Showing posts from 2015

Whatever is Lovely

Whatever is Lovely Various Authors/Artists Waterbrook Multnomah 
     The adult coloring book craze is still going strong, apparently- or at least, publishers are still churning them out. Of course, I don't mind coloring. I think it's fun and relaxing, and I was interested in this one, not only because it is faith-oriented, but because it was done by 12 different artists. I enjoy coloring if there's a lot of variety in the designs, so the idea of a book done by several different artists appealed to me.

     Each page in Whatever is Lovely includes a lovely hand-lettered quote or Bible verse, with various types of designs (most of them including flowers or animals) surrounding it. They are very pretty, and fittingly enough, the word that came to mind most often as I was flipping through it was "lovely."

     Unlike a lot of other adult coloring books, while the designs are sophisticated, they are not overly complicated, repetitive, or time consuming. I did one pag…

The Homemade Kitchen

The Homemade Kitchen Alana Chernila Clarkson Potter
     This is just a pretty cookbook. It makes everything look good. Not only are the recipes appealing--even the ones that, let's face it, sound weird-- but the whole book feels homey and comforting. This is the type of cookbook that makes people want to be natural and organic and downright domestic. It's lovely. I'm especially excited about the recipes for homemade goat cheese and feta cheese. Also, the popovers are calling my name. :)

     It's written in a friendly, engaging style that's not intimidating for a beginner, and overall I love how many from-scratch recipes there are.

     My only real complaint is that that order of the recipes can be a little confusing, since they're not ordered in sections that I'm used to (such as "soup," "desserts," "meat," etc.) which can make it difficult to find what you're looking for.

Rating: 8

I received this book for free from th…

Until the Dawn

Until the Dawn Elizabeth Camden Bethany House Publishers
A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family his…

Whispers in the Reading Room

Whispers in the Reading Room Shelley Gray Zondervan

Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She …

The Time Garden

The Time Garden Daria Song Watson-Guptill
     Thanks to my grandmother, I've been introduced to the world of "adult" coloring books. When I saw this one I was immediately attracted to its whimsical designs, and I wasn't disappointed. The Time Garden is also laid out in such a way that after it's colored it can be read as a picture book, which I thought was a clever idea. The binding is high quality (it even has a dust jacket, though it's paperback) and so it seems like a children's book in addition to a coloring book. Here's a look at a page I did...

     I liked doing this very much! It's a wonderful way to relax after a hard day at school :)
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Brontë Plot

The Brontë Plot Katherine Reay Thomas Nelson
Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James's wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy's predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen's wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters' beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.
Now Lucy must go back into her past in…


Owls Matt Sewell Ebury Press
A cute little book with charming illustrations, although a little inconsistent. Each owl has a short little snippet. Some are informative and factual, and some give very little fact information and instead focus on some sort of lore surrounding the specific owl or even (at times) contemplative rambling. Despite appearances, it's not a kid's book, but rather more of a novelty gift book for adults or teens.

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


Vendetta Lisa Harris Revell
No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels this case has become personal, and she is not the hunter . . . but the hunted.
With this explosive first book in The Nikki Boyd Files, award-winning author Lisa Harris takes you on a fast-paced pursuit of justice that will have you holding your breath until the heart-stopping finish.

     Having read the last two books in Lisa Harris's previous series, I decided to try this one, especially because the cover looked mysterious and eye-catching. Yes, I judge books by their covers. All the time.

     Lisa Harris is good at building suspense, but I wasn't truly captured by the writing, which seemed a li…

Street God

Street God Dimas Salaberrios Tyndale
His street name was Daylight. But he was a nightmare.
On the streets of New York, darkness and violence reigned. Dimas “Daylight” Salaberrios began selling drugs when he was eleven years old, and by sixteen, he had served his first stint at the notorious Rikers Island prison. Dimas saw only one way to survive: by reigning over the streets. He would be the richest, most powerful ruler in the hood . . . or die trying.

Street God is the true story of one man’s dangerous journey through the underworld of crime, drugs, and almost certain death. It was an encounter with the real God that saved his life — and then made it even more dangerous. Because that God sent Dimas back down the darkest streets he’d ever known — with other lives depending on it. And Dimas had to ask the question: How far am I prepared to go?
A dramatic, compelling memoir full of twists and turns, Street God delves deep into a world from which few ever emerge — and shows how a single spar…

The Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

The Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison Harmony
     Having been familiar with the "Trim Healthy Mama" diet through friends, and whose family often receives the Above Rubies magazine, this book interested me.

     I'm not always big on "healthy" food, but these dishes look good. True, some of the ingredients have me raising a brow wondering if the dishes will taste as good as they look, but for anyone with a strict diet or food allergies, I'd definitely recommend checking out this book. Some of the ingredients are things that might be a little obscure, though, and might have you heading to a health food store.

     However, there's a good variety of recipes types (including desserts, of course!) so it's good even for people who, like me, are neither mamas nor particularly healthy.

     I admit I am a little worried about the binding; my copy has barely been used and I can already see the wear on the spine. For a book with so …

The Knight's Bride

The Knight's Bride Barbour Dianne Christner, Pamela Griffin, Yvonne Lehman, Tracie Peterson, and Jill Stengl
Take six romantic adventures back in time to the Middle Ages along with five authors including Tracie Peterson, who tell the stories of couples challenged by the injustices of their times. Some couples are pulled apart by wars and feuds, while others have their futures determined by their oppressors. Can a faith be found to keep hope alive and give joy in all circumstances?
     A collection of six novellas centering on "chivalry in the Middle Ages," The Knight's Bride popped up as I was perusing netgalley for ebooks to review. While I haven't always had the best experiences with Barbour novella collections, when I saw the castle on the cover of this one I was drawn in against my will. I don't read a lot of fiction set during the Middle Ages, so I thought six short stories set during this time would be a nice change of pace.

     Unfortunately, the firs…

A Sherlock Holmes Devotional

A Sherlock Holmes Devotional
Trisha White Prieb Barbour
     I'm not usually a fan of devotionals that try to mesh secular things with the spiritual. Actually, I'm a little wary of devotionals in general because I find that a lot of people use them instead of actual Bible reading, and are more inclined to trust other authors' interpretations than what the Bible actually says. That's why, when I first saw this book several months ago, I passed it by without a second glance.
     However, I've been thinking lately that you really can't divide the world into the "spiritual" and the "secular"- God is Lord of all, even entertainment. And while I still do not at all like when people try to "sanitize" truly ungodly things, I do think that if one has a Christian worldview, then that mindset while affect how you look at everything.
     Even fictional detectives.
     So, as I was browsing netgalley (newly encouraged to try more ebooks now…

The Flower Brides

The Flower Brides Grace Livingston Hill Barbour
     It's been a little while since I've read something by Grace Livingston Hill, and when I saw this volume of hers available- with three stories in it that I hadn't yet read- I decided to try it.

     I admit I was really dragging my feet with this one. Part of the reason was that this was an ebook, which is definitely not my preference, but also, as a whole, I don't think these three stories lived up to some of the other GLH books that I've read.

     I admit that it was rather difficult for me to like the main character of Marigold. She wasn't all bad, but her attitude annoyed me even though I found her character to be realistic. I guess, considering the way she was raised, her actions seemed especially unlikable?

     White Orchards had some sweet moments, but the hero and heroine were separated for much of the book and some aspects of the plot seemed very familiar to me, even though I hadn't read it befor…

On This Foundation

On This Foundation Lynn Austin Bethany House Publishers

When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God's guidance. After fasting and prayer, he's given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.
The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.
Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

     If you've been reading my reviews for a while now, you've probably noticed …

The Carols of Christmas

The Carols of Christmas Andrew Gant Thomas Nelson
From Oxford professor and renowned British composer, a joyous account of the history behind our favorite carols.

Everyone loves a carol--in the end, even Ebenezer Scrooge. They have the power to summon up a special kind of mid-winter mood, like the aroma of gingerbread or the twinkle of lights on a tree. It's a kind of magic.

But how did they get that magic? Andrew Gant--choirmaster, church musician, university professor, and writer--tells the story of some twenty carols, each accompanied by lyrics and music, unraveling a captivating, and often surprising, tale of great musicians and thinkers, saints and pagans, shepherd boys and choirboys. Readers get to delve into the history such favorites as "Good King Wenceslas," "Away in a Manger," and "O, Tannenbaum," discovering along the way how "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" came to replace "Hark, how all the welkin' ring" and how Ralph V…

Royal Blood

Royal Blood Una McCormack Broadway Books

The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the mountains to invade. Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle. So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war.

But all is not what it seems in Varuz. The city-guard have lasers for swords, and the halls are lit by electric candlelight. Aurelian’s beloved wife, Guena, and his most trusted knight, Bernhardt, seem to be plotting to overthrow their Duke, and Clara finds herself drawn into their intrigue...
Will the Doctor stop Aurelian from going to war? Will Clara’s involvement in the plot against the Duke be discovered? Why is Conrad’s ambassador so nervous? And who are the ancient and weary knights who arrive in Varuz claiming to be on a quest for the Holy Grail…?

     I ended up really enjoying this 

Deep Time

Deep Time Trevor Baxendale Broadway Books

"I do hope you’re all ready to be terrified!" The Phaeron disappeared from the universe over a million years ago. They travelled among the stars using roads made from time and space, but left only relics behind. But what actually happened to the Phaeron? Some believe they were they eradicated by a superior force… Others claim they destroyed themselves. Or were they in fact the victims of an even more hideous fate? In the far future, humans discover the location of the last Phaeron road – and the Doctor and Clara join the mission to see where the road leads.  Each member of the research team knows exactly what they’re looking for – but only the Doctor knows exactly what they’ll find.
Because only the Doctor knows the true secret of the Phaeron: a monstrous secret so terrible and powerful that it must be buried in the deepest grave imaginable…

     This particular Doctor Who novel brought to mind episodes such as "The Satin Pit" or…

A Noble Masquerade

A Noble Masquerade Kristi Ann Hunter Bethany House Publishers
Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feeling…

The Mistress of Tall Acre

The Mistress of Tall Acre Laura Frantz Revell
The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchan…

The Lost Heiress

The Lost Heiress Roseanna M. White Bethany House Publishers
Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into som…

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein, and Isaac Bleicher 10 Speed Press
Ah, pastry. Just the word makes me grin. I can never pass up a good pastry (especially if generous amounts of icing are involved) so I was quick to swoop up this book.

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets is chock full of classic recipes, both familiar and delightfully ethnic (many familiar to my own heritage). I'm especially keen on trying the babka recipes (that chocolate one sounds delicious) and I have a feeling this cookbook is going to get very used around the holiday seasons.

My only disappointment is the complete lack of pictures. I'm no stranger to photo-less cookbooks, as the family cookbook supply has a many of them. But photos are one modern cookbook staple that I'm fond of and find to be hugely helpful. however, aside from that, I think I'm really going to enjoy using this cookbook.

Rating: 8

I received this book for free from the…

"Anne of Green Gables," My Daughter, And Me

"Anne of Green Gables," My Daughter, And Me Lorilee Craker Tyndale
A charming and heartwarming true story for anyone who has ever longed for a place to belong.
“Anne of Green Gables,” My Daughter, and Me is a witty romp through the classic novel; a visit to the magical shores of Prince Edward Island; and a poignant personal tale of love, faith, and loss.

And it all started with a simple question: “What’s an orphan?” The words from her adopted daughter, Phoebe, during a bedtime reading of Anne of Green Gables stopped Lorilee Craker in her tracks. How could Lorilee, who grew up not knowing her own birth parents, answer Phoebe’s question when she had wrestled all her life with feeling orphaned—and learned too well that not every story has a happy ending?

So Lorilee set off on a quest to find answers in the pages of the very book that started it all, determined to discover—and teach her daughter—what home, family, and belonging really mean. If you loved the poignancy of Orphan Train…

The Drosten's Curse

The Drosten's Curse A.L. Kennedy Broadway Books

From award-winning author A.L. Kennedy, an original Doctor Who novel featuring the beloved Fourth Doctor, as played by Tom Baker.
“I shall make you the jewel at the heart of the universe.”
Something distinctly odd is going on in Arbroath. It could be to do with golfers being dragged down into the bunkers at the Fetch Brothers’ Golf Spa Hotel, never to be seen again. It might be related to the strange twin grandchildren of the equally strange Mrs Fetch--owner of the hotel and fascinated with octopuses. It could be the fact that people in the surrounding area suddenly know what others are thinking, without anyone saying a word.

   I'm always pleased when I get a chance to review a Doctor Who novel (especially while I'm waiting for a new season of the show!) and I was excited when I saw this one available. I've never read anything by A.L. Kennedy before, but she managed to capture the spirit of Classic Who quite well.

   The char…

Til We Meet Again

Til We Meet Again Ray & Betty Whipps with Craig Borlase Tyndale
Ray and Betty Whipps both served in Europe during WWII: Ray as an infantryman under General Patton in the trenches of Normandy, Paris, and Belgium, and Betty as a field nurse in Cherbourg, France. The two met when Betty tended to Ray after he was injured in a mortar blast. Both strong Christians, the two bonded over their shared faith, and as Betty nursed Ray back to health, they fell in love and vowed to marry after the war. However, soon after Ray returned to his unit, he was captured by German forces and held captive in Stalag VII, Germany’s largest prisoner of war camp. It was there that Ray’s faith was put to the ultimate test as he endured the most horrific weeks of his life—weeks marked by brutality, malnutrition, back-breaking labor, and near-constant death. The only thing that kept him alive was the dream of someday reuniting with Betty
     Told from Ray's first person perspective, with Betty's letter…

Through Waters Deep

Through Waters Deep Sarah Sundin Revell
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.
   Sarah Sundin is known for her fabulous World War II settings and relatable characters. This newest book throws something else into the mix- a good old-fashioned mystery.

   As always, the characters were well-rounded with interesting problem…

A House Divided

A House Divided Robert Whitlow Thomas Nelson
A father's mistakes nearly cost his children everything. Now his children must unite to take on the most important case of their respective careers.    Every once in a while I like to pick a random novel to shake up my reading habits, and A House Divided was my choice this time.

   Part legal drama, part family drama, I liked it. of course, being no lawyer (and having no interest in being one whatsoever) a lot of the legal stuff went over my head (and all that paperwork that had to be done by the characters? ugh. Makes my head hurt just thinking about it)

   However, I did like how the book showed people growing and overcoming, and I found the characters to be realistic. While I wouldn't say I really enjoyed this book, because it was out of my interests, I thought it was well-written and I became fascinated with how everything was going to work out.

Rating: 8

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

Luther and Katharina

Luther and Katharina Jody Hedlund Waterbrook
   When I first learned that this book was coming out, I was extremely excited. Y'see, I've always found the story of Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina Von Bora, fascinating, and while I'm not entirely positive what I think about writing novels about real people (simply because I don't think I'd like a novel written about me years after I'm dead) that didn't lessen my interest in this book. Then, of course, I saw the gorgeous cover and was even more determined to read it.

   The historical background in the novel was interesting. I especially liked the first few chapters when Luther and Katharina first met; their conversations (arguments?) were most entertaining! The author didn't skimp on the religious nature of the reformation, either, which I appreciated.

   The one thing that knocks the rating down on this one, though, is that it was too romance-y for me, and I wouldn't recommend it to younger rea…

The Curiosity Keeper

The Curiosity Keeper Sarah E. Ladd Thomas Nelson
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of Lon…

In Good Company

In Good Company Jen Turano Bethany House
After spending her childhood in an orphanage, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm tend to bring about situations that have employers looking askance at her methods. After her most recent dismissal, Millie is forced to return yet again to an employment agency.

Everett Mulberry has suddenly and quite unexpectedly found himself responsible for three children he’s never met. Attempting fatherhood while also pacifying the less-than-thrilled socialite he intends to marry is made even more complicated when the children scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.

At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance–with each other. Everett is wary of Millie’s penchant for disaster, and she’s not entirely keen on another snobby, grumpy e…