Monday Musings…Novellas vs. Full Length

Do you like Novellas? Generally speaking, I don’t. I run from novellas. Why? Because their short. I can never really justify spending money on something I know will take me only an hour to read. And let’s say the novella is good. Let’s say its awesome. If that’s the case, then I usually want more, but I can’t get more because it’s a novella.

But, there are a few exceptions: if the novella is a prequel to another novel, the novella is the point of view of one character from an already fuller novel, or the novella is about another character or couple that is featured in a full length novel.

Otherwise in my opinion every thing happens too fast. Thoughts?

Sigmund Brouwer’s Thief of Glory

A boy coming of age in a time of war…
the love that inspires him to survive.

About 
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.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

Review

I was initially hesitant to read this book because I realized the protagonist was a child (hence no romance) and I thought it would be reminiscent of the film with a young Christian Bale, Empire of the Sun. A good movie, but not one you want to watch over and over again. But, I was reminded of something: a) I love history, even the ugly parts and b) the moment I fell in love with reading. I will never forget the first time I got lost in a book, and the author who had written that book was Sigmund Brouwer. It was the Accidental Detectives series, specifically, The Mystery Tribe of Camp Blackeagle. I read and reread that series well until my teen years. And so I thought, if there’s any author who can make me fall in love with children, it’s Sigmund Brouwer. And he did.

What I liked:

Jeremiah Prins. I loved this kid from the very first page with him on it. He’s only ten, but he’s the brightest ten year old I’ve ever come across. And he was bright in a time when you needed all of your wits around you. He’s funny, charming, thoughtful, and I wish I could have known the man.

The history. I knew very little about the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies during WWII and I learned a lot with this book. My respect and my heart went out to them.

The characters. Though Jeremiah stole my heart, I found myself invested in each child (and adult) that came across his path (well, almost each child).

The writing (or the story).  I stayed up well past my bedtime trying to see what would happen next. I found the book to be completely captivating.

Spiritually, this novel shows people with great faith in those camps and people who often doubted. I thought it was portrayed realistically and I learned a thing or two about what it means to really have faith.

What I didn’t like:

Sometimes Jeremiah gave some long explanations as to why things were the way they were, and so I skimmed so I could find out what actually happened next.

The Ending. Let me just clarify and say that nothing in the camp bothered me for the simple reason that I was ready mentally for anything (and I say this because some things are revealed when Jeremiah is an old man). No, what bothered me, happened after the camps. I hope this isn’t spoilery, but it might be just a bit. But for me the ending was like Mockingjay at the end of the Hunger Games series, or the last couple chapters of Ender’s Game. I guess it’s a happy ending, but mannnnnnn, I wanted so much more for the people I had fallen in love with.

Romantic Scale: N/A because their children, and yet there still manages to be a romance, and a very sweet one at that.

Overall, I’m very glad I read this book. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’ve discussed it with my military father, and had there been a movie I would have watched it. If you love historical novels, you will love this book.

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

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Mary Jane Hathaway’s Persuasion, Captain Wentworth, and Cracklin Bread

About
A lively Southern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, featuring Lucy Crawford, who is thrown back into the path of her first love while on a quest to save her beloved family home.

Lucy Crawford is part of a wealthy, well-respected Southern family with a long local history. But since Lucy’s mother passed away, the family home, a gorgeous antebellum mansion, has fallen into disrepair and the depth of her father’s debts is only starting to be understood. Selling the family home may be the only option—until her Aunt Olympia floats the idea of using Crawford house to hold the local free medical clinic, which has just lost its space. As if turning the plantation home into a clinic isn’t bad enough, Lucy is shocked and dismayed to see that the doctor who will be manning the clinic is none other than Jeremiah Chevy—her first love.

Lucy and Jeremiah were high school sweethearts, but Jeremiah was from the wrong side of the tracks. His family was redneck and proud, and Lucy was persuaded to dump him. He eventually left town on a scholarship, and now, ten years later, he’s returned as part of the rural physician program. And suddenly, their paths cross once again. While Lucy’s family still sees Jeremiah as trash, she sees something else in him—as do several of the other eligible ladies in town. Will he be able to forgive the past? Can she be persuaded to give love a chance this time around?

Review

Once again, even though I liked the other books in this series, I was nervous about reading another retelling of an Austen book….and I didn’t have to be. Here’s why:

What I liked:

The racial makeup of the book. It’s very interesting to me that Ms. Hathaway chose to add race as another hurdle for Lucy and Jem’s high school romance. I was particularly impressed that Lucy, the beautiful, wealthy, debutante-like girl, is black. To me it really added to the novel, making it creative and unique.

The elements of Persuasion. As with her other retellings, this is not an exact retelling of the Jane Austen novel, but there are enough hints and elements that it still feels like Persuasion. There is still that “thing” that came between Lucy and Jem, and Lucy is still doing everything she can to please a family that ignores her, and there is still that slow burn of a romance between Lucy and Jem all throughout the novel.

The romance. It was Persuasion, the only difference being that in Austen’s novel you are not in Captain Wentworth’s head. I really enjoyed it and I just couldn’t wait for them to be together in the end.

The setting. Once again we’re in the south (a bit of the glorified south) with Civil War reenactments and whatnot. I still find it a bit strange, but the historian in me loves it.

Spiritually, there is a great theme on forgiveness and trusting God.

What I didn’t like:

To me, this kind of lines up with the novel Persuasion, but from Lucy’s point of view, I could see how she just wasn’t sure about what Jem wanted due to his side flirtation. But, anyone who has read Persuasion, is familiar with this part of that novel.

Romantic Scale: 8.7

Overall, a very good book. A sweet romance that pulled me and I didn’t want to put the book down!

 

Monday Musings…2015 Books!

 

Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice–if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the convent is the best place after all. If only one of the knights–the one who appears the most guilty–had not already captured her heart.

Swan Lake meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region’s most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.

Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game.

Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold  on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers? 

The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?

 

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who can help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing for good.

An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville’s racetrack––the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie’s father––aging, yet wily as ever––makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail––Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself. 

Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts––and the escalating violence from a “secret society” responsible for lynchings and midnight raids––may prove too much for even two determined souls.

Don’t these all sound good? Which one tickles your fancy?

Feature Friday…Kristen Heitzmann

I haven’t done a Feature Friday post in a while, so this week I’m featuring Kristen Heitzmann! I’m a huge fan and she’s one of those authors who I will read no matter what she writes. Therefore, I’m not going to list every book she’s written, but here is one of my favorite series:

Secrets is unique because Kristen Heitzmann wrote a historical romance series (Diamond of the Rockies) and then has the descendants of those characters in this book. Furthermore, Reese and Lance are two of the most unusual heroes and heroines I’ve ever met, and I love when the main characters are not caricature. In many ways, they swap gender roles which means I never knew what was happening next. Good food, good suspense, good romance, great faith. Loved it!

Lisa Carter’s Under a Turquoise Sky

About

When federal agent Aaron Yazzie is assigned to protect the only witness
to a drug cartel execution, he hides Kailyn Eudailey in the safest place
he knows . . . the vast, untamed wilderness of the Navajo Reservation.

Transporting Kailyn to New Mexico may not be as easy as Aaron would
like. Kailyn is a high-maintenance Southern belle who is determined to
assert her independence at every step. Although Aaron’s job is to
protect her from the dangers that could get them both killed, Kailyn is
getting to him.  As an undercover agent, Aaron has grown adept at
playing many roles. But will he be able to embrace his true identity and
God’s plan for his life in order to keep Kailyn alive?

Review

Ms. Carter has become a new favorite of mine when it comes to romantic suspense novels. There’s just so much I love about her books. Here’s why I like this one:

What I liked:

The way the characters meet. The novel starts off with suspicious happenings that immediately drew me in. I didn’t even plan to read as much as I did at first, but I couldn’t put the book down. I was completely invested from the beginning.

The characters themselves. I really liked the complexity that was Aaron and the fearlessness of Kailyn. I will admit that I read the premise and I thought, here’s another heroine who is supposed to be in danger but acts like she isn’t. Not at all. It just so happens that she’s a great help to Aaron.

The romance. I like where the author took Aaron and Kailyn. It was a bit cliché, but it worked for me. Though there was almost instant attraction, they fell in love over the course of the novel and you could really see that.

The culture. Once again, Ms. Carter had us amongst the Navajo nation and I loved it. I want more books about American Indians. I feel like I learned so much and I wasn’t ready to leave.

The suspense. Ok I liked that the focus was more on romance than suspense, though there is plenty of suspense!

Spiritually, I liked that Kailyn learns that ultimately her faith has to be in God, and Aaron learns who God is and that He is faithful.

What I didn’t like:

Towards the end of the novel, Kailyn and Aaron separate for a minute and personally, I thought the separation was a great idea as they learned to rely on God. But the reason for the separation seemed a bit contrived, and it seemed for a moment as though one of the characters had had a bit of a personality change.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, very good novel. As always, I enjoyed a Lisa Carter novel and I very much recommend it!

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Monday Musings….Series, Do You Reread Them?

Once again, I’ve been contemplating series. When the next book of a series you enjoyed comes out, do you take time to reread? Or do you just jump in cold and hope to remember all the details? Usually, I do the latter (unless I just loved the previous book all on its own). But, recently I found out that Jenny B. Jones, author of The Katie Parker Series was releasing a FOURTH BOOK! I decided I had to catch up on the old series. Have you read these:

if you haven’t. You should!           14382782036_b91b7dc291_z-1 2TheBigPicture-amazonOntheLoose-Amazon-2 2

Diann Mills’ Firewall

About

After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.

Review

I’m not usually a mystery reader, but every now and then I like to try out genres that are not my favorite to spice things up a little. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The novel really starts with a bang (literally). I mean for the first few chapters, I was really on pins and needles trying to figure out what had happened, why it had happened and who done it.

The set up of the mystery is really unique. I mean one minute Taryn is happily in love and the next thing she knows, she and the man she married are suspects.

Taryn. She’s a fascinating character. She’s both something of a computer nerd, but also very bold and unafraid. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what she was going to do, but she certainly wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines and wait for the FBI to figure things out.

There’s a really great twist at the end that I did not see coming.

Spiritually, there is theme of forgiveness and trusting God.

What I didn’t like:

Really, it comes down to a preference. After the beginning, this novel kind of slowed for me and though it had some romance, the novel was focused on the mystery. It just wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. That said, I know someone else who read this book and loved it.

Romantic Scale: 6

**I received this copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

 

Jill Williamson’s Rebels

About

The remnant of Glenrock has been scattered. But they are not beaten.

The Safe Lands have long kept the true meaning of Liberation secret from their people. But after being sentenced to Liberation themselves, Mason and Omar soon discover the truth.

Levi watched his brothers’ public sentencing and tries to hold out hope they are still alive, He is forced to focus his attention elsewhere, however, when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and made the Safe Lands’ newest Queen. His only choice to save Jemma may be to take up Omar’s old role of undercover vigilante, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will Levi’s new role be enough?

Meanwhile, Jemma’s sister, Shaylinn, is ready to give birth to the “Safe Lands’” children … but not even Ciddah is sure they can be delivered safely in the midst of a rebellion. And Mason must face the fact Omar’s illness could be fatal.

If they can all unite their efforts, together they may be able to expose the Safe Lands’ lies to the people. But if they fail, they will all surely die.

Review

Rebels picks up right where Outcasts ended. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Suspense, suspense, suspense. I had great faith in a HEA, but I was still on my toes reading this novel!

Even more secrets are revealed. You think you have one thing figured out, only to find out there’s something else there.

The characters. None of them are flat, and usually I’m not a fan of having so many different points of view, but I loved the characters so much, that I never found it to be a problem. Mason. Omar. Levi. How they have grown since the book! Mason is my favorite and I just love being in his head. Omar is the character who made me feel a variety of emotions: first I was annoyed, then I was afraid for him. then I was proud of him, then I was annoyed with him (and the cycle began again). He’s definitely grown the most and managed to become dear to me. Levi has the rug pulled out from underneath him a couple times, and watching him react to things is always interesting.

And lets not forget the girls! I loved being in Shaylin and Jemma’s head and learning more about Ciddah.

The plot. It was involved and complicated and I loved every minute of it.

Spiritually, you get different portrayals of faith: some positive and some negative, but at the end of the day, faith is motivated by love and that’s seen so well here.

What I didn’t like:

Really I liked everything, but I could have used some more romance (I can always use more romance!). All the couples in this book spent most of the book a part from each other, trying to get to the other. But the writing was so good, I barely noticed this until the end.

Romantic Scale: 7

Overall, I really enjoyed this conclusion. I’m not ready to leave them yet and I kinda want more.

Mondays Musings…Series: Do you like Them?

In general, I love series. I like the idea of a having a longer, fully fleshed out story that pulls you in completely. BUT, the worse thing about series, as any reader knows, is the break in between. It’s the time after you’ve read a book and loved it, and feel like you know all the characters, but realize it’ll be a year before you meet them again. And then time goes by, and no matter how much you loved the book, characters get forgotten, you forget the small nuances, the anxiety slowly begins to wear off…

I will admit, I oftentimes wonder if authors can really expect to maintain a big following when they release one book a year (particularly if they are indie). It’s not that I wouldn’t buy book two, merely that I have forgotten about book two. And so, I have been known to not even start a series until at least two or three books are out.

That said, there are some fantastic authors who do their best to release books in a timely fashion: Jill Williamson, Lisa T. Bergren, Susan May Warren, Julie Lessman, Jody Hedlund, to name a few.

So, thoughts. Love series? Hate series? Think they take too much time in between?