Tuesday, November 29, 2011

YA Wed - The Merchant's Daughter

The Merchant's Daughter
by: Melanie Dickerson


Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.


I really liked the premise for this novel. It was a nice take on the Beauty and the Beast story which happens to be my favorite fairy tale. I also liked the setting with the feudal system in place and the middle class it provided. Yet I feel like it felt short of what it could have been.



I did like Annabel. She managed to be pious without being overbearing, that is a delicate balance which Christian writers everywhere struggle and Dickerson, I feel, did a good job with her. Not so for Ranulf however. He was too dramatic for my taste. And Annabel's family was completely one dimensional - and it was a dimension that I didn't like at all. All characters should have some depth to them I believe and her family was entirely flat.  


Many thanks to  Zondervan for giving me a book for reviewing purposes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Misc. Monday - Pearl in the Sand

Pearl in the Sand: A Novel Pearl in the Sand
by Tessa Afshar
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel' Shockingly, the Bible's answer is yes.   Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab's untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well-walls of fear, rejection, unworthiness. A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith - of pride; a marriage only God would conceive!  Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another's worth and find healing in God.


I really liked this one. I thought it was well researched, well written and covered some difficult issues with aplomb. While fictional, I would like to think that this was Rahab's back story. Also I have been reading a lot of books that just end at the wedding. I like that this went beyond that to show that marriage is hard. The wedding isn't the goal, making the marriage work despite what obstacles come your way. 

The writing style was nice, nothing brilliant, it was the content that made this book for me. This one was more overtly religious than what I have been reading recently, but as it is an actual retelling of a bible story, I see no real fault in that. 

This is one that I would pass on to my friends if I had a hard copy of the book rather than an e-book.

Many thanks to Moody Publishers for giving me a copy for review!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Classic Tuesday: To the Lighthouse

To the LighthouseTo The Lighthouse
by: Virginia Woolf
Genre: Modernist, Classic
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
The lives of the Ramsay family are followed at their summer home which over looks a lighthouse.

Short summary I know, but you don't really read modernist literature for the plot. You read it for the words and for the ideas which they evoke.

I don't like modernism as a general rule, my modernist class this year is trying to change that, but unless you're Conrad, you don't really stand much chance.

So with that in mind that's why I have refrained from giving it a superb rating.

There are passages in the novel which are truly stunning, especially in the third portion of the book. Woolf has a wonderful way with words about her. The thing about the book that clung to me the most is the idea of identity.

Identity is what other people label our souls.

Mrs. Ramsay, for instance, is labeled: wife, mother, hostess, daughter. None of these are labels which she has given herself. When she is in those moments of alone she faces this blackness which is really what we are without the identity which others have given us.

I liked this one and if you are looking for a slower read (really emphasize "slower") which has some pretty deep currents this one will work perfectly.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Fluffy friday: To Win Her Heart

To Win Her HeartTo Win Her Heart
by: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:

Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets...
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors and once again she comes through. She is perhaps one of the most balanced Christian novelists I have come across, she has neither too much Christian stuff in there that I feel like I am being preached at, but there is enough for it to definitely be a Christian read. Levi is one of my favorite romantic heroes, with bulging biceps and a massive vocabulary what's there not to love...oh that's right...his murderous past. This has many great ties to the parable of the Prodigal Son and I couldn't put it down.
I really liked Eden, she was spunky, confident, not worried about Prince Charming, and she had her own library - what is there not to like? Not only did she start out great, but she also was allowed to grow throughout the story.
This was wonderfully written, the story woven very nicely, I found the conflict plausible (in historical romances that has been a very rare thing for me) and both leads well rounded and I liked the secondary characters as well. One that I might buy to have for my collection


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Wedding Invitation

A Wedding Invitation A Wedding Invitation
By: Alice J. Wisler
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 2 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.
Sounds pretty good doesn't it? I thought that this would be a very interesting premise, something fresh that I have never come across before...oh I was so wrong

This was one of the most confusing writing styles I have ever read. The fact that it was in present tense didn't really phase me but the thought process of the main character along with the general plot of the story wasn't really plausible for me.

I didn't understand a lot of her reasoning - why one guy was better simply because he was physically attractive in the 80's. They romantic point of the plot was a joke. I could in no way believe that the two characters would really get together. They were static. No growth in anyone's personality and overall I was left extremely dissatisfied.

Were it not for Dovie I wouldn't even have finished the book. Dovie reminded me of the crazy aunt that every one is supposed to have in their life. I loved her and her house and wouldn't mind being her one day.

Pass on this one. I was left confused and not caring about the characters at all.

Many Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for giving me this book for review.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Misc. Monday - Lonestar Angel

Lonestar Angel (Lonestar Series, #4)Lonestar Angel
by: Coleen Coble

Genre: Christian, Suspense
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Years ago Eden and Clay Larson's baby was stolen. Kidnappers demanded a ransom, but something went horribly wrong at the exchange: the kidnapper's car crashed into the river and was never recovered. Eden blamed herself, Clay lost himself in work. Their young and rocky marriage ended. Or so Eden thought.
Now she's met Kent. He's everything Clay wasn't: funny, stable, and eager to please her. Just as he's about to propose marriage at a romantic dinner, Clay arrives and tells Eden she can't marry Kent. She's still married to him. He never signed the divorce decree. Even more earth-shattering than this news is that he's never stopped looking for Brianna. Based on a tip, he thinks their daughter is in Bluebird, Texas, at a youth ranch. All five little girls there are the right age, but he's not sure which is Brianna.
To discover the truth, the couple becomes counselors to the girls at Bluebird Ranch. They move into small quarters in the bunkhouse and oversee the kids as they try to find out more. As they work together, their love for the children grows and their love for each other is rekindled.
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing for giving me this book for review. 
I usually put that at the bottom but I put it first to explain why I am beginning a series at the end. I don't normally read suspense. I am more of a happy kind of person and want my stories to be that way too, despite this fact, this book was one that I really liked. Coble did an excellent job of not only developing the characters of the Eden and Clay but of the little girls who they take care of on the ranch. I find that most authors have difficulty with accurately portraying the personalities of children but these were very well done.
The suspense builds nicely and at the climax you get hit by something that you might of suspected but didn't necessarily see coming. I was pleased with the story and didn't feel like it was a waste of time.
I will most likely go back to read the rest of the series and other books by this author.

Shame Nation

Shame Nation Genre: Non-Fiction Rating: 4 Stars Summary My Thoughts: This is a book everyone needs to read. The title perfectly fits ...