Sunday, August 30, 2015

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 something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

   After reading The Culper Ring series by Roseanna White, I knew I could look forward to any other books of hers. Of course, being also a reviewer for Bethany House, I couldn't help but be excited when I saw this series!

   The Lost Heiress is a lovely bit of escapism, bringing to mind the elegance of a Downton-Abbey-like setting mixed with the fairy-tale-ish plot of Fox's Anastasia. (It reminded me at times of Lori Wick's The Hawk and the Jewel,too, except better written) I admit I was a little worried when I saw the large cast list at the beginning of the book, but despite my early-on misgivings, the introductions of the characters were done well, so I never got anyone confused. I'm also fond of multiple POVs anyway, so that didn't bother me.

   While I liked Justin and Brook, I also loved many of the secondary characters- Especially Brook's father (he was such a dear!) and the flirtatious but good-hearted Brice (and the next book in the series is about him- hooray!) Any complaints I'd have would be a few more-than-necessary kisses and the ending seemed a tad bit more dragged out than needed. Also, I do admit that I probably liked the first half of the book more than the second half, simply because I liked seeing Brook become acquainted with her biological family.

   Overall, though, I'm anticipating the next two books in the series: The Reluctant Duchess and The Waiting Lady. Can't wait!

Rating: 8 1/2

I received this book courtesy of the author and publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

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 publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 24, 2015

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


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

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 and the humor of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, you will be captivated by “Anne of Green Gables,” My Daughter, and Me. It’s a beautiful memoir that deftly braids three lost girls’ stories together, speaks straight to the heart of the orphan in us all, and shows us the way home at last.

I'm not usually a big memoir reader, but any mention of Anne Shirley usually interests me. An author who appreciates Anne and L.M. Montgomery as much as I do? GIVE ME THE BOOK.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. It leaned very heavily on Anne-ish things in the beginning, but soon delved more deeply into the author's life. Sometimes it seemed a little strange for me that she didn't mind sharing so much (or that the people she was talking about didn't mind either) but hey, I guess we're different kinds of people.

Adoption isn't something I'm overly familiar with, at least not in my own family, so it was fascinating to look at a parent who not only has adopted, but was adopted herself. It gave me a lot more insight in to what goes through a person's head when they are in that situation. Also, this book did make me laugh out loud a couple of times, which is always a good sign.

Rating: 8

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

Friday, August 7, 2015

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 characters were interesting and I enjoyed reading about Bryony and Putta; the Doctor is, of course, as fun as ever (although he wasn't as much of a main character as Bryony was...he was prominent, of course, but you still sort of get the idea he's not the main character of this tale) Aside from typical Doctor Who weirdness, there wasn't anything really objectionable aside from a single use of the Lord's name in vain and a couple mentions of evolution. Well, and the creepy factor. But I didn't find it too bad.

   I did find The Drosten's Curse a little confusing, though, especially since there were so many things going on at once and a lot of minor secondary characters. Sometimes it made my head hurt (and it didn't help that headaches played a large part in the story itself!) and I felt the plot could have been a little more streamlined. I don't usually mind a lot of different story threads at once, but there were a couple times there was so much going on that I felt a little like I was reading a muddle. I did like the formatting of the book, though-- it wasn't broken up into chapters, but rather scenes. It felt more in tune to the format of the TV show that way.

Overall, I recommend The Drosten's Curse to Who fans, new or old.

Rating: 7

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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Til We Meet Again

'Til We Meet Again: A Memoir of Love and War   -     By: Ray Whipps, Betty Whipps, Craig Borlase

Til We Meet Again
Ray & Betty Whipps with Craig Borlase

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 letters scattered throughout, Til We Meet Again did take me a couple chapters to get into, but I ultimately enjoyed it. It was mostly about Ray and his experience's during the War, which were both fascinating and horrifying at the same time. As I read, I couldn't help but be so impressed at what the soldiers and the nurses had to go through. Honestly, I don't think I have half the gumption these folks did.

    Recommended to World War Two buffs, those interested in "real-life" stories, and to anyone who wants a look at the lives of Christians during one of history's toughest times.

Rating: 8

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