Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: Irish Meadows

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

Faced With an Uncertain Future, Sometimes All You Have Left Is the Courage to Dream.

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry---as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whalen returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit. Lately I tend to grow bored with Christian historical fiction, as it can start to all be the same ol', same ol' and full of cliches, but this one actually wasn't so bad. I really enjoyed the fact that it followed two love stories as opposed to the usual one, which I think kept things interesting without either story dragging on too much. I don't think she focused too long on the boring details of things, so that was nice. It was pretty typical as far as historical romance goes, however I think the author is a good enough writer that she was able to keep things fresh and new. Brianna was pretty much your typical heroine, so I think I enjoyed Colleen's story a bit more. I tend to enjoy the characters who start in a "bad place" and gradually become better, as opposed to the characters who start out already "perfect". It just adds more depth and meaning to the story, in my opinion. So while it certainly wasn't a book that I absolutely loved and just couldn't put down, it was pretty good for its genre, so I give it a good 4 out of 5.


I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Book review: Eat Beautiful

Eat Beautiful:
Food and Recipes to Nourish Your Skin From the Inside Out
by Wendy Rowe

Beauty is as much about good health as the way you look. In Eat Beautiful, Wendy Rowe shows you how to achieve amazing skin, with 70 delicious recipes based on nutrient-boosting ingredients.

This is a really nice "cookbook". Not only does it contain lots of yummy recipes, but it is also full of nutritional and skincare tips, as well as lists of foods and ingredients and what they are good for. I love that it is seperated into seasons, with recipes containing ingredients that are easier to get your hands on for each corresponding season. I have only tried one recipe from it, a smoothie that we happened to already have most of the ingredients on hand, but I look forward to trying more! This seems to be a really nice book, and is also visually appealing with a nice hardcover in a pretty blush color with bronzy gold lettering! If you're into eating healhty, and/or are looking to improve your complexion through eating the right foods, I definitely recommend this book!


I received a free copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Newton & Polly

Newton & Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund

"AMAZING GRACE! HOW SWEET THE SOUND
THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME!
I ONCE WAS LOST, BUT NOW AM FOUND . . . "

Now remembered as the author of the world's most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father---until the night he hears Polly Catlett's enchanting voice, caroling. He's immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John's reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

I really enjoyed Jody Hedlund's story of Luther and Katharina, so I was excited to get my hands on this book! I'm not sure I liked it as well as the other, but it was still a very interesting story. It was neat to learn about John Newton and all that he went through in his life. I do feel that the story was just a tad bit repetitive with John seeing Polly, then going out to sea, then seeing Polly, and so on, and I also felt that there could have been a bit more with Polly, but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. Perhaps a bit slow at parts, but then there were the more fast-paced parts that grabbed my attention. A 4 out of 5 from me, and I look forward to reading more by this author!


I was provided a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book review: A Noble Masquerade

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she's never actually met the man, she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother's mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.
Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family's estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

This book was not terrible but nor was it incredible. I really enjoyed the first half of it when Miranda was exchanging letters with the duke, but then it took a boring turn as the second half was filled the London season of parties and suitors calling on Miranda and her sister at their home. That may sound exciting to some, but it was just too much of the same ol', same ol' for me. There was some action toward the end and the excitement picked up some, but even so I still found myself becoming a bit bored. It was decently written and all, just too much like other books I have read before. A 3 star rating from me.


I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book review: June

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Synopsis:

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family's crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her---her grandmother June. But the shriek of the rusted doorbell forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomer's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets lie in wait behind the oak doors of June's once-stately home?
Soon Jack's famous daughters arrive, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June's silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywoo came to town, and June's and Jack's lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts between past and present, Cassie and her guests are forced to rexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

While this book was very well written, I can't give it a high review. It's not a Christian book and me being a Christian I just found it to be much too worldly. I read most of it but decided not to finish it because of this. It does have an interesting storyline and keeps you wanting to know what happens next, and I did skim the last chapter to see how it ends. Overall, well-written but not something I feel comfortable reading. The cover and book iself is really pretty though!


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review: Wolves Among Us

Wolves Among Us
by Ginger Garrett

Sometimes a savior can
bring destruction.

Sometimes a doubter can 
save a town.

Dinfoil, Germany, 1538. When a double murder stirs up fears,
the village priest sends for help. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers
the call brings a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under
his influence, fear, guilt, and suspicion of women take a deadly turn. Pious
and heretic alike become victims of witch-hunting zealots. In the midst of
this nightmare, a doubting priest and an unloved wife---a secret friend of
the recently martyred William Tyndale---somehow manage to hear another
voice . . . and discover the power of love and fear.

This book was nothing spectacular. It wasn't very well-written in my opinion and lacked depth. It was dealing with deep issues and topics, but there was no feeling of deepness or connection to any of the characters. Most were very naive and didn't even react much to situations that you would be sure they should react to! Anyway, it had a few interesting parts, especially toward the end, and it was overall an okay book, not awful or anything, just not great. It was kind of weird too. So I guess I would give it a 3 out of 5.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: The Midwife's Tale

The Midwife's Tale 
by Delia Parr 
(At Home In Trinity book 1)

From the back cover:

Martha Cade comes from a long line of midwives who have served the families of Trinity, Pennsylvania for generations. A widow with two grown children, she's hopeful that her daughter will follow in her footsteps, but when Victoria runs off, Martha's world is shattered.

Worse, a new doctor has arrived in town, threatening her job, and she can't remember a time when her faith has been tested more. Still determined to do the work she knows God intended for her, Martha is unprepared for all that waits ahead. Whether it's trying to stop a town scandal, mending broken relationship, or feeling the first whispers of an unexpected romance, she faces every trial and every opportunity with hope and faith.

---

I hate to give negative reviews, but sometimes it can't be helped. This book was, for the most part, extremely boring. I feel like it could have been done way better, as there were some good ideas and plots presented, but unfortunately, they were nothing more than ideas, because hardly anything happened in this book. 
(SPOILERS AHEAD) By the end of chapter one  Martha finds out that her daughter has run off with a troupe of traveling actors and decides she should leave to try and find her. At that point, I'm thinking, "Oh, exciting! Already the book is starting off with a journey! Maybe it will even switch to Victoria's POV and show some snippets of her life as a traveling actor!" Not so. Chapter two starts off with Martha returning from her journey three months later and then gives us a hardy dose of narrative summary of how she failed to find Victoria and what happened on her journey. In fact, whenever anything exciting was about to happen in this book it skipped over it and instead tells us how it went in the next chapter or scene. When I read a book, I want to be thrown right into the action, I want to experience everything right along with the characters. I do not want to read about how it all went down after it's over with. No thank you. 
The book did have a few exciting, right there in the action scenes, but not enough to really count. So basically the book was about Martha wandering around the town thinking about how she's failed as a mother, thinking about what she's going to do. She eats a ton of sweets, befriends a bird and a little boy, and there are a few birth scenes, but really not as many as there should have been considering the book's title. And then there's her love interest... at least I think he was her love interest?? I don't know, because they loved each other in the past but now all she does is think about how she turned him down in the past and is now confused about her feelings for him, and said love interest might as well have been a cardboard cutout. 
One thing I did like was the friendship that started to grow between Martha and the new doctor who moved into town. (Maybe he was the love interest?? But he's young enough to be her son!) 
So, in conclusion, I feel like this book was sorely lacking, and that the author might have had a good idea for a book ending, or a series, but had to come up with some kind of beginning and middle so she threw some stuff in that was pretty irrelevant to the plot. I have a feeling the next book might dive into more action and finally get things rolling, but if that's the case, this book really didn't need to exist, and unfortunately I won't know because I have no interest in reading the next book in the series. 
I give this book a rating of 2.5 out of 5 because of the ideas that were good, the few scenes that did grip my interest, and the friendship between Martha and Doctor McMillan. (and I also enjoyed learning a bit about what midwifery was like back in those days).


I was provided a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.