Saturday, December 29, 2012

Radio Theater: Les Miserables


It's not often that I get an opportunity to review anything other than books, so when I saw the chance to review Focus on the Family's radio theater presentation of Les Miserables, I definitely had to get it.

I have listened to some Lamplighter productions, but never any from Focus on the Family, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've never read the book, but I'm familiar with the musical. So I can't really say which is more accurate, the radio presentation or the musical, although there were things in the radio performance that I thought were odd- they cut out a lot and sometimes even changed things. The biggest probably the fact that Eponine didn't die. ???

The voices? Sometimes I felt the acting was a little melodramatic, and I didn't like Fantine's voice at all. Jean Valjean's was okay, as was Cosette's; I liked the the Thenardiers and Marius. And Enjolras and Gavroche *sob*

However, this performance wasn't just as emotionally charged as the musical (although it's certainly cleaner). I kept feeling like it needed music, no surprise. It was enjoyable, but not spectacular.  However, it's a good way to introduce one to this amazing story of redemption and grace.

I received this product from the publisher for free in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 7

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UpComing fiction from Bethany House

Cover ArtAfter her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.
While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact? Though the book description hasn't entirely won me over yet, I really enjoyed Ms. Camden's last book, and am so hoping this new one will live up to my expectations. And as always, her books covers are simply scrumptious! available July 2013


Cover ArtAna Kavanagh's only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen. 

At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger--his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors--all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana's past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow--and where to finally place his trust. I still haven't read the first book in this series, but I really want to! available July 2013


Cover ArtLucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe's best confections, she's sure she'll come up with a recipe that will save her father's struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager--a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.
Charlie Clarke's new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he's never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She's making his work life miserable...and making herself impossible for him to forget. I wrote more about this upcoming book here. Anyway, I can't wait to read it! available February 2013

Cover ArtOn his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher? So I'm not a fan of the cover so much, but there hasn't really been a book by Karen Witemeyer that I haven't enjoyed, so I can't wait for this one to come out, especially since it involves the characters of Short-Straw Bride. available May 2013 EDIT: Okay, seriously, I just noticed the cover changed. weird  Still am not a huge fan, but I do like it a little better- it fits in better with the author's other novels.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Heartless


Cover Art
Heartless
Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Bethany House Publishers

My friends and readers, try to hold in your amazement: I have found it. What, pray tell, have I discovered? A fantasy I actually like. No, not one I tolerate, not one I find passable, but one I actually like. As in, I want to read the next books in the series pronto.
The storyline was engaging and easy enough for even me to understand; it had some great characters and some not-so-great ones, and overall, I really want to read more of the Tales of Goldstone Wood.
This book takes place in a fantasy world. I have pretty strict requirements about fantasies in regard to magic, and I was happy to say that, though I could certainly be wrong, I don’t remember the word “magic” even being used. Yes, there were crazy creatures, and people turning into dragons, and weird abilities and beings called faeries; however, it was all a part of this fictional world, and there were no spells/sorcery or such.
As for characters, I liked Una at the beginning, but she started to annoy me not quite halfway into the book. Aethelbald was another story. He was great. I also really liked Una’s brother, Felix. I didn’t think I would at first, but once he started becoming friends with Aethelbald, he began to grow on me J My favorite character that I want to learn more about? Sir Eanrin. Apparently, though, he doesn’t get his own story until book four…argh!!!
I got this ebook awhile ago for free on CBD.com, but I wasn’t particularly interested because I thought the cover looked kind of creepy. I guess this is a classic case of a “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Thankfully, the other books in the series don’t look quite so…strange.
Also, though this was a fantasy, I could see the Christian morals/principles/allegories very clearly, so I really liked that as well.

Objectionable content: There was some violence, and some “magical-type” abilities and such.
                                                                                      
Rating: 8 ½ 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gentleman of Her Dreams



Gentleman of Her Dreams
Jen Turano
Bethany House Publishers

I saw this free e-book on Christianbook.com, and though I hadn’t read anything by the author before, I supposed that, really, what had I to lose? I hadn’t read a novella in a while, and I enjoyed this one tremendously.

Now, normally I don’t like a romance based on physical attraction and in this book, well…there was a lot of physical attraction going on. In  Gentlemen of Her Dreams, the two characters had known each other a long time and had been very good friends, and as this book started with that premise, most of the romance was simply both of them realizing that they were in love but wondering how to tell the other person. Because of that, there was a lot of the hero and heroine thinking about how attractive the other was- you know, the “she noticed how strong his muscles were” and such. Which was rather annoying, and just the sort of thing that I dislike the most about Romances. Not that I’m averse to people being attracted to one another…I just don’t want to hear about it. Maybe one day when I fall in love I’ll go on and on about how strong my guy’s muscles are…but it hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t really have any interest in reading about that sort of thing.

Anyway, that was really my only problem with this book, and normally that’s a bit of a death warrant on anything I read, because it annoys me so. But Gentlemen of her Dreams won me over- because of its delightfully quirky characters, and the hilarious situations they got themselves into. I enjoyed the author’s fast-paced and delightful writing style, too, and honestly, I was sorry when it ended, because I loved the characters so, which is definitely a complement because novellas are so short that making the reader really love the characters is a hard thing to accomplish. Despite It being more “romancy” than I’d like (and the only reason it’s getting an 8 instead of a 9), I’m certainly not averse to reading more by this author, and I'd like to get my hands on her full-length novel, A Change of Fortune.

Rating: 8

Objectionable Content: There is a kiss, and as aforesaid, some “romancy-ness” :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Through Rushing Water


Through Rushing Water
Catherine Richmond
Thomas Nelson

Sophia has her life all planned out—but her plan didn’t include being jilted or ending up in Dakota Territory.
Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year that she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her heartache and humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions on a whim.
With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in the bleak Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known—and never expected—and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve.
It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their land and marched hundreds of miles away in the middle of winter, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.

One thing I really liked about this book was simply that Sophia was Russian; I haven’t come across very many books with a heroine of that heritage, and I quite liked her unusual, globe-trotting background.
So many of the things in this book made me so mad- the way the government was treating these Indians were just- ugh! I wanted to go in there and do something myself. Though the plot was not one that I am normally attracted to or would really want to read, I still ended up enjoying it. However, I felt like I didn't really get to "know" the characters as much as I'd have liked to. I also found that the last few chapters lagged a little bit, and it took me awhile to get used to the very new setting that they introduced the reader to. After being out in the wilderness for a year with Sophia, suddenly coming back to civilization with her was a little difficult!
If you’re interested in the history of American Indians and the American West, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this this novel.


received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Palace of Mirrors

Palace of Mirrors
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster

After reading the author’s prequel to this, Just Ella, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this one. However, I was glad I did, because despite its flaws, it was a MUCH more enjoyable read. First off, the plot was really original, and I liked it. Cecilia lives as a simple peasant girl, but she’s always know that that she’s really the princess: to escape the enemies who murdered her parents, a decoy, Desmia, sits on the throne in wait for Cecilia to take it back. But when she feels she’s been discovered, Cecilia and her best friend Harper embark on a journey to the capital city so she can take her rightful place as princess. However, it seems Desmia has a different version of the story…and isn’t eager to leave what she believes is her rightful place.

The plot really threw me for a loop, because one twist was really unexpected! Even so, once everything started to "click" in my mind, I understood what was going on before the book explained it.

I liked the characters of Palace of Mirrors more than those in Just Ella (Ella herself makes an appearance in this book), so of course that right off made me like this book better. I did feel Palace of Mirrors’ ending was little…hard to believe, although I can’t explain why or it will ruin the book for you! Or rather, it wasn't the ending that was hard to believe, but what the girls decided to do was. I could foresee problems arising in the future about it, anyway.

Anyway, this book wasn't amazing or a new favorite of mine, but I enjoyed it.

Rating: 6

Every Perfect Gift



Every Perfect Gift
Dorothy Love
Thomas Nelson

Ethan and Sophie long to share a future together. But the secrets they’re not sharing could tear them apart.
Sophie Caldwell has returned to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee after years away. Despite the heartaches of her childhood, Sophie is determined to make a home, and a name, for herself in the growing town. A gifted writer, she plans to resurrect the local newspaper that so enchanted her as a girl.
Ethan Heyward’s idyllic childhood was shattered by a tragedy he has spent years trying to forget. An accomplished businessman and architect, he has built a majestic resort in the mountains above Hickory Ridge, drawing wealthy tourists from all over the country.
When Sophie interviews Ethan for the paper, he is impressed with her intelligence and astounded by her beauty. She's equally intrigued with him but fears he will reject her if he learns about her shadowed past. Just as she summons the courage to tell him, Ethan’s own past unexpectedly and violently catches up with him, threatening not only his life but their budding romance.
There are some reviews that are just hard to write. Reviews for good books come easily, as I must admit, so do reviews for bad books. But the in-between/nothing-special-but-not-terrible books are perhaps the ones I find the most challenging to write. And Every Perfect Gift was one of those books. Technically, there wasn't anything wrong with it or the author’s actual writing. But it had one deadly flaw for me: I found it boring. The story was very....generic. It seemed like every other Christian Romance out there. The heroine-struggling-to-succeed-in-a-man’s-world, the hero-with-secretive-and-hurting-past is just a too-common occurrence in the genre to really be original. This could have been saved had the rest of the book been amazing, but the characters and the rest of the plot didn't capture my attention really any more than the book’s main premise did. I had to make myself get through the first half of the book, and then it did get my attention and I hoped that I would enjoy the rest. But no, my interest tapered down not long after as the plot settled back into predictability. For that reason, I’m rating Every Perfect Gift a 5 on a scale of 10.

Objectionable Content: There is some (mild) violence, and two or three kisses.

Rating: 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just Ella


Just Ella
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster

So what first attracted me to this book was the fact that it was a retelling of Cinderella that didn’t have magic in it. Good sign, right? Well….yes and no. There were things I liked about this book, but there were more things about it that I disliked.

What I liked: Definitely the no magic. I also liked the fact that it did question the whole love-at-first-sight deal with Ella and the prince- Ella realizes she never loved him, she was just attracted to him. I also liked the "real" hero of the story. He was SO much better than Prince Charming!

What I didn’t like? Well, first off, Ella isn’t the sweet, close-to-perfect heroine of Disney recollections. She’s spunky, and certainly doesn’t treat her stepmother with any respect. Now, I can’t really blame her for that (who can?) but it really made me feel a little sad- not because she was "spunky"- but because she didn’t have the self-sacrificing, turn-the-other-cheek personality that we all know Cinderella to have. She deliberately goes to the ball, not so much because she wants to, but because she just wants to spite her stepmother. Of course, going to the ball causes her a lot of problems down the road, so one can’t say she was really "rewarded" for her disobedience.

Another thing that bothered me was that when Ella is being taught the "official" religion in preparation to be a princess, she and her tutor admit to each other they never were really raised in faith, and though I appreciated that they pointed out that the royals and priests didn’t have "real" faith- it was all self-righteous show- it is implied that taking charge of one’s fate oneself and acting is a better way to spend time than trusting in faith.

Okay, but now we come to the real kicker: the book ends with Ella escaping from the palace and choosing, not to become a princess, but to become a doctor.

Yes, you totally read that right.

There was feminism in here? You bet, and if you know anything about me, you know that annoys me to death in any book. Now, I do want to say that the "royal" femininity that the palace tried to mold Ella to match wasn’t Biblical, fair, practical, or should be approved by any Christian. Being sheltered from every care in the world, doing nothing but looking pretty and saying polite nothings, and basically being nothing but an ornament is NOT awesome or okay. But really, the whole running-away-from-becoming-a-princess-and-becoming-a-doctor-instead was just a little too unbelievable and worthy of a little eye-rolling. (Okay, so maybe not the running away- I’d have done it to. But the doctor bit was just, "really?")

I alos didn’t care for some of the language in this book. It seemed a little "slangy" and sometimes could be mildly crude. Ella was not really the most refined person in the world.

 Just Ella just wasn’t a fairy tale, and it wasn’t just from lack of magic. It was almost as if the author stuck modern people from today into a fictional setting. Maybe it’s more realistic that way, but it left me feeling disappointed, like having someone dumping a glass of ice-cold water on my face to wake me up. Is this really "today’s" princess? Sigh. I’ll take the original hardworking-but-sweet Grimm’s version any day.

Objectionable Content: there are a few kisses, a man is stabbed, and though there wasn’t any swearing, there were a few words I would consider more crude than otherwise.

Rating: 4

Saturday, November 10, 2012

All Things New

All Things New
Lynn Austin
Bethany House

I always get really excited about Lynn Austin books, so when I got this book for review, I happily skipped to my Christmas list, crossed All Things New off, and thankfully landed on my bed with a thud! and began to read.

All Things New is set during the tumultuous times of the Reconstruction. It focuses on three women: Proper plantation owner’s wife Eugenia, who’s lost everything in the War; her daughter, Josephine, and their freed slave, Lizzie.

This book was not, strictly speaking, a "happy" book. It was set in a time in the aftermath of destruction and strife, and yet there is still a glimmer of hope that not only keeps the characters going, but keeps the reader turning pages, too.

Out of the three women, I probably enjoyed Josephine’s story the most, but the other two women’s stories were interesting as well. I admit that sometimes this book was hard to read, because of the bitterness so many of the characters had and the struggles they had to go through.

Basically, these three characters are struggling with their place: Eugenia and Josephine have grown up in a world where they have been protected and safe and pampered: they’ve never had to face hardship or even make decisions, because the men always decided everything. But now the men are gone and things have turned over and upside down. Jo embraces her new role; Eugenia fights it. And then there’s Lizzie, who struggles to know exactly what it means to be free, and still has a hard time facing her fears about disobeying those who have always been "above" her.

Each woman has a special man in her life, and I loved how each of these men really helped the women grow and adapt: there’s Alexander Chandler, the Yankee who’s come to try to rebuild the South; David Hunter, the doctor who’s always been a comfort to the family; and Otis, Lizzie’s faith-filled husband.

There were other characters who also intrigued me; namely, Harrison Blake, who was such a tortured person, so weighed down by his helplessness and guilt that I hated him and felt sorry for him at the same time. Really, he was probably the character I found the most interesting.

All Things New isn’t my favorite Austin book, but I enjoyed reading it and would recommend to those who enjoy reading about the Civil War, or other books by the author.

Objectionable Content: Several men come back from the war with serious injuries; there are a couple kisses; a man attempts to commit suicide; it is learned that a woman was the victim of rape

Rating: 8

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

At Every Turn

At Every Turn
Anne Mateer
Bethany House

Because I really enjoyed Anne Mateer’s last book, Wings of a Dream, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one.

At Every Turn begins with spunky Alyce Bensen impetuously pledging $3,000 to help with mission work in Africa. She’s certain her wealthy father will agree to give her the money- after all, even if he isn’t a Christian like herself, he never minded giving to her mother’s various charities. But when he astounds her with his firm "no" she decides there’s got be some way for her to earn enough money for the mission. When an outrageous idea comes to her –participating in an auto race- to earn money, she jumps at it with the help of her father’s mechanic, Webster. But as her lies and deception pile on top of each other, she becomes unsure of who to trust or what to do!

Some of this book did seem a teeny bit farfetched, and a few things wrapped into tidy bows a leetle too well, but that didn’t make At Every Turn any less fun to read. My favorite part was probably how Alyce kept raising money and then giving it away- that part made me smile. I also really liked how the book really focused on God- it wasn’t just an "okay, I mentioned God once here so now this is a piece of Christian fiction". God was really important to Alyce, and He was important to the story as well. That was really nice. Though I don’t think I liked this one as much as Wings of a Dream, it was a worthwhile read and I can’t wait for whatever books the author is going to present us with in the future!

Rating: 8

Objectionable content: A man tries to force himself on a woman (he is stopped) and there is a kiss.

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

American Patriots

American Patriots
Rick Santorum
Tyndale
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book, for beyond its title I knew very little about it. However, when I cracked it open and discovered that in the introduction Rick Santorum explains that the real only difference between the American Revolution (resulting in the USA) and the French Revolution (resulting in The Reign of Terror) was that one side used God as its foundation and the other did not, I was pretty much won over. I’m hugely passionate about the differences between the two Revolutions, so to hear someone else say it just made my day.

So what is American Patriots about? Basically, it’s simply a collection of short biographies about the men and women who were the backbone of the founding of our country during the Revolutionary War. I hadn’t heard of very many of them, so this book I found to be filled with fascinating facts about the "regular" people of Colonial America.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Francis Marion. I live in a town where his praises are sung on every corner (okay, seriously, we have so many things named after him  that if you live in my town and haven't heard of him, you've been living under a rock), so it was interesting to read about the contribution he made to the Cause.

I learned about so many men and women I had sadly never heard of before- Peter Francisco (really enjoyed that one), John Laurens, Emily Geiger, Christopher Ludwick (that one was great, too), and Haym Salomon. There were some more recognizable names, too, like Nathan Hale and Phillis Wheatley.

American Patriots is a short book, but it’s chock-full of information and definitely worthwhile, especially for a history nut like myself!

Rating: 9

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Against The Tide


 
Against the Tide
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany house Publishers
 
As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

I was interested in this book because of The Lady of Bolton Hill, Ms. Camden’s first novel. Alexander Bainbridge was definitely my favorite character in that, so when I found out that he was the hero of Against the Tide, I was excited :) I really, really, liked Against the Tide- much more than The Lady of Bolton Hill. Not only did Bane interest me, but I found myself really liking Lydia, too. She was, I guess, a pretty "modern" Victorian woman, as she had a job as a translator for the US Navy. However, having this job in a society where most women married was not really portrayed as a feministic protest: it was for pure necessity. I really appreciated that Lydia was portrayed as strong woman without relying on fighting for Woman’s rights or something like that. I also actually really liked her relationships with her colleagues very much; they basically treated Lydia like a sister, with everything from teasing to protectiveness.

I also really liked her relationship with Bane- for some reason it really cracked me up whenever he’d rearrange her ink bottles, because it would drive her CRAZY. There were a couple more kisses than I would have liked, and it’s pretty obvious that Bane- who’s a Christian- falls in love pretty early with Lydia, who isn’t. Of course, Lydia does become a Christian in the end, but her faith (or lack of one) was never seen as the main deterrent in their relationship or Bane's reason for holding her at arm’s length. There were also a few flaws in each character that were not really addressed. That seems like an odd way of putting something, and I admit I find it a little hard to explain. Sometimes the characters did a few things that I don't think were right, but there was not any conviction about it. It didn't happen often (For Bane, for example, it was a tendency toward manipulation), but there were still a few times I wished the author had gone into the pitfalls of that a little more.

Anyway, the plot was great and original. It didn’t lag at all anywhere, and I pretty much read it in one sitting, which is saying a lot because it wasn’t a particularly short book!

Objectionable content: There were a few kisses. Bane and Lydia are crusading against the opium trade, so there is "drug" content; mainly the symptoms of opium addiction.

Rating: 9

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tomorrow's Garden


Tomorrow's Garden, Amanda Cabot, 978-0-8007-3326-1
Tomorrow’s Garden
Amanda Cabot
Revell
 
Harriet Kirk is certain that becoming the new schoolteacher in Ladreville, Texas, is just what she needs--a chance to put the past behind her and give her younger siblings a brighter tomorrow. What she didn't count on was the presence of handsome former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood--or the way he affects her fragile heart. But can Harriet and Lawrence ever truly conquer the past in order to find happiness?

Book 3 in the Texas Dreams series, Tomorrow's Garden is a powerful story of overcoming the odds and grabbing hold of happiness.


I was once again excited to return to the Texas Dreams series to see what this next book had in store. Though I didn’t particularly care for Lawrence in Scattered Petals, I really liked him in this book. Harriet was a little more difficult to like…she was a little headstrong and very stubborn (although I admit I didn’t mind her stubbornness one bit when it came to discouraging a *certain* suitor) True to my personality, my favorites in this book were the secondary characters of Ruth and Sterling. Although putting their names together like that is now giving me American Girl flashbacks (good ones, I promise you!)

Though Tomorrow’s Garden is probably my least favorite of the series, I still enjoyed the book. I’m saddened to leave, and I can’t help but hope that Amanda Cabot may sometime return with a new series about Ladreville so I can catch up with all of its delightful residents!

Objectionable content: To the most of my memory, I’m pretty sure there’s really only one or two kisses in here, and that’s all that would be considered objectionable, although it is stated that Harriet’s father had been a drunkard.

Rating: 7



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Scattered Petals

Scattered Petals, Amanda Cabot, 978-0-8007-3325-4
 
Scattered Petals
Amanda Cabot
Revell

Longing for adventure, Priscilla Morton leaves Boston in 1856 and heads for the Texas Hill Country, never dreaming that the adventure she seeks could have heartbreaking consequences. Although attracted to her, ranch foreman Zachary Webster knows Priscilla deserves a cultured East Coast gentleman, not a cowboy who's haunted by memories of his mistakes.

When necessity draws them together, Priscilla and Zach begin to forge a life filled with promise. But then the past intrudes.

Book 2 of the Texas Dreams series, Scattered Petals weaves a tale of drama, love, and second chances as beautiful as the Hill Country itself.


Though the first book in this series dealt with some tough issues, this one was definitely harder to get through. Priscilla and her parents are on their way to visit Texas when their coach is attacked. Within moments, Priscilla’s life is ripped to shreds as her parents are murdered and she is brutally attacked. As such a horrendous thing happens in the first chapter of the book, this novel’s mood was definitely more subdued than Paper Roses. But at the same time, the book retained a beautiful hopefulness throughout. Priscilla and Zach’s love story is so sweet, and though the story was serious, small slivers of humor kept the book from becoming depressing. I was especially pleased to see Isabelle’s story worked out the way I suspected (and hoped!) it might. Though the author kept the scenes from being graphic, Priscilla’s experience wounded her terribly emotionally, and it’s not something I would recommend to younger readers. However, I think Scattered Petals was a beautiful story about two people who learned to love each other amid devastating circumstances.

Objectionable content: At the beginning of the book, robbers murder Priscilla’s parents and rape her. This is not, as I said, written graphically, although Priscilla’s memories haunt her- for which I don’t blame her one bit. Another man is shot, and there is one kiss at the end.

Rating: 8

Friday, September 21, 2012

Paper Roses

Paper Roses, Amanda Cabot, 978-0-8007-3324-7

Paper Roses
Amanda Cabot
Revell

Leaving the past behind in Philadelphia, mail-order bride Sarah Dobbs arrives in San Antonio ready to greet her groom--a man she has never met but whose letters, her paper roses, have won her heart from afar. But there is a problem--Austin Canfield is dead, and Sarah cannot go back East.

As Sarah tries to reconcile herself to a future that is drastically changed, Austin's brother Clay wants nothing more than to shake the Texas dust from his boots, but first he must find his brother's killer. And then there's Sarah.

Something is blooming out in the vast Texas landscape that neither Clay nor Sarah is ready to admit, and the promise of redemption blows like a gentle breeze through the prairie grasses.

Book 1 of the Texas Dreams series, Paper Roses will sweep you away with a tale of love, loss, and tantalizing possibilities.

I’m normally not a fan of westerns/Texas/ranch settings, but I was intrigued by the description of this book. Oh, and I can’t deny I thought the cover looked pretty : ) Anyway, I loved the setting for this book. It was not a typical "western" town at all- it was settled by a group of German and French immigrants, which delighted me excessively because it was America-meets-Europe. Just the fact that the architecture of the town’s buildings reminded Sarah of something from a fairy tale made me ready to move there. Loved it!

The plotline was also interesting, and I enjoyed it- it reminded me, a little, of Cyrano de Bergerac (one of my favorite plays!) I did not guess the villain of Paper Roses. After reading several books were the bad guy was so painfully obvious I was groaning, this one made me so happy I was ready to skip. I slightly suspected the villain at certain points, but I admit the conclusion did surprise me. Yay!!!!

I liked Sarah and Clay, but I admit my favorite characters were the brother-and-sister duo of Isabelle and Leon. Though I was saddened to learn that neither of them are the main characters of the next two books in the series, I’m hoping we’ll still get to hear more about them! I also really liked Zach, and since he’s the hero of the next book in the Texas Dreams series –Scattered Petals- I can’t wait to start reading!

Paper Roses was a delightful surprise (especially after my last trip to the library, where I checked out a pile of books that all ended up being duds.)

Objectionable content: There are some murders that have happened previously in the character’s pasts, but they are not graphically described. There are two kisses.

Rating: 8

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Band of Sisters



Band of Sisters
Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House

Hello, all! Today I am pleased to announce that I’m participating in my first blog tour! The book is Band of Sisters, a historical novel exposing the horrors of the modern-day slave trade and what not only the characters, but the readers, can do about it.

Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee a shameful past and perilous future in Ireland, 1910. But, after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that her American benefactor has died, and his family, refusing to own his debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen finds employment in a prominent Manhattan department store, only to discover a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city. With the help of an unexpected band of sisters, Maureen takes a stand against injustice and fights for the lives of those caught in peril.

Here's a link to the author's Website.

Cathy Gohlke is a master of powerful stories- after reading Promise Me This, I knew Band of Sisters was not going to be a fluffy, frivolous read. As it deals with such a tough subject, this really is not the best book for younger readers, but it is a powerful wake-up call to all of us. Band of Sisters is divided into two parts; I like the second half best. For the first half, I found Maureen a bit annoying. She had had such a hard, unforgiving life and I don’t blame her for her mistrust of men. All the same, I felt she was extremely bitter and stubborn, and frankly, hard to like. This is why I like the second half- she’s finally decided to trust. Instead of doubting everyone, the characters have started to realize what’s going on around them and what they need to do to stop it.

Olivia was entirely different than Maureen, and much more likable. Katie Rose, Maureen’s sister, was SO stubborn- that is a trait she and Maureen definitely shared. In part 1 of the book, I didn’t blame her. Personally, I felt her anger at her sister was in some ways justified, as Maureen was not being entirely honest in explaining to Katie Rose what was going on, and I was angry at her, too! However, after Maureen told Katie Rose what was going on, and then Katie Rose blamed Maureen for it, well, my frustration shifted subjects. The book did, of course, reach a highly satisfactory conclusion.

Overall, I felt Band of Sisters achieved what I believe the author set out to do- expose the terrible crime of human trafficking that is still going on today.

Rating: 8

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

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Over The Edge



Over The Edge
Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers

Seth Kincaid Remembers Almost Everything…except getting married!

Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he hasn’t been the same since. Then he fought in the Civil War and returned to Colorado crazier than ever.

Somewhere along the line, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he has a lot of excuses, but his wife isn’t too happy to find out Seth doesn’t remember her. Callie isn’t a long-suffering woman. When Seth disappeared, she searched, prayed, and worried. Now she’s come out West to wrangle her long-lost husband.

Seth is willing to make amends. Callie is more interested in shooting him. Can they rekindle their love before one of them goes over the edge?

So this back description of Over the Edge kind of sounds like my writing after a long day when I’m in a sarcastic frame of mind, so I had quite a smile on my face when I opened this book (even if I’m not crazy about its cover- aside from the awesome fonts. Yes, I’m shallow.) I have a vague memory of reading a book by this author several years ago. I don’t remember much about it, other than the fact it made me laugh. When I saw this book available for review, I figured it would be enjoyable, even if I hadn’t read the first two books in the series. Normally, it’s usually not that hard to catch up on what’s gone on before, especially if you look up a short synopsis of the other books online.

Yeah. Not really. I was so lost for the first few several chapters of this book. I highly recommend reading the first two books first. Why doesn’t Seth remember Callie? What’s the deal with this mysterious cavern? Who’s this Jasper villain guy?

I figured it out, eventually. And I admit this book had some terribly funny turns of phrase that the author is great at. Still, there were things that fell a little flat for me. It didn’t really feel for the characters. Really, I think this would actually make a better movie than book. Except…ahem…for the mushy parts. (can you see my middle-schooler shiver? I always feel like a kid complaining about cooties when I say "mushy". But hey, that’s what it is, right?) Now, the characters were married, and it wasn’t as though the scenes were immoral, just…uncomfortable. Like I’m feeling right now writing about it. Let’s just say I skipped a few parts. okay...A lot of parts.

Ahem. Moving on.

I was a little apprehensive of whether or not I would like Callie, because sometimes "strong" heroines just come off as annoying, but I found her better than most. Seth was…interesting. You don’t often come across heroes who are a little nuts. I was having Jack Sparrow flashbacks. (Okay, okay, that’s an exaggeration. He wasn’t really that crazy.) Actually, I was a little worried at first, because Seth was acting oddly. But he won me over eventually.

Also, both my sister (who read the first few chapters) and I noticed that the writing seemed choppy in places, and as Emily noted, "it just doesn’t seem edited enough."

I think my main problem with this book was that it seemed unsure whether to be silly or sincere. After reading the back, I guess I kind of wanted something face-paced and laugh-out-loud funny. Sometimes it approached this and made me smile, but it never really made me laugh. I guess that describes my reaction to this book it general: I liked it, but not enough.

Objectionable content: There were numerous kisses, and the book opens with an attempted stagecoach robbery which involves a lot of shooting and guns and all that jazz.

Rating: 6

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Orphan King

The Orphan King, Merlin's Immortals Series #1

The Orphan King
Waterbrook
Sigmund Brouwer

I’m never one to turn down free books, so even though I suspected this book was probably not going to be my favorite, I decided to try it anyway. This book being a fantasy, I was expecting to be confused because...well, that's just what happens with me and fantasies. The Orphan King did confuse me- at first. Then, to my surprise, I actually figured out what was going on! As for magical content- I’m still not sure what’s really going on with that. The bad guys obviously use magic. At first, I thought the heroes were using it as well, but then it’s revealed that their seemingly mystic tricks were just that- tricks. Because this book had more going on than mystical symbols and potions and sorcery like a lot of fantasies do, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would- certainly more than the last fantasy I received from this publisher. I also appreciated the fact that it was set in a historical context. That made it much easier for my mind to grasp.

Overall, though this book didn’t amaze me or convert me over to the genre, I certainly didn’t hate it, although I probably would not recommend it to someone who wasn’t already a fan of fantasies.

Objectionable content: This book had several violent scenes, nothing too disturbing, but violent nonetheless. The "enemy" is known to perform human sacrifices, although this is only mentioned, not described. Magic is performed by the bad guys and it at first seems as if the hero is using magic, as well.

Rating: 6

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

To Have and to Hold

To Have and To Hold, Bridal Veil Island Series #1

To Have and To Hold
Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller
Bethany House Publishers




The first books of adult Christian fiction I ever read –after Janette Oke’s novels, of course- were the "Ladies of Liberty" series by Tracie Peterson. Our former library had to have bought every single book by Mrs. Peterson within the month they came out, and so I became incredibly familiar with her work and have probably read at least three fourths of all the books she’s written. Even so, I’ve never really been a huge fan of any of her books, although I admit to enjoying several, especially the one’s she has co-written with Judith Miller. The library we go to now does not have a very large selection of Christian fiction, so when I saw that they had gotten the first book in the Bridal Veil Island Series, I immediately grabbed it. Here is the book description:

When Audrey Cunningham's father proposes that they move to Bridal Veil Island, where he grew up, she agrees, thinking this will help keep him sober and close to God. But they arrive to find wealthy investors buying up land to build a grand resort on the secluded island--and they want the Cunninghams' acreage.
Contractor Marshall Graham can't imagine why the former drinking buddy of his deceased father would beckon him to Bridal Veil Island. And when Boyd Cunningham asks him to watch over Audrey, Marshall is even more confused. He has no desire to be saddled with caring for this fiery young woman who is openly hostile toward him. But when Audrey seems to be falling for another man--one who has two little girls Audrey adores--Marshall realizes she holds more of his heart than he realized. Which man will Audrey choose? And can she hold on to her ancestral property in the face of overwhelming odds?

I admit to being entirely disappointed with this book- mainly because of the heroine. One thing that bugs me about a lot of Tracie Peterson’s (I haven’t read a whole lot by Judith Miller) writing is that the heroines seem extremely feministic to me. (Deborah from the Striking a Match series immediately comes to mind) But at the same time, many of her heroines do have their good points despite this (I did enjoy the Ladies of Liberty and the Broadmoor Legacy series to name a few). It’s just that so many authors seem to make the mistake of creating a "strong" or "independent" heroine that really just turns out into being a shrew. Not nice, language, I know. But that’s the first word that comes to mind when certain female characters remind you of Kate. This world seriously needs some Pertruchios. Sigh. Rabbit trail again…

Audrey, though she wasn’t really a "career" girl or anything, was just so stubbornly independent it was maddening. As soon as Marshall shows up, she immediately assumes he’s a drunk like his dad and is going to lead her own recovering-alcoholic father back down the path to perdition. This is before he barely says a word to her. I just wanted to shake her for the way she was so obnoxious! And then after days of rudeness, when she finally confronts him about why she’s been snapping, growling, and ignoring him and he tries to explain he is not an alcoholic, she won’t let him get a word in edgewise. I feel like also putting it in here that if I’d been Marshall, I’d a- pitched her. (Sorry, just watched Anne. Couldn’t help it.)Talk about prejudice. I’m no stranger to characters who make you grit your teeth, but when that character is supposed to be the heroine…sigh. In fact, there were quite a few characters I didn’t like. Yes, I’m a southern girl. But Yankee-hating Aunt Thora made me want to scream.

I also feel that the romance was kind of the clichéd type that sometimes makes you want to roll your eyes, and the bad guy was pretty obvious from the beginning. Eeek. I feel like I’m being so mean. But this book was just…eh. I even skimmed through some of it because it wasn’t really holding my interest. I hate writing negative reviews. I do. But yet I seem to write them so often. I do feel like I need to be honest in my reviews, so of course I’m giving my honest opinion…but. Yeah. I just didn’t care for this book so much. It definitely is not Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller’s best.

Rating: 4

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Messenger

The Messenger
Siri Mitchell
Bethany House Publishers

I received a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday, and when it comes to actually buy a book, I’m incredibly selective. I research, I read reviews…I want this book to draw me in and not be a waste of my money. That may be because I get so many free books for reviews that are not really my first choice, so that when I do get to make a choice, I’m very picky. (Actually, I did get a chance to review this book for free, but picked another. Sad mistake on my part…)

Anyway, back to the subject. I have read three other of Siri Mitchell’s books: A Constant Heart, Love’s Pursuit, and She Walks in Beauty. I read the first two and neither of them struck my fancy, as I found them both to be, shall we say… depressing. For me, anyway. Also, because Siri Mitchell often writes in first person from both main characters' side, I found it confusing. However, I then read She Walks in Beauty and really enjoyed it.

So when I was at the bookstore, I saw her newest book, The Messenger, and paused. And decided to buy it after taking it and then putting it back several times. I am very indecisive, but somehow, The Messenger kept somehow jumping off the shelf and getting into my hands. Long story short, it is now on my shelf.

That was possibly the longest ever introduction to a review. Enough with my rambling; here’s the book description:

Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

This book pulled me in entirely. I loved that fact that it was a romance…but then it wasn’t. It’s about how Hannah and Jeremiah have to learn to work with and appreciate each other, and though they do end up caring for each other by the end of the book (sorry if that’s a spoiler for you…) it wasn’t the typical "Oh she’s pretty and he’s handsome I want to marry her/him" plot. In fact, they annoy each other so much so many times that despite the serious nature of the book, I did have a smile on my face a lot.

I had recently read a biography of Benedict Arnold, and although the man did not appear in in this novel, from the biography I learned about many of the incidents of the British occupation of Philadelphia (such as the infamous Meschianza) that were included in The Messenger. I found that to be an interesting coincidence, and felt the pleasure of knowing the historical background of the plot!

This book tackled the issue of a faith based on a political position or particular belief, and I found that it contained much to ponder. The only downside for me was the fact that I found the ending to be very abrupt- so much so you're almost confused at whether or not it really is the end. I wanted more to it! Also, if you are not familiar with Siri Mitchells's writing style (first person perspective from both characters) it can be confusing. However, The Messenger is not a book that is to be quickly forgotten, and I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction.

Objectionable content: The British officers are very immoral in the way they behave and the way they treat their prisoners. It is mentioned a woman was raped. A man lost his hand in a battle, and many men die of sickness or accidents while in prison.

Rating: gasp…is she? Will she? Yes! I actually am giving it a 10. Amazing, no?

If you’re wondering, yes. I did take a very long time deciding whether or not to give this book a 10!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Only A Novel




Only A Novel
Amy Dashwood
I have been following the progress of this book nearly since I was introduced the author’s delightfully fun blog here. I had always enjoyed reading her excerpts, so when I found out that she had self-published the book, I did a little happy dance and then promptly ordered it. I actually read it a few weeks ago, but lazy me has only just now sat down to write a review.

Only a Novel begins in the late 1800s with Elizabeth Markette utterly alone and down to her last penny. Obsessed (although, of course, she would never admit it) with Jane Austen, she decides to use the last of her money to head to Europe and seek a job as a governess. After all, the classic works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Charles Dickens are proof that romance and adventure (and eligible, wealthy young bachelors!) abound in England, right? Things, of course, do not happen exactly as she hopes.

My sister read this book after I did, and she made the comment that she felt like she was reading a book by a good friend who knew all the same inside jokes she did. That’s exactly how I felt, too! Allusions to so many of my favorite classic books had me smiling and sometimes laughing out loud. I think it was when she used the phrase, "no nonsense" that I finally lost it and keeled over laughing. Even so, I have to say, what I liked most about this book was the characters.

Lavinia, the scatterbrained, slightly eccentric socialite, was definitely my favorite. I think I was smiling on every page she was present. Of course, Rodney was a close a second. Even if he was too "Henry Tilney-like" to be a hero. Oh…Henry was the hero of Northanger Abbey, wasn’t he? Hahaha. Ahem. Another inside joke…

This book is not written in the typical fashion of modern novels. In fact, I doubt I’ve read any other book like it. It was greatly refreshing, though I understand it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, if you take my meaning. The only downside to this book is that if you’re not a Jane Austen fan, you probably won’t get half the jokes, and wonder why on earth this lady is mentioned so much, especially at the beginning. So….go read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey before you read this book. Or, at the very least, watch the movies!

Objectionable content: to my delight, there is really, absolutely NOTHING. Sigh of pleasure :)

Rating: 8


(Sorry about the font sizes...out computer is acting up!)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Lady of Bolton Hill


The Lady of Bolton Hill
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers

I heard several good things about this book from various reviewers, so I decided it was definitely worth looking into. I had originally gotten a free copy of this book in e-book format several months ago, but I really dislike reading books on the computer, so after reading about a third of it I finally decided to cave in and buy a hard copy a few weeks ago.

The story of The Lady of Bolton Hill was original, but I have to say that the characters of Clara and Daniel didn’t really seem to "do" anything for me. I liked Clara, but Daniel drove me nuts until the very end. This mostly had to do with the fact that when characters are intent on revenge, I get sick of it easily, even though I know, of course, that by the end they’ll let go of this desire. I understand that this is a personal preference of mine, though, so I’m sure for some people it wouldn’t bother them.

Overall, this book was pleasant, but not spectacular. I would probably give this book a 7, except for one thing: and that, my dear friends, is a certain secondary character.

Alexander Banebridge ("Bane") was just cool. I mean, I do in general find villains fascinating, but he was just…very well done, let me say. And then -*SPOILER ALERT* the author reformed him. We always joke about reforming villains, but nobody ever actually does it! I loved that Elizabeth Camden did so. I loved it a lot *END OF SPOILER* I am supremely happy that Ms. Camden’s latest book is about Bane. I am totally reading it. He’s not the only reason this book is an 8, though: I also loved the epilogue of this book. It was great and absolutely satisfying. The ending pretty much made the entire book worth it for me : )

Objectionable content: This book deals with a few scenes of the criminal "underworld", but I didn’t find it to be too disturbing. There were a few kisses, although I admit it was a little "romanc-y" for my taste.

Rating: 8

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Promise Me This

Promise Me This
Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House Publishers

Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.


When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be a "Titanic" story...but I was wrong. It was so much more than that.

This book was extremely emotional- for me. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Er...bed, anyway. This book spanned not only the Titanic disaster, but also the horrors of World War One. Although, at first I wasn't sure if I would like Annie (Michael won me over immediately:) I did like her by the end. The second half of the book I loved and hated simultaneously. It was very bittersweet. I thought this book was well-written and researched. I liked it a lot.

The only reason I'm not giving it a ten is simply because I felt the ending was little rushed. Well, I'm not sure if "rushed" is really the best word, but it didn't feel quite as resolved as I would have liked. Even so, this is one novel I highly recommend!

Rating: 9

Objectionable content: This book deals with -let's face it- a lot of death. Between the sinking of the ship and the Great War, well, it can be pretty depressing. There are a few kisses near the end.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Love in Disguise


Love in Disguise
Carol Cox
Bathany House Publishers

     Unemployed with nowhere to go, Ellie Moore jumps at a chance with a job with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Leaving snowy Chicago behind, she travels to sunny Arizona to solve the reoccurring theft of silver shipments. Putting her acting and dressmaking skills to good use, she masquerades as a middle-aged widow named Lavinia Stewart. But when her expected sleuthing partner bails out, Ellie finds herself juggling two roles- now in addition to her first disguise, she must go about town as Mrs. Stewart’s dazzling and energetic niece, Jessie Monroe! Beautiful Jessie attracts several of the men in town, including mine owner Steven Pierce. As Ellie’s identities and lies mount, she feels as though she has lost her chance at faith and love. What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he loves doesn’t really exist?

     I have mixed feelings about this book, because though despite the exciting plotline, I did feel that in several places it lost my interest. However, overall, I had enough interest to keep reading despite so. I did enjoy Ellie’s transformations into her two roles, especially the way she practiced acting like each of them! Once character I really liked was the neighbor boy, Billy. My, did he crack me up!

     I liked the detective/Pinkerton aspect to this story- it fascinated me. The only thing I found truly lacking was the romance. I’m not sure why, but even though I was glad that Ellie and Steven got together at the end, I just didn’t care about their relationship as much as I wished I did. I did greatly appreciate Steven’s forgiving nature in regards to Ellie’s deception, though!

     Overall, this read was pleasant, and I must admit that I did not discover the culprit until he was revealed! This book is a definite "must" for readers who enjoy mysteries and tales of secret identities.

Objectionable content: There were some "situations of peril", but nothing that really bothered me. There was one kiss.

Rating: 8

(for some reason I feel like I’m always giving books an "8". Do I give most books an "8"?)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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