Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse

Litfuse Book Review: “The Pretender” by Ta’Mara Hanscom

Toothless Books (3)

The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise  by Ta’Mara Hanscom

Caselli Family Series Book One

Review copy from the publishers through Litfuse Publicity group for review purposes. All thoughts stated in my review are purely my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

 

About the book:

Set in South Dakota in 1975, where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beer in a bar, and loaded guns were kept under the counter.
Frankie Valli sang “My Eyes Adored You,” and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.
It’s within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined-and had been for many years-yet they had no idea. 
From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart—and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride’s deception.

 

 

My Thoughts:

Hmmm, I don’t know where to start with this review. You see, this book has me a little torn. More than a little, I suppose.
I liked it, but I didn’t. Somehow, I got extremely emotionally invested into it, but the ending wasn’t what I was hoping for, and it was a cliffhanger on top of that.
The focus of the book confused me. The first half of the book was so focused on a story plot, that it seemed to only have been concluded in the expected way, but then the latter half was totally different, and almost as if that first half never happened. It was weird. I was fully rooting for the first half to be brought to a satisfying conclusion, but it wasn’t to be so. If it had, I think this could’ve become a favourite book. The cover is beautiful too. But instead, it left me…discontent for the story.
I loved Noah, pretty much from the beginning. His parts of the story were my favourite, and seeing his redemption play out was good, though maybe a little fast. I liked Tillie a lot too. But I questioned her character towards the second half, and how she reacted to a certain occurence.
 I admire Noah’s choice for one of his decisions, and reluctantly came to terms with that. He was a great character, but the book wasn’t what the reader hopes for, and therefore you find yourself feeling disappointed. At least that is how it was for me.
So, like I said, it’s almost as if the first half never happened in regards to how the second half continued.
And I know that life doesn’t always end “happily ever after” but this ending, I felt, was kind of uncalled for as far as unhappy endings go.
Another thing that was a pretty big caution to me was how the parents were sure to say that nothing can thwart God’s will (and that’s only true when we fully submit to His will since we can definitely thwart His will when we let our own will get in the way), but then later on at the end, and in the description for the second book, it was a contradiction –  the parents clearly regret their decision, as if admitting that they indeed sought their own will, not God’s And yes, we can certainly mess up and not follow God’s will mistakenly, but the fact that they were so adamant that this decision was God’s will and then later said perhaps they were wrong as if to say God’s will was wrong, when in actuality they just didn’t seek or heed His true will – this  just didn’t sit well with me.
So  yes, very conflicted. The story definitely grabs your attention – and emotions – but there were several things that I just wasn’t too happy with.

 

 

 

About the author:

Born and raised in South Dakota, Ta`Mara loves to write about the Great Plains and the beauty and people of Italia. While her husband and children manage their two pizza ristoranti, Ta`Mara works full time on The Caselli Family Series, and ministers to women. It is Ta`Mara s prayer that as the readers explore the truths in these volumes, they will come away with a new perspective on love, forgiveness, obedience, and God’s plan for marriage

Find out more about Ta’Mara at https://www.tamarahanscombooks.com.

 

 

 

Despite just meeting each other, Tillie and Noah’s lives have been mysteriously intertwined for many years in Ta’Mara Hanscom’s The Pretender. From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart-and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride’s deception.

Join Ta’Mara in celebrating the release of the second printing and new covers by entering to win her $75 prize basket giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of The Pretender
  • A $75 Amazon gift card
  • A decorative box containing measuring cups, ten recipes from the book, a potholder, a kitchen towel, pepper and salt grinders, kitchen utensils, and an olive oil dispenser

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 11. The winner will be announced October 12 on the Litfuse blog.

 

The Pretender Ta'Mara Hanscom

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Posted in blog tour, Book reviews, Litfuse

“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White ~ Book Review

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1)

“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White

First book in Shadows Over England.

Review copy from publishers through Litfuse Blogger Program

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

The cover alone makes this book a worthy addition to any bookshelf. But add in the amazing story, and you know “A Name unknown” is a definite keeper!
The story pulled me in immediately, and I was drawn right into the world of these characters. There were many unique twists, and mysteries, and the history was woven beautifully into the story. But one of the best elements of this book was the heart of it – the Faith aspect. I was very pleased with it, and there were many places I marked down. It was gentle, and beautiful, and meaningful. To me, a Christian fiction’s main theme should be revolved around a godly message – one that is filled with Christ, and I was ever so pleased to discover that in this novel. Personally, when I pick up a CF title, I don’t want it to just be ‘clean’, I want it to be filling. And “A Name Unknown” was that.
I loved the characters – Rosemary and Peter. Oh, Peter was just darling! I liked him right away, and Rosemary too. They were very different characters to be sure, but blended so well and balanced each other out.
Rosemary a thief, and Peter a secret novelist. They both have so much richness to them!
As a writer myself, I loved Peter and seeing his writing mind take over; how he’d get lost when thinking up a new idea – very relatable. :) And his overall love of books and letters! Be still my heart. ;) He was just splendid.
I just really loved the characters – how real they were, and how they didn’t always do what you expected. Life doesn’t always go as expected, and that was portrayed so well in this book.
Every page begged to be turned again, not left unread. If only I had an ample amount of time to read from beginning to end! But still, I savoured this book for the time it took me, thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. And set right before WWI broke out – a very fascinating time to read a novel in.
So yes, I can definitely recommend this one! Fellow booklovers, you will fall in love with “A Name Unknown”!

 

Those were just a couple of my favourite quotes. I have several others, just without images:

 

“Were he a different man, one who could command a presence and charm people wherever he went, perhaps he would have struck off to see more of the world than this imitation jungle. Perhaps he would have made his own way, cut his own path with machete and pistol. As it was, even the jungle of London sent him running for cover.” – Pg 30
“Treasures were never where one sought it.” Pg 48
“I am by no means an expert, of course, but love of the written word runs deep in my family- also no great mystery to you, having seen the library. But I do hold fiction in especial esteem. Fiction is a way to express mankind’s deepest heart. His fears. His hopes. His failings. His successes. Fiction is truth…in a pretty wrapping.” Pg 56
“Everyone needs a distraction from sad things. Especially when there is nothing they can do about them.” – Pg 211
“Peter had used it as an example in one of his notes this week. That giving one’s life to God was very much like what she’d done with those dresses of Jenny’s. It was still the same fabric – still the same basic person. But just as she’d changed the shape and drape and the seams, God remade the old man into a new one. But unlike the dress, which had no say, people had to choose to put themselves in God’s hands. He wouldn’t start snipping and sewing against their will.” – Pg 292
“You listen to me, Rosemary Gresham. If Jesus could save tax collectors, and harlots, thieves and hypocrites, who are you to say you’re too far gone, hmm? Our God is bigger than our sins. And if there’s something saying otherwise into your ea, know it’s a lie straight from the devil.” – pg 383
And believe it or not, I still have more that I marked down, but I won’t overload you with them all. ;)

 

 

Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse

Litfuse Book Review: “Dawn at Emberwilde” by Sarah E. Ladd

“Dawn at Emberwilde” by Sarah E. Ladd

Book Two in The Treasures of Surrey Series

Source: Litfuse

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

 

My Thoughts:

I was expecting to love this book. I’ve read two of Miss Ladd’s previous books (the first two books of the Whispers on the Moors Series), and enjoyed them both, so I figured it would be likewise with this one. And while I didn’t hate this book, I didn’t fully enjoy it either, unfortunately.
The setting was good, and the writing well-done, but I couldn’t connect with the characters and it was very predictable.
But what disappointed me the most was the lack of faith in this book. I remember reading Ladd’s first book and the faith-strand was great; the second book had it too though not as strongly, but this book was almost completely void of it. There were many, many places where it could have been accomplished in a beautiful manner, but there was only one or two mentions of God. That really saddened me. This story really could’ve used God’s hope and truth. It kind of just fell flat for me without it.
The love-triangle was a bit much too…I don’t really care for those types of things. It was the typical “I don’t know which man to choose”, yet it’s overly obvious to the reader who is the “hero” of the book. It was just frustrating to me.
But yes, I liked the England setting, and I enjoyed the character Lizzie quite well, and Colin on occasion. But sometimes the characters did things that just didn’t make sense.
They put a pretty heavy point on physical appearance too, as well as not wanting to have to rely on anyone else – that we are sufficient by our own strength. I don’t agree with this – we should be sufficient by God’s power alone. It was just really lacking in God’s glory and that really reflects in a book, I think.
It wasn’t a terrible book (it was clean, and I have no doubt that many will enjoy it – I myself enjoyed aspects of it, just not all), but it  wasn’t really a hit for me.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Litfuse/the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

 

Posted in Book reviews, Litfuse

Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

I’m not really sure what happened…I am almost positive I had this post scheduled, but it’s no where to be found…but anyway, here is my review!

The Beautiful Pretender

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

A Medieval Romance

My rating: 4.5 Stars

About the Book:

What happens when a margrave realizes he’s fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave’s bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

Another super sweet fairy-tale-feeling book from Melanie Dickerson!
The plot was so intriguing, and exciting, and I became engaged immediately. The hints of Beauty and the Beast, and The Princess and the Pea, were absolutely delightful. Having ten noble ladies come to the Margrave’s home as “possible brides” was entertaining, if not unconventional. ^.^ Again, I say: Delightful.
As usual for Mrs.Dickerson’s books, each character was written extremely well, and I clicked right away with Avelina (what a pretty name too!). And then I found out she likes to write stories – yep, I loved her even more then! Avelina did surprise me in some ways, but in good ways.
Reinhart was gruff, very much a “beast” kind of character, but true to tale, he had a gentleness about him and yes, he was very likeable. And very handsome, I hear. ;)
And Lady Magdalen was seriously one of the most kindest and sweetest friend-characters I have ever read about! Such genuine beauty, and I don’t just mean in appearance. She made me smile so often by her gentleness and kind heart.
There was only one scene that leaned towards the more graphic side, but it wasn’t really horrible as some books are. And then there were two other things that gave me a bit of concern – one of those was that Avelina did what she wanted, even when instructed to do otherwise. It wasn’t shown in an extremely blatant way, but it was shown in more of an accepting way at the same time which I wasn’t too sure about. For example, towards the end, Lord Thornbeck told her to stay put several times because he didn’t want her to get hurt, and while I understand that she wanted to be with him, I don’t really agree that he always gave in – “He knew her well enough to know he could not stop her”. It just seemed…disobedient at times.
The other thing was about a character being mentioned that was sleeping with a servant – it was only hinted at as ‘wrong’ one or two times, and not in the way I was expecting – that is, it wasn’t necessarily shown as morally wrong.
But other than that, I did really enjoy “The Beautiful Pretender”.
 There was just such…enchantment to this book. You really relish it as you read. And what a tremendous cover! Striking. :)
A very sweet, endearing story, one that is full of exciting and well-crafted plot lines.
I recommend it for ages 16+
“A woman wishes to be swept up by a man’s fervent feelings for her, by love and longing and depth of feeling. She does not wish to be married for her father’s coin or her noble birth or because she is a sensible choice. She wants to be wooed, even after she is married, to be cherished and loved for her very self, not just because she has a beautiful face, long after she has passed the age of freshness and youth.” Chapter 5 pg47
“I’m just curious. Do you think a God who sent His Son to be born in a lowly stable to poor people, announced to shepherds in a field, could care about gold and ivory and jewels? Perhaps God cares about our hearts, not our wealth.” Chapter 6 pg 62
“But it was the thought of him wanting to know about her stories that made her stomach tumble inside her.” Chapter 11 pg 101
“She’d never been in love before. She’d tried to save herself this pain, but all her pretending and hiding the truth from herself had not saved her at all. And even though this love was painful, it was worth it to remember how the sight of him and the sound of his voice had made her heart beat faster, that feeling of wanting what was best for someone else, even if it broke her own heart.” Chapter 23 pg. 220
“She no longer had to dream about love. God had given her a love all her own, one that the troubadours would sing about for years to come.” Chapter30 pg307

The Beautiful Pretender Melanie Dickerson

I received a complimentary copy from the publishers/Litfuse in exchange for my honest review which I have given.
Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Litfuse, Revell Reads

Book Review: “Anchor in the Storm” by Sarah Sundin

 

“Anchor in the Storm” by Sarah Sundin

Book Two in the Waves of Freedom Series

WWII Historical Fiction

Review copy source: Litfuse/Revell

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

 

About the book:

One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance–and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War Ii means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War Ii to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

 

 

My Thoughts:

Sarah Sundin never disappoints. :) “Anchor in the Storm” was another fantastic book, with a great plot and fantastic characters. There was also a bit of mystery in it which was fun to follow along with!
Lillian Avery was a really well-rounded character; unique too, and still relatable. And Arch was charming as well, and with his own flaws – I do really appreciate flawed characters. :)
The faith strand was good, and consistent, which was lovely – Christ is our Anchor!
The struggles and trials they went through were very real, and the background pain was believable and came across well.
“Jesus is you anchor, your hope in any storm, you sure refuge.” (Page 28)
And I must admit, I loved the romance – it was sweet and I really wanted the two together. Arch was the perfect gentlemen – seriously, he was just so thoughtful and sweet.
“Yet she was worth the effort” (Page 144)
There was a grandmotherly character in this book who had a great influence on Lillian, and helped her to open her heart, which was so nice – we all need someone to remind us! Because it is hard, and it does sometimes hurt, but God desires an open heart.
“Oh, sweet girl. You may be able to hide your feelings from people, but you can never hide them from the Lord.” (Page 67)
“Now you’ve experienced great love. Now you’ve suffered great loss. Now your heart is truly open” Lillian pressed her free hand to her chest. Why did an open heart have to hurt so much?” (Page 346)
There were just a couple of instances of their romance that I didn’t care for fully – it wasn’t horrible, but sometimes it seemed a little rushed (or rather, happened quickly once it did happen), and there were a lot of kisses, and

*** SPOILER***  I was a little bummed when there had to be the typical turmoil stretch in their relationship. I know that they don’t want it to seem too perfect all of the time, but it just seemed…too much in the ‘norm’. ***END OF SPOILER***

But yes, I enjoyed this book very well, and look forward to the next! Sarah Sundin’s writing is spectacular, with much talent, and always so captivating!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers (Revell) and Litfuse in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love? Pharmacist Lillian Avery and Ensign Archer Vandenberg are about to find out in Sarah Sundin’s new book, Anchor in the Storm. During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling? As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Celebrate the release of Sarah’s Anchor in the Storm by entering to win her All Hands on Deck Prize Pack!

anchor in the storm - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A signed copy of Anchor in the Storm
  • Nautical tote bag lined with anchor fabric
  • Anchor necklace made from copper reclaimed from the USS Constitution in Boston during restoration
  • 365 Devotions for Hope by Karen Whiting
  • Shine: Nautical Inspirational Adult Coloring Book
  • “Hope Anchors the Soul” journal
  • Set of two nautical tea towels
LF AIS full group 2 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 8th. The winner will be announced June 9th on Sarah’s blog.

anchor in the storm - banner
Posted in Bethany House, Blogging For Books, Book reviews, BookCrash, Booklook Review, Books, God's Lessons, Litfuse, Moody Book Review, NetGalley Book Review, reading, Revell Reads, Reviews, update

An announcement of sorts

Good day to you, my much appreciated blog-followers! :)

As the title states, I do have an announcement to share with you all. And it’s rather large, in the sense that I didn’t think that I’d do this. But I’m content with this decision, because I know it is directed by God and He has shown Himself SO awe-some in every sense of the word. So my news is this:

 

I will no longer be reviewing books at the rapid pace that I have been – that I’ve been known for. In fact, I’ve gotten off several of the Book Review Programs. I’m taking a Sabbatical. (such a fun word, is it not?). The reason for this, in short, is that it is what the Lord has guided me to recently. It’s definitely time for a break. See, when I read and review books I am analyzing the book so I can justly review it, but by doing this constantly, I have formed a habit of being analytical in everything – and that is leaning on my own understanding, not God’s. It’s thinking through every little thing when I should have faith instead.  And I want to lean wholly on the Lord’s understanding instead of my own, and so I am obeying Him in this step back from reviewing.

 

Sabbatical

 

Truthfully, it is a relief. Yes, I have loved this season of reviewing – it has been a great experience! But I am now ready for a new season. I will still be reading (of course!) but at a more leisurely pace, and I won’t necessarily being posting reviews of every book, as the amount of review books I receive will be just about nonexistent.

However, I will be finishing out with the reviews I have already committed to, so there are a couple yet to come. And I’m not banishing myself from all book reviews, just really stepping back.

 

It’s a big change for me, I’ll be the first to admit it. I am a reviewer. But now, it is: I was a reviewer. My life doesn’t need to hinge on reviewing, and a breather will be nice!

I’ll still do my best to keep up with my blog here, and I’m still apart of some blog tours coming up. I’m just also going to be doing a lot of “de-stressing” which means de-cluttering, etc.

 

So, here’s to a new season! Thank you for understanding. :)

 

 

Posted in Books, Litfuse, Uncategorized

Litfuse Book Review: “Blue Ribbon Trail Ride” by Miralee Ferrell

“Blue Ribbon Trail Ride” By Miralee Ferrell

Book four in Horses and Friends

Review source: Litfuse

My rating 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp—a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.

But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.

 

My Thoughts:

I read through this series with my younger sister, reading each one in order. While these books were entertaining, clean, and did keep my sister interested, there were some things that I am very concerned about which I will discuss below.
Each book had similar plot-lines, but I think that for their age group and for horse-loving readers, they are good. I’m afraid I am not an extreme horse-lover (or in that age group of 12-15), but for those who are, these are interesting reads. My favourite character would have to be Tori. She was very sweet, kind, and a great role-model.
The things I wish were different were that there could’ve been a stronger thread of faith and influence of godly character. The character of Kate was written well, I had just hoped the parents would’ve exhibited more in the way of leading their children in godly ways and turning things back to God and prayer, etc. I also was concerned with how often Kate did things she knew she wasn’t supposed to and going behind her parent’s backs or eavesdropping, etc. and then it was just skimmed over like it wasn’t that big of a deal. As it happened, we had to stop and discuss why Kate’s behaviour wasn’t okay, and what she should have done to honour God and her parents. My concern is that young girls will read this and not have an older sibling or parent to stop and discuss the right and wrongs of the book and will think that it’s normal and even okay to act as Kate did. I understand that they want to write a realistic character, but then there needs to be consequences for bad actions and corrections so that the readers will learn how to handle situations with a godly attitude.
This book was aimed more for public-schooled children of that age, I believe, which isn’t bad. My younger sister is the same age as the main character, but there were some vast differences and also we’re a homschooling family so there is that difference where we couldn’t relate fully to the main character.
I did appreciate that these books had a variety of people, like having an autistic character, a homeschooled character, a Hispanic character, a freckled character, and popular character, etc.
There were just quite a few issues that weren’t handled how I had hoped and things that were brought up and then ignored instead of being dealt with in a good way. And for those reasons I would strongly suggest that the book be read with an adult so that morals can be discussed and the reader can learn from Kate’s often selfish and disrespectful behaviour.
As I said, I would strongly advise this book not be read alone by younger readers.
I received complimentary copies of all four books from the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.