Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review on The Christmas singing by Cindy Woodsmall

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall is “A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country”.  It opens with Mattie, an Old Order Amish woman living in Ohio with her brother and his family, where she runs and operates her own cake shop called “Mattie Cakes” Mattie had come to Ohio from Pennsylvania, to help heal her broken heart as her intended Gideon had broken off their relationship on Christmas 3 years earlier.  After discovering what appears to be unfaithfulness on Gideon’s part, Mattie puts up a wall to keep her broken heart from being hurt again. And so she begins a very safe relationship with a man in Ohio named Sol.  They are comfortable with each other and allow each other their space.  But a tragedy strikes, and this brings Mattie back to Pennsylvania and to Gideon.  As they renew their friendship, and are completely honest with each other the true story comes out and new choices must be made. Love, sacrifice and understanding weave together and bring about things just as they should be.

  My thoughts on this book are that it does deliver a “Romance from the Heart of the Amish Country”. The characters were believable- I could really relate to the scattered character of Mattie, being a creative type myself, I get that. And Gideon was solid as well and I understood why he made the choices he made in the novel. For me, I wished that there would have been a bit more at the end.  I felt that it was a bit abrupt.  I would have loved to have seen one scene in particular with Gideon and Mattie towards the end of the book elongated a bit- I feel it would have helped the reader see a bit more what Gideon and Mattie looked like when they were good together.  Those are just my thoughts though. Overall, an enjoyable read, I just would have liked to have seen a bit more. One nice addition towards the end is that the author includes recipes to the cakes mentioned for the wedding, a nice addition, for sure.

3 stars.

I received this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And the winner is................

I used a random name picker program to choose this winner- I promise that I did not cheat because I love you all.

Drumroll please.....................................................................

Loraine!  Congrats Loraine. She is a friend of mine through our group Christian Fiction Devourers on Goodreads. If you would like to join a wonderful Christian online book group, come and check us out over there. Here's the link- http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/742.Christian_Fiction_Devourers
Enjoy the book Loraine and again congrats! Cheryl

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giveaway- Wonderland Creek.

All right friends, it's time once again for a giveaway.  It is Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin.( I kept calling it Sugarland Creek before- silly me!) Ok, so for this Giveaway, answer me this question-  What is the toughest job you ever held?  I'm sure that however you felt, was how Alice felt in this book!
Please leave me your email as well. This will run until next week which will be 11/22.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review on Wonderland Creek

Early on with my book reviewing I had to make a decision as to what criteria I would use with my marking system.  I mean to be honest, there are so many great books out there by so many great authors that I could give everyone 5 stars and feel fine about it.  But when I started to pay attention a bit more, I found that there were 2 things that really helped me pick out the 5 star books.  The first was writing that truly transported me to that place created by the author that I just couldn’t wait to get back to so that I could see what those characters were up to and how everything works out.  The second thing was even more impactful, that Christian fiction book that has the power to hit me right where I am and speak a word of truth in my life that actually make me take a look at myself and ask God to help me change something.  Lynn Austin has consistently done that in all of the books that I have read by her and Wonderland Creek is no exception.

Wonderlnd Creek opens with young Alice Grace Ripley, a recently hired librarian from Blue Island Illinois, being unceremoniously dumped by her year- long boyfriend Gordon.  I’m afraid that Alice was expecting a ring soon, not to be “let go”.  And unfortunately, right after being “let go” by Gordon, she is “let go” by her job as well. This novel is set in 1936 so the library where she was working was going through tough times financially as the depression was affecting the whole country. (Sound familiar?) As a result, Alice is left wondering what to do with herself.  From all of her extensive reading, Alice discovers that in the hills of Kentucky, they are in desperate need of books.  She had already been heading  up a book drive at her library for this need and since her aunt and uncle were heading to Kentucky , she decides to hitch a ride with them and deliver the books herself to a little town called Acorn , Kentucky.  She arrives to this very rural, and rustic little town, if you blinked you would miss it, and marches right over to Leslie MacDougal’s house, the resident librarian with whom she had been corresponding about the need for the books.  She rashly decided to come without waiting to see if she was invited, only to discover that “Leslie McDougal” is a “he”, not a “she”.  She is left by her aunt and uncle in this little town for 2 weeks, but that 2 weeks gets extended as she needs to help out with various things such as being a packhorse librarian and traveling a route to the different families of Acorn (who happen to be incredibly divided over a 100 year long feud regarding buried treasure).  She ends up in one scrape after another with having to learn how to exist with no electricity, learning to ride a horse, and oh yeah help with the staging of the fake death of the resident librarian Leslie MacDougal “Mac”.  Life is not boring in Acorn, Kentucky.

The characters in this book are a pleasure to read.  Alice has a lot of growing up to do in terms of engaging in life with others, more that keeping her nose stuck in a book.  As she grows and matures and learns the joy of helping others, loving others, and truly living life with those around you, you can’t help but come to really love this character.  Probably my favorite character is Lillie, a former slave, who really becomes a mentor to Alice, and needs to push Alice several times in her growing process, but her storyline is fascinating to read as it unfolds as well.  Leslie MacDougal or “Mac” is also a lover of books as the local librarian, but has struck that right balance of reading great stories and living a great story.  He is definitely a character that grows on you as well. 

All I can say is it is no wonder that Lynn Austin has won 7 Christy Awards as she writes with truth, humor and a clear moral to love and engage with those that God has brought your way.  I definitely recommend this book for those that love great historical fiction

I was graciously provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review of The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

I’m a multi-tasker. I like to kill the proverbial 2 birds with one stone. And so that is exactly what I did while reading The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy.  I headed to the gym, jumped on the elliptical and started reading away.  For me it’s a win-win situation, because my body gets that much needed work out in and my mind is otherwise engaged – perfect.  Lest you think that I didn’t really get a great workout while reading this book, I will tell you that because of the intensity of the book, the pacing, really engaging characters, and truly intriguing storyline, I found the pages turning, heart rate up, and an hour and 627 calories burned later, a great workout for sure, not to mention a great and suspenseful read.   As I doubt that you are really interested in my workout habits, let me just say that once again I have found Erin Healy’s writing to be quite captivating by giving her characters such fascinating back stories. She artfully weaves her story together a little at a time till all the pieces come together to produce quite a fascinating and beautifully done story.

   Geoff and Audrey Bofinger are former Pastor and Pastor’s wife stripped of their positions at the local church in Cornucopia, CA, by a man named Jack Mansfield who accused the Pastor of something that he didn’t do. The Pastor and Pastor’s wife turn Into Baker and Baker’s wife as they try to pull their lives together and buy a local bakery in town.   Sadly, Audrey is involved in an auto meets scooter accident that Jack feels has to do with his wife Julie’s disappearance.  The accident scene is filled with lots of blood, but no body.  Jack is convinced that the Bofinger’s, Audrey in particular, have master minded an evil plot that will somehow explain Julie’s disappearance and so he takes matters into his own hands and something snaps as He seeks to bring God’s justice to the Bofingers.

  Audrey is a special character in this story as her remarkable ability to empathize goes beyond a normal person’s extreme empathy.  She is able to relate to people with her extreme sensitivity that can’t be explained except as a special gift from God, she literally feels their pain.  Also in the mix is a character named Diane Hall who is an ex-con with an interesting story of her own as she just happens to show up in Cornucopia right as Julie has disappeared.  As her story comes to light, you can see how the author has woven everyone’s path’s together to meet for a very special and redemptive type story.

  I was definitely drawn into this story. Erin’s style of writing is just lovely to read and she paints such perfect pictures with words.  I have to say she developed a really interesting villain in Jack, one that views himself as the most righteous of righteous and the effects that has on the relationships around him.  Another aspect of the story that I liked was that things weren’t just tied up with a nice bow at the end of the story.  Where there is sin, there are consequences and things take a while to heal, but there was definitely a feeling of hopefulness for the characters that you most cared about.

So, work out done, check, great book read to add to Erin Healy’s other great books check.  Now it’s time to go and raid my kids’ Halloween stash, because that’s the whole point of working out, right?
Excellent read- 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review on Gayle Roper's Shadows on the Sand

I remember growing up and hearing the bell choir perform at my church.  I have to say that I really enjoyed it, especially when they were all synchronized and hit their notes in perfect unison.  It made for a beautiful sound and it’s what I think of whenever I hear the phrase “ringing true”, you know that moment when something hits you as pure and sincere.  Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper is one of those books that “rings true” in my mind and really did touch me with regards to the storyline, characters and writing. It is told with sincerity and sensitivity.

Carrie Carter is a small café business owner in Seaside, New Jersey, having survived a tough upbringing with a deadbeat mother with no concern for Carrie or her younger sister Lindsay.  But Carrie was a fighter and teenage runaway protecting her sister from her mother’s neglect and loser boyfriends who did not have the girl’s best interests in mind.  Having survived all that and starting over in Seaside, Carrie made a life for herself and sister and comes to own Carrie’s café where her younger sister also works.  Enter Greg Barnes, an ex-cop and wounded man who has lost his wife and children in tragic circumstances.  Perhaps it’s his sad background that attracts Carrie to Greg, but Greg doesn’t seem to know that she is alive.  Add in a pretty interesting twist with one of Carrie’s waitresses mysteriously disappearing after her dishwasher is found dead and you get a situation where Greg and Carrie are thrown together trying to figure out what is going on.

  This story is well told, especially with regards to the complexity of the characters of Greg and Carrie.  Both have experienced a whole lot of heartache before knowing the other and make mistakes along the way with regards to their relationship with each other and with God.  I appreciated that these characters seemed very real.  Carrie didn’t’ really want to face up to some of her past and reconcile a relationship.  Greg has a hard time moving forward with all the fear that is holding him back.  I love how the author weaved their journeys together with imperfect moments, it makes the characters come alive and gives them reality and depth.

 I appreciate a book that has some suspense, little bit of humor, and a little soul searching thrown in as well.  Gayle Roper is now on my radar screen as an author and just like I looked forward to hearing the bell choir play at my church with those perfectly hit notes, I will definitely look forward to reading more of Gayle Roper in the future.  Keep on ringing true!

4 stars

A free copy of this book was graciously provided fo me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review on There You'll Find Me

Some people have this uncanny ability to get you laughing quite easily, and isn’t that a wonderful thing?  Laughter just makes everything better, you’re happy, you’re comfortable, and you really don’t want it to end.  Those are pretty much my feelings about books written by Jenny B Jones.  The thing that is really a fascinating combo though is that right along with the laughter in that place where you are happy and comfortable,  Jenny introduces you to characters that have “stuff” that is pretty serious to wade through, you know stuff like complicated  family relationships, grief, perfectionism and  parental approval to name a few.  You find all of this stuff, along with the laughter and much more in Jenny B Jones latest book There You’ll Find Me.

  Finley Sinclair, little sister to Alex Sinclair  from Save the Date (for loyal Jenny B Jones fans) is on her way to Ireland when she lands a free upgrade into First Class where she just happens to sit next to none other than Beckett Rush, up and coming teen movie star . With his Vampire franchise of films with such titles as Vampire Boarding School and Friday Night Bites, he has developed quite a following of teens and tweens alike. Unfortunately, his reputation precedes him as that of a Mr. Hollywood Party Boy and as Finley is on a personal spiritual renewal trip to get a fresh start after making some poor choices, she wants as far a berth as she can get from the guy that every other girl would die to be around. As luck would have it, Beckett is staying at the very Bed and Breakfast, while filming his latest Vampire movie,  where Finley is staying with her host family during her study abroad program, so their paths do keep crossing.  Finley finds that maybe all those paparazzi reports on Beckett weren’t really that accurate and Beckett can’t help but be drawn to a girl that seems to be real and not cookie-cutter Hollywood. As they get to know each other all of that “stuff”- good and bad starts to come out as they help each other to find what they truly are looking for.

  This story while having the usual humor that Jenny B. Jones always dishes up so well ,also has some real characters dealing with real issues in their lives.  I love how the journey progresses for both characters with regards to figuring out what path God has for each of their lives and that it isn’t always what they naturally thought would happen.  But God’s ways are always better than our ways and a whole lot of growth takes place during the process. 

  This YA book is charming, lovely set in Ireland, and a pleasure to read.  I like reading good YA stuff that I can pass on to my daughter’s with confidence that they will be read , enjoyed and even have a great spiritual message in between the laughter and the tears.  Thanks Jenny B Jones once again for a great book!  Well constructed plot, loveable characters and a story that tugs on your heartstrings while filling the reader with joy and hope!

5 stars

A free digital copy was given to me by the publisher through the Netgalley program.  I was not obligated to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review on Spiritual Warfare for Women

Spiritual Warfare for Women by Leighann McCoy is a book written by someone who really knows how to do some battle as the stories that Leighann shares from her own life really help to show the reader that this isn’t just a pie- in- the- sky book, but one written by someone whose battled it out in the trenches and lived to tell about it.  As I first picked up the book and read the introduction I almost said, maybe I won’t read this book after all because if my experience is like that of the authors then maybe I might want to skip some battles and keep things easy, but it turns out that I pressed on and read the book and I’m glad I did, even with the battles that I am facing, but at least I am better prepared.

  The book is divided up into 4 sections.  The first is exploring the great love of God and how that impacts our lives, followed by section 2 where the enemy and his tactics are explored.  Part 3 explores the Targets that the enemy tries to get at us with- our marriages, children, friendships, health, church, etc.   And lastly in part 4 is finding Victory in Christ through our standing in Him and why we have nothing to fear.  I truly appreciated all of the great scripture mentioned at the end of every chapter with great ideas for different tricks with how to commit them to memory.  My absolute favorite part of the book was at the end where the author points out 5 stones with which to do battle against the enemy with.  Just like David against Goliath she delves into what those stones are and how they can help you to stand against the enemy- perseverance, faith, confidence, etc.

This is one of those books that will stay on my shelf so that I can refer back to it again and again.  I am a woman of God, wife, mother, friend and ministry worker who wants to be fully armed for battle and this book helps me to be ready to do just that.

4 out of 5 stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes by the publisher.  The review written was my opinion and I was not required to write positive review.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review on Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Have you ever had that situation where unfortunately your jewelry box has become a tangled mess?  And so with all of those lovely necklaces so bitterly entwined you find that all you are left is beautiful jewelry not being worn because of the knots that mar the beauty of the jewelry and render it useless for the wearer.  This exact scenario is reminiscent to me of what the main character Krista Mueller is embroiled in, in the very powerful and healing book Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren.

Krista Mueller is a successful college professor in history living her life away from her mother who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.  Having never felt affirmation or love from her mother Krista has kept her distance, literally.  Only now her mother is dying and it is necessary for her to return to her hometown of Taos, New Mexico to be by her dying mother’s bedside.  Wrestling with so many emotions and meeting her old first love Dane McConnell who is the director of the nursing home where her mother is staying, poor Krista has lots of things to figure out.

   Using my earlier tangled mess analogy, it is so fascinating to read this story.  Poor Krista has so many knots to untangle with regards to her past with her mother, her past with Dane and just her past in general.  This was a very tender and sensitively written story and one that can appeal to anyone wondering if it’s ever too late to reconcile and find peace, especially with a loved one.  At first Krista’s jumbled mess makes you think there is no way that she is going to be able to untie all of these knots, but she does, one knot at a time and by the end of the novel you are filled with an overwhelming sense of peace and hope.  Forgiveness is powerful and frees not only those we are forgiving but ourselves as well.  I think this is a special book of hope for all of us, but especially for those going through a situation with those we love who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Very well done. 4 stars.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review on "It Couldn't Just Happen"

“It couldn’t just happen, knowing the truth about God’s awesome creation” by Lawrence O Richards is a great non-fiction book that you definitely want to get into with your kids. If you want your kids to be versed on a scientific approach to seeing God’s hand on this world and how yes, even science points to the hand of a creator, then I would recommend you buying this book.  The book marries scripture to science in an interesting and fun way for the reader.  After reading about the universe and what it’s made of -planets, stars, quasars, etc.  and their relation to the earth makes Psalm 19 come alive-”The heavens declare the glory of God”.

  This book is broken down into 5 parts- the first part is “Earth in our universe” and the uniqueness of our planet in the scheme of things to section 2 and “How life began” and how there is more scientific evidence that points to creation than against it.  The 3rd section deals with “Evidence from Living Things” and addresses amazing facts about animals that Evolution simply cannot explain.  Section 4 is Humanity in God’s Nature- and debunking the whole Neanderthal people “animal like chain of human evolution” aka cavemen situation.  And finally the last portion called “The Book that just didn’t happen” dealing with the Bible and how it is a “revelation”-“that it tells us things about God we couldn’t discover without God telling us.” (pg 169)  It also links in the science of archeology and how it has shown Bible claims to be true over and over again. 

  This is a great book to go through with your children and will give them a good working base knowledge in helping to know that science can be on God’s side. I also really appreciated how the author always included at the end of the chapters a fun activity to illustrate his point.  It was labeled a “Just for fun section” and it would ask questions to make you think or give you hands on activity like go look at a map to look at how many mountain ranges you could find, etc.   And the best thing of all is that parents, you might even learn a thing or two in the process.

 I was graciously provided a digital copy of this book through the Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review on Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee!

There are just certain things that apart, truly are great all by themselves, but if you were to combine these two things, you get an end result that is quite remarkable. For example- love peanut butter, love chocolate, together they are amazing. Then there’s Batman and Robin- both very cool crime-fighters in their own right, but put them together and you have the Dynamic Duo. This is of course what you get when you combine fast paced, adrenaline producing, NY times bestselling author Ted Dekker ( Batman- hah!)  and the   breathtakingly passionate  and fearless writing of Tosca Lee and put them together.  The term “Dynamic duo”, doesn’t really do them justice with their combined offering of “Forbidden”.

  Forbidden gives us a futuristic dystopian society where geneticists or “alchemists” in the book have figured out a way to eliminate all emotions in the human race, with the exception of fear, deemed a necessary emotion for survival of the race.  Imagine a society where your only emotion permitted you, is fear, sounds a little dreary, huh?  This is how we find our main character “Rom” as the novel opens.  But very quickly he finds himself in a situation that puts him in trouble with the authorities.  He is chosen to carry something of extreme value by an underground group called “the keepers” which are being hunted down and eliminated to get the very thing that is now in Rom’s possession- and what is it?  Why it’s the key to “life” of course, or at least life as it used to be and was created to be.  Rom now finds himself discovering what it means to be truly alive and realizing that he has a responsibility to wake up the world around him to real life.  That is rather a daunting challenge and you will meet the different characters along the way that help him in that challenge.

I honestly didn’t want to go into too much detail in this review as I really don’t want to rob the reader of the pleasure of discovering this amazing story as it unfolds before you.  Yes, I would agree that Forbidden has the feel of the “Circle series” of Dekker fame, and the lovely prose of Tosca Lee is certainly apparent on the pages. I found it to be truly a fascinating read and loved the storyline and characters because it was passionate, fast- paced, and a story that completely draws you in.  I will say that it’s not for the faint of heart,  some of the scenes are quite graphic with regards to the violence. At one point I was thinking, “EW, why did they choose to do that?” But even with that said, I feel that with these authors, I really trust them, and think it was necessary to show the depth of the struggle.  There is some definite heartbreak in this novel as well, but the allegories are rich for sure and a novel well worth reading.  All I can say is bring on “Mortals”, the next offering in this series, I will be waiting with baited breath. (5 stars)

I  graciously received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher Center Street through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.   All opinions expressed are my own.

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Winner of To Die For...

The Winner of To die For is.....

Beth  bharbin07(at)gmail.com.  Beth's name was picked using a random name picker.  Thanks everyone for playing and joining in the fun.  I wish I had a copy of this book to give to all of you, it's that good.  Blessings and happy reading! - Cheryl

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"To Die For" Giveaway!

Ok Friends this is Sandra Byrd's latest novel and it was very well done.  If you are an avid reader of "Tudor Times" or not, I think you will enjoy this wonderful historical fiction novel by Sandra Byrd following Ann Boleyn's life from the perspective of her best friend Meg.  Here's what you have to do:

1.  Leave a comment answering this question- what other time period besides the present, would you like to live in? (1 entry)

2.  Become a follower of my blog and leave a comment that you did. (please leave email address) (additional entry)

The winner for this contest will be chosen next Tuesday - August 23rd.

Thanks for playing and happy reading!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review on The Healing

Well here’s the thing, there are times when I have favorites at a certain restaurant- you know like every time I head down to that one place down by the water I have to get the Chocolate Peanut Butter milkshake (that is to die for) because it’s delicious and it’s my favorite, so I know exactly what I am going to get. It can be a good thing to know exactly what you are going to get ahead of time if that’s exactly what you want or it can be a little bit repetitive depending on your take of what you are consuming. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

“The Healing” by Wanda Brunstetter opens with Samuel Fischer, a young Amish father burying his beloved wife Elsie after she suffered an accident falling down her stairs.  She also took with her their unborn child.  So you can imagine the grief that Samuel and his four young children are dealing with.  In that grief Samuel up and moves his kids to Pembroke Kentucky with the hopes that it will be easier on Samuel to manage his grief as he won’t be thinking of Elsie every minute of every day. He is a truly saddened man and finding it very difficult to take care of his children while simultaneously trying to start his life over.  With his brother Titus living in Kentucky, he makes the break and moves himself and 4 young children into his home in Pembroke so he can have some help with his “kinners”.

  This story is all about Samuel’s “healing” as the title alludes to.  He is able to find work from a young woman who has just moved to Kentucky herself as she is refurbishing an old home that belonged to her recently deceased Grandmother into a B&B. Samuel is helping with the painting and renovations.  His 4 young children are being watched during the day by Esther Beiler, a young unmarried Amish woman that is just as sweet as can be and the children quickly fall for her kind ways as well as excellent cooking skills.  Esther quickly falls for Samuel, but with Samuel still enveloped in his massive grief, it takes a while for him to come around.  He is able to throw himself into his work, but is sadly lacking with all of his relationships around him, children, etc.

On the whole I would say that I enjoyed this story.  Honestly, it felt very similar to the first novel in this series-, The Journey, so it was starting to feel a little “formula writing” to me.  Boy moves to Kentucky- doesn’t notice girl at first at all as he is still getting over previous girl, starts to come around, crisis happens and he pulls back and then comes around and happy ending.  So if you don’t mind that both stories are rather similar then you will enjoy this book just as much as the first one.  For me it was just a bit repetitive, that’s all. 

  That being said, it was a sweet Amish love story, good scriptural truths and charming Amish characters.  If you are a fan of Wanda Brunstetter’s Amish fiction series, I think you will enjoy this book. 3 Stars.
A digital copy of The Healing was provided for me from the Publisher through the Netgalley program.   This was in exchange for a an honest review.  All opinions expressed were my own.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review on To Die For

 “Hank the V-I-I-I put poor Katie by and married young Ann Boleyn who tried to please but she soon went wrong by singing her song all out of key, it was his masterpiece”. Well, these are the lyrics to a ditty that kept humming through my head from my Jr. High concert in 8th grade as I read this story about the ill-fated 2nd wife of King Henry the VIII.  Admittedly the lyrics from this song were a bit on the corny side, with some “ hey nonny, nonny” type lines thrown in for good measure, but I assure you nothing about this book “To Die For” by Sandra Byrd was corny, but beautifully written from a new point of view.  That would be from the point of view of Anne’s long time best friend, Meg Wyatt, as she is by Anne’s side while they are teens with crushes on boys all the way to the royal court and becoming her wardrobe mistress, watching Anne become a queen and staying loyally by her side until her unfortunate death. 

  This story was beautifully woven together with wonderful intricacy in keeping the historical life of Anne Boleyn intact, while adding the wonderful fictional elements of the girl’s friendship as well.  The English Reformation element to the novel were very well done and interesting to read as Sandra Byrd’s comments about the strength of Henry and how “God often uses the strongest beast, not the gentlest to plow the hardest fields” and “how “what might have been intended for selfishness or evil and certainly did cause pain to those involved, eventually yielded a harvest of goodness.”  These comments were taken from the Authors Q&A found at the back of the book and so very well said.  I highly recommend the reader takes the time to read that section- so informative and interesting to read.  One can shake their head at Henry and his utter selfishness, or see that good was accomplished in the middle of all the pain that transpired.

The character of Meg Wyatt is one to be admired for sure in her dedication to Anne Boleyn as a true and faithful friend.  That’s not to say that she is not without her challenges and wrong turns here and there.  Her life is not an easy one with an abusive father, a vindictive brother and at the outset of the novel finds out that the man she loves has chosen the route of becoming a priest.  But even in the midst of all of her trials, she becomes a character that you are rooting for and one who is selfless until the very end, a tried and true friend.  Since the story is told from Meg’s point of view, you really are hoping that all will be well for her in the end which makes the story so enchanting, because you obviously know what Anne’s fate will be, but with Meg being the heroine of the story it gives the tale a newness and intelligence that I fell in love with.

  If you are a fan of “Tudor England” I have no doubt that you will truly enjoy this book.  It was very well told and an engaging story that historical buff or not, I sincerely believe all would appreciate the writing, characters, and fascinating storyline presented in To Die For.  Sandra Byrd has written many great YA fiction books that my daughters have thoroughly enjoyed in the past.  It is a wonderful thing that we can now all share Sandra Byrd as an author whose work, we all have read and loved. 5 stars.

I graciously received a free copy of this book for review purposes from the publishing company. I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review on A Marriage Carol

's review
Aug 02, 11 · edit

5 of 5 stars
Read from July 25 to 26, 2011

What happens when you combine the brilliant minds of Charles Dickens, Gary Chapman of “The Five Love Languages” fame, and 2 time Christy award winning author Chris Fabry? Why, you get the novel “A Marriage Carol, of course. The book opens this way- “I know what you will say. You married the wrong person. I know because it is what I said”. I’m sure that this is a common sentiment across the world in many marriages today. Somehow, Gary Chapman and Chris Fabry bring this sentiment to light and explore the possibilities of hope even in dire looking circumstances in a wonderful Christmas novella whose story unravels like a kitten batting at a ball of yarn.

David and Marlee Ebenezer (the nice Dickens’s nod there) are literally in the car driving to meet their divorce lawyer to sign on the dotted line on Christmas Eve, which also happens to be their anniversary- a little irony there in that they were choosing to end their journey together as husband and wife on the very day that they started it 20 years previously, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Unfortunately, there is an accident and suddenly Jacob is nowhere to be found and Marlee finds her way to a special house owned by an old man, where very interesting things start to happen. There is no ghost of Christmas past, present or future, but the same idea is written into the story- I’ll let you discover it for yourself. Marlee goes on quite a journey and faces the things she needs to face in herself that have gotten a bit off in her 20 year old marriage. During the course of this journey she learns many things, particularly about choices made, they either lead your heart towards your husband or away. But like in Dickens’s Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge, perhaps it’s not too late for Marlee and Jacob.

I have to say that I am a big fan of the work of Dickens, Chapman and Fabry, so I pretty much thought this would be a treat to read and it definitely was. But even more than being a great Christmas fictional read, this is a wonderful book to give to any married couple because after reading the story, you can’t help but ask yourself- “Am I making choices that are helping my marriage or hindering it?” I love it when fiction has the power to reach in and actually achieve positive outcomes in your own life. I also think that the author’s did a nice job of weaving great marriage principles into the story without it hitting you over the head with them, the story kept me reading and hoping for this couple that all would be well and offered hope and a glimpse at what unconditional love looks like. I will definitely be picking up a few of these books for Christmas for the married loved ones in my life. 5 stars.

I was graciously given a digital copy of this book through the netgalley program by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Tag- you're it!


Tag - you're it! That's right, you've been chosen as someone very special and unique in our Christian Fiction Devourers Group on Goodreads! ...And we'd like to know more about you. So please share 7 unique/little known facts about yourself and the best book you've read in the past 7 months.
  1. I am a stay-at-home mom of 4 girls- 1 in college, 1 will be a senior in high school, 1, 9th grader and 1- 7th grader.
  2. I grew up in Monterey, CA- absolutely beautiful- but I didn't appreciate it when I was little- it was just home.
  3. Ever since I was little I have had the acting bug- Goldilocks was my first role (I was blonde then haha) now I use it in ministry at my church.
  4. My husband Dave is my best friend.
  5. The courtship of that same husband Dave was 6 months from 1st date to "I do" and 3 months after I do, I was pregnant with our first daughter :)
  6. I now live in the Pacific Northwest in Washington state- I miss the sun :)
  7.  And just like my friend Jodie, I cry over movies, tv shows,  commercials  and BOOKS!
My favorite book in the past 7 months would have to be: Save the Date by Jenny B Jones.  I think I liked it so much because it took me by surprise- it was sooo funny and yet still touched on some important issues- loved it!  You can see my review  here.
And now, very quietly so I can surprise her, I'm going to go tag Rachel R. over at Thoughts from a compulsive reader .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review on Never the Bride

Never the Bride: A NovelNever the Bride: A Novel by Rene Gutteridge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know you don’t know me, but I’ll admit it –I’m a drama queen. Hopefully, I am not a drama queen in the negative sort or connotation that this label elicits, but in the very fact that I’m in charge of the drama program at my church. Why do I tell you this? It’s because of the advice that my pastor always gives me- he says, “Please pick the comedy skits, because you get to people’s hearts through the back door with them, not hitting them over the head with the heavy stuff, it just sort of gently comes to them through their own laughter.” And so I comply with his requests- you will find this concept brilliantly executed with Cheryl McKay’s and Rene Gutteridge’s novel Never the Bride. There is no hitting you over the head, but lots of laughter and great insight if you pay attention.

We meet Jessie Stone broken down on the side of Pacific Coast Highway with a flat tire bemoaning the fact that there is no guy in her life to take care of these frustrations for her. Yes, the title of the book "Never the Bride" sums up her attitude on life in spades. After failed online dating services, failed speed dating, and just plain old failed relationships, Jessie Stone is at the end of her “forever single” rope. And then enters a tall, dark and handsome man with gorgeous blue eyes. Hmmm the answer to her dreams (?) - Oh yeah, but maybe not as she thought. It’s God Almighty in the flesh trying to get Jessie to see things His way, that He might have a few ideas on how to handle her love life. Does she listen to Him? Well, sort of, with a few detours of her own.

This story is told with a wonderful sense of humor, a brilliant fresh writing voice and is a plain, absolute joy to read. As this was written as a screenplay first (Cheryl McKay) and adapted to a novelization later (Rene Gutteridge), it is easy to see how it would make a great movie, but trust me it works as a great novel as well. The scenes are very easy to visualize, especially the scenes where God shows up in various times and places and completely un-nerves our heroine Jessie Stone. His timing is always off according to Jessie and right on time according to God. He manages to get her completely outside of her comfort zone with regards to her ideas on her profession, her beliefs with regards to Him, as well as, of course, her love life. But isn’t God like that- His ways are always better than ours, if we will just listen.

So from this drama queen to you I say ”Bravo” on “Never the Bride” and I will be rushing to the Movie theaters if this is made into a movie. It was darling, winsome, and full of great spiritual messages. I can think of quite a few friends to recommend this book to and I truly hope to see Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge team up again- they are a formidable force. 5 stars.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Winner is......

No big surprise...Beth! Yay! I will email you and get your mailing address. Thanks for commenting! :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time again for another Giveaway- Delia Parr's Hidden Affection

Hidden Affections Ok everyone Giving away this Historical Christian Romance.
Here's how you enter:
1) Leave a comment telling me the title of your favorite Historical novel- this gets you one entry. (Please leave email at bottom of comment)

2)Become a follower of my blog- this gets you a second entry. For those of you that are already followers, just leaving a comment automatically gets you a 2nd entry.

Winner will be chosen Thursday, July 14.

A little bit about the book- from the book cover-
"Annabelle Taylor longs for a fresh start. Yet she cannot reveal what brought her to these circumstances. Harrison Graymoor plays the role of Philadelphia's most eligible, yet elusive bachelor. His preference is to remain single...alone. Quite unexpectedly, Annabelle and Harrison are forced into an undesired predicament. What happens when two determined individuals resolve against marriage....but their hearts tell them otherwise?"

To find out more about the author you can check out her website -here

Monday, July 4, 2011

Review on Pieces of Light by Julie Cave

Pieces of Light (A Dinah Harris Mystery)Pieces of Light by Julie Cave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, it’s 2 books for the price of one! You’ll get a who- dunnit mystery suspense novel along with a well thought out apologetics novel all in one story. I guess the question is- do you like both packed into one? This is my first Dinah Harris mystery novel by Julie Cave. The character of Dinah Harris is a former FBI agent having been released from the FBI because of her alcoholic issues that resulted after the loss of her husband and son in a car accident. Dinah is a character who has come a long way in her healing from those days, but she is still learning how to deal and how to live out her new faith.

This storyline is truly intriguing – someone is bombing local churches and Dinah is called in by her former partner, who still believes in her, as a consultant on the case. I love the way the author uses the present and past and goes back and forth as a wonderful literary device to unfold the story piece by piece to the reader; it opens with the convicted bomber on death row and flashes back to a year ago when the case is unfolding. As the story is told and I don’t want to give anything away here, but I believe the reader really does develop empathy for the “bomber” – unique because he/she is the “bad guy”, but then again aren’t we all?

As far as the apologetics side to the novel- there is plenty of it here. The author is logical and systematic in her delivery of the gospel message and its clear and very well laid out. I felt like the argument concerning the political side of separation of church and state was pretty drawn out and I felt that during this section of the book and even the later gospel arguments that I had switched to a Lee Strobel type of book. Here’s the rub for me- as a Christian, I agreed with everything that was written and really appreciated the systematic and logical thinking that went into these parts of the book. As a fiction reader, it took me away from the story and for me that is a red flag because then I am looking at the writer’s choices instead of staying in the story. But like I said before, if you like 2 for the price of 1, then you will really like this book.

Having jumped into the third book in this series without reading the first two always gives me a little disadvantage I feel, as I haven’t read the character’s entire previous story. So, I do want to go back and read the others. The author does a fine job at helping the reader know the main points of the character’s back story. I just would like to read more and see for myself. So when it’s all said and done, I did enjoy this book- lots of different sub plots going on that made the storyline interesting- some romance, political intrigue, and you can even brush up on your thoughts on separation of church and state arguments and apologetics thoughts. A lot packed in there.

Rating- 3.5 stars

Disclosure- I received a free digital copy of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giveaway winner....

The Ambition: A Novel Winner for my giveaway is Jane Anne Owen!! Yay Jane Anne- can you please message me with your address and I'll pop it in the mail for you ;) Congrats and enjoy the book!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review on A Vision of Lucy

A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance)A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Margaret Brownley, can we please do lunch? I know, a strange way to start out a book review, but sometimes after reading a good book, that’s how I feel and after reading A Vision for Lucy, and discovering that this author is full of humor and spunk, I just know she’d be a hoot to go to lunch with! I could ask her my plethora of questions about her Historical Christian fiction book, like “Are the cute quotes from a lady photographer of the day at the beginning of each chapter true or invented by her own imagination?” An example: “Never say “shoot” when you mean “photograph” especially when talking to a trigger –happy gunslinger”. Or,”What was your inspiration for the spunky photo-taking, jabber a mile a minute when she’s nervous heroine Lucy Fairbanks?” I’d ask her these things before the menus even came.

Onto the storyline- the setting is the little town of Rocky Creek Texas in 1882, a town where everybody knows your name…except for the new guy in town. A man with a secret and labeled incorrectly by a boy who got caught rummaging through his stuff, as a “wild man” and has the whole town on edge. Lucy, photographer extraordinaire, captures a picture of him for the local newspaper and things get misconstrued and it just gets wilder from there. It turns out this “stranger” is named David Wolf and is tall, dark and handsome and a bit brooding as well. He has reason to be, but I’ll let you discover his secrets for yourself between the pages of this book. Of course our spunky and driven photographer Lucy and mysterious and handsome stranger David meet up and together they make quite a pair. There is a secret here and it affects more than just our mysterious David. As the story unfolds, you see the pieces fall into place.

I have to say I really enjoyed this book. There were laugh out loud moments and the character of Lucy was a hoot. I became a fan of her instantly, especially with her tendency to babble on when she is nervous. The deep dark secret was revealed in just the right timing , as things came together and the clues were all there, but alas I did fall for the ‘red herring” that presented itself , so good job fooling me! Women’s suffrage is also woven into the storyline in an interesting way and I enjoyed the historical context woven through this novel. The main character throughout the novel is “searching” for what God has for her and her purpose in life- a common question to us all. The author does a good job in showing the character’s journey in that whole process.

My only little bit of criticism is that I found the description of the male character to be just a tad “mainstream romantic novelish”- “bulging thighs” for example. That is just my own little observation and it’s just my opinion, it just took me out of the story for a minute, so it caught my attention.

So, to sum up, this book was a great read, really enjoyed it and I am recommending it to those that love a Great Historical Christian fiction, romantic, mystery with some laugh out loud humor kind of books. I will definitely be reading more of Margaret Brownley in the future and Margaret, if you are ever in the Seattle area, please look me up - lunch is on me.

Disclosure- I received a Digital review copy of this book through the Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Review on The Dragons of Chiril

The Dragons of Chiril: A NovelThe Dragons of Chiril: A Novel by Donita K. Paul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first adventure reading Donita K Paul with her Christian Fantasy Book The Dragons of Chiril: A Novel and I doubt it will be my last. This book was chock full of great characters, interesting storylines and adventurous settings to keep the imagination of the reader stirred for sure. I think readers of all ages would really enjoy this fantasy tale.

Our main character Tipper is a girl whose father has disappeared unexplained many years ago. Her mother Lady Peg Schope is seemingly mentally incompetent claiming to always be talking to her absent husband. This leaves Tipper to have to fend for their household to keep things running. As a result, Tipper has sold many pieces of her Father’s artwork in order to make ends meet as her father; Verrin Schope was a well known artist. Unfortunately, three of Verrin Schope’s sculptures (all sold) hold the key to his disappearance in the form of a portal and with their separation a necessary journey to reunite these sculptures becomes most necessary to help save Tipper’s father as well as the world.

Every great fantasy novel always has a noble quest to save the world and this one is no different. My favorite part of this novel is truly the characters, the rag-tag band of travelers that unite to conquer this problem. Assembled in this group are Tipper of course, her always disappearing father Verrin Schope (you’ll have to read the book to see why), Beccarroon, grand parrot and guardian left to watch over Tipper, Beaulomondore, a local artist, Wizard Fenworth (who appears fairly bumbling, but is smarter than meets the eye) and sidekick librarian Librettowit (well named as he is very witty), and of course a handsome prince- love those guys. Together they are in a race against time to save Verrin Schope as well as repair the portal which is starting to crumble things around the countryside- not good. Of course there are dragons in this book which help the travelers out in many ways- transportation for one, as well as the minor dragons have special gifts and talents such as healing, and mood lifting, etc.

I like the way this story moved along, yes there were the good guys and the bad guys and the epic struggle that always takes place with that, but I loved other aspects to the storyline as well, such as the family dynamics that come into play at the end of the novel- which I don’t want to spoil, but I really appreciated that nuance to the story, sometimes the biggest battles that need to be overcome are with our own family. Also important to note is the character of “Wulder” which is the great creator. Much of his wisdom is woven into the story as a guiding force. This is not done in a hit you over the head with it overly preachy kind of way, but naturally done in the fabric of the story.

This book did have a “prequel” feeling to it for me as a first time reader and I can’t help but feel that I will gain more and get a broader feel for these characters if I continue on in this series and read the next book. (Ah, but I’m sure that’s the whole point.) It’s always fun for me to read a “new-author-to me” and I’ll put Donita K. Paul in as a great new fantasy writer.

Disclosure- A free review copy was graciously provided to me through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Dragons of Chiril: A Novel

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Ambition: A Novel Ok everyone- my first give away- I am giving away 1 copy of Lee' Stobel's new fiction book The Ambition- reviewed by me down below. To enter this giveaway Please leave me a comment. If you would like to follow me ,that will give you 2 entries to this free giveaway :) Giveaway runs for 1 week so I will announce the winner here on this blog on June 30th. Please leave your email at the end of your comment so that I can contact you easily- Good luck! Sadly, I need to limit this giveaway to the US and Canada. Thanks for your understanding.

Here is a little about the author- Lee Strobel-Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty books and has been interviewed on numerous national TV programs, including ABC, Fox, PBS, and CNN. Well know for his "Case for Christ" books- a jouranlistic approach to proving the truth of the gospel, he now releases his first Fiction release.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review on Hidden Affections

Hidden AffectionsHidden Affections by Delia Parr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Annabelle Tyler may have hoped she would marry again someday, but she never dreamed she would be wearing handcuffs during the ceremony when she did.” Ah I love a good opening line to a novel and I would say that Delia Parr’s Hidden Affections delivers that attention grabber opening line pretty well. I also might add that the cover is quite lovely as the model looks a lot like Kate Hudson! Anyway, on to the book- Annabelle Tyler and Harrison Graymoor find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Because of a rather awkward situation and because proper society demanded it-the time is 1831- they are forced to marry. Since neither one is interested in marriage particularly to each other, most of the novel is figuring out how to “undo” the marriage.
Annabelle is looking to start over and 36 hours after leaving Hanover Pennsylvania, her starting over hasn’t been the fresh start she was hoping for. She meets Harrison Graymoor- a man whose reputation especially with the ladies, precedes him. What is not expected by either one is that they start discovering that the other is not as bad as they originally thought. Throw in a secret or two for both of them , a rival suitor and you have a rather nice romantic story. Harrison has a pretty rogue-ish reputation and I might have made his character just a tad more likeable and the built the romantic part between he and Annabelle just a tad more because when the end came, I felt they all of a sudden came together.
However all in all, it is a sweet romance with a fun opening scene for sure and I think the majority of Christian fiction romance aficionados will enjoy this book.

Disclosure- A free copy of this book was graciously provided for me by the publisher- Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review on The Ambition by Lee Strobel

The Ambition: A NovelThe Ambition: A Novel by Lee Strobel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A crooked judge, cynical newspaper reporter, and a big time pastor turning political candidate are just a few of the characters that you will find in Lee Strobel’s debut fiction suspense novel The Ambition: A Novel. The characters are woven into a fascinating story where the mob plays into the judicial corruption of a case. With a pay off to a certain judge the system was able to be manipulated so that cases could be steered toward a certain judge who would get them off. Also woven in to the storyline, is Eric Snow; a well off mega-church pastor who is feeling the draw of the political arena and truly believes he can use his influence for good in a Senatorial position opening up due to the current senator’s scandal and Eric Snow is one of the possible candidates to take over. The other possible candidate is Chief Judge Reese McKelvie also vying for that senatorial position. Yes, you quickly see the character’s “ambitions” all over the place. Some motives are pure others corrupt and the story just takes off from there,
The Garry Strider character which is a Chicago new reporter looking to dig up any possible dirt that he can on Pastor Eric Snow gives the perfect cynical character particularly with regards to anything to do with God. Not having much use for God himself, Strobel paints a great picture of the path of cynicism and disbelief in God to a door cracking open just a little bit as the character faces different challenges. For instance he witnesses with his own eyes a true healing and miracle and faces challenges with his girlfriend Gina who is a new Christian. I like it that Garry is taking his time in really figuring out what he believes. One can’t help but feel that this character is close to the author’s own life experience, if you’ve followed Lee Strobel’s non-fiction work The Case for Christ. With that being said, this character in particular, rings very true to me.
The last fourth of the book is very exciting and moves very quickly. I would have to say that the end feels a little rushed but I was able to overlook it because it was clear to me that a sequel is to be written, so we will find out more about how these characters fair. My thoughts are that as a first run novel the story kept my attention and I felt the characters were interesting. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but with all the people groups that the author melded together- judicial, political, mega-church, journalistic and also “the mob”, it was necessary. In the final analysis I always ask myself- do I like these characters and do I care about what happens to them in the future which helps me gage the effectiveness of the story. The answer is yes, I did and I look forward to Lee Strobel’s fiction offerings in the future.

Disclosure- A free Digital review copy of The Ambition by Lee Strobel was graciously provided for me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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************Note Look for a free giveaway of this novel here soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review on Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliot

Fairer than Morning (A Saddler's Legacy Novel)Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When you have suffered great loss in your life, it is believed that you have a heightened sense of compassion to others around you going through great suffering themselves, and you are drawn to them to help somehow. Both of the main characters in Rosslyn Elliott's novel Fairer than Morning have been through much suffering in their lives. Ann Miller is the daughter of a master Saddler who lost his wife and Ann’s mother in childbirth when Ann was just a girl. Ann then needed to step up and be both sister and mother to her two younger sisters. This proves to be a central point in the novel as she wrestles with continuing in this role to her sisters versus moving forward with her romantic life and the turmoil inside of her as to which life to choose. Will Hanby is a young man whose young life has endured much suffering as well. When Will was just a boy himself, he lost both parents to consumption and he and his brother were sent to different farms to be kept from infection. The story picks up as Will is literally signing his life away to a 5 year term as basically an indentured servant where he will be an “apprentice” to his Master Jacob Good. Unfortunately his last name is a misnomer as Master Jacob Good is the furthest thing from a Good master as possible. I did find myself, at the height of Will’s abuse by his master, in tears as I was reading (which unfortunately was a bit inconvenient because I was in a public place when I was reading that part!)

These two character’s don’t immediately cross paths in the story, but eventually their paths do meet and Ann finds herself drawn to him with feelings of immense compassion as she sees how Will is so mistreated by his master. There are quite a few obstacles for these two on their journey- lies told, poor choices made, and throw in a few more interested suitors for Ann, just to keep you guessing whether they will wind up together or not. I’ll let you read the book to find out.

I found it very interesting to find that this was truly a “historical fiction” book as the names used were mostly all real people and many of the situations described were based on public record. I found that I really did care about the characters and the journey that Rosslyn Elliot took them on. There were a number of truly heartbreaking scenes particularly involving one married couple who were slaves trying to escape barbaric conditions by tyrant slave-owners. The author did a good job at helping you to connect with the characters and their various struggles along the way. I did however feel that some of the writing was a bit choppy, as it felt to me a few times like a chapter would just end in the middle of a conversation and boom you were on to a different setting. That made me turn the pages back to see what I missed and I hadn’t missed anything. Anyway, other than that detail, I did enjoy the story and the characters and will look for this author in the future.

Rating- 3.5 stars

Disclosure: Note this book was graciously provided for me by the publishing company in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review on The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick

The Daughter's Walk: A NovelThe Daughter's Walk: A Novel by Jane Kirkpatrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“We are going to walk to New York City, Clara, you and I”- not exactly the words that you would expect to come out of your own mother’s mouth. And did I mention this walk was to originate in Spokane, Washington and that the time was 1896? Two women unaccompanied by a man and out to “save the farm” literally in an effort to earn ten thousand dollars provided by sponsors of the walk to pay off their mortgage on their farm. Not your everyday undertaking I must say, but then neither is this book. Jane Kirkpatrick’ offering of The Daughter's Walk: A Novel is truly historical fiction at its finest, as this book is based on a true story. The tremendous amount of research helped to make this story truly come alive and to ring very true to the reader.

Clara Etsby starts off on what proves to be an incredible journey with her mother Helga to walk across the county wearing the new reform dress- a garment meant to symbolize “freedom for busy, active sturdy women” and to show that women did indeed possess endurance. A walking advertisement if you will to promote Women’s suffrage. Along the way they meet much adversity and I don’t want to give away anything there, but as a result of these two taking the walk, and much tragedy at home, there is a “family schism” that last for years. The story continues to follow Clara’s story and her life “after the walk”- the people she meets, challenges she faces and her growth as she reaches for reconciliation with her family. The characters are very real and the depth in their development is definitely there.

I must say that it is apparent to me that Jane Kirkpatrick put much time, energy and imagination into this story of Clara Etsby and later Clara Dore’. She obviously did her homework as it comes through in flying colors in the story. Might I suggest that the reader takes the time to read the Author’s notes and acknowledgements at the end of the book? It is truly fascinating to follow her research trail and see how she pieced this story together based on interviews with relatives, historical documents and experts on the time. I must admit a small bias as the story largely takes place in the Spokane area- I’m very familiar with this area being from Washington State so I really personally enjoyed all the geographical references. If you like a good historical novel with very real characters, I highly encourage you to pick up this book.

This Book was provided by Waterbrook Press through the "Blogging for Books" program in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions expressed were my own.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review on The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Cobble

The Lightkeeper's Ball (Mercy Falls, #3)The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little bit of romance, plus a little bit of intrigue, with a little history mixed in, gives you The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble. Lovely Olivia Stewart, New York socialite, finds that her sister Eleanor who moved to California to marry her Father's business partner's son is now dead. Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and find out what caused her death, Olivia heads west to see who is responsible. With her first suspect being Harrison Bennett, her sister's fiance, she arrives in Mercy Falls, CA using her formal name of "Lady Devonworth" so that she might try to ascertain who killed her sister without others knowing her true identity. But as she gets to know Harrison Bennett better,she soon realizes that he is probably not the one who killed her sister and she also realizes that her feelings for him are going beyond what she expected. Harrison finds himself kept rather busy rescuing Olivia time after time as she face several perilous situations. Could the same person who killed her sister be after her as well? Things get even more complicated as family secrets emerge from both sides. This adds to the intrigue as there are several characters that are not who they seem to be.

Colleen Coble did a good job in showing the progression of the journey that Olivia takes in the book. She has been raised to be concerned with primarily outside appearances, both physical and social standing. As the character of Olivia grows you find her exploring the fact that she is so much more than that. Harrison takes a journey of his own, which is quite similar actually. He finds himself being crushed under the "go into the family business" expectations that often fall on the shoulders of the son of the family. Both have expectations on them given by their parents that they need to figure out with regards to their decisions for their respective futures.

This mystery/romance was an enjoyable and quick read. As in many stories this one hits on the "honesty is the best policy" theme as without it trust is eroded in a relatsionship. There are a few times in this story where things start to unravel because of this, but in the end truth and forgiveness win out.

So for those that enjoy romance, intrigue, and oh let's throw a masquerade ball in for good measure, I think it's a safe bet to say that you will enjoy this book.

This book was graciously provided for me by Thomas Nelson throught the Netgalley program. The opinions represented in this review are my own.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review on The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker

The Priest's GraveyardThe Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be honest, It's probably not really a wise thing for me to write this review, because I am unequivocably a "Dekkie"- translation- huge Ted Dekker fan right here. Ted is an author that never seems to tire of taking risks in his writing and I never tire of reading his books. "The Priest's Graveyard" is no exception. From page one I entered into "Ted Dekker land" a wonderful place where I become completely riveted to his story and don't want to quit reading until it is through.

This is a tale full of heartbreak, grief, and intense love. Danny Hansen is a man who has lived through horrific events at the hands of the Orthodox Christians in Bosnia. Leaving his past behind, he comes to America for a fresh start and at that time becomes a priest. With that fresh start our priest finds it necessary to mete out justice to the truly vile creatures of the world who have escaped true justice and Danny makes sure they received some of his own. He is a vigilante of sorts who proclaims judgment on those members of society that need it. Enter Renee Gilmore- a young beautiful girl with a past of her own- a former drug addict and down on her luck sort of girl. She finds her path crosses with Danny because they are both tracking the same man. Renee seeks to destroy this man because she believes he killed her former husband and Danny also seeks him because he believes him to be a vile member of society who needs justice to be served. They team up, and the story just heats up from there.

In true Ted Dekker fashion- there is a twist (or two) and at times your holding onto your seat for dear life. It is amazing how completely enthralled one becomes with these characters. Judgement, moral reasoning and ultimately how love and grace factor into all of it are all brought together in an amazing way. I raced through this book quickly as I really needed to know how it turned out. Yes there are some edgy parts to this book for sure, so be prepared, but it was really a wonderful read. Compelling, riveting and as always throught provoking. Once again Ted- Bravo!(less)

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review on "Nick of Time" by Tim Downs

Nick of Time (Bug Man Series #6)Nick of Time by Tim Downs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tim Downs book Nick of Time is another installment in the “Bugman series” following Virginia based Nick Polchak, forensic entomologist on yet another case. Unfortunately for him, it’s at a pretty bad time in his life as he’s about to get married…on Saturday. Most brides aren’t too keen about their grooms being gone right before the big “I do”. So when Nick tells his fiancé and dog trainer Alena Savard that he is leaving the Monday before their wedding to head to Philadelphia for a Vidocq society meeting- a group of highly specialized forensic specialists who handle cold cases- she’s not real thrilled about it. As always when he gets to Philadelphia more is waiting for him than he anticipated and he is caught off guard by the case that is before him that keeps sucking him in farther and farther. With his singular focus, he is completely entrenched in this case and the question is- will he get back to Alena in time?

This is my first book in the Bug man series. I wanted to get that out there because I think those that have read all the books might have a different perspective. I thought the opening chapter with the” fish out of water” feeling for Nick in a Bridal boutique was perfectly written – hilarious, quick pace, doesn’t get better than that. As I continued on with the book, the storyline was good, great little twist in there towards the end that I didn’t see coming, a variety of interesting characters. The tough part for me was that Nick and Alena are so very sarcastic and caustic to practically everyone they meet, it’s tough to get excited about their upcoming nuptials. I was left with the feeling of- how can these two possibly make it? It was difficult for me to really like their characters. There was a little bit of redemption towards the end, but not a lot. The spiritual message was very subtle, which is fine I guess, not every book needs to preach the gospel that is of the Christian genre. On the whole I thought it was a good book and I think I would benefit by reading Tim Downs other books on the “bug man” in fairness to get more of the back story on Alena and Nick.

Discolsure- I was graciously given a preview copy of this book through the Booksneeze program. The opinions expressed are my own.

Nick of Time

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review on Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

Save the DateSave the Date by Jenny B. Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok I’ll admit it, I’m not someone who is easily amused. I truly wish I was the person that laughed at the drop of a hat, but I’m not. With that being said, I want to share that I laughed out loud numerous times when reading this book. Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones at first glance looks like a classic, cute, chick- lit kind of book. I’m thinking, it will be sweet, charming and a nice read. There is nothing wrong with that, but as I got into the book, I discovered much, much more- funny, great characters and a “deeper than meets the eye” storyline.
Our heroine, Lucy Wiltshire is sort of a modern day Cinderella. Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina with a mother who earned her living as a maid did not give her social status at the prominent Montrose Academy where she attended as a child, and as a result endured teasing and bullying there. Fast forward to the present and Lucy is the founder of Saving Grace, a home for foster girls aged 18-21 making the transition to adulthood with her help and guidance. A major problem erupts- one of her biggest backers has pulled the plug on their contributions by a significant amount. She is in danger of losing the home and panicked about her girls, where will they go. Poor Lucy, what’s a girl to do?
Well, the hero of the story has the answer to that query- enter Alex Sinclaire- a former attendee of Montrose Academy and famous former professional football player as well. He has decided to run for a Congressional seat and Alex needs a little help overcoming his somewhat “Playboy” public perception problem. So after a chance meeting at a local gathering where both are present and pictures are taken of them together, he finds that his approval points have skyrocketed. It seems that the public likes a good Cinderella story and he hatches a plan- a staged romance with a win-win scenario- Alex gets a girl on his arm for public events and Lucy gets the funding she needs to keep Saving Grace open. Sounds like a no-brainer for everyone, but add in Lucy’s social awkwardness and propensity towards clumsiness and you get some really hilarious situations.
There is so much more going on in this story than the general romance between these two characters, Alex is dealing with grief and guilt over his twin brothers disappearance and probable death. Lucy struggles with feelings of great inferiority and worth as she describes herself at one of the many social events as “ a cubic zirconia in a sea of diamonds”. They truly go on a journey together in dealing with their respective “stuff”. Their chemistry and banter between each other is fun and amusing in one moment and truly deep and probing in the next. Add in Lucy’s love of all things science fiction, specifically Star Trek and the book just gets better and better. I couldn’t go into detail on the supporting characters here, but they are well written and really, really funny. When a well know socialite winds up at one of Lucy’s gatherings of her sci-fi friends and is asking questions about Star Trek, I about bust a gut.
It truly is rare for me to find a book where I am laughing uproariously in one moment and shedding tears the next, while seeing great spiritual elements in the whole thing. Elements like our struggles with our worth and figuring out the whole man-pleasing versus God-pleasing dilemma. I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed and I will be keeping my eye on Jenny B. Jones in the future. I know this is a Niagara Falls kind of review- much gushing- but I still stand by it. Great book, great characters and great read!

I was graciously provided a digital copy of this book by Thomas Nelson through the NetGalley program. All opinions expressed were my own and I was not obligated to write a positive review.

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