Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Siren's Song

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Siren's Song
Mary Weber
Thomas Nelson


Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.


     I have been a hopeless flip-flopper on this series. The first book was intriguing, but also had several story issues and some content I didn't care for; then, I read the second book and decided I liked it. Finally, I began reading Siren's Song, and felt surprisingly indifferent the entire time: the first 2/3 of the book seemed to be mostly just a lot of talking, and I had a very difficult time becoming interested. There were a few things about the writing that bugged me (Nym said "I swear" so often I probably could have kept a tally chart) and I still never felt really attached to Nym.

     Things did pick up in the last third of the book (and Myles and Rasha remain my favorite characters--that's something that I wouldn't have expected from only reading the first book) but part of me wonders if one of the main reasons I didn't connect with Siren's Song was because it's been so long since I read Siren's Fury, thus leaving me struggling to remember just what exactly had last happened. With all of this, I really can't say what I think of this series as a whole. For this book itself, I'd say it was a bit of a miss for me, but it did have its moments.

Rating: 6

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Flower Workshop

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The Flower Workshop
Ariella Chezar
Ten Speed Press

     In which Hayden gets a book mainly because she likes looking at pictures of pretty flowers. It's true: I love flowers. Not to the extent of my botanist-in-training sister-- or, at least, I don't care so much for gardening--but I love flowers and hope that one day I can fill my future home with them. And The Flower Workshop is full of ideas on how to do that.

     Filled with bright colors and eye catching arrangements, it took me a while to actually read the text because I kept focusing on the pictures! Author Ariella Chezar shares a host of great tips, and I love how she references Dutch floral paintings, of which I happen to be very fond. In fact, most of the arrangements in here are worthy of a still life painting. And as someone who doesn't have a lot of experience in this area, it was good for a beginner.

     But mostly, I admit I just like looking at the pictures ;)

Rating: 9

I received this book for free from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Light of the Last

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Light of the Last
Chuck Black
Multnomah

After an accident left him temporarily blind, Drew Carter didn’t just regain his sight. He now sees what others can’t imagine–an entire spiritual realm of mighty beings at war. 
 
Forget the gift, Drew just wants his life back. Part of that involves Sydney Carlyle, a woman he is inexplicably drawn to. When he’s offered the chance to become a CIA agent, it seems the way to redeem his past. The only problem–his visions of the supernatural realm are increasing in frequency. 
 
It’s up to the warrior angel Validus and his hand-picked team of heavenly agents to protect the unbelieving Drew. Validus now knows that the young man is at the epicenter of a global spiritual war, and the angels must use a millennia of battle experience keep Drew alive, for the Fallen want him dead.
 
Surrounded by spiritual warriors and targeted by demons, Drew’s faced with an impossible decision that will forever alter the destiny of America...and his own soul.

     I first started reading these books because, even though they're not my normal reading material, I did enjoy Chuck Black's fantasy series. I also thought my brothers might like this series as well.

     This book is definitely one you'll want to read in order in the series, and it introduced several new characters. Actually, though it has been some time since I read the previous books, I think this book might be my favorite in the series. I admit that I was a little disappointed in that *SPOILER* the books seemed to be building up the fact that the warfare was about the last days, when it turned out to be about averting a major disaster in America. There was more to it than that, but it just seemed like a decrease in severity, even though the disaster would have been huge and impactful normally.*END OF SPOILER*

     While I'm not sure I agree with all of the interpretations of spiritual warfare and Biblical application, I do appreciate Black's handling of it, in both in his author's note at the beginning and the pages in the back full of Bible verses to supplement the story.

     So, while it's not particularly my type of book, it is exciting and action-packed and does an admirable job of combining a political thriller with a spiritual message.

Rating: 7

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lost Lake House

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Lost Lake House
Elisabeth Grace Foley
Second Sentence Press


The Twelve Dancing Princesses meets the heady glamor and danger of the Jazz Age 


All Dorothy Perkins wants is to have a good time. She’s wild about dancing, and can’t understand or accept her father’s strictness in forbidding it. Night after night she sneaks out to the Lost Lake House, a glamorous island nightclub rumored to be the front for more than just music and dancing…in spite of an increasingly uneasy feeling that she may be getting into something more than she can handle.

Marshall Kendrick knows the truth behind the Lost Lake House—and bitterly hates his job there. But fear and obligation have him trapped. When a twist of circumstances throws Dorothy and Marshall together one night, it may offer them both a chance at escaping the tangled web of fear and deceit each has woven…if only they are brave enough to take it.


     I love historical retellings of fairy tales (if you can't tell ;). I also love reading fiction set during the 1920s...which meant that I was quite intrigued by the idea of Lost Lake House. Despite being a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, we have but one heroine here, which is much more manageable within the size of this novella. However, it retains several iconic elements from the story that work wonderfully in the setting.

     The writing style is reminiscent of Grace Livingston Hill, or even L.M. Montgomery; this is the third story I've read by Elisabeth Grace Foley and her charming, old-fashioned writing style is something I always count on--and look forward to!

Rating: 8

I received an advance reader copy of this novella for free from the author in exchange for my unbiased review.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Bee-Friendly Garden

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The Bee-Friendly Garden
Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn
Ten Speed Press

     I've always been interested in bees, at least ever since I saw a particular Magic School Bus episode on the television as a kid. There's just something attractive to me about beekeeping and all of the things you can make out of beeswax and honey. I also love gardens, especially flower ones (although I don't have much of a green thumb) so when I saw this book I thought it might be a handy thing to have around when I'm actually able to plant a garden.

     One thing I wasn't expecting was just how much information on bees there was going to be; there was definitely a lot about flowers, but the focus was certainly on the bees. Though I had hoped there would be more on gardening in regards to beekeeping and honey production/taste, overall I thought that this book had a lot of good information. I liked that it not only showed what plants bees are drawn to, but also what plants they are not, or ones that can even be poisonous to the bees (or to humans in honey).

     Overall, a lovely book with informative text and some very nice pictures.

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