Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Once Upon a Prince

Once Upon a Prince  -     
        By: Rachel Hauck

Once Upon a Prince
Rachel Hauck

Well, as I am sure many of you know, I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction. I’m just not fond of it- I have very “old-fashioned” morals and ideas, so it just comes down to the fact that I don’t agree with/relate to most contemporary fiction. But I’ve been meaning to find some novels set in present day that I actually would enjoy. I saw Once Upon a Prince available for review- and let’s face it: I love anything to do with royalty. So this book seemed like a good place to start.

When crown prince Nathaniel takes an American holiday to St. Simon's Island, he's not looking for love. Like everything else in his life, the choice of a bride is out of his hands---a matter dictated by his royal position. But when he meets Susanna under the ancient Lover's Oak in southern Georgia, will romance trump responsibility?

Once Upon a Prince kind of reminded me of those Hallmark channel chick flicks, both the pros and cons of it. It was clean and charming and maybe not the deepest thing in the world, but hey: it was fun. I’m not sure it’s really something I would re-read, but I’ll definitely be looking into the next books in this series.

Objectionable content: The tabloids never cease their publishing of ridiculous rumors and innuendos and accusations; there was one kiss.

Rating: 8

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Heiress of Winterwood

The Heiress of Winterwood
Sarah E. Ladd
Thomas Nelson

Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father—a sea captain she’s never met.
When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting to her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.
Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she’s forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.
Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.
Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them.
I’m always on the lookout for new authors, because you never know when you’re going to turn up a gem. So when I saw this book, I was eager to get it. After all, there aren’t a whole lot of Christian Regency-era fiction books out there (although there has seemed to be more of late). I was especially eager since it had endorsements from some authors who I really enjoy.

The Heiress of Winterwood was, in my opinion, a good debut for author Sarah Ladd. It didn’t quite meet my expectations (which were very high :) but I still enjoyed it none the less. I really was pleased at the author’s writing style, because it was engaging but not incredibly modern; there was a slight formality that comes with the time period.

I also found the characters intriguing. There were several times that Amelia did annoy me a little: I understood her love for little Lucy, but sometimes, especially near the end, I wish she would just listen to Graham and stop running headlong into danger! I was actually quite interested in Graham's brother, William- he seemed like nothing more than a ne'er do well drunk, but he really surprised me there at the end, and I hope that he'll be included in upcoming books.

I can’t say that the plot itself was entirely my favorite, but I am perfectly willing to read more books by this author, and I cannot wait to see the next books in the Whispers on the Moors series as they come out!

Rating: 8 

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

A Noble Groom

A Noble Groom
Jody Hedlund
Bethany House Publishers

I read Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride not that long ago and quite enjoyed it, so while I admit I couldn’t take the cover of this book seriously (handsome man looking off in the distance with his tie blowing in the wind…*giggles*) I decided to check it out.

Recently widowed Analisa Weiss has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Analisa a groom.

I did enjoy this book. It was rather more romance-y than I usually like (quite a few skippable kisses, in my humble opinion) But I think Mrs. Hedlund is a good writer, and I loved the fairy tale references used throughout.

Analisa’s daughter Gretchen was seriously the most adorable thing! And the way Carl really loved both Gretchen and Sophie was too cute….father-daughter type relationships always make me feel mushy inside from cuteness overload, I fully admit it.

I’m not a huge prairie romance girl (although I’ve certainly read my share of them!) but I admit that I really did like this book, probably because with both the German culture and the fact that nobleman/inventor Carl wasn’t really the typical hero of those kinds of stories, it didn’t feel like a story that’s “already been done.”

Though there wasn’t really anything inappropriate in this book, it did deal with some more mature themes (such as abuse- Analisa’s sister’s husband hurts her) as well as a good bit of romance, so its not really something I’d recommend to younger readers.

Rating: 8

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

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Last Princess

The Last Princess
Galaxy Craze
Little, Brown, and Company

So, this is honestly a book that I thought sounded interesting rather against my will. It’s a piece of young adult post-apocalyptic fiction about the “last” princess of England:

Happily ever after is a thing of the past.

A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.

When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year old Princess Eliza manages to escape. Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope-and love-once more.

Now she must risk everything to ensure that she does not become . . .

The Last Princess.

So, as far as objectionable content, in some ways it was much better than most secular YA fiction I’ve come across, which are usually littered with language and sensuality. Thankfully, there wasn’t much of that here: there was one inappropriate use of the word “hell”; also, though there is only one kiss, it ends with two unmarried people falling asleep in each other’s arms, which is definitely a no-no.

However, what was really disturbing here was the violence. I’m not sure if I’d exactly describe it as “graphic”, but it was disturbing- the sort of stuff you’d come across when reading about World War II and the Nazis. Though I’ve never read The Hunger Games, I’ve heard a lot about it, and in some ways, it reminded me of this, because The Lost Princess will either horrify and sensitize you to the violence (like in my case) or it could jade you and desensitize you.

Also, there is one part where a mentor of Eliza’s mentions that when he was a child, his mother sent him to Sunday school, where he learned about Heaven and Hell: however, he then says he’s realized that no such places exist, except here on earth where sometimes we have to fight through Hell to get to Heaven. However, later, Eliza prays, and she and her siblings speak of seeing their parents again in heaven. There’s definitely no mention of Christ anywhere, and it’s rather unsure whether Eliza’s prayers come from real belief in God or just a last resort in case “Somebody” is listening.

There were some good points of this book, such as the fierce bonds of family and Eliza’s quest to save her siblings. Also, I was pleased that it did, for the most part, have happy ending (though it does end on a bit of a cliff-hanger, too, in preparation for its sequel). Though I’m giving this book a relatively high rating, because I thought both the plot and writing good, it’s not really something I’d feel comfortable recommending, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone under the age of sixteen.

Rating: 7

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ring of Secrets

Ring of Secrets
Roseanna M. White
Harvest House Publishers

Though I’ve been a follower of the author Roseanna White’s blog for a while now, I’ve never actually had the chance to read any of her books, so I was really excited to finally get a free copy of Ring of Secrets in the mail.

Set around an actual spy group known as the Culper Ring, this book is set during the Revolutionary War and it had some things about it that I really liked.

My favorite part of the book was the heroine’s “fake” personality. To please her horrid grandparents (and disguise her intellect so no one would suspect her of espionage) she plays the empty-headed socialite. I found it actually pretty funny, but I also hurt for her with the things she had to put up with and the hidden insults she had to deal with because everyone thought she was idiotic. I think I liked this aspect of the book so much because she reminded me a little of a female sort of Sir Percy!

Winter, the heroine, was being courted by two men who really were so nice I didn’t know which one I liked better. True, I knew from the beginning who she was going to end up with…but still. I liked them both. I also really liked another main character- Freeman. I found it really endearing the way he watched out for Winter. Winter’s grandparents, on the other hand, were horrible! Honestly, I hated them, especially her grandfather.

Now, the only downside to this book was that I felt it dragged a little, and there were a few times I felt tempted to skip ahead to the “exciting” parts. Overall, though, Ring of Secrets was a pleasant read, and I’ll definitely be reading the other books in the series.

Rating: 8

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Cast of Stones

A Cast of Stones
Patrick W. Carr
Bethany House Publishers

A Cast of Stones was another of my attempts at reading fantasy. I wasn’t so sure about all the allegorical elements- I’m always a little cautious when it comes to mixing fantasy with faith- but overall, I wouldn’t say I found anything in the book really offensive or confusing. It was more medieval than magical, which I always prefer.

Though it took me awhile to get into it, by the middle of the book I was really interested, and I would be willing to read the other books in this series. (Plus, the castle on the cover looks pretty cool, doesn't it?)

Rating: 7

Objectionable content: There was a lot of action/violence, but there wasn’t anything graphic. The only thing that really bothered me was that there were about three kisses, but it was done by the same guy and a different girl each time!

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