Friday, September 27, 2013

Elusive Hope


Elusive Hope
MaryLou Tyndall

I really liked the first book in this series, Forsaken Dreams, so I was looking forward to this book in the hope that it would live up to the last one.

This is definitely a problem exclusive to me, but I found it really, really weird to read a book with the hero’s name being Hayden. Because it’s my own name, I just think of it as feminine even though I know that it was historically a boy’s name. Still, it was a little strange for me!

It was hard to like Hayden and Magnolia at times, because they were both so selfish. However, the most annoying aspect for me was the fact that the romance was totally grounded on physical stuff. The author must have mentioned dozens of times how attracted the characters were to each other, even when they supposedly hated each other’s guts. Half the time, it just seemed like the author was repeating what she had already mentioned earlier.

What I did like was the spiritual aspect- it was the most unusual part in the book, as you don’t normally find spiritual warfare in a historical book like this. Still, the mushy-romance aspect of the book was just too much for me at times, so that gave my rating a bit of a hit.

Rating: 5 ½

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What Once Was Lost

What Once Was Lost    -     
        By: Kim Vogel Sawyer

What Once Was Lost
Kim Vogel Sawyer

 On a small Kansas farm, Christina Willems lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals who count on her leadership and have come to see the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out in the kitchen leaving the house uninhabitable, she must scramble to find shelter for all in her care, scattering her dear "family."
With no other options, Christina is forced to approach Levi Jonnson, a reclusive mill owner, to take in a young blind boy named Tommy Kilgore. Levi agrees with reluctance but finds himself surprised by the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. As obstacles to repairing the farm pile up against Christina, she begins to question her leadership ability and wonders if she can fulfill the mission to which she's dedicated her life. And when an old adversary challenges Christina, will she find an unlikely ally—or more—in the aloof Levi? Can Levi reconcile with the rejection that led to his hermit-like existence and open his heart and life to something more, especially a relationship with a loving God?

I found Christina really, really annoying- both with the way she overprotected Tommy (not letting him do anything by himself) and with her stubbornness. She was one of those heroines who charge ahead and want to do everything themselves in their own way, and jump to conclusions. She struck me as kind of bossy. And then there was the part where her pastor told her that people often misunderstand that verse in Corinthians about women keeping silent in the churches, and that of course women can be leaders in ministry. I have no problem with women serving in ministry, but I do have a problem with women being in leadership over men (especially spiritually) However, that’s a whole other can of worms!

But even aside from that, I found this book wasn’t very good at capturing my attention; I’ve read plenty of others like it. I didn’t care for Christina, I found Levi passable but not particularly memorable, and most of the secondary characters didn’t have as much of a distinct personality as I would have liked. If I had gotten this book in any other way than for a review, I probably wouldn’t have finished it, because it just didn’t interest me very much.

Rating: 4

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

City on Fire

City on Fire

City on Fire
Tracy Higley
Thomas Nelson

As Vesuvius churns, a slave girl-turned-gladiator joins forces with an unlikely source to seek justice.
In the coastal town of Pompeii, a new gladiator prepares to fight. But this gladiator hides a deadly secret: she’s a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella, disguised as a young boy. A savvy fighter, Ariella determines to triumph in the arena, knowing her life will be forfeit should anyone uncover the truth.
Cato, a wealthy politician, moved to Pompeii after tiring of the corruption in Rome. But he soon learns that Pompeii is just as corrupt, and if he doesn’t play the game, his family could pay the price. Determined to bring about justice for the citizens of Pompeii, Cato searches for allies. But what he discovers instead is a confounding group of Christians . . . and a young female gladiator whose fame is growing daily.
Political unrest reaches a boiling point as Christians are jailed and executed, and the mountain in the distance threatens to destroy the city with its river of fire. Cato and Ariella must act quickly and courageously to save their loved ones before all is lost.
     In some ways, this book wasn't what I was expecting. This is the fourth book by the author that I've read, and so far I've really enjoyed her books. However, City on Fire had more problems than her others.

     I will say, though I thought the idea of a female gladiator far-fetched, she did carry it off more believably than I thought she would. On the other hand, there were a lot of awkward parts with her trying to disguise herself as a man (often ending up with people implying they thought her homosexual) There was actually a lot more objectionable content in this book than in her others, because ancient Rome was just so immoral. I would NOT recommend this book to younger readers, even though I could tell the author tried to be as tactful as she could with the subjects.

     The novel did drag at times, although scattered through it were some exciting or interesting scenes that I really liked- especially when the volcano began to erupt. However, City of Fire isn't in my top favorites list

Rating: 7

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013



Alethea Kontis
Harcourt Children's Books

This book started out wonderfully- it was well-written, engaging, and the characters were interesting and likable. However, as the story went on, it began to lose my interest. It seemed purposefully dragged out, and some of the plot twists were a little confusing. Sometimes, it seemed like the author was just trying to shove as many fairy tale references in there as she could. Also, there were a few uses of the word d**n and a couple times I thought something might have been an innuendo, but it went over my head because, well, I’m me. Of course, there was also your typical fairy-tale magical content, with fairy godmothers and vengeful fairies and a conglomeration of enchantments from familiar stories.

As a retelling of The Frog Prince, it would have been great. I think if the author had kept this book shorter and focused more on the heroine,  Sunday, and her prince, this book would have been better- as it was, it was a bit of a disappointment. However, that didn't mean it didn't have its good points, and I may be persuaded to pick up the next book in this series if the opportunity presents itself.

Rating: 7 (somewhat entertaining and/or beneficial) 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Born of Persuasion

Born of Persuasion. Price of Privilege Series #1   -     
        By: Jessica Dotta

Born of Persuasion 
Jessica Dotta
Tyndale House Publishers

The deeper you wade into some stories, the more complex the riddle grows...does that not sound utterly intriguing? After reading the book description and the author's bio, I had very, very high expectations for this book. In the end, I am completely confused about what I think of it.

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

The mystery was intriguing, but confusing...sometimes in a good way, and other times not so much. I was never sure which characters to like...or which characters I was supposed to like. (For instance, I sort of liked Edward...much more than Mr. Macy, anyway, who from the beginning I found to be really creepy. And yet, even so there were little glimpses of Mr. Macy that I liked.) Am I the only one who wanted to know more about Mr. Greenham? For some reason he was one of the characters I was interested in the most.

There was a sort of mastery and power about this book that I haven't come across often, but some things just puzzled me. I never really connected with Julia; Rissi mentioned on her blog that Julia seemed more like the narrator than the protagonist. For a story written in first person, I felt like the reader didn't get to really know Julia very well, and sometimes the story seemed a little stagnant, although it picked up in the end.

As the reader, many questions are left unanswered, and I am looking forward to the next book. However, this novel was a little dark (It's not compared to the Bronte's Gothic novels for nothing) and I didn't care for the stormy romance with the mysterious man- but maybe that's just my taste in books.

Rating: 7 

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Honest Heart

An Honest Heart, Great Exhibition Series #2   -     
        By: Kaye Dacus

An Honest Heart
Kaye Dacus

Set during the Industrial Revolution and the Great Exhibition of 1851, An Honest Heart is a "sitting-room romance" with the feel of a Regency-era novel but the fashions and technological advances of the mid-Victorian age.

Featuring dual romance stories, the main plot involves seamstress Caddy Bainbridge and the choice she must make between two men: one from the aristocracy, the other from the working class. Award-nominated author Kaye Dacus pinpoints the theme of honesty—both men in this love triangle have deep secrets to hide, and Caddy’s choice will be based on which of them can be honest with her.

Courtship . . . cunning . . . candor. Who possesses an honest heart?

One thing that was interesting about this book isn’t that isn’t a sequel to the first book in this series; rather, An Honest Heart takes place during the events of Follow the Heart, just about some of the other characters.

I really loved the heroine’s name, as I recently named one of my own characters Cadence who also had the nickname of Caddy (And here I thought I was being so original!;) I also liked Caddy’s mother; she added a little humor to the story. I wouldn’t describe this book as exciting of exhilarating; however, I still ended up getting involved in the story and characters. In fact, the story got very stressful several times! (although I got a little annoyed for the Doctor about not being completely honest with Caddy…I was quite sure she would understand!) And despite how the book description sounds, it was very clear from the beginning who she would choose; also, this was mainly about Caddy, and unlike Follow the Heart, it wasn't really a "dual" romance. Either way, it was still a nice read.

Rating: 8

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

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Home For My Heart

A Home for My Heart  -     
        By: Anne Mateer

A Home For My Heart
Anne Mateer
Bethany House Publishers

I was definitely looking forward to this book from Anne Mateer. Her previous novels, Wings of a Dream and At Every Turn, were sweet and fun, and that’s what I was expecting with A Home For My Heart. However, while A Home For My Heart was without a doubt a very sweet story, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

The main reason this book didn’t click with me was because of the main character. I just couldn’t warm up to Sadie, even though I wanted to. Mateer’s heroines always have some flaw they have to overcome, of course, but in this one the way Sadie caused a mess just made me annoyed rather than sympathetic to her character. I did find it a little odd at first that this is my least favorite of Anne Mateer’s books when it’s also the one that has the most endorsements by popular authors, but I do think there are a lot of people who will like this book, even if I didn’t. I, personally, just had a hard time getting into it. It dragged for me, and I felt that I didn’t get to know some of the characters as well as I would have liked. (although, as an aside, is not the curly-haired little girl on the cover absolutely adorable?)

Rating: 6

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rebellious Heart

Rebellious Heart  -     
        By: Jody Hedlund

Rebellious Heart
Jody Hedlund
Bethany House

In 1763 Massachusetts, Susanna Smith has grown up with everything she's ever wanted, except one thing: an education. Because she's a female, higher learning has been closed to her, but her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. She's determined to put her status to good use,reaching out to the poor and deprived. And she knows when she marries well, she will be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Ben Ross grew up a farmer's son and has nothing to his name but his Harvard education. A poor country lawyer, he doesn't see how he'll be able to fulfill his promise to make his father proud of him. When family friends introduce him to the Smith family, he's drawn to quick-witted Susanna but knows herfamily expects her to marry well. When Susanna's decision to help an innocent woman no matter the cost crosses with Ben's growing disillusionment with their British rulers, the two find themselves bound together in what quickly becomes a very dangerous fight for justice.

What first interested me about this book was that the story was inspired by John and Abigail Adam’s early courtship. Because the Adamses have long been some of my favorite historical figures, I was more than eager to get my hands on this book.

Even though Rebellious Heart is labeled as historical fiction, it really felt more like a historical romance. There was certainly a lot more to the plot, but the whole feel of it was very romanc-y to me, even though aside from a few kisses, it wasn’t really inappropriate. Over the years, I’m afraid I’ve lost my taste for romances. Part of this is because I’ve gotten more conservative in my ideas of godly purity, but also because I read so many Christian romances during my earlier teen years that I’ve gotten rather sick of them. I’m sorry; I just don’t enjoy reading about people mooning over each other. It’s not that I doubt that people really do that- I just don’t like reading about it. For that reason, I’ve stuck mostly with historicals that have a touch of romance.

I will say, that for a romance, I liked it. It was quite well-written, and fast-paced, with danger and smuggling and the turmoil of a country on the edge of a revolution. It’s not my favorite genre ever, so that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy Rebellious Heart so much, but I am sure that if you like romances, you’ll love this one.

Objectionable content: There are some kisses, and a couple murders. A woman is pregnant as the result of rape.

Rating: 7 1/2 

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