Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: When Mercy Rains

When Mercy Rains 
Kim Vogel Sawyer

She left, heavily weighted with secrets.
But God reveals all things, in His timing.
And He redeems them.

Suzanne Zimmerman was only seventeen and pregnant when her shamed mother quietly sent her away from their Old Order Mennonite community in Kansas. With her old home, family, and first love firmly behind her, Suzanne moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and raised a daughter, Alexa, on her own. 
Now, nearly twenty years later, an unexpected letter arrives from Kansas. Her brother asks her to bring her nursing abilities home and care for their ailing mother. His request requires that Suzanne face a strict faith community and a family that may not have forgiven her. It also means seeing Paul Aldrich, her first love.
Paul, widowed with an eight-year-old son, is relieved to see Suzanne again and to have the chance to beg her forgiveness for his past indiscretion. But when he meets Alexa, his guilt flickers in the glare of Suzanne's prolonged secret---one that changes everything.
Suzanne had let go of any expectation for forgiveness long ago. Does she dare hope in mercy---and how will her uncovered past affect the people she loves the most?

I thought this book would be a romance, but surprisingly, it wasn't. It was a story of forgiveness and healing amongst a family torn apart. I read it very slowly, but it wasn't so much that I lost interest in it or found it boring, it was just that it was so day-to-day life that it was a book I could just pick up here and there and read a little bit at a time. It wasn't super adventurous or thrilling, but it was a good story of restoration amongst family. There were a few unexpected twists thrown in, and that made it more interesting. It wasn't my favorite read by Kim, but it wasn't bad. I guess it was more touching than anything, a few parts made my eyes water. So anyway, overall a good book! 

I received this book for free from Water Brook Multnomah publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Review: With Every Breath

With Every Breath
Elizabeth Camden

In the shadow of the nation's capitol, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait, and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

This book was, for the most part, superb! It was fast paced, well-written and had likeable, realistic characters. It was a romance as well as a mystery, and I found the medical parts fascinating! One of the best Christian books I've read. It was the first book I've read by this author and I will surely read more by her. I highly recommend "With Every Breath". (Also, I adore the cover!)

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Captured by Love

Captured by Love 
by Jody Hedlund

Michigan Territory, 1814

A voyageur and a young woman swept up in 
a time of upheaval and danger discover firsthand 
the high price of freedom.

The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders. 
Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British--and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who's grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.
As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they'll risk for love.

This was a really good book! It captured my interest from the beginning and I read it pretty steadily. The story was gripping and often had me wanting to know what would happen next and how it would all end. I liked the mysteriousness of it and the war stuff, and the romance was sweet, though they focused a little too much on the physical side of things, like kissing, and touching and how gorgeous she was and how his muscles bulged under his shirt. (lol!) But other than that stuff getting to me a little it was a great book!

I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review: Through the Deep Waters

                         Deep Waters
Kim Vogel Sawyer

A past filled with shame
can be washed away
with a love that conquers all. 

Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amid the secrets held in every dark grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn't old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.
The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her. Despite his self-consciousness about his physical disability and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ's love. But can she ever accept the gift she so desperately needs?

I loved this book! Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors and I've yet to read a book by her that I didn't like. It was well written and had good characters, though a couple of them annoyed me at times, but they redeemed themselves by the end of the book. One thing I like about Kim is that she doesn't drag scenes on forever, which keeps the book moving at a nice pace. This novel was very sweet and emotional, and probably one of the most inspiring books I've read. While some Christian books I've read seem to have hardly anything to do with God in them, Kim always has a way of incorporating Him into her stories in a beautiful way. I give this book a five star rating.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time by Tracie Peterson

Having survived an attack that left her scarred and her father dead, 
she is never free from the fear
and memories of the man who is responsible.

Texas seems to be an answer to Alice's prayers, and when she has the opportunity to relocate to a ranch near Dallas, Robert Barnett captures her attention. Unlike any man Alice has ever known, Robert doesn't worry about the obstacles that stand in their way---and he hardly seems to notice the scar she bears.
Bur there are storm clouds gathering; devastating information about her family comes to light, threatening Alice's peaceful sanctuary. 
Disillusioned, Alice must learn to place her trust in God as she seeks a measure of peace for her future. . . and for her heart.

I honestly did not care for this book much. It was slow moving at parts (especially in the beginning, which seemed to have a lot of boring scenes that dragged on and didn't hold my interest). I've read many books by Tracie Peterson before and loved quite a few of them. This one seemed as if it was written in a rush, with sloppy and clipped sentences, while conversations would drag on forever at times. Also, by the synopsis above you'd think the book is all about Alice and Robert, wouldn't you? Well just about the same amount if not more of the book followed a different character, especially in the beginning.
I feel that Alice was a weak lead role and the whole book just kind of felt like you were reading a history book that told what was and had happened but had very little depth to it. Also, the romance between Alice and Robert was barely there. They meet one minute and there's a cute moment between them, but then the book goes on to focus on some other things, and when it comes back to them they're in love with each other, though neither one tells the other and there's a major lack of communication between them.
Now there were some parts, when they FINALLY got to Texas (about a third or more into the book), that were somewhat interesting and kept me wanting to read more, so if I overlooked the other things it was an alright story. 
I hate to be too harsh but there it is, my honest opinion. It wasn't an overall horrible book, but not one I'd recommend unless you really think you'd like it.

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: A Table by the Window

A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge

Every cook knows finding the right 
balance between savory and sweet 
is a tricky business.

The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D'Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn---does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career? 
Sorting through her late grandmother's belongings, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and startling secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery hidden from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story. 
Beginning a long-distance relationship with a Memphis-based immunologist just complicates Juliette's life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary career and a doctor whose life is worlds away from her own? Is it possible her grandmother's past can help her move forward?

Let me start off by saying, this is not a book you want to read on an empty stomach! Seriously, unless I'd just eaten before reading it my stomach would growl every time! Which isn't a bad thing. It was a really good book; quick and easy to read. I love food and the culinary world so it was interesting to me. It reminded me a lot of My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which was even mentioned in the book) with more focus on the food and restaurant industry. So if you like food and that movie, you're bound to like this book! Also almost every chapter ended with a scrumptious sounding recipe, so I'll probably have to try some of those out. 
The only let down was that it is not a stand alone book. It ends right in the middle of things so now I have to read the next book in the series (which picks up right where this one left off) to see how it all ends! 
Anyway, and good and worth-while read that I recommend to anyone who likes those things I mentioned above. 

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Book Review: Tidewater Inn

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer's talent and love of history. She's delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she's met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she's there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby's under suspicion for the crime.

Libby's dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

Because of this books theme, I thought it would be fitting to take it with me to the beach. I started it while we were there and read quite a bit on the trip home, and have been reading it pretty steadily up until just a little bit ago when I finished it! I've read a few books by this author and have liked almost all of them, this one is no exception. It was fairly well written and suspenseful enough to keep you reading on so you can find out what happens next. There were a few things in it that I found kind of corny and nerdy, but other than that a good read!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Book Review: Death in the Clouds

Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie

Twenty-one people have boarded the Prometheus at France's Le Bourget airport for a routine, one-day flight to London. But what begins as an ordinary excursion over the English Channel turns into a most extraordinary case of murder when a female passenger is shot with the venom-tipped dart of a South African blowpipe. Even more bizarre is that the killing could go completely unnoticed by any other passengers--including Hercule Poirot, the brilliant Belgian detective, sitting not fifteen feet from the victim.

This was another good read from Agatha Christie. I don't think I've read a single book by her that I didn't like. It wasn't my favorite of her books, but still suspenseful and well-written as always. I thought I had it all figured out, but, as happens most of the time with her books, I ended up being wrong in the end!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Broken Kind
              of Beautiful
Katie Ganshert

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four-year-old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she's learned a sacred truth---appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows---so when it starts to unravel, she'll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal wear line---an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white. If only her tenuous future didn't rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the facade she works so hard to maintain. In fact, it seems that everyone Ivy comes across in Greenbrier challenges what she has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her---a woman stained and broken by the world---yet wants her still?

This book is beautifully written. I must admit I'm a little envious of Katie's writing style. She adds just enough detail to give you a feel for the surroundings without being too wordy. I loved the book at first because of this, but after a while I guess I just grew kind of bored with the story. It's a bit cliche and predictable and a little unrealistic. At one part someone drops a snow globe on CARPETED floor and it shatters... and at another part a guy hit a girl in the cheek with a beer bottle and the bottle shattered and cut her face... uh... I'm pretty sure her cheek bone would break before the bottle would! The glass in glass bottles is pretty thick! Stuff like that REALLY bugs me in books... but anyway, other than those things it was an interesting story and Ivy wasn't your typical heroine for these types of books so I guess that was nice. Although her character kind of annoyed me. I suppose it's sort of cut down the middle. It had good stuff and not so good stuff. But I'll give it 4 out of 5 because of the writing style and the story was interesting at some parts.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review: Dark Justice

Brandilyn Collins

What did he say? 
                  What does it mean?

While driving along a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, 
who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident.
The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah's ear. Soon there are people
---perhaps even law enforcement---who want to kill her and her mom 
for what they "know."
The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide
her confused parent, who just wants to listen to her favorite pop music,
wear her purple hat, and go home? If they turn to Hannah's daughter for
help, she could fall into danger as well. 
Surrounded by trouble, Hannah must keep all three generations of
women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to
them, but the entire country . . .

This book was quite intriguing, and caught my interest from the very beginning. It's a very suspenseful edge-of-your-seat sort of read, leaving you wondering what will happen next with the turn of every page, thus making it a quick and easy read. Most of the book is written in first person's perspective from Hannah's point of view, but there were some parts written in third person where it switched to her daughter's point of view, and a couple other characters. It was a very clipped and to the point sort of writing style, not focusing too long on any one thing, which helped with the fast flow of the story. Sometimes that was nice and sometimes it kind of annoyed me, but overall it's not a big deal. If you're in the mood for a riveting suspense that will keep you coming back to the book to learn what happens next, I recommend this book! It does have quite a bit of violence and killing in it, as well as break-ins and kidnappings, so if that sort of stuff bothers you it's probably not the book for you. This was the first book I've read by this author, and after reading it (and "Praise" for her other books) I would certainly like to read more by her! I give this book a 4.5.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: Blades of Valor

Blades of Valor by Sigmund Brouwer (Merlin's Immortals book 4)

Thomas is finally in the Holy Land and reunited with Sir William, but is forced to travel on his own from the coast through Nazareth, and finally to Jerusalem. The road is a dangerous one—especially to a lone traveler. Bandits masquerade as slaves, traitors appear to be allies, and once again, Thomas doesn’t know whom to trust. He must rely on his own resources to discern friend from foe, and to finally discover the final key to the Druids' master plan before returning home to expose them.

Back in England, a final storm is brewing against Thomas, for the Druids are much more powerful than the Orphan King can even imagine.

This book was pretty good, though it seemed to drag on some in the beginning. Throughout the whole book there were both parts that I found quite interesting and parts I found quite boring. Especially some of the conversations, which dragged on and often repeated things that had already been said either in the previous book or to another person. Also I don't feel like the characters were pushed enough to their limits. Quite often they would too easily get out of dangerous situations, so the book never got too suspenseful or filled with much action. It seemed like the exciting scenes started and ended all too quickly and the boring scenes went on far too long. I think perhaps I liked the book before it a little better, but it was a decent end to the series (even though I didn't read book 1 and 2) and all ended well.

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Martyr's Fire

Martyr's Fire by Sigmund Brouwer (Book 3 in the Merlin's Immortals series)

Posing as a beggar, Thomas escapes Magnus after fifteen men, who are calling themselves the Priests of the Holy Grail, arrive and take control of the castle through wondrous acts and apparent miracles. With the help of his longtime friend Gervaise, Thomas sets out on a journey that leads him to the ancient Holy Land. Unaware that Katherine and Hawkwood are watching over him, Thomas is tested in his beliefs and comes face to face with the ancient power that the Merlins and Druids have long been searching for.

I chose this for my next read from Blogging For Books because it was pretty much the only thing I had to pick from, and it was short so I knew I could read it in a timely manner. As it is the third installment in a series it was a little confusing in some parts as most of the characters had already been introduced in the previous books and the plot was set, but I didn't find it to be too terribly hard to follow. Toward the beginning I thought it to be kind of boring and it didn't really grasp my interest. Still I read on, and I'm glad I did! It actually turned out to be a fairly entertaining read with likeable characters and it was well-written. Also, it was kind of funny as I'm reading along and all of a sudden Robin Hood is randomly thrown in it! Anyway, the only downside is that the story leaves off in the middle of things so now I must read the next book in the series! Anyway, not a terribly amazing book but entertaining enough to keep my interest.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: A Kiss In Time

A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn

Talia fell under a spell. . . .
Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it
was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . . 
                   I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my 
                   tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-
                   looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another
time--to a stranger's soft kiss.
                  I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to
                  kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have
brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away 
with this commoner!

                  Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of
                  her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

A Kiss In Time is a modern retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty. I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read! It was pretty funny at some parts and was a quick and easy read. It was fast paced and kept my interest until the end. Though not being a Christian book, it did have some worldly stuff in it, but nothing too bad. Probably a little better in that sense than Beastly, which is written by the same author. Overall a good book that I would recommend to others and I know I would be interested in reading more of Flinn's modern fairy tales.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Paper Roses

Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot (Texas Dreams book 1)

Her future stretched out like the clear blue Texas sky. 
But a storm is coming.

Leaving the past behind in Philadelphia, mail-order bride Sarah Dobbs arrives in San Antonio ready to greet her groom---a man she has never met but whose letters, her paper roses, have won her heart from afar. But there is a problem---Austin Canfield is dead, and Sarah cannot go back East.

As Sarah tries to reconcile herself to a future that is drastically changed, Austin's brother Clay wants nothing more than to shake the Texas dust from his boots, but first he must find his brother's killer. And then there's Sarah.

Something is blooming out in the vast Texas landscape that neither Clay nor Sarah is ready to admit, and the promise of redemption blows like a gentle breeze through the prairie grasses.

At first this book was terribly slow moving and way too descriptive for my taste, lingering far to long on the character's thoughts and feelings, but after a while it seemed to be a bit less descriptive and I did enjoy it. It still was rather wordy and a book that was nearly impossible to read quickly; sometimes it seemed like the author threw in big words just because, as if flaunting her word knowledge. Still the story did have depth and that's what kept me interested. I had to keep reading to discover who Austin's killer was! As far as the romance part it was predictable, but still sweet. I really liked Clay. He was probably my favorite character in the book. Not a super thrilling story that everyone simply must read but still worth the read. I'd give it a 3.5.