’s life, battles, and marriages, and her love of and dedication to her people is amazing, and Meath expertly adds perfectly placed characters and storylines. She brings the Countess, the politics, and the way of life in that era alive on the page, and her meticulous research of the period is obvious. Fans of historical fiction and romance will enjoy this book. 

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read it for free.

Link to the book on Amazon

Link to Gail Meath’s Website

Link to my Amazon review (“Helpful” votes appreciated if you are so inclined)

The Godmother

The Godmother by Cathy Cade is a new and modern version of Cinderella, complete with computers and webcams. After her father’s death, Cindy lives with her stepmother and stepsisters, the Uglies, in her father’s house, which now belongs to her stepmother, Baroness Malegra. Cindy lives in the basement with her dog Buttons and does their bidding, whatever it may be. But Aunt Phemie, her wonderful Godmother, has decided to visit, and change is on the horizon. Told from multiple points of view, including Cindy’s dog Buttons and her Godmother Aunt Phemie, this is a humorous new take on an old tale.

Another delightful story by the talented Cathy Cade, who brings new life and fun to this classic fairy tale. You will laugh at the high jinks of Aunt Phemie and Buttons, and frown at the very nasty stepmother.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Link to Buy The Godmother on Amazon

Link to Cathy Cade’s Website

Link to My Amazon Review (“Like” if you are so inclined)

The Lavender Soul

Vera (Vera Xochiquetzal of Adowa) is a somewhat vain and spoiled teenager in the mythical world of Zerahlinda. She has a huge weight on her shoulders. Born with lavender eyes, she is known as a “lavender soul,” someone who will either save her world or devastate it. Protected by her guardian Yateem (Yateem Rukan Wulfgar of Xipili), she embarks on a journey to face the evil pursuing her and test her very soul. Along the way, she travels through magical lands full of fairies, pixies, moving trees, a shapeshifter, and more.

This is a well-written, highly descriptive tale of a magical world and its inhabitants. Although I do not normally read high fantasy, I feel that fans of young adult fantasy of this type are going to be thrilled with this land and its creatures. Although the character of Vera is a little selfish and spoiled, we get to watch her grow and learn along this great adventure.

The are only two things I did not like: First, Yateem is often described as Vera’s “handler.” I found this to be a very controlling term. I would prefer, guardian, advisor, and protector, because that those are the roles he serves. Secondly, I feel the cover of the book is a little subdued. It should be as colorful as the world of Zerahlinda.

My rating is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

I received a free digital copy of this book from BookTasters. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Buy the Book on Amazon

L.K. Walsh’s Website