Monday, October 20, 2014

October Bride - A Review

Published - September 23, 2014, Zondervan Books
Series - A Year of Weddings Novella Book 11
Author - Katie Ganshert
Title - An October Bride
Format - ebook
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When Emma Tate accidentally discovers her dying father's bucket list with all but three items crossed off, she knows that one item is within her power to see it crossed off - Walk Emma down the aisle. There's just one major obstacle to that. Emma has only just recovered from a broken engagement! When her lifelong buddy Jake Sawyer hears of her plan, he proposes to her. Soon everyone in town knows of their engagement and that an October wedding has been planned. Speculation runs rampant as does the rumor mill. But with only Jake & Emma knowing the true reason behind their engagement, they have to overcome not only rumors, the dubious friends, but also realize that the biggest complication is their true feelings for each other! So will this October wedding go off as planned for the sake of Emma's father or will it become something so much more?

Ever since I first read Wildflowers from Winter, Katie's books have been on my radar. So when I saw she was taking part in the Year of Weddings Novellas, I couldn't have been more thrilled. I don't think that there is a single book by Katie I've not enjoyed , and this one is no exception. My only wish on this one was more story!

I loved everything about this novella. I loved the way that Emma was determined to go through with a fake marriage just so her father could walk her down the aisle. I have a feeling her father knew all along what she was doing and that he humored her by going along with it. I also loved the way that Emma came to admit that she loved Jake. I loved Jake for being so noble and proposing knowing it was to make her father's wish come true. I loved Jake for finally telling Emma how he felt. So yes, I'm gushing a bit with this one. I'd have loved to have seen Emma's best friend get together with her brother Liam, who also happened to be Jake's best friend. Maybe Katie will bring those characters back for another story someday.

I received the Kindle version of this book for free from Booklook Bloggers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of weddings, novellas, Love Inspired, Katie Ganshert

Rating - 5 stars

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tremors & Thunder - Two Reviews

This post will be set up a little differently than most of my book review posts. The reason for that is that I've got one novella prequel and the actual book. Since they go together, I'm putting them in the same post.
Tremors - A Review
Published - August 2014, Revell Books a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Stone Braide Chronicles 0.5
Author - Bonnie S. Calhoun
Title - Tremors: A Stone Braide Chronicles Story
Format - ebook
Find on Amazon - this is currently FREE!

Selah Rishon Chavez is just days from her 18th Birth Remembrance and finally being able to join her father and brothers as a hunter. Yet she soon discovers that there are secrets her family is hiding. And why are her brothers asked to keep an eye on her?

This prequel novella was a very fast read. It quickly introduced the heroine of the full novel and the reader gets to understand a little more of her family life. Yet it's not necessary to read the novella in order to enjoy the book. I did, but I didn't need to. Once I finished this, I was eager to get to the book.

The novella is currently free and I read this to enrich my reading experience of the full length. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Divergent Series, Hunger Games, Anomaly Series, dystopian, young adult

Rating - 4 stars

Thunder - A Review

Published October, 2014 Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Stone Braide Chronicles Book 1
Author - Bonnie S. Calhoun
Title - Thunder
Format - hardcover, ebook
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One hundred fifty years have passed since the Sorrows, and Selah Rishon Chavez is hunting. She's hunting rabbits that her father and brothers refuse to eat due to mutations caused from the fallout of the Sorrows and which she and her mother enjoy. But she's really hunting Landers, the mysterious people that arrive on the shore in small boats and have distinctive markings on their faces. Selah knows that if a Lander keeps the mark, then the bounty is worth more. On this day before her 18th Birth Remembrance, she has disobeyed her mother by being on the beach. But Selah hopes to capture a Lander. When she does, and he ends up saving her life, her brothers steal her catch. But the damage has been done. She awakens the next morning to discover that the Lander's distinctive marking has appeared on her own flesh. Now hunted instead of being the hunter, Selah is forced to run, with the secrets her mother has held for several years. Her only hope lies in  seeking  the help of the Lander her brothers stole from her - Bodhi Locke. 

With debut authors or for authors debuting in a different genre, I'm never really sure what to expect. So I  always try to read an author's debut with a little more leeway than I would give an established author. The genre of speculative fiction or dystopian societies is really popular right now ever since the Hunger Games came on the scene a few years ago. Adding a Christian element to this dystopian fiction is also touch and go. Some books I've read from Christian authors did an excellent job. Others not so much. For me at least, Thunder falls in the first category.

I was drawn into the story immediately. And I had questions as things were uncovered. Questions like what exactly is a Lander? What makes them so different? Why do some of them see their marks disappear? Part of those questions were answered to an extent as the book progressed. But I still don't know exactly what  Lander is. But that's ok. I'm sure it'll be revealed more fully as the series progresses. 

I'll admit to be completely engrossed in one particular story line then Wham! the chapter ends on a cliffhanger and the next chapter is a different plot line. So I'd have to wait. But that's a good thing. It means it held my interest and forced me to keep reading. I've read some authors who switch from point of view to point of view, but those switches are clearly noted by either the chapter icon (I'm thinking Wheel of Time here) of the character's name across the top (Song of Ice and Fire, Heroes of Olympus and a couple of others) so I can easily skip to the chapter with the same character's point of view just to find out what happened with that cliffhanger. But in this book, I was kept interested and guessing.

While the book did start off slowly, once the momentum was picked up, it was like a hang on to the edge of your seat kind of speed. When that happened and I knew I needed to be someplace a little later that evening, I very reluctantly put it down until I got home where I found myself staying up entirely too late to finish despite having to wake up early for work the next morning. But I was determined to finish. I wouldn't be able to sleep until I'd finished. So I stayed up. And finish it I did! In the early hours of the morning, but even that left me with a hunger for the next one.

Now onto a little more specifics in this review. :) First, while Bodhi came across a little selfish at first, my heart went out to him too. Here he is, a stranger in a strange land trying to find others like him. And him discovering Selah and figuring out their connection was fun to watch. In some ways, his character reminded me a little of Brennen Caldwell from the Firebird books by Kathy Tyers. I wanted to see him accept his fate. By far my favorite character is the little girl that basically adopts Selah and Bodhi. I found her to be delightful and so resourceful.

I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

I received this book for free from Revell Books for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of dystopian fiction, Hunger Games, Divergent Series, Lunar Chronicles, Anomaly Series, young adult.

Rating - 5 stars

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book - A Review

Published - October 2014, Plough Publishing House
Author - Mark Ludy
Title - Noah: A Wordless Picture Book
Format - hardcover
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Beautifully illustrated, this wordless picture book tells the story of Noah.

I've never reviewed a wordless picture book before. So I'm not really sure how to go about doing it.

First the pictures are very beautiful. There are so many details in them. The way that they show the passage of time, I was just fascinated. I kept having to go back and forth between the pages to fully understand the message the pictures were saying.

I wish that the author had shown more of how the animals came to Noah.

I also wish that the author had shown the progression of sending out a raven, a dove, it returning empty, sending the dove out again with it returning with the branch, and then finally it not coming back. Those series of pictures show the raven, the dove with the branch, then the next page shows everyone exiting the ark.

Still it was a beautiful book. I can easily see adults and children being fascinated with it. I'll admit, I passed this book along to my best friend and her little ones since they love the story of Noah. According to my friend, the older kids, ages almost 2 and 3.5, enjoyed it once, but after that they wanted a different story. I'd say the best age for this book would be 5+.

I received this book for free from Handlebar Publishing for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to ages 5+, Sunday School teachers, librarians

Rating - 4.5 stars

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Covered Deep - A Review

Published - October 2014, Worthy Publishers
Author - Brandy Vallance 
Title - The Covered Deep
Format - ebook, paper
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Bianca Marshal has dreams of a dashing hero coming in and sweeping her off her feet. She's even got a list of the qualities in the man she's been dreaming of. When her father learns of an essay contest with the prize being a trip to the Holy Land, he encourages Bianca to enter. She does, never expecting to be chosen as one of four finalists. Bianca soon finds herself on a ship to London where she will meet the other contestants and from there they will journey to the Holy Land. Fascinated by all that is new and interesting, Bianca soon forms an attachment to Paul Emerson, a historian. But there are secrets that Paul is keeping, secrets that could devastate Bianca should she find out. Will she have her heart broken or find her dreams coming true?

I'm not sure if I've ever read a Christian Romance set in the Holy Land. This one wan't the typical formula for romance either. By adding an aristocrat with nothing to do with his time but to create social experiments, the entire romance had a touch of mystery in it.

I'll admit. I did find that parts dragged a bit, most in the detail of the history of whatever site the travelers were at. But that aside, the fact that it didn't follow a formula, kept my attention. I was quickly engrossed into Bianca's journey. And Paul's. And even Sir Adrian's experiment.

Yet, I didn't necessarily like Sir Adrian's experiment. At times, it seemed cruel and unnecessary. Sure, I guess it showed human nature, but still, I didn't like it. And yes, it was necessary to the story.

Still, this was a pretty good read. It was interesting and different. Not at all what I expected when I looked at the cover.

I received a free pdf copy of this book from Worthy Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, Jody Hedlund,

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, October 13, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday On Monday Night - Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by The Broke & The Bookish

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. Due to a book review commitment and the fact that I don't like to have two blog posts on the same day, this week's Top Ten Tuesday post will actually fall on Monday night.

This week's topic was the top 10 places (real or fictional) that books have made me want to visit. This was a VERY easy post for me this time. I started my list and within a couple of minutes, I had it filled.

So here we go.

This is not Glenbrooke as Glenbrooke is fictional. But this town's main street looks like it could be Glenbrooke.
1. Glenbrooke, Oregon - The setting of the Glenbrooke series by Robin Jones Gunn (my favorite author), the small town of Glenbrooke is always fun to visit. There's a reason it's tagged as "A Quiet Place Where Souls are Refreshed."

2. Hogwarts - So this one is a no-brainer for those who know me. And it probably would be first on my list if I just didn't love Glenbrooke. Someday I'll go to Orlando and visit the Universal theme park, then I'll be able to say I've gone to Hogwarts.

3. Middle Earth - No, not New Zealand where the films were filmed. But actual Middle Earth. I'd love to visit the Shire, Rivendell, and all of the other places mentioned in the books.

4. Narnia - Another no-brainer for those who know me. My brother and I used to joke about how if we ever found a wardrobe, we'd climb in just to see if it would take us to Narnia.

5. Ireland - This is my dream vacation. I've read so many books set in Ireland that I want to go.

6. Scotland - Another place on my must visit list. I love all things Scottish and would love to visit.

7. England - Since I'm already in Ireland and Scotland, it wouldn't take much to hop over to visit England as well. The history is so rich.

8. Italy - I've read quite a few books set in Italy and I'm always struck by it's stately beauty.

9. Prince Edward Island - Oh Anne's home. I want to see Green Gables and the beauty that is Prince Edward Island.

10. Camp Half Blood - This camp is the setting for the Percy Jackson books. Well most of them at any point. Greek and Roman mythology have long been something I've been fascinated with.

There you have it. My top ten places books have made me want to visit. I'd love to travel with you to your places. Share them in the comments. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books for Readers that like Character Driven Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly theme hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish.

So it's Tuesday once again. Funny how that day keeps coming around. Anyway, Tuesdays bring lots of fun things - NCIS, NCIS New Orleans, Agents of SHIELD (if you watch that one), new movie, cd, and book releases. And of course Top Ten Tuesday. This week the topic is the top ten books that are character driven novels. I actually found this one to be rather hard. I mean, how many books can I actually say that I've read that are character driven? Let's see what ones I managed to come up with.

1. The Harry Potter Books by JK Rowling- These are very much character driven in the fact that Harry must accept his destiny and be willing to give his life, if necessary, in order to defeat Lord Voldemort. Sure Harry has his ups and downs as he grows up.

I've seen that Harry has a lot of responsibility for one so young. And to me, the way that he manages it is part of the delight of this series.

2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien - The story's simple. Hobbit Frodo Baggins of the Shire is tasked with seeing that the One Ring is taken to Mordor and cast into the fires of Mount Doom. Sounds simple right? Well, not really. Frodo's small. He doesn't know the way and there are all sorts of creatures out to see that he won't succeed. That's why the Fellowship is formed. And why Samwise accompanies him all the way to Mordor.

I think that Frodo's journey is one that truly shows friendships. The meaning of what exactly a true friend is.

3. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins - Katniss's main goal is to save her sister. She had no intention of becoming a figurehead for a revolution. But she does. But Katniss herself feels that she's lost something of who she is in order to become the Mockingjay.

I'll admit, that it took me halfway through Hunger Games to like the book. I adored Catching Fire, and felt I needed therapy after Mockingjay. Because just how much can one person endure?

4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo - Jean Valjean is a man who made a mistake. Yes that mistake cost him twenty years in prison and then he spends the rest of his life trying to overcome the stigma of being an ex-convict. When he is given the chance to save one who is suffering, he turns his back, later regretting that decision and raising an orphaned girl as his own child. Yet still his past haunts him even as he and his daughter find themselves in the midst of the Revolution in Paris. Ultimately, he is faced with the chance to forgive the man who has hunted him all the years or not.

I don't think I've ever read (or seen or heard) a book that is a character driven as this. This story has become my favorite Broadway musical, but it's the story of forgiveness that gets me every time.

5. The Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery - Anne Shirley is an orphan, a dreamer, and not wanted. At least until she comes to Green Gables to live with the Cuthberths. It's there that she discovers what it is like to have a family and to be loved. It's there that she learns to be herself.

I love Anne. I've loved the books growing up and the movies. Anne's tale is one that helps me to dream.

6. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - Michael Hosea is a man of God. He lives his life in such a way that others know he is a Christian. Yet when he's asked to marry a prostitute, he obeys. And he loves Angel so completely that she doesn't know quite what to think.

I've read this book many times. It is a beautiful story of grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love. I'd have to say that this particular book is driven by both Angel & Michael.

7. The Ballantyne Legacy Series by Laura Frantz - Each book, Love's Awakening, Love's Reckoning, and Love's Fortune tells of a new generation. And each one is very character driven. The legacy that Silas Ballantyne has worked hard to create is what drives these novels.

I couldn't just pick one of this series. They are too beautiful. Seriously read them.

8. Short Straw Bride & Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer - The Archer brothers live on the their ranch and prefer to shoot first and question later. But it's the circumstances that have led to their being mostly hermits that drive the first one. And when one young lady gets caught in the mess, there's only one option - one of the brothers has to marry her. Then in Stealing the Preacher, Crockett is kidnapped on his way to an interview. And of course mayhem ensues.

I thought both of these books showed how important family is to each other. And I just loved them.

9. The Book Thief by Markus - I can't say I've read this one. It's on my reading list. But it hit a Goodreads list of Character Driven Novels.

10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Another one that keeps coming highly recommended that I've not read. Also on the same Goodreads list.

So there you have it. My list. And yes, I selected movie covers on most of them. What would you say your top ten character driven novels are? Share in the comments.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Revolutionary - A Review

Published - July 2014, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Series - Anomaly Book 3
Author - Krista McGee
Title - Revolutionary
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Thalli and her friends are back in the State. After having escaped and enjoyed the freedom of New Hope, they find themselves once again at the mercy of the Scientists, particularly Dr. Loudin. Determined to find a way to stop Loudin from destroying the world for a second time, Thalli learns that she must depend upon the Designer in ways she'd not thought possible especially in light of some very startling discoveries. But as she struggles to come to grips with this new information, she is faced with  a choice - to be the one to stop it all or to allow death to come to all she loves. How can she choose?

I have real mixed feelings about this book, and series in general. I enjoyed the first book, got bored with the second so didn't finish it, and this one didn't make me fall in love with it. I know that several of my blogging friends have loved this series and this book in particular, but I'm not one of them. I'm not really sure why that is either. I found the book very easy to get into, but I also kept putting it down for several days at a time. I wasn't that into it. But when I did pick it up, I enjoyed it.

Thalli has changed a lot since we first met her in Anomaly. While some of the changes are good, the fact that she still remains somewhat childish bother me in this book. I'll admit that I was tired of her "woe is me attitude." What totally and completely surprised me in this one, was the reveal of her parentage. I truly didn't see it coming. But looking back, it does make sense. For me, the choice between the two young men was very obvious. And I'm glad I wasn't disappointed in who she ultimately chose.

I loved Rhen. I didn't care too much for her in book one, and don't remember her much in two as I didn't finish it, but in this one, she really shines. Her logical mind has come to accept the Designer and will work hard to convince others of that fact.

Overall, this wasn't my favorite by this author. Don't get me wrong. The series is good. I was just rather bored with this book. I didn't see it as riveting as others have claimed.

I received this book for free from the Booklook Blogger Program for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Divergent, Hunger Games, dystopian fiction, young adult, Krista McGee

Rating - 3 stars