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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