Posted in Uncategorized

Miralee Ferrell’s Blowing on Dandelions

About

Do Dandelion Wishes Actually Come True?
 
Katherine Galloway knew this moment of calm wouldn’t last, blown away like the dandelion seeds she scattered as a girl. In 1880, three years after her husband’s death, she struggles to run an Oregon boardinghouse and raise two girls alone. Things don’t get easier when her critical, domineering mother moves in. Katherine must make the situation work, but standing up for herself and her family while honoring her mother isn’t easy. And with a daughter entering the teenage years, the pressure on Katherine becomes close to overwhelming. Then she crosses paths with Micah Jacobs, a widower who could reignite her heart, but she fears a relationship with him might send things over the edge. She must find the strength, wisdom, hope, and faith to remake her life, for everything is about to change.

Review

I really enjoy historical romance fiction and sometimes you just want an uncomplicated book about the old days (though as we know, things were very complicated in the olden days). And this book delivers that.

What I liked about it: The novel is told mostly from Katherine and Micah’s viewpoints. I really felt like I got to know both of them really well. I understood why they made the decisions they made and why they reacted the way that they did. I found them both very fascinating and I found myself invested in their romance. 

The children: Amanda, Lucy, and Zach. They are not just extras thrown in to look cute and make mom and dad fall in love. They add an extra tension to the novel and they have their own longings and desires that they want to come true. 

Katherine’s mom, who manages to come across as real in both her meanness and her brokenness. 

Spiritually, I like how though Micah has run away from God. God has not run away from Him and how he is able to see God through His people. I also liked how Katherine had to balance honoring her mother and dealing with her mother’s rudeness (though I do think it wouldn’t have been wrong if she confronted her a time or two).

What I didn’t like:

It took Katherine and Micah a minute to start their romance, and when they did, it happened fairly quickly. They spent a portion of the novel misunderstanding each other and frankly, dealing with their own personal problems. I had hoped the romance would start a bit sooner.

Otherwise, I got exactly what I wanted. A sweet romance that was God-uplifting!

Romantic scale: 7.8

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Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Jill Williamson’s Outcasts

About

In Outcasts, the second book in Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands series, Levi finds himself not only the leader of Glenrock’s remaining people but also the head of a new rebel force called the Messengers, intent on unmasking the Safe Lands’ lies. At the same time, Mason uncovers secrets that may be more dangerous than he ever imagined. Meanwhile, Omar decides to take matters into his own hands.

Review

I will readily admit that Captives (the first book in the series) only really pulled me in towards the end of the novel. But I shouldn’t have doubted, because I inevitably end up loving anything that Ms. Williamson writes. I was thoroughly engrossed with Outcasts. Outcasts has quite a list of things going on, but here’s the skinny:

Mason is my favorite. He’s so logical it’s endearing. The way he thinks, acts, responds, etc., is funny. And yet, he’s such a trustworthy narrator. If Mason says it’s true, than it is. There is a person in the book that will probably make you vacillate in regards to whether they can be trusted. But I think Mason handles the situation as well as he can. In this book, you get more of him and Ciddah together and the way he is with her is priceless. More Mason, please!

Levi is beginning to grow on me in this series. In the first one, he was all action, no real thoughts. In this one, you begin to see where he is coming from, and more importantly how he will one day be a fine elder of Glenrock. He also manages to stumble across a revelation that is fairly surprising.

Omar (the one who made me cringe in book one) is still struggling to find himself and yet, he manages to become such a likeable character in this one. The things he does in this book, I think, are so very similar to how people are today. They want to do right, but find themselves caught up in this strange cycle of wrong. And let’s not forget, Omar gets some unplanned news of his own that, I think, really adds some great tension in the book. Omar, though, is the one who will surprise you the most. He’s the one to watch.

Spiritually, this book gives you several points of view about the way to treat the world around you. Our would is clearly not their dystopian world, but you will find similarities and it will remind you to make sure that you take a stand for righteousness.

Overall, I couldn’t put this book down. I have even reread my favorite parts several times. The only thing that made me happy when it ended ( and what an ending!) is that the next one comes out this year!

Romantic Scale: 8

Posted in Personal

Monday Musings…Choosing A New Author

I don’t know about you, but for me (when money is involved) it is hard for me to choose to read a book by a new author. There’s just so much that could go wrong! As an avid reader, I have spent lots of money on books, and frankly, there is nothing worse than starting a novel and realizing that it is not going in any direction that you find fascinating. So, I have come up with a really good list that helps me choose a good book, by a new author, and be satisfied with my purchase:

1. Ignore the cover. This piece of information is usually helpful if the cover is stunning. A stunning cover does not a good book make. If a good book has a horrible cover, well, it can be hard to get too excited about it. Especially, if it’s an embarrassing cover. They don’t all have to have half-naked people to make you embarrassed to carry them around (though with e-readers this is less of a problem). Or, the cover looks like something I can put together. Sometimes you may doubt the content, if the author cannot create a good visual for their novel. But don’t pass them by. That said, just ignore the cover, remember that what is on the inside counts.

2. Read Reviews. Read the good ones and the bad ones. Sometimes I start with the bad ones first. People can be brutal for silly reasons. You should never, IMO, give a bad review because you ordered the book and it didn’t arrive on time! That’s just mean. Find out why people didn’t like it. Was the heroine TSTL (too stupid to live)? Insta-love? No plot? Too much drama? Or you just didn’t like the way a city was portrayed? Reading is subjective, but sometimes you can see if there is a common problem or just a specific problem. Reviews usually sell a book to me, particularly if I find a blog and notice that that blogger’s opinions line up with mine own. But what if there are no reviews? That’s what the rest of this list is for.

3. Read the first few pages. If they are available, (and on Amazon they usually are), read the first few pages. The first few pages, will give you the style of the author. A really good author pulls you in from the first page, but sometimes an author needs a chapter or two to get you invested. That’s fine, and if their writing is good you won’t mind the wait.

4. Don’t give author recommendations too much weight. I’ve done that before. I’ve seen a book recommended by an author I loved and went out and bought it. Sometimes, you have to consider that authors are not lying to you, but they are sometimes good friends, or what they actually said had no substance. However, the higher up the author is who reviews the novel, will give you an idea as to the quality of the book.

5. Make sure it’s what you want. This means read the blurb on the back. If you want a romance, you can usually tell from the back of the book if it’s a romance. But, upon occasion, you can’t. Don’t be like me though, don’t turn to the last page and make sure that a guy and a girl gets together in the end. That would be juvenile (but it works, mostly, except that one time I got punked because the author killed off the main guy and had her marry some random guy at the end…so.upset.)

6. You could just be spontaneous and surprised! Never liked the idea of this one as I am a natural planner and cannot stand surprises!

Anyone have anything to add?

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Jennifer Hartz’s Future Savior Book Five: Revelation and Giveaway!

Congrats: Deborah, Laura, and Marie!

(Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway)

About

With the forces of good and evil amassing in the Marle Desert the time for the finale battle has come, but Christina’s place is not on the battlefield. It all boils down to this: She must face Leticia and destroy the evil at its source.

Little does Christina realize that Leticia has her own diabolical plan. With the help of Christina’s former friend, Jonus, Leticia knows exactly what it will take to break the spirit of the Savior of Meric.

Christina is faced with an impossible decision. Can she sacrifice the lives of thousands just to save the person she loves?

Review

What a great series! I found it, on a whole, to be creative, romantic, and fun and I’m so glad I had a chance to read it. In regards to this book alone, I think Ms. Hartz did a fabulous job wrapping up this series.

What I liked:

Book Four ended with some pretty heavy revelations, but with this one, we finally get to know about Charis! And the big reveal is well worth the weight. There are a few more revelations in this book that come together in a really nice way. I will say that the juxtaposition of the current world with Meric worked really nicely.

Christina is a fabulous heroine. When I was in her mind, I flew through the pages of the book. To a certain degree, Shaw gets dialed back a bit, but it makes sense in this novel. This is the last one and by focusing on Christina, it comes full circle.

Quite a few romances on the side come to completion in some very cute ways.

I really enjoyed that the people of Meric go through very familiar Bible stories, almost creating their own version. That is a really great idea, that I didn’t get it until this one. I also love the emphasis on how the journey creates the change in people. Spiritually, there are a lot of great things happening here that I think could be applicable to real life, but the idea of the journey really stuck out in my mind.

I also liked, and this may sound weird, but I liked that there were casualties in the book. It helped emphasize the seriousness of what was happening.

What I didn’t like:

That there were casualties in this book! One person’s death in particular almost brought me to tears.

The only other thing was that there are a lot of minor stories going on and some were more interesting than others.

Otherwise, overall, I really enjoyed this series. It’s well worth reading and you absolutely must finish the series if you’ve started it. It’s a beautiful conclusion.

** I received a copy of this book from the author. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Giveaway

The lovely Jennifer Hartz is willing to giveaway three copies of the first book in the series: Future Savior One: Conception (they will be kindle copies)It’s so worth reading, and probably my favorite one in the series if I had to choose. If you love that epic, fantasy, romantic kind of novel, than this one is for you. All you need to do is leave a comment below with your email address. The giveaway ends three weeks from now on January 31! The winners will be randomly selected!

Posted in Uncategorized

Julie Klassen’s The Dancing Master

About

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul–and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master–a man her mother would never approve of–but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village…and to her mother’s tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a “good match” in Regency England.

Review

I will admit that when I read what this book was about, I was very skeptical. The hero is a dancing master? Where is the pride in that exactly? But, I love Julie Klassen so I knew I had to read it anyway. This book exceeded my expectations. To be sure, it took me a minute to get invested, but once I was, I didn’t want to put the book down. 

Alec is not your typical hero. He is a Beta in every sense of the word. He’s more interested in fashion, he loves to dance (obviously), you won’t see him getting his hands dirty, and he works in a kind of service profession. But, he’s still a man. He’s still doing everything he can to take care of his family and put food on the table. And I promise, that it won’t take long before you’re rooting for his complete success.

Julia is almost Alec’s exact opposite. She is impulsive, flirtatious, quick-tempered and demanding. She’s a bruising horse-rider (Alec can barely sit a horse). She tries to make things happen (Alec’s definitely more passive). She loves confrontation (Alec not so much). When I first met Julia, I almost threw my hands up in the air. She is everything I usually cannot stand in a heroine. And yet, I was so much in her corner. Somehow Klassen wrote Julia in such a way that I liked her, and well before the book ended (and so I’ve learned, a great author can take any personality and make you like them!)

This novel also had a great little mystery that slowly unraveled one layer at a time. Everything was not as I thought it was, and I thought it all came together nicely.

Romantically, I enjoyed watching Julia and Alec together. There was that nice tension and yet, class differences that only regency novels can aptly portray. It was the best kind of romance. The one where the couple must learn what it is to be friends first. 

Spiritually, we learn a lot about grace and forgiveness which I think is portrayed well. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Let me say, if you’re a new reader, you may find this novel to be slower than most, but as a Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer fan, that slowness is exactly what makes the novel great.

Romantic Scale: 8.7

**I received this novel from Bethany House. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings….Are We Harder on Heroines Than Heroes?

I noticed recently, that generally if I don’t like a book, I blame the girl. Not the boy. I like my heroes anyway you present them: Alphas, Betas, introverts, extroverts, nice guys, bad boys (in need of redemption!), younger than their love interest, older than their love interest, fathers, widows, never been married, no children, laid back, great sense of humor, devastatingly handsome, ordinary, Godly, in need of a walk with God, etc. In fact, I’ve noticed that the more different they are from the typical hero, the more I usually love them. 

But, I realized that I don’t give such deference to heroines. In fact, there is a whole list of attributes that usually make me groan, when the heroine has them (though they are not indicative of whether or not I will like the book): flighty, not serious about God, too old, too many children, meddlesome, worrisome, dramatic, impulsive, too needy, too tough, etc. 

And then…I realized that I was describing women who are the opposite of me (or even the opposite of what I would like to be). So do we as female readers try to impose our personalities on the heroine and that is why she usually gets the short end of the stick?

Thoughts anyone?

Posted in Uncategorized

Patrick Carr’s A Draw of Kings

About

Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.

With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.

A dangerous mission to free Errol succeeds, but the dangers facing the kingdom are mounting with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw near. Will the revelation of Illustra’s next true king come in time or will all be lost?

Review

I cannot express just how thrilled I was when I received this book. Errol is probably one of my favorite characters of all times. Now onto the review:

If you have read the first two novels then you know that the first book is all Errol’s viewpoint, the second is Errol and Martin’s viewpoint, and this last one is Errol, Martin and Adora’s viewpoint. While some may prefer having Errol be the only voice (and to a certain degree I missed that), I still very much enjoyed Martin and Adora’s point of view. I will say that I always felt like Adora was not that important, but getting to know her as a character really brought strength and likeability. Before I wasn’t sure why she was so attached to Errol. Now I know, and I became really invested in their relationship. I would argue that book three is the most romantic of the series. 

There is also a number of questions that must be answered in this book and even a new one that is created in the beginning. The solution? Well, I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure it out. This book has adventure, adventure, action, and adventure. At the end of the book, I did guess correctly an answer or two, but there was still at least two or three things that had me completely surprised. I must say, that the whole time I was reading the book, I kept thinking (and I’m sure you will to), now how are they going to make this work. 

Was it completely satisfying in the end? Yes and no. Yes it answered all my questions and ended all tightly wrapped up. No because Errol, I don’t want you to be done. I don’t want the adventure to be over. In fact, when I closed this book, I immediately picked up book one again. Errol is just that awesome. 

Spiritually, the novel deals with death and what death in Christ (Aurae) looks like and how trusting God means that you can’t trust yourself and the old ways of doing things. The novel really comes full circle with this one and you get the message that I think Mr. Carr has been trying to get across since book one.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Just sad that the series is over!

Romantic scale: 7.5

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