Sunday, June 30, 2013

Great Standalone

The Bridesmaid
Beverly Lewis

Book Summary: Twenty-seven-year-old Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The single young Amishwoman is a closet writer with a longing to be published something practically unheard of in her Lancaster County community. Yet Joanna's stories aren't her only secret. She also has a beau who is courting her from afar, unbeknownst even to her sister, Cora, who, though younger, seems to have suitors to spare. Eben Troyer is a responsible young Amishman who hopes to make Joanna Kurtz his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet with his only brother off in the English world, intent on a military career, Eben's hopes for building a life with his dear Joanna are dimming, and patience is wearing thin. Will Joanna ever be more than a bridesmaid?
Review: It took me a while to get into the book when I started but then it took off!! I breezed through it. I had mixed emotions about Joanna and Eben in the beginning. I was not disposed to like Cora Jane especially with some of the things she did but Joanna had such a real and amazing love for her sister. I loved going back to Hickory Hallow. That was a special treat, especially with the recent movies of Shunning and Confession that have come out. I really found it to be fun to see where Katie grew up with that community today.
I really could empathize with Joanna about the way the Pastor was. I think that it was a little more than necessary since the Pastor’s admonishments were heavy handed to Joanna alone. If true than he should have included her parents in the talk since she lived in their home. Than to include her parents in it at the end when he amended his conditions was less realistic
Over all it was a great standalone book that was well put together with realistic characters and an interesting premise along with some fun complications. The ending was almost too convenient but realistic because life does work out that simply in the end.
I would like to thank Library Thing and Bethany House Publishers for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Memorable Book

Hangman's Curse
Frank Peretti

Book Summary: They could be anyone, anywhere . . . even the person walking by you right now. The Veritas Project is their code name--but only a handful of people know teens Elijah and Elisha Springfield have been covertly commissioned by the President to investigate strange mysteries that delve into the paranormal and supernatural. Their charge is to find out not only what happened, but why--the veritas (Latin for truth) behind the seemingly impossible phenomena.
Their new assignment: Hangman's Curse In Baker, Washington, three popular student athletes lie in an incoherent coma, with loss of muscle coordination, severe paranoia, and hallucinations. It's whispered that they're victims of Abel Frye--a curse that's haunted the school since a student died there in the 1930s. Now the curse is spreading, and students are running scared. The Veritas Project must go undercover to find the truth . . . before it's too late.

Review: I loved this book. I picked it up at Costco and I read it from beginning to end! This was years ago and yet parts of the witty dialog and storyline still comes to my mind. I remember how I could not put it down. The characters were well written and realistic. I think Veritas Project itself was a cool concept. I found the children to be fun and smart without being a disrespectful pair. They were characters I cheered on and wanted to read more of. The parents were intelligent and part of the team with each person having their own specialty. It is the way families should be portrayed rather than the typical dumb parents, smart kids. My only criticism is that there were only two books but that is tempered by a deep respect for Mr. Peretti who had serious vertigo, I believe around the same time. Now that he is writing again I hope he will pen more of these tails. I also seldom read youth fiction but this was a smart and snappy read many age groups.

Monday, June 24, 2013

4 Fun Stories

Secretly Smitten
Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, & Denise Hunter

Book Summary: Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery! There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic? The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women? Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

Book Review: Like all the stories very much. I think it would be hard to pick a favorite. Even the one that I was least interested in became very enjoyable to the point of wanting to know how it ended. I like the carryover ‘mystery’ involving Grandma it was a good link between the stories. I liked Denise Hunter’s story because it tied everything up very well. Not all series do that. Grandma’s mystery did not have a very exciting climax which was sad but with a limit to the length and content of the story something had to be decreased and left to one’s imagination. I am looking forward to reading Smitten now.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Transforming Change from My Original Desire

Nancy Mehl

Book Summary: Mennonite Romantic Suspense Sure to Thrill Readers
Gentle and unassuming, Hope Kauffman has never been one to question the traditions of her Mennonite upbringing. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal he arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller. Despite the attempts of Hope and other Kingdom residents to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, while Ebbie insists Kingdom must remain true to its foundation. When Hope's safety is threatened by a mysterious outsider, she can't help but question what she's always been taught about the Mennonite tradition of nonviolence. As it swiftly becomes apparent the threat Hope faced is only the beginning, the town that's always stood so strong finds itself divided. With tensions high and their lives endangered by an unknown enemy, will Hope and the people of Kingdom allow fear and division to break them or will they draw on the strength of the God they serve?

Review: I thought the book got better and better as I continued to read!!! It started out slow for me, about 1/3rd into the book I could not put it down. I really found the mystery fun. It was not a huge who did it but definitely ‘a who will Hope chose to marry.’ I made up my mind and was very pleased that is the way the story went. I would have been so disappointed if it went any other way. I just could not see the outcome being satisfying had Hope’s choice been different. For me I was transformed in my opinion by the halfway mark. It is a good read when how you feel changes dramatically by the end of the book. I am looking forward to reading the 3rd in this series. It has been a fun series thus far. The people of the town have grown and changed which is part of the fun. There was a lot of sadness at the start of the book and that is what contributed to the slowness because it was such a tragedy to get through.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Bethany House Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Ending Changed Everything For Me

Beauty to Die For
Kim Alexis and Mindy Starns Clark

Book Summary: Juliette Taylor walked away from her career as a supermodel twenty-five years ago. Now approaching fifty - an emotionally complex milestone -- she co-owns a beauty supply company that makes skincare products for salons and spas. Her niche is pampering Christian women who usually spend more time caring for others than for themselves under the slogan: Isn't it time someone took care of YOU for a change? When Juliette arrives at the Palm Grotto Spa to host a spiritual retreat, she runs into an old modeling colleague, Raven, who had always been disliked in the industry for many reasons. She isn't there for the retreat; in fact, her presence at the spa is somewhat mysterious. Not long after Raven makes a cryptic threat to Juliette, the unsympathetic back-then beauty is found dead, poisoned by something in the green clay of a chai soy wrap. The following morning, a banner for the retreat has been unceremoniously altered: It's your turn to be nurtured, to be restored . . . to be murdered. Suspicion is directed at Juliette who has history with Raven and certainly knows how to use beauty products. But for murder?! Now she must find the real killer before the police really take care of her.

Review: I found some the beginning to be slow. There was much background that merged with the present. That was nicely done overall. I found the mystery to be small in comparison to the romance. The mystery was actually well woven into the story. I thought that the suspense of the mystery could have been increased to make it a page turner. The ending was great and made reading the entire book fantastic. I found Marcus to be a little too good to be true. Didi, Crystal and the Stone family were great. They helped move the story along and were extremely believable. I am looking forward to the next book in the series with great anticipation of how the characters will continue in their relationships with each other, especially Didi and Marcus. While I would like more suspense I do think the way it was written is the way real mysteries unfold with little suspense and a lot of timing. I did guess who did it but more out of pure guessing than sleuthing. The ending brought me to tears and totally changed how I viewed the entire book.

I would like to thank Net Galley and B & H Publishing Group for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Differrent Sort of Christian Fiction

Always the Baker, Never the Bride
Sandra D. Bricker

Book Summary: In Always the Baker, Never the Bride, readers fell in love with Emma Rae and Jackson, and they’ve gotten more acquainted with them in the two books that followed. But now it’s time for the diamond to meet the road as Jackson fields an offer to sell The Tanglewood, a move that will uproot this high-flying family act once and for all. Get reacquainted with all of the lovable and quirky characters from the first three books as your favorite diabetic baker figures out if she'll achieve her greatest goal of all: Will Emma, at last, become FINALLY the Bride?

Review: I am of a double mind about this book. The characters were streamlined throughout the series. There are obviously differences between older writers than Ms. Bricker. The main thing is a widening generational gap an example is tattoos. I am not fond of them. I never have, it has nothing to do with faith and tattoos it is more of a how I look at marking up my body. After reading one review who stated that the Christianity was not overpowering I would say it is nonexistent other than some weak poorly stated places. How can one be a Christian and not pray for the things which seldom to never occurred. Another minor but irritating point for me personally is the descriptions used ‘her smile stretched..’ it brought up pictures of rubber bands to my mind. Many of these things may seem petty but for me they interrupted the flow of reading. I found the main characters to be selfish – no children plans because they want to live in Paris not for missions but for them to enjoy it. There were a number of these things that were disturbing. I did like the supporting characters and there were a lot that surrounded this series. I liked Hilda a very real character and Aunt Sophie. These were two great characters that truly helped the main characters. I would still recommend the book because the book did have a great conclusion to this series, but this book was more secular than Christian fiction.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Abingdon Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.