Friday, December 30, 2011

The Accidental Bride

The Accidental Bride
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson



When a wedding reenactment turns real, this cowgirl suddenly finds she’s an accidental bride.
Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite her hard work, she can’t seem to keep her head above water—and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but.
Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high school sweetheart—the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.
Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busy body and an absent minded preacher, the wedding reenactment results in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she’ll lose her home. But if she accepts, she may lose her heart.
Shay isn’t sure if the recent events are God’s will or just a preacher’s blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?

      I must admit I didn't have much interest in this book in the first place, just because it's not normally the genre I enjoy. Even so, I think if I had been interested, this book still would have been disappointing. I really hate writing critical reviews, but I didn't like this book much at all.
     Mostly I felt this way because I just didn't like the main character. Shay really rubbed me the wrong way. It just felt like she was either complaining or feeling sorry for herself the entire time! Her stubbornness was also annoying, and though some might see her extreme independence as a virtue, I most certainly did not. Yes, Travis had been thoughtless and uncaring to her (I mean, really, leaving a girl at the alter -er, courthouse steps- is no small deal) but here he was bending over backwards to make it right and show he'd changed, and all she could do was growl at him anytime he tried to do something kind.
     There were also several "mushy" parts that I skipped over. Through the characters' flashbacks, we learn that Shay and Travis's previous relationship involved a whole lot of kissing ( Am I the only one who would like to find a contemporary novel in which the characters save their first kiss for marriage?!) I found that though the characters really did seem to believe in the Lord, I didn't agree with a lot of their views and/or decisions. I really don't want to sound judgmental, but this book just seemed too "worldly" for me, and I barely finished it.

Rating: 3

I received this book for free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Christmas Singing Chapter Excerpt & Offer

Here's a great offer from Waterbrook Multnomah!
Use the code CHRISTMAS11 at the checkout at WaterBrookMultnomah.com when buying The Christmas Singing to get 30% off! Here's the book trailer:



To read an excerpt of the book, go here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Christian Writer's Market Guide 2012

Cover: The Christian Writer's Market Guide - 2012

The Christian Writer's Market Guide
Tyndale

     This is an extremely helpful book for anyone looking to be published. It includes the name of every Christian publishing company you can think of, and not just for books. It includes magazine, drama, and even greeting card publishers! Things are arranged by both topic (Fiction-Romance; Fiction-Historical; Non-fiction- Finance; etc.) and publisher (Bethany House, Tyndale, Whittaker, etc.). It also includes names of agencies and contests. My only complaint is that I found a few publishers included that I had believed had gone out of business. However, this book is definitely useful and sure to help any writer attempting to be published.

Rating: 9

I received this book for free from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two Tickets For the Christmas Ball


Two Tickets For the Christmas Ball
Donita K. Paul
Waterbrook

I haven't read much "Christmas" fiction. I thought this one sounded quirky and fun, so I thought I would give it a try :)

Book Description:

Irrepressible Cora Crowder is shopping for the holidays. While visiting Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad's bookshop, she meets quiet Simon Derrick---and they both discover tickets to an enchanting event in their purchases. But Simon wants to take his sister, so Cora gives him her invitation. Will the mysterious matchmaking booksellers get their romantic plans straightened out?


This definitely an interesting read. It was a sort of fantasy, but with a very strong Christian message. As Cora and Simon's life is interrupted by these odd, mysterious shop owners, the reader is left wondering who these vendors are. Strictly speaking, I wouldn't say this book has "magic" in it...things just happen mysteriously without any explanation. Wizards are mentioned (It's called the "Wizards Ball", after all); however, it is explained that "wizard" does not mean a magician or sorcerer, but rather a wise older person. Not sure what I think about that, but it was a interesting thought. :) It was a sweet book, full of the possibility and wonder of Christmas. It's probably not something I would read over and over again, though.


Rating: 6 1/2 


received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bound for Glory

Bound for Glory: Celebrating the Gift of African American Spirituals through Expressive Calligraphy  -     
        By: Timothy R. Botts, Patricia Raybon


Bound For Glory
Timothy R. Botts with reflections by Patricia Raybon
Tyndale House Publishers






     I agreed to review this book not long after my sister, mother, and a few friends of ours had been given a lesson (by a wonderful lady in our church) on how to write in calligraphy. So this book, of course, warranted great interest when I saw it available on Tyndale's website.
     Inside the hardbound cover is collection of expressive calligraphy inspired by African American Spirituals. Several of these songs I'm familiar with, and I was eager to see my favorites. Though many of the color choices of the art is not really my style, and reminded me a little of the sixties-era magazines inherited from my great-grandmother, the actual writing is creative and well-done. My personal favorites were "Joshua and the Battle of Jericho", "When the Saints Come Marching In"  "Amen" and "The Blind Man".

Rating: 7

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

His Steadfast Love


His Steadfast Love
Golden Keyes Parsons
Thomas Nelson

Texas, 1861. Amanda Irene Belle is in love with a Union Army officer....which presents problems as her family is a group of born-and-bred southerners. Can she and Captain Kent Littlefield overcome the obstacles to their love and make a life together?

     I had never read anything by this author before, so I didn't really know what to expect. I wanted to like this book, but it just didn't grab hold of my emotions in any way. I was rather indifferent to Amanda and Kent. I didn't hate them or anything, but I can't say I really liked them. They were just...there. Also, may I just say, I did NOT approve of the two of them meeting together secretly at night? True, nothing happened, they only "talked"...but I still don't think it was appropriate. Especially after Kent had just promised Amanda's father he wouldn't talk to her again! Just sayin'. Also, Kent's letters rubbed me the wrong way. I don't rightly know why, but they annoyed me.
     The book wasn't all bad. Strangely enough, I liked the story between Amanda's brother Daniel and his fiance' Claire better than I liked Amanda and Kent's story.

Rating: 6

I received this book for free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wings of a Dream


Wings of a Dream
Anne Mateer
Bethany House Publishers

Debut Author Delivers Sweet, Heartwarming Historical Fiction

     Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promises adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry.
While she waits for the end of the Great War and Arthur's return, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, sure that her glamorous and exciting life is about to start.

     But the Spanish flu epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's sickness, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah discovers she must choose between her desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.


     There aren't many books surrounding the Spanish Flu epidemic during the Great War. In fact, this may be the only book I've ever read that does. I really, really, liked Wings of a Dream. The characters were wonderful, and I liked the fact that it wasn't just a "romance" book. I loved the way Rebekah's veiwpoint and aspirations did a total turnaround. The kids were so sweet and I found it easy to see why Rebekah fell in love with them!
     What I think I like most about this book was the fact that the storyline was inspired by author Anne Mateer's own personal family history. Being a bit of a genealogy nut, I really appreciated that. :)
     It's hard when you try a new author- you never really know what you're going to get. But Wings of a Dream was a sweet, hopeful story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Recommended!

Rating: 9

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beyond All Measure

Beyond All Measure,  Hickory Ridge Series #1

Beyond All Measure
Dorothy Love
Thomas Nelson

Unless she can trust God’s love to cast out her fears, Ada may lose the heart of a good man.   

Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady’s companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada’s friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt’s primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.

With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.



     I have to say I really do not enjoy e-books. At least, I don’t enjoy reading them on the computer, since I don’t own an e-reader. Which is why it took me almost three months to finish this book!
     Beyond All Measure was an enjoyable read. It was rather typical of the Christian romance genre, but still had enough twists and turns to make it interesting. It was nicely written, and I thought it had a good variety of characters. I especially loved Sophie! Overall, I’d say reading this book is a good way to spend an afternoon.

Rating: 8

I received this book for free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daddy-Long-Legs

 Daddy-Long-Legs
Jean Webster
Puffin Classics









     Written by Jean Webster, a niece of Mark Twain, Daddy-Long-Legs opens in the early 1900s. 17-year-old Jerusha (Judy) Abbot has lived in an orphanage her entire life. And then comes the day prim Mrs. Lippett calls Jerusha into the office with astounding news: her writing skills have attracted the attention of one of the orphanage's trustees. Sensing potential in the young girl, he decides to pay for her college education, under one condition- she must write him a letter every month, addressed to the care of "John Smith". His true identity will remain anonymous, and if he ever wishes to send her any type of message he will do so through his secretary. Judy accepts the generous, if eccentric, offer. Her letters to her benefactor, whom she affectionately calls "Daddy-Long-Legs", are funny and heartwarming.
     I adored certain aspects of this book. First, I loved the whole plot. And some of the things Judy wrote were so funny they had me laughing out loud. She was hilarious, especially when she was stressing over what her mysterious "Daddy-Long-Legs" looked like. She had imagined him perfectly- except for his hair (was it brown? gray? white? was he BALD???) and it was driving her crazy. After the first few pages, I was certain this book was going to get a ten.
     But my ecstasy was not to last. Judy's theology....was not so good. Her ideas about life and God in general were just totally off, and it REALLY detracted my enjoyment of the book. Then, near the end, Judy decides she's a socialist. Yeah. Not cool. Now, I don't want you to get the idea this book was just this huge socialist manifesto or something, because it wasn't. In all of Judy's dozens and dozens of letters, these topics only come up maybe five or six times- but I still found it rather offensive. And yet I hate to tell you to throw this book out as totally unworthy to read, because it had so many cute parts, and I loved the ending (even if I did find it a little predicable). So I guess I recommend this book, I just think Christians should be aware that there are some ideas that we may find unacceptable.

Rating: 7

P.S. This book has been dramatized several times on-screen. Two of the most famous versions? A 1930's movie starring Shirley Temple and another several years later with Fred Astaire. I'm not sure how accurate they are- I'm under the impression they aren't very- but they may be worth looking into :)

Oops!

Oops!
Bill Myers
Tyndale





I'm pretty sure this is the most pointless book I've ever read. I really hate to be so harsh...but I don't have anything good to say about this book. It didn't even make me laugh, like the first book in this series did. Oops was filled with silly boy-girl nonsense that got on my nerves and snooty, (for the most part) unrealistic kids. There wasn't much of a moral, and I thought that this book was more detrimental than beneficial. I didn't even think it was appropriate enough for my brothers to read. That's pretty much all I have to say. :(

Rating: 3

I received this book free from charge from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Surrender the Dawn


Surrender the Dawn
MaryLu Tyndall
Barbour

   
     Baltimore’s Cassandra Channing will do anything to provide for her family—even if it means hiring the town rogue as a privateer. Luke Heaton is a handsome rake with a tortured past who is blackmailed by the British into selling supplies to their ships just off the coast. Cassandra and Luke’s worlds collide as they are drawn into danger, secrets, romance, and war. But when the British begin to bombard Fort McHenry, how long can they protect their love—and each other?



      I've always been attracted to MaryLu Tyndall's books- their descriptions always involve pirates and swordfighting and adventure. However, I never had the chance to read any of her books until a friend loaned me The Falcon and the Sparrow last winter. It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but I wasn't impressed. But after winning a copy of Surrender the Dawn from Katie at Legacy of a Writer, I was more than willing to give the author a second try!
     I enjoyed this book a lot more than the other I had read by Mrs. Tyndall. True, sometimes the characters could be annoying, but both Luke and Cassie won me over in the end. Rogue that he was, Luke had me a little wary at first, but his sincere love for his brother and for Cassandra did wonders in raising my opinion of him. And though Cassandra's extreme independence and stubbornness got on my nerves -as well as seeming a little too twenty-first century- I ended up liking her and rejoiced when she realized how her troubles had come directly from her heedless, impatient actions.
     The last chapters of this book were the best- and I loved how the complete lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" were included in the back.

Rating - 8

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Attracted to Fire

                                                                                     Attracted to Fire
                                                                                          Diann Mills
                                                                                            Tyndale


     Special Agent Meghan Connors' dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president's rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he's also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn't the work of a single suspect-it's part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it's too late.


      I admit contemporary suspense isn't exactly my cup of tea. (I'm more of a swashbuckling, swordfighting, bow-and-arrow type of girl). But the last few chapters of this book really had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't read those pages fast enough! It had the serious excitement and thrill factor essential to any page-turner.
     So, what were my qualms about this book? Near the beginning, Ash comments that "women don't belong in the secret service". Later we find his reasoning behind this statement, but either way...I agree with it. I simply don't believe that a job like Meghan's is really part of God's plan for women. I'm sorry if I offend some people with that, but those are my feelings on the subject. And really, they are the main reason I couldn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Also, I wouldn't recommend this book to younger readers, because of Lindsay's extreme drug and alcohol addictions.
     Though I can't agree with all of the character's life decisions, I did enjoy this book much more than I was expecting to, especially the last half of the book. If suspense is your cup of tea, then Attracted to Fire is one you'll not want to miss.

Rating: 7

I received this book free of charge from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

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