Monday, April 29, 2013

Love on Assignment


Love on Assignment, Ladies of Summerhill Series #2

Love on Assignment
Cara Lynn James
Thomas Nelson

During the summer of 1900 Charlotte Hale, a native Newporter and secretary for the Rhode Island Reporter, accepts an undercover assignment as temporary governess to Daniel Wilmont's children in order to secretly gather evidence against him. As he helps her rediscover God, Charlotte learns that Daniel is an honorable man. They unexpectedly fall in love despite their different backgrounds and social positions. Charlotte soon realizes she must defend Daniel against the forces set against him-a willful student with a romantic crush and the newspaper editor determined to destroy his reputation.

I feel really oddly about this book, because there were parts of it that were well-written, but there were also a lot of parts that just didn’t seem to flow. Actually, a lot of it just didn’t “work” for me. It was really strange, actually, because sometimes scenes just didn’t seem to go together. Not that it didn’t make sense, but that the actual writing didn’t seem to mesh together. Sometimes it was stilted and period-appropriate, and then other times it felt, not exactly modern but…almost lazy, like the author was just trying to get from point A to point B.

However, there were parts that were interesting, although the actual storyline was only about so-so. Not amazing, but not tedious. Every time I started to think, "this is kind of boring" the author would surprise me with something that I rather liked and I would end up continuing. 

Rating: 6

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Spy in the House

A Spy in the House
Y.S. Lee
Candlewick

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

I was disappointed in this book. Though there was nothing explicit, there were certainly allusions to the worst part of the underbelly of London- thievery, prostitution, murder- you name it. However, this was only the least of what bothered me about the book. First of all, there was inappropriate language scattered throughout- not to the extent of Scarlet, but still enough where that alone would deter me from recommending it. That aside, the conclusion to the mystery was just...completely melodramatic and rather unbelievable, even given the rather far-fetched (if exciting and entertaining) premise of the story. Also, I didn't have really any emotional attachment to the characters. They didn't seem to have any really strong moral compass or strict integrity that had me rooting for them. Also, the whole feministic aspect here was a little too strong: evidently, according to this book, no woman in England was ever happy due to the restrictions placed upon her gender. And the conclusion to Angelica's story was maddening on a number of levels.

The good points? Well, there were some. It had a Charles Dickens feel in places, which was nice. And I was curious and intrigued by Mary's whole heritage/past secret. I did try reading the second book in this series, but ended up just skimming it- the objectionable content was still there, and it wasn't even as interesting a mystery as this book. In my opinion, this book -and series- is entirely skippable.


Rating: 3

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fortress of Mist

Fortress of Mist, Merlin's Immortals Series #2


Fortress of Mist
Sigmund Brouwer
Waterbrook Multnomah

Now that Thomas has conquered Magnus, his work is only beginning. He must rid his land of the dark forces once and for all. But who will stand with him to battle against the powerful Druids? And after being abandoned by his "adopted family," can he trust either Katherine or Isabelle with his secrets---and his heart?

It had been a while since I read the first book in this series, The Orphan King. Though I found the first book okay, I liked this second one much better- I understood it more. However, I definitely recommend reading the first book, because  then this book will make more sense.

Fortress of Mist was on the shorter side, and I read it in one sitting. It definitely kept my interest (which not many fantasies can do) and I also think I’m starting to crack the whole “magic” thing about these books. (It sounds a lot like science….something those in Medieval England definitely do not understand and mistakenly call “magic”)

Rating: 7 ½

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

Stitched With Love



Stitched With Love
Various Authors
Barbour

I’ve read many, many Heartsong Presents books over the years, as well as my fair share of Barbour’s special editions where they combine several of those novellas into one volume. Stitches in Love, however, didn’t really hold my interest- in fact, I only made it about halfway through the book before I just decided to stop because I wasn’t interested. Now this reflects a little worse on the book than it really means; since it does have nine stories in all, I read four entire ones. I was at a stopping point- it’s not as though I was in the middle of a story and stopped. Still, the first four novellas just weren’t interesting enough for me to commit reading the rest of them.

Though they were clean, short, and a pretty good before-bedtime story, they just didn’t interest me much. Most of the stories were completely forgettable.

Rating: 4

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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Foolish Heart


My Foolish Heart, Deep Haven Series #4

My Foolish Heart

Susan May Warren
Tyndale


Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she's never really done either. Issy's ratings soar when it seems she's falling in love on-air with a caller. A caller she doesn't realize lives right next door.

Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moves to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation he seeks advice from My Foolish Heart, the show that airs before his favorite sports broadcast. Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host-and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio . . . or the one next door?


This book was a really cute story- this coming from a girl who couldn’t care less about sports, and so was a little wary when I realized how much football played a part in the plot! However, the main storyline was pretty funny, but also sweet, so it did win me over. This is apparently the fourth book in the Deep Haven series (which I didn’t know when I picked it up) but I didn’t have any trouble understanding anything, and I think it could easily stand alone. This isn’t a favorite book of mine, but it was worth reading, and probably something a fan of contemporary romance would like.

Objectionable content: There are a few kisses, and there is mention of a certain characters past, in which she gave herself too freely to men.

Rating: 8

The Girl in the Glass


The Girl in the Glass    -     
        By: Susan Meissner

The Girl in the Glass
Susan Meissner
Waterbrook Multnomah

In a startling turn of events, I actually left the library the other day with three contemporary novels and NO historical novels. To my utter surprise and amazement, I ended up enjoying all three; however, I think my favorite was The Girl in the Glass.

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.
 
When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
 
When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

I thought this book was beautifully written, with three intertwining stories that added, rather than took away, from each other. Like with all of Susan Meissner’s books that I’ve read (The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting, and A Sound Among the Trees), there’s a certain feel about them that I can’t put my finger on or really explain, but reminds me vaguely of a ghost story- I know, that’s a really odd way of putting it, but that’s the only way I can think of describing it. Her books are almost a little….haunting. I'm not really sure what I think about that.

I’m not normally a fan of a modern plot mixed with a historical one, but I liked it here, and I honestly couldn’t put this book down- after I got past the beginning, which I admit was little slow. Also, though this book was clean, there wasn’t a whole lot of a Christian message, which was disappointing. Even with a plot that was only so-so, the actual writing was beautiful and intriguing enough for this book to really hold my interest.

Objectionable content: Meg’s parents got divorced because her Dad had an affair with another woman; there are a few kisses.

Rating: 9

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Unrivaled


Unrivaled

Unrivaled
Siri Mitchell
Bethany House Publishers

Lucy Kendall always assumed she'd help her father in his candy-making business, creating recipes and aiding him in their shared passion. But after a year traveling in Europe, Lucy returns to 1910 St. Louis to find her father unwell and her mother planning to sell the struggling candy company. Determined to help, Lucy vows to create a candy that will reverse their fortunes. 

St. Louis newcomer Charlie Clarke is determined to help his father dominate the nation's candy industry. Compromise is not an option when the prize is a father's approval, and falling in love with a business rival is a recipe for disaster when only one company can win. Will these two star-crossed lovers let a competition that turns less than friendly sour their dreams?

I was really, really looking forward to this book. Not only was the cover gorgeous, but the plot closely follows one of my own stories that I came up with a long time ago (actually, it was really very close to a story I had come up with. So close, it was scary.) However, overall, though this book was a pleasant read, it’s not really one of my absolute favorites.

There were a lot of common Christian fiction clich├ęs that I felt wore this book down a little. I mean, the plot itself (Candy, candy, candy!) was original, but there were a lot of smaller elements that were very familiar and maybe a little overdone. Even so, Siri Mitchell is a talented enough author that the book still stood out a little more than most Christian historical books.

Anyway, though this book didn’t blow me away (unlike her last book, which I loved) , and I don’t think this is one of Siri Mitchell’s best books, it was still engaging and held my interest- and made me hungry. Luckily, I got the book right after Easter, so I had a supply of candy to eat while reading!

Rating: 8

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