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October 8 2013 3 08 /10 /October /2013 01:52

 

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"The Miner's Lady"

 

     "The Miner's Lady" by Tracie Peterson is published by Bethany House and is released on September 1, 2013.  I have read a few of this author's other books, and thought that they were ok.  This one blew my expectations off the charts! Seemingly in the style of Romeo and Juliet, the hero and heroine are from opposing families in a decades-old feud between the Panettas and the Calarcos.

 

     Chantel Panetta has just returned from her trip to Italy to visit her family in a coming-of-age type vacation.  When she returns home, she finds her younger sister, Isabella, is in love with the younger Calarco, Orlando.  Chantel is horrified that Issy would go to the mines some days to see him, especially knowing the fathers and brothers in the two families work there together and could spot them.  Putting her doubt aside, though, Chantel helps Issy meet up with Orlando and distracts his older brother, Dante.  Dante pricks Chantel's ire as well as her sharp tongue whenever she's around him, but there are noticeable sparks between the two.

 

     Dante Calarco despises the thought of his younger brother falling for a Panetta.  He knows that if he father ever caught a whiff of the scandal, he would disown Orlando, at the least.  Then again, with Chantel's sharp wit and sparking brown eyes, can he really blame his brother?

 

     When a tragic accident happens at the mine, Chantel's father wants the feud to stop, and his daughters couldn't agree more.  But Dante and Orlando's father's heart is hardened, and Issy begins talk of eloping.  With Chantel and her family promoting the love and Dante fearfully hiding it, what will happen when their paths cross at Issy and Orlando's escape? Will Chantel's hope for love and Dante's undeniable attraction to her flare?

 

     Personally, I loved this book! The plot was gripping, the characters all so different yet woven together so beautifully, and the setting so heartwarming, I felt as if I was on vacation to the mountains myself.  This story kept me riveted in its pages.

 

     Thank you to Bethany House publishers and Net Galley for providing me with a copy to review.  All opinions are my own.

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September 24 2013 3 24 /09 /September /2013 22:53

 

 

"Fifteen Minutes"

     "Fifteen Minutes" is Karen Kingsbury's latest novel, published by Howard Books and set to release on October 29, 2013.  This book, not so surprisingly, continues her seeming tradition of having one famous person in love with one 'normal' person.

 

     Zack Dylan is from a family that has built its name off of their Kentucky Derby horses farm.  The family and farm are going through some financial crisis, and Zack decides it's time to put his God-given singing talent to use by auditioning for "Fifteen Minutes", a singing competition similar to American Idol or X factor.  His girlfriend, Reese, does not really want him to go, but supports him anyway.  Zack pledges that he will remain faithful and sing for the glory of God, but as soon as he sees a camera, he gets swept up in playing the camera for fame.  Mrs. Kingsbury keeps up with the times; Zack tweets about his decision and resulting occurrences because of it, and all the technology seemed up-to-date, at least from my perspective. 

     One of the judges on the show was a former contestant, and she struggles with the results of her fame, and the desire to warn the new contestants about it.  Another one of the judges is trying to go through a divorce because she's cheating on her husband with a singer a decade younger.  The life of fame is painted so harsh, making a stark contrast to how easy it seemed that Zack became famous.

     Somehow though, it all just seemed fake.  While it offered a thoughtful perspective to singing and TV shows in general, "Fifteen Minutes" did not hold my attention very far.  The plot was predictable and unrealistic, and the characters almost shallow.

     Thank you to Howard Books and Net Galley for providing me with an advanced reader's [e]copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own.

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September 24 2013 3 24 /09 /September /2013 21:28

 

"Gunpowder Tea"

     I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have read all summer.  Well, one of the best 'short' (as in fewer than 500 pages) books I have read.  After reading Gone with the Wind so recently, not much else compares :).  I thought that this was the first thing I had read by this author until I looked up what else she had written and I saw that she had a part in "A Bride for All Seasons".  So, besides that little fourth of a book, I have not read anything by her. 

     "Gunpowder Tea" is written by Margaret Brownley and published by Thomas Nelson.  It is the third book in the "Brides of the Last Chance Ranch" series, but I was unaware of that and it was excellent as a stand-alone. 

     Miranda Hunt, aka Annie Beckman, is a detective for Pinkerton Detective agency, taking after her father who was also a private eye, but was killed by a Wells Fargo agent.  She is forever trying to prove herself to him, even after his death.  When she lands a big job out in Arizona Territory, she knows that it could be the boost she needed to shine in her career.  She is assigned to go undercover by replying to the ad for an heiress in the paper, and find out the identity of the Phantom, a robber of trains, banks, purses, you name it.  The only problem is, he does not do the dirty work himself, and the people who do it for him don't know who he is either.  When the train that Miranda is riding to her new job is robbed, she finds that she may have to begin sleuthing a little earlier than planned.

     Jeremy Taggert, aka David Branch, has haunting blue eyes that Miranda can't forget from seeing behind the bandit's mask during the train robbery.  Thankfully, he and his fellow robbers were apprehended upon pulling into the station, and were in jail, awaiting the noose.  But then Branch shows up as a new hired hand at the Last Chance Ranch, where Miranda has applied to be an heiress.  She knows she would recognize those eyes anywhere.  Since he was just sentenced to hanging, how did he escape? And why is he so casual about it?

     Aside from the historical accuracy (or lack thereof) and unrealistic atmosphere of the plot, this was a pretty good story.  The characters' relationship progressing was easy to predict, but the who-done-it wasn't so much.  All in all, it made for a nice summer (or fall) read with just enough suspense to keep you going.

 

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  I enjoyed it immensely.

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September 21 2013 7 21 /09 /September /2013 23:56

 

 

 

 

 

   

"Elusive Hope"

     "Elusive Hope" is the sequel to "Forsaken Dreams" by MaryLu Tyndall, in the "Escape to Paradise" trilogy.  "Elusive Hope" releases November 1, 2013.  This sequel continues the tale begun in "Forsaken Dreams", and really would not do so well as a stand-alone.

     We return to the lives of our new Brazilian settlers, where we find Magnolia Scott working in the hospital while her father breathes down her neck what a lady should and should not do.  Magnolia seeks relief from him and intends to run away back to Georgia, where her fiancé' awaits.  However, there is no opportunity for this until Hayden Gale is told to have an approaching voyage to Rio.

     Hayden Gale and Magnolia have been constantly at odds with each other ever since "Forsaken Dreams", where they shared a kiss.  Besides that and Magnolia's ogling, there has not been much chemistry, only frustration.  But when Magnolia secretly (or rather, not so secretly) follows Hayden into the jungle towards Rio, he finds that she isn't the stuck-up lady that she seems, and some unbidden admiration wells up in Hayden for his companion that, unbeknownst to her, he is planning on cheating out of her travelling money.

     This book is vividly alive with spiritual warfare containing an intensity to rival Indiana Jones, an unexpected (to the characters) romance, and a unique setting.  The plot and characters were continuously revealed in different lights to keep me as the reader intrigued.  I can honestly say that this book went way over my expectations after reading "Forsaken Dreams", which I found to be slower-moving.

     *Note: You may not want to read the epilogue until the next book is available to you; it's quite haunting.  In addition, Magnolia and other characters drink.  May not be appropriate for easily sea-sickened readers.*

     Thank you so much to Net Galley and Barbour publishing for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this book to read and review. 

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September 13 2013 6 13 /09 /September /2013 01:59

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"So Long, Insecurity: Teen Edition"

 

     "So Long, Insecurity: Teen Edition" by Beth Moore was an encouraging, enjoyable magazine-styled book centered towards teens (as the title suggests =)).  There is also another book by the same name (minus the 'teen edition') for adult women that goes more in-depth.  This magazine-book covers many important issues towards teen stemming from the insecurity root, including fashion, boys, real beauty, and self-worth.  Intergraded in the print are Bible verses on cute backgrounds, real-life testimonies from fellow teen girls, relation to women in the Bible with the same struggles, and an interview with a former Victoria's Secret model! Everything within these pages is uplifting in letting girls know that they are not alone.  They are charts from surveys taken of girls about topics for every chapter, including positive opinions on modest clothing, true beauty, boys, popularity, hard circumstances, and talents and competition.  Not only that, but within these pages there are inspiring testimonies of teenagers who have overcome these shallow traps, and can live fully in and embrace the God-given security and beauty meant for all of us. 

     Thank you so much to Tyndale House publishers for sending me a review copy! I really appreciate this and look forward to sharing this magazine-book of encouragement to others!

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August 28 2013 4 28 /08 /August /2013 14:43

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"Fired Up"

     "Fired Up" by Mary Connealy is the second book in the "Trouble in Texas” series.  The first book is entitled "Swept Away", and the third is yet to release.  "Fired Up" was decent as a stand-alone too, but I have already read and reviewed "Swept Away".  This trilogy is published by Bethany House.

 

     Glenna Greer is recently widowed from her snake of a husband, Flint Greer, thanks to a group of Civil War veterans self-named the Regulators.  They call themselves this because of their history together keeping peace at Andersonville, a prison camp in Georgia holding Yankees.  The Regulators, in the previous book, helped one of their members, Luke, regain his captured ranch from Flint Greer.  In doing this, Greer was killed and his wife as well as her two children, survived.

     Dare Riker was one of the Regulator who helped save Glenna and her two children from her abusive husband.  He is the town doctor, and has an eye for Glenna since treating her wounds.  Will the tumult after Flint's death bring them closer together? Or will Glenna's past and a secret killer after Dare tear them apart?

     All in all, I was really expecting more out of this book.  I have liked this author for her sense of humor, so I was really expecting and on the lookout for this.  Needless to say, in that aspect, I ruined it for myself; "Fired Up" did not seem as good as "Swept Away".  In addition, the plot was exciting, but the relationship between Glenna and Dare seemed conditional to the situation, and more stemmed out of physical beauty and attraction than love and respect for each other.  Also, the conflicts toward the end were resolved hurriedly, as if the author was only allowed to write a certain number of pages, and, being swept away in her own story, remembered her page limit at the end of the book and tied off loose ends sloppily.  I do apologize, as I have truly enjoyed this author in the past.  "Fired Up" just didn't seem to be as enjoyable as the Kincaid Brides, or "Swept Away", some of her other works.

     Thank you so much to Bethany House for letting me read and review this book.

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August 27 2013 3 27 /08 /August /2013 15:08

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KJV Home School Mom’s Bible

     This Bible is published by Zondervan and I received it free from the Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program on the condition that I provide an honest review for it.  This Bible is as encouraging as any other Bible, but in addition, there is a forward by Vickie Farris, wife of Michael Farris, founder of Patrick Henry College and large supporter of homeschoolers.  In addition, there are three hundred and sixty five daily devotionals written by Janet Tatman, a twenty-five year homeschooling mother.  These extras added in the Bible were nice and practical, for a quick encouragement for homeschooling moms, who do not have much free time on a day-to-day basis.  I appreciated the publishers and authors thinking of homeschoolers and releasing a Bible of encouragement specifically for them.  The cover of the Bible is cute and creative, and the text has not changed.  This Bible is also available in the New International Version, which does not include the foreword by Vickie Farris, but does have the year’s worth of daily devotionals by Janet Tatman.  The NIV includes book introductions, and both versions incorporate indexes. 

     Thank you so much to Zondervan publishers and Book Sneeze for providing me with this Bible to read and review.

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August 24 2013 7 24 /08 /August /2013 02:13

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"Glittering Promises"

     "Glittering Promises" by Lisa T. Bergren is the third book in the 'Grand Tour' series.  I have been anticipating this novel for a while, wondering what will happen to Cora.  (This book will not make nearly as much sense as it would if you read the first two in the series before it, 1. Glamorous Illusions and 2. Grave Consequences) 

     This book picks up where the last one last off.  Cora and her family have barely warded off kidnappers and over-prying paparazzi, and Wallace Kensington, her father, is with them in Europe, along with Mr. Morgan.  Cora isn't ready to be under constant pressure from her father, nor does she feel led to turn away Will and court Pierre.  She is attending business meetings and balls, all under the watchful gaze of not only her father, but all the press as well.  How will she trust God to bring her through this, and will she even leave Europe alive?

     Will, at the last book, was dismissed from being the tour guide of the trip, when he ran into highly important information about the kidnappers.  Will he be able to put aside his hurt and help Cora? And what will her father think about the growing attraction between them?

 

     Pierre is determined not to let Cora go.  He continues to travel alongside them as best he can, yet he has business to attend to.  When Cora's father wants her to marry Pierre, how will her heart respond?

Thank you so much to Net Galley and David C. Cook publishers for letting me read and review this book.  The plot and motives behind each character really kept me on edge.  The scenery in the book also made me feel as if I was on the Tour myself.

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July 23 2013 3 23 /07 /July /2013 00:03

 

"Into the Whirlwind"

     This book is my favorite author's upcoming new release.  I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed by any means.  "Into the Whirlwind" is written by Elizabeth Camden and published by Bethany House.

     Mollie Knox is the daughter of a Civil War soldier who went into the watch-making after the war.  Mollie has grown up listening to him tell tales of his amazing leader, Richard Lowe.  All the fellow and crippled veterans in his watch shop will heartily endorse him.

     Zack Kazmarek is the lawyer that handles business between the watch shop and the store they supply for.  For years, he has seen Mollie at business meetings and has been enthralled with her, but has never had the guts or chance to show his affection.  That is, until the great Chicago fire.

 

     While Mollie struggles to rebuild, how will she handle this new revelation of Zack's infatuation? And when Richard Lowe comes into her life, heroic, ready, and able to help her rebuild, how will she choose between the man that loves her and the man that can save her business?

     Thank you to Bethany House publishers and the author Elizabeth Camden for letting me read and review this book.  I enjoyed the characters and plot, as well as the exciting setting of the Great Chicago Fire.

 

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June 26 2013 4 26 /06 /June /2013 02:39

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"Stealing the Preacher" by Karen Witemeyer 

This book and its characters stole my heart! I continued to go back through it and read all the little places that I have bookmarked.  (Note: Stealing the Preacher is a sequel to "Short Straw Bride", but can also be read as a stand-alone.)

 

Joanna Robbins wants a preacher for her birthday.  Her mother died and the role of witnessing to Jo's ex-outlaw father is getting rough.  Her dad and her love each other, and are kind to each other, but whenever talk of God comes up, he rushes out of the room.  And Joanna needs help.

Ironically enough, her dad doesn't connect the dots as to why Joanna wants a preacher; he just knows she wants one.  So he sets off to a train and grabs the first preacher on it, who happens to be Crockett Archer.

 

Crockett Archer is one of the brothers from "Short Straw Bride", which basically just means that he and his three brothers grew up by themselves on their ranch after their parents died.  Crockett preached to his brothers and was pretty much the doctor of the family as well.  Now, he is moving off to another city by train when he is abducted off the train. 

How will Crockett choose between the position he was going to apply for and sweet, sunny Joanna? Is this kidnapping simply a setback, or what God had planned for Crockett all along?

Thank you so much to Bethany House publishers for letting me read and review this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the little quirks of the characters, the twists in the plot, and the setting of the Wild West.  I received this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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