Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Newton & Polly

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


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


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.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book Review: Guide Me Home

Guide Me Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Working as a guide in Mammoth Cave might allow
Rebekah the chance to bring joy back to her family.
But will the cave claim more than it gives?

After tragedy leaves its mark on Rebekah Hardin's family, she plans to help her parents and six siblings honor her beloved brother's memory and alleviate their poverty by working as a guide in the dangerous cave system. Kentucky's renowned Mammoth Cave presents profitable opportunities for hardworking, capable men. But Rebekah is determined, and if it means presenting herself as a himself, then she's up to the job.
Under the wing of experienced guide Tolly Sandford, "Reb" begins to learn the complexities of the cave. The two are joined by an aspiring young cartographer, Devlin Bale. The university student has traveled to the hill country to map tunnels---not to fall for a girl in disguise. 
Can the God who designed miles of underground astonishment shape Devlin's ambitious plans and free Reb from the weight of her past?


Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors and once again she did not disappoint. She always keeps her stories moving, never lingering too long on the same scene or bogging the story down with too much description. I like that the idea for this story is new and fresh; how many stories can you think of that the plot centers around a cave? She did well writing it, and it kept me interested as far as plot. However, I didn't much like either of the two main characters. They just felt a little bland in my opinion, and it was like they fell in love simply because they were the hero and heroine and that's what was supposed to happen. There was no chemistry between them, no real reason for them to fall in love. Honestly, my favorite character was Rebekah's sister, who had a side story in the novel. I don't know if this will be part of a series, but if so, I hope the next book is about her! 
Also, there seemed to be a few plot holes and it felt like the story hadn't fully concluded by the end (which is another reason I'm hoping for a sequel!). I give the book 4 out of 5 for the original plot, good writing, and interesting side characters. Overall an enjoyable read!

Many thanks to Waterbrook Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Book review: The Well

The Well by Stephanie Landsem


For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing---the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives---but not for Mara. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Nava, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.
Mara and Nava's lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, but his teachings come too late and she is stoned by the unforgiving villagers. Desperate to save her dying mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus' help---a journey that brings unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.
For some reason I find it difficult to write a review for this book, but it isn't because it wasn't good. This book was, in fact, a masterpiece. If you know me at all you'll know that coming from me, it must be a good book. 
Landsem had me captivated by the first page with her vivid descriptions and ability to keep the story flowing without feeling too rushed. Not to mention, her phenomenal skills at storytelling! This book was brilliantly written and had everything a good book should have. It kept my interest throughout the entire book and I eagerly gobbled it up in less than a week. It is now easily one of the best books I have ever read. It had the ability to make me cry at parts, which is also really something coming from me! Maybe some people don't like books that make them cry, but to me, it just makes the book that much better! It shows supurb skills in writing on the author's part, which is admirable and inspiring to me. This was the first book I've had the pleasure of reading by this author, and now I hope to be able to read her others! It easily receives a 5 out of 5 star rating from me, and if you are a fan of biblical fiction, or any Christian fiction, I highly recommend it! (Thanks to my niece for letting me borrow it!)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book review: Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus

Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus by Cliff Graham

From the back cover:

                           - CALEB

Two men were brave enough to tell the truth about what awaited the liberated Hebrews in the Promised Land. This is their story. From the slave pits of Egypts to the efforts of an eighty-five year-old Caleb as he battles the last of a race of fearsome giants, Shadow of the Mountain is a vivid portrait of two of God's chosen champions, and a meditation on masculine mentorship and the challenges and blessings of growing older.

Exodus, the first volume of Graham's Old Testament saga, begins with Caleb as he prepares to attack the fortified city he has claimed for his inheritance. He refuses to spend his twilight years resting, and instead is driven to claim the victory the Lord promised him decades previously. Capturing Caleb's early days as a mercenary for Pharaoh in Egypt watching the Hebrews suffer under the yoke of slavery, through a desperate fight with Anakite giants in the dark forests of the Israelite hill country, this is a story filled with the epic battles, gritty intensity, and supernatural events that made Graham's LION OF WAR serios a hit. Shadow of the Mountain is destined to ignite a love for the Scriptures in popular culture.


I really enjoyed this book! It was fast moving and action-packed, which is what I often crave in novels. The story takes place in two different settings, that of the elderly Caleb telling the story of his youth to his nephew as they prepare for battle, and the actual story he tells. With Caleb not being mentioned much in the bible, Graham wove his own tale of how his life might have been, and the result was a captivating tale. At the end of the book Graham states: My purpose is not to invent an elaborate backstory because I felt the Bible was insufficient; it is to create a way for the reader to encounter the events of Exodus as the Egyptians themselves might have known them.
His story is well-written and will keep you wanting to read more. I was especially taken in by the part with the plagues of Egypt. The whole book was written vividly and it was easy to imagine everything as it was explained, without being overly descriptive. Some of the battles were a little long for my taste, but that's about it. It was also extremely gory, so I would not recommend it for those who can't handle blood and strong violence. It even made me cringe at a few parts, and I have a pretty high tolerance for that sort of stuff. 
But overall a very good read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction and can handle the gore.

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Book Review: A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

From the back cover:

The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from London to her family's magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France.

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War I, she travels to London to help her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband, Jon, have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny's dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of chasing Zeppelins in France, he feels it's unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can't help admiring the pretty, warm-hearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships of war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout from those experiences pushes Alex beyond Penny's reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war?

I hate to too harshly critique a piece of literature, because it is a dear thing to me, nor is this a direct jab to the book or its author, but I found this book to be far too slow-paced for my liking. While the story had its strong points, and it was not in the least the worst book I've read, it was certainly not the best. It's more a matter of my own, personal prefernces rather than to how good the book was. In order for me to become enamored by a story, it must be moving forward constantly and speedily, a new scenario popping up in every chapter. The characters must be strong individuals with realistic personalities, fears, and flaws. This book, in terms of that criteria, was mediocre. I found myself becoming bored more than once, and I actually had to force myself to read it because I knew I needed to finish it in order to write this review. I did find parts of the story likeable, especially the side romance that took place between two of the minor characters, and the writing wasn't all bad. There were, however, several typos throughout the book, and I'm fairly certain this was not an advanced reading copy as it did not say so on the cover as they usually do. Also, there were two very similar scenes in the book which I found silly! In both scenes, there was a mail call, and the man whose perspective it is in is hoping he has a letter, but then becomes dissappointed when the stack of mail is depleted and his name wasn't called. But wait! The man announcing who the mail is for reaches again into his bag and pulls out a package, which is in fact for the man in whose perspective it is! This happened twice, to two different characters! Maybe I'm being ridiculous, but I just found it to be redundant. Also, the end of the book felt rather rushed, with poorly worded sentences thrown in. I can often sense a change in an author's writing when a book is nearing its end, like she was coming too close to her deadline and had to hurry to finish it up.
In conclusion, it was not a terrible story, it had its ups and downs, but overall it was just too slow and boring for my taste, though I am sure (and know) that there are others who would enjoy it, as I noticed it has several 5 star reviews on goodreads. Mostly, my opinion is just a personal prefernece.
Because it did have some interesting twists and a few likeable characters, and was clean and Godly, I give it a rating of 3 out of 5.

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Press in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book Review: Awakening

Awakening by Tracy Higley

Kallie Andreas is a mystery, even to herself.
Seven years ago Kallie woke up in a New York City museum, injured and traumatized. Alone and unclaimed.
Despite her shattered memories, she's worked her way into a position as assistant curator in that very museum, and now she wants nothing more than to pursue funding for her project--assembling pieces from the ancient Minoans.
But then the blackouts start. Lost time, stranded in terrifying danger, frantic visions that can't be real. A threatening phone call may be nothing more than paranoia and madness. Or perhaps not.
It's time to start seeing her psychiatrist more often.
Kallie's doctor challenges her to keep a journal, but her writing morphs into something else... What begins as a romantic fairy tale becomes an allegory of a woman plunged into crisis in the ancient past, in the misty islands of Minoan Greece, home to myth and legend.
When a mysterious billionaire invites Kallie to scour the black market with him for the most valuable of all Minoan treasures, the key to their lost language, Kallie can't resist. Dimitri is wealthy, charming and good-looking, but she's not interested--not in someone who's clearly hiding secrets of his own.
Together, the two embark on a global quest to find the Key, through some of the most exotic and beautiful locations in the world--unraveling the mystery and pursuing leads, all the while resisting romance in Italy, under the Santorini sun, and among the pyramids of Egypt.
Meanwhile, Kallie's memories are bleeding through and her journal has turned violent. She's teetering on the verge of a breakthrough, but what devastating truth has she been suppressing?
When a strange woman who clearly knows Kallie's real identity tries to murder her, it's clear that Kallie's past and present worlds are colliding, in a deadly crisis that will finally reveal the shocking mystery of her past.
But will the truth leave room for love?

This was a pretty good book! I love anything to do with treasure hunters, and I loved the locations in this book! It was mysterious and fairly well-written. It kept my interest pretty well, and was an easy book to read, although I did read it kind of slowly. The only things I didn't like was that Kallie turned to an Oracle rather than God, and while it was a clean book there was very little in the way of Christianity. The other thing was that I found Kallie's traveling companions to be extrememly stereotypical and cliche, and that really annoyed me. So those things aside, it was well written and an entertaining, mysterious story. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Book review: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of peculiar photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregine's Home For Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Chidren. As Jacob explores its decaying bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow---impossible though it seems---they may still be alive.

This was a really good book! Very well written and an engaging and mysterious story that kept me reading at a steady pace, eager to see what happens next. I enjoyed the characters and the setting a lot. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes these sorts of books! It does have a lot of language and gore, and some things that some would find frightening, so it isn't for everyone. But a very good book, and now I look forward to seeing the movie when it comes out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book Review: Beyond All Dreams

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, 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 before his promising career was 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.

From the gilded halls of the Capital 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 riskig all they've ever dreamed for their futures? 

I inched through this book very slowly at first, but I think it was more due to me not being in much of a reading mood over the winter. Then I picked it up last night and finished it off! I loved the setting and the plot and charatcers were likeable. I especially liked Luke, and Anna reminded me a bit of myself. There were parts that I found to be a bit slow, and then it seemed like the end was on the rushed side, but overall I thoght it to be an enjoyable read. This was the second book I've read by Elizabeth Camden and it surely won't be the last! I like her writing style and she seems to choose very interesting topics, settings, and characters. Her style seems fresh and a little different from your typical Christian historical romance. I don't think I liked this book as well as the other I read by her, "With Every Breath", which I thought was amazing, but this one was still good! I definitely recommend this author to others!  

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

Friday, January 1, 2016

Books I read in 2015

Happy New Year! Here's my collage of the books I read in 2015. I had really hoped to do more reading, but I ended up only reading half the amount of books I read in 2014! So I'm really going to try to make 2016 a better reading year!