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.
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