The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

About the book: A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Timeslip

My thoughts: After reading The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel I knew I had to read whatever she released next. That just so happened to be The Secrets of Paper and Ink. I didn’t even read the description of what the book was about. I just knew that I loved her writing and wanted to read whatever she wrote. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book was everything I was expecting it to be and more. The story centers on two modern-day women who meet when Sophia decides to get away and go to England. She has just faced the death of her fiance but readers soon learn that there’s more to her story than just the grief she is going through. In England, she meets Ginny, who has been left by her husband with a bookstore that is on the verge of closing. Sophia rents a room from Ginny and works in the bookstore. There she comes across a notebook in which there is a fascinating story about Emily Fairfax. Sophia isn’t sure if Emily is real or just a character but she is drawn to her story and it was a story that I was drawn to as well. It was so easy to like and relate to each of these three women. The author does an excellent job of writing three original characters that worked well in the same story.

The chapters in the book jump from character to character but that was something that I really enjoyed. I liked learning Emily’s story in bits and pieces and slowly over the course of the book. I (correctly!) guessed some of the events in Emily’s story and how she would be connected to the main story fairly early into the book but that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I found that I enjoyed learning that my guesses were correct as the story unfolded.

Whether reading about modern-day Cornwall or the 1860s Cornwall the author does an excellent job of describing the scenes and transporting readers to England and letting them go on a journey with three very unique women who are facing difficult times in their lives. The author does an excellent job of writing a timeslip novel that gives readers two complete stories to enjoy as they combine into one fantastic read!

With her YA-leaning The Heart Between Us and now The Secrets of Paper and Ink this author has earned a spot on my must-read list. It doesn’t matter what genre or era she is writing, I will be reading it. I highly recommend this book which is quite possibly my favorite read of the year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

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Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic by Mark Blake

About the book: Freddie Mercury was rock’s most dazzling showman, a legendary entertainer who in 1991, at the age of just forty-five, became the first major music star to die of AIDS. Mercury’s soaring four-octave voice was a defining element in Queen’s unique sound, crucial to the success of the band’s fifteen studio albums, from Queen (1973) to Made in Heaven (1995). He was also a supremely talented songwriter and musician who wrote many of the band’s greatest hits, including ‘Killer Queen’, ‘We Are the Champions’ and their biggest triumph, the epic anthem ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. As a solo artist he released two acclaimed albums: Mr. Bad Guy in 1985 and the operatic ‘Barcelona’ with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé in 1988.

Mercury’s extraordinary charisma was perhaps best seen in his imperious live performances, in which he’d hold vast stadium crowds to rapturous attention. His outrageous theatrics, physicality and over-the-top costumes led one commentator to describe him as ‘a performer out to tease, shock, and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself’. He pushed the limits of camp in everything he did. His extreme behaviour, in a society in which being gay was only starting to be accepted, just added to Freddie Mercury’s allure.

With expert understanding, Mark Blake traces Mercury’s life from his childhood in Zanzibar and India to his untimely death, and charts his astonishing achievements including in Queen’s world-conquering performance at Live Aid in 1985.

In the year that marks what would have been his seventieth birthday, Freddie Mercury: A Life celebrates a remarkable life, lived to the fullest. Featuring revealing interviews with fellow musicians, producers and collaborators, and a detailed discography and timeline, this is a memorable tribute to a unique recording artist and an irreplaceable performer who rocked the world.

Publication Date: September 12, 2016

Publisher: Omnibus Press

Genre: Biography

My thoughts:

“The other members of Queen wrote songs – often great songs – but it was Freddie who sold them.”

Like him, love him, or hate him, you have to admit Freddie Mercury had a vision and talent. In this book from Mark Blake readers learn about Freddie Mercury, the performer and the man. Readers get to know Mercury through the author’s research and the men who knew him best, Brian May and Roger Taylor. Though it would have been great to have heard from John Deacon it is understandable while reading the book that this just isn’t to be. These guys weren’t just band mates but friends and family. There’s a loyalty between them that is rarely found and should be treasured.

If you are a fan of Queen or Mercury then this book is a must-read. It’s entertaining and written in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are experiencing life right along with Mercury and the rest of the band.