Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Classic Tuesday: Joy Luck Club

The Joy Luck ClubJoy Luck Club
by: Amy Tan
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
The Joy Luck Club explores the tender and tenacious bond between four daughters and their mothers. The daughters know one side of their mothers, but they don't know about their earlier never-spoken of lives in China. The mothers want love and obedience from their daughters, but they don't know the gifts that the daughters keep to themselves. Heartwarming and bittersweet, this is a novel for mother, daughters, and those that love them.


My Thoughts: 
I called this a classic even though it is pretty contemporary mainly because I believe that it is a book that will be read for generations. Amy Tan has a wonderful way with words and knows the human character and holds great insight to human relationships.

I didn't come across this until half-way through my junior year of college (last week). I somehow made it through school without being assigned to read this. It makes me sad that I wasn't able to read this sooner. It is a wonderfully written novel. I love the structure, the style and the stories. Lots of books focus on a plot, on moving the story along to one final climax and happy resolution. Well in this case it felt a lot more like it was focused on getting to know the characters and their lives rather than on getting through a story. 
It showed so many complex relationships between mothers and daughters and more importantly went back to reveal what caused these women to be this way. 

I loved this novel and would highly recommend it to any reader man or woman.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Misc. Monday Before the Scarlet Dawn

Before the Scarlet DawnBefore the Scarlet Dawn
by: Rita Gerlach
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father’s estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar’s daughter, Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life. Circumstances throw Eliza in Hayward’s path, and they flee to America to escape the family conflicts and to build Hayward's legacy. But as war looms, it's a temporary reprieve. Hayward joins the revolutionary forces and what follows is a struggle for survival, a test of faith, and the quest to find lasting love in an unforgiving wilderness.


My Thoughts:
That plot looks exactly like my cup of tea doesn't it? Well it wasn't. This was a novel in which I lost my trust in the narrator and in the protagonist. Eliza seems to have the blind devotion to a man who really isn't the best choice for her.  (If I were to tell you why it would be a pretty big spoiler, even for me so you would just have to read it to see why.) It is this blind devotion which makes me question her as a character, if put in her same situation almost any other sane woman would definitely have reacted differently. She is also described as spirited in nature...I don't see it. She obeys her husband in all things some of which are of a questionable nature (once again read the book if you want to know what).  What redeemed it and kept me reading was the fact that it wasn't your typical marriage plot novel. It started with a wedding and then went to attempt to explore it from there. Also Fiona was a wonderful supporting character, she is everything anyone could want in a nanny.
Many thanks to Abingdon Press for giving me a free copy for review.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Guardian Duke

The Guardian Duke: A Forgotten Castles NovelThe Guardian Duke
By: Jamie Carie
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars


Summary From Goodreads:

The Guardian Duke is award-winning novelist Jamie Carie’s most exciting story yet, a uniquely arranged Regency-era romantic adventure where hero and heroine know each other through written letters but have yet to meet.
Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.
My Thoughts:

Well this ending was the very definition of cliff-hanger. I just finished the book and was saddened to see how long of a wait it is until the next one. I loved Alex as a heroine. She is the headstrong, idiotic young adult who forgets that everything doesn't go according to plan and gets into some fun scrapes because of this. 

Now that is not to say that the book is perfect. There is one aspect of it which I find so confusing and which I am praying will be better explained - the Dukes odd and sudden deafness. (you find that out right away so no worries on spoilers). Also I was a little unconvinced that this Duke could fall in love after a few letters (Hey it's Christian Romance, it's supposed to happen so once again, no worries, I'm not really giving anything away.)
I loved the secondary characters, each one had a loving and lovable personality and I think this series will (once it is resolved, and not until then!) be a very good one.


Thank you to B&H Publishing Group for giving me a copy for review.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Pearl in the SandSo I am hosting my first ever book giveaway.  You may remember how much I loved the book Pearl In The Sand. (check the link for my review) Well I now have the chance to give it away!! Just enter below and I will announce the winner on Monday the 23rd!! Please leave your email in the comment so I can contact the winner!






Friday, January 13, 2012

Fluffy Friday - The Wonder of Your Love

The Wonder of Your Love (A Land of Canaan Series #2)The Wonder of Your Love
By: Beth Wiseman
Genre: Christian Fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary From Goodreads:

Settling in to her new life in Canaan, Colorado, Katie Ann Stoltzfus gives birth to a beautiful baby boy. The boy's father - her estranged husband - died before their son is born. Despite his infidelities, Ivan was her one true love. She mourns his loss, vows never to trust another man, and resolves to fill the role of both mother and father to her son.
Then Eli Detweiler arrives in Canaan from Middlefield, Ohio, to attend his niece's wedding. He's been raising his kids alone in Middlefield since his wife's death fifteen years ago. Now each child is married, so Eli looks forward to living a less-structured life-and eating shoofly pie for breakfast every morning. There's no one to care for except himself.
When a meddling-but good-hearted-Englisch woman plays matchmaker for Katie Ann and Eli, they find themselves facing an unexpected, hopeful future…brought together by God's wondrous love.
My Thoughts:
This is a very nicely done novel on portraying a different aspect of the Amish lifestyle. It explores the fact that those of other faiths and backgrounds all experience the same challenges. Now I jumped into the series half-way through, and while this novel doesn't entirely work as a stand-alone, it does give enough explanations that you aren't super confused the whole time.
In the previous novel, Seek Me with All Your Heart, Katie Ann deals with the knowledge of her husband cheating on her. In this novel she deals with the aftermath, both with other people and within herself. I loved the fact that Wiseman chose to break away from the basic wedding plot which most novels seem to have and try to focus on other issues.
I loved Martha. She is the type of woman I hope to be when I am old. She has attitude and a kind heart which she tries her best to hide. I love the twist that her personal plot took in the story and am excited to see how it will play out.
Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for letting me read this book for review.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

YA Wednesday - The Healer's Apprentice


The Healer's ApprenticeThe Healer's Apprentice
By: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: Christian Romance, YA
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Two Hearts. One Hope.Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her---a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.


My Thoughts:


This is my second Dickerson novel and I must say I enjoyed this one a lot more than the last one. I liked all of the characters, not just the main ones. I also thoroughly enjoyed the idea of retelling the story of Sleeping Beauty. It is one that I feel is over looked. 
I really liked Rose and her constant struggle to do what was right. Rather then just go along with what would be most beneficial for her in the long run, she stuck to her standards and did so in an admirable way not an over-zealous kind of way. I also loved her dog, everyone needs a good guard dog in their life.
From a literary standpoint, I really liked how she played with foreshadowing. It was done in such a way that it wasn't too obvious but if you know your literary devices you know that it's there.
I liked the way that the romance chose to develop rather than suddenly be there (too many authors just have love-at-first-sight types of things, and there really is no such thing as that in my opinion) it added more reality to the story as a whole.
I think this is a wonderfully done debut novel and hope that in her next ones her talents will strengthen rather than diminish.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Misc. Monday - Hour Before the Dawn

The Hour before DawnThe Hour Before the Dawn
by: Penelope Wilcock
Genre: Christian
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Abbot John is undergoing deep, emotional shock after learning of the rape of his sister and murder of his mother; Father William is discovering his own vulnerability; and there, immersed in the daily routine of simple tasks, the brothers undertake the greatest task of nurturing the grace of God in their souls.


"The world is always darkest the hour before the dawn." Many of us have either heard or read this particular saying and it is from this that the title is taken from and it is a very fitting title for the story. It is a story which the author explores the varying paths of grief and the only way to truly come out of it. 

This is the fifth book of the series but can be read with minimal confusion on its own. It follows Abbot John and William, first as they travel to visit John's sister after her attack and then later as they go in search of Brother Oswald, one of Father Williams brothers from his old order. It is upon finding Brother Oswald that the path to happiness could finally be taken (you have to read the book if you want to find out why.)

As someone whose only knowledge of monasteries came from watching Sound of Music it was very nice to have it all spelled out so nicely both in the book and with extra explanations afterwards. Wilcock seems to have done real research into this topic and tells her story with ease.  It is a deep book and one which shows how God can lead individuals to a place of healing. as explained in one of my favorite quotes of the novel:

"God is the Creator who goes about making us and remaking us even when our hearts are broken and our lives are shattered. He searches for every shard of who we once were and makes something new of all those pieces and His love."

In all honesty I probably won't go back and read the rest of the books in the series, but I don't regret spending my time in reading this. Thank you to Crossway Books for giving me a book for review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Historical Thursday - How Do I Love Thee?

How Do I Love Thee? (Ladies of History, book #4)How Do I Love Thee
By: Nancy Moser
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary From Goodreads:
She dreams of love for others but never for herself...
Elizabeth Barrett is a published poet--and a virtual prisoner in her own home. Blind family loyalty ties her to a tyrannical father who forbids any of his children to marry. Bedridden by chronic illness, she has resigned herself to simply existing. That is, until the letter arrives...
"I love your verses with all my heart," writes Robert Browning, an admiring fellow poet. As friendly correspondence gives way to something more, Elizabeth discovers that Robert's love is not for her poetry alone. Might God grant her more than mere existence? And will she risk defying her father in pursuit of true happiness?
My Thoughts:
To be honest, I read the first 200 pages or so but then skimmed the rest. I didn't like Ba. She was spineless and listened to others more than herself. Now I understand that this was a historical novel and we were sticking with facts here, but Moser could have at least given real reasons as to why Ba was so submissive to her father and why she was scared to go outside.  I thought this novel was going to focus more on the relationship between the two poets but it took so long to get going and was so slow, I asked myself several times why I was reading it.
Once the romantic part FINALLY started it was ok, but since most of that was letters written by the poets I am not giving all too much credit to the author.

I did like all of the sonnets included throughout and was appreciative of the historical facts in the back but overall, I was glad when I finally finished it and could put it down. It will be a very long time before I pick up a Moser novel again.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

YA Wednesday - Ophelia

OpheliaOphelia
by: Lisa Klein
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:
He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
        In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting.  Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret.



My Thoughts:
This is a wonderful story. It goes into a character of Shakespeare's Hamlet to try and explain her madness. Klein does an excellent job of bringing that world to life. She creates a plausible and wonderful situation. I love the complexity she adds to a character who has been cast as a minor and insane character by the world. AND I love that she understands that she isn't Shakespeare and doesn't try to make herself seem that way. She takes the plot that we know and then makes it her own. The story begins before Shakespeare starts his story and ends years afterward making it solidly its own work.

Ophelia herself is a strong character who has faults enough to be human, yet is someone who is easy to sympathize with. I love all of the herb-lore she has in this book and how she puts it to good use. 

This was a wonderful read, written with a fast pace and with a compelling plot line it is a book well worth reading



Friday, December 30, 2011

Just for Fun Friday- Entwined

EntwinedEntwined
by: Heather Dixon
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Well you can in this case, the cover design is phenomenal and the story is just as good. 

I cannot get over how wonderfully done this book is. Not only the magic and adventure, but also the family relationships. The King broke my heart when I saw how hard he was trying to be a dad, he just didn't know how. Also, as a person with many siblings, I loved how different Dixon allowed each of her girls to be. Each had their own trait and none of them were entirely cookie-cutter characters. It is hard to make 12 sisters not only be different, but each add their own part to the story.

Now what would a fairy tale be without Prince Charming? Well this one had 3 and they couldn't be more different. There was one for each of the oldest, one so serious that he almost couldn't be taken seriously, one so outrageous (especially his last name), and one who might not live up to his name in the end. Each of the oldest girls love stories is unique, precious and wonderful.

I loved the writing style, the characters, the magic, THE ENDING, so much! I am pretty sure that I am going to go out and buy this to add to my collection, probably tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Historical Thursday - Pirate of My Heart

Pirate of My Heart: A NovelPirate of My Heart
By: Jamie Carie
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.


My Thoughts:

I liked this book. It fits in the mold of its genre perfectly as a wonderfully, almost predictable Christian Romance. Placed in both England and America close after the American Revolution it was a nice setting for it. 


Kendra was good, strong and not entirely prone to fainting. She does what she can to save herself when the need arises but also is willing to accept the help of others. Her faith seemed sincere not constrained which is always a plus.
Dorian was a pretty standard hero with a tragic past and wonderful family. I loved the descriptions of his family and all of their interactions; they seemed exactly what a family ought to be and were a wonderful addition to the plot.


I do wish that there had been some follow up with the antagonists of the story. They seemed to just sort of fade to the background. They were a couple of loose ends that I would have liked to see tied up. 
Overall I liked the plot, the setting and the characters. It was a very fun read. Many thanks to B&H Publishing for letting me read this book for review.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

YA Wednesday - Amulet of Samarkand

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)Amulet of Samarkand
by: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars


Summary:
After being humiliated by a magician, apprentice Nathaniel vows to wreak his revenge. To help him do this he summons Bartimaeus, a djinni to steal the precious Amulet of Samarkand. But this turns out to be more dangerous than Nathaniel planned on and he is whipped into a world of magic, espionage and rebellion.


Told from the point of view of both master and servant this is a wonderful book from Jonathan Stroud.


Oh my goodness! This book was simply amazing. I am very glad I got to finish off my year by reading something so wonderfully done. Part of me is beginning to think that British novelists are really the best ones out there. They certainly seem to beat Americans on almost every literary front (except the short story, we rock at writing those).


I didn't think I would find anything on the same plane as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel anytime soon but this blew me away. Bartimaeus is one of the most entertaining characters I have ever read and one whom I would be very happy to meet someday (as long as you know, he didn't hurt me or anything.) Also I love the new world which has been created by Stroud - the magic, the demons, this new government. I am so excited to read the next books in the series, I will probably just hunt them down tomorrow.

So details as to why I loved it:
I love books that are done with a first person narrative, as long as the author knows what they are doing. Well Bartimaeus tells his parts of the story, with wonderful footnotes at the bottom and I love footnotes at the bottom! The plot itself was wonderfully managed leaving us with enough knowledge to feel satisfied but wanting to read quickly so we could see what happens next.



I must say though that Bartimaeus really is the best part of the book, he deals with a messenger imp so nicely and is so creative in his revenges, and part of me feels that he is more powerful than he has let on to us, the readers.


I am excited to see how he will continue his story.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Misc. Monday - Year of Wonders

Year of WondersYear of Wonders
By: Geraldine Brooks
Genre: Historical Fiction,
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
In 1666 a little town outside of London finds itself dealing with the Plague. Anna Firth finds herself without a family and becoming the healer and helper to those around her. As the year, and death toll, progress she is the voice of reason which tries to keep her village from losing absolutely everything.

I would like to say, that had it not been for the last 20 or so pages this would have deserved 5 stars. It is written beautifully, all of the characters are well developed and there is a vivid recreation of humanity as a whole which is typically hard to capture.

Brooks did a marvelous job in showing how the human condition can sink when faced with extreme difficulty. The research which was put into it, not only into the plague itself but also into how different people dealt with it and the many challenges the village as a whole faced was marvelous to read. The novel was both of historical and psychological dealings which is what made it so well done.

Seeing how different families dealt with the grief of losing everyone, some turning to alcohol, others preying on the panic of their fellows, some simply shutting down completely, illustrated a great diversity in humanity which I loved reading about.

Anna too was a character who was real and honest. She didn't come across as this great super-heroine. She was merely a person who was doing her best to get through each day no matter what it had in store for her. There were some episodes which showed how she too suffered from human frailty and wasn't some paragon of virtue and fortitude.

Had it ended with a nice scene at the official end of the plague in the town I would have been not only satisfied but I would have had to buy the book for my permanent collection.

But it didn't. It was all set up to, it could easily have done that...but she just kept on writing. It went south as the writer put in the seemingly mandatory romance which detracted rather than added to the novel. Had that 6 or so pages not been there, this would have been one of the top 5 books I read this year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fluffy Friday - Belonging

Belonging (Where The Heart Lives)Belonging 
By: Robin Lee Hatcher
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
In the high desert town of Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has set out to create a future for herself that is better than her painful past. Alone in the world with only her faith to sustain her, she must prove herself as this tiny community's new school teacher. She cannot, must not, fail. But, there are those who never wanted her there to begin with. 

Five years after the death of his wife, local merchant Colin Murphy cares about just one thing: raising his daughter, Charity. Colin wants to give her the educational advantages he never had. The new schoolmarm's inexperience doesn't sit well with him, and if this teacher up and marries like the last one did, Charity's heart will be broken once again. 



Felicia was a nice main character, she had the elements of personality which I find mandatory to have in a teacher. She cared about her students and wanted them to life up to their full potential and knew that there was more to teaching than memorization. Collin Murphy was a great leading male as well. Of the supporting characters I really like Charity, Collin's 9-year-old daughter. Children are very risky things to make main characters in an adult novel. Either they are made too mature or immature for their age. Here though I think that Hatcher did a very nice job keeping Charity at the age she was supposed to be.


The only changes or additions which I would have made to this novel would have been a follow up on the Rolf Kristofferson plot line. I thought it was mentioned enough times that it would have been more involved in the later part of the novel rather than just disappearing. **HUGE spoiler** (highlight to see) It would have been nice to know how they would have reacted to her marriage, since they had been so wanting her to marry Rolf. **spoiler done**
Overall I thought it was a very nice read and am planning on reading a lot more from this author.



Many thanks to Zondervan for giving me a copy for review!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Historical Thursday - Captive Trail

Captive Trail (The Texas Trail Series)Captive Trail 
by: Susan Paige Davis
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Taabe Waipu has run away from her Comanche village and is fleeing south in Texas on a horse she stole from a dowry left outside her family's teepee. The horse has an accident and she is left on foot, injured and exhausted. She staggers onto a road near Fort Chadbourne and collapses.

On one of the first runs through Texas, Butterfield Overland Mail Company driver Ned Bright carries two Ursuline nuns returning to their mission station. They come across a woman who is nearly dead from exposure and dehydration and take her to the mission.With some detective work, Ned discovers Taabe Waipu is Billie Morgan. He plans to unite her with her family, but the Comanche have other ideas, and the two end up defending the mission station. 

Through Taabe (Billie) and Ned we learn the true meaning of healing and restoration amid seemingly powerless situations.



This is the second book a series (I already reviewed the first) but works very well as a stand alone novel. It is nice to see characters from the last one come into play but if you haven't read it you won't be confused.

I have a thing for Indian captive books, I always have though generally it has been during the French and Indian War so this was a nice change of pace. Also this was less about the capture and more about re-acclimating into society after being gone for 12 years. 
I really liked how Davis tried to show the confusion at concepts which seem very basic to those of us who have grown up in "civilized" society. I also loved the side character of Quinta. She is a little 9 year old girl who comes to live with the sisters for a proper education. She is a spitfire and can hold her own in almost every situation that is thrown at her. 
The only thing that I wish could have got from this novel is more background on Ned. First of all, what caused his initial aversion to nuns? And religion in general? I think a little more back story on him would have been an nice addition.
Overall, I liked this book and most likely will read the next one in the series.

Many thanks to Moody publishing for giving me this book for review.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Misc. Monday - Dragonhaven

DragonhavenDragonhaven
By: Robin McKinley
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Jake Mendoza lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. Smokehill is home to about two hundred of the few remaining draco australiensis, which is extinct in the wild. Keeping a preserve for dragons is controversial: detractors say dragons are extremely dangerous and unjustifiably expensive to keep and should be destroyed. Environmentalists and friends say there are no records of them eating humans and they are a unique example of specialist evolution and must be protected. But they are up to eighty feet long and breathe fire.
On his first overnight solo trek, Jake finds a dragon dying next to the human she killed. Jake realizes this news could destroy Smokehill— even though the dead man is clearly a poacher who had attacked the dragon first, that fact will be lost in the outcry against dragons.
But then Jake is struck by something more urgent —he sees that the dragon has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive. 
I was so disappointed. McKinley is a total hit or miss author. I like some I hate some. This was one I thought  I was going to like....sadly I was mistaken.
The writing style was simply too confusing to decipher. Parentheses all over the place, tangents mid-sentence, overall confusing language. Was she trying to do stream of consciousness? I can't tell, if she was she failed. I am really disappointed too because I have liked a couple other of McKinley's works - Beauty might be one of my favorite books of all time. I really thought that authors were supposed to grow and mature as they continued to work. Sadly that is not the case with this novel. And the premise was SOOO cool too, it's been done (think Jane Yolen or Anne McCaffery) but still it would have been cool with this new twist of modern day.
Also I didn't like her obvious politics, it could be because I am more right wing in my thinking but it just galled me to no-end how evil the corporations are and how the government is against everybody. I understand the problems of most things getting funding, but don't mention it every other sentence please.

Pass on this it will only leave you frustrated.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fluffy Friday - A Vision of Lucy

A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance)A Vision of Lucy
by: Margaret Brownley
Genre: Historical(ish) Fiction
Rating 4 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:

Lucy Fairbanks dreams of working as a photographer at the Rocky Creek newspaper. Her deepest hope is that her father will see her as an artist, the way he thought of her deceased mother, whose paintings still hang on their walls. But disaster follows Lucy on every photo assignment: a mess of petticoats and ribbons, an accidental shooting, even a fire.When Lucy meets David Wolf-a rugged, reclusive man who lives on the outskirts of town-she thinks she can catch the attention of the town with his photograph. She doesn't count on her feelings stirring whenever she's near him. Two things happen next that forever change the course of Lucy's life. But will these events draw her closer to God or push her further away? And how will David accept this new vision of Lucy?
I didn't know that this was the third book in the series, it does a very good job as a stand alone. I was left somewhat confused as to which character was who in the beginning but when you jump in half-way that is to be expected. 
I thought it was fun and fresh and I could totally relate to all of the scrapes which Lucy found herself in because, Well, I have been known to set the occasional fire and other such mishaps. And how she babbles on and on when she is nervous...that is something that I am really trying to get over. Anyway, what I am trying to say besides revealing way too much personal stuff, is that Lucy was likable and easy to relate to. 
I really liked the quotes which began each chapter and thought that this author had a wonderfully fresh perspective.  The bad guy totally comes out of the blue - a rare thing when you read as much as I do - and was still plausible.
Well done Margaret, and many thanks to Thomas Nelson for giving me this book for review.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Historical Thrusday - Lone Star Trail

Lone Star Trail (The Texas Trail Series)Lone Star Trail
by: Darlene Franklin
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 stars


Summary From Goodreads:
Judson (Jud) Morgan's father died for Texas freedom during the war for independence. So when the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas (the Verein) attempts to colonize a New Germany in his country, he takes a stand against them. 

After Wande Fleischer's fiance marries someone else, the young fraulein determines to make new life for herself in Texas. With the help of Jud's sister Marion, Wande learns English and becomes a trusted friend to the entire Morgan family. As much as Jud dislikes the German invasion, he can't help admiring Wande. She is sweet and cheerful as she serves the Lord and all those around her. 

I like reading about new parts of history, I had no idea that the Germans started immigrating to Texas and it was fun to learn about that and the new German words as well, I have been developing an interest in that language and so this was really fun to read. 

I liked Jud, I could understand why he angry about the Germans coming in and seemingly taking over what he deemed to be his his land, I also liked how he was hard working and down to earth. 
Wande, (I still don't entirely know how to pronounce that name) was wonderful, though somewhat one dimensional. She was strong happy and seemed to learn english at an alarming rate.
Overall I thought it was a cute fresh setting on an old plot. It was a wonderful way to relax and get away from the terrors that are finals.  


Thanks to Moody Publishing for letting me read this book for review.

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!