Thursday, October 24, 2013

Martyr's Fire

Martyr's Fire, Merlin's Immortals Series #3

Martyr’s Fire
Sigmund Brouwer
Waterbrook

It’s almost a little funny how I’ve managed to read all three books in this series. When I first picked up The Orphan King, it was on a whim, and I wasn’t really planning to read the rest of the series. But each of these books managed to be available at just the right time for me to have access to them, and by now I suppose I should finish out the series!

The whole idea that Thomas doesn’t know who is on his team and who isn’t- and so not being willing to trust anyone- kind of drives me up the wall. As the reader, I know that a certain character is a good guy, so I keep wanting to pull out my hair screeching, “Stop fighting this person! They’re okay!” Of course, I know that this isn’t Thomas’s fault. After all, he doesn’t get to see inside other people’s minds the way the reader does. Oh, and did I mention Robin Hood made a cameo appearance in this novel? Bonus points there ;)

However, one thing that I’ve noticed about all three of the Merlin’s Immortals Series books is that it takes me a really long time to become interested in the story. I finally start to really get into it, and then two or three chapters later, the book’s over and I have to wait another year for the next one…and by that time I’ve forgotten what made me so interested in the first place. That’s rather a vicious trap for a novel, I’ve afraid. So, really, I’d probably recommend waiting until all the books in the series are out before reading them (they’re very short novels, too- only a little over 200 pages).

Rating: 6 ½


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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Every Waking Moment

Every Waking Moment

Every Waking Moment
Chris Fabry
Tyndale House

Treha Langsam is a mysterious young woman who has fallen through the cracks, much like many of the elderly people she works with at Desert Gardens Retirement Home. But Miriam Howard, director of the facility, sees her extraordinary gift and untapped potential. Treha is a whisperer of sorts, calling those who have slipped into dementia back to a life of vibrant, if only temporary, clarity.
When Treha's and Miriam's stories intertwine with a documentary team looking for stories of the elderly, Treha's gift is uncovered, and the search begins for answers to the mysteries of her past. As their paths converge, each person is forced to face the same difficult question: What if this is as good as my life gets?

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to read and review some more contemporary fiction. I’ve read so many pieces of historical fiction that they’re all starting to seem the same to me, so I’ve been shaking up my reading “diet” with some other genres. I figure that that way, not only do I expose myself to other types of stories, but I’ll get more enjoyment out of the historical novels that I do read. I chose this book because I had read something not that long ago by Chris Fabry (June Bug) and liked it. Every Waking Moment, for that reason, easily suggested itself as my next contemporary pick.

I freely admit that I’m more of an adventure/romance/mystery type of girl, and Every Waking Moment (aside from a little bit of mystery) doesn’t have too much of that. But that doesn’t mean that I disliked it. It did take me a few chapters to become interested in the story; and while I think I enjoyed it overall, it did have a few flaws. Because it was about several characters at once, I didn’t really get to dive into each character’s backstory (well, except Treha’s) I didn’t really feel like I ever got to know each character’s personality very well; it was hard for many of the characters to really stand out in my mind- although I did like many of the residents of the Senior Center! I also really liked Du’Relle, and I especially loved that Treha called him Gavroche ;)

However, I was again impressed with Chris Fabry’s writing, because he took a plotline that I wouldn’t have otherwise have been interested in and kept my attention captured throughout the whole thing. This isn’t one of my all-time favorite books, but that’s simply due to my personal taste rather than the quality of the book, and it’s why Every Waking Moment is getting an eight out of ten.

Rating: 8


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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kerry

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Kerry
Grace Livingston Hill
Barbour

When I first made the leap from the children’s section to the adult section of our pervious church’s library, Grace Livingston Hill was one of the first authors that I tried. Her stories were a sweet, clean breath of fresh air. Even though they can be (for lack of a better word) a bit sappy, there is something very pure about them, and I love the old-fashioned way they are written. I’ve read dozens of her books, but I don’t think I’d ever picked up Kerry, so when I saw it available on netgalley, being re-released from Barbour Publishing, it was an easy choice for me.

It’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve read any of Grace Livingston Hill’s books, so I was wondering if they were as good as I had remembered. The thing about her novels is that they never pretend to be anything they aren’t: they’re just sweet stories with a very strong message about Christ. Somehow, Grace Livingston Hill manages to include a strong Gospel message in her books without coming off as overly preachy, which is quite a feat, if you ask me!

Though Kerry isn’t my favorite of her books, I did enjoy it, although it took me several chapters to really get into it. I HATED Kerry’s mother and stepfather. Sam Morgan with his sleazy twenties-lingo and Isobel with her tears and selfishness were pills, let me tell you. Although they were nothing to Henry Dawson. What a snake! The characters did seem to be either “good” or “bad.” There wasn’t really any in-between. They were all very straightforward.

There was one bit where Graham was explaining creation and though most of what he said was good, there was something that didn’t sound quite accurate to me, but I’m not sure if I correctly understood what he was saying. However, for being written so very long ago, the issues they spoke of are remarkably relevant! This version of the story has been “lightly updated” and I’m not sure what that means. Since I hadn’t read Kerry before, I’m not sure what they changed (for all I know, they might have done nothing but updated the spellings of a few words or something)

Rating: 7


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

Healer of Carthage


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Healer of Carthage
Lynne Gentry
Howard

A modern-day doctor gets trapped in third-century Carthage, Rome, where she uncovers buried secrets, confronts Christian persecution, and battles a deadly epidemic to save the man she loves.

One thing in this book that really bothered/confused/annoyed me was the way Lisbeth treated her mother. Lisbeth kept behaving as though her mother had abandoned her on purpose, which was ridiculous. Magdelena had accidently fallen in time the same way Lisbeth had, so it seemed spoiled and silly for Lisbeth to be so begrudging. I mean, Lisbeth didn’t have all the facts. For all she knew, it was impossible to get back to their correct time, so why was she so mad at her mother for not coming back? And for someone with a lot of head knowledge about the Roman world, Lisbeth didn’t seem to really understand how the people behaved and acted.

However, as the book went on, she did become more likable. Also, it’s normally hard for me to really get into ebooks, but this was one I read quickly, simply because I really wanted to know what was going to happen next!

I’m still not completely sure what I think of this book; parts of it were really good, but I’m not sure what I think of all the elements that involve the time travel situation, especially with the excerpt I read from the sequel. Also, because Lisbeth isn’t a Christian at the beginning, some of her views aren’t godly, and there is a tiny bit of language at the beginning (not swearing, exactly, but a couple uses of words I don’t consider appropriate). Like all books about the Roman Empire, it deals with the terrible immorality of the people there, and there was a bit of romance-y mushiness that was a little much for me, and the reason I knocked down this book's rating a bit. Still, Healer of Carthage was exciting, and different from a lot of other Christian books I’ve read.

Rating:7


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

Monday, October 14, 2013

Greetings From the Flipside


Greetings From the Flipside
Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay
B&H

Hope Landon has been rewriting other people's greeting cards since she was six years old -- there's always a funnier caption. She's all set to chase those creative dreams with her musician fiance in New York City until he leaves Hope at the altar, deciding he must not really love this girl if he can't write a song for her. That may give her something to write about . . .

Hope disappears alone on what was supposed to be the couple's monthlong honeymoon. Upon returning she learns of her funeral -- everyone in her life concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it's not that easy to rent a place when you've been declared dead.

I got this book because it looked cute and funny, but it was NOTHING like I expected. At all. The book blurb is really misleading. It tells you, technically  what happens...but not really. So I don’t think I had ever been more confused in my life about a book. For the first several chapters I was scratching my head because it made NO SENSE. At all. Finally, I understood that everything written in third person is what was really happening in the story; everything written in first person was what Hope was dreaming while she was in a coma.

Strange.

Parts of this book were really funny (after, you know, I actually figured out what was going on) but about halfway through, it lost my interest and I had a hard time finishing it. This book just didn’t work for me. Most of Hope’s card ideas I just didn’t find particularly funny. And it was just so…bizarre. I just had a hard time getting into a book when half of it wasn’t even what was really happening.


Rating: 4

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Winter in Full Bloom

Winter in Full Bloom

Winter in Full Bloom
Anita Higman
River North

When I first saw this book, I thought it was a historical novel; however, when I clicked on it, I found out that it was, in fact, a contemporary. Anyway, I shrugged, thought, “why not?” and so requested this title for review.

The book immediately got my attention with the first chapter. Anita Higman’s writing was quirky and relatable, although it was really hard for me to imagine someone spilling their heart out to complete strangers the way Lily did. That just ‘does not compute’ in my mind- I can’t imagine just meeting someone on a plane and then spilling out my heart to them (although I know that does happen!)

This book deals with some heavy issues (most of them family-related) and I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers for that reason, but also I don’t think it would be as interesting to them, anyway. Winter in Full Bloom still wasn’t quite my cup of tea; it was a lot about relationships, issues with family (especially between mothers & daughters) and then a bit of romance. Sometimes the plot twists seemed a little unlikely, and parts of it, though heartfelt, almost seemed a little sappy.  I get I found it too...emotional for me. Although, considering that the main plot didn’t interest me very much, the book still managed to keep me reading, and luckily it wasn’t overly long.


Rating: 6

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Return to Me

Return to Me, Restoration Chronicles Series #1


Return to Me
Lynn Austin
Bethany House

The strength of this book was probably the fact that you can tell that the author has been to the Holy Land; many of her descriptions were very detailed about Israel and its culture. Though I’d need to re-read the books of Zechariah, Haggai, and Ezra before saying whether or not it was accurate to the Biblical accounts, nothing stood out as being grossly inaccurate. (And the Bible references used in this story are located in the back of the book, so you can easily look them up)

I really wanted to like Iddo, but I just couldn’t. He just seemed really pushy to me, and I know it sounds terrible because nothing is more important than the Lord, but many times he seemed more concerned with building the temple than with his family. I did like Zechariah, but all of the characters annoyed me at one time or another. Sometimes I wanted to shake Yael and *SPOILER* when she finally gave up her sorcery and turned to the Lord, it seemed as if her entire personality changed like that*END OF SPOILER* I also didn’t care for that near the latter half of the book, several years were skipped. It didn’t bother me when it went from when Zechariah was a boy to when he was an adult, but after that when it skipped I felt a little disappointed.

I know I’ve complained a lot up, there, but really the book wasn’t that bad. Judging for the book description, I didn’t think Return to Me would interest me much, but I was wrong- though it’s a very long book, it kept me interested the entire time. Also, I’ve always been fond of Lynn Austin’s writing style, even when I haven’t particularly cared for her storylines. Return to Me isn’t one of my favorites by the author, but I’m sure I’ll still read the other books in this series.

Objectionable content: one character is involved in sorcery, and she mentions false gods and astrology often; several “thematic elements,” such childbirth, child sacrifice, and some of the Torah’s laws about sexual immorality are mentioned. A book for 16+

Rating: 7 ½



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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Brontë Sisters

The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne

The Brontë Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne
Catherine Reef
Clarion Books

I originally got this book because, as I’ve mentioned on my other blog, I’ve never cared overmuch for the Brontë’s novels, and I was hoping that by reading about their lives I would understand and like them better. As I must admit after reading this book that though I do understand them better, I wouldn’t say I liked them better. However, I did like this biography. It was on the shorter side, and included some nice pictures and even some photographs. For someone who knew very little other than a few basic facts about the family (especially on Emily and Anne- I think most classic literature fans know at least a little about Charlotte), this book was informative. I probably would have liked it to have been a little longer, as I like a tad bit more detail, but as all of the Brontë siblings tragically lived such short lives, I suppose it’s only to be expected that their biography would be on the shorter side, as well.



Rating: 8

The Mysterious Benedict Society

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The Mysterious Benedict Society
Trenton Lee Stewart
Little, Brown, and Company

Not long ago, Petie posted a bit of a mini-review of this book, and since she recommended it, I decided to try it out- and am I glad I did! The Mysterious Benedict Society was quirky and altogether delightful. It was one of the few young adult novels I’ve read that’s been completely clean (even though it’s categorized as YA, it’s about a group of younger, more middle-grade kids) and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Near the last half I was totally getting a bit of Doctor Who déjà vu, though (Seriously, there were some elements that really reminded me of the season finale of series three. Totally) But I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing. ;)

I’ve read a couple other books that began wonderfully and mysteriously like this one only to peter out and either become too creepy or too boring for me to go on, but this one was a perfect mix of excitement, science fiction, and old-fashioned fun. I loved all the characters, and it would just be too hard to pick a favorite- although I admit to liking Kate quite a bit ;)

Rating: 9
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