Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Shadow Things

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The Shadow Things 
Jennifer Freitag
Ambassador-Emerald International 

The Legions have left the province of Britain and the Western Roman Empire has dissolved into chaos. With the world plunged into darkness, paganism and superstition are as rampant as ever. In the Down country of southern Britain, young Indi has grown up knowing nothing more than his gods of horses and thunder; so when a man from across the sea comes preaching a single God slain on a cross, Indi must choose between his gods or the one Godand face the consequences of his decision

This book was infinitely better than I originally thought it was going to be. I don't normally care for depressing stories, and mark my words, this one can get a little depressing with the pagan practices and how they clash with Christianity (actually, this book reminded me a lot of a biography of Saint Patrick that I read.) but it was also a very powerful story, despite the novel's short size.

I wouldn't recommend this to younger readers because it can get a little disturbing and there are some mature themes that are true to the time period of the story (and believe me, I've done a little research of these peoples before, so yes, I know that they really were often that ruthless and cruel)

However, overall, if you think you can handle it, this story is not one to miss

Rating: 8

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Stillness of Chimes

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A Stillness of Chimes
Meg Moseley
Multnomah

I don’t normally read “Southern Fiction” but I thought Meg Moseley’s last book, Gone South, sounded interesting, and since I didn’t get a chance to read that one, when I saw A Stillness of Chimes available, I took it. Also, I’m always trying to mix up my reading every once in a while with books in a different genre than what I normally read- the mark of a good writer is one who can capture the attention of even a reader a bit reluctant to dive into a certain genre, right?

I’m still not exactly sure what I thought of this novel; parts of it interested me (and by that I mean the mystery) but for most of it I felt like I was just dragging myself through, and if I hadn’t gotten it for review purposes, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.

It’s not that the writing was bad; Meg Moseley has a pleasurable writing style and the story flowed well. It’s just that it was, as a lot of Southern Fiction is, very slow-paced. And in another trademark I’ve seen in a lot of books in the genre, there are so many characters with secrets and “skeletons in the closet” that sometimes it just feels a little soap-opera-y melodramatic. (I wouldn’t recommend this to younger readers, by the way, for that very reason.) I wouldn’t say there was much of it that I really liked or enjoyed; my motive for finishing was more along the lines of curiosity of how everything was going to turn out rather than a connection to the characters.

That’s not saying that I’m telling you to pass on this book. If you enjoy southern fiction and/or contemporary fiction, you’ll probably like this one better than I did. So while I didn’t really care for A Stillness of Chimes, it was mostly due to my own personal preference in stories and not necessarily because the book itself was wanting. 

Rating: 5

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


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Love Comes Calling

Love Comes Calling

Love Comes Calling
Siri Mitchell
Bethany House

I’ve been interested in Siri Mitchell’s books since I read her book She Walks in Beauty; when I read (and loved) The Messenger, she became a firm favorite of mine. That being said, her last book Unrivaled, though somewhat enjoyable, was a bit of a disappointment. But Love Comes Calling has put her right back on my favorites list!

I found Ellis painfully relatable. The author mentions in the afterward that she gave Ellis ADHD (though it was unknown of during the story’s time era) and so our heroine has an extremely hard time concentrating. Though I don’t have the disorder, I do have an exceptionally bad memory, and let’s just say because of it I have a lot of the same problems as those who can’t focus. So many times Ellis would struggle with things and Oh! HOW I UNDERSTOOD. (especially with the way people would misunderstand her) Though Ellis and I did have differences in our personalities, I’d never been introduced to a character who had so many of the same difficulties as myself. That being said, some might find her scatterbrained-ness annoying; I did not. I was too much like her!

Griffin, though not in the book as often as a lot of love interest characters are, was also likable, and he seemed like an honestly good match for Ellis. Sometimes I did get annoyed with Ellis because I felt like she really needed to tell someone what she’d overheard, but that was really the only thing about the book that bothered me.

Love Comes Calling also had some interesting themes involving the Roaring ’20s and the moral dilemmas that came along with the era. Though there wasn’t a whole lot said about God, the Christian message was very clear in what the characters saw and learned. Some of it was really quite serious, but all the same there was still something very lighthearted about this book. It was just fun. Definitely one of my favorites that I’ve read this year!

Rating: 9


Objectionable content: this takes place in the twenties, so alcohol is naturally drunk and discussed due to Prohibition (rather ironic, I know). Flappers are also notoriously loose with their morals, and it is later found out a young woman became pregnant out of wedlock. Ellis is found alone in a room with a man and they immediately thought to be doing something inappropriate (they were not). There are a few kisses, though not descriptive. Most of everything above is handled tactfully, but I would still recommend it to 16 +

Friday, March 14, 2014

Death By the Book

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Death by the Book
Julianna Deering
Bethany House

 After greatly enjoying the first book in this series, I was really looking forward to this one! I would say I enjoyed about 90% of the book...it's just that something happened that I didn't care for (more on that later)

I do like Drew and Madeline; their relationship is sweet and (mostly)uncomplicated but since there's so much going on with the plot it works well and doesn't distract from the mystery. As for the mystery itself- oh. my. word. Shakespeare murders??? Right up my alley. (I mean, not the murdering, of course. The Shakespeare) I loved that aspect. And of course, the writing was wonderfully in tune to the era. The character of Madeline's prickly aunt was also a humorous addition to the story.

Now, there was a bit of objectionable content- murders can be on the sordid side. Nothing explicit and nothing worse than you'd find in an Agatha Christie (and this being Christian fiction, of course it was much cleaner) But younger readers might not want to try this one.

All right- now here's the problem I had, and it's a *MAJOR SPOILER* Ummm...the conclusion to mystery was just kind of disappointing. All the murders were a set-up by rather unhinged woman just for Drew to solve. I don't know why, but that just kind of a let-down. I was hoping there was some really clever way all of the murder victims were connected, but really it just happened to be people that Drew was acquainted with. (and then Madeline's aunt conveniently admitting she was objecting to Drew and Madeline's relationship just to put it to the test? I don't know, everything seemed to be conveniently resolved there at the end)*END OF SPOILER* It's the only reason this book gets three instead of four stars.

SO I did find the ending rather disappointing, which is sad when I enjoyed pretty much *all* of the rest of the book a whole lot. Hopefully the conclusion to this series will impress me where this last book failed to. But that doesn't mean the book isn't worth reading, and some people might not be bothered the way I was about the mystery's resolution. So, by all means, try it!


Rating: 8

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Queen's Handmaid

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The Queen's Handmaid
Tracy L. Higley
Thomas Nelson

From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

I fully admit this book was a bit of a surprise. It's not that I didn't expect to like it or find it enjoyable, it's just that after the first few chapters I just wasn't really "in" to it. However, that quickly changed once I got about a third of the way in.

The main characters, though likable, weren't my favorite aspect of the story; rather, I was deeply involved in the plot and history of the story. And those horrid rulers! Ugh. I have no delusions that I could stay passive in this time period. After reading about Herod and Cleopatra, I was seriously at the point where I was {internally} screaming, "Let me at 'em! Let me at 'em!" with claws bared.

And though I began to suspect Lydia's true identity, the end of the book was still a pleasant surprise with a neat plot twist.

The actual writing style is similar to Tracy Higley's other works- she's able to insert a lot of history without coming off as dry and factual, and I always feel like I've learned a lot after I've finished one of her books. Overall, I really enjoyed The Queen's Handmaid, and if you like ancient history, I certainly recommend it.

objectionable content: there are a few kisses; there is a lot of power plotting involving deception, executions, and murder.

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

Rating: 8


Monday, March 10, 2014

Fly Away Home

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Fly Away Home
Rachel Heffington
Ruby Elixir Press

Self Preservation has never looked more tempting. 

1952 New York City: 
Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. 

The new friendship sparks, the project soars, and a faint suspicion that she is fall for this uncommon man grows in Callie's heart. When the secrets of Callie's past are exhumed and hung over her head as a threat, she is forced to scrutinize Wade Barnett and betray his dirtiest secrets or see her own spilled. 

Here there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life.


I was very familiar with this book, even before I read it- it's been advertised all around my blogosphere circles lately, and seemed to be popping up everywhere I looked. But I still wasn't planning on buying it- until I read an excerpt. The vintage-y and likable writing style instantly captured my attention, and I dove into purchasing it. And the story was adorable- with a refreshing message I loved to pieces.

I said it was adorable, and it was. But that doesn't mean it was full of fluff. While chock-full of fun, 1950s references and lingo- and a Dickensian cat- it also had a deeper message that's perfect for not only Callie, but our own lives and time as well. And Wade Barnett- *grins* Loved him to bits.

For a self-published, independent book, it was remarkably well edited. There were a few scenes that were a bit choppy and that I thought could have transitioned more smoothly, but that's about all. There were a few uses of the word D**n; however it was not condoned in the context of the story.

Overall, Fly Away Home is a thoughtful, lovely read that was full of nostalgia and all the charm of a classic black-and-white film.

Rating: 8 1/2

Friday, March 7, 2014

Dangerous

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Dangerous
Shannon Hale
Bloomsbury

Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There's no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else?

As I've long been a fan of Shannon Hale's, I had really high expectations for this book, and as I first began reading, I got excited. A homeschooled superhero??? Bring it on!

Alas, the rest of the book wasn't really as good... I really disliked the romance. First of all, I didn't care for the guy; second of all, while they didn't go "all the way" their relationship wasn't really...chaste. There were also some bits of language (not what I would consider "swear" words, but words I prefer not to use). And then we come to the plot.

The story had good bones to it- but sometimes it kind of seemed weird and things didn't make sense to me. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy parts of it- and I liked the last third better than the rest. (the beginning was pretty okay too- it was mostly just the middle section I didn't care for). That being said, it was kind of a disappointment. I didn't hate it, but I wouldn't say I liked it, either.

Rating: 5
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