Saturday, December 19, 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 page in a little less than an hour. Overall, I really like this book, and I'm sure I will be getting a lot of use out of it.

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

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 the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

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 history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

     I knew from the start that this book would have a different "feel" than the other books that I've read by this author, and I was right.Until the Dawn had a more prominent religious theme, for one thing (which I didn't mind at all) and the setting/mood seemed a little different, too.

     Sophie was such a sweet, refreshing heroine! I've read a few reviews that said she was a naive Mary Sue character whose incessant cheerfulness was unrealistic and annoying; this offended me. Being cheerful and nice to others who don't deserve it is not naive, it's a choice, and I think that was what the book was showing. ahem. I'll get off my soapbox now. (I also loved that fact that what she really wanted to do in life was to be a wife and mother, because that's not something you find a lot of--most historical heroines follow the "all I want is a career" track which is incredibly over-done)

     Quentin was more difficult to like as a character; it wasn't that I didn't necessarily understand where he was coming from, but he still was begging for a bucket of ice water thrown onto his head in the first half of the book. While I did grow to like him, I think I just didn't fall in love with the characters' relationship. I liked them both separately, but I wasn't totally enthusiastic about them together. (also *SPOILER* I was a little unsure about Quentin's relationship with God at the end--so did he become a Christian, or was he just "open" to it? Because if the latter that also brings up relationship issues...*END OF SPOILER*)

     I think my favorite aspect of this book, aside from the mystery of the house, was the supporting cast of characters--the bodyguards, for example, and the group of archaeologists and biologists. I especially loved the bit where everyone was involved with Sophie in making chocolate.

     However, while this book had a lot of good aspects, all together it felt like something was missing or lacking. It didn't mesh together as well as it should have, and in some places the actual writing didn't seem as good as I normally expect from Elizabeth Camden's novels. I never felt bored during it, but it didn't keep me flipping pages in the way that Against the Tide, With Every Breath, or Beyond All Dreams did. That being said, I still enjoyed this book, and it did have some unusual elements and little-known historical facts that gave it the little extra spice that most Christian fiction novels lack.

Rating: 8

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