Thursday, May 21, 2015

Christian Dystopia

The Choosing

Rachelle Dekker
Seer Novels

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.
The Choosing was a really interesting take on a Christian Dystopia. Religious zealots and the misinterpretation of the Bible, as well as false witness, is something that we already see. Taking a look through history it isn't like it hasn't happened before, and that was what made The Choosing an incredibly spine chilling read. Aside from being spine chilling it was also really fast paced. There wasn't a moment into the book where I could tolerate being away from what was going on for any real period of time. It was  Amazing!

Because it is dystopian fiction there are a few things that you need to watch out for. Rachelle Dekker has a gift to completely gross you out in a really short passage. She didn't spend any real time on the gross stuff. Compared to the length of the book, but man did they stick with you. There is definitely a minimum age of this book. Anyone who has played. Violent video game, watched a crime tv show, or read any other
Dystopian fiction will totally be able to handle it.

About the layout of the book: the chapters begin with a large number embedded in the text (like Those books where the very first letter of a new chapter is capitalized) which makes the first one really confusing because you want to think of it as an "I" when it is in fact a 1; flashbacks into Carrington's life are in italics; and the background on how this particular society came to be in enclosed within five darker colored page sections called Histories (which are really cool).

I absolutely cannot wait to read the second book! I have no doubt that it will be just as wonderful as the first.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Enjoy reading!
Don't forget to click on the cover to read an excerpt. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Third, the Final, but no longer the Theater

As Love Blooms

Lorna Seilstad

The Gregory Sisters

     Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturalist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park--and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

   This is the third in the series, and probably the final (as Tessa is the youngest), and there was quite the jump between the second and third. In the second, we leave off remembering Tessa wanting to act, now we are inundated with her desire to design gardens several years in the future. 

    It was a fantastic book, making be guess and be satisfied at knowing the outcome at the same time. I really enjoyed catching up with all the sisters. I highly recommend the series. 

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. Enjoy reading! Click on the cover to read an excerpt. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Almost Makes Me Want to Like Football.

From the Start
Melissa Tagg
Walker Family Series 1

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. 

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?

To begin, if you are going to read From the Start you should start with the novella Three Little Words. Three Little Words is currently free as an e-book, and because it is a novella it is really short. It is kind of prequel-ish to From the Start. It clues you in on some events talked about in the book, but is in no way necessary to understand what is going on.

The setting was pretty cool. When we read small town books, especially recently, they are generally set in Texas. This is set in Iowa. It brought up more locations that I, a mid-west girl myself, could relate to and picture in my mind. It was a nice change from the usual southern drawl. As I have learned, small towns don't really change all that much.

Kate Walker grew up in a small town with no football tendencies, but when a NFL player shows up in her house, all of a sudden she is willing to learn. There were some really cute scenes surrounding her learning how to play football. I was one of those people who only went to one football game during high school, so I thought it was kind of cool to see her struggle with understanding it.

The book deals with some nasty diseases, including cancer and leukemia, and also with some traumatic childhood experiences. None of the situations were cliché or ill-done. They felt genuine and inspired huge levels of sympathy on my part.

I received a copy of this book from the author, Melissa Tagg, and I loved it! I can't wait for more in the Walker Family Series. Enjoy Reading! (And don't forget to click on the cover to read an excerpt). 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Long Awaited Sequel Has Finally Arrived - Again!

Reservations for Two

Hillary Manton Lodge

Two Blue Doors #2

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up. 
Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life? 
As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

    This book was the PERFECT sequel for A Table by the Window. It fulfilled everything we wished for and so much more. I literally cannot imagine a better sequel. It was amazing and I can't wait for next year's conclusion to the trilogy. 

   Really, literally anything more I have to say just comes out in these little half squeals that don't actually transform into words. You must read! 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Read! (and click on the cover to read an excerpt - except don't if you haven't read the first one. Then click here).

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Autism isn't a Defect

Together With You
Victoria Bylin

When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

     Together with You  is a really well done piece about love and children with autistic disorders. Fetal alcohol effects can have serious repercussions, and I knew absolutely nothing until I read this book. 

     Victoria Bylin made me fall in love with a cast of emotionally wounded characters who needed someone to love them unconditionally - and they found it in Christ. I grew to love each of the characters, and to see them mature was so fulfilling. 

     Take the cover as an early warning. This isn't some light-hearted quick summer read. It will make you cry (probably multiple times). Have chocolate and tissues on standby. But it is so worth it to power through all the sadness, and the grey feeling that kind of washes over you, and enjoy the wonderful story. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Bethany House) in exchange for my review. Enjoy reading! (and don't forget to click on the cover to read an excerpt. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dark but Delicious

The Salt Covenants
Sylvia Bambola

Spain 1493: Isabel has broken her mother's heart by becoming a sincere convert to Christianity. But when she is noticed by Friar Alonso at La Casa Santa, the Holy House, she is forced to flee the Inquisition by entering into a loveless marriage and sailing with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. But all too soon Isabel is forced to struggle alone in her new life and new faith. 

Little publishing companies are adorable. The Salt  Covenants  was published by Heritage Books. It was a fantastic discovery. You can almost always tell which books were published by these houses because they look different. The covers have a different shine about them (and generally there is something vaguely odd about the cover art), the book is sized differently from your average book, the paper is a different color, and the font is always slightly different. (You can tell you are a bibliophile when you can tell a publishing house by their font, crazy right?) The problem with little publishing companies is that it is hard to know their reputation, with big houses like Baker Publishing you can pretty much guarantee quality. I can totally guarantee the quality of this book. It is AMAZING!

The Salt Covenants  is set during the Spanish Inquisition. I don't know about you, but we didn't exactly spend much time covering it in school. If I wanted to know anything but the basics I had to go looking for it myself. I think that subconsciously I knew it would be ugly (and the reason I didn't go looking), and this book delivered on that ugliness without being too blunt and harsh about it. I got chills from the situations they were stuck in, but I didn't have nightmares or anything  that really stuck with me. It was very tasteful.

The book took several twists and turns that I really wasn't expecting, and I loved it. I liked that I could see some general things coming towards me, but the real important and defining things were a surprise. This book was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone.

I'm not going to tell you what the title alludes to - but it is really cool!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. You totally need to read this book, so make a little room on your TBR list, and click on the cover to get started reading an excerpt. Enjoy Reading!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

An Uncivil War

Yankee in Atlanta
Jocelyn Green
Heroines Behind the Lines #3

When soldier Caitlin McKae woke up in Atlanta after being wounded in battle, the Georgian doctor who treated her believed Caitlin's only secret was that she had been fighting for the Confederacy disguised as a man. In order to avoid arrest or worse, Caitlin hides her true identity and makes a new life for herself in Atlanta.

Trained as a teacher, she accepts a job as a governess to the daughter of Noah Becker, a German immigrant lawyer, who is about to enlist with the Rebel army. Then in the spring of 1864, Sherman's troops edge closer to Atlanta. Caitlin tries to escape north with the girl, but is arrested on charges of being a spy. Will honor dictate that Caitlin follow the rules, or love demand that she break them?

  The Civil War ranks much lower on the scale of wars that we have experienced in the last three hundred years than some of the others, but it still leaves this imprint on our minds. Jocelyn Green draws us in with empathetic characters and horrible circumstances. (This is my professional literary review quote - what do you think?)

I really liked it. I don’t particularly like reading book set in a war zone, and when I do I tend to gravitate towards the Second World War (I stay as far away as I can from the First World War- guaranteed tears). But this book illuminated so much of the surrounding circumstances. It was a goldmine for facts I didn’t know;  while I wouldn’t go looking for some nonfiction about the subject I plan on picking up the other books in the series.

Speaking of the series, they are completely stand alone. Read one, read them all, read them backwards, read them diagonally- it doesn’t really matter. My favorite kind of series.

The characters backgrounds were really interesting, and it made me reconsider some pre established assumptions I had made about immigrants. Not all Germans
decided to go North (as is the case of our male lead, Noah Becker).

The book, like most was fairly predictable in the larger viewing of the ending, but it did bring up some interesting twists that were both delightful and left a bad taste in my mouth. Certainly a reread.

Ooh! I almost forgot - Our dashing German hero is not a Yankee. He is in the Confederate army! (Practically contrary to everything he believes). What about divorce? And my favorite, a little seedtime and harvest time.

SALE: Ending tomorrow (May 3) all the books in this series are below $3.50! Check out the e-books at any major retailer including Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and CBD!!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Enjoy reading and don’t forget to click on the cover to read an excerpt!