Thursday, February 28, 2013

So Shines The Night



So Shines the Night
Tracy L. Higley
Thomas Nelson

On an island teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of The Way.
She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.
But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.
The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of The Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.
When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything—Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.
Though this book had some very sinister undertones from dealing with all the sorcery that plagued Ephesus, I never felt that it got too dark. Of all of Tracy Higley’s books that I’ve read, this included the most Biblical figures, including Paul, Timothy, Aquila, and Priscilla. Though I wasn’t totally interested for the first few chapters, it got exciting in the last half, and I couldn’t put it down! The author states that despite being set in such a different time, she was inspired by Jane Eyre and other classic Gothic novels (and there was one scene that totally reminded me of Beauty and the Beast!), which I thought was interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, probably more than her last book Isle of Shadows. I’ve really enjoyed reading Tracy Higley’s books, and I look forward to reading more of them in the future!

Objectionable content: there are about three kisses; most of the content that might be disturbing involves murders and the influence of sorcerers.

Rating: 8

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Changeling



 Changeling
Philippa Gregory
Simon & Schuster

So I was walking through my library the other day, and my eye caught the “Christian fiction” sticker on the side of this book. Pleased at having found a rare Christian YA novel (our library doesn’t carry many) I was instantly cautious when I caught the author’s name- I’ve never read any of Philippa Gregory’s books, but I know they’re not Christian. I could see why The Changeling might be mistaken for one, though- the plot is about an order of monks (based on a real order, actually) who go throughout Christendom searching for work of the devil- they believe the second return of the Lord is coming soon, and they’ve decided to outwit the devil’s schemes. Basically, The Changeling is the story of a young novice monk who is a detective of sorts: he investigates seemingly supernatural occurrences to see if it’s just a trick- or something demonic.

I thought the premise sounded interesting, and though this book is actually very much a historical, sometimes it reads a little like a fantasy, although all of the occurrences are shown to be either a natural occurrence or a trick.

I was also pleased, throughout the first half of the book, at how clean it was, unlike my last attempt at our library’s Young Adult section. There is a scene where a man comes into a girl’s room with the intent to attack her; however she hits him over the head and knocks him out before he can really do anything. Besides that, I was quite pleased- until I got to the middle. For some reason, there were three or four chapters in the middle of the book that had quite a bit of language. After that there really wasn’t any language, and before that there wasn’t any either. It was just three really random chapters grouped together in the middle of the book. It was completely unnecessary, and very disappointing, especially because if you’re going to read the book, you can’t really skip three entire chapters!

There was also a scene in the second half I didn’t care for. Two girls are taking a bath, and a young man catches their reflection in the mirror. He only sees their heads (seeing their hair down was provocative enough!) but still….I didn’t like it.

However, despite all these problems, I did find the storyline intriguing, and though there was a tiny hint of romance, they’re really wasn’t anything “mushy” in it.

Now, the theology of this novel is very medieval Catholicism. In fact, the main character is accused of heresy because he mentioned that he thought his monastery’s relic was a fake. So, all of the characters’ theology was definitely off. However, the two main characters were genuine  in their belief in God, and did trust in Him, which was nice in what I consider a secular book.

I’m giving this book a 6, although if it hadn’t been for the language and the scenes I didn’t care for, I would have given it an 7.

Rating: 6

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Icecutter's Daugher


The Icecutter's Daughter, Land of Shining Water Series #1

The Icecutter’s Daughter
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House Publishers

I know the last couple of times I’ve reviewed Tracie Peterson’s books I mentioned I wasn’t a huge fan; if so, why do I read her books every once in a while?

*blushes*

Her covers. I always, always love her covers. Besides, when our library gets any new books, I’ll take what I can get!

The Icecutter’s Daughter, while not entirely original in plot, was a fairly pleasant read. Again, it didn’t completely capture my imagination and it wasn’t an I-can’t-put-it-down type of novel, but it was okay. Here’s the book blurb:

Merrill Krause longs for a family of her own, but she's bound by a promise to her dying mother to care for her father and older brothers until they no longer need her. She enjoys being part of the family business, harvesting ice during the brutal Minnesota winters. Merrill actively takes part, possessing a keen ability to work with the horses--despite the advice of her good friend, who disapproves of her unladylike behavior. 

When Rurik Jorgenson arrives in their small town to join his uncle doing carpentry, he soon crosses paths with Merrill. But unlike other men, who are often frightened away by her older brothers, Rurik isn't intimidated by them or by Merrill's strength and lack of femininity. As he thrives under the mentorship of his uncle, Rurik dreams of inheriting the business and claiming Merrill as his wife. But while he is determined to start a new life, the past is determined to follow him when his former fiancee and her brother show up in town. Soon Rurik is put in the center of a major scandal that may damage his relationship with Merrill. Can they learn to trust God--and each other--and embrace the promise of love?

One thing I did like was all of the ethnic names of the characters. One can get tired of commonly used names for characters in novels, so these were a nice change. Plus, since they were so unusual, it was easy to keep all the characters straight.

I didn't care much for the whole Svea plotline, though. She was just really nasty and then at the end everything came falling down and...I don't know. i just didn't like it.

Unlike when I read the first book of the Bridal Veil Island series (which I didn't like AT ALL), I would consider reading the forthcoming books in this series. (and I probably will, as I’m sure our library will get them)

Objectionable content: there are a few kisses, a woman claims she is pregnant out of wedlock.

Rating: 7

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Guardian Duke



The Guardian Duke
Jamie Carie
B&H

Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King's ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind. When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.

I’ve never before read anything by Jamie Carie, although I am familiar with her name and books due to my frequency on Christianbook.com. I saw that this one got high ratings (plus I like the cover), so when I saw it was available on Netgalley, I decided to try it.

I think the strength of this book is that it wasn’t “typical.” There were a lot of little quirks and things that kept the story fresh and original. All the same, there were a few things that just didn’t “work” for me. First of all, though I really enjoyed all of the letters between Alexandra and Gabriel, I didn’t get why she kept trying to elude him. He was on her side, after all!

My favorite character was definitely Montague, although I liked Baylor also. Though the storyline is definitely unusual, if you know coming into this book that it’s more of an adventure story than a formal Regency, you’ll probably enjoy it.

I’m happy to say, the book didn’t really have any objectionable content that I can remember. (However, I had read reviews of the second and third books, and so apparently there is some objectionable stuff in there, which is sad because this book ends on a cliffhanger…so you’re probably going to want to read the next books, although I admit I'm not sure if I myself will.)

Rating: 7

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Where Treasure Hides



Where Treasure Hides
Johnnie Alexander Donley
Tyndale

I didn’t know much about this book when I agreed to review it; I admit the cover intrigued me and that’s the reason I took it. However, I ended up really enjoying it. The story drew me and it was hard to put down. Or shut off, as the case may be (I got it in e-book form. Ick. I hate e-books, but that was the only option for reviewing this book)

I really liked it, but it took a turn near the end I didn’t care for. I hate it in books when the characters think each other dead. It stresses me out and, well, I just really hate it. And I’m really hoping there’s some sort of sequel, because the epilogue, besides elaborating on the twist I hated, left me wanting…more.

I liked the characters, especially Ian. My favorite parts were with him and Libby- it was so adorable. I liked Alison, too, although sometimes she annoyed me, like when she agreed to go back under enemy lines after being safe in England. I was like, “Nooooooo!” Yes, talk about the stress of this book. And I HATED Theodor. With a PASSION.

So basically, I loved the first half of this book (thus the 8 rating) but it kind of took a downhill turn as the story reached the end (thus, again, the 8 rather than the 9).

Rating: 8

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