Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shakespeare for the Dutch

Becoming Bea

Leslie Gould

The Courtships of Lancaster County

Can Bea and Ben Turn Rivalry Into Romance? 
Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows. 

One person she'll never be able to find peace with though is Ben Rupp. They've known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

Free Amazon Ebook
     Becoming Bea is the fourth book in a series that smooshes together Shakespeare and Amish fiction. I read the first book in the series, Courting Cate, which I really enjoyed by the way, and so when I heard about Becoming Bea I was willing to give it a try. Courting Cate is free as an ebook right now. The amazon link is in the caption. 

      I don't particularly enjoy Shakespeare, the antiquated language while beautiful and complicated isn't really suited for everyday consumption. Much Ado About Nothing, the play Becoming Bea incorporates, is a comedy and one of the ones I enjoy. I do however really enjoy the way that Leslie Gould manages to incorporate the classic tales presented in the Shakespeare plays, but in a everyday, binge-able, and delicious format. I really enjoyed being able to recognize the classic Shakespeare touches. 

    I was hesitant to read the two middle books, Adoring Addie (Romeo and Juliet) and Minding Molly (A Midsummer's Night Dream), but I had no problem really getting into Becoming Bea. One of the touches I loved about it was the one up-ing that Bea and Ben got into. In the play it is more a match of wits, in the book spelling. Amish kids tend to go to school only through the eight grade, so learning for those who enjoy it is a special time. The spelling competition carried through the book spelling big words out like: S-H-A-K-E-S-P-E-A-R-E, and I loved it. 

Enjoy reading!. I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my complete and honest review. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mail Order Bride Part The Second

A Bride in Store

Melissa Jagears 

"Mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell is on her way to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store business when her train is held up by robbers and she loses her dowry. She's further thwarted upon arriving in Salt Flatts only to find Axel, her groom, away on business. 

Hoping a wife would push Axel to become a better business partner, William Stanton had encouraged him to seek a mail-order bride. With Axel gone, Will feels responsible for Eliza, so he finds her a place to stay and lets her help in the store. 

Working together isn't what they'd expected, and when Axel is further delayed, neither can ignore the sparks that fly. But Eliza is meant for Axel and is set on a future with the store, while Will is biding time until he can afford medical school. 

Their troubles are far from over when Axel returns to town, however, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

     A Bride in Store is a wonderful continuation of the book A Bride for Keeps or the novella Love by the Letter by Melissa Jagears. William, the protagonist, is the son of the two lovers in Love by the Letters and the young man who has a passion for medicine. Finally William has grown to adulthood and is trying, and failing, to find a way to make his dream of becoming a doctor true without any real financial support. Eliza is William's partner, Axel's, mail order bride. Eliza has a history of running stores and has come to Salt Flatts to have the chance to run her own business. 

     William and Eliza have very different ideas of how to run a store, and of course delicious pre-romantic sparks fly. All the while we are waiting for Axel, whom we don't want, to show up. By the time he does several very wonderful adventures and scandals have been tossed into the mix. 

     I loved reading about what happened to William. In A Bride for Keeps we meet William and just kind of love him. He was a fantastic minor character and makes an even better lead. Melissa Jagears did a wonderful job of separating the two books. This one isn't quite so angst-y as the first, but it definitely has its share of problems. 

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

By the Way: The final book in the trilogy is scheduled to be released sometime next year, so be on the look out!

Here is an excerpt, so you can try it for yourself. All you have to do if it comes up Failed to Load PDF is refresh the page. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Insight into the Bible

In the Field of Grace

Tessa Afshar

Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi's, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.

But God has other plans for her life.

While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is shocked to find one of the wealthiest and most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the dark, haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel’s destiny and the future of the whole world.

     In the Field of Grace is an absolutely enchanting novel about Ruth's struggle in the Bible. The storytelling fits in so well with the facts we are provided in the Bible, that is just flows. Nothing in the book refutes anything written in the Bible, but instead provides insight into the traditions and ways of the time period. 

     If you've ever read anything by Tessa Afshar, you know she also has a book about Rahab. In the Bible the genealogy of Jesus lists Salmone (Rahab's husband) as Boaz's father. However, it isn't certain if they are directly father and son, or if there is a few generations inbetween. A Pearl in the Sand puts Boaz as Rahab's direct descendant, but In the Field of Grace  does not. Although they do make a small connection. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend walking into In the Field of Grace with the expectation that it continues in the same timeline that A Pearl in the Sand left off. 

     I loved all the small little nuances of the book. Tessa Afshar managed to include so many insightful little pieces, from things like the temperament of Ruth's family to the origin of the Book of Ruth. It was absolutely brilliant! It certainly ranks with some of the best books I have read this year. 

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

A sample of the book can be found here: 

A video of my favorite scene can be viewed here: 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Little Greek Humor

A Bouquet of Love
Janice Thompson

Weddings by Design #4

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her huge Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant location on the Strand– directly across the street from the Rossis’ popular pizza place–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into Bella’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

Fan favorite Janice Thompson gives readers one more romp with Bella, Galveston, and the bustling wedding biz in the final installment of her popular series. Anyone who loves quirky families, loads of laughter, and tender romance will find themselves hooked

A Bouquet of Love is such an entertaining story. If you’ve ever watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding you already know the type of humor that just seeps through the book. A Bouquet of Love is the fourth book in the series, a series that focuses on a family in Galveston, Texas, but it isn’t necessary to read them in order if you don’t mind feeling like you’re on the outs in a few spots.

The book starts off by introducing you to Cassia Pappas,  a young woman working in her father’s Greek restaurant. She is oppressed by the Greek ethnocentrism and her father’s work as hard as a mule ways. When they open a new location right across from a pizzeria the rivalry flourishes! Her father has declared the pizzeria and anyone associated with it, the Rossis, off limits. That of course proves impossible because they have the run of the whole town!

I don’t think there was one thing I didn’t like about the story. The characters were fun, and lighthearted. I think I laughed every other page, I couldn’t stop. Plus, there was absolutely no crying to be found. The story moved at a steady forward pace, there weren’t any lags or boring build ups.

Aside from the plot, which was tremendous, the set up of the book itself made me laugh. Each new chapter starts with a fun saying right below the chapter number. One is “You might be Greek if you tell your mama you’re not hungry and she thinks you have an eating disorder.” After reading these and reflecting on my life, I think I might be Greek.

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

AMAZING History!

Thief of Glory

Sigmund Brouwer

…A boy coming of age in a time of war
…the love that inspires him to survive
      For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows his frail, troubled mother.
      Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

      The darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, as time and war will test their fortitude. The only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

     Thief of Glory is easily one of the best books I have read this year. I can't actually remember what I read this year, but it really made an impression. It was BE-YOU-TEE-FUL. The language carried me throughout the book. I was a little nervous walking into this book because concentration camp books tend to me really sad and just horrible, but once I started I couldn't stop.

     So the book goes through this kid's, Jeremiah, fight with concentration camps. Most stories about concentration camps surround the Jewish affliction, which makes this one rather interesting. Jeremiah is a young boy, about ten, when everything bad happens. The culture is so different than the one I am accustomed to. The book talks about all the pride surrounding marbles, and fighting among children.

     The book isn't related delicately. It is dirty, rough, and it makes you want to cry and flinch. Everything is so much more potent than most books you read. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who could handle reading it. The only thing that should be mentioned is that the story is told from two time periods, From the young man as he experiences and it is book-ended by the older Jeremiah's reflections.

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Let's Talk Pseudonyms

Annie's Stories

Cindy Thompson

Book 2 in Ellis Island Series

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

     Annie's Stories is a cute sequel to the first book in the series Grace's Pictures. I honestly did not know that they were part of a series. Imagine my surprise when I watched the Youtube video and found that they were linked. I think it is important to know that books are in a series. I recently just finished the rest of the Giver Quartet (who knew there were four?) and I find it particularly bothersome. Here is a picture of the first book. It was really cute and pretty similar to the second one. I recommend both, but you wouldn't have to necessarily read them in order. 

     So the book deals with both Annie's and Stephen's (the postman) perspectives and I found it hard to really invest myself because both characters wanted totally different things. I was really torn and frustrated with it that I couldn't empathize. I also found that that added a touch of unreal surrealism that made it seem a bit unrealistic.  I did enjoy idea about Annie's father and his stories, although I found a few parts of it confusing. If you are willing to overlook the confusing bits, the story is pretty cute. I also liked the historical accuracy, it added a sense of reality that the romance overlooked. 

      I found this video by the author going over the novel. I thought it was pretty cool. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

An Italian Mystery

The Proof

Cheryl Colwell

Shrouded in mystery, a precious relic known as Il Testamento, or The Proof, circulated among the early Christians for centuries. Before their deaths, its guardians hid it from their adversaries, leaving only a crude map of its location. 

For centuries, it lay in darkness. Until now. Reports of its existence have resurfaced, inciting an ancient rivalry between a ruthless group that seeks to destroy it, and a secret association that lusts for its power. 

Summoned to Siena by a grandfather he has never met, Gabriel Dolcini is thrust into a dark maze of danger. And into his divine destiny.

     I really enjoyed this book. It is so different then the books I usually read. It had so many duplicitous characters just as in real life motives aren't always pure or clear. Our belief system generally regards Islam as our biggest opposition, but this book makes an intriguing if not subtle point. Our greatest hindrance is often the existence of opposing factions and the desire for mainstream culture to have some say over the matters of Christ.I think that the point comes across in a ddelightfully teasing manner. 

     As for the plot itself, it is set in a fairly short period of time and it all happens so quickly. The characters take a bit of getting used to but once you come to know them they are rather like family. They may have annoying faults, but you cannot help but want to be around them. I did find this book really frustrating because you don't know what the reason behind everything I'd until practically the last chapter. Honestly I was like ugh! I wanted so badly to know what the proof is and at times not k owing what it was just made itconfusing . However, if you don't mind being confused for just a little.bit then it is certainly worth the three hundred and thirty pages. Also, it is only two dollars on the Kindle, I could not say the price of any other eBook. 

I do apologize for any mistakes that may appear. I wrote this review on a rather disobedient tablet. Happy Reading . 

I received a complimentary copy of this book I exchange for my honest review. 

Handing Over the Tongs Takes Years

A Place in His Heart

Rebecca DeMarino

The Southold Chronicles #1

She could cross an ocean, but could she ever win his heart?Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother. 

With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas's secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary's world is upended. How could she possibly leave her papa and her dear sister? 

And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband's broken heart?

     This book was really well constructed and quite fascinating. It reminds me of the style of Jody Hedlund: a somewhat serious and all consuming experience of a less elegant past. I loved the way style made the pages feel grimy in my hands, and I think the ability to make the raser feel such a potent and overwhelming emotion is nothing short of a blessing. 

     At a bit over three hundred pages the story eclipses somewhere near ten years of a not necessarily loving marriage. For ten long years these two struggle to come to peace with their positions in their relationship and their importance to the other. The book does go through a couple lengthy time skips, which is why it is important to keep an eye out for the dates, but focuses mainly on pieces that contain action. It is so easy to fall into the action because when you get back from the time jumps everything feels so comfortable and like you have been reading it for years. In all seriousness it really is very important to keep track of the dates so you are aware of how the story is progressing. 

     I really enjoyed the romance between Mary and Barnabas. At the start of the story she is so naive to believe that life will be without hurdles, but as the story progresses and she experiences tribulations she perserveres and holds tightly to her marriage vows. Barnabas must deal with the addition of another woman in his life after his live dies. I think the portrayal of their struggles is uplifting and a wonderful picture of what marriage could stick with. Anyway happy reading this summer!

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

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Life of a Wife of a Crook

A Woman of Fortune

Kellie Coates Gilbert

Texas Gold #1

     Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream. Her world is filled with designer clothes, luxury cars, and stunning homes. But her Neiman-Marcus lifestyle comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly, she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must start over against incredible odds to save her family–and discover a life worth living.
     Poignant and emotionally gripping, A Woman of Fortune reveals the many ways we deceive ourselves and how resilience of the heart is essential to authentic living. Drawing on her experiences as a legal investigator, author Kellie Coates Gilbert delivers emotionally gripping plots and authentic characters. Readers will love Claire’s unbending determination as she strives to keep her family from falling apart and learns to embrace the kind of fortune that lasts.

     As the first book in the Texas Gold series, I picked this book up from a completely new author and began a different sort of journey. Most of the stories I read are about young love. Rarely do I ever read a book where the main focus is on characters who are firmly established in the way of life because that is the way they have done it for twenty or thirty years. I know that if more books of this type and this caliber pass by my bookshelf I will be sure to invite them to stay a while.

     The subject matter of the book is for me relatable only through other readings and the television (Specifically a show called Leverage-although they would be the ones working to take down said husband). Anyway, apparently it is based off of an actual man who committed mass fraud. I wasn't conscious of major events like that at the time so it has no effect on my memory. I also have never had someone close to me lose their savings in someone else's Ponzi scheme. My closest encounter stems from The Nanny. So I feel like this book might be a bit touchy for those people who are actually reaped the consequences of a bad investment, but I couldn't say for sure.

     Aside from that, it was a well written very logical book. The emotions in the book were so realistic, and the logic behind the actions,  while not necessarily logic I would hold to, keeps in touch with who the characters are. It focuses on not only Claire's problems in dealing with this kind of corruption in the household, but also with her young daughter who particularly has trouble with the situation. It does touch on the other family member's problems with the revelation that the patriarch is a crook, but the daughter does get her own chapter. A Woman of Fortune is certainly worth at minimum a check out from the library to see if this book is your cup of tea.

I am very pleased to have come into contact with this book. I received a copy of it from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Vegas Wedding to Boot

Meant to Be Mine

Becky Wade

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel. 

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood. 

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime? 

     Another contemporary romance, Meant to Be Mine is ahead of the middle of the road. With rodeos, rushed weddings, and a land feud, it covers all the classic western adventures and pitfalls with a modern twist. 

     The focus of the book was Ty and Celia's relationship and reunion. With Addie to look out for, several more conflicts are developed. This book had multiple surprises and detours that I absolutely did not see coming, but in fact enjoyed quite thoroughly. I reread the book to try and see if I had just missed all of the signs because I was just consuming it far too quickly , and I did! The subtleties in this book were so intricate and so well woven into the larger picture that they were only obvious upon a reread. I would definitely  recommend rereading the book about a fortnight (or one book later) after finishing it to revel in the mysteries. 

     It is truly a light fluffy read, perfect for Summer. I also enjoyed the description of the setting. Celia lives in one of these doll house Victorians that I could just picture. It brought to mind a Chicago suburb that my Mom used to drive my sister and I through. So cute! 

    On a side note, Becky Wade has some really cool information about the models on the cover. I loved the idea of getting to know the models. It is truly worth looking at.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review. Enjoy reading!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An E-book Surprise

While Love Stirs

Lorna Seilstad

After graduating from Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery in 1910, Charlotte Gregory is ready to stir things up. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution--the gas stove--and certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the handsome Lewis Mathis to perform at her lectures. Lewis encourages her work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made--especially by this outspoken young woman.

When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?

Fan favorite Lorna Seilstad is back with a breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep readers guessing. Attention to historic detail adorns the timeless story of a young woman looking for true love and making her way in a rapidly changing world.

    Welcome to another wonderful second book in a series! This time I can proudly proclaim that I read the first book before I touched this one. However, I can also reassure you that the second book in the Gregory Sisters series, While Love Stirs, is perfectly capable of standing by itself. I know this because when I read this one I didn't realize that they were part of the same series. When I realized they were part of a series I let out a small screech in my psychology class. I nearly cried! It was so exciting. Both are excellent reads, and might just be worth reading in order. It isn't particularly angsty and certainly sugary sweet. I really enjoyed reading it. The lighthearted attitude and playfulness in light of some serious topics put me at ease. Charlotte and Joel had me laughing throughout the book. 

     It follows both Charlotte and her younger sister Tessa giving Tessa her chance in the spotlight once every few chapters. The point of view switches mainly between Charlotte and Joel, but switching to Tessa during her chapters. The conflicts while emotional to the characters don't seem very harrowing, and most of them are subtle problems without violence. It fits really well with light airy Summer reads. 

     A major focus of the book is a gas range stove and the author was quite thorough in the descriptions. I couldn't however imagine the actual thing. This might just be my inability to paint a picture of something so foreign to me, but I would recommend looking it up. It is actually the second book I've read with a gas range stove playing a fairly significant part. Maybe it is a new trend. 

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

Flowery Paintings

17623509.jpgWishing On Buttercups

Miralee Ferrell 

Can Love Survive When Secrets Collide? 

She’d kept her secrets safely hidden—those from her past, and those in the present. Some things, Beth Roberts knows, a lady simply doesn’t share, even in the 1880’s West. The townspeople would never understand. No one ever has. Jeffery Tucker, a handsome young writer, has kept his own secrets. He doesn’t have a right to pry into Beth’s affairs but finds himself strangely drawn to her and intrigued by the whiff of mystery surrounding her. Beth knows that one day someone will unravel the threads of her past. And when two men from her past arrive, the truth might just hurt . . . Beth’s future and her heart. As shadowy memories surface, Beth sketches the scenes she sees and is shocked by what—and who—her illustrations reveal. Dare she risk her heart again?
     As a little girl my auntie gave me the nickname Buttercup, so when I heard about this title I knew I had to read it. I enjoyed it, even though the buttercups really only showed up at the end with a fairly significant role. I found the characters very easy to imagine and quite colorful. I could easily see this book turned into a Hallmark movie. 

     The book left me an anxious feeling throughout reading it because of the suspense. It wasn't a violent suspense, but it made me extremely curious. Beth was very anxious and wary and while I could sympathize it did bother me. When Beth was happy it was a subtle feeling, but it was a delightful feeling. 

     I think this barely rates as a brand new paperback from amazon book. I think maybe more of a sale book or an e-book, but certainly a keeper. Rereading it is probably worth it after a period time maybe a few weeks or a month with license to skip over the particularly angst-y parts to your favorites. 

I got this book from a reviewing group in exchange for my honest review.  Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Second to One, Again.

One More Last Chance

Cathleen Armstrong

Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason--because it doesn't change. After an engagement gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip 'n' Dine, he's shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.

As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance--just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.

With the same evocative writing and fascinating characters that won fans for her debut novel, Cathleen Armstrong invites readers back to Last Chance for a soul-searching, romantic story of two people navigating the twists and turns of small-town life.

I’ve read a ton of Historical Westerns and I know every single archetype associated with it, and I have found that this contemporary western fit right in with the bunch. The title ties in with one of the smaller plotlines and is also the name of the town: Last Chance. Which I personally think sounds kind of ominous, but it wasn’t. The very small town. The town is very realistic, and I enjoyed the typical small town with larger personalities. The focus wasn’t really on Sarah’s family, as is normal, but on the people who live in town. I liked the change in focus from the family on the ranch to town. The minor characters were very life like and well developed, but I noticed some minor inconsistencies in Sarah. A the beginning she is very hung-ho no change, but that almost disappears with no reason why in the first half. I was under the impression that it was going to be a thing throughout the book so I found it’s rather abrupt abandonment confusing. Other than that, the characters are pretty predictable, which isn’t a bad thing. They acted just like normal humans would in the situations they faced.

The story is obviously a romance, and it is predictable in that facet, but the other plot line did come up quite unexpectedly and surprised me frequently (the plot line following Chris as opposed to the one mainly following Sarah). It switches between Sarah’s and Chris’ point of view and thankfully is not first person. The spiritual undertone is pretty subtle, but it does how through their actions. There is no cursing, nothing inappropriate, nor anything suggestive, but it does mention teenage pregnancy that isn’t aborted. Other than that everything is pretty fly.

It is the second book in a series, and I haven’t read the first one. It would certainly add to parts of it, but I don’t think it is necessary for understanding. It would add to certain parts of the book for deeper knowledge. I don’t know if I would spend the money on a paper copy of the book. I would definitely read it, but I would probably go the inexpensive e-book route or maybe to the library. I have already reread it once and it fell flat. It isn’t captivating enough to withstand too many rereads time after time. I reread books a lot, I actually go to my favorite sections and just relish in those parts. I don’t think this one would end up like those.
 I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Bunch of Brides on a Boat

The Pelican Bride

Beth White

It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for
the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself.  

Christians have been persecuted for as long as they have been following Christ. Now, in the United States we are blessed to be mostly separate from those afflictions. How often do we forget that our people are still being persecuted, still facing trials we consider to be ancient and only biblical. There was a time when Christians were not only persecuted but persecuted other Christians over doctrine and reading the Bible. One of the cool things about this book is that I am also descended from a French Huguenot and found it easy to relate to.

Genevieve is a French Huguenot, a far cry from the state religion of Catholicism. persecuted for her faith, and when put in a situation we couldn’t image she runs away to be a mail order bride. I thought from the summary that they were already given to specific men, and that those men had already paid the passage. It is not so, the women are brought over by the French Government to a Louisiana fort to help populate the area and keep the fort alive. They are allowed to choose (by accepting and denying proposals) their husbands. Which I personally think is a step up from the regular practice of answering newspaper ads.
The point of view kept it interesting, Most books are told from the heroine’s and the hero’s point of view. Somare are told from a whole cast of characters like the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, but Ms. White actually got a point of view from one of the snooty and really quite annoying characters. It was absolutely wonderful and very refreshing and kind of mind numbing because her thoughts and problems were so petty.

The novel did have a lot of historical facts, and they sometimes got really confusing so I had to skim over them. The nice part of so many unnecessary facts was that the reader got a really indepth sense of what it was like to  live in that time period in that area. Most of the characters in the book are fictional, not one of the young brides who comes to the fort was based on an actual bride. The two share several events. I was actually surprised that the rest of the characters were all fictional, they seemed to fit the area and time very well.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When the Lilacs Come and Bloom

One Perfect Spring
Irene Hannon

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he's used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn't asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an elderly neighbor.

As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire's will become--nor how one little girl's kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings.

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, Irene Hannon offers readers this tenderhearted story of family connections that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms often come only after the harshest winters.

     Spring has come (and fled) from Washington DC already this year. With every day of the week crawling hopelessly into the high eighties and nineties I am desperate to crawl back into the cool delicacy of Spring. Northerners, sigh. One Perfect Spring is a great reflection of almost everything spring represents. It is also contemporary fiction, which doesn't show up on my bookshelf very often because for some reason historical fiction seems to be really popular right now. So I find all of it very refreshing. (FYI, maybe half of the books this month will be contemporary fiction, a perfect cleansing from all the historical fiction to go along with Spring.)
cute doo-dad

     I enjoyed all the little subplots in the book, practically every character had their own little details to be busy with. Technically speaking, the book is third person but it switches so often between all the characters, even the ones that don't seem as prevalent. It does have a lot more of Keith's and Claire's point of view than anyone else's, but those little glimpses are really cool.  My dad was telling me the other day that he didn't like the third book in the Divergent series, he is really into fluffy sci-fi it is kind of funny, because it switched the point of view at the chapter and he found it hard to recognize which person was speaking. It really bothered him, thankfully point of view does not change at the chapter mark, but all over and is handily signaled by these cute little doo-dads.  Plus, she always manages to subtly but noticeably point out who is talking in the first sentence or two. 

     With almost four hundred pages to read, it is pretty hard to put down because you just want to know if Maureen, the older neighbor lady, gets to meet her son. I am telling you I was on pins and needles. Yup. Now I know, and you have to read to find out. The whole book revolves around adoption  and new beginnings. I don't get a chance to read much in the way of adoption books, especially modern ones, so I relished this one. I have to admit, it did make me cry. A lot. I cried through one third of the book easily, in my defense I am a bit of a leaky faucet so I have a good excuse. You can try it out for yourself and see how much you cry. Not that the crying was all sad, mind  you, sometimes everything gets so happy you absolutely must cry. Besides, crying is healthy. It washes out  your tear ducts. Plus, the Lord keeps your tears and they are precious to him: 

You number my wanderings;

Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
Psalms 56:8

     The whole book reflects this idea of seeking comfort in the Lord. The book cover the backsliders and the mourners. The one thing I did not like was the lack of power concerning healing. Other than that, it slowed everything down to contentment. 

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Scandalous Second

Mark of Distinction

Jessica Dotta

London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.

Now under the watchful eye of Lord Roy Pierson, one of most influential men in England, Julia begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy’s power is far-reaching as well, and he is eager to assert his claim over her.

Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan.

     I'm going to start this post with the story of how I encountered this series. I have a tendency to visit a Bethany House Free E-book web page every day. I think this site has alerted me to more than fifty free e-books in the last few months. A bit more than a month ago I found this book on the Tyndale bloggers webpage, thought it looked interesting and signed up for it. Maybe a week later I found a book called Born of Persuasion as a free e-book. During school one day when I was particularly bored I decided to read it. I really liked it, so I went looking for the second book in the series and lo and behold: I ordered it through reviewing! I was so excited I screeched. 

     Saying that, it is necessary to read them in order. The series really builds depth of intrigue from novel to novel and it almost reaches the gothic novel level. The book isn't a light easy fluffy read, and I think that it suits the period of time that the book is set in. Julia, our heroine, does get a bit whiny and Mary-Sue-ish, but I think it really adds to the underlying hysteric tone. Really well done. 

     As to being the second, it was really fulfilling. Without mentioning any specifics, you get to learn a lot more about the circumstances that caused and surround the situation and we finally learn more about Macy. We also get more Edward, so cute how couldn't you like him? There is of course more romance, which leads me to the love rectangle. I don't personally like reading about love triangles and etc, but it was however tastefully done and thankfully simplified. During any one scene we only deal with one of the three or four triangles that make up the rectangle at a time. With this girl it is practically all roads lead to Edward.  

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