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Radio Theater: Les Miserables

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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 charge…

UpComing fiction from Bethany House

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After 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 ha…

Heartless

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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…

Gentleman of Her Dreams

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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 …

Through Rushing Water

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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 integ…

Palace of Mirrors

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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 be…

Every Perfect Gift

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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 vio…

Just Ella

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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-chee…

All Things New

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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…

At Every Turn

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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 re…

American Patriots

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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 Mar…

Against The Tide

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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 …

Tomorrow's Garden

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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 perso…

Scattered Petals

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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 t…

Paper Roses

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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 c…

Band of Sisters

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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 Pr…

Over The Edge

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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 vagu…

The Orphan King

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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 Have and to Hold

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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 hel…

The Messenger

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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 s…

Only A Novel

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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 rea…

The Lady of Bolton Hill

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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…

Promise Me This

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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 …

Love in Disguise

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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 lovesdoesn’t really exist?

     I have mixed feelings about this book, because though despite the exciting plotline, I did feel that in several places…