Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scarlet - A Review

Published - February 2013, Fiewel & Friends
Series - Lunar Chronicles Book 2
Author - Marissa Meyer
Title - Scarlet
Format - ebook, hardcover, paper, audio
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Cinder has escaped from prison and is on the run with Captain Carswell Thorne. They are heading to France to find Michelle Benoit, a woman who may have information about Cinder's past. Scarlet Benoit is frustrated. Her grandmother disappeared a few weeks ago and the police aren't doing anything to try to find her. She soon finds herself being chased by the same ones who kidnapped her grandmother. Scarlet must put her trust in Wolf, the wild man who saves her. Yet there is more to Wolf than Scarlet knows. When she finds out his secrets, will she be able to overcome this betrayal? And what'll happen when she meets up with Cinder?

For some strange reason, it took me a while to get to reading this series. Yet now that I have, I've found that I really am enjoying these fairy tale retellings.

Scarlet is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling. I loved the interactions between Wolf and Scarlet. I loved their dynamics. They are such fun. It was also nice to get glimpses into Kai and how he is adjusting to being Emperor with an evil queen wanting any reason to go to war against Earth. And to see Cinder learning more and more of how to use her gifts. I'll admit that I felt bad for Wolf and all he's been through, but I think that made him all the more interesting.

I rented this book from the library to read for pure pleasure. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of fairy tales, dystopian, young adult, Twilight, Hunger Games

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Matter of the Heart - A Review

Published - October 2014, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Lone Star  Brides Book 3
Author - Tracie Peterson
Title - A Matter of the Heart
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Born and raised with wealth, Jessica Atherton had her heart broken when the man everyone assumed she would marry married another. So for now she's sworn off of love. Yet when two young men, equally charming in their own way, enter her world and begin to pay attention to her, she's afraid to trust her heart. Harrison Gable is a successful young lawyer with high reaching ambitions. He makes Jessica feel special with the attention and gifts he showers on her. Austin Todd is a former Secret Service Agent working as a Texas Ranger Cattle Inspector. Jessica is drawn to his kindness and the pain she sees in his eyes. How will Jessica figure out her own heart?

I've read a lot of Tracie Peterson's books over the years. Some I like. Some I love. Others I just don't care for. For me, this particular book falls in the last category. I really feel more blah about it than most of her others.

Over all, the storyline piqued my interest. At least from the back cover copy. But I really didn't connect too well with the characters. I found that Jessica was selfish and her parents wouldn't admit it. Sure she grows up in the book, but my first impression was the one that stayed with me. And of her two suitors, it's obvious fairly early in the story which one is actually the hero who will win her heart. The way the back of the book made it sound like was that she had to pick between the two, so I expected her choice to be unknown until the end. I did like Austin. I thought that his character was the most self-less of all of them. I loved the bit of suspense involving Austin and the counterfeit plates.

Others may love this book. For me, though, it wasn't one of my favorites. It was ok. I'll probably pass along my copy so that someone else can enjoy it.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Janette Oke, Tracie Peterson, historical fiction, Beverly Lewis

Rating - 3 stars

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books/Movies to Get in a Halloween Mood

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

This week's theme is all about Halloween. At first, I was thinking I'd skip this week's. But then I realized it really was going to be pretty easy. The topic itself gave two different options - 1. the top ten books/movies to read/watch to get in a Halloween mood or 2. the top ten book character you would want to BE for Halloween.  I went with the first option and split it with books and movies. And of course, there is chocolate available to all who want some.


1. The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin by Sorali Fry - This is such a cute book! I saw it in my mom's Scholastic catalog and promptly ordered it for my best friend. It's really really adorable about a small pumpkin's adventure. It's to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider.

2. Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccanio - Another fun one. It's also a familiar rhyme to it. I've read it several times over the years.

3. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson - A witch is going for a ride and ends up taking along some additional passengers. It's also very cute.

4. The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey - This is one about a little dachshund that is going trick or treating. But all of the costumes for him are things like a hot dog in a bun and things like that. But it's so cute.

5. The Witches by Roald Dahl - I remember reading this one as a child and liking it, but not as much as either James & the Giant Peach or Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. It's a good read for 3rd grade on up.


6. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - I think I've seen just about every Charlie Brown video. There is just something so special about Charlie Brown and the gang.

7. Halloweentown - A fun village of all things Halloween-ish. I've seen this one several times growing up. Typically when it aired on the Disney Channel.

8. Hocus Pocus - I remember seeing this one shortly after Sister Act came out. I remember thinking that one of the nuns made a good witch.

9. Casper - Another childhood classic I enjoyed growing up.

10. The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad - I remember watching this years ago and being terrified of the Headless Horseman. But it's Disney's version, so there are probably liberties taken with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Promise to Protect - A Review

Published - October, 2014, Revell Books a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Logan's Point Book 2
Author - Patricia Bradley
Title - A Promise to Protect
Format  - ebook, paper
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Logan's Point Acting Sheriff Ben Logan has spent the past ten years trying to put Leigh Somerall - and their whirlwind romance - out of his mind. It hasn't worked for him. When she calls him out of the blue with a request to protect her brother, Tony, he can't refuse. Yet it's her brother's dying request a few days later that rocks Ben's world - protect Leigh and her nine year old son TJ from the killers who were after Tony. But Leigh has gone out of her way to avoid Ben since she and her son moved back to Logan's Point. If she lets him get close to her, will her heart survive the possibility of being broken again by the man who broke it years ago? And the secret she holds has to the power to completely change Ben's life.

As much as I enjoy a good suspense tale, for me there wasn't much to the suspense in this novel. I enjoyed the fact that it was action packed and a quick read. Of course I put it down for several days because I got slightly (ok majorly) distracted with reading Scarlet, October Bride, and starting Blood of Olympus, but when I came back to this book, I wasn't really feeling the story. Probably because I was no longer in the mood to read that particular genre. That said, I still enjoyed this one.

I found that the characters were better developed than they were in the first book. It was also fun to see Taylor from the first book make an appearance in this one. I had figured out Leigh's secret early into the book and I wasn't at all surprised by it. Though Ben's reaction was pretty classic!

Still this was a fun story to read. I'd say most romantic suspense fans will enjoy this.

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 Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason, Dee Henderson, romantic suspense

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cinder - A Review

Published - January 2012, Fiewel & Friends
Series - The Lunar Chronicles Book 1
Author - Marissa Meyer
Title - Cinder
Format - ebook, audio, hardcover, paper
Find on Amazon

A new twist on the story of Cinderella! Cinder is a mechanic. A very talented one at that. When the prince shows up at her booth with his android for her to repair, Cinder's light-hearted banter causes the prince to finally meet someone who sees beyond his crown. Yet with the country dealing with a horrible plague and an evil queen who wants to marry him, the prince doesn't have the time to spare on flirting with a mechanic. Especially one as pretty as Cinder. But there's more to her than most suspect. Cinder is a cyborg. And she's got a mysterious past. When her secret comes to light, will she accept that she may have lost her chance with the prince?

I love fairy tales. I love fairy tale retellings. Cinderella has long been one of my favorite stories. Add to that a dystopian society and a Star Wars sorta of mix, and immediately my interest has been piqued. That and seeing Cinder on so many of my friends' reading lists. Well, it caught my attention.

I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about, so I rented the audio from the library.

The narrator did an excellent job of holding my attention, so kudos to her.

Anyway, I wasn't expecting Cinder to be so action packed and filled with suspense. I really enjoyed it. Enough so that I promptly placed the entire series onto my Amazon Wish List and requested Scarlet & Cress from the library.

I'd never have thought that I'd enjoy a Cinderella story that has features of Star Wars in it. Let alone having Cinderella being a cyborg.

I read this book for pure pleasure. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of dystopian fiction, young adult, fairy tales

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten New Series I Want to Start

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

This week's theme is the the top ten series, new within the last year or so, that I want to start. Well before two weeks ago, the Lunar Chronicles would have been at the top of the list. What happened two weeks ago? I'd rented Cinder from the library and now I'm hooked.

Some of my picks this week are series that have actually be out for a bit, but I've not read, so they are on my list. I've tried to find the book covers, if I couldn't find them all, then I used what I could find.

1. River of Time by Lisa Bergen - Yes, I've still not read ANY books out of this series despite having the first on my kindle and having the entire series on my to-read list.

2. Ladies of Distinction Series by Jen Turano - This has been recommended to me over and over. I may be missing one of the covers.

3. Love Blossoms in Oregon Series by Miralee Ferrell - I've got some of these on my kindle. But I've yet to start them.

4. The Heart Springs Series by Amber Stokes - Another one I keep hearing rave reviews about. Soon. Maybe.

5. The Belmont Mansion Series by Tamera Alexander - I love books set in the deep South. Why haven't I started these I don't know.

6. The Belle Meade Plantation Series by Tamera Alexander - I love this picture of the plantation. Soon, I'll read these books.

7. The Merlin Spiral Series by Robert Treskillard - Another that keeps being recommended to me over and over.

8. The One Universe Series by LeighAnn Kopans - One of my Harry Potter friends has recommended this series.

9. A Breed Apart Series by Ronie Kendig - I have a feeling I'll love these if I can ever find the time to read them.

10. The Lorien Legacies Series by Pittacus Lore - Recommended to me by the same Harry Potter friend. I trust her judgement.

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
Find on Amazon

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
Find on Amazon

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
Find on Amazon
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.