Tuesday, June 16, 2015

To Capture Her Heart

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To Capture Her Heart
Rebecca DeMarino
Revell

It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montauk tribe, is enjoying her wedding feast when her groom is killed and she is kidnapped by a rival tribe and held for ransom. Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is nonetheless left to die in a Connecticut forest--until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her long friendship with family friend Benjamin Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice--stay true to her friend or follow her heart.

   Last year, I found myself reading Rebecca DeMarino's A Place in his Heart. I really liked reading a historical book set in a time period that doesn't normally get a lot of fiction about it, so I decided to try its sequel, To Capture Her Heart.

   There were a lot of characters in this book, and I found it a little confusing, even though I'd read the first book in this series. Also, the romance seemed to move way too fast-- Dirk was convinced he was in love with Heather Flower after they'd met for like, five minutes it seemed. Maybe that wouldn't have been so bad if I'd been able to connect to the characters, but I didn't. I was kind of interested in Patience and Jeremy, though. I think the next book is about Patience, so even though I didn't care for this book, I'd be willing to read the next one.

   I rarely-very rarely- leave review books unfinished. But I had a really hard time getting into this one and ended up skimming the rest after a certain point. I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy this one, though. It just wasn't my cup of tea. Still, I think I'd like to try the conclusion to this series, even so.

Rating: 5

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

Pssst! There's now a giveway for this book on the author's blog! You can find it here. The giveaway is open from July 15th through the 22nd. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Choosing (Blog Tour)

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The Choosing
Rachelle Dekker
Tyndale

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority. 

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within. 

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

   I admit when I first heard the premise for this book I was a little worried. "The Choosing?" Oh no. Was this going to be some Divergent-ish YA that's been done a million times?

   However, I needn't have worried. Two seconds after I opened the book I went..."Oh. That kind of choosing. Okay, this is different." While this book definitely has its similarities to other Dystopian novels, I can honestly say that the plot was unlike those I'd read before.

   That being said, I did find the book somewhat frustrating as a reader (often in the same ways I found Lauren Oliver's Delirium, which, by the way, I didn't finish). The cult-like society that twisted the Words of God into something for their own benefit never failed to make me seethe, and sometimes Carrington frustrated me because I felt like she just didn't get it.

   However, the book wrapped up better than I had hoped, was filled with several plot elements I wasn't expecting, and overall I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 8

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

About the Author

The oldest daughter of "New York Times" bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair. Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.

Author Q&A
1. How did you come up with the story for The Choosing? This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I’d been toying with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington’s core revelation and story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the story around her. That’s usually how it works for me. I come up with a character, good or bad, and create the story from there. 

2. You based your main character, Carrington, off of your younger sister. In what ways is Carrington like her? It’s more the beliefs that Carrington struggles with that remind me of my sister. The idea of worth, of not feeling like you’re enough, or questioning whether anyone would choose you. Carrington came about as I spent time with my sister and her college-age friends and saw that a large majority of them were searching for significance, searching for worth—none more than my sister at the time. 

3. Throughout the book, Carrington struggles with understanding her identity and worth and what is true. Why did you decide to write about the theme of identity? Someone once asked me, If you could leave one message for your younger sisters, what would it be? The answer was always the same: I would pray they knew what they were worth. Identity is everything. There isn’t a theme that doesn’t start with identity, or circle back to identity. Knowing who you truly are is the greatest journey we face. Am I enough; am I worth it? I believe everyone faces these questions, and I sought out to explore them through this story. 

4. Do you think women tend to struggle with identity more than men? I don’t think women struggle with identity more then men. Not at all. I just think we struggle differently. As a woman I understand the identity struggle from a female perspective more, but I think most men wonder if they’re enough just as much as women do. We are all the same at our core, really. We are on this earth for a short time, trying to figure out our purpose and worth. Searching for recognition, usually in all the wrong places. The truth I am discovering is that there is no need for searching. The truth already resides inside of us. The Father has already marked us as chosen, worth it; He has already given us a purpose. It’s only a matter of looking inward to the soul and to the Creator of that soul to find our worth. 

5. One of the story’s most significant lines is, “Life is a journey of remembering and forgetting.” What do you mean by this? It means exactly what you probably think. We have these flashes of clarity where we see so clearly who we are—and our connection to the Father—but then, in a single moment, something pulls our attention away and we forget who we are. This is the journey of life, remembering and forgetting. But I believe the more we remember, the more we set our gaze on the Father, the less often we forget. 

6. What do you hope readers will take away from the story? I hope readers are filled with joy and power as they either realize for the first time who their Father is and what they are really worth, or as they simply remember this truth. 

7. Did you discover anything about your own identity through the writing process? I will steal a line from Ted Dekker on this one: “I write to discover.” They are one and the same. Even when I think there’s nothing left to discover, if I let myself be open to discovery, it almost always comes. So yes, I did. And I told my husband, if nothing ever comes of this book, it would still have been worth writing because of the way it impacted my life. 

8. What would you say to the person who is struggling, trying to find their identity in temporary, unsatisfying places? I would say we have all been there, and that those places will only serve as a prison in the end. They may seem like happiness now, but eventually they will become suffering. But that’s just part of the journey of identity. Some people need to learn the hard way—I did for sure! I searched for significance in darkness and somehow the Father still led me to the light. So when I see people going through what I did, I empathize, but also know that in a single moment they can discover their true identity. 

 9. The Choosing is the first of a three-book series. What can we expect in the next two books? More struggles with identity, but in different ways. Familiar characters dealing with fear and worry and forgiveness. We’ll walk with our characters as they continue to understand the true way of Aaron’s Father. More excitement, more romance (of course), and more self discovery. 

 10. What is it like being Ted Dekker’s daughter? Did your father help you with the writing process? Being Ted’s daughter is wonderful! He’s the best, but then I hope many daughters feel that way about their fathers. He is a bit of a mystery, though. Sometimes, even sitting at the dinner table, I can tell he’s lost in thought, and I wonder what it might be like to have his mind. It’s been a blessing to watch him write and struggle with writing, so that now when I struggle I have an understanding ear to talk off. He is always willing to talk me through the emotional and mental side of writing (which is where the biggest battles lie in wait) but as far as story, for the most part he lets me fend for myself. It’s always been important to me to write through my challenges on my own. To figure out scenes alone. In fact, he didn’t even read The Choosing until I was already in conversations with Tyndale about publication. I think that’s because he wanted me to believe I could do it on my own. But when I doubt my ability as a writer, and when I forget who I am, he is the one I call. And he reminds me that life is a journey of remembering and forgetting, and helps me in remembering once again. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit

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A Worthy Pursuit
Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House


Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her. Should Stone break his perfect record?

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart. 


   A Worthy Pursuit fits right in with Karen Witemeyer's other books and while there were a couple aspects to it I didn't care for, overall it was a fun read. If you've enjoyed this authors books before (as I have!) then I'm sure you'll want to try this one.

   I loved the plot, and I loved the three children that Charlotte had taken under her wing! Lily's obsession with dime novel heroes was so adorable, especially in the way it ended up playing out in the story. Sometimes I wish I had gotten a little more time with the boys, who were also equally interesting. I also really liked the other secondary characters, like Dan, Dobson, and Marietta.

   Stone and Charlotte were both likable, and while I was at times a little frustrated with Charlotte's distrust of men, once I learned her backstory I understood it.

   Really my only real complaint it that it was a little too romance-y for me. There was one kissing scene that I skimmed over and a few briefly mentioned kisses after that, but my problem was mostly with the characters being distracted by each other. I'm not saying I see anything wrong with people being attracted to each other, I just don't like reading about it :) However, this was mostly in the beginning: once the action started picking up, it wasn't so much of a problem.

   In conclusion, A Worthy Pursuit was a really cute book. While I don't think it was quite as funny as some of the author's previous novels, it was still worthwhile and I enjoyed it a lot more than her last book, Full Steam Ahead.

Rating: 8

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