Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Playing By Heart" Review

After many years of hard work, Lula Bowman has finally landed a collegiate teaching position and a prestigious scholarship in mathematics. As a woman, neither of those were easy to come by, but Lula has proven herself to be worthy of such an endeavor.

But when she receives a frantic phone call from her sister, Lula reluctantly returns to her hometown of Dunn, Oklahoma.

Giving up her scholarship and her teaching position at the university, she agrees to the only position she can find – high school music teacher and girls’ basketball coach. The music side of things Lula can handle. She has a talent for playing the piano, and she had a real passion for music when she was younger. But she knows nothing about basketball and has to turn to the boys’ coach for help.

Chet Vaughn currently teaches math at the high school as well as serves as coach for the boys’ basketball team. With his brother away fighting in the Great War, Chet is left to care for their widowed mother. The new music teacher should have been the last person to turn his head. After all, he had fended off every other eligible girl trying to get his attention in the last few years. But something about Lula catches Chet off guard, and he doesn’t really know what to expect.

As Chet and Lula spend more and more time together, they each try to combat their growing feelings. God is working in the hearts of both of them, and He might just be leading them in a direction hey never would have expected.

Set during World War One in a small Oklahoma town, Playing By Heart is a novel filled with warmth, hope, and faith in a God who gives us the desires of our hearts – even if those desires were not what we thought they would be.

I was really excited to pick up this book and read it since I have enjoyed several of Anne Mateer’s novels in the past. I was also excited about reading this book because the book I read previous to this one was so depressing and so terrible (I couldn’t even finish it) that I was craving something nice and fun and uplifting to drown out the awfulness that had saturated my brain. (The awful book was not a review book. It was for my book club, and it’s not even worth mentioning the title!).

So it was with great joy that I dove right into Playing By Heart, and it met almost all of my expectations.

One of my favorite things about the book was how well I got to know the characters of Lula and Chet. The novel alternates between the viewpoints of the two, and each is written in first person. At first I thought this might be a bit awkward, but it actually wasn’t, and it helped me to really identify with the main characters well. I guess I identified with Lula the most since she had a passion for music – piano specifically – as well as an interest in academics. Her struggle to achieve what the world sees as success (college, math) rather than allowing her identity to be rooted in Christ was something that hit close to home for me. Lula and Chet were both intelligent characters that were strong without being overbearing.

I also thought the secondary characters were fleshed out very well in this novel. The boys and girls on the basketball teams were so fun, and the characters of Lula’s sister and Chet’s mother were so real. The other characters in the book really gave it a balance that was appropriate and refreshing.

The setting in this book was unique, which kept the plotlines from being completely cliché. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a book set during World War One that focused mainly on a love interest that revolved around high school basketball. I’m a huge sports fan and this part of the story really sold the plotlines overall for me.

While the plot was interesting – mostly because of the secondary characters and the basketball angle – there were things about the romantic plotline that were somewhat disappointing. There were some external factors and situations that kept Lula and Chet from discovering/declaring their interest in each other too early in the book, but most of what kept them apart was the much-used transgression of just not sitting down and talking to each other like adults. Their conversations were sometimes stilted and just downright frustrating.

Even though the romantic angle wasn’t quite to my liking, the rest of the book was. The message of faith was not extremely deep, but it was clear and woven throughout the novel and into the hearts and lives of the people in this small Oklahoma town.

And in case you're wondering, Playing By Heart was just the thing I needed to rid my mind of that previous atrocity of a book!


I will give Playing By Heart … 4 BookWorms.










Playing By Heart
by Anne Mateer
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: September 16, 2014
320 pages






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"With Every Breath" Review


Kate Livingston is working as a government statistician in Washington, D.C., when she is surprisingly contacted by a former classmate and offered a new job. Trevor McDonough, a Harvard-educated doctor, is working in a tuberculosis wing at a local hospital and is determined to rid the world of this terrible disease. Kate is reluctant to accept Trevor’s proposal as the two were always such fierce academic rivals during their school days, but she is curious as to why Trevor would want her for the position.

As Kate and Trevor begin to work together, more and more of Trevor’s past comes to light. Kate realizes that she may have misjudged this intense, passionate man. But someone is determined to discredit Trevor and all that he has accomplished, and that might not be the only thing standing in their way.

Set in 1891 with the nation’s capital as a backdrop, With Every Breath is a novel based on the messages of overcoming fears and embracing life and joy.

I really like it when books really grab me from the start, and With Every Breath definitely did that. I absolutely loved how this novel began with the scholarship competition between Kate and Trevor. It was unique and was a great jumping off point for the eventual relationship between the two main characters.

I also really enjoyed the beginning of Kate and Trevor’s relationship – both their friendship and their romance. Their witty banter was fantastic, and I absolutely adored how Trevor was attracted to Kate as more than just a pretty face. He was attracted to her attitude and her intelligence as well. At one point, Trevor thinks to himself, “By heaven, was there anything more attractive than watching a pretty woman tackle a thorny mathematical equation?” That’s just awesome.

As their relationship developed, however, I kind of got bored with that part of the story, and it’s hard to explain why. I was glad that the reasons that kept them apart were valid and that those reasons didn’t feel contrived, but I guess I just felt as if there was too much back-and-forth – will they get together or won’t they? – and it became tiring. The mystery part of the story, however, was appealing and made up for some of the things lacking in the romance.

While the romance might not have been as interesting as I had hoped, the historical and medical aspects of this novel were fascinating. The author pays such attention to detail when it comes to the setting and to the feeling of being right there with the characters. I have read other historical novels where a character has tuberculosis, but I had never understood what a toll it takes and the medical history behind it. The medical aspects were a bit grisly at times, so if you are at all squeamish, be forewarned.


Although this book had a great story and an interesting historical setting, the Christian aspect of this book just didn’t go far enough for me. Kate did experience some spiritual growth in the fact that she ultimately had to come to terms with her fears and to trust God. This was one of the biggest messages that came through in this story - that constantly succumbing to her fears was also keeping her from experiencing great joy. But apart from that, it felt as if the book came from the vantage point that everyone who dies will go to heaven. Jesus coming to die for our sins, our admission of that sin, and our acceptance of His righteousness as our own did not come into play whatsoever.  Since the main focus of the book was tuberculosis, death was a major theme, but what happens after death was not. It just seemed very vague to me, and since death was at the forefront of the subject of this novel, I expected more.
While there were some aspects that kept me from liking it fully, it was still an enjoyable novel overall.

I will give With Every Breath ... 3.5 BookWorms.











With Every Breath
by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: August 5, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Love's Fortune" Blog Tour

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.

As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.


About the Author: Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Available September 2014 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Find out more about this title here - http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/love-s-fortune/329680



My Take:

After reading the first two books in this series, I was interested in reading the third because of the characters and the legacy if not for the stories themselves, which I thought were too drawn out. (You can read my reviews of the first two novels in the series here – Love’s Reckoning and Love’s Awakening).

In this installment, I was once again drawn to the characters and to the legacy of the Ballantyne family rather than the actual events that were taking place in their lives.

However, the characters that drew me in were not necessarily the ones to whom I was supposed to be drawn - at least I don't think that was to be the case.

The main characters – James and Wren – were not my favorites. They were often contradictory, and they did not always come across in the way in which they were portrayed. The reader is told and shown in some ways that James is strong and capable and able to stand up to anything. But he is unwilling to tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The reader is told that Wren is independent and unwilling to bend to the pressures of society – that her heart is pure and that her love is true. But she constantly goes against who she is in order to please society and some of the members of her family, and she lets her assumptions take the place of reality. It was very wearying after a while to read about a character being described one way yet acting another.

Another thing that was contradictory was how some members of the Ballantyne family (the “good” ones) overlook the horrible things that other members of the family (the “bad” ones) do as if there is nothing they can do about it. It is as if those “good” members of the family are just constantly saying, “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about him or her. We’ll just ignore it.” – without ever speaking truth to them. There is even a case of possible murder by one of these “bad” characters in this book, and the “good,” supposedly Christian, characters never really make much mention of it. It’s as if the book comes from the view that some people are bad and will never come to repentance, rather than coming from the view everyone - even the "good" ones being in need of a Savior.

The interesting thing is that even though the two main characters in this novel – and some of the other Ballantyne characters from the past novels – were not terribly engaging in this book, some of the more minor characters were. I absolutely fell in love with Izannah and Mim and even Malachi Cameron. I almost think this book would have been better if it had focused more on Izannah and Malachi, since they were interesting characters that pretty much stole the show, in my opinion.

While the overall story in this novel was decent and some of the minor characters were good, the book itself was once again just too long. There were some bright spots in the story here and there – the visits to the orphanage, the descriptions of Pittsburg and the steamboats, the continuing abolitionist plotline, the violins – but most of the book seemed to be high-society filler. I appreciate that the author was probably trying to make the reader feel as if she had been thrown into Pittsburg high society right along with Wren, but it was just too much.

Ultimately the two main characters do finally live up to the manner in which they were drawn, but it just took way too long to get there, and it was jarring when it did.


I will give Love’s Fortune … 3 BookWorms.









Love's Fortune
by Laura Frantz
Ballantyne Legacy #3
Revell Publishers
Publication date: September 16, 2014
400 pages






Love's Fortune - Behind the Cover video.









Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of
Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, September 19, 2014

"A Vine-Ripened Life" Blog Tour

The grace that stimulates the fruit and maturity of a sanctified life comes to us through Jesus Christ. We bear much fruit only as we abide in Him.
 
In A Vine-Ripened Life, author Stanley Gale points us to Jesus, the Vine of life of John 15, in whom we, as branches, must live and grow to bear the fruit of a grace-grown life. He explains, “Having begun in Christ we remain in Christ, continuing to draw our life from Him and maturing in grace.” With pastoral sensitivity and an engaging style, Gale teaches readers both about the fruit of Christian character and how to cultivate it.
 
Questions at the end of each chapter make this an ideal study for individuals or groups.
 
 
 
About the Author: Stanley D. Gale serves as senior minister of The Reformed Presbyterian Church, West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books and articles, leads seminars on various topics, and is the founder of Community Houses of Prayer (www.CHoPministry.net).


Book Information:
 
 
My Take:

My Kindle has a "voice-to-text" feature, and I absolutely love to use it when I am at the gym or doing housework. The robot-sounding voice is not extremely engaging, but for non-fiction books it does quite well and is a great way for me to fit in some extra Bible study time. I have "read" many non-fiction Christian books this way, and I they have always kept my interest, even with Mr. Robot reading it to me.

I found this was the case for the most part with the book A Vine-Ripened Life. It uses many Scripture references to explain how the various fruits of the Spirit are to be manifested in the life of a Christian through The Vine - Jesus Christ. Each "fruit" is given its own chapter as well as there are chapters dedicated to humility and grace.

While I was mostly attentive to this book, there were times I did find my mind drifting while I was listening to it. (Maybe I need to re-read the chapter on self-control?!) While some of the stories and metaphors were engaging, some of them seemed to be a bit of a stretch. I think I would have gotten much more out of this book if I had done it as a group study rather than just reading it straight through, especially with the great study questions at the end of the chapters.

Overall, I really loved how everything in this book always pointed back to Christ and the gospel. This book abounded in Scripture references, and it reminded me a little of the book by Jerry Bridges - The Discipline of Grace - especially how it repeatedly made the point the apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

I will give A Vine-Ripened Life ... 4 BookWorms.


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Heritage Books through Cross Focused Review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
 



 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Secrets of Sloane House" Review

Rosalind Perry came to Chicago to be a housemaid at the lavish Sloane House, home to one of the most influential families in all of Chicago. But what the Sloanes don’t know is that Rosalind has another reason for being there – to determine what happened to her sister, who was also employed at Sloane House but who seems to have vanished into thin air.

Reid Armstrong is the only son of an up-and-coming family among Chicago’s elite. Since his family is not from “old” money, Reid is expected to marry up. Veronica Sloane should fit the bill just fine, but Reid suspects that not all is as it seems at Sloane House, and he is curiously attracted to one of the Sloane House maids – Rosalind Perry.

When Reid discovers the real reason that Rosalind is at Sloane House, the two begin to work together to discover the truth. But the secrets of Sloane House may be more frightening than either of them could ever have imagined.

With a backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, Secrets of Sloane House explores the lives of both the sophisticated elite and those who are there to serve them.

Shelley Gray is a new author to me, and I was interested to read another book based around the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. After a bit of a slow and repetitive start, I was able to become more interested in the story as Rosalind became more accustomed to her surroundings and began to work with Reid a bit more to search for the truth about what happened to her sister.

The best part of this story was how Rosalind grew over the course of the novel. Even though at times this growth seemed to leap ahead rather quickly, it was still substantial and really added to the story overall. When she first comes to Sloane House, she is scared of her own shadow, but as the story moves on, she becomes so much stronger and more self-reliant. She really gains a confidence that was nice to see in a housemaid during this time period.

Unfortunately, the other parts of the story were not quite as cohesive. The search for Rosalind’s sister is pretty much the only story being told, and any other bits thrown in didn’t always seem to fit or were not explored deeply enough. Reid and his family come across as contradictory, and the romance between Rosalind and Reid was fairly flat. They didn’t seem to spend much time together to really get to know each other before their thoughts were turning to love.

As for the mystery element to this novel, it was fairly convincing. Wondering what happened to Rosalind’s sister was definitely the thing that kept me reading to the end of the book. It was also interesting to read about the different classes – the “elite” and the “help” – and I thought this novel clearly portrayed those relationships, however cruel they might have been.

While Rosalind does experience growth over the course of this novel, the spiritual aspect still felt a bit lacking. Rosalind credits her growth and strength to God, but I didn’t feel any passion behind her thoughts on this matter. The overall spiritual aspect could have gone much deeper, especially considering all of the things the characters encountered.

Some of the secondary characters in the novel were actually quite interesting, but they didn’t always seem to be explored deeply enough either. There was a jolting shift in point of view three-quarters of the way through the book to a minor character that actually ending up being one of the most interesting parts of the book. Fortunately, this character is the main character in the next novel in the series, which does pique my interest in continuing the series.

I will give Secrets of Sloane House ... 3 BookWorms.







Secrets of Sloane House
by Shelley Gray
"Chicago World's Fair Mystery" #1
Zondervan Publishers
Publication date: July 8, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
 

 

Friday, September 5, 2014

"How Can I Be Sure" Blog Tour

How Can I Be Sure?
by John Stevens

Many Christians experience times of doubt and uncertainty. At various times we can ask: Does God love me? Am I really a Christian? – and even Is there a God at all?

This short, readable book unpacks the difference between good and bad doubt, shows us where it comes from and how to deal with it in ourselves and others.

It explains clearly and simply the liberating reality of what the Bible tells us about doubt, assurance, and the Christian life.




Table of Contents:
Introduction: The many faces of doubt

1. What is doubt?
2. Why is doubt dangerous?
3. What do I have to believe to be a Christian?
4. How can I overcome doubt as a Christian?
5. How can I develop a confident faith?

 Conclusion: Living with faith and doubt



Book Information:
•Publisher: The Good Book Company
•ISBN: 9781909559158
•Page Count:  96


About the Author: John Stevens lectured in law at the University of Birmingham before entering full time ministry. He is the National Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in the UK and co-pastor of a church plant in Market Harborough. John is married to Ursula and they have four children.


My Take:

Since becoming a Christian at the age of eight, I have experienced doubt about my salvation at different points in my life. I always try to read any book about doubting your salvation that I can get my hands on since I can easily fall back into this wrong pattern of thinking.

This short but truth-packed book really hit home for me with some of the doubts I have had in the past. There were so many sentences and passages that I highlighted -- it is an immensely quotable little book!

  • "The very fact that you are not complacent about spiritual decline or stagnation is a sigh of genuine faith."
  • "You can be confident that your relationship with God does not depend on your faith being perfect. Your relationship with God is secure because you have been united with Christ and justified in the sign of God....[Christ] never fell into the sin of unbelief, so all your doubts are covered by His perfect faith, which is counted as yours."
  • "In the end, all doubt is a battle between trusting the word of God and trusting our own feelings and intuitions about reality."

Overall, this little book feels kind of more like an essay or a pamphlet rather than an in-depth book, but, as I said earlier, it is packed with truth. I would have liked a few more Bible verses and passages to go into more depth about doubt and faith. Even so, this book is a great place to get started when wrestling with your own doubt about God and salvation or if you are working with someone else who is having a difficult time with these issues.

I will give How Can I Be Sure? ... 4 BookWorms.










How Can I Be Sure?
by John Stevens
"Questions Christians Ask" series
The Good Book Company
Publication date: July 8, 2014
96 pages






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, August 22, 2014

"In Perfect Time" Blog Tour

About the book: Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go.

Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?
 


Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/zt6iH 



About the author: Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Find Sarah online: website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest



My Take:

Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson is bold, confident, and willing to take on whatever this horrid war throws her way. With a string of beaus in almost every airfield in Europe, Kay is surprised when pilot Lt. Roger Cooper rebuffs her attempts to get his attention.

Lt. Roger Cooper is doing what most every pilot in the war is doing – biding his time until he can rack up enough missions to earn a trip home for good. Roger dreams of playing drums for one of the hottest big bands in the U.S., and if he can impress his CO enough, he might just get the chance. But Kay Jobson is a distraction every which way he turns, and Roger is eventually drawn to her.

Can Roger and Kay put aside the fears and mistakes of their pasts to open their hearts to a bright and blessed future?

In Perfect Time is book three in the “Wings of the Nightingale” series by Sarah Sundin.

Having gotten to know Kay in the previous two books in this series, I was very excited to read her story in this novel. Each book in this series could probably be read by itself easily enough, but they really do build on each other and are much more enjoyable when taken as a complete series.

The best thing by far about this novel was the historical aspect. Ms. Sundin has a knack for giving as much historical detail as possible without any of it becoming boring or confusing. As in the previous novels in this series, I was completely fascinated by the historical details of World War Two and the experiences of the pilots and the flight nurses of this era. It was so interesting to see how much the flight nurses contributed to so many different aspects of the war. Their relationships with each other were also interesting and really contributed well to create an emotionally in-depth and historically accurate fiction novel.

I thought that the two main characters in this novel made an intriguing couple. Kay and Roger had backgrounds that were a bit stereotypical, but the characters were still engaging. I absolutely loved how you could see that God was orchestrating everything about their relationship. When I look back on the relationship between my husband and me, I can see so many times where there was just no doubt that God was putting us into each other’s paths, and it was neat to see something similar in this novel. It was also really neat to go back and see Mellie and Tom and Georgie and Hutch and to continue to follow them during the war and a bit after.

Even though I liked the romance between Kay and Roger, it got to be way too drawn out towards the end. I as the reader knew what was ultimately going to happen between these two, and I got a bit tired of the back and forth as the story progressed.

Another thing that was really good about this book was how the characters experienced so much growth over the course of the novel. I especially liked how Roger becomes more and more confident in himself and his abilities and how he is finally able to clearly see in himself what others have seen all along. His decision about his career at the end of the novel was deeply satisfying, and it was a stand-out part of the book for me. I also liked that his character played the drums – that was a unique twist.

Normally I don’t enjoy reading stories – even historical fiction ones – that take place during a war, but Sarah Sundin has a way of writing that displays the truth about war without going into so much detail that it becomes miserable and grisly. There were many times during In Perfect Time when the characters were in grave danger and the horrors of war were displayed. But at no time was there a feeling of hopelessness or a lack of faith in a God who is in control even in the midst of a terrible war. This is what makes this series stand out from other books that I have read about WWII. They are historically accurate without being unnecessarily graphic. They are informative while still being enjoyable. And they ultimately turn to faith in Christ as a source of comfort during any war we may be facing.


I will give In Perfect Time … 4 BookWorms.


 








In Perfect Time
by Sarah Sundin
"Wings of the Nightingale" #3
Revell Publishers
Publication date: August 5, 2014


Read my reviews of the previous two novels in this series here - With Every Letter and On Distant Shores.




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."






Don’t miss Sarah Sundin‘s hot-off-the-press novel, In Perfect Time. Publishers Weekly gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up: “Sundin excels at well-researched historical detail . . . with such accurate depictions of culture and setting that we are fully immersed in the times as well as in the story. The strength of relationships forged in war and the apprehension of God in times of trouble infuse this well-crafted novel with substance and light.”

Sarah is celebrating the release of her book with a fun giveaway!


perfecttime-400-click

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX
  • The Wings of the Nightingale Series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. Winner will be announced August 25th at Sarah’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Sarah’s blog on the 25th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Contest for "In Perfect Time"



Don’t miss Sarah Sundin‘s hot-off-the-press novel, In Perfect Time. Publishers Weekly gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up: “Sundin excels at well-researched historical detail . . . with such accurate depictions of culture and setting that we are fully immersed in the times as well as in the story. The strength of relationships forged in war and the apprehension of God in times of trouble infuse this well-crafted novel with substance and light.”

Sarah is celebrating the release of her book with a fun giveaway!

perfecttime-400-click

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • The Wings of the Nightingale Series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. Winner will be announced August 25th at Sarah’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Sarah’s blog on the 25th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Full Steam Ahead" Review

Nicole Renard might be a smart young woman who has grown up around boats her entire life, but she is not what her father needs when it comes to taking over the helm of Renard Shipping. With her father’s health failing, Nicole sets off from Galveston to New Orleans with a controversial dowry to do the only thing she can do to remedy the situation – find a husband.

Darius Thornton has made it his life’s work to make steamboats safer for the many patrons who travel on them. After a boiler explosion on a steamboat almost took his life, Darius secluded himself on an estate in Texas to conduct experiments and testing to improve boilers and enhance safety aboard steamboats. Nothing can come between Darius and his experiments – that is until Nicole shows up on his doorstep looking for work.

When Nicole is prevented from making it to New Orleans because of interference from her father’s competitors, she has no recourse but to look for work in the small town of Liberty, Texas. Darius Thornton is not the best of employers, but it will buy her some time to make money to continue her journey and will provide some measure of safety from those who pursue her.

As Nicole and Darius begin to work on the boiler experiments together, their growing attraction for each other further complicates matters. Both of them have callings in their lives that leave no room for love. What will happen when they take a chance and learn to trust that God’s plans are always best?

Set near Galveston, Texas, in 1851, Full Steam Ahead is a romantic tale of love and trust against a backdrop of scientific discovery.

This novel literally starts off with a bang as the reader is taken immediately to Darius and his experience onboard the steamboat Louisiana as it sinks due to a boiler explosion. This way of introducing one of the main characters really draws you in and lets you get to know the character’s thoughts and feelings in a way that is immediate and personal. This first section was rough to read due to its graphic description of the steamboat accident, but, as I said, it really got you into the book all at once. The introduction to Nicole and her arrival at Oakhaven as Darius’s secretary was also interesting and fast-paced.

The main plot of this book about Darius and his experiments was really fascinating, and it made an excellent backdrop for the rest of the story. This was probably the most interesting thing to me historically and as a part of the story. And although the spiritual side of things could have gone much deeper, there were still times when the characters really did grow and change and learn to trust God even when it was hard.

As for the romantic aspect of the book, it started out really well. Their attraction to each other was based on so much more than just physical appearance. Darius was captivated by Nicole’s mind and by her fierce determination. Nicole was able to look past Darius’s eccentricities and see the passion and integrity that went into his work. But as their relationship progressed, this angle got lost and was replaced by romance-novel-type drivel. An example of this is when Darius kisses Nicole, and in his mind the kiss is described as “branding her as his.” It’s hard for me to describe when and how this shift occurred, but it just didn’t seem as if the same two people who were in the relationship at the beginning/middle of the book were the same ones more towards the end. The fact that this relationship took place over an unrealistic two-week period might have had something to do with it, but I’m not sure.

Aside from this romantic contradiction, the remainder of the novel was really fantastic. There is an adventure angle that has to do with Nicole’s dowry and inheritance that really puts a pirate-type twist on the ending. Although somewhat unrealistic, it was really fun and made for an exciting and satisfying novel overall.

Except for some of the romantic parts in the middle, Full Steam Ahead was an enjoyable escape with engaging characters and a plot that kept me turning pages right to the end.

I will give Full Steam Ahead ... 4 BookWorms.








Full Steam Ahead
by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: May 27, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"A Moment in Time" Review

Alice Chesterfield wonders if she will be hiding for the rest of her life. The man who killed her father and left her with a terrible facial scar will not cease harassing Alice for information of the whereabouts of the valuable papers her father supposedly left behind. Pursued by this horrible man and haunted by the memories of her attack, Alice hopes a move to Texas with her former employer and friend, Marty Wythe, will be just the escape she needs.

At first, being in Texas seems to be the best thing to ever happen to Alice. She finds that she enjoys ranch life, and she is surprisingly attracted to Marty’s nephew, Robert Barnett, who doesn’t seem to mind the terrible scar that mars her face. But when long-held secrets are revealed about her family, the truth is harder than Alice feels she can bear.

Can Alice rely on God to give her the peace and love that she so desperately desires?

A Moment in Time is book two in the Lone Star Bride series by Tracie Peterson.

Books by Tracie Peterson always take me back to when I first started reading Christian historical fiction. What I like so much about the genre is its simplicity and its ability to deliver a sweet, clean, romantic story that might be a bit predictable but is still entertaining. I also really enjoy when a novel in this genre is easy to read and just has that extra touch of something in it that keeps it interesting throughout.
A Moment in Time delivered on all of these points.

Alice and Robert were easy characters to get to know, and I especially liked Robert right away. It was easy to see where the romance was going, in spite of a few entanglements, but it was still sweet to see how it all unfolded.

Probably the most interesting part of the book for me was the storyline of Alice’s mother and brother and how that whole situation was ultimately resolved. This part of the story was a difficult subject as far as forgiveness and moving on after a wrong has been done to you, and I thought it was handled reasonably well.  As for the other spiritual aspects, they were appropriate, but I thought they could have used a bit more depth.

While this novel is very easy to read and enjoyable, it is somewhat on the simplistic side. The characters do deal with things that are real, but sometimes their dialogue and their ability to move on so quickly seemed somewhat unrealistic. I actually like this type of book most of the time in Christian fiction, especially historical fiction. I like to have fun and be entertained while reading a book instead of reading one that purposefully tries to get you to cry. I realize that bad things do happen in life and in fiction, but I prefer to at least be able to read about a happy ending in a novel even if it doesn’t always happen in real life.

Another thing I liked about this novel was that the story of Marty and Jake continued from the first book, A Sensible Arrangement. I am looking forward to the next novel in the series where I can read a new story and hopefully continue to find out what happens to Marty & Jake and Alice & Robert in the future.
I will give A Moment in Time ... 3.5 BookWorms.








A Moment in Time
by Tracie Peterson
"Lone Star Brides" #1
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: June 3, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."