Friday, April 29, 2016

Anchor in the Storm

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Anchor in the Storm
Sarah Sundin
Revell

One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance--and Danger 

For plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he "is" her brother's best friend. 
During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection? 

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won't soon forget.

     I absolutely loved the first book in this series, so I entered into this book with high expectations and hopes. I did like the plot, although I didn't care for this book as much I did Through Waters Deep. I never really connected to the characters, and for some reason I felt like this one wasn't as well-written as Sarah Sundin's other books. There seemed to be a little too much exposition in explaining the character's personalities rather than the reader simply getting to know them through their actions, but maybe I'm just being picky ;). Anchor in the Storm was still a good read, and there are some neat historical and locational details slipped into it that I particularly enjoyed.

Rating: 7 1/2

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Flight of Arrows

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A Flight of Arrows
Lori Benton
Waterbrook

It is said that what a man sows he will reap--and for such a harvest there is no set season. No one connected to Reginald Aubrey is untouched by the crime he committed twenty years ago.

Not William, the Oneida child Reginald stole and raised as his own. Identity shattered, enlisted in the British army, William trains with Loyalist refugees eager to annihilate the rebels who forced them into exile. Coming to terms with who and what he is proves impossible, but if he breaks his Loyalist oath, he'll be no better than the man who constructed his life of lies.

Not Anna, Reginald's adopted daughter, nor Two Hawks, William's twin, both who long for Reginald to accept their love despite the challenges they will face, building a marriage that bridges two cultures.

Not Good Voice and Stone Thrower, freed of bitterness by a courageous act of forgiveness, but still yearning for their firstborn son and fearful for the future of their Oneida people.

As the British prepare to attack frontier New York and Patriot regiments rally to defend it, two families separated by culture, united by love, will do all in their power to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.
 

     A beautiful novel filled with mercy and forgiveness, A Flight of Arrows is probably one of the best Christian books that I've read this year. Perhaps this is because it's difficult for hard-hearted me to actually be emotionally impacted by a book. But this one certainly succeeded where others have failed. It's rich with history and flawed but sympathetic characters who are able to overcome their pasts through the grace of God.

     The feel of this book reminds me of Last of the Mohicans, with all of the turmoil contained within-- only A Flight of Arrows has a strong, moving Christian theme. I recommend reading the first book in this series since, as the author has said, this duology is really one story that happens to be broken into two books. Due to some romance and mature themes I'd recommend this one to older readers, but even so, this is a stellar work from a talented author.

Rating: 9

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Land of Silence

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Land of Silence
Tessa Afshar
Tyndale Publishers

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

     I've said before that I'm not a big Biblical fiction reader...I mentioned it in my last fiction review, in fact.

     Well, this is awkward. *blushes*

     In all honesty, though, I have read Tessa Afshar's other books, and I enjoyed them. In fact, I think the author's writing has even gotten better over time. It's not that the author's writing was ever bad, it's just that I slipped easily into the language of this novel and noticed a  difference in the style (in a good way).

     Sometimes the story was hard to read about because Elianna's life was so difficult, and on top of that, she could be maddeningly stubborn. (And I couldn't help but get angry at some of the character's actions--goodness, despite the fact that she blamed herself for her brother's death, it really wasn't her fault). It had some great secondary characters, though, and a lovely ending.

Rating: 8

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hairstyled

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Hairstyled
Anne Thoumieux
Potter Style

You don’t need to be a professional to get show-stopping hair. Hairstyled presents 75 deceptively simple techniques for creating your favorite high-fashion hairstyles. Dress up your everyday look with a ballerina bun or accessorize with a scarf bow. Turn heads at special occasions with the woven crown braid or a regal bouffant. 

Each style has how-to photographs that are easy to follow, and chapters dedicated to a variety of hair lengths and textures help you update your look whether you have a pixie cut or long, curly tresses. With product tips and countless ideas for accessorizing your ’do and inventive variations on classic styles, Hairstyled is your guide to getting gorgeous hair every day.

     I feel like this is a book that I would be much more impressed with if I wasn't such a Pinterest user. While there were one or two hairstyles in this book that I hadn't seen before, most of them I was already familiar with. The directions themselves were so-so (again, on the level of a Pinterest how-to). This isn't really an issue for some of the easier hairstyles, but might cause a few moments of confusion for the more difficult ones. There are some lovely hairstyles in here, but there are also some that look like they were just thrown together at the last minute with no thought of whether or not they actually looked good. (For instance, I have no idea what was going on with the "Straight With a Twist" style. Also, some of the hairstyles that used gel looked weirdly greasy and unattractive.)

     There are some pretty braids and buns, but most of these styles are probably geared for someone who is a bit more of a beginner in the hairstyling department. There are still some instructions I'll definitely use, though, and it's nice to have a book full of inspirations on days when I'm out of ideas.

Rating: 7

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Counted With the Stars

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Counted With the Stars
Connilyn Cossette
Bethany House


A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she's only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she's ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?


     I was first drawn to this book by its beautiful cover- those stars are simply gorgeous, and when I saw the hieroglyphics trailing along the bottom edge, I knew that the synopsis was sure to intrigue me even before I read it.

     I'm a little wary when it comes to Biblical fiction because I'm not always keen on making stuff up about Bible characters. I've certainly read a few good ones, but generally I tend to avoid them. However, what I loved about this book was that it was about completely fictional characters set during a specific Biblical event- the plagues of Egypt. (There was one appearance by a Bible character, but it was well-done and was one of my favorite parts of the book)

     My favorite parts were definitely those set in Egypt, although I really would have liked more- it seemed a little rushed and I would have liked the book to focus a little more on life during the plagues. There was a lot of talking about things. These weren't done horribly but did seem a little like information dumps, especially when you're someone who's already familiar with the stories and/or theology these moments are trying to tell. The writing itself was pleasant, although nothing that really stands out from the rest of the Christian fiction market (although it was written in first person, which is a little rarer in that genre). Overall, though, my favorite aspect of this book was by far the setting. It made the book stand out to me, and has put this author on my to-watch list.

Rating: 8

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