Friday, January 26, 2018

"Moonlight on the Millpond" Review

About the book:

This first book in the Tucker Mills Trilogy from beloved author Lori Wick follows Jace Randall as he leaves his childhood home to help his Uncle Woody Randall run the saw mill in Token Creek. Jace diligently focuses on work until he meets the visiting niece of local storekeepers. Jace pursues her until she finally agrees to attend a picnic with him and take a chance.

But before the relationship has a strong foundation, the couple separates because of gossip fueled by Jace’s sister. Later, when she admits her wrongdoing and shares her testimony of a new faith, the couple must decide whether to try again. Will the sister’s example of faith and transformation be enough to restore broken dreams?

Moonlight on the Millpond
by Lori Wick
"Tucker Mills" #1
Publication date: March 1, 2005
Harvest House Publishers
285 pages
Audio CD read by Barbara Rosenblat

My Take:

I read this book years ago, but I needed something to listen to in the car during the off season from football. (ESPN radio is my listening choice during football season!!!)

The audio CDs were available at my local library, so I decided to give this another read (or listen!)

I have read many of Lori Wick's books. In fact, Lori Wick was one of the authors who first got me reading more Christian fiction. I had read this one before, but it turns out that I didn't really remember much of it.

To start this book was interesting, and I liked getting to know the characters. I really liked the supporting characters in Jace and Maddie's lives. Jace's Uncle Woody, the housekeeper Clara, Maddies aunt and uncle Cathy and Doyle, the pastor and his wife....I loved them all.

As novel kept going, however, I started to not like Maddie as must as I did at the beginning of the book. It kind of just got boring after a while, especially when so many things kept keeping the two of them apart. It almost seemed sometimes that they spent more time apart than together! (And how many times can you use the plot device of someone getting accidently drunk and not remembering what they did the night before?)


I also wish that the ending could have been wrapped up a bit more quickly, and I really wanted to actually experience the conversion of the characters rather than it just being implied. I felt like I invested so much in their spiritual lives and then was just left hanging at the end.


I will say that the narrator for the audio book was pretty good. Her voice was kind of rough-sounding, but it gave an interesting effect to the male voices.

Overall, I thought this book had potential but that ultimately it didn't really go anywhere. If you want to read something by Lori Wick, I recommend her "Place Called Home" series.

The audio book made for something nice to listen to in the car, though, and I will definitely pick up another audio book in the future.

I will give Moonlight on the Millpond ... 3 Bookworms.

Friday, January 19, 2018

"Through Waters Deep" Blog Tour

Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015)

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war.

Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges---and dangers---await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, 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, Facebook, Twitter
My Take:
I have been wanting to read this new series from Sarah Sundin for a long time, and I was excited to finally get started on it! I’m actually not too fond of World War II-era stories, and I usually avoid them – except for those by Ms. Sundin. She has the ability to portray the atrocities of World War II in a way that shows strength during the battle as well as hope for the future.

When I first started reading this novel, I enjoyed the characters of Jim and Mary right away. Over the course of the story, I got to know them well, and I would even go so far as to say they are among my favorite characters from Ms. Sundin’s books. As someone who also does not like to be in the spotlight, I very much related to Mary and her struggles. Jim was also a likeable guy, even though I kept wanting him to be a bit more aggressive (not in a bad way) as to where his relationship with Mary was going. I really enjoyed the banter between them and the way that their friendship eventually turned into more (which is how it happened between my husband and me back in the day)!

As for the other characters, there were a lot of them. Because this novel centered mostly on a mystery at the Boston Navy Yard, suspects were just coming out of the woodwork. At the beginning, these many secondary characters were a bit hard to keep straight, but as I kept reading, things fell more into place, and the sabotage aspect of the plot lent a great deal to the overall story. Sometimes the naval jargon in this novel got confusing, but I did appreciate the research and the attention to detail.

As I mentioned earlier, the previous books by this author are some of the only books about World War II that I have ever truly enjoyed. The balance that is portrayed between surviving the horrors of war and continuing to have hope for the future is what makes the novel readable. This hope comes only from a relationship with God through Jesus that gives the characters the strength to carry on no matter what they face. This was definitely true in Through Waters Deep

As for the lighter side of the novel – the romance between Mary and Jim – it was sweet, and I very much enjoyed watching their love grow. The era of the 1940s and its culture was an especially fun backdrop for this romance.  While I enjoyed most of the development of Mary and Jim’s courtship, at times their lack of communication tiptoed dangerously close to the Big Misunderstanding, which is my biggest pet peeve in a romance novel. I realize that it is based in reality – I’m sure we have all struggled with communication at one point or another – but when characters base their actions on assumptions of what the other person is thinking and feeling, it sometimes gets really tiring to read.

In spite of this, Through Waters Deep is still one of my favorite reads of the year. I liked that this one had a mystery to it, and any main character who references Nancy Drew is definitely one that I’m going to like! I also liked that this series is set in the Navy. My dad is a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the Navy life. The tensions of America being on the brink of war made this novel that much more suspenseful, and the main characters were such that I wanted to keep reading to find out what else happens to them in their lives. My favorite secondary character was definitely Arch, Jim’s friend from the Navy, and I am so glad that he will be featured in the next book in the series.

Overall, Through Waters Deep is another winner from Sarah Sundin, and I am looking forward to the next one!

I will give Through Waters Deep ... 4 BookWorms.

Dive into Sarah Sundin's explosive new series, Waves of Freedom, with book one,                  Through Waters Deep

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them in the midst of their budding romance.

Join Sarah in celebrating the release of Through Waters Deep by entering to win an               Anchors Aweigh prize pack!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Through Waters Deep
  • A nautical tote bag
  • A set of compass rose notecards
  • A "Hope Anchors the Soul" journal
  • A Boston Tea Party earl grey tea set
  • Through Waters Deep apron
  • A set of nautical tea towels


Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. The winner will be announced August 25th on Sarah's blog.

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

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Some Luck" Review

About the book:

1920, Denby, Iowa:

Rosanna and Walter Langdon have just welcomed their firstborn son, Frank, into their family farm. He will be the oldest of five.
Each chapter in this extraordinary novel covers a single year, encompassing the sweep of history as the Langdons abide by time-honored values and pass them on to their children. With the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change through the early 1950s, we watch as the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis. Later still, a girl we’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own. 
The first volume of an epic trilogy from a beloved writer at the height of her powers, Some Luck starts us on a literary adventure through cycles of birth and death, passion and betrayal that will span a century in America.

Some Luck
by Jane Smiley
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Anchor Publishing
416 pages

About the author: Jane Smiley (born September 26, 1949) is an American novelist. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992 for her novel A Thousand Acres (1991). Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from Community School and from John Burroughs School. She obtained a BA in literature at Vassar College (1971), then earned an MA (1975), MFA (1976), and PhD (1978) from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1981 to 1996 she was a Professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops, and continuing to teach there even after relocating to California.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

My Take:

Some Luck was a selection for my book club for this year, and I was looking forward to reading a new-to-me author. I actually like family saga stories, and it had been a while since I had taken the opportunity to read one.

First of all, you can tell the author is very talented when it comes to the English language and with the structure of the writing. The structure and function of the words were well put together, and the descriptions of the land and the areas did put a fairly good picture in your mind.

But as a story it left something to be desired.

This novel almost seemed more like a diary or a family photo album/scrapbook rather than a novel.

<Showing the album> "Oh, this is the year that so-and-so got married." <Turn the page> "This is the year grandpa died." <Turn the page> "Remember when we lost all the wheat in that storm?" <Yawn>

It just never grabbed me and drew me in as a story. It was like I was looking in on the outside of some other family and just being told what happened to them. Even the "love" scenes or tender moments felt forced.

I also just didn't care about the characters at all. By the end I couldn't even keep up with who the characters were anymore. As the characters kept getting married and having children, it became impossible to remember them all - especially when a specific character hadn't been mentioned for several chapters.





I actually almost stopped reading this book when the little baby girl died. I just can't handle stuff like that in books, and that really almost made me put the book down for good. But since I said that I would review it, I kept going. I think I should have just stopped...





Overall, I just thought this book was depressing. I read for entertainment, and this just felt more like a documentary. I also find it hugely ironic that someone with the last name of Smiley wrote such a depressing book!

I will say that the tone of this book very much portrays what the book is about. If that was what the author was going for, then it was done very well. The book plods along much as a farmer plods along day to day while farming. I almost think that the author captures the humdrum life of an Iowa farmer a little too well.

To me this book just didn't seem to have a lot of depth. Even the characters we spend a lot of time with - Frank, Joey, Rosanna, Walter - I didn't really feel as if I truly knew them. And ultimately there is just no hope. There is no real love or family relationship. There is nothing to keep me reading the rest of this series.

I hate writing a mostly negative review for a book, but I just can't find much about this book that was redeeming or that I can recommend.

I apologize for doing this to a Pulitzer prize-winning author, but I have to do it. (Maybe I should try to read the book that actually won the prize...)

I will give Some Luck... only 1 BookWorm.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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, January 5, 2018

"A Matter of Heart" Review

Jessica Atherton is tired of only being seen as the spoiled youngest daughter of a wealthy rancher. She is determined to change her ways, but attempting a transformation all by herself is proving to be a difficult task. And the situation is only made harder by the appearance of two very different yet equally interesting young men.

Harrison Gable, a dashing lawyer from Dallas, is everything Jessica dreamed of in a husband. His aspirations will take her out of her small Texas hometown and will never leave her in want financially.

But Jessica is increasingly intrigued by Austin Todd, a former Secret Service agent and current Texas Ranger who has been pulled into a local case involving forged gold certificates. Austin seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, and Jessica feels drawn to him more than she has ever felt drawn to anyone.

As Jessica struggles to find her place in the world, she discovers that it really all comes down to a matter of faith – and a matter of heart.

A Matter of Heart is book three in the “Lone Star Brides” series by Tracie Peterson.

After learning quite a bit about Jessica Atherton in the second book in this series, I was intrigued to find out she would be the main character in this one. I was a bit taken aback at first, since I was not very fond of her character previously, and it is often very difficult to enjoy a novel when you really dislike the main character.

But I found that I actually connected with Jessica fairly quickly, and it was her tremendous growth over the course of the novel that in fact made the book so much more enjoyable. I, too, have struggled with feeling as if the people around you want to keep you from changing and not let you become who you desire/need to be. In Jessica’s case, her parents seemed to be the ones doing this at times. In my case, it wasn’t so much my parents but other people with whom I grew up. In both cases, we had to come to the conclusion that only with God can our hearts be changed, and when that happens, no one can stand in our way.

Even with the amount of spiritual growth that Jessica experiences, she is not the only one to change in this novel. Austin also has much to deal with in his past. (And when I say “much” I mean a lot. So much that it seemed as if it was even a bit too much). While Austin at times comes across as the perfect hero, he still has his demons, and his growth is also significant.

This novel as presented in the summary seems as if it will be a battle between two men for the heart of Jessica Atherton. This is true in a sense, but it is so much more. The storylines that were not completely resolved in the previous novels all converge and come to an ultimate, satisfying conclusion.

Because of this, I think it would be easier to follow what was happening if you had read the previous books in the series. It is definitely not a standalone novel. I have read the previous books, and I still had a tough time here and there remembering exactly what had happened and figuring out what was going on. The dialogue was sometimes a bit simplistic and not detailed enough, too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, it had an interesting romance, and it had enough suspense to keep it moving. There were a few times when the romantic plot fell back onto some predictable and overused points to give it a hiccup, but for the most part, the relationships among Jessica, Austin, and Harrison were done well. I also thought there were a couple of spiritual things thrown in that really didn’t seem to fit with the overall spiritual tone of the story. But since faith in Christ as the way to a right relationship with God was emphasized so clearly, I am willing to overlook those things that seemed to be on the outskirts.

I have increasingly enjoyed each of the books in the “Lone Star Brides” series, and I definitely think A Matter of Heart was my favorite. 

I will give A Matter of Heart ... 4 BookWorms.

A Matter of Heart
by Tracie Peterson
"Lone Star Brides" #3
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: October 7, 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."