Monday, December 29, 2014

Five Glass Slippers

20686206

Five Glass Slippers
Elisabeth Brown, Emma Clifton, Rachel Heffington, Stephanie Ricker, and Clara Diane Thompson
Rooglewood Press

First of all, before I say I anything else, I'm going to go ahead and tell you that I think this is the best novella collection I've ever read. Collections by different authors are always going to get mixed reviews, and while there were some stories I liked more than others, I can honestly say that they all had something to offer that makes each one worth reading.

What Eyes Can See by Elisabeth Brown

Now, I've heard complaints about Cinderella's character in this story, pointing out that she's not overly likable. However, I think it's pretty clear that it's the stepsister Drusilla who's the real heroine of this tale. What Eyes Can See was an interesting twist on the story and sweetly written, although I have to admit *SPOILER* I didn't care for the fact that Drusilla ended up with the prince...I didn't think he really deserved her! *END OF SPOILER*

Broken Glass by Emma Clifton
This is one of the most hilarious takes on the fairy tale that I've ever come across- what if the glass slipper fit on the wrong foot? Taking off right after the immediate events of the prince's ball, this story was filled with great characters, humorous moments, and an ending that makes me hope we'll get a sequel from Emma Clifton sometime soon.

Even though this story was set in a fantasy, fairy-tale world, there was something about it that reminded me- just a bit- of an old black-and-white screwball comedy. It might not be to everyone's taste, but it was to mine, and I loved it!

The Windy Side of Care by Rachel Heffington

Out of all the author's of this collection, the only one I'd heard of previously was Rachel Heffington; not only do I follow her blog, but I also enjoyed her debut novel, Fly Away Home.

The Windy Side of Care was in many ways a classic example of Rachel's writing; however, it was one story I felt really needed to be longer- the novella format was a little rushed, and I found the last half somewhat confusing. I did love the first meeting between our heroine and the prince, though- accidental meetings are always the best! It also had my favorite version of the "fairy godmother" character. :)

A Cinder's Tale by Stephanie Ricker

I wasn't always into Sci-fi...but now that I am, I'm always on the lookout for a good one I'll enjoy. Stephanie Ricker's tale definitely fit the bill. Not only were all the secondary characters so likable I want stories about them all (which we do get- check out the author's Cendrillon Cycle), but I thought Elsa was the version of Cinderella closest to the original's in character.

Though there were one or two spots that dragged for me, the world building was amazing for such a short story, and I definitely want to come back to this fictional place.

The Moon Master's Ball by Clara Diane Thompson

By the last story I was sure I had read all the variations of Cinderella possible. I was never more wrong.

The Moon Master's Ball was incredible. Eerie in the best was possible, the plot was mysterious without being confusing, and though we didn't get quite as much time with the prince character as we did in the other stories, he was definitely the most unusual out of all of them! It reminded me a little bit of The Nutcracker, actually.

So The Moon Master's Ball and Broken Glass were definitely my favorites, with A Cinder's Tale taking a close second. I really hope that Rooglewood Press continues with these contests, because if subsequent ones are anything like Five Glass Slippers, I know I'll read every one.

Overall Rating: 9

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hidden Agenda

22504613

Hidden Agenda
Lisa Harris
Revell


Michael Hunt is alive--and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he's been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is the daughter of the man who wants him dead.


This nonstop chase from taut suspense writer Lisa Harris will leave readers breathless as they race to connect the dots before it's too late.


I'm not usually a reader of suspense- while I will pick on up on occasion, I often find it too frustrating for me to truly enjoy, However, I was pleasantly surprised when I read the previous book in the series, so I when I saw this one available for review, I snapped it up.

This book was pretty strong in plot- though I didn't like the set-up quite as well as that of the other book, Fatal Exchange. However, in one area this book was superior- I felt like the character development here was better. That being said, I still felt like the characters were still a little lacking. Also, the dialogue was a little typical, in a way that bordered on cliche. Still, the ideas were good, and since I'm not an expert in the suspense genre, I won't be too hard on it. I did enjoy this book, after all, if only because it was a change of pace from my normal reading fare.

Rating: 7

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Price of Privilege

22798868

Price of Privilege 
Jessica Dotta
Tyndale

Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he'd kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.Just when Julia thinks she's managed to untangle herself from Macy's clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy's lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson's daughter--and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.Though Julia knows Macy's version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.

This book was really hard for me to read- it was one of those stories when you know tons of terrible things are going to happen and any time something nice does occur, you're just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

That being said, this might be my favorite of the series (even if it started out slowly for me) because I finally got to see how everything wrapped up. While overall I definitely find this a more "mature" series due to some of the topics, I was pleased that this book brought in much more a faith message than the other two books.

While there were moments of enjoyment (I'm in love with Jameson! He was the best) it was still a book that made me mad- from the way women were treated in that time period to the way Macy twisted everything to suit his purposes in court,  I was having a hard time keeping my temper with these fictional characters!

While this series wasn't my favorite simply because of the Gothic genre, I think this is an author to watch, and I'll be on the lookout for future books by Jessica Dotta.

Rating: 7 1/2

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

20665064

The Secret of Pembrooke Park
Julie Klassen
Bethany House

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. 
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . . 

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure. 

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

Out of all of Julie Klassen's books, I think that The Secret of Pembrooke Park possibly has the most interesting premise. A mysterious house? Check. Likable heroine? Also check. Secrets and mysteries galore? Yes, this one has got those, too. So what's not to love?

This book started off really, really well. I was pulled into Abigail's world and the eerie but fascinating descriptions of Pembrooke Park. However, this book lost a lot of traction as it went on. The last third of the book, especially, just went by way too quickly- suddenly everything was in a rush to resolve itself. This is especially odd considering that this is Julie Klassen's longest book to date. It flowed so well for the first half, but then started to get a little rushed in the second, and then finally everything was slammed together there at the end.

Another thing that bothered me was that there were so many moments between the hero and heroine that would have been considered scandalous back in the Regency period. Aside from one shirtless hero scene (did we really need that???) it wasn't anything strictly immoral; it was just that they were alone in not-so-open places in a way that really would have been a breach of propriety back then and in ways that even today I would consider highly unwise. If it had happened only once or twice it wouldn't have bothered me quite so much, but there were several times throughout the book I shook my head thinking, I just really don't think that two people of good standing would do that back then. It was especially annoying because aside from this, the characters were likable...but it got to the point that I was having a hard time truly respecting William and Abigail because of it.

For a mystery, I guessed nearly every plot point pretty early on; still, there were a few surprises, and even the aspects I guessed correctly at weren't so obvious that you were slamming your head because the characters couldn't figure it out by themselves.

I know it seems like I've been really hard on this book, but it's just because I expect so much when it comes to Mrs. Klassen. This book had the potential to be amazing, but it fell short. I still enjoyed it; in fact, I couldn't put it down and read the entire thing in one day. But that doesn't change the fact that this book had many detractors that affected my overall pleasure in reading it. Definitely still recommended for historical romance lovers (and still much better written & more enjoyable than a lot of Christian Romance) but not up to the level that I was hoping for.

Rating: 8 1/2

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

Friday, November 28, 2014

Bonhoeffer Abridged


Bonhoeffer Abridged
Eric Metaxas
Thomas Nelson

From the New York Times bestselling author of Amazing Grace, an abridged version of the groundbreaking biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the greatest heroes of the twentieth century, the man who stood up to Hitler.
A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double-agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer, and was hanged in Flossenberg concentration camp at age 39. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the 20th century.
Bonhoeffer presents a profoundly orthodox Christian theologian whose faith led him to boldly confront the greatest evil of the 20th century, and uncovers never-before-revealed facts, including the story of his passionate romance.

Normally I avoid abridged books like the plague, but when I saw this biography I knew I needed to read it. I've been trying to read more biographies in general, anyway, and Bonhoeffer was on my list. It is a very thick book, though, and this one- under three hundred pages- looked like it would be an easy way to find out if I should stick out the unabridged version. Plus, this one was free. ;)

It's very difficult for me to discern whether or not I agree with Bonhoeffer's theology- there were several times I thought, well, I don't think that's right... but it's hard for me to really grasp a lot of theological concepts, so I'm not sure if he was saying what I thought he was or if I was just misunderstanding.

That aside, this book really was fascinating. I learned so much about Germany during World War II and the years leading up to it. I didn't know a whole lot about the resistance in Germany (although I had heard about the plot to kill Hitler before) and it really is a wake-up call on to what evil people in this world are capable of...but also an encouraging look at the good that people are capable of, as well.

Rating: 8

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

The Barefoot Queen

21423574

The Barefoot Queen
Ildefonso Falcones
Crown

A historical epic full of bravery and romance that follows two women as they make a life for themselves in 18th-century Spain.

It's January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona's-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever. Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy's struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it's a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won. From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with charaters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe.
 

So, there's kind of a story on how I got this book. I don't normally read secular adult fiction, but blogginforbooks.com didn't really have any Christian fiction I was interested in at the moment, so I was browsing all their other books when this title caught my eye. I clicked on it to learn more, and when I did, the same page showed "other books you may like" and all of them were Christian historical fiction. So, thinking this book was going to be along those lines, I chose it.

Never had I made a bigger mistake. I didn't even get past the second chapter. It was just unbelievably vulgar and I immediately shut the book and put it away. I will not be picking it up again. It's a terrible disappointment, because this book is beautiful. It's a gorgeous, hugely thick (over 700 pages!) hardcover and it's worth nearly $30 bucks. But aside from lovely packaging, I can't recommend this book at all. Maybe it gets significantly better later on -and maybe part of it was due to the English translation- but I'll never find out because I just couldn't make myself read anymore.

Rating: 1

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin

Where Treetops Glisten
Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin & Tricia Goyer
Waterbrook


The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Three siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas
 
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana. 

In White Christmas by Cara PutmanAbigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help. 

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theatre in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little ChristmasMeredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and God’s plan for a future?


As I'm sure many of you are aware, I'm not a huge fan of novella collections. However, I'm am fan of Sarah Sundin's and I really enjoyed Tricia Goyer's The Swiss Courier, so I decided to give this one a shot.

Cara Putman's story, White Christmas, had several elements that I liked...mostly the fact that the heroine worked in a candy shop! The story was sweet (no pun intended), and given the fact that I had not read anything by Cara Putman before, I now am interested in picking up some of her other novels.

My favorite story in the book was I'll Be Home For Christmas by Sarah Sundin. Though there was more romance (the kissy kind!) than I liked, it contained a cast of really memorable characters. It felt the most "real" to me of all the novellas, and I liked the plot a lot, too.

The last, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, was another sweet offering. (I feel like that's the word that perfectly describes all three of these stories- "sweet") I liked the location and setting of this one, and surprisingly, I wasn't bothered by the fact that there are hardly any scenes with the heroine and her love interest together.

Overall, this is a pleasant, Christmas-y collection. None of the stories seemed to suffer for their short length (although I must admit, while these made cute novellas, I'm not sure if I'd want to read a novel-length version of any of them) and I'm sure many will want to read these heart-warming stories in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa.

Overall Rating: 7 1/2

Individual Ratings:

White Christmas by Cara Putman: 7
I'll Be Home For Christmas by Sarah Sundin: 8
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Tricia Goyer: 7

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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fierce Convictions

21555941

Fierce Convictions
Karen Swallow Prior
Thomas Nelson

The enthralling biography of the woman writer who helped end the slave trade, changed Britain's upper classes, and taught a nation how to read.

The history-changing reforms of Hannah More affected every level of 18th-Century British society through her keen intellect, literary achievements, collaborative spirit, strong Christian principles, and colorful personality. A woman without connections or status, More took the world of British letters by storm when she arrived in London from Bristol, becoming a best-selling author and acclaimed playwright and quickly befriending the author Samuel Johnson, the politician Horace Walpole, and the actor David Garrick. Yet she was also a leader in the Evangelical movement, using her cultural position and her pen to support the growth of education for the poor, the reform of morals and manners, and the abolition of Britain's slave trade.

"Fierce Convictions" weaves together world and personal history into a stirring story of life that intersected with Wesley and Whitefield's Great Awakening, the rise and influence of Evangelicalism, and convulsive effects of the French Revolution. A woman of exceptional intellectual gifts and literary talent, Hannah More was above all a person whose faith compelled her both to engage her culture and to transform it


While Hannah More is, indeed, a figure I've heard about before, I still didn't know much about her, and what I did know mostly consisted of a few passing sentences in secular books that gave the impression she was a strict, self-righteous fuddy-duddy.

After reading this book, I realize how completely unfair that is. Hannah More was an amazing woman, perhaps made all the more relatable by her flaws. It's almost beyond my powers of imagination to think of how this woman impacted history. I especially admired the fact that she had such incredible influence, and yet she somehow balanced her fervor with the traits of a godly woman. It's incredibly tragic that modern culture has all but forgotten this woman who was not only instrumental in outlawing the slave trade in England, but also was largely responsible for educating England's poor. I was fascinated by her relations with the famous and intellectual  of her day, and how she used her writing to largely transform the ideas of society around her.

I always find it difficult to review biographies, because it is really hard for me to separate the actual book from its subject; in other words it's my gut reaction to rate a book higher when I admire the person the biography is about, and lower the rating when I dislike him/her. However, while Fierce Convictions has certainly given me an appreciation for Hannah More, the book itself did have a few flaws. For instance, while the first chapter was about her early life and the last about her death, it was rather hard to decipher the chronology of events in between (in fact, I don't ever remember there being given a set date of Miss More's birth) and parts of it were a bit dry and boring, although never so much so that I was tempted to stop reading.

Still, if I had one word to describe this book, it would be inspiring. I can't remember the last time I read a book that so encouraged and inspired me to use my faith for good out in the world. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Hannah More has joined the ranks of George Washington, Lady Jane Grey, Francis Marion, and William Wilberforce as some of my personal heroes. I truly thank Karen Swallow Prior for writing a biography that re-introduces us to a woman to whom we owe so much.

Rating: 8

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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Blood Cell

21481545

The Blood Cell
James Goss
Broadway Books

"Release the Doctor — or the killing will start."

An asteroid in the furthest reaches of space - the most secure prison for the most dangerous of criminals. The Governor is responsible for the worst fraudsters and the cruellest murderers. So he's certainly not impressed by the arrival of the man they're calling the most dangerous criminal in the quadrant. Or, as he prefers to be known, the Doctor.

What does impress the Governor is the way the new prisoner immediately sets about trying to escape. And keeps trying. Finally, he sends for the Doctor and asks him why? But the answer surprises even the Governor. And then there's the threat — unless the Governor listens to the Doctor, a lot of people will die.

Who is the Doctor and what's he really doing here? Why does he want to help the Governor? And who is the young woman who comes every day to visit him, only to be turned away by the guards?

When the killing finally starts, the Governor begins to get his answers...

After the last Doctor Who book I got for review not long ago (The Crawling Terror) I pretty much knew what to expect with this one, and while the two books are definitely comparable, I actually liked this one quite a bit better.

One thing that makes this book different is that it's told in first person from the perspective of "the governor," and so the Doctor is seen through someone else's eyes. Again, people who want a story where the Doctor is totally the main focus will probably dislike this; I decided not to be bothered by it.

I think the main problem that I had with this novel was that unlike The Crawling Terror, where I found the characterizations to be the best part of the book, here the Doctor and Clara seemed -well, not generic, but not quite spot-on, either. Part of this is probably because the book came out before there was much footage of Twelve, so I find it forgivable.  Aside from this, I think The Blood Cell was superior to The Crawling Terror.

First of all, I actually ended up liking the writing style rather than just tolerating it, and I did find the plot more interesting as well. The Blood Cell reminded me a bit of the Matt Smith episode "The God Complex"- and considering that's one of my least favorite Doctor Who episodes ever, some might it surprising that I enjoyed this novel. However, this one took a lot of the same elements from that episode but the feel of it was different, not to mention this book had some humor in it that made me laugh out loud. I will say that- without giving away spoilers- that the conclusion to this one is a bit gruesome, although particulars are purposefully vague. (Thank goodness).

Overall, I personally enjoyed The Blood Cell. It wasn't an amazing piece of literature, mind you, but despite a few dragging spots, it keep me interested the whole time.

objectionable content: aside from the somewhat gruesome conclusion to the mystery- think of "Deep Breath" a bit- there was one use of the word a** and three uses of the word d*** in quick succession. 

Rating: 8

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Safe Harbor

13511396

No Safe Harbor
Elizabeth Ludwig
Bethany House

The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.


It took me quite some time to get into this book. I've come to the conclusion that I just don't care for plots that revolve around people not trusting each other and keeping secrets and working at cross-purposes; it just frustrates me. In fact, about 1/3 of the way through this book I almost gave up on it. However, I'm really glad I didn't, because the last half was so much better than the first part!

The suspense was done well, and there were a few chapters where I couldn't read fast enough! While originally I hadn't even contemplated reading the other books in this series, No Safe Harbor definitely redeemed itself and I'm looking forward to checking out Dark Road Home and Tide and Tempest.

Rating: 7 1/2

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Crawling Terror

21481544

The Crawling Terror
Mike Trucker
Broadway Books

Gabby Nichols is putting her son to bed when she hears her daughter cry out. 'Mummy there's a daddy longlegs in my room!' Then the screaming starts... Alan Travers is heading home from the pub when something rushes his face — a spider's web. Then something huge and deadly lumbers from the shadows... Kevin Alperton is on his way to school when he is attacked by a mosquito. A big one. Then things get dangerous.

But it isn't the dead man cocooned inside a huge mass of web that worries the Doctor. It isn't the swarming, mutated insects that make him nervous. It isn't an old man's garbled memories of past dangers that intrigue him.

With the village cut off from the outside world, and the insects becoming more and more dangerous, the Doctor knows that no one is safe. Not unless he can decode the strange symbols engraved on an ancient stone circle, and unravel a mystery dating back to the Second World War.

I've been meaning to try some Doctor Who novels for a while now, so I pleased to find out that I had a chance to grab one of the newest for review!

The Crawling Terror takes place not long after 11's regeneration; Clara is still "getting used to" her Doctor's new body and figuring out just how 12 works. One thing I really liked about this book was how I could hear Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman's voices in the characters' dialogue- though, sadly the two of them were apart for most of the book. I never like the two of them so much as when they are together. :)

The writing itself wasn't bad- it was much better than some other TV/movie novelizations I've read. (Honestly, some of the absolute WORST books I've ever had the misfortune to read were movie novelizations) This one, however, was more than decent, though not amazing. Even though the plot- while well-realized- wasn't one I found the most interesting, it stayed true to the characters of the Doctor and Clara. The secondary characters were rather one-dimensional, but given that the show is often like that, I can't really complain.

The only real complaint I have is the mild language- mostly the Lord's name in vain, but there were also a few scattered uses of h*** and, near the end, d****. And the whole giant insect thing might freak some people out, although if you're frightened of giant insects and aliens, you probably aren't interested in Doctor Who in the first place... ; )

Rating: 7

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Princess Spy


The Princess Spy
Melanie Dickerson
Zondervan

     Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha---one of the few who speaks his language---understands the wild story. Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin's message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself 'Lord Colin' is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy---not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook's wicked plot.

I'm always pleased when I get a fairy tale retelling for review, and The Princess Spy is no exception.

First of all, I think Margaretha and Colin were some of the most likable and memorable of any of Mrs. Dickerson's main characters. She wove in "The Frog Prince" elements well, and there was a lot of action and intrigue. While I have always thought that the author's writing style tends to be a bit oversimple and even at times repetitive, I still really, really liked this one. I especially enjoyed the fact that characters- well, descendants of characters!- from The Merchant's Daughter were finally woven in to the rest of this series!

I also like the fact that the romance wasn't overwhelming; even when the characters were alone together for long periods of time, they didn't take advantage of that despite the fact that there was obvious romantically-inclined feelings going on ;)

This book does have its flaws (including some strong plot similarities to the other books in this series), but at the same time I couldn't put it down, and a Certain Character made me so mad that I seriously wished I could get straight into that book and deal with him myself! Overall, The Princess Spy is one of my favorites in this series, and if you enjoy fairy tale retellings, this is a great magic-free one with a gentle message of faith woven into the background.

Rating: 9

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Knitting Reimagined

18404380

Knitting Reimagined
Nicky Epstein
Potter Craft

I'll confess: I am not the best knitter. Not in a million years. I've not finished anything more challenging than a scarf, and I once started a hat that became a horrific mess. Still, the sweater on the front of this book was so adorable that I had to check out this book.

This book really had some beautiful designs.  Some of my favorites were the "Renaissance Castle Tunic,""Je ne Sais Quoi Cape," "Royal Lace Coat With Hood,""Quintessential Cable Pullover," "Buttons and Bows Manteau," and of course, the "Fair Isle Sweater" on the front of the book. However, even though i love many of the designs and gladly wear them, I really don't think my knitting skills are up to par....but I would definitely shove this book in an expert knitter's hands and ask them to PLEASE make me something!

Rating: 8

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Surprised By Love

20665230

Surprised by Love
Julie Lessman
Revell

Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the district attorney's office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a kid sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

I've heard about Julie Lessman for the longest time, but never read any of her books. I admit I didn't know that Surprised by Love was the third book in a series; granted I did think that it was the second, so I knew I wouldn't be starting the series in order. Still, I wasn't really planning on starting at the end, either.

Aside from some expected confusion at the beginning (all of those relatives and who's-related-to-whom and who's-engaged-or-married-to-whom) I didn't find it terribly hard to follow.

What I have to say the most about this book was that it wasn't bad; it just wasn't my taste. I love historical fiction (and even a good romance at times) but this wasn't written in a way I particularly enjoy. I like more plot and development, and this story mostly consisted of emotional drama. Though I did like Meg and Bram very much, I downright disliked the storyline between Cait and Uncle Logan. Though I do understand that I didn't have all the backstory of the previous books, so much of the drama surrounding their relationship just seemed unnecessary. Cait drove me up the wall and though Logan made some bad decisions that disappointed me, I'm not surprised he lost his temper with her- I would have too. Also *SPOILER* though I didn't care for Andrew, I found his involvement with the brothels a little difficult to believe, given the way he was helping to shut them down. Again, take my view with a grain of salt because maybe his previous appearances in the other books portray him differently, but based on Surprised By Love alone, it seemed a little contrary to his character, and seemed more like a convenient excuse for Cait to break her engagement to him- one that I hoped wouldn't happen as soon as I saw it hinted at (when Meg first got the list). It just seemed like an "easy way out" for me. *END OF SPOILER*

That's not that there weren't good things about this book (Hey, I learned that contact lenses existed back then!) but the style of writing seemed a little ordinary to me. (It felt just like the typical Christian Fiction Romances that I read so often in my early teenage years ;) Still, I did like Meg and Bram's relationship for the most part, and I liked how close the McClares were as a family and how that was portrayed. I was also thankful that Meg's story, at least, was much less of a love triangle than the book description seemed to suggest!

Rating: 6 1/2

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Keeper of the Covenant

20665083

Keepers of the Covenant
Lynn Austin
Bethany House


In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king's palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.


When the battles come to an end, Ezra's brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude's widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple--but the fight to keep God's Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges...this one for the survival of God's covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.


It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it. I liked how it was divided into several locations with several different points of view (my favorite was Amina's story) and I was also pleasantly surprised at how the book began with the story of Esther, which I wasn't expecting (I requested this book because I read that last one in the series; I hadn't looked at the back blurb)

Still, there were parts of this book that were hard for me to read, because almost every character had me disliking them at some point in the story. This is especially true in the scenes with Reuben, because he really needed some sense shaken into him! Also, because this book covers a really large period of time, some relationship issues seemed to be resolved really quickly. While in some instances I appreciated that some problems weren't dragged out, I at times felt the characters got lost in the pace of the story.

I actually liked this one a bit more than the last book in this series. It's not really a book I'd re-read, but it was certainly more than decent, and the fact that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'm sure many will is probably more because of my personal taste than anything else.

Rating: 8


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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thunder


20665248

Thunder
Bonnie S. Calhoun
Revell

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.
Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

This is a book I actually put off writing a review for…and hopefully I can explain why in the following. What was so unusual about this book is that one moment I really, really liked it- and then another moment I’d find myself thinking, “What the heck did I just read?”

There were moments when I felt the book was really good, and then it would go downhill for a couple chapters and then pick back up again. I guess what confused me the most was that there were a lot of plot elements I wasn’t expecting- despite the whole weird-symbol-appearing thing, I just supposed that it would be a typical “what-if” real-world dystopian, but there were fantasy-type elements too. I ended up really liking some aspects of the fantasy bits, but other times it just didn’t work for me.

I also ended up liking a character who (of course) died. I have a really bad track record with liking doomed characters. It’s not even funny.

Maybe the reason that I’m at a loss is simply because there were moments and bits that I really liked, and then parts that turned me off. It was an odd mix of images and plot devices that almost reminded me of a fantasy or fairy tale, and then other times it was an action/survival story. There were two different main locations that the POV switched back and forth on, and in some ways they seemed like two totally different worlds that didn’t go in the same book.

However, when all is said and done, I am going to read the next book. I know- I can’t decide if I liked it, but I know I want to read more. So maybe that’s my subconscious telling me that I did, in fact, like it?

Rating: 7


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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Entwined

8428195

Entwined 
Heather Dixon
GreenWillow

Come and mend your broken hearts here. In this retelling of the classic tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," the eldest princess must fight to save her family—and her heart—from an ancient dark magic within the palace walls. "Full of mystery, lush settings, and fully orbed characters, Dixon's debut is both suspenseful and rewarding."—ALA Booklist

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late. 

I’ve had my eye on this book for ages, and when I finally got a hold of a copy, I was ready to dance…an action which has quite a lot to do with the plotline of this lovely fairy tale re-telling, as a matter of fact.

The only thing I didn’t care for in the this book was at times the writing was a bit awkward and difficult to understand, especially near the end at the climax. Also, I really wanted more of the characters. I loved them all, but I just felt like I didn’t get enough time with any of them, except for Azalea, who I probably liked the least.

I wouldn’t say that I found Azalea unlikable, exactly; the other characters just interested me more. I really liked both Bramble and Clover, and wanted to hear more about them. And all three romances were simply- spiffing. Lord Teddie was hilarious and I looked forward to every scene he was in. Prime Minister Fairweller also improved greatly on acquaintance. And though technically I didn’t find Lord Bradford quite as memorable as the other two, I still loved him. Let’s just say the male characters were some of the greatest highlights of the story. :)

One of my favorite aspects of the novel- aside from the three eldest girls’ love interests- was the importance of family. It wasn’t done in a cheap, preachy way, but was really quite beautiful. I adored how I disliked the King at the beginning…and by the end I truly loved him. It was so sweet! And the sisters’ relationship was really believable and enjoyable- I could tell that the author herself had come from a large family simply by the way Azalea’s was portrayed in the book.

Overall, Entwined has probably made the list of my favorite fairy-tale retellings. I’ve read two other novels based on the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”- Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing and Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball. Though the lovely Wildwood Dancing pretty much belongs in a category all its own due to its originality, I think Entwined was in many ways very much like Princess of the Midnight Ball. Out of the two, I think Midnight Ball was better written and less confusing, but I ended up liking Entwined better because the characters spoke to me more. Entwined wasn’t a smooth, effortlessly written masterpiece, and there were many times I felt like the writing style needed to be a bit more mature and venture into something a bit deeper. However, I still fell in love with the story in spite of it all, and I definitely recommend it to fairy-tale fans.

Rating: 8 1/2

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rebels

18940732

Rebels
Jill Williamson
Blink

In this final novel of the Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson, Mason and Omar discover the true meaning of Liberation-a secret the Safe Lands have long kept from their people-but find they are trapped in the low lands with this crucial information. Meanwhile, Levi is forced to turn his attention elsewhere when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and becomes the Safe Land's new queen. His only choice to save her may be to take up the role of undercover vigilante that Omar began, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will that be enough to expose the Safe Land's lies and bring freedom to the people? And will they even want it if it comes?

Full disclosure: I skipped the second book in this series. I know, I know- that's pretty unforgivable when you're reading the book for a review, but things sort of worked out that way and though I would have liked to read the second book, I ended up reading Rebels instead of Outcasts.

The thing is, though I have liked this series, I wouldn't call it an absolute favorite. I do appreciate that it is in many ways very different from a lot of popular dystopian novels (especially being in the fact that it has a large cast and is NOT told in first person) but one flaw it does have in common with the others I've read is that it's difficult for me to really feel for the characters. I read because I'm interested in the plot, but I don't really have an emotional attachment to the characters (although, if I had to pick a favorite in the Safe Lands series, it would definitely be Mason) Also, this book deals with a lot of tough issues- teen pregnancy and drug abuse in addition to a flawed and dangerous government. I'm not going to lie- it was sometimes I bit much for me.

Still, if one is into this genre, this is a good Christian alternative to the other YA novels out there.

Rating: 7

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Selection

10507293

The Selection
Kiera Cass
HarperTeen

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Oh man, talk about a love-hate relationship with a book. I feel like quoting the nursery rhyme about the girl with the curl down the center of her forehead who "when she was good, was very very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid."

Okay, what I liked: the general princess-ness of it. I admit it; I'm a girly-girl. Reading The Selection was akin to watching Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. Not a whole lot of substance and some objectionable content to boot, but lots of pretty dresses. I did like the main storyline- it was very much a futuristic book-of-Esther type of thing. And though the modern society was certainly flawed (something that I'm sure will come more to light in the subsequent books) it wasn't so absolutely horrid that you felt depressed about the whole thing. I liked the heroine; I liked the prince. It didn't feel total dystopian to me, and I liked that.

I did *not* like the more-passionate-and-sensual kissing scenes I attempted to skim or skip over. I really, really could have done without that, especially in what- the first chapter? After reading that I was sure I would dislike the character of America, and while I admit I lost a bit of respect for her because of it (call me prudish,legalistic, I don't care; that's just my honest opinion on the subject) I will say that overall, I really liked her, and the fact that she was determined that her sudden fame would not change her. I also liked the fact that she wasn't so terribly worried about what other people thought of her, and her (mostly) close relationship with her family. It was refreshing to see a lot of small, tiny things scattered throughout the book that was also shown in a positive light- everything from importance on family to praying.

But then there was that horrid love triangle. Like, the most annoying love triangle I've ever read. When I first started reading and you had that kissy bit with her and her boyfriend Aspen, I immediately thought to myself, okay- she's going to end up with him, so I'm not even going to entertain the notion that she'll end up with the prince. *Right.* I ended up really loving Prince Maxon and totally rooting for him...which made it really hair-pulling when *SPOILER* Aspen showed up again. Personally, though I liked how her previous relationship with Aspen affected the way she related to the prince, I personally think it would have been better had she -I don't know- got over him? But I hate indecision like this and really wish the guy had never shown up again *END OF SPOILER* Let's just say that Aspen rubs me the wrong way, and I hate how the love triangle takes a girl who I really did like and makes her bordering-on-annoying.

Yep, this was one of those books where you feel as if there had been one or two tweaks to content and plot, it would probably be an absolute favorite. Will I probably read the other books? Yeah. But does that make certain aspects of it any less a disappointment? No. And thus this book gets a really mediocre 3 stars, not because it was mediocre at all, but rather because it was one that I could neither love nor hate, even though I dearly wanted to do the former.

Rating: 7 (3 stars on Goodreads)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Corral Nocturne

22891047

Corral Nocturne
Elisabeth Grace Foley
Second Sentence Press

Before I begin- can I just say that Corral Nocturne is just a very neat title? And perfect for a western story that also happens to be loose re-telling of Cinderella?

This book reminded me a bit of the Heartsong Presents novellas, except better written- or at least, written in a style that I personally prefer. It was a sweet, clean romance that was utterly adorable. Ellie was an enjoyable heroine that I felt was relatable, and Cole the perfect western equivalent of a fairy-tale prince.

Granted, the story is a novella, so there's not a whole lot of time for character development, and the plot is fairly simple and focused on the romance. However, in my opinion it was a romance novella done right. Being both cute and short, it makes a great before-bedtime read, because who ever outgrows bedtime stories?

Rating: 8 1/2

I received an advance reader copy of this novella for free from the author in exchange for my unbiased review.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Faces of the Dead

20578956

Faces of the Dead
Suzanne Weyn
Scholastic

When Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution, she finds a world much darker than what she's ever known.

When Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France learns of the powerful rebellion sweeping her country, the sheltered princess is determined to see the revolution for herself. Switching places with a chambermaid, the princess sneaks out of the safety of the royal palace and into the heart of a city in strife.

Soon the princess is brushing shoulders with revolutionaries and activists. One boy in particular, Henri, befriends her and has her questioning the only life she's known. When the princess returns to the palace one night to find an angry mob storming its walls, she's forced into hiding in Paris. Henri brings her to the workshop of one Mademoiselle Grosholtz, whose wax figures seem to bring the famous back from the dead, and who looks at Marie-Thérèse as if she can see all of her secrets. There, the princess quickly discovers there's much more to the outside world - and to the mysterious woman's wax figures - than meets the eye

I was interested in this book for two reasons: 1) because ever since reading The Scarlet Pimpernel I've been more curious about the French revolution and 2) because wax figures simultaneously freak me out and intrigue me.

However, not after I began, I could easily tell that this book was not really one for me. The beginning wasn't bad- although perhaps over simplified and a bit unrealistic historically- but as the Reign of Terror went into full swing it began to get a little graphic for me. Given the subject matter, I was expecting a bit of gore, but not to this extent in what is considered a middle-grade book. Also, it started to hint at voodoo and magic and not only do I take issue with that from a moral standpoint, but it also didn't fit a story I thought was at least going to try to be historically accurate. Then looking at some other reviews, I quickly decided that this book really wasn't worth any more of my time, so it's one of the few only books I've gotten for review that I haven't finished.

I really hate not finishing books, but I have a growing TBR pile- all for review -and I just really couldn't get into this one. The writing style itself was pleasurable, but the content didn't match. The plot seemed almost sloppy in comparison. Anyway, I'm not going to totally rip it up- after all, technically I didn't finish and it could have gotten better. But quite frankly, I didn't care enough to find out.

Rating: 3

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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Playing By Heart

20665063

Playing by Heart
Anne Mateer
Bethany House

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.

After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet. 

However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected.


Though I'm not into basketball and the plot detailed on the back of the book didn't immediately snatch my interest, I have enjoyed a couple books by this author before, and as she has a sweet writing style that's simple but pleasant, I decided to try this one.

At first, I thought the character of Lula was going to be really hard to like; however, as the story went on I began to understand her point of view, and how her personality and actions stemmed from trying to be seen as something other than the flighty girl she had once been. Though I still became annoyed with her at times, I never flat-out disliked her as I did the main character in the author's last book, A Home For My Heart.

One thing I did really enjoy was the cast of secondary characters- Lula's nephew, J.C. as well as Blaze & Nannie, two basketball players from the girls' and boys' teams. The World War I element was also used, and it gave a good background to the story, although I think I probably would have liked a plot that had been a bit more centered on that. But that's totally just my own personal preference.

And though I'm rating this book about the same as A Home For My Heart, I will say that I enjoyed Playing by Heart MUCH more than the last; not only were the characters more likable, but the plot- even though I'm no fan of basketball :)- was also more interesting. Still, it was a bit too romance-centered for my taste. I mean, it was still very clean, but it seemed like there was just so much time where the characters were thinking about each other and how they didn't have time to be distracted by "broad shoulders" or "pretty eyes"- you know what I'm talking about. Though this doesn't bother some people (Indeed, some readers seem to enjoy it) that's just not my thing. That's kind of how I view this whole book- it was not bad by any means, it's just didn't really stand out to me among the stack of Christian Historical Fiction I've read before.

Rating: 7

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Revolutionary

18806299

Revolutionary
Krista McGee
Thomas Nelson

All her life Thalli thought she was an anomaly. Now she must use her gifts to fulfill the role she was called to play: Revolutionary.

Back in the underground State against her will, Thalli is no longer the anomaly she was before. She has proven herself to be a powerful leader aboveground and returns with information that Dr. Loudin needs to complete his plan of uniting the world under one leader: himself. But he, too, has information. A secret he has kept from Thalli her entire life. A secret that, once revealed, changes everything about the person Thalli thought she was.

Hoping to help Thalli rise up against the Scientists, both Berk and Alex join her underground, but their presence only brings more trouble for her. Now Dr. Loudin knows just the leverage to use on his captive, and she is forced to choose between the two of them. Is her first love her true love? Or does Alex ultimately claim her heart?

Unsure of everything around her, including her own identity, Thalli doesn’t know where to turn. She knows she needs the Designer, but he seems further away than ever. What she does know, though, is that if she doesn’t do something to stop Loudin, the fragile world aboveground will be lost once and for all.

I've been quite anxious to wrap up the Anomaly series - the books being a surprise hit for me- and while it took me a little while to get into Revolutionary, I did like it. Once it got going, I couldn't put the story down.

I do admit that at the beginning the first person/present tense writing did bother me. Again. this isn't my favorite style in general, but I was okay with it in the previous books in this series. It just felt a little clunky here, although it definitely improved as the story went on. Also, the whole love triangle/pretending to like each other to survive was a bit Hunger Games for me ;)

I will admit that this book made me really, really mad- one of the characters was such a villain I could have killed him a hundred times over. And *SPOILER* several people died* END OF SPOILER* so it was pretty sad. Still, there was heroism and a group of characters trying to work together to defeat evil- a favorite plot of mine even if it wasn't to the level I normally like.

Still, overall, this was a great ending to the series and sent my emotions on quite the roller coaster ride.

Rating: 8

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Prelude For a Lord

19006252

Prelude For a Lord
Camille Elliot
Zondervan


An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England—1810

   At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

   In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal. 

   But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

   Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul. 

   Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .


I was eager to try my hand at this newest Regency-era Christian novel, but after I requested it, I discovered a few reviews were a bit concerned with the heavy-ness of the romantic content, so I was worried. However, despite a few scene near the very end, there was not very much romance in it at all, and overall I ended up really enjoying this one.

Perhaps my greatest frustration was the fact that all these characters were playing all of this glorious music and I couldn't hear any of it! Though I liked the main characters, I absolutely adored the camaraderie between between Dommick and his friends. And though I did like Dommick and Alethea, quite honestly I loved all the secondary characters the best (and I'm really, really hoping that the author writes a sequel with Dommick's sister Clare and his friend Ian....I ship those two. Hard.) I also loved Margaret, who was such a fun little scamp!

As I mentioned before, there is some romance in the last third/fourth or so of the book- not a lot, but more on the awkward side than not. I'd recommend it for 15+

Rating: 9

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

With Every Breath

18652812

With Every Breath
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House

In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston holds a respectable position as a government statistician when she encounters a rival from her past, the insufferable Trevor McDonough. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and she's bewildered at the way he suddenly seeks her out. Surprising even herself, Kate agrees to Trevor's entirely unexpected and risky proposal to work side-by-side with him in his quest to rid the world of tuberculosis, a contagious and deadly disease. 

As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, she realizes there is much more to him than she could have imagined. His hidden depths may fascinate her, but his most closely guarded secrets and a shadowy enemy lurking in the background carry a serious threat to their future. 

When the truth of the past comes out, threatening to destroy everything they hold dear, how will Trevor and Kate ever overcome all that stands in their way?

There are many reasons why I like Elizabeth Camden’s books: the unique storylines, the memorable heroes, the interesting careers of her characters, and the accuracy but originality of her historical settings. However, I think the main reason I’m always glad to pick up one of her books is the fact that she makes me forget that I’m a book reviewer or even a writer. When one spends so many reading hours picking apart fiction (intentionally or not) there’s always this release when there’s actually a novel that one can get lost in. And thankfully, With Every Breath was one of those books.

Actually, despite the fact that I’m a fan of Elizabeth Camden, I wasn’t overly eager for With Every Breath- neither the cover nor (more importantly) the synopsis really captured my excitement or attention. Also (and this may seem ridiculous) I’m not a big fan of the name Trevor and that particular moniker belonging to the hero wasn’t recommending the story any more to me. (I do have a track record, though, of disliking a name until I read about hero with it that makes me like the name better…*cough, cough* Percy) Still, the author’s other books were good enough where I was perfectly willing to read this one anyway. And that being said, I think it took me a total of 65 seconds into this novel before I thought, “oooh, this is gonna be good!”

I loved Trevor’s dry one-liners and responses to Kate’s enthusiastic curiosity and bossiness. Kate, at times, was a bit harder to love, but I still found her an engaging heroine I could root for. Despite the fact that I myself am so different in personality from both Kate and Trevor (although, let’s face it- in a bad mood I can act very much like the latter) I still somehow “got” them and that’s quite a feat in fiction. Not everyone can write characters that people with opposite personality types can still relate to as human beings.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this one. While Against the Tide still remains my favorite by the author, With Every Breath was just as good (if not better) than her last novel Into the Whirlwind.

Rating: 9 1/2 (yeah, I just can't quite make myself give it a full 10 stars...I'm stingy like that)

Objectionable content: a few kisses. Some medical terms/discussions that could make some readers squeamish.


I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...