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Monday Musings…What I’m Looking Foward to Reading!

 

In Holt Douglas’s line of work, there’s nothing sweeter than a confession of guilt.

Assistant D.A. Holt Douglas makes his living exposing lies and sending criminals to jail in Ashley County, Georgia. His job is always easier when defendants, instead of remaining silent, blame someone else or try to excuse their actions. With a confession in his hand, Holt knows a guilty plea will soon follow.

But lurking in Holt’s past is a dark secret that could end his successful career and possibly his relationship with Angelina, his hoped for fiancé. 

When Holt reopens a cold case involving the death of the town’s wealthiest businessman—allegedly killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest—Holt doesn’t believe it was suicide. Instead, he suspects murder.

As he investigates, Holt’s own guilt threatens to destroy him and the cause of justice he’s sworn to serve. While he knows his own confession could absolve him of his sin, it could cost him his future. Will he survive long enough to uncover the true crime that this small southern town has been hiding?

This book is on my radar. What’s on yours?

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Mary Jane Hathaway’s Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs

About

Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at The Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother and their aging antebellum home. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’s misgivings and throws herself into the project. 

Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back? 

Featuring a colorful cast of southern belles, Civil War re-enactors, and good Christian women with spunk to spare, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs brings the modern American South to light in a way only a contemporary Jane Austen could have imagined.

Review

Though I enjoyed the first book in this series, I was hesitant to read the second one because Emma and Mr. Knightley are my favorite Jane Austen couple. But I really enjoyed this book. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Ms. Hathaway manages to capture the essence of the novel Emma. Clearly there are some differences (which I greatly appreciated), but Caroline reads as Emma and Brooks as Knightley.

Caroline. She’s got that rich, bored, let me invest in other people’s lives thing going the same as Emma. You can tell that she genuinely wants to help and be needed. She wants to be modern, but is still so very much tied to the old way of doing things. She is both very much likeable and sometimes annoying, but only in the way that Emma is. 

Brooks is Knightley. He is also wealthy, but quiet and smart. He watches out and takes care of Caroline and is never afraid of correcting her when she’s wrong. 

The romance. Obviously Brooks and Caroline are friends first. Really good friends who sacrifice for each other and only desire that the other be happy and make good decisions…even if that means they have disagreements. I loved watching them slowly fall in love and rarely do I comment on such a thing, but the kiss in this book was awesome. I had to go back and read that thing again.

The inclusion of the Civil War. Do people really take reenactments that seriously? If so, that’s kind of weird… and funny.

The secondary characters. It wasn’t exactly like Emma (again I’m very glad it was not), but I enjoyed that they secondary characters managed to encapsulate the same ideas as others in the Austen novel. 

Spiritually, it’s kind of light, and I’m not sure that there is a theme. We are just aware that Caroline and Brooks are Christians and often turn to God in prayer. 

What I didn’t like:

Sometimes I wanted to sit Caroline and Brooks down and make them communicate. Lack of communication can really throw off a book, and it didn’t here, but it is a minor annoyance. 

Romantic Scale: 9

Overall, so much fun to read and very cute!

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Susan May Warren’s When I Fall in Love

About

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.

Review
This book created in me some really unsettling feelings. On the one hand, I love Susan May Warren and the Christiansen Family. I loved her characterization. I feel like I know each member (and their respective loves) so well. And this book, like so many of her other books was written so well, I was flipping the pages. However, there were two really big things that just bothered me, and so I’m going to do my review a bit differently today. Instead of listing what I did and didn’t like, I’m going to go down the list of the characters:
 
Max and Grace. Their romance was beyond cute. I loved the way they got to know each other over food  (and Hello! A cooking show like Chopped? Completely pulled me in) and Hawaii. It was romantic, and sweet, and so much fun. I will say Grace was at moments annoyingly insecure, but it’s easy to get past it, and she’s got an otherwise great personality. Max is such an intriguing character. He’s both serious and fun, a hockey player and a chef. I loved the dichotomy that was Max. BUT, when I opened the first page of his narrative I knew where this story was going, and I was hoping to be wrong. I was not.  I am about to rant about something and maybe get a little spoilery here (though you find out right away) please feel free to jump to the next paragraph. **Max is dealing with the possibility of a debilitating disease. And while I know that not everyone believes that Jesus still heals or that He’s a miracle worker, I do. And so it bothered me, that he had such a great faith in his own imminent demise and no faith in Jesus’ healing power. He believed that he was going to get sick deep down to the core of his being and while the spiritual message that Warren had was not wrong, (and I agree with it essentially) I’m sorry folks, I just couldn’t get with it. I understood his hesitance and his caution and even his fear. Nevertheless, I wanted more faith from Max.**
 
Owen. He was annoying in the last book. He gets worse in this one. Seriously, dude is a big pain in the butt. And if Susan May Warren writes him his own novel, it is either going to be the best one in the series or fall real short. He’s got a lot to make up for.
 
Raina. Sigh. I hoped, really hoped her story wasn’t going where I thought it was going to go. And then it did go there. And then it got worse. It was like a train wreck, you wanted to look away, but you just couldn’t. And I’m just worried that Susan May Warren is going to write a romance story with her and a certain guy and she’s going to put a bandaid on the situation and try to make me believe that it all worked out just fine. But honestly, in real life, Raina’s situation just might not be fixable (I’m not saying people wouldn’t forgive, and love and heal, but certain boundaries in life shouldn’t be crossed and when they are, most people would just throw in the towel and move on).Raina blew it, not necessarily because of her mistake, but because the mistake involved two people who are family members, and now her situation is going to color the rest of the series. Ugh.
 
Secondary characters: Eden, Jace, Ingrid, John, Darek, Ivy, Tiger, Amelia. Loved them. Loved seeing them in this book and finding out more about their lives.
 
So, I said all this to say, I didn’t hate this book. I couldn’t put it down. I found it highly entertaining. I also found it highly unsettling. I wanted more faith from Max, and Raina’s situation kind of broke my heart. Life isn’t pretty, in fact, sometimes it’s a huge mess. But I guess what I wanted were happier circumstances for this family.

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Monday Musings…2015 Covers!

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now paired together on Yancey’s search-and-rescue canine unit, they begin to put aside old arguments as they come to see each other in a different light. Then a call comes in from the Iditarod that will push them to their limits. 

Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing. Frank’s daughter has been kidnapped. In order to save her, the man must use his knowledge as a mechanical engineer to do the kidnapper’s bidding or she will die. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life, but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen

Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.

Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for themselves?

For years Charlotte Withersby has worked as an assistant to her father, an eminent English botanist. As she approaches the old age of twenty-four, her father pushes her out into society, swayed by an uncle who believes God’s only two roles for women are marriage and motherhood. When one of the Withersbys’ colonial correspondents, Edward Trimble, returns to England, he’s drafted as the new assistant so Charlotte is free to marry. This suits Edward’s plans quite well, since the last thing he wants to do is reunite with the family he is ashamed to call his own.

Though Edward proves himself vexingly capable on the job, Charlotte won’t surrender the job without a fight, and schemes with her best friend to regain her position. Perhaps if a proposal seems imminent, Charlotte’s father will see his error and ask her to return. Charlotte tries to make headway in her town’s social life, but reveals herself to be unaware of all the intricacies of polite society. Though Edward pitches in, tutoring her in society’s expectations, she just seems to make things worse. And the more she comes to know of her father’s assistant, the more trouble she has imagining life without him. Caught in a trap of her own making and seeing the hopelessness of her prospects, will Charlotte get to keep her work or will she have to cede her heart?

Irene has grown up in the jungle as a missionary with her Aunt Anita, but now she and countless others are imprisoned by Japanese soldiers at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in the Philippines. Irene and her aunt are safe there, and she keeps busy with her duty of delivering censored messages to the camp’s prisoners, but like everyone else, she prays for the war to end and for her freedom.

Rand is a wealthy, womanizing American, whose attempted escape from the internment camp has put himself and others in danger. When Rand and Irene’s Aunt Anita meet one another in the hospital, Irene learns more of his story and her heart is determined to save his family.

But the danger outside the walls of the hospital worsens every day, and life in this exotic place is anything but luxurious. Can Irene find Rand’s family before they disappear forever? And can a humble missionary woman and an arrogant man find common ground in the face of their biggest fears?

And this is just the beginning!

Posted in Historical

Nancy Kimball’s Chasing the Lion

About

From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise.
For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half brother wants him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight—and die—for their greed. Rome’s most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul longs for him to return to his faith.

What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too—something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior’s journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within. The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy—with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.

Review

I randomly stumbled across this book while actually looking for another book. I noticed that it was about the Romans and after read having Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind, which made me fall in love with Roman-era novels, I decided to read this one. Initially, I found it to be a bit slow, then I noticed that it had shades of the Biblical story of Joseph and I thought it would be predictable, then I reached about 20% on my kindle. Then I fell in love with this book. Here’s why:

What I liked:

The realistic portrayals of Rome. Let’s face it, Rome was about as debaucherous as you could get and authors can either pretend that that stuff didn’t happen or they can tell it like it is. Well, Ms. Kimball tells it like it is. Boy does Jonathan (and some secondary characters) ever go through some things. She didn’t revel in it, but I’m glad she acknowledged that it was there.

Gladiators. Ever since the film Gladiator, I kinda sorta am interested in them and we get a lot of Gladiatorial happenings in this book.

The romance. It had this slow burn to it that was done fabulously. You could see Nessa and Jonathan falling in love with each other. And the sacrifices that he made on her behalf….

It was sweeping. This is not just one story, not just a year in someone’s life. It spreads across more then 10 years and Jonathan manages to affect everyone he comes into contact with.

Spiritually, the theme is forgiveness. Jonathan has a lot of people who treated him wrongly, and yet we are required to forgive. It’s beautifully portrayed throughout the whole novel. There is also another theme on not turning back on God when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to.  Good stuff.

What I didn’t like:

Again, it took a minute for me to become invested, but once I did, I couldn’t put this book down.

Romantic Scale:9

Overall, loved it!.

Posted in Uncategorized

Steven James’ Blur

About

The isolated town of Beldon, Wisconsin, is shocked when a high school freshman’s body is found in Lake Algonquin. Just like everyone in the community, sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers believes that Emily Jackson’s death was accidental. But at her funeral, when he has a terrifying vision of her, his world begins to rip apart at the seams.

Convinced that Emily’s appearance was more than just a mere hallucination, Daniel begins to look carefully into her death, even as he increasingly loses the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

What’s real? What’s not? Where does reality end and madness begin?

As Daniel struggles to find the truth, his world begins to crumble around him as he slips further and further into his own private blurred reality.

Full of mind-bending twists and turns, Blur launches a new trilogy of young adult thrillers from Steven James, a master of suspense.

Review

I’m a huge fan of Steven James’ Patrick Bowers series, so of course I had to buy his new YA novel. Here the details:

What I liked:

It’s creepy from the beginning. You are tossed right into it and just like Daniel, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. And let me tell you, some things are not real.

Completely engaging. I could not put this novel down.

I didn’t know who done it until the last couple of chapters. I kept thinking this person was the killer or that person was. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I trusted very few people. It was fun!

I really liked that Daniel was close to his dad and let his dad in on what was going on. Too often, YA novels like to leave the parents out of it. 

Spiritually, the novel is a little vague; there is mention of whether Jesus acknowledged that ghosts exist, but I have a feeling if you read the whole series it will come together. 

What I didn’t like:

I couldn’t decide if it’s cliche that Daniel is a math genius or not. 

Overall, so much fun, so intense, very creepy. Recommended!

Romantic scale: 6 (there’s a girl lol)

 

 

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Monday Musings…Books That Are Coming out This Year!

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas’s vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world–filled with family members she’s never met, dances she’s never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes’ shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

For three years, Kate Marshall has been grieving the loss of her husband and their four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was dead. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious but agrees to investigate. Digging into the case he discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Kate’s son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden–and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon’s many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plot line that accelerates to an explosive finish.

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled
with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

 TBA

 

Any of these books you’re particularly looking forward to? I just found The Princess Spy! Super Excited about this one!