Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson, 2013

Summary (from the back cover):
Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

My Thoughts:

“Changing, being real and becoming who you want to be, is hard work” (200).

Ok, I admit it. I was skeptical about this book. A novel made up completely of letters? It’s not really my thing. But, let me tell you, I was so wrong. I completely LOVED this book.

There is so much I want to say about this book, but I want to focus on Sam’s character growth. I think she had a remarkable journey. We meet her as a lonely, isolated young woman who has trouble making connections with other people. Due to growing up in the foster care system and living a difficult life, she hides in books and finds it hard to open up to other people. But she does just that- Sam learns to open her heart and let people in, albeit is a slow process.

As Samantha makes her way through grad school and all the struggles that come with it, she makes an honest effort to learn how to share her life with others. Of course, she faces several setbacks when she feels uncomfortable sharing and retreats to her safe place, in books. These mistakes sway her on the path to letting people in, but she slowly becomes surer of herself and learns that relationships are hard work, but they are worth it.

What I loved about Samantha is that she is such a relatable character. She not only struggles to find her own voice and who she is, but she is also searching for the place where she belongs. This is a universal struggle that we all face at one time or another in our lives, and that is exactly what makes her so relatable.

Along the way, we see Sam’s journey of growth through the letters she writes to Mr. Knightley, all the while, wondering, who exactly is this man who knows Sam’s innermost thoughts? Will his identity ever be discovered? And how will his identity affect Sam?

Debut author, Katherine Reay, has written a beautiful story full of warmth that will keep you turning the pages to see if Samantha Moore will rise to the occasion and succeed, despite the odds. Can Samantha find a way to open her heart and find her own voice?

I can’t wait to read Katherine Reay’s next book, Lizzy and Jane!

Rating: 5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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On My TBR List: Jody Hedlund

Another new book cover! Today, I am sharing Jody Hedlund’s next book, Captured by Love. I can’t wait to read this book, especially considering how much I loved Rebellious Heart.

Here is the description from Goodreads:

It is 1814 and the British have taken hold of Mackinac Island and its fort, forcing American residents to swear an oath of loyalty to the British crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a voyageur–a fur trader who left his family home to find freedom and adventure. He’s been gone five years and when he returns, his family’s farm is at the mercy of the British invaders.

Torn between the life he’s grown used to and guilt over leaving his brother and mother, he’s drawn back into the loyalist fight against the British–and into a relationship with Angelique Labelle, a beautiful local girl who’s been befriended by the daughter of the British commander. As tensions mount and the threat of violence increases, both Angelique and Pierre must decide where their loyalties rest, how far they will go to find freedom, and how much they will risk to find love.

What are your thoughts of the cover and Jody’s next book?

Mailbox Surprise: The Grand Tour Series

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Look what I found in my mailbox a few days ago! A few weeks ago, I participated in the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt, which is a blog hop to several authors’ blogs. As you go through all 25 stops, you get to learn about new books and authors and enter several giveaways. Well, this year, I won Lisa T. Bergren‘s The Grand Tour Series: Glamorous Illusions, Grave Consequences, and Glittering Promises.

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing these books with me! She even signed them!

On My TBR List: Sarah Sundin


I love when new book covers are released and you get your first glimpse at a new story! Sarah Sundin’s cover for In Perfect Time was released a few days ago and I wanted to take this space to share it with all of you. This is the third book in her Wings of the Nightingale series. It will be released in August 2014.

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, but C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper is immune to her charms. Throughout Italy and southern France, as she evacuates the wounded and he delivers paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them where they don’t want to go.

How do you like the new cover?

Go visit Sarah Sundin’s website here and Goodreads for more information on this book.

Review: The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson, 2012

Summary (from the back cover):
Four brides. One Dress.

A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

My Thoughts:
This story is a bit different from what I typically read. It almost defies being placed into a specific genre. Is it contemporary fiction or historical fiction? I would say a bit of both. This story follows Charlotte in present day and Emily from 1912. I enjoyed the twist of past and present narration of the characters’ lives in this story.

Ultimately, the story was about Charlotte discovering the history of the wedding dress she finds. Made in 1912. Still in perfect condition. And surrounded by mystery. Who does it belong to? Where did it come from? And what are the stories of the women who wore the dress?

Charlotte makes it her mission to find the answers to these questions, and goes on a journey she never would have expected. Each woman who wore the dress has their own story to tell, both of the pains and joys of their lives and how this dress impacted them. This dress not only connects the lives of these women, but it also bonds them together. Their lives have been intertwined as they each have a unique story to tell. And this one special dress is a part of that story.

Rating: 4 stars

Monthly Recap: October

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Welcome to my new feature! At the end of every month, I will be posting a recap of what happened on the blog. If you missed anything, there will be links to every post, so go catch up!

What I Read:
  
 

Book Reviews:
When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad
Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz
Burning Sky by Lori Benton
Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

Other Posts:
I saw Taylor Swift in concert!
We had a discussion on balancing reviews with honesty and respect.

Currently Reading:

This is my first Monthly Recap and I plan to add more interesting things to this post in the future! What would you like to see on my monthly recap?

I just started a Facebook page for this blog. Please follow me so you can stay updated on posts and other bookish things!