Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beyond All Dreams


Beyond All Dreams
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House

     Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help. 

     Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. 
     Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress. 
     From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for themselves?

Ah, I do like Elizabeth Camden's books and this one was no exception.  While Beyond All Dreams isn't my favorite book by Elizabeth Camden, that doesn't mean I didn't love it.

Of course, having the heroine be a librarian was bound to interest me, and I could see the research the author went to in the setting and plot of the story. Speaking of plot, this one had a variety of twists and turns (including one I didn't expect at all!) that made it interesting. I also enjoyed the relationship between Anna and Luke; Beyond All Dreams had some great dialogue and the conversations between the two of them were a highlight. Anna and Luke were both likable and personable (and I loved how he called her by her last name...I don't know why. Maybe because romances always jump to first names, even when historically speaking it wouldn't be appropriate, so it was a nice change here)

Overall, this is another solid novel from one an author who has quickly become one of my favorites.

Objectionable content: a couple kisses. There was nothing really explicit or "bad" in this book; it just had a more "mature" feel to it.

Rating: 9

Monday, January 26, 2015

No Greater Valor

No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle that Sealed Allied Victory
Jerome Corsi
Thomas Nelson

Jerome Corsi's newest opus, No Greater Valor, examines the Siege of Bastogne-one of the most heroic victories of WWII-with a focus on the surprising faith of the Americans who fought there.
In December of 1944, an outmanned, outgunned, and surrounded US force fought Hitler's overwhelming Panzer divisions to a miraculous standstill at Bastogne. The underdogs had saved the war for the Allies. It was nothing short of miraculous.
Corsi's analysis is based on a record of oral histories along with original field maps used by field commanders, battle orders, and other documentation made at the time of the military command. With a perspective gleaned from newspapers, periodicals, and newsreels of the day, Corsi paints a riveting portrait of one of the most important battles in world history.

I've recently been diving into more non-fiction, and as I lately finished Unbroken, I was eager to try another book about WWII, especially since this story in particular sounded so interesting.

This is a book that's really hard for me to review because, as I'm by no means a military expert- alas, I'm pretty much the opposite- many things here went straight over my head. There were a lot of military tactics I didn't understand, and while there were portions of this book I found to be interesting, for the most part I was pretty lost and struggled through all that I read (I got about halfway through before just skimming bits of the rest) I can't really give this book a "bad" review because I don't necessarily think it was a bad book; rather, I don't think I was its intended audience. Thus, if you're interested in military/World War history and are a bit more savvy on the subject than I am, I'm sure you'll enjoy this book. However, since I don't really feel qualified, I don't think I'll give this one a number rating.

Rating: N/A

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

Monday, January 12, 2015

Knitting Block By Block


Knitting Block By Block
Nicky Epstein 
Potter Craft

Since I fully admit that I'm not the most talented of knitters, this book greatly appealed to me. Since every project is made of much-easier-to-handle blocks, I figured it would be a good way to get back into to knitting. So far, I've only tried one block (and a really easy one at that) but it seems to be working out fine.

I do have a couple of complaints, though. The first is that while there are some really beautiful block designs that I loved, some are really unattractive (and in many cases the colors shown in the examples don't help their case) Also, I would have loved more projects to use the blocks in. There are about ten projects (such as purses, scarves, and afghans) but there were really only two or so that I would consider making. The rest were either not my style, or they were -I'm sorry to say- just plain ugly.

However, there are a lot of techniques in here that I'd like to learn, and there are so many block patterns that even with the ones I disliked, I have plenty to keep me busy for a long while yet.

Rating: 7

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

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Like a Flower in Bloom


Like a Flower in Bloom
Siri Mitchell
Bethany House

Since Siri Mitchell has given us several highly enjoyable historical novels, I had high expectations for this book. Sadly, it might be one of my least favorites by her- I'm struggling with the rating here, actually.

While the writing was certainly more than fair, the heroine, Charlotte, drove me crazy. While I understand (sort of) what the author was doing in her ignorance of "Society," Charlotte's extreme ineptitude of any social skills at all made me annoyed with her for the same reasons I never could read the Amelia Bedelia books as a child- I just got frustrated.

That's not to say that there weren't things that I enjoyed about it; the ending, for instance, got significantly better. And I found Miss Templeton interesting, because at first I thought she was going to be a "false friend" and Charlotte was going to find out that she was making fun of her. However, I was pleased that that didn't happen, and in all honesty I found her to be one of the more interesting characters.

Anyway, this book was a miss for me- but I've noticed that my enjoyment of Siri Mitchell's releases tend to alternate (I loved her last book but didn't care for her novel before that; meanwhile her fourth novel past was one of my favorites). I hope her next one is much better, but I admit I didn't care for this one.

Rating: 6

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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Both of Me


Both of Me
Jonathon Friesen

(the book blurb is pretty long, so you can read it here)

Do you ever read a book and realize that, objectively, the book isn't bad, but it just isn't for you? That's how I feel about this book. My sister asked me what it was about, and I did my best to tell her.

"Well, that sounds interesting," she said.

Exactly. That's what I thought, too, which was why I decided to read it. However, it quickly became clear that this wasn't a book for me. I struggled to get through it and probably wouldn't have finished except for the fact that I had received it for review (and after all, it's not very long, anyway). I didn't really connect to the characters, and while I technically understood what was going it, it was difficult for me to understand why it was happening and why characters were doing certain things. Thus, I didn't find it terribly interesting because I didn't necessarily care about what was going on. (there was also one scene I didn't care for, either)

So while I have read several good reviews of this book, I guess you're enjoyment of it depends on what type of person you are. And I guess I just wasn't the right type.

Rating: 4 1/2

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