Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"A Captain for Laura Rose" Review

Laura Rose White, daughter of legendary steamboat captain Jacob White, was raised on steamboats, and she loved every minute of it. She feels at home on the water, and she has an instinct for the river that many men can not duplicate. When tragedy comes to the White family, Laura finds herself in an almost hopeless situation. She must make a successful journey on the steamboat that bears her name – the Laura Rose – from St. Louis to Fort Benton and back. It’s the only way to save her home and to somehow restore her family’s good name.

But female steamboat captains are unheard of, and Laura must take on a second pilot in order to even be able to take on passengers and freight for the journey. Her only choice is to turn to Finn MacKnight, a friend of her brother’s with a less-than-stellar reputation.

With his two sisters, Fiona and Adele, in tow, Finn agrees to the trip. The journey up the Missouri River is both historic and risky, and it may lead them all to a future that they never could have anticipated.

The summer before I was to be a senior in high school, my parents and I went to Kansas City, Missouri, for a business trip/vacation. (Pretty much all of my vacations as a kid revolved around my dad’s business). While my mom and I were exploring the city, someone told us to make sure to check out the Steamboat Arabia Museum.

We were fairly skeptical about it, but we like museums, so we decided to visit. And were we amazed!

The Steamboat Arabia sank near Kansas City in 1856, and 132 years later it was recovered – with much of its cargo intact. If you are ever in Kansas City, it is a very neat place to visit – the author of this novel actually mentions visiting this museum during her research. I thought of our visit to the museum many times as I was reading this novel.

The steamboat in A Captain for Laura Rose almost becomes another character in this novel. I loved the word play on the title of this book, since Laura Rose is the name of the steamboat as well as the name of the main female character.

The story in A Captain for Laura Rose flowed smoothly, although towards the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle anything else going wrong for this poor girl! Fortunately, by the time the Laura Rose gets going on its main journey, things seemed to be looking up just a bit – enough for me to be able to continue with the story easily.

The romance in this novel is sweet and idyllic but also has more of a touch of reality to it than some. This is mostly due to the fact that the two main characters don’t really like each other in the beginning of the book. I have a friend who told me once that when she first met her future husband, they didn’t get along at all. They actually argued and were at odds with each other on more than one occasion. Somehow, that all got turned around, and now they are happily married with four kids.
This romance reminded me of that story about my friend. The two don’t always see eye-to-eye, and it’s definitely not a love-at-first-sight scenario. But over time, the two realize just how good they are together and just how much they feel for each other. What started out as somewhat strong feelings in the other direction somehow turned to love. That’s what made this romance a bit different from others I’ve read lately.

I appreciate, too, when the main male character is looking for more in a wife than just a pretty face, and Finn definitely fit this bill. I also like that Laura was a strong, independent female character that didn’t come off as reckless or annoying. She was confident without being conceited and was able to be her own person without being unbelievable. The witty banter between Laura and Finn doesn’t hurt, either.

I also like the secondary characters in this story. Secondary characters are sometimes hard to get just right because they either are written too well (and you end up liking them better than the main characters), or they become cardboard cutouts. I thought the secondary characters in A Captain for Laura Rose and their stories were a perfect t compliment to the main characters and their story. I was interested in the other characters’ plotlines, especially Adele’s, but it didn’t detract from the main storyline. I thought that the growth in the sisterly relationship between Fiona and Adele was especially heartwarming. I really liked all of the extra things that the secondary characters and their storylines added to this novel.

The spiritual portion of this novel was well-integrated into the storyline and didn’t seem too preachy to me. However, I wish that a couple of the characters had gone through more of a salvation experience during a specific point in time rather than that part being somewhat glossed over.

While the setting of this story is unique – especially the time spent aboard the steamboat – I sometimes got bogged down in the steamboat travel and language. But just when I was feeling as if the story was beginning to drag, something would happen to keep me from feeling that way.
A Captain for Laura Rose is a sweet romance with a unique setting that is very well-written. And Finn MacKnight is the most romantic name I have come across in many, many years of reading romance novels.

I will give A Captain for Laura Rose … 4 BookWorms.









A Captain for Laura Rose
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
FaithWords
Publication date: March 4, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from FaithWords. 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, April 9, 2014

"A Promise Kept" Review

Allison Kavanagh never thought it would happen to her. A marriage that began as a fairy tale is now over in the most-definitely-not-a-fairy-tale of ways: divorce. Allison was so sure that God had promised to heal her marriage, and she wonders what went wrong.

Now on her own, Allison retreats to a cabin that her great aunt Emma left to her in the mountains of Idaho. While living there, she discovers many years’ worth of diaries that her aunt Emma wrote. Through the pages of those diaries, Allison discovers that she had more in common with her great aunt than she ever knew.

While adjusting to small town life and to a life after divorce, Allison must come back to the path from which she strayed – the path that leads to God and His grace and His healing.

I have always been a fan of contemporary novels that also go back in time to tell a historical story, and that part of A Promise Kept was the highlight of the book for me. Aunt Emma’s story was so complex and heartbreaking, and I remained interested throughout that storyline. I also liked how Emma’s story and Allison’s story were so closely related.

The relationships among the characters in this book were also enjoyable. Allison had a great relationship with her daughter, which is always an encouragement to me. The other members of the small town, too, were nice and helpful and were there for each other. They celebrated together, and they mourned together, and that was a very refreshing part of this novel.

The way the plot moves forward in this novel is mostly through character development. I will admit that I like my stories to be developed more through action, but for the most part, this storytelling device was handled well. I thought it moved a bit too slowly in places, and I got tired of knowing every detail of Allison’s daily life (what she was wearing, how she operated her washing machine), but the parts that were truly focused on character development were much stronger than those other little details.

Although I didn’t relate to Allison personally – I have not been in her life situation – I was able to understand what she was going through and be able to sympathize with her. Since this is a semi-autobiographical novel, I was able to feel what the author went through during this time in her life which made the novel very real.

I was confused, however, at Allison’s insistence that God had promised to heal her marriage. Even the tag for this book claims this: “God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved. What had become of His promise?”

Throughout this entire novel, the focus is on Allison wondering if she had heard God correctly when he promised to save her marriage. By the end she realizes that God had kept His promise to her but not in the way she was expecting.  I felt, though, that Allison was holding onto a “promise” that had come to her audibly from God rather than relying on His Word. Feelings and emotions can get tangled up with truth inside our hearts, and I like to be cautious – even in light of a fiction book – that I don’t take what I think I hear from God as a promise from Him or as truth. Everything needs to be viewed through the lens of scripture, and Allison didn’t seem to always do this.

God does promise in His Word that he will never leave us or forsake us, and Allison was able to learn this and rest on this truth during the hard times in her life, which is always a great reminder.

I will give A Promise Kept … 3 BookWorms.








A Promise Kept
by Robin Lee Hatcher
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: January 7, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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, April 2, 2014

"The Dancing Master" Review

Julia Midwinter has felt trapped in the tiny village of Beaworthy for as long as she can remember. Smothered by an overprotective mother and ignored by an uncaring father, Julia longs to be free to tour the world and experience all life has to offer.

When Alec Valcourt arrives in Beaworthy, Julia is intrigued, especially when she finds out that he is a dancing master. Dancing has been forbidden in Beaworthy for twenty years, ever since Julia’s Uncle Graham was killed in a duel during the May Day Celebrations. Julia’s mother, Lady Amelia, has never been able to reconcile the events that led to her brother’s death; thus, dancing is something that is not done in Beaworthy.

Julia wonders if there is more to the circumstances surrounding her uncle’s death than her mother has told her. Alec, too, is running from his own family secrets – reasons that explain why he and his mother and sister have come to Beaworthy.

As more and more secrets are revealed, Alec and Julia are drawn to each other. But with so many things in their way, will they ever be able to help restore life – and love – to the village?

When I first read the summary and saw the cover for this book, I was immediately intrigued. I sometimes think Regency-era and Gilded Age novels get bogged down in the endless telling of gowns and balls and dances, but for some reason this novel seemed to promise more.

Unfortunately, what the novel promised on the outside didn’t quite seem to hold true on the inside.

I have been so impressed with past novels by Julie Klassen. They each had a bit of mystery and an interesting romance and a fascinating plot that kept me reading. But this one seemed to revolve almost solely around the dancing and the descriptions of dances. It was almost as if the book was written more to teach about dancing masters and their significance during this time period rather than to tell a story. Even the secrets surrounding Julia and her parentage were not enough to keep me interested for very long. I figured out the “mystery” to it very early on, which left little suspense for the rest of the novel. Because of these things, the plot of the novel just moved too slowly for me.

I will say, however, that the romance between Julia and Alec was realistic and didn’t take the sometimes-used road of misunderstandings keeping them apart. It was perfectly believable to me that Julia and Alec would not be able to court, considering his profession and Julia’s mother’s hatred of all things pertaining to dancing. They also were able to spend time talking together and developing a friendship, if nothing else, instead of just mooning over each other (which is a romantic plot device that is fast becoming a pet peeve of mine).

I also enjoyed how the relationship between Julia and her mother developed and matured over the course of the novel. I didn’t connect very well with Julia, since she was extremely headstrong and childish for much of the novel, but it was interesting to see the growth that did take place in the relationship between mother and daughter throughout.

The spiritual aspect of this novel came through fairly clearly overall. It didn’t quite have the depth that I was expecting in relation to Julia’s character. It felt a bit forced. But there was an underlying element of grace and redemption throughout the novel, especially in relation to John Desmond, the one who was responsible for Lady Amelia’s brother’s death all those years ago.

I also feel as if I need to address the similarities to the movie Footloose that is in this book. When I first began reading, it was really hard to shake the comparisons between this book and the movie. A guy who is a master at dancing coming to a town where dancing is forbidden…dancing in this town is forbidden because of the death of a young member of the community…the daughter of the leader of the village getting involved with the dancing guy…it was just too much. At one point some young people in the village, including Alec and Julia, go to a dance in a neighboring town. But as I kept reading, those similarities became less and less. By the end of the book, I was more able to appreciate the novel for what it was rather than as a comparison to a 1980s movie with Kevin Bacon.

(SPOILER: Although the Footloose feel did come back a bit at the end of the book when two certain people dance on May Day in the town square).

I really, really, really wanted to like this book as I have Ms. Klassen’s other books, but the overall presentation was just too slow and repetitious. Even though the history surrounding English country villages and dancing was appealing, and the romance was realistic, the plot wasn’t quite as exciting as I was expecting.

I will give The Dancing Master … 3 BookWorms.









The Dancing Master
by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: January 7, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"It Had to Be You" Blog Tour

About the book: A Christensen Family Novel.

Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter but is stuck writing obits---and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.
Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior---on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier. But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Learn more and purchase a copy at Susan's website.
 
 
About the Author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.

Learn more about Susan at: http://www.susanmaywarren.com
 
 
 
My Take:
 
I’m not a hockey fan, but any time a book incorporates sports in some way, it’s usually a good thing.
 
That was definitely true for It Had to Be You. The hockey life seemed to be realistic, which added another level to the novel overall.
 
As for the romance between Eden and Jace, the two spend a lot of time misunderstanding each other and, therefore, not liking each other. I found myself wanting them to get together more quickly. I enjoyed the romance overall, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the circumstances surrounding their romance was filled with something other than misunderstandings and assumptions.
 
The spiritual aspect of this novel comes across clearly and, true to Susan May Warren fashion, is seamlessly woven throughout. There is a lot of spiritual talk and thinking, but it is realistic and has so much depth. There are some pretty heavy circumstances that come into play in this novel, and at times I had to put the book down and walk away for a bit or skim over a section so that I didn’t get too wrapped up in the emotion of a fiction novel. (I read for entertainment, not heart wrenching emotion). But I will say that many characters in this book experience tremendous growth over the course of the novel, and that is always a plus.
 
The Christiansen family is such a fun and engaging family to read about, and the setting of Deep Haven, Minnesota, is so enjoyable. This novel gets into the differences of growing up with many siblings versus being an only child. I’ll not get on my only child soapbox here again – I will just say that most of the family dynamics that were related in this novel seemed realistic.
 
The only thing I didn’t like about the setting of the novel this time was the descriptions of snow and such. The Midwest has had such a snowy winter this year (my area broke the all-time snow accumulation record this winter) that I have just about had it with the snow and cold. It was not as enjoyable this time reading about the snow. Usually it doesn’t bother me, but this year I have had enough! I am ready for warm weather! Of course, this won’t affect my overall opinion of the book. I’m sure if I read it again during the summer months, I would enjoy the snowy descriptions once more! 
 
If you’ve enjoyed other Deep Haven novels by Susan May Warren, then you will enjoy this one as well.
 
I will give It Had to Be You … 3 BookWorms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Read what other reviewers are saying here: http://litfusegroup.com/author/swarren
 
 
 
Susan May Warren is celebrating the release of her newest Christiansen Family novel, It Had To Be You, with a $100 Visa cash card giveaway and offering readers a free book club kit.

ithadtobe-400-click

  One winner will receive:
  • $100 Visa cash card
  • Take a Chance on Me and It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 29th. Winner will be announced April 1st on Susan's blog. Also, visit her website to learn more about the It Had To Be You backstory and Susan's free book club kit.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Susan's blog on April 1st to see if you won.

 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers through Litfuse Publicity. 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, March 7, 2014

"Balanced" Blog Tour

Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom 

How can a work-at-home mom raise kids, juggle a career and take care of family responsibilities with only 24-hour days?

Working at home while raising kids and juggling a career and family responsibilities is no easy feat. Author and homeschooling mom Tricia Goyer shares her tips for finding balance among all your many hats as a mom. Balancing is a process and a journey, one that Tricia herself has yet to perfect. But between writing more than forty books, raising and homeschooling six kids, being a wife, and being active in her community, she has amassed valuable tips she shares in “Balanced.”

The book includes tips on:

—how to create focus themes for your family
—how to prioritize your schedule
—how to utilize your job so it also benefits your kids
—how to keep yourself out of the comparison game
—how to make working at home work for you
—and much more!
 
 
Purchase a copy, get a free downloadable workbook, and learn more at Tricia’s website - www.TriciaGoyer.com



{More About Tricia Goyer}

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and “Lead Your Family Like Jesus,” (co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children. You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com.




My Take:

I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination. The closest I get is doing book reviews here on my blog. My dad always says that I'm a good writer, but I just never really enjoyed it enough to think about making any sort of career out of it.

That being said, I really do admire writers. I obviously love to read, and I also realize that writing novels is a difficult, all-consuming career that can be both rewarding and frustrating. So, I have always had great respect for authors.

Even though I am not an author, I am a stay-at-home mom who also does some work from home, so Tricia Goyer's book Balanced related to me in a way that no book ever has before - it spoke directly to a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom like me. She does relate most to writing, but it also speaks to other types of work-at-home jobs.

Throughout the book Tricia talks about balance (hence the name), but she also goes much deeper than that. The book talks not only of juggling every aspect of life but also of setting priorities and using those priorities and goals to evaluate how to and what to keep juggling in the future.

My husband and I have spent the last year seriously doing this with every opportunity that comes to us. We ask ourselves how it lines up with what God would have us do and according to our goals and priorities. It really has made our lives so much more stress-free and actually more wide-open for opportunities to serve those around us.

I think this was what I took away most from Tricia's new book - not only to have balance in your life but to have goals that focus first on Christ.

Balanced is a great book for work-at-home parents or anyone who needs a little bit of direction on setting goals that are realistic and God-honoring.

I will give Balanced ... 4 BookWorms.









Take the Balanced challenge!

Visit this page: http://www.triciagoyer.com/join-the-balanced-challenge/. and take part in the challenge, too!






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from GoyerInk through Litfuse Publicity. 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."
 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter" Blog Tour

From the moment your little girl was born, you knew you were going to be doing a lot of praying. But you may wonder, What exactly should I be praying for?
Now the authors of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates show you how to pray for every area of your daughter's life. Rob and Joanna Teigen give you a strong foundation to build a lifelong habit of prayer for your daughter with a collection of specific prayers you can use to get started right now. They include engaging stories from well-known authors like Joe Stowell, Bill Farrel, Ted Cunningham, Jim Samra, and others. And they explain a bit more of what girls go through growing up, including stress, purity issues, social pressure, modesty challenges, spiritual growth, and more.

Remember: just because you don't always understand your daughter doesn't mean that God doesn't! Start asking for his guidance, protection, and blessings today.

Find out more and purchase a copy here.




About the Authors: Rob Teigen has been a publishing professional for more than fifteen years and is the author of three joke books, including Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids (under the pseudonym Rob Elliott). He and his wife, Joanna Teigen, are the parents of a teenage son and three younger daughters. They are the authors of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates and live in West Michigan.

Learn more at www.strongerdads.com.



My Husband's Take:
 
I have a 5-year-old daughter.  She is my only child and I pray for her often.  However, as much as I do pray for her and worry about her future, honestly, sometimes I feel like I am completely unprepared for what is coming.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I was never a girl, so I don’t know what kinds of problems she is going to run into during her childhood and teen years.  I only know the process from a boy’s perspective, and that alone is enough for me to be convinced that the best thing for her is to lock her in the house until she is 35. 

In reality, I realize that might not be the best way to go, so I look for advice from other sources.  That is why I was very interested to read A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter.

I must say that this book was not entirely what I expected.  My only real problem with the book was the format.  Now, to be totally fair, it says right there in the title that this is a book of prayers.  And, that is mostly what this book is -- a collection of prayers.  Personally, I was hoping for more of an explanation of what to pray about rather than a specific prayer.  I don’t like to use other people’s prayers as my own.  When I pray, I am talking to God and want to use my words and my thoughts to do so.  I was able to read the prayers in this book, though, and get the main idea.  I then was able to form my own prayers.  It just took a bit more work to do it that way as opposed to just getting the information.

Everything else about the book was great.  I liked that each chapter was a prayer about a specific topic and that each chapter began with Scripture.  It allows each dad to look at the verses and meditate on them.  In fact, the book encourages you do look up the verses and read the passages.  That was great advice.  The topics were also very helpful.  It is good to have a heads up about things that my daughter will be going through.  And, it is very good for me to be going to God about these things now, rather than after they come up.  This allows me to ask for guidance and protection for her and for me and my wife as we help her grow in life and in Christ.

For anyone out there with baby girls (no matter what age they might be), I would recommend this book.  It might not be the style you are used to or looking for, but the information is excellent.  And, any extra motivation we can get to pray for our girls is always most welcome.

I will give A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter ... 4 BookWorms.


 





A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter
by Rob Teigen & Joanna Teigen
Revell Publishers
Non-fiction
Publication date: March 4, 2014






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."

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Tuck Me in Talks with Your Little Ones" Review

Some of the most memorable moments for a child and for parents are often those precious minutes before bedtime each night.

Author Grace Fox has created an enjoyable little book of questions to ask your children as you are tucking them in. Along with prayer and bedtime stories, these questions – ranging from silly to serious – can become an unforgettable part of the bedtime routine for your children ages 3 – 8.





--If you could play a musical instrument, what would you play? Why that instrument? Show me how you’d play it.

--Name ten things God created.

--What’s the best way to eat spaghetti? Ice cream?

These and many other thought-provoking and fun questions can be found in Tuck-Me-In Talks with Your Little Ones.

My husband and I have had a nighttime routine for our daughter since she was only a few weeks old. Over the years (she is now five), the routine has changed somewhat, of course, but it is still a highlight of our day with our daughter.

When I first requested this book, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We have tried several devotion-type books for bedtime, but we keep coming back to just switching between our two favorite storybook Bibles instead. When we received this book, it was smaller than I thought it would be, and it is just a little book of lots of different questions to ask your kids. I have to say that I thought the book would be more than what it is, but is has actually turned out to be really good. The simplicity of it is what is so great.

For the first couple of nights we used these questions before bedtime, but over the last few days I have switched to using this little book in the car when we are driving back and forth to preschool. My daughter and I have always had great conversations while driving, and these questions just give us even more to talk about!

From the outside, this book just seems like a bunch of questions – something that you could just do on your own. But I think it’s more than that. It’s a tangible object to help you really get into the hearts and minds of your kids. We have only used this book for a few weeks, and I have already written down several things – both funny and serious – that my daughter has told me in answer to these questions. It’s also a good reminder to actually engage your children during times that you might be tempted to just zone out (like in the car or in a waiting room).

This book a simple concept, but its effects can last a lifetime.

I will give Tuck-Me-In Talks with Your Little Ones ... 4 BookWorms.








Tuck-Me-In Talks with Your Little Ones
by Grace Fox
Harvest House Publishers
February 1, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest 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."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Where Courage Calls" Blog Tour

Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected . . .


About the book:

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father's wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak English. There isn't even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men---both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

Purchase a copy and read an excerpt: http://ow.ly/tyWJH




About the Authors:

Janette Oke: Celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry, Janette Oke is the recipient of numerous awards. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies and are beloved by readers around the world. Janette lives with her husband, Edward, in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan: is the daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of "Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie," as well as the novel "Dana's Valley," which she co-wrote with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and two sons-in-law and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.

Landing page for this blog tour: 
 


My Take:

The first Christian fiction book I ever read was Janette Oke's A Bride for Donnigan. As soon as I finished the final page of that novel, I was hooked, and Christian historical fiction has been my favorite genre ever since.

I was so excited to see this new release from Janette Oke and her daughter Laurel, especially since it is so closely related to one of my favorite Oke series - the Canadian West series.

In a lot of ways, Where Courage Calls is very similar to the Canadian West series. Beth is very much like her aunt Elizabeth, and she encounters circumstances that are very close to those that come to pass in the first Canadian West book.

But even though those two books are similar, they are still different enough to be recognized as separate novels. After a bit of a slow start, Where Courage Calls got much more interesting when Beth arrives in Coal Valley. What she encounters that would probably have made me turn around and go home right away, but, true to the title, Beth found courage that could only come from the strength of God, and she was able to stay and minister to the people of the mining town.

Overall I really liked the flow and feel of this book once Beth arrived in Coal Valley. I did think that sometimes Beth was a bit too cookie-cutter perfect, but even though I thought this to be the case, she still experienced some growth over the course of the novel. I also thought the romance was a bit lightweight - Beth didn't always spend a lot of time with the two male suitors - but it was still enjoyable.

Where Courage Calls gets back to the roots of Christian fiction. It's a sweet story of romance and faith from the first author who helped me fall in love with this amazing genre.

I will give Where Courage Calls ... 4 BookWorms.

 
 
 
 
Where Courage Calls
by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: February 4, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
Janette Oke's newest book, Where Courage Calls (co-written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan), is receiving rave reviews. It is the companion story to Hallmark Channel's TV series When Calls the Heart, set in the Canadian west.

Janette and Laurel are celebrating with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on March 4th.

couragecalls-400-click
 
One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the Where Courage Calls Facebook Party on March 4th. Connect with Janette and Laurel for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more!

So grab your copy of Where Courage Calls and join Janette and Laurel on the evening of March 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

 
 



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher through LitFuse Publicity. 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, February 19, 2014

"Butterfly Palace" Review


Lily Donaldson arrives in Austin, Texas, in 1904 hoping for a new beginning. Abandoned by her true love years ago and overcome with grief over the recent loss of her mother, Lily is determined to make her way in the world starting with a position as a maid at the prestigious home of Everett and Camille Marshall – Butterfly Palace.

But Lily’s hope for a new life in Austin is quickly tarnished when she finds that her former beau – Drew Hawkes, as he is now known – is also in Austin and is involved with some business dealings with Mr. Marshall. Not only that, but someone known as the Servant Girl Killer is once again terrorizing the town, and no servant feels safe.

When Lily discovers that there’s more to Drew’s visit in Austin than just everyday business, she finds herself in the middle of an intricate snare of lies, betrayal, and murder. Who can she trust? And will she be able to determine the truth before it’s too late?

Colleen Coble has been a favorite of mine since I read her Mercy Falls series a few years ago. That series is probably still my favorite of her novels, but I have enjoyed others as well.

The setting and feeling of this novel were interesting and gave it a unique air. The upstairs/downstairs aspect gave it a high society feel but with politics involved, since it took place in the capital city of Texas. I normally get really bogged down in political storylines, but this one was intricately woven into the suspense portion of the plot, and it was done well. The butterfly angle gave the novel a unique flair as well.

The suspense part of this novel was indeed intricate, and it was what really kept the plot moving throughout. I enjoy a little bit of mystery and suspense thrown into historical fiction, but this novel was really more suspense than anything else. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like that fact, but as I kept reading, I got very involved in the many twists and turns of the extremely suspenseful plot. The action in this novel is what gave it backbone and kept it moving, and it was enjoyable. There were a couple of things that were a bit over-the-top, but it was definitely entertaining.

While the suspense and actions portions of Butterfly Palace were good, the development of the main characters was not quite up to par. The secondary characters were interesting – I especially enjoyed Belle and her transformation and growth throughout the course of the novel – but I didn’t connect very well to Lily and not entirely to Drew, either. Lily seemed very na├»ve and extremely reckless at times, and she didn’t seem to change very much during the story, even though it was implied that she did. Drew was fine but I struggled to understand his dilemma over being with Lily or keeping his job.

I also didn’t always understand the connection between Lily and Drew. I realize that they had a past together, but their attraction to each other seemed mostly physical and feeling-oriented instead of true, deep, lasting love.

I also was not very impressed with the spiritual aspect of this novel. When God was mentioned it seemed to be mostly an afterthought. The significance of Christ did not come across clearly at all. In fact, people in the novel seemed to be labeled either “good” or “evil” as opposed to the book delivering the message of the gospel – that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.


As far as lighter mystery novels go, I thought Butterfly Palace was really good. If the other aspects of the plot had been as good, it would have been a much more excellent novel overall.

I will give Butterfly Palace ... 4 BookWorms.








Butterfly Palace
by Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: January 21, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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, February 14, 2014

"Smitten Book Club" Blog Tour

About the book: The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!
 
The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont, native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.
 
Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

 
What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold---exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?
 
In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/t7BO1



Meet the Authors:

RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. 


Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants


Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy's Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.
 

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

 
 
 
 
 
My Take:
 
I have enjoyed the previous Smitten, Vermont, novels - Smitten and Secretly Smitten - and I was looking forward to reading this next installment just in time for Valentine's Day!
 
Since I belong to a great book club myself, the premise for this novel grabbed me right away. I loved the friendship that was shared among the four friends (reminiscent of the authors, I suspect), and the book that was chosen for the book club to read just seemed like a riot.
 
Novellas are interesting to read, and I feel as if they need to be read in a certain way. Since they are short, the stories - and thus the romances - seem to play out rather quickly. Luckily, in the Smitten books, the four novellas are seamlessly woven together, which makes for a much easier and more believable read. There is also a mystery woven throughout, which always makes a novel/novella more complete, in my opinion.
 
The setting of Smitten, Vermont, a small resort town looking to make a name for itself as a romantic destination, is once again done very well in this collection of novellas. It's almost as if the town is a character of its own!
 
While most of the romances in this novel were sweet, I struggled with reading about the one who recently lost her husband. It was handled appropriately, I thought, but I just don't like reading things that are really, really sad! :(
 
Overall, Smitten Book Club is a collection of four sweet romances that all tie together in friendship and a fun mystery.
 
I will give Smitten Book Club ... 3.5 BookWorms.
 
 
 


 
 

The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


smittenbookclub-400-click
 
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)


So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

 

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch on March 22nd!
Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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."