Saturday, August 30, 2014

Revolutionary

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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

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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.

The Covered Deep

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The Covered Deep
Brandy Vallance
Worthy Publishing

Bianca Marshal is holding out for the perfect husband. Finding a man that meets the requirements of her must-have list in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains has proven impossible. Bianca s mama insists that there s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca s ideal man is pure fiction. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic: her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. Unwilling to accept spinsterhood, Bianca enters an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for her soulmate. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of the Holy Land, Bianca's true love will be revealed, but not without a heavy price.

At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of The Covered Deep: there was something about it that seemed almost too modern, too far-fetched…and yet historical all the same. The atmosphere of the story, for lack of a better word, just didn’t seem to flow right for me. But after the first three chapters I decided to completely ignore it and throw myself into the plot for better or for worse.

I still had mixed feelings about it; one minute I’d think, “hey, I really like this book” and the next “okay, not a fan.” Part of me thinks that perhaps it was because I wavered between liking and disliking so many of the characters. Bianca drove me crazy so many times- especially in her relationship with her love interest, Paul. What he had done was horrible, but it was before he became a Christian, so I just couldn’t understand why she had such a hard time forgiving him. And every time he decided to tell her something about his past, they’d go through the same routine: she’d tell him that it didn’t matter what he’d done, she’d forgive him anyway…and then he’d tell her and she’d freak out and say the nastiest things! I suppose the author was portraying how people really act, warts and all, but still…I found it really hard to like Bianca in those moments.

I really, really wanted to like Paul. Oh, how I did! I mean, his obsession with history and artifacts? That’s right up my alley. But something kept me from really falling in love with his character- actually, out of everyone, I probably was intrigued with the character of Sir Adrian the most. *SPOILER ALERT* Poor scheming, manipulative Sir Adrian…yeah. I’m just weird, I guess. I was somewhat disappointed with the direction his story took, and I wish it had been a little better concluded *END OF SPOILER*

In conclusion? This is one of those books where I come into the story knowing nothing about the author or story, except for a short, somewhat vague synopsis. I was unsure whether I was going to like it, and in all honesty, I’m still a little unsure what exactly I think of it now that I have read it. It was an original plot but at times only passably executed, and small sparkles of witty, clever dialogue made me hunger for a more polished, snappy work that the novel came close to at times but never quite accomplished. I feel this new author has promise, but The Covered Deep didn’t quite hit the mark with me. (Due to some mature themes, I’d recommend this for 15 or 16+)

Rating: 7


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

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

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The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
Olivia Newport
Revell


Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work--and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago. When she meets an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is? 

Readers will love being swept away into a world of mansions, secrets, and romance as they follow Lucy through the streets of the Windy City during one of the most exciting times in the city's history. From opulent upper-class homes to the well-worn rooms of an orphanage, Olivia Newport breathes life and romance into the pages of history--and everyone is invited.


     So I fully admit that I've been wanting to read this book for forever- because it has such an absolutely gorgeous cover. I mean really, girls: look at that dress!

     However, I have to admit this story  didn't end up being a favorite, despite the promising cover. The writing itself was passable and about the quality you'll find in most Christian fiction (depending on your point of view, this is either a good or a bad thing) However, Lucy's deceptive actions -those stemming from her own personal desires, anyway- kept me from really respecting her character. It also struck me as odd that at one particular point, Lucy was sitting in church thinking of how hypocritical so many of the church members were as they listened to the day's sermon while going about, not caring for the poor- when she was being just as hypocritical by talking the talk but then sneaking around and lying- how was what she doing any better? Even though the truth did eventually come out, she didn't seem to have a whole lot of remorse for lying, because it was lost in in the "virtue" of being progressive and attending college classes. That really, really annoyed me.

     I wasn't sure what I thought of the whole Daniel storyline. I admit it got better at the end, but there was still something slightly off-putting about it to me- as if the author was trying to make him seem as bad as possible so Lucy was more justified in breaking off their engagement, even though he didn't start going downhill until after she jilted him. Still, this probably won't bother a lot of readers. Personally, the character I found the most interesting was the maid Charlotte- and on second thought, I'll add Lucy's brother Leo to that list.  He just seemed like a really nice guy.

     So overall, I didn't really find The Pursuit of Lucy Banning overly impressive. If you like Christian Historical fiction, you'll still probably want to try this one, as it has got a lot more favorable reviews than I've given here. But due to my personal preference (and convictions, for that matter) this one didn't make me "keeper" list.

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars
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