Welcome to Reviews of the Month, where we share “mini” reviews of what we’ve been watching and reading. This month we’re covering what we’re reading, so the next roundup will be movie and TV reviews.
We took a long break from our mini-book reviews, but after much consideration, we decided to bring it back! By sharing short and sweet reviews, we’ll be able to recommend many more books.
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In this roundup, we have lots of variety. From historical fiction to clean romance, contemporary romance, classics, YA fantasy, and even one children’s picture book.
Enjoy! And let us know what you’ve been reading.
Note: Check out our Rating System and Why We Rate by Genre for more on how we write reviews.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- FULL BOOK REVIEWS
- MINI BOOK REVIEWS
- Blood and Moonlight By Erin Beaty Book Review
- Miss Newbury’s List By Megan Walker Book Review
- In Search of a Prince By Toni Shiloh Book Review
- Now, Voyager By Olive Higgins Prouty Book Review
- Somebody to Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele – Book Review
- The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion: Vol I By Beth Brower Book Review
- Wyoming Wild By Sarah M. Eden Book Review
FULL BOOK REVIEWS
(These are the long reviews we’ve shared since our last book reviews roundup, not included in the short and sweet reviews below. So, these articles open on a new page).
- Beyond the Lavender Fields Review: This is a Suspenseful New Romance Novel
- ‘Bloomsbury Girls’ Book Review: A Beautiful Tribute to Booklovers
- Death on a Winter Stroll Review: This is an Exciting New Holiday Mystery Novel
- Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby Review – It’s a Romantic, Thoughtful New Book
- Jane and the Year Without a Summer: This New Book is a Lovely, Romantic Read
- Review: ‘A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice’ Is an Interesting New Novel
- See the Beautiful New Edition of Jane Austen’s Persuasion from Barbara Heller
- ‘Shadows of Swanford Abbey’ Review: This is a Delightful New Novel from Julie Klassen
MINI BOOK REVIEWS
(Jump to the reviews of interest or scroll down and read them all!)
- Blood and Moonlight (YA, fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller)
- Miss Newbury’s List (Regency Romance, Clean Romance, Historical Fiction)
- In Search of a Prince (Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction)
- Now, Voyager (Classics, Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction)
- Somebody to Love (Children’s Fiction, Music, Picture Books)
- The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion: Vol I (Historical Fiction, Victorian, Novella)
- Wyoming Wild (Clean Romance, Historical Fiction, Western, Romantic Suspense)
Blood and Moonlight By Erin Beaty Book Review
Genres: YA, fantasy, romance, mystery, thriller
Publication Date: June 28, 2022, by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Official Book Synopsis:
In Erin Beaty’s fantasy mystery-thriller, Blood and Moonlight, an orphan with a secret, magical sight gets caught between a mysterious genius and the serial killer he’s hunting.
Rising above the city of Collis is the holy Sanctum. And watching over its spires is Catrin, an orphan girl with unique skills—for she alone can spot the building’s flaws in construction before they turn deadly.
But when Catrin witnesses a murderer escaping the scene of his crime, she’s pulled into a dangerous chain of events where the only certainty is that the killer will strike again. Assigned to investigate is the mysterious and brilliant Simon, whose insights into the mind of a predator are frighteningly accurate.
As the grisly crimes continue, Catrin finds herself caught between killer and detective while hiding her own secret—a supernatural sight granted by the moon, destined to make her an outcast, and the only thing that might save her and those she loves from becoming the next victims…
Book Review (by Autumn):
A medieval-inspired fantasy romance, Blood and Moonlight is an addictive read for readers who like many genres. Part fantasy, romance, and mystery, Erin Beaty tells a dark story about a serial killer on the loose.
After Catrin witnesses the first murder, she joins the hunt alongside Simon, a profiler of sorts, and is soon caught up in danger, intrigue, and a newfound romance. And to top it all off, Catrin may be the only one who can catch the killer because of her mysterious new powers connected to blood and moonlight.
She soon realizes she can even hear the last thoughts of the murdered girls and will do anything to stop him.
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While sometimes disturbing and gory, Blood and Moonlight keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s an absorbing read with action, magic, and a believable fantasy world based on medieval history. It’s psychological and intriguing, with a Clarice-like protagonist.
Still, I don’t love everything about the story’s central couple. Simon and Catrin immediately fell for one another, and I wanted more development. I still enjoyed their romantic moments, and the resolution of the mystery and romance felt satisfying.
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You’ll want to read this for the twists and turns and the excellent characterization. Plus, the moon magic is pretty cool.
Adaptation Recommendation: This would be an excellent fantasy movie.
Content Note: Gruesome murders, with some being sexual in nature. If you’re used to shows like Special Victims Unit, you should be fine reading this; however, please be aware that there are some strong triggers. There are also some kissing scenes.
Miss Newbury’s List By Megan Walker Book Review
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Genres: Regency Romance, Clean Romance, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: February 7, 2023, by Shadow Mountain Publishing
Official Book Synopsis:
Before Rosalind weds, she wants to experience ten things. Meeting Charlie wasn’t on her list.
Rosalind Newbury is counting down the days until her wedding to the Duke of Marlow, a man she has only met twice, and she knows exactly how she wants to spend her time. As a child, Ros created a list of ten things to do before her wedding day. So far, she has done none of them.
She is determined to tackle each item, though she’ll have to accomplish them all in secret. After all, a soon-to-be-duchess is not usually allowed to bury treasure in the pasture, eat sweets all day, or learn how to swim. She enlists the help of her best friend, Liza, who brings along her cousin, Charlie, a prodigal son-turned-boxer who has come to the countryside to mend his reputation and learn how to be his father’s heir.
Together, the three of them work to complete the list, and as each item is crossed off, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Ros and Charlie. The more time they spend together, the more Ros falls in love with this imperfect man and his good heart.
With the wedding looming, Ros must decide to either admit her romantic feelings for Charlie and risk her family’s future, or keep her promise to marry the duke and start a new life as a noblewoman.
Book Review (By Amber):
Miss Newbury’s List is about as sweet as it gets! If you like your historical romances wholesome with the feel of a Hallmark film (but set in Regency times), this pure romance is for you. It’s like Bridgerton without the explicit content and an easy, enjoyable read from start to finish.
The story is fun (using the bucket list angle to connect the two main characters, Ros and Charlie), the characters are likable, and the romance is swoon-worthy.
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Ros does feel younger than 20, so this should also appeal to teen readers and adults.
I enjoyed reading Megan Walker’s new book, and I recommend it to readers looking for something sweet and satisfying.
Miss Newbury’s List would be a delightful period drama movie – made for streaming.
In Search of a Prince By Toni Shiloh Book Review
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction
Publication Date: February 1, 2022, by Bethany House
Official Book Synopsis:
Named a Best Romance Novel of 2022 by Oprah Daily, a Best Novel to Read for a Romantic Getaway by POPSUGAR, and a 2022 Christy Amplify Award Winner
It seems like a dream come true . . . until it forces her to question everything.
Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops a bombshell–Brielle is really a princess in the island kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, off the coast of Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, the king, is failing.
Distraught by all the secrets her mother kept, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before her coronation, or the crown will pass to another. Brielle is uncertain if she even wants the throne, and with her world totally shaken, where will she find the courage to take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring?
Book Review (By Amber):
In Search of a Prince has been on my TBR list for a while, which is why we ultimately chose to add it to the Winter 2023 Silver Petticoat Book Club pick. I happen to love royal romance stories!
Thankfully, In Search of a Prince is a delightful book with excellent worldbuilding and a compelling, likable heroine. It’s all a bit like The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 – but set in Africa – and with a religious angle.
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And while the religious content was a bit heavy-handed for my taste – it suits the story and setting.
Overall, the book is entertaining, with a sweet love story, an intriguing setting, a touch of mystery, and a satisfying conclusion. If Hallmark royal romances are your jam – and you love inspirational fiction – give this one a try.
Adaptation Recommendation: In Search of a Prince is meant to be a movie – no matter if it’s on the big or small screen. It could be a big-budget adaptation like The Princess Diaries – or on a smaller scale on a streaming or cable network (think Netflix, Hallmark, or Lifetime).
Princess movies never go out of style! And this one puts a unique spin on it.
Content Note: PG-like for a couple of passionate kisses and a fade-to-black moment. Very mild.
Now, Voyager By Olive Higgins Prouty Book Review
Genres: Classics, Romance, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publication Date: January 1, 1941
“Don’t let’s ask for the moon! We have the stars!” The film that concludes with Bette Davis’s famous words, reaffirmed Davis’s own stardom and changed the way Americans smoked cigarettes.
But few contemporary fans of this story of a woman’s self-realization know its source. Olive Higgins Prouty’s 1941 novel Now, Voyager provides an even richer, deeper portrait of the inner life of its protagonist and the society she inhabits. Viewed from a distance of more than 60 years, it also offers fresh and quietly radical takes on psychiatric treatment, traditional family life, female desire, and women’s agency.
Boston blueblood Charlotte Vale has led an unhappy, sheltered life. Lonely, dowdy, repressed, and pushing 40, Charlotte finds salvation at a sanitarium, where she undergoes an emotional and physical transformation.
After her extreme makeover, the new Charlotte tests her mettle by embarking on a cruise—and finds herself in a torrid love affair with a married man which ends at the conclusion of the voyage. But only then can the real journey begin, as Charlotte is forced to navigate a new life for herself.
While Now, Voyager is a tear-jerking romance, it is at the same time the empowering story of a woman who finds the strength to chart her own course in life; who discovers love, sex, and even motherhood outside of marriage; and who learns that men are, ultimately, dispensable in the quest for happiness and fulfillment.
Book Review (by Autumn):
I discovered Now, Voyager by Olive Higgins Prouty from the classic film starring Bette Davis. Surprisingly, the novel follows the movie closely and is just as beautiful as the film, so I had to select this fantastic novel for the Silver Petticoat Book Club.
In what should be a modern classic, Now, Voyager tells the story of Charlotte Vale and her path to self-discovery as a woman. Dominated by her mother, Charlotte has always lived a repressed and sheltered life.
Her entire Boston blueblood family sees her as fat, dowdy, and a spinster. She, too, sees herself as unworthy of love at 40. But after a nervous breakdown, she goes to a sanatorium and, over time, has a complete transformation.
It’s more than just the typical makeover plot where suddenly she’s skinny, pretty, and worthy of love. There’s an element of that, but it’s more psychological and emotional.
You’re inside Charlotte’s mind and feel what she feels. Her anxiety and depression, the relief that someone could see the real her, and the awe in finding Charlotte’s version of freedom.
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As this is more a character story than a romance, don’t expect a typical HEA. Nevertheless, like the classic film, the love story is epic and haunting and ends on the same line: “Don’t let’s ask for the moon! We have the stars!”
Charlotte and Jerry’s story is poetic and sad because they can’t be together. After all, he’s already married. What’s beautiful about their love is that it’s not some torrid affair. These are two people making noble sacrifices to do what’s right.
Furthermore, I appreciated that in the novel, unlike the film, there is more focus on Jerry’s own nervous breakdown and work problems. You recognize why he fully understands Charlotte so fully thanks to the inner character’s thoughts. You know why he’s the one who can truly see someone who had always been invisible and mistreated and also without judgment.
Overall, Now, Voyager is a gorgeous novel that deserves as much recognition as the film. If you love classic movies with a memorable love story and a dynamic leading character, Now, Voyager is a perfect read.
Content Note: PG-like for an implied affair and emotional abuse. Also, be aware that this book reflects the time it was written.
Somebody to Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele – Book Review
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher via Wunderkind PR. All opinions are my own.
Genres: Children’s Fiction, Music, Picture Books
Publication Date: November 1, 2022, by Third Man Books
Official Book Synopsis:
Once upon a time, a sweet and tiny little instrument was given to a singer named Valerie June. It had a round-face and four strings. It was so small that she thought it was a toy.
Grammy nominated musician Valerie June’s Somebody to Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele is a hardcover children’s book inspired by how June wrote the song “Somebody to Love” from her album Pushin’ Against a Stone. In the book, a young aspiring musician, Valerie, is given a toy banjolele.
A banjolele is a very unique four-stringed musical instrument. It has a body like a small banjo, and the neck is like a ukulele. At the beginning, the baby banjolele dreams that its voice will soar and be heard all throughout the world, but very soon its musical journey meets with challenges and doubts.
The little banjolele just could not play through a whole song! Valerie and banjolele want to play with the other instruments at school, but the others make fun of the banjolele saying “You’re just a toy.”
Embarrassed the banjolele, once more, can not finish the song. But “I have a dream, and I want to sing,” the toy banjolele stubbornly refuses to give up.
Finally, the toy finds the courage, and belief, and love it needs, coughs out a last bit of dust, and belts out a gorgeous a song. Valerie names the banjolele Baby and both go on to perform all over the world together forever.
Book Review (By Amber):
Somebody to Love is a hardcover children’s book from Grammy-nominated musician Valerie June with illustrations from the talented Mexican-born artist Marcela Avelar.
While children’s books aren’t what I typically read or review – when Wunderkind PR reached out to me about covering this book, I was intrigued – in part because the book works as a companion to Valerie June’s gorgeous song, “Somebody to Love” (from the album Pushin’ Against the Stone), and also because of the inspirational message for children (or anyone, really) about following your dreams and making a difference in the world.
That message is what we believe Romantic Living here at The Silver Petticoat Review is all about!
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With stunning artwork from Marcela Avelar and an inspirational, poetic story from Valerie June, this is a unique children’s novel with an uplifting message.
After the main narrative, there are extra sections at the end about other dreamers who accomplished great things, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Frida Kahlo and more – while also going into more detail about believing in your dreams.
Overall, while I wanted the main story to be more fleshed out, I was impressed by the book and recommend it to music lovers, dreamers, and anyone looking for a lovely read for their children.
The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion: Vol I By Beth Brower Book Review
Genres: Historical Fiction, Victorian, Novella
Publication Date: November 2, 2019, by Rhysdon Press
“I’ve arrived in London without incident. There are few triumphs in my recent life, but I count this as one. My existence of the last three years has been nothing but incident.”
The Year is 1883 and Emma M. Lion has returned to her London neighborhood of St. Crispian’s. But Emma’s plans for a charmed and studious life are sabotaged by her eccentric Cousin Archibald, her formidable Aunt Eugenia, and the slightly odd denizens of St. Crispian’s.
Emma M. Lion offers up her Unselected Journals, however self-incriminating they may be. Armed with wit and a sideways amusement, Emma documents the curious realities of her life at Lapis Lazuli House.
Readers have compared Beth Brower’s writing to Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, and L. M. Montgomery.
Book Review (By Amber):
A friend of mine from college (whose opinion I trust) recommended this book to me as an idea for The Silver Petticoat Book Club. When she told me the heroine was like Lorelai Gilmore meets Anne Shirley, I was sold.
I bought the book and quickly read the historical fiction novella. Emma is a witty, appealing protagonist who is every bit as likable and fun to read as my friend suggested!
The novella is pure charm – full of engaging prose and Austen-like humor. And while I have only read the first volume so far, I look forward to reading the rest of the series (five more volumes are available, with more coming). I don’t know if the book will be romantic or not at this point – but it seems likely.
All in all, if you’re looking for an absorbing, quick read full of wit and likable characters – check out this fun series.
The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion should undoubtedly be a TV show. The characters, setting, and humorous situations are perfectly designed to become an entertaining, binge-able series.
Content Note: G/PG
Wyoming Wild By Sarah M. Eden Book Review
Disclosure: I received a free advanced copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Genres: Clean Romance, Historical Fiction, Western, Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: March 7, 2023, by Shadow Mountain Publishing (available for pre-order)
Official Book Synopsis:
Hearts collide when a sheriff’s daughter asks a hardened US Marshal to join her fight for justice and rid a small town of her corrupt father.
Wyoming Territory, 1876
US Marshal John “Hawk” Hawking is one of the most respected lawmen in the West, so when a telegram arrives from the small town of Sand Creek warning him of a death threat against him, he immediately begins an investigation.
Posing as a farmer, Hawk heads to Sand Creek, a town ruled by a violent and corrupt sheriff. Only one person is trying to stop him—Liesl, the sheriff’s own daughter. When she meets the self-assured and attractive new farmer, John, she hopes he might help her in the fight for justice.
John is completely unfazed by Sheriff Hodges’s attempts at intimidation, and Liesl is quickly swept up by Hawk’s courage and integrity. Just as quickly, Hawk finds himself falling for Liesl’s strength and bravery, as well as her grace and beauty.
When Liesl discovers John’s true identity, she feels betrayed. Despite her lingering distrust of him, Liesl agrees to work with him to enact a dangerous plan that will put the criminals away forever. Liesl must put her life, and her heart, in the hands of his lawman if she has any hope of saving her family and her town.
Book Review (By Amber):
A brave heroine. A handsome, roguish lawman. A sweet love story with suspense. That’s what you can expect when you read this engrossing new clean western romance from Sarah M. Eden.
Wyoming Wild’s narrator is Liesl, a kind-hearted, intelligent young woman with a corrupt father (who also happens to be the sheriff) who she wants to unseat to protect the town and the people she loves. But she doesn’t know whom to trust.
Soon, she crosses paths with a US Marshall – but can he be trusted to help her? Sparks soon fly in this absorbing page-turner you won’t want to put down.
With complex characters, a memorable love story, and compelling prose, Wyoming Wild is must-read fiction for fans of wholesome but suspenseful love stories. If you enjoy western romances, Dr. Quinn, or the new TV series Walker: Independence, this book is for you.
Adaptation Recommendation: Wyoming Wild would make an excellent TV series (either as a limited miniseries or as a full-blown television show). With intriguing characters, memorable villains, and an entertaining romance, it has all the right elements to hook an audience. It would be perfect for Hallmark.
Content Note: The love story is G with mild PG-like violence.
Check out The Silver Petticoat Book Club Page for current books we’re reading. We select six books every season to read!
Are you interested in reading any of these books? Have you read any of them before? What did you think? And what are you currently reading and enjoying? Let us know in the comments!