Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Safe Harbor


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


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 in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Princess Spy

The Princess Spy
Melanie Dickerson

     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


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 in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Surprised By Love


Surprised by Love
Julie Lessman

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


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.
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