Monday, July 27, 2015

"Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor" Blog Tour

Heather Toulson never thought she would have to return to England after fleeing to America years ago. But after the death of her father, she must return to the English cottage of her youth that sits on the property of Ladenbrooke Manor. Heather is thankful that at least her newly-married daughter is able to join her on the trip.

When it is discovered that the sorting of the things in the cottage will take longer than anticipated, Heather finds herself staying in England indefinitely. Along the way she has a run-in with her first love that leaves her more confused than ever about her life currently and her plans for the future.

But an even bigger shock awaits Heather in the little cottage in which she grew up. As she continues to sort through her parents’ belongings, long-held secrets about her family come to the surface. As Heather explores her past, she discovers what really happened at Ladenbrooke all those years ago and how her family is connected to this mysterious Manor.

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See what other reviewers are saying here:

About the author: Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie lives with her husband Jon and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.

Find Melanie online: website, Twitter, Facebook

My Take:

I am a sucker for "past and present" stories these days. The book club I am in has read many of these types of books over the years, and we seem to continue to pick them every year. I think it's difficult to tell stories like this well without getting the reader all mixed up, but Ms. Dobson was able to do so, at least as far as the time period goes.

First off, the setting of this story was very interesting and gave a little bit of new life to the usual English countryside novels. I’ve read several novels that tell about someone who must return to their childhood home to sort through their parents’ things, but for some reason this one didn’t seem completely run-of-the-mill.  
This novel was definitely portrayed as one that would explore the secrets and mysteries of Ladenbrooke Manor and of Heather’s past. (I mean, it’s in the title, right?!) While there were secrets that the characters kept that were revealed throughout the novel, I never quite got an overall feeling of mystery or suspense. I think the back of the book summary gave way too much away, which is why I chose to write my own summary for this review. I guessed every single secret way before it was exposed, which is really odd to me considering that I haven’t been able to do that in Ms. Dobson’s other novels.

I also have to point out that one of the main secrets/plot points of the book was based on the main characters having a Big Misunderstanding, which is definitely not my favorite way to keep characters apart. Plus, it seemed as if each generation of women in this novel kept making the same mistakes over and over. It got a bit tiring towards the end.

The inclusion of a character with autism in this novel was very interesting. It was fascinating to see how each parent dealt with the child and to see how far we have come in relation to those on the autism spectrum. That being said, I thought the romantic storyline for the autistic character was quite traumatic. It felt more like a story of a stalker and lack of consent than it did a beautiful love story, and I’m still not sure which way the author was trying to go with it.

Even though this story had several hiccups along the way, the overall effect is still interesting. The struggles the characters face are very real and very emotional. While the spiritual aspect didn’t focus as much on Christ as I prefer in Christian fiction, there is an overall feeling of forgiveness and redemption in this novel that is expressed quite well.
I will give Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor ... 3 BookWorms.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books through Litfuse. 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, July 24, 2015

"Thriving in Babylon" Blog Tour

About the book:

Thriving in Babylon (David C. Cook, April 2015)

Meet a man forced to live in a fast changing and godless society. He faced fears about the future, concern for his safety, and the discouragement of world that seemed to be falling apart at warp speed.

Sound familiar? His name was Daniel, and with the power of hope, humility, and wisdom, he not only thrived, he changed an empire while he was at it. Though he lived thousands of years ago, he has a much to teach us today.

Even in Babylon, God is in control.

In Thriving in Babylon, Larry Osborne explores the "adult" story of Daniel to help us not only survive - but actually thrive in an increasingly godless culture. Here Pastor Osborne looks at:

-Why panic and despair are never from God

-What true optimism looks like

-How humility disarms even our greatest of enemies

-Why respect causes even those who will have nothing to do with God to listen

-How wisdom can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat

For those who know Jesus and understand the full implications of the cross, the resurrection, and the promises of Jesus, everything changes---not only in us, but also in our world.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Dr. Larry Osborne has served as a senior pastor and teaching pastor at North Coast Church---one of the ten most influential churches in the country---since 1980. Dr. Osborne is the author of numerous books, including Accidental Pharisees. He and his wife live in Oceanside, California. They have three grown children.

Find Larry online: website, Facebook, Twitter

See what other reviewers are saying here:

My Take:

In America these days, it does sometimes feels as if we are living in the Babylon of the Bible. I don't always feel this way, but there are definitely times when the blatant animosity towards God and the Bible in our culture is jarring and very upsetting.

That's one reason I really this book. When I get worried and upset about how things are turning in our society, books like this help to get my focus back to what is important - God, the truth of Scripture, and what we as Christians have been called to do. He calls us to not be reactionary but to be living our lives in such a way that others can't help but see the difference Christ has made - and not just the difference here on Earth but our lives for all eternity.

The writing style of the author is interesting. It took a bit for me to get used to, but it did keep me engaged throughout, which is something that is really important in a non-fiction book. I also think that some of the comparisons to us in America today and Daniel in Babylon in Bible times was a bit of a stretch but only because I feel I need to do some more biblical research to fully understand the life and times of Daniel.

There is not denying it - our culture is becoming increasingly anti-Christian. Jesus even warned that such a thing could and would occur in our everyday lives - "In this world you will have trouble." But the first and last parts of that verse are what we need to focus on in order to live in a world that is in trouble - one that is in dire need of the peace that only comes from the Savior:

"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  John 16:33 (NIV, emphasis mine)

Let the truth of the Bible cause you to take heart - Jesus wins. And that gives us hope as well as an urgency to share the gospel as much as we possibly can.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from David C. Cook Publishing 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."