Monday, December 29, 2014

Five Glass Slippers

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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

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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

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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.
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