Friday, June 28, 2013

Anomaly


Anomaly
Krista McGee
Thomas Nelson

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong-and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community's assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

I’m going to be honest: the only reason that I got this book was because Booksneeze implemented a new program where if a blogger doesn’t request a new book to review within 90 days of her last review, her account is put on hold. As I did NOT want that to happen to me, I picked out a book and fully admit that I had no interest in it…and the fact that my expectations were so low might be the reason that I enjoyed this book as much as I did!

Now, up front I will say I haven’t read a lot of dystopian/science fiction books, so I don’t have many to compare it too, but I really liked Anomaly. Yes, there were some of the typical YA clichés- the first person/present tense narrative (probably my least favorite POV ever) and even a love triangle (well, sort of- that part of the book was just weird) but overall, it had its good points, and I liked it even better than Matched. In fact, I didn’t even notice that it was written in present tense until I was almost done with the book, which just shows how engrossing the novel was- usually present tense is a big turn-off for me.

I didn’t realize this book is going to be the first in a series until I read the back of the novel when I received it in the mail; I remember thinking, “nah, I probably won’t read any of the other books. This is a one time deal for me.” Yes, well, my opinion on that changed considerably as I went on!

If you like dystopian fiction, I definably recommend this book. Again, I liked it better than the Matched series because I felt the romance was better handled (and up to this point there hasn’t been any kissing: major win!) There were a few things that I didn’t care for plot-wise, but overall, Anomaly was a pleasant surprise!

Objectionable content: there really isn’t anything explicit, though the ideas of the scientists and their new world can be a little disturbing/depressing at times; they “humanely” kill anyone who is an anomaly.


Rating: 9

I recieved this book for free from booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Most Peculiar Circumstance


A Most Peculiar Circumstance
Jen Turano
Bethany House

So I had a feeling this book might annoy me a bit when I learned it was about a suffragette (I certainly have nothing against women voting! But the suffragette movement kind of opened a can of worms in regards to women’s rights, and brought on a lot of feministic influences that I don’t like at all) however, I had quite enjoyed Jen Turano’s novella that I had read a while back, and since I wasn’t able to get my hands on her first novel, A Change of Fortune, I decided A Most Peculiar Circumstance would just have to do.

Again, I have mixed feelings. This book really did have some humorous, funny parts, and though it was romance, it wasn’t all physical, mushy, lots-of-kissing type of stuff, which I appreciated. However –yes, a however- I’m tired of stories about modern-minded women bucking traditional women’s roles and making the old-fashioned men look…oppressive. Though it’s true that this book’s hero was “old-fashioned” and the author didn’t change his ideas and make him come to the conclusion that Arabella, the heroine, was correct in her assumptions (something novels often do) there were still some ideas in here that I just didn’t agree with. (And it kind of bugged me that Arabella, the feminist, was the strong Christian, while Theodore, the old-fashioned gentlemen, wasn’t overly concerned with God {of course, that changes over the course of the story, but still}. Arabella did some deceptive things and disobeyed her parents, and though there were consequences to her actions and she did learn she was wrong about some things, it still bothered me that she *did* them, ‘cause goodness, she did some doozies!)

There were some parts that I felt the author –intentionally or unintentionally, I don’t know- showed a few of the problem’s with Arabella’s worldview (for instance, she wants women to be able to do whatever men can do, and then doesn’t understand the men’s lack of sympathy when she gets emotional and acts like, well, a woman. They thought she wanted to be treated like a man.) But again, I’m not sure exactly how I feel about some of the stuff in there.

The fact of the matter remains, though, that Jen Turano is an engaging author. I didn’t care for the most of this book, but I’d still be willing to read more by this author, and hopefully I’ll like her other novels better. I wouldn’t say this book is super-historically accurate (some things seemed a little far-fetched) but it did have some fun parts.

Objectionable content: Arabella and her friends help the prostitutes in the city, and then they break up a human trafficking ring. There is a kiss.

Rating: 6 ½


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

Monday, June 24, 2013

Moonlight Masquerade


Moonlight Masquerade
Ruth Axtell
Revell
I have mixed feelings about Moonlight Masquerade: It’s not as though there was anything wrong with the book, and I mean, after all, it did take place in Regency England, which is always a bonus. But nothing really made the book stand out to me as being spectacular.

The thing is, I feel like the book should have been exciting, with foreign intrigue and highwaymen and, of course, a masquerade (which always seemed fun and mysterious to me) but I never felt like I really got into the story, even if the main idea of the plot (a spy posing as a butler to gain access to a wealthy woman's home...who ends up falling in love with her) sounded interesting to me. Some parts of the novel were better than others, and I personally liked the last half of the book better than the first half. There were times I felt the book was a little over-dramatic or clichéd; however, I’m sure that many fans of historical fiction will really enjoy this. It just wasn't my absolute favorite.

Objectionable content: there’s some mild violence, and a few kisses.

Rating: 7

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher

Stealing the Preacher
Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House

I'm no fan of westerns, but I am fond of Karen Witmeyer's books...she always throws something into her novels that get me interested, no matter the fact the books take place out west. Whether it's a rancher who also happens to be British, a heroine who's a librarian, or a plot inspired by Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, she has a habit of lassoing me right in there. So despite the fact I wasn't a fan of the cover of the book- as Maria mentioned, it seemed a little cheesy (and the side cover of the book makes NO aesthetic sense to me at all) I was eager to read it.

On 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?

Stealing the Preacher was just plain fun. No, I don't think it's the best of the author's books, but it had likable characters and a sweet romance. One reviewer mentioned it felt like one of those old live-action Disney movies like The Apple Dumpling Gang, and I agree- except, despite being lighthearted and funny, Stealing the Preacher also had  more substance to it. The ending wasn't my favorite, as there just seemed to be a little too much going on at once, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

I feel a little torn over the rating here, because I have a habit of "over-rating" things, usually by a point, so even though I'm giving this book an eight because  it was definitely "Good! Extremely well-written and enjoyable to read," I did like it a lot better than several other books that I've rated an eight. No, Stealing the Preacher isn't one of those novels I'm going to be re-reading, but it was worth a read and if you've liked Karen Witmeyer's other books, I'm sure you'll love this one!

Objectionable content: the violence is not serious at all- it's humorous, for the most part (although later one character is very nearly hanged.) There are a few kisses.

Rating: 8

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

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summerset Abbey



Summerset Abbey
TJ Brown
Simon and Schuster

I don't normally read secular adult fiction, but I had seen this book on the internet, and when it caught my eye on the bookshelf of our library, I subjected it to my "judge of appropriateness" test (which includes a quick prayer and then flipping through the book to see if anything unacceptable catches my eye) and since it passed, I decided to check it out.

This book was...okay. I had the feeling whilst I was reading that it was written specifically geared toward a certain market: the "fans of Downton Abbey" market. (Although it was actually cleaner than the miniseries itself). It wasn't that I hated the book, but sometimes the characters' actions and ideas just didn't make sense to me- maybe because personality-wise I was so different from them. I think a 6 on my scale rating is about perfect- it's a passable novel, but it could have been better.

The ending seemed abrupt and was a complete surprise, because I wasn't expecting it at all. It felt unfinished, but since this is the first in a 3-book series (which I didn't realize when first reading it), I guess it makes sense.

There were a few language issues- about six words, I think- most of them British swear words like a couple uses of the word "bloody." There were also some feminism issues, but not so much as I was expecting, and it was even milder than I've encountered in some Christian books. Several characters drink, also, and there is a scandal involving an out-of-wedlock child, but there is nothing explicit or graphic.

Summerset Abbey was not a book that really impressed me or made me want to read any other books by the author, but it wasn't terrible, and as I said before, the word "passable" comes to mind when describing it.

Rating: 6

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cover Envy

This post was inspired by Rissi's cover candy posts...and the covers of a a few great-looking books I stumbled upon by accident. What do you think of these new/upcoming titles? (Note: I don't necessarily recommend -or plan on reading- all of these books. I'm just focusing on the covers...for the most part)


Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell.
A new Siri Mitchell book! Yay! Though her last novel didn't live up to my expectations, I'm looking forward to this one. I don't like the cover of this one much as Unrivaled, but I like the Art Deco feel. I have a feeling this one's going to end up on my bookshelf :)


ShadowHeart by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
I still haven't gotten through all the books in this series, I really am looking forward to this book. It's defnitely my favorite cover of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series.



The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson
I was SO happy when I saw this cover! It's beautiful and matches Melanie Dickerson's other books perfectly. I can NOT wait for this one!



Dangerous by Shannon Hale
So this one is not one I'd normally post! It's not "pretty", but rather...futuristic, maybe? There's not a whole lot of description for this book yet, but it's by Shannon Hale, so I know I'll be checking it out!



Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden
Again, looking forward to this book. I like the colors, but something about the composition feels a little "off" to me. But it does have some nice elements.



The Living Room by Robert Whitlow
I'm not sure what I think of this one. Do I like it, or do I not? What do you think about it?



Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson
The hair is pretty awesome (especially that silver streak!)



All For A Story by Allison Pittman
Well, that gal looks sassy! But something about the cover bothers me...I don't really like the way all the elements mesh together, and I think the character on the front looks a little stiff.


Elusive Hope by MaryLu Tyndall
Can't wait for this release! I'm not quite sure what I think of the cover, though. It looks a little mysterious, and I like the misty look.



Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Definitely a close-up here, although we can't see the subject's face. I like the pearls, and the manor in the background.

Dragon Slippers


Dragon Slippers
Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury

I read Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but I didn’t pay much attention to the Dragon Slippers books because the covers didn’t catch my eye. But I saw it at the library the other day and decided to pick it up…and by the time I was halfway through I was wondering WHY ON EARTH I didn’t pick up the sequels while I was at it!

I really loved Dragon Slippers. It was fantasy with the feel of a fairy tale, and I really did fall in love with it. It had an interesting plot, some truly funny bits (the dragon who collects dogs really cracked me up) and some likable (and hateable!) characters.

Overall, if you like fantasy and fairy tales, I would highly recommend this book. Aside from a little magical content, there really wasn’t much that was objectionable in here, so that was nice, too. :)

Objectionable content: Creel is given a pair of magical slippers; she and other characters pray to/mention “the gods.” There is a kiss at the end.


Rating: 9 ½ 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blog Tour: Grace's Pictures

Grace's Pictures, Ellis Island Series #1   -     
        By: Cindy Thomson

Grace's Pictures
Cindy Thomson
Tyndale

Book Description
Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

My Review

I had mixed feelings about this book. It did hold my interest, but a lot of things didn't really add up for me in a way that I'd really love it.

I think my main problem was with Grace herself. I just didn't "get" her.  Because she and her mother were evicted and sent to the poorhouse by policemen, she doesn't trust any of them, and that grated a little. I mean, what happened was horrible...but it wasn't exactly their fault. They were just doing their job. Her ideas would be understandable for someone younger, but at nineteen I sort of think one should be over that. So I just didn't really have much sympathy for her there- or for her wanting to "rescue" her mother from her husband, just because he was with the police.

Also, I didn't understand why Grace's mother never took her out of the poorhouse. Her mother had married, and from the end of the book we see that her new husband is a nice man- why did they send Grace off to America instead of letting her live with them? I didn't really understand that, and her mother's explanation didn't make sense to me.

I was pleased with the way the story with the Parkers ended (well, to an extent). I felt the romance aspect of the novel  was a little lacking, although for once I was pleased that the story didn't end with a wedding or engagement- romance with Officer McNulty was just hinted at, so they really didn't know each other well enough yet.

Grace's Pictures was a book I really wanted to love...but I wasn't impressed. It wasn't terrible, but I'm not particularly anxious to read the next books in the Ellis Island series.

Rating: 6 1/2


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

Since this is a blog tour, I have several extras here, courtesy of Tyndale Publishers!

About the Author


Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing. In addition to books, Cindy has written articles for numerous online and print publications. She is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Cindy 
and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio.

Author Q&A

1. What was your inspiration for this book, Grace’s Pictures?
When the Brownie Camera was introduced, it changed photography forever. What was before expensive and not very portable, suddenly became available for the average person. I read a contemporary commentary that expressed the concern that with everyone carrying a camera, someone could have his/her photograph taken without permission, and what an invasion of privacy that would be. That got me thinking…what if that happened, and at a time before there were very many mug shots available of criminals.
I love writing about immigrants because their stories are a part of who we are today. If not for their bravery and ingenuity, our lives would be much different today, and probably more difficult. 

2. Tell me about your main character, Grace McCaffery. Was her character based upon anyone in particular?
Grace comes to America wounded by her experiences of having an abusive father, being evicted from her home by the police, and then having to survive in a workhouse. When her mother gets remarried, to a policeman no less, Grace is horrified. In her mind, avoiding the kind of people who hurt you is the only way to stay safe. When she is sent to America to start a new life, she is not certain she wants to go. She wishes for the confidence and joy she sees in others around her, and she tries to capture it in drawings and snapshots so she can better study it. I know a lot of people, me for one, who would rather observe for a while before stepping out and trying something new. But historically, immigrants could not do that. They were thrust into change and had to adapt and endure.
Grace, like most fictional characters, is not based on any particular person. She is a conglomeration of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who came to this country seeking a better life, but without many options to support themselves. They must have been frightened at first by this vast new country, but somehow they overcame that fear and founded our American families.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
A lesson that I hope is learned in this story is that God provides what we need, but many times it requires us to put aside our preconceived ideas. No matter what disadvantages we start with, we can turn things around, with God’s help.  

4. How do you expect Grace’s story to resonate with women?
Grace, a young woman who was not nurtured much as a child, becomes a nurturer. She is a nanny with a role that becomes essential for the children she cares for. I think most women are nurturers. Unfortunately, Grace had a far from ideal childhood. I think many women struggle with not having been nurtured themselves. Grace’s story illustrates the hope that God can turn that around, and even in unexpected ways. Grace meets someone who cares for her, who just happens to work in that dreaded occupation—a policeman. 

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved learning about Ellis Island, visiting New York City, and imagining those immigrants of the early 20th century moving along the same paths I was exploring. I loved writing about how the children Grace cared for helped to change her. History is fascinating to me, and it's a privilege to be able to write about it. 

6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?
I hope readers will be transported to a time in history when everything was changing at a rapid pace and experience a bit of what their ancestors’ lives were like. I would like readers, through Grace’s Pictures, to not only appreciate the sacrifices their ancestors made, but also find the courage to meet their own challenges—everyone has them.  

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?
Grace was at first a difficult character to figure out. I had a loving father who passed away a few months before I started working on this book. Grace, who did not have a loving father, stretched me a bit, but it was good to explore what life was like for her and try to imagine how someone like her could not only survive but thrive.

8. What is it about this time period in history that made you want to write about it?
New inventions were constantly popping up, things that we take for granted today. For instance, telephones were becoming more widely available, but immigrants were not familiar with them. Same with electricity. There was a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, and the middle class was the minority. Monopolies were not yet forbidden. The rich were extremely rich. The poor were extremely poor, and the conditions in the tenements were disgraceful. And yet, this was not overlooked. There were gangs and corrupt police, but also scores of charities working hard to protect, educate, and care for immigrants. And it was also a time period of huge numbers of immigrants coming to the country, most through Ellis Island, so in that way this time period has impacted a great many Americans today.  

9. What lessons can we learn from the pages of historical fiction?
The Bible tells us, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT).  Historical fiction uses the power of story to help us find those old ways. We deceive ourselves if we think no one has experienced the struggles we have. Someone has. Why not learn those stories and be led by them? 
10. What is one of the best pieces of advice or encouragement you have received?

I’m always open to sound advice. Here is one that has encouraged me. It’s from a tea bag quote. 
“A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” ~Joyce A. Meyers
You can read the first chapter of the book here: http://files.tyndale.com/thpdata/FirstChapters/978-1-4143-6843-6.pdf
You can find her blog here: http://cindythomson.blogspot.com/


Monday, June 10, 2013

Edenbrooke



Edenbrooke
Julianne Donaldson
Shadow  Mountain

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry...

I don’t normally read "secular" romances (okay, I’ve never read a modern secular romance) but after seeing this book recommended on Hannah’s blog, I decided to check it out.

I’m really glad I did! The subtitle of this book is “A Proper Romance” and that’s exactly what it is. Proper. Which, translated to the modern tongue, means clean. I normally don’t read just strict romances- this is one of the few books I read where the romance aspect was really the entire plot. That might have been a boring problem if the book had been too long, but it wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t novella length or anything, but I did read the novel in one sitting.

Though this isn’t quite a “true” Regency, it felt historically accurate. The author stated that she wanted to keep the flavor of a Regency but keep it accessible to the modern reader. I think she definitely succeeded. (and it seems like a great way to draw a non-Regency lover in to the genre.) In fact, her writing style reminded me in some way a little of my own.

Personally, I really enjoyed this book. It was sweet, with likable characters. I will definitely be checking out any new books that come from author Julianne Donaldson!

Objectionable content: There is some mild flirting throughout; Marianne's sister is implied to be rather loose with her morals; there are about two kisses at the end; overall, this book is just as clean as any Christian fiction I’ve read- and in some cases, cleaner.

Rating: 8 1/2 out of 10 stars

Saturday, June 8, 2013

June Bug


June Bug  -     
        By: Chris Fabry

June Bug
Chris Fabry
Tyndale

June Bug believed everything her daddy told her. That is, until she walked into Walmart and saw her face on a list of missing children. The discovery begins a quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. A modern interpretation of Les Miserables, the story follows a dilapidated RV rambling cross-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.

I’ve never read anything by Chris Fabry before (well, unless you count his work in the Kids’ Left Behind Books) and to tell the truth, I wasn’t really planning to- until I found this book and realized that it was a modern-day retelling of Les Misérables.

I love, love, love that book, so even if I was a little nervous about reading a “modern day” version, I was willing to give it a try.

I think in that quarter, the book’s greatest strength is the fact that it is not really a retelling, but a story inspired by the classic. It doesn’t try to make itself exactly like that book, which is a good thing, because of course it could never compare. (and the completely different setting- sleepy West Virginia as opposed to unstable Paris- also helps to make the story stand on its own.) But in its own right, June Bug was in some ways just as heart-tugging as Les Misérables itself. There are several characters and situations that correspond to those in Les Misérables, but not everything does (do not, especially, be on the lookout for a misused and unfortunate Fantine character- you’ll just be disappointed) Also, the book ends much earlier than the original classic- it’s concluded whilst June Bug (our Cosette character) is still a child.

There was something bittersweet about June Bug throughout the entire thing, but never so pronounced as in the ending. June Bug’s “Daddy” (aptly named  John Johnson) was one of my favorite characters- as I’ve mentioned before, I have a huge soft spot for Daddy-daughter stories.

I literally had a hard time putting down this book, which is amazing considering how different this novel is from most I read. There were aspects of it that I didn’t care for, but overall, June Bug is a book I’ll be remembering for a while yet.

Rating: 9

Objectionable content: There are a couple uses of a word I personally prefer not to use, (though it’s certainly not a swear word) and there is a flashback scene where a man is remembering a terrible tragedy where a plane crashed. There are also a few mentions of various sins of different characters (but nothing graphic there)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Quarryman's Bride


The Quarryman’s Bride
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House

 Emmalyne Knox has always loved Tavin MacLachlan. But when tragedy strikes her family, Emmalyne's father declares she can no longer marry. Despite Tavin's pleas to defy the decision, Emmalyne refuses. In her act of obedience, she gives up the future she'd always dreamed of.
When Emmalyne's father returns to the quarry business years later, Tavin and Emmalyne meet again. And though circumstances have changed in both of their lives, they cannot deny the feelings that still exist. Can Emmalyne find a way to heal the decade-long wound that has fractured the two families...and change the hearts of those who stand in the way of true love?
As I read the first book in this series a few months ago, when I saw this novel available at the library, I decided to try it, although the book description didn’t sound really very interesting to me. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Though I admit that it did drag quite a bit in some parts, and Emmalyne’s dad completely annoyed me at first, and then, when it introduced a second love interest I all but screamed, “not another love triangle book!” it ultimately won me over. The romance was rather "eh"- I didn't care for the hero overmuch- but it was better than the last several books by this author that I (attempted) to read.

One thing I really liked was how Emmalyne truly honored her father, even when he was unreasonable. Though many would criticize her for being too “perfect” she did the right thing, even when many people –even Christians- would have said that it would have been okay to disobey. That’s not something you find a lot, even in Christian fiction, so I was happy about that.

Again, though this wasn’t my favorite book, I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting to, and when our library gets the last book in this series this fall, I’m sure I’ll pick it up.

Objectionable content: aside from a few kisses at the end, not much.


Rating: 7 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Duchess and the Dragon


The Duchess and the Dragon    -     
        By: Jamie Carie

The Duchess and the Dragon
Jamie Carie
B&H

As Duke of Northumberland, Drake Weston is accustomed to a life of royalty---until a tragic mistake forces him to flee England by ship. Across the sea, humble Pennsylvania Quaker Serena ministers to sick travelers---and never expects to fall in love with one of her patients! Can these two unlikely soulmates find happiness? 

I really wanted to like this book, but…I just couldn’t. I mentioned in my review of Love’s First Light that the main characters’ relationship advanced to the physical way to quickly, and the same happened here, although for whatever reason this book annoyed/offended me even more than the previous one- to tell the truth, I barely finished The Duchess and the Dragon, and I skimmed several parts of it, because I just could not read most of it.

What bothered me was how the characters talked like Christians, but then didn’t act like ones in regard to romance (and the heroine married the hero before he was a Christian- big problem there). It didn't seem like a "love" story in so much as a "lust" story. There's very little to the characters' relationship besides attraction. I also thought that the main character, Serena, set a terrible example to teenage girls. She married a man she barely knew (who carried a lot of secrets and wasn't a Christian) and left her family ( who were also the only characters I happened to like) and though, yes, there were problems, everything turned out all right in the end. I think the author wanted to present a story that said that even if you make mistakes, God will work it for good, but to me it just came across that even if you act foolishly, things will still turn out okay. And Serena's actions were never explicitly portrayed to the reader as wrong, either.

It's not that there wasn't stuff about God in this book- in fact, there was so much in the Christian element department that it was almost worse than if the author hadn’t mentioned Christ at all, because it made the characters seem like hypocrites, at least to me. (There just seems to be something terribly wrong in trying to explain Christ’s love to a man when you can’t keep your hands off of him long enough to do it, okay?) Though I found Jamie Carie’s The Guardian Duke to be very clean, these last two novels have really been a disappointment, and I’m not planning on reading any more of this particular author’s novels in the future. I guess I have a much higher standard of purity than she does.

Objectionable content: For Christian fiction, this book was terrible in regards to sensuality. I would not recommend it at all. I have a higher standard for Christian books, and this was a grave disappointment. 

Rating: 3

Monday, June 3, 2013

Love's First Light

Love's First Light    -     
        By: Jamie Carie

Love's First Light
Jamie Carie
B&H

Christophé, the Count of St. Laurent, has lost his entire family to the blood-soaked French Revolution and must flee to an ancient castle along the southern border of France to survive. But the medieval city of Carcassonne proves more than a hiding place. Here Christophé meets the beautiful widow Scarlett, a complex and lionhearted woman suddenly taken by the undercover aristocrat’s passion for astronomy and its influence upon his faith. Although their acquaintance begins brightly enough, when the Count learns that Scarlett is related to the man who murdered his family, he turns from love and chooses revenge. Heaven only knows what it might take for Christophé to love again, to love his enemy, and to love unconditionally.

There are not a lot of Christian fiction novels set during the French Revolution (something I plan on remedying myself sometime) so when I saw this one I decided to check it out.

I felt really torn about this book. There is something engaging about Jamie Carie's writing style, but there were several "cons" about Love's First Light that rather outweighed the "pros."

First of all, I didn't care for the romance. I know not everybody feels the same way I do about this, but I don't like a lot of kissing, but even more than that I don't like kissing when the characters barely know each other! Christophe and Scarlett's relationship progressed to the physical waaaay to quickly- not to mention they kept putting themselves in compromising positions. It's not that they did anything "wrong", really, but if anyone had seen them, it would have looked really, really bad. (Like her being at his house, at night, in her nightgown. I mean, seriously- what was she thinking? I have a problem with it now- can you imagine how scandalous it would have been back then?)

That was another thing- historical accuracy. When Scarlett's sister Stacia mentioned the Statue of Liberty, red flags went up everywhere. The book takes place in 1794- the Statue of Liberty was not even given to America until about a hundred years later! That was a huge oversight. An oversight that really makes you question the historical accuracy of everything in the novel.

So what are the pros? Well, the first chapter completely sucked me into the terrifying world of revolutionary France. Things bothered me later in the book, but the beginning was heart-pounding! And Jamie Carie also is good at creating likable secondary characters (something I noticed from the other book I've read by her).

Since I have another of Jamie Carie's books in my possession at the moment, I know I'll be reading at least one more book by her. However, unless The Duchess and the Dragon drastically changes my opinion of her writing, it might be the last time I read one of her novels.

Objectionable content: kissing, as I mentioned above. Also, it takes place during the revolution, so people are guillotined- something that can be quite disturbing.

Rating: 5

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